As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.
— Maurice Wilkes

Not many people understand programming these days. The Internet and the XBox have created a generation for whom computers are consumer boxes. Back in the 1980's it wasn't like that. To get a computer game running you had to type it in, or if you were rich enough to afford commercial games, at least know the right commands to load it from cassette tape. All the kids knew enough to be able to wander into a Tandy store, type a two line program:
20 GOTO 10

They would set it going and then run away laughing.

The glamorous art of programming, the art schools used to teach, and may soon teach again, is the art of putting a program together. First you design how it is going to work. You decide what its initial conditions will be, and what its output will be, and how it will get from one to the other. That's very boring and everyone tries to skip that bit. Then you write loads and loads of cryptic instructions to tell the computer to do what you want. That's the fun bit. That's the bit you see in the Hollywood movies. The sort of program that you write in school might be a dozen lines of code. The first time you try to run that program it will probably fail, so you find the silly mistake, and you correct it, and the program works.

And then you get a job as a programmer in the real world.

soronlinsoronlin 18 Aug 2013 12:4918 Aug 2013 14:13

A long time ago in a school far, far away, I was given an essay to write. I had over an hour to write a two page essay on the rise of the Nazis. That assignment made such an impact on me that even now, forty years later, I can quote that essay in its entirety word for word. Here it is:

One day Hitler jumped onto a chair.

It wasn't that I didn't know the subject; I wasn't the world authority on the Nazi party, but I had been listening. Still, I stared at that almost blank page for an hour and couldn't think what to write. It wasn't that I didn't think I was good enough; it was only a stupid essay in a subject I intended to drop the next year. It wasn't that I expected to have some mystical inspiration; nobody was going to see it except me and the teacher, and I didn't expect a gold star. I didn't have to do the washing-up, walk the dog or fetch the children; at that particular time and place I had nothing to do except write that essay. After the first five minutes or so, I knew that I would not be writing anything. I knew that that stupid sentence was going to sit there, forever alone. The longer I debated what to write, the more trivial it seemed. Nothing that my mind could come up with was worth writing.

soronlinsoronlin 15 Aug 2013 13:1818 Aug 2013 11:31

Copyright © 2012 Rachel Wright; all rights reserved. Published with permission.

We didn’t have to wait a whole year for our next adventure this time. We’d only been back a couple of months when things at school started to change. For one thing, the teachers were suddenly worried about money – the usual lectures on being nice to one another and not running in corridors were replaced with instructions on how to cut the electricity bills by turning off the lights. Since Miss Flaumel is our main benefactor, this worried us a bit. We knew she was annoyed with us for almost getting caught by the ES, but we didn’t think she was that cross!

soronlinsoronlin 06 Aug 2013 21:3207 Aug 2013 08:00

I've just come up against a deadline. I had to come up with a concept for my latest work of fiction by the end of July. Fortunately all I needed was the blurb. The next deadline is September 21st. By then it must to be completed; there will be no second chances, no excuses. I will publish it to six people. Eight hours later it will be finished with. Only those people will ever experience it.

The blurb is for them, those six people, to entice them to want to experience my work. It isn't for my publisher, she is crying out for product. She publishes around twenty four works a year and will accept anything she is offered. She has a difficult enough task to find so many; she can't afford to pick and choose. There is a down-side of course; I don't get paid. In fact I have paid a considerable amount to publish my work and experience three works others will be publishing.

soronlinsoronlin 06 Aug 2013 09:0818 Aug 2013 11:32

This game ran at Ambercon UK 2013. It is only here for nostalgic reasons.
Read Katie's journal here.

Game Description

Title:The Strange Case Of The Strange Case
Players: 6
Mode: Tabletop

Life at the Carlos Cory School for Gifted Orphans is not a bed of roses; the academic regimen is punishing and the discipline is worse, and then there are the people who are trying to kill you. It has been over a year now since you discovered the truth about the Eternity Society and you are just about getting used to being scared most of the time. You fondly remember the times when all you had to face was a pair of sabre-toothed tigers or a dozen demons. Miss Flaumel has disappeared and Miss Trees has left the school. Now you have no insider in the Eternity Society, intelligence is rare and you have little hope that any attack will be forewarned. The new deputy head, Miss Reese, has brought with her a few new security guards that are occasionally seen around the school and grounds. Their green and brown uniforms are very smart, but what's with the swords? Sooner or later the school will either be attacked or closed, but for the time being it remains the only hope for the scattered descendants of the mysterious Corwin.

With the new school year you settled down to classes again. For some, if not all, of you this would be your final year at the school. And then the note arrived. Contact had been made with another family and someone had to extract them before the ES got to them first. It seemed an amusing diversion before supper, but darker events were afoot.

soronlinsoronlin 05 Aug 2013 16:4803 Aug 2014 19:51

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