Overheard at the dadman’s work

“Abraham Lincoln was a vampire. They’re making two movies about it.”

“Hey, uh, you can’t leave until you code your share of the work. So… See you in ten years.”

“Nah, we’ll let him out. Once or twice.”

*indecipherable Chinese/Japanese/someforeignlanguagethatsoundsAsian*

“Man, I can’t wait for those movies to come out.”

“Ooooooh, I’ve got it.*

*uncontrollable laughing*

A series of unfortunate events

Last night, I had an idea. I had been considering what the best way was memorize the basics of the periodic table, and I decided I would write a program that would simply generate a number between 1 and 84, and, if I entered the correct abbreviation for the name of the element with the corresponding atomic number, it would give me a happy message saying good job. Otherwise, it would say no, give me the answer, and ask me a different question. I could do some nice rapid-fire studying with that. Besides, my Facebook friends might appreciate the irony of me writing a program to help memorize the periodic table.

So I dig my Netbook out of my backpack and open it up. I resume (it was in sleep mode), log in, surf to a few pages reminding me how to use the rand() function, then my computer sings and a popup appears. This popup tells me I’m running out of battery, but I don’t bother reading it. I know what the sound means. I can plug it in after I get to the end of this paragraph.

Five seconds later, my computer shuts down.

… What?

I plug it in and charge it up, then turn it back on. I load up Windows 7 Starter Edition, thinking of how slow it runs on this machine, and log in. I wait for about fifteen seconds for the operating system to load my desktop- what were you loading before? The box where I type my password?- and finally get to my desktop. My ugly desktop with a smug little Microsoft logo in the middle because I don’t own my operating system and can’t change anything about it because it’s already perfect.

So I start up Visual C++ 2008. It reminds me that I only have 16 days left to register my (free) product, so I give in and click on the popup. This takes thirty seconds because I hadn’t yet connected to wifi (I thought it does that when you log in?) and I had two tabs already open. It tells me to sign in to Microsoft (that’s an interesting way of putting it), which I do. Once that is done, it asks me to fill out a long series of questions, or, if I don’t want to waste my time, I can scroll to the bottom and click cancel. Again, I do so.

This deposits me at a page entitled “help with registering visual c++ 2008″. This is not a guide. It an FAQ. Worse, it’s a forum. Instead of simply giving me a code, it is going to make me hunt down the page that will send me an email containing the code which I will need to enter and send back to them through their product.

Uh, no thanks.

I go back to Visual C++.

I open up the project I already made, and create a new source code file. It objects to my wanting it to auto-generate a simple name for it, forcing me to input something. This makes a reasonable amount of sense, but it wouldn’t be that hard for it to title the file “main1.cpp”.

I go back to the webpages explaining random number generation in C and C++. I watch what they do, and try typing up my own program. I hit F5 to compile the code (make it run), and I get an error message. I frown, go over my code, and see nothing wrong. I copy and paste the code from the tutorial into Visual C++, and hit F5.

I get a freakin’ error message.

This is not some dotcom bubble washed-up site. This is cprogramming.com, a fairly popular and frequented site with very up-to-date tutorials. It. won’t. compile.

Alright, so this compiler’s junk. I was already rather aware of that. So I go to try and download Turbo-C++, just so I know I have a working compiler before the night is out. I successfully download the 3-megabyte file, and hunt through the large list of names, coming upon install.exe at the bottom. I click on it, and…



What in the name of root is this? It’s so… Ancient! It’s a DOSBOX program! I haven’t even managed to set that up on 7 yet! Argh!

I came into this with the best of intentions: I was going to write a program (an educational activity in itself) to help me memorize simple parts of the periodic table. Not for some test, but because I have a genuine interest in chemistry. I am, right now, ahead of my class in the course. I was foiled by
a.) Visual C++ and how non-user-friendly it is to a newbie
b.) All those people who swear by Turbo-C++
c.) A download link for a twenty-year-old program

I won’t be writing that studying program tonight.

About Me

I am (at the time of this writing) 15 years old, and a sophomore at the Knox County STEM Academy (soon to have a real name, I hope). I have many varied interests, from Boy Scouts to programming, reading to video games, and music to writing. I enjoy pretty much every subject- that leads me to believe that I just like learning. I’m more interested in some courses than others of course, but for the most part I’m happy in every class I take (if I have a competent teacher). As a conversationalist, I am sadly lacking. I think (not positive) that I might be a little introverted (not antisocial, introverted- this means I don’t seek out social contact; antisocial means I avoid it). I can talk for a while if it’s about a subject I enjoy, but few are they who I can talk to for any real length of time. Luckily, my family is included in that number.
I joined Cub Scouts in 1st grade, which started my Scouting career. Believe me when I say that Boy Scouts are much better. I went on trips to only four different places over several years- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (in Gatlinburg), the Knoxville Zoo, Camp Buck Toms, and an unnamed camping area… Somewhere. I don’t know where.