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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: Tla spork

From: Zenaan Harkness
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: Tla spork
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 08:41:07 +1000

On Fri, 2004-08-27 at 08:10, Stefan Monnier wrote:
> > Then, on two and a half occasions, over the following few years,
> > I actually went through the first hour of the guile tutorial,
> > perhaps a year or more apart between each attempt.
> I really would like to understand, what's the big difference between writing
> things as
>         if (a) { b } else { c }
> or as
>         (if a b c)
> I mean, yes, there are differences in terms of legibility, but if you ignore
> such details, it's really all the same.
> The only real difference is that Lisp's syntax, like XML, is layered such
> that a fixed generic parser can parse the first layer, while the second
> layer (where semantics is added) can be manipulated as data structure.
> But when you're writing programs, it makes no difference whatsoever.
> So if you could try to explain to me why you find Lisp/Scheme so hard, I'd
> love to try and understand you.

It might be a combination of things - having learnt to a greater or
lesser extent a number of procedural languages (BASIC, Pascal, Modula,
C, C++, Java), I'm pretty entrenched in the procedural way of thinking,
as opposed to functional programming.

In Java, which I've now programmed professionally in since the end of
Uni, there are a lot of niceties I've come to take for granted:

 - packages (file/ class physical and namespace grouping),
   corresponding to directories

 - massive (I'd almost go as far to say too big nowadays) api/ libs
   - although this makes gui development and such very easy for me

It probably most comes down to my own impatience - I cannot be what I'd
call "productive" (in comparison with the procedural languages I know)
in what I'd call a "short" period of time. That's why I said, for my own
satisfaction, to be able to _feel_ as though I'm competant and fluent, I
simply need to set aside a solid two weeks or so at some point, and
write something non-trivial.

I don't think there is any other way for me - I don't believe there is a
real shortcut (except perhaps gradual assimilation of very small
snippets over the years, from MLs and such).

You see, I've hooked into both C and C++ books in more recent years
(early on learning BASIC, Pascal, and then Java at Uni (the first year
it came through by the way)), and I _feel_ like I understand it without
too much effort.

In start comparison, I spent a few days learning Ruby late last year (or
early this?) and I pondered for some time on Continuations. It's a nice
thing, and it was only one new concept (generally speaking) in a
language otherwise somewhat similar to what I already knew.

Yet, after three days, I still felt like I was kludging around too much.
So I believe there is really no substitute for 'effort'.

Hope that's not too much ranting,

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