Tag Archives: coding

Which Programming Language Do You Prefer?

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Someone on our Lockergnome site recently asked which full programming language is “the best.” That is a good question – but impossible to answer, really.

Each language was developed for a specific purpose. What works for one type of application may not work for another. Therefore, you can’t really chose “the best.” It would be better to ask which was the best for what you are trying to DO at any given time.

Everything from WordPress to moveable type uses something different. It’s impossible, therefore, to try and figure out any one language to name as the be-all and end-all of language types. The most useful programming language, ultimately, is the one that will best serve your needs.

No one language will or can do everything. If you want to be a general programmer, you’re going to have to learn many different types. If you want to be specialized, then sure – focus on one or two that you will need in your career or hobby.

What do you think? I’m sure you have your favorite language… but do you truly believe any one is better or more important than everything else out there?

Scoble and Pirillo – What is Gnomedex?

Apparently, Gnomedex has a lot to do with beer – at least according to Robert Scoble and myself. It was a conference of inspiration, innovation, influence and illustration. Somehow that translates into a “bunch of drunk Geeks.”

We had a great time talking with the kids from OmniTechNews. We discussed how Gnomedex was the first conference where Robert noticed that everyone had a computer and was connected to the Internet. I feel that it was all about individuals using the power of technology to get a message around the world in seconds flat. It helped to empower people.

Our biggest piece of advice to young tech enthusiasts everywhere is to learn some code!

Gnomedex 2010 Open Government Hackathon

If you have a passion for coding and will be in Seattle on August 20 – 21st, you will want to attend this event. The Gnomedex10 Open Government Hackathon will be held at the Edgewater Hotel – adjacent to the Bell Harbor Conference Center. The event is slated to begin as our Gnomedex conference winds down, and the cost of attending is absolutely free.

Ruby, Python, PHP, web developers, coders and anyone who has a passion to code, hack or kluge applications that will free (or otherwise enhance) the accessibility and usefulness of government-shared data are encouraged to participate. You can enter as an individual or a team, and don’t have to be attending our conference in order to take part in this amazing opportunity. At the end of the 24 hour period, each app will be evaluated by the Hackathon partners to determine the best apps – which can earn you a prize or two!

The nature of this event will be free-form. Hackathon partners will have organizers on-site to help you get the ball rolling initially. Even though it won’t cost you anything to take part in this day of hacking and fun, you are asked to please register so they know how many people to expect.

I know several of you out there in the Seattle community (and many attending Gnomedex from other far-away places) are hard-core programmers. Let your creativity soar while having a great time winding down your weekend during the Open Government Hackathon.

Tips for Programming and PHP

Community member “a_v58” sent me a short list of PHP tips. These days, people are rabid in their thirst to learn more about PHP. If you want to become a programmer, you should know what you’re doing when it comes to PHP. The following tips were sent in to me by Andrew. They are solid tips, so I wanted to pass them along to all of you.

  • Don’t be tempted to use packets such as WAMP or XAMPP that install and configure Apache, PHP, MySQL for you automatically. You’ll learn more by installing them one-by-one and configuring them manually. After a quick Google search, you’ll find a list of recommended configurations for PHP and/or Apache – depending whether your machine is a server or a development machine. I recommend installing in this order: MySQL, Apache, PHP.
      A small suggestion to check if all 3 were installed and configured correctly: place a small PHP script in the .htdocs directory of Apache in which you call the phpinfo function, as well as one function from every extension (MySQL, cURL, Java, etc.). If there are no warnings or errors, everything should be fine.
      For fewer headaches and happier programming, I also strongly recommend using an IDE such as EclipsePHP (which can be found at eclipse.org) or Zend. You might also look into xDebug.
  • Remember to sanitize your database inputs. To avoid this, understand what this is and how this works. Google or read on Wikipedia for “SQL injection.” Use functions such as ‘addslashes’ and ‘get_magic_quotes_gpc.’
  • When you think you did everything right and you don’t understand why something isn’t working, look at your code carefully, debug it, and possibly run a ‘var_dump’ on all the variables to see whether something is faulty. If you still can’t figure it out, take a break and get some fresh air. Come back to the problem with a clear mind.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask on forums or the community questions. Remember: there are no stupid questions. However, if for every little mistake you ask, and you don’t figure a couple of questions on your own… no offense: programming may not be right for you.
  • Why choose PHP? It has a syntax similar to C/C++ (which are some of the used frequently for desktop applications. PHP.net has almost everything you might need to know – including examples and user-contributed notes (which may contain exactly what you need).
  • When somebody asks you a question, don’t be afraid to answer. You’ll either help that person by teaching him or her something new (or be corrected by someone with more experience – in which case, you’ll learn something new).

Sure, it’s a starter list of tips – extremely rudimentary for some. That’s where you have the opportunity to suggest your own PHP starter tips in the comments stream below. 🙂

Will Code for Green: Make Money!

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As you know, I’ve been hosting my Gnomedex conference for the past nine years. We have just found out that this year, we will be sponsored by Microsoft Bing. I have some big news to go along with this… we’ll be giving away two grand prizes – $10,000.00!!! You have to use the Bing API to either help people save money, or be more environmentally friendly.

Enter the Will Code for Green! developer contest. If your economy or ecology-themed web application is chosen as one of the two grand prize winners at Gnomedex in August, you’ll win $10,000!! No, that isn’t a typo. I said TEN! THOUSAND! DOLLARS!.

Even if you aren’t a developer, you may have a great idea about how to make the world a greener place – or help people save money. Grab a dev friend, and share the project… and the prize! There will also be three runner-up prizes of $3000.00 each so get to creating!

Change the world. Make some money. What’s wrong with that?

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Would You Like to be a Hacker, Like in the Movies?

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I have a feeling life would be much easier if I could program. Sadly, I don’t sit on that side of the Geek fence. I have to rely on others to create things for me. Are you a beginning programmer, or someone who wants to try? Recently, I was doing a video on another type of programming tool when my neighbor sent me an IM. He asked me if I had ever heard of the website HacketyHack. No, I hadn’t. So of course, I set out to learn… and learn, I did!

In the 1980s, a language called BASIC swept the countryside. It was a language beginners could use to make their computer speak, play music. You could easily draw a big smiley face or a panda or whatever you like! But not just BASIC. Other languages like: LOGO and Pascal were right there on many computers. One of Hackety Hack’s sincere pledges is to make the most common code very easy and short. Downloading an MP3 should be one line of code. A blog should be very few.

Presently, Ruby is the only language taught by Hackety Hack. And it’s a great one to start with. Ruby was born in Japan, but has found a wealth of friends across the world. As you can see above, Ruby is a combination of simple words and punctuation.

All of this, the whole of it, is totally free to you. My wish is to spread infectious hacking smarts all over the world. And so Hackety Hack is yours forever at no cost: give it away, take it apart, learn-learn-learn without a 2nd thought.

At this point in time, HacketyHack is only available for Windows. However, they’re working on both a Mac and Linux version. Programming has gotten overwhelming to many people, myself included. It’s just gotten so complicated and involved. The beauty of HacketyHack is that it takes the difficulty out, and makes coding simple and fun again. Anyone age 13 and up will be able to quickly grasp the basics, and be off and coding in no time.

If you’re thinking of getting into programming – or if you’ve always been too scared to try before now – download HacketyHack and give it a try.


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Top Ten Tips for Web Site Design

Alec is a regular member of our live community. Recently, he sent me his top 10 list of tips to help you with good Web Design. Even though I wasn’t able to do a video on this email, I wanted to pass them along to all of you.

  1. Why? Why do you need a site? What do you need to do? Get more leads? Sales? Votes? Look cool? Will search engines be important? If you can’t answer, better wait until you have a strategic plan for your company overall.
  2. Audience. Before anything else, you have to figure out who you’re creating your site for. What are the 1-4 questions they’ll have in their heads that, if answered, will mean they’re going to call, buy, or take whatever action they need to?
  3. Architecture. Create the site map. The map shows how your site will be structured. It could be fancy and complex, or simple. It could be drawn on a napkin, even. Just so long as it provides a rational structure for your presence.
  4. Wireframe. Then show where stuff will go on each page. Think of this as a site map, but for each page (a page map?).
  5. Design. Create the pretty stuff. This is what most folks call ‘Web site design’. Notice that it’s step 4? A lot of thinking goes into this, making sure that the way the site looks fits the site’s role.
  6. Mockup. Take the design and turn it into a set of Web page templates that you can view in your Web browser. The mockup is the model for the site. It shows how drop downs will work, and how processes like checkout or information requests will look.
  7. Test the Mockup. Then test the mockup. Is it standards-compliant? Does it look good in all major browsers? Does it present the most search-friendly and accessible information structure to the Internet? This is the chance to test before you build the site.
  8. Add the Tools. If you’re using a content management system (CMS), then the developers go to work, adding the mockup templates to the system. If you’re collecting leads, they’ll build the database and code to handle that, too. Finally, they’ll make sure you’re equipped for analytics.
  9. Add the Content. Type in the content, lay out each page, and check for spelling errors, etc.. If search engine optimization matters, tweak the content for best keyword richness.
  10. Test, Test, and more Test. Test the site for errors (broken links, crashes, and server errors) and bugs (sneaky things that aren’t immediately evident, like, say, your shopping cart not storing the ZIP code on orders).

How to Start a Website

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Have you ever wanted to have your own Website? Do you know how to go about getting started? Here are some tips sent in by Lewis that may shed some light on these questions… and more.

  • Don’t go for the cheapest hosting. These may look great at first, but from what I have found out, they are not. The support is often bad, the servers are often cheap and slow and you do not get what you pay for. Try to look for a respectable one with many reviews. We recommend GoDaddy. Use coupon code Chris1 to save 10% off your order!
  • Learn how to code and design. The worst way to start a website is with no coding experience or design experience. This is often the thoughts of many new website owners and it puts users off. You need to take time out of your life to code and design properly, you will get much more out of the site this way.
  • Don’t swarm your site with adverts. Often, too many ads put off users and they will not come back. If you must, put at the most 3 adverts on a page, that is the maximum. I’m pretty sure you hate websites with loads of adverts, think of your users.
  • Get a proper domain name. Often free domains names like (.tk, .us.tt ect) are bad, full of frames with adverts in them and are often having problems. I recommend getting one from a respectable seller, e.g.: Godaddy. There are many coupons around for godaddy, Chris has a few, type !coupon into his chat.
  • And finally, give your users a way to contact you. This could be a contact form, an email link (make sure to obscure it in an image or flash file to keep bots off your site and selling your address) or anything else. Your users might need your help and without a good clear link to contact, they will not email you and you will lose their business. Many users are not going to bother looking through Whois databases for an address.


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Aptana Studio Web Development IDE

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A community member who uses the name of Fatal email me today. He said he was looking for an alternative to Dreamweaver, and came across Aptana. This is a free, open-source application, and wanted me to try it out.

Aptana Studio 1.0 is indeed an open-source application… for the community version. There is, of course, a Pro version, which is right around $100.00. The caveat to this program at first glance is that it is Java-based. Not to diss any Java programmers out there, but let’s face it. Java is just doggy at times.

If you look past the speed issues, you’ll probably be quite happy with Aptana. There is a lot of troubleshooting built in, and not just for HTML. You’ll also find support for CSS, Javascript, and more. There are tons of features in this program, much more than I would normally expect from an open-source project… especially in its early release stages. This is definitely going to be something to keep an eye on. With a 1.0 version this good already, it will be interesting to see what the developers do with future versions.

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