My first coding experience

Jessica Rose (@jesslynnrose) asked:

My first coding experience was on our family’s TI-99/4A (I think. It was a long time ago).


I was likely 7 or 8, and my dad had shown me how to write some simple GOTO programs. It was neat to see them operate, but they didn’t do anything useful. So one of us decided to find a more interesting program in a book we’d gotten with the TI.

I still remember laboriously typing the program in, letter by letter. I distinctly remember two feelings: frustration at how long this was taking, and excitement when I finally finished it. I executed the code and watched it go!

The program was called something like “Caterpillar”. There were no images in the book, just a simple description. As the program ran, I watched a series of large blocks scrunch in-and-out making its way from right-to-left on my screen. When it reached the edge of the window, it continued on and reappeared on the right-side of the screen, running in a loop.

And that was it.

I had spent a child’s-eternity entering all of this info, just to get that?! I didn’t try again.

I see now I could have used some mentoring. My dad is not a programmer, and I had no contact with anyone who was. In sixth grade a teacher ran a computer camp for a week during the summer, and by day two I had exhausted his material.

That old TI wasn’t useless though – it played games! The best one was Tunnels of Doom.

Tunnels of Doom (with Cassette)

I remember I played the game so often, my dad got tired of setting it up for me and showed me how to do it myself. I then spent the next indeterminate time period fighting with the hardware to get that game up and running. The game required a cassette to load, and it would fail randomly. Some days I spent more time loading the game than I did playing it.

I still hate peripheral hardware. [printers]

Apple Event – September 2015

I’m really liking the way Apple is headed. Wednesday’s event was fast and crammed with stuff. Highlights:

  • New Apple watch colors and bands. The new watchOS 2 was previously announced.
  • iPad Pro:
    • Larger size
    • Force Touch Display
    • Better sound (4 speakers)
    • Optional Smart Keyboard – screen cover/keyboard a la Surface, based on MacBook keyboard
    • Optional Apple Pencil – touch-sensitive stylus, very precise
  • New Apple TV:
    • Better hardware supports games and apps
    • New Remote:
      • Touch screen at the top
      • Bluetooth connection (no more line-of-sight!)
      • Wii-like motion sensors for gaming and other input
      • Microphone
    • Siri integration:
      • Search across multiple fields of data
      • Commands for all sorts of interactions
  • iPhone 6S and 6S+
    • Better camera
    • Live Photos (similar to video, but in photos, less resource-intensive)
    • 3D Touch (renamed Force Touch)
    • Faster processor
    • Better LTE and WiFi radios
    • Rose Gold color added
    • Faster Touch ID
  • Upgrade pricing for iPhone
    • Monthly payments for your phone
    • Can trade in at the 1 year mark for a new plan
    • AppleCare+ included in the reasonable prices

I think I’m most excited for the AppleTV. The features really make for a compelling product. “Siri, play me a movie starring Kevin Bacon” should actually work! The only thing I lack is a bandwidth connection that can support streaming.

On iPhone, Hey Siri is now active all the time. I can’t wait for the iPhone 6S and 6S+ to be popular. You’ll be able to stand in a crowd and yell, “Hey Siri” and everyone’s phones will go off.

I can definitely see these devices as having needed features for the right customers. I hear some “lack of innovation” comments, but I mostly discount those. No one feature has ever been amazing when it was released. Every single one has had a crowd of people decrying it for one reason or another.

I’m really excited for all the new hardware and new OSes. Lots of new stuff to look forward to! – Crowdsourcing Software Testing

I am a tester at uTest uses crowdsourcing to test software. From a one-man shop to a giant corporation, it can be cost or time prohibitive to get the right setup to test your software across all necessary platforms. Imagine if you need to test your web app across all major browsers. That might comprise 6 browsers, but to be really thorough you need to test those 6 browsers in major OSes too – Google Chrome in Windows 7 is not the same as Google Chrome in Mac OS X. You may even wish to test your web app in different versions of those browsers – IE 8 is not the same as IE 9.

What is a software developer to do? Acquire various platforms, browsers, maintain updates, etc.? What about Android – hundreds of phones running different hardware, different OS versions, different resolutions? The ideal solution would be to have a team of testers on call with all of the devices you need to test running the OS you need tested with the skills to do the necessary testing for you.

That’s where uTest comes in. With nearly 100,000 testers across the world, uTest can get you precisely the hardware, OS, and skill-sets you need to find bugs as soon as possible. Do you need a team of 5 uber-testers with top-notch hardware to test your high-end indy game? uTest can do that. Do you need a group of 200 testers to load test your server? uTest can do that too. Functional, Security, Load, Usability, and Localization – uTest has experts in every category ready to find the bugs you need to squash.

uTest works hard to integrate testing into your current development cycle. Whether you need a 24-hour turn around on your newest RC, or a specific suite of tests run according to your specifications, uTest can handle it.

Many companies look at testing as a necessary evil – a time-sink that just eats the bottom line. QA does take time; time that could be spent coding new features or thinking up new strategies. But if you really want your users to have the best experience possible while using your app, then it has to be tested. But you don’t have to test it yourself. Hand it over to uTest and you will get quality reporting as fast as you need it. That way your dev team can focus on developing new things and spend less time and money fixing the old ones.

Like I said, I’m just a tester. I’m not a salesman, I’m not being paid for this (though there is a referral program, so please pass my name along if you do sign up after reading this!). I just love how uTest is revolutionizing the testing world. I’m learning a lot from it, and hope to write about that more in the future.


I am loving the ADN platform. ADN is short for ““. It’s a platform designed with developers in mind. The most user-facing feature is microblogging – short posts sent out to a list of followers. This is the feature I’m loving most.

At this time, the service is mostly made up of software developers and other geeks. It isn’t geeky, but you do find a higher level of discussion than you would on, say, other microblogging platforms (Twitter, Facebook).

You can post up to 256 characters at a time. ADN supports links, hashtags, replies, reposts, and many other features. But ADN is much more than a microblogging platform. File storage, file sharing, chat, blog, private message, analytics, video – more services are adding support for ADN all the time.

You should definitely check it out. You can find me on as apathos. If you’d like to join for free, click this link and we’ll both get extra storage:

There’s so much you can do there. I hope you’ll like it as much as I do!