Computers

Now that the free week-long Beta test is over, some fun statistics are cropping up about the Overwatch Beta. According to Steam Spy, most of the top shooters available through Steam saw a sizable decrease in attention during the beta. Searches for “overwatch” on the popular porn site PornHub saw an 800% rise during the test period. The Overwatch Subreddit has exploded with stories of players claiming to have withdrawal, or proclaiming it to be the best thing they’ve played in years and will buy two copies of the game, just because. All other games feel bland, by comparison.

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I spent several hours playing, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was lucky to fall in with a group of long time FPS players, and we embraced the strong team-play aspect of this game. Using Discord, we hung out and explored the first new IP from Blizzard in 17 years. For those who don’t know, Blizzard has a history of producing immersive, polished video games that hold their own for a long time. Star Craft, for instance, is so popular in Korea, that it is on broadcast television.

But what makes Overwatch so great? To me, it was the rich and unique cast of characters, gorgeous maps with transparent but meaningful objectives and Blizzard’s focus on providing a positive experience to it’s players and fanbase. This isn’t to say there aren’t some things that worry me or that need improvement, but I’ll get into that later.

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Logitech is here at CES and when I need new computer gaming peripherals, they’re the first place I turn.

One of the new gadgets they have here is the G602 Wireless Gaming Mouse, and it’s awesome.

Here’s my video review, recorded on the CES 2014 show floor at the Logitech Live booth.

It has tons of thumb buttons, which will be perfect for toggling weapon groups or overheating in EVE Online, and it fits in my hand perfectly.

If I don’t win one here at the convention, I’m definitely buying one when I get home.

Two weeks ago I discussed a thought exercise that will help you get in the right frame of mind for doing some computer programming.

Today, I want to help you get an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) set up, so you can follow along with my examples in the coming articles.

The Language: Java

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The programming language of choice is Java. Java has several advantages for us than other languages:

  • Java has fantastic documentation.  Sun / Oracle, who controls the Java Language, has a large library of documentation on functions, interfaces and other important bits.  There are also loads of tutorials.
  • Java is Object Oriented.  This means that all of our Java code has to do with things, rather than more abstract ideas like memory locations, pointers and other stuff that makes my head hurt.
  • Java is platform independent.  This is the biggest reason for Java’s success.  You write code once, and you can run it anywhere: Mac, Windows, or Linux.  I’ll go into more detail on this later.
  • Java is everywhere, primarily due to the points above.

So, we’re using Java because it’s the biggest thing in programming right now, it’s very approachable, and it won’t matter what computer you’re using to follow along, the code is identical for everyone.

The IDE: Eclipse

eclipseSo, here’s what you want to download: Eclipse.  Eclipse is an IDE, and the package I’ve linked to includes the packages for working with Java and using GIT to keep backups of your code.  GIT is also how I’ll be giving you sample code, via GitHub.com.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to make a GitHub account to access my code, but you will need one to upload code if you ever want to send me your code.

 Here’s why I like Eclipse:

  • Real-time compliation level errors:  Normally when you write code and you typo a variable or function name, mismatch some curly brackets ({}), or whatnot, you don’t find out until you attempt to compile your code.  Eclipse examines your code as you type, and gives you error and warning flags when you type variables you haven’t declared or mistype function names.  This is a huge time saver.
  • Eclipse integrates Git, so you can keep remote backups of your code up to date with just a few clicks of your mouse.
  • Eclipse has support for several programming languages, so if you ever want to branch out from Java, you don’t have to learn a new IDE along with a new language.

Homework

  1. Download Eclipse and install it.
  2. Bookmark the Java 7 API Reference, Java SE Tutorials, and GitHub.
  3. Comment here with ideas for what sort of program we should make
  4. OPTIONAL: Make a GitHub account, and post your username.

Whenever you meet someone new, one of the first questions that comes up is “What do you do?”

For me, the answer is programming.  For some, that brings to mind the classical TV/movie trope of Mountain Dew, thick glasses, a pocket protector and walls of unorganized computers and blinking lights.  For others, I instantly get slotted as someone who knows how to program VCRs and can fix their computer.

My hope for this series is to dispel some of the stereotypes surrounding programming, confirm others, and give you a chance to learn some programming skills of your own, if you’re so inclined.

Programming 101: PB & J

If you’ve ever been to a summer camp, or leadership training or anything that required team building, you may have done the PB&J exercise.

Everyone sits in a room facing a table, which has a jar of Peanut Butter, a jar of Jelly, a loaf of bread and a knife.  Usually the team leader sits at the table, and calls out the most confident person in the room.  That person sits in the front of class, with their back to the table, and has to give instructions to the person at the table, and get them to make a PB&J.

The twist is, the person at the table pretends be an alien and has no idea what a PB & J is (let alone a sandwich), is mute and can’t give feedback, only follows the instructions of the person who  has their back to the table, and follows them to the letter.  The person assembling the sandwich doesn’t know how to open the jars.  Doesn’t know how to use the knife.  Doesn’t know how to untie the twisty-tie holding the loaf of bread together, has no idea what “spread” means, etc.

OM NOM NOM…

If you’ve never seen this, it’s hilarious, and usually ends with the assembly person covered in PB & J, a mess all over the table, and a hungry audience.

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