Strategic Geekery

Anything not miniatures or wargaming related

If anyone’s familiar with Birchbox or BarkBox or any of the many monthly “surprise” box subscription services, Loot Crate is like the same, but for geeks.  My wife did Birchbox for a long while, and I always enjoyed seeing her go through her box to see what goodies she’d gotten.  I’ve been wanting something like that, but for geekyness, and so I found Loot Crate.  I’ve been following them on the Bookface, waiting for a month’s theme that I’d enjoy.  June’s “Transform” wasn’t really my thing, but July’s “Villains” sounds too cool to ignore.  I used one of their various promo codes to get $3 off, and signed up.

This landed on my desk at work Monday, and Itook a few pictures of what was inside for you!

The Box

The Box

Let’s open it, shall we?

Libby is waiting patiently to find out what's inside!

Libby is waiting patiently to find out what’s inside!

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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.

We’re going to cover quite a bit today, so be sure to carve out some time for this one.  Also, it’s best if you follow along, so if you don’t already have Eclipse installed, see last week‘s article for a link to the download page.

My goal today is to show you how to get started with Eclipse, and then show you the building-blocks of programming: variables, conditional statements and for loops.  These three things form the basic tool set that you’ll use in every program from here on out.  Variables are how you store and access information.  Conditional statements are how you control the program and allow it to make decisions.  For loops are the most basic way to run through a set of data points, running calculations or making decisions along the way.

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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

jv0h

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.