Thanks to Bo Sanchez, I stumbled upon Randy Pausch and his “Last Lecture”. It was such an
inspiring lecture I watched the whole lecture. Yes, it’s more than one hour but heck, it’s more than worth it. Dr Pausch is a professor at the Carnegie Mellon University who died last
July 2008 with pancreathic cancer.

When I checked the entry about Randy Paush in Wikipedia, I found out that he is also one of
the co-founders of the Alice programming language and a number of other things. But of course, coming from a programming background, it is the Alice software that interest me most. So what actually Alice is? Here’s a quote from their website.

In Alice’s interactive interface, students drag and drop graphic tiles to create a program,
where the instructions correspond to standard statements in a production oriented programming languages, such as Java, C++, and C#. Alice allows students to immediately see how their animation programs run, enabling them to easily understand the relationship between the programming statements and the behavior of objects in their animation. By manipulating the objects in their virtual world, students gain experience with all the programming constructs typically taught in an introductory programming course.

So what’s interesting with that? Alice is a fun and easy way of understanding object oriented programming. For people like me who never had a chance to use object-oriented-programming languages, it’s kinda hard to understand. Our mindset is still stucked to the top-down programming that we are used to. The nearest thing that we used is event-driven(think about visual basic) programming which is called by OOP evangelists as simply “object programming” which means you are using objects but not really creating them. And “object programmers” will sometime find it hard to convert themeselves into OOP.

With Alice, it would be easy because the hard part in OOP is done by Alice. You don’t have to memorize gazillions of classes, methods, attributes and programming commands and syntax just to be able to a simple application. And more than that, Alice allows you to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web

And the best thing yet, it’s freakin’ FREE!


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