[ALUG] User group meeting last night

Ruth Bygrave rbygrave at ntlworld.com
Tue Jun 19 17:20:24 BST 2007

Alas, I didn't find what I was really looking for (very beginner  
hobbyist scripter to talk to about where to start)...but I enjoyed it  
hugely anyway, until the conversation at the end reminded me that  
scripting  is really the province of Real Developers and Not Idiots  
Like Me...cause I didn't understand half of it!

[long boring bit about why I want to try it anyway]
My approach for why I want to dip a cautious toe into scripting is  
that what put me off Windows was that there was an infinite amount of  
choice in software but it was so commercially-driven that if what you  
wanted to do wasn't commercial it wouldn't exist. The Windows  
approach is, if you want to do something that isn't there out of the  
box, buy something. So what you eventually end up with is infinite  
numbers of programs that do the same as the other programs. You end  
up with a range of choice that is five million fishknives when you  
opened the drawer for a soup spoon. I doubt I could become a big  
professional developer doing big things, ever. I could see myself one  
day (in five years' or so's time, if I'm lucky) doing tiny back- 
bedroom projects as shareware or open-source, that started out as  
what I felt frustrated by not having on my computer -- and gain small  
amounts of money and big amounts of fun!

My problem is that I feel very wary of talking to Professional  
Developers For Whom It Is Their Day Job. Not that they'd be at all  
unfriendly, but what would they gain from talking to Dumb Script  
Kiddie Who Iz A Idiot, as opposed to what I would gain, which is  
education and which I have the uneasy feeling I should actually be  
paying for (except that whenever I look up IT training I see big  
commercial operations that charge £700 for a week's training... which  
isn't really what I'm looking for). And I know Adrian's approach is  
that computer science courses at school (what I'd probably get if I  
looked at adult-ed, except the adult-ed courses aren't up yet at  
Suffolk College?) are generally rubbish at teaching people to  
program, and he's much brighter than I am. And I know my past is  
littered with failed attempts to learn simple programming (C++, VB,  
Delphi, XSLT...), which lasted until I tripped over Applescript when  
I switched, downloaded a bunch of free scripts, and managed to get  
over the mental block that there was nothing I wanted to *do* that I  
could find out how to do in real programming. So I'm at the point  
where I want to take a bit of a step back from clipping Mac apps  
together and come back to it later, and start more from-the-ground- 
up. But I don't want to bother Real Professional Developers because,  
they have coding at their day job and almost certainly don't want to  
give me a free education in their spare time (I get the feeling poor  
Adrian doesn't, especially since his spare-time recreation is  
currently rock-climbing and coding is his Work). And I certainly  
couldn't pay for an expensive education, especially the hundreds-of- 
pounds one!)

So I'll go back to doing scripting on my own, reading books and  
posting snippets of bad code on the internet...

(Incidentally, if anybody wants to read my silly personal-reactions- 
to-starting-scripting blog, it's at macrubyist.livejournal.com but so  
far it has about 4 readers. Am uneasily beginning to wonder if I'm  
not *quite* as chatty & entertaining as I think I am. And I have a  
bit of a problem with being *too* chatty and discursive, viz this note)

[end boring bit about me, sorry, was a bit of a vent there but I just  
feel so *isolated* sometimes!]

OTOH, the general idea that I could use the local Mac user groups for  
my consumer/user chatting and questions (about Mac-specific apps) and  
ALUG for geek-fu social chatting, validation that using Unix isn't  
actually Completely Insane, and learning about the open-source end of  
Darwin, sounds like it would work marvellously. And if anybody could  
help me sort out my Samba mixed-network problem that all Mac users  
look blankly at and say But It Just Works (even if it involves Pain &  
use of CUPS), that would be cool, although suspect that will have to  
wait until the About Mixed Networks meeting.

Suspect am out on a limb a bit -- may be the only person in the  
entire universe who's too geeky to be *quite* a Mac-consumer and too  
dumb to be *quite* a winux lizard :-)

But thanks for listening, anyway. I promise I'll start to shut up  
now, but suspect needed to vent after having nobody to talk to F2F  
about what I was thinking about for the last six months (as in,  
Adrian doesn't want to talk about Evil Devil-Languages, and has seen  
me fail a bunch of times at learning programming anyway, none of my  
friends do this stuff, and I've never found any hobbyist programmers  
at the same Dumb But Finally Actually Enthusiastic stage I'm at now...)


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