Brian's high school teaching experience

As, for me, the level of the negative interaction, is way above approvable, but I also do not agree with such statement:

Based on my own experience, the unconditional affirmation, of some kind, is a part of parenthood.
But good teachers need to be the authority and make some rightful evaluation.

If you're teaching students who are about to go out in the world and design airplanes, then yeah. But if you're teaching kids, then the goal is for them to enjoy learning and want to learn more.

When I was a high school teacher, I made it clear that I wasn't giving grades. And after a while kids came to trust me. And then, sometimes, they were willing to let me teach them in a way that exposed them to programming standards.

PS If I'm being incoherent it's because I'm back in the hospital. :~(

Ouch. We are rooting for your full and quick (and lasting!) recovery!


Did the school principal let you not giving grades?

I wish I had such a high school teacher.

This was before computers took over the world. There were just toy computers such as the Apple II and great big computers that cost a fortune. So computing was viewed as an interesting but inessential elective, like art or drama. I'm sure I wouldn't get away with it today! But it was paradise. Every so often we'd just all, whoever was in the computer center at the end of the day, go out for Chinese food. (I'd never get away with that today either.) I'm still friends with a bunch of those kids, who are now in their 40s or 50s with kids of their own. And apart from just being fun and empowering, it meant I could on occasion tell a kid "this code sucks" and the kid didn't hear it as "you're failing." (I would of course only say things like that to kids whose code was generally terrific and who were confident about it.)

PS And I hustled a PDP 11/70 running Unix for the lab, so when Unix and its cousins took over the world, my kids were ready. :~)

When did you start to teach? Also

I searched it up, and Wikipedia says that it was the first successful microcomputer. What do you mean by toy computer?

Calling it a 'toy' really means that it simply was not possible to "break in" into any (commercial, governmental, military) institution's or even school's database via internet, even if you had a supercomputer; the probability of doing so was even smaller than using a toy gun to rob a bank. That is why a computer was just a toy, until internet changed the toys into the (potential) weapons.

Now computers are used by foreign countries to fight propaganda wars using armies of (thousands of) fake accounts on social media to change the course of elections and weaken the country. Russian and North Korean hackers do it; Hungarian illiberal regime does it to help the idiotic Trump-like politicians to win elections in the neighboring countries (including the country where I live).

I wish computers never ceased to be toys only - to me, at least, they still are; like art and drama.

Umm okay but that's not what I meant. The 8-bit micros (Apple II, Atari 400/800, TRS-80, Commodore Pet, etc.) really couldn't be used for anything serious. They came with a bunch of games, and with a BASIC interpreter, not because they thought BASIC was a great language to teach people but because the interpreter could fit in 8Kb.

Some people at UCSD wrote a Pascal for the Apple II, but in order to run it you had to buy a "language card" with an extra 16Kb (iirc) of memory. That meant we could also have a Logo interpreter for it, the first glimmer of serious computing. (Meanhile, adult computer scientists worked at universities with million-dollar computers that could do all the same kinds of stuff you know and love today.)

Once the 16-bit computers (IBM PC, Mac) came along, ordinary people had access to real software. (Although the first version of the Mac still was kind of limited because half of its memory was taken up with the high resolution display buffer. But they made a bigger one pretty quickly.) So, that's the distinction between toy (8-bit) and real (16-bit and up) computers.

Oh, it was! In the sense that lots of people bought them. But basically just as expensive toys. :~)

I started teaching in 1979. The school had a PDP-8 and they offered me a budget of $5K for hardware upgrades. I said "how about $100K?" The state of Massachusetts, where the school is, passed a law allowing school districts to borrow money for computers, just in time. I asked the Digital Equipment Corporation (headquartered in the next town over) to give us a free PDP-11/70. (I really wanted a PDP-10 but I knew I'd never get away with that.) They said that they don't like to give free stuff because then schools ask for more than they really need, but they'd give me an 80% discount on whatever I wanted. So, the principal got the school board to approve a $20K bond issue, with which I got my $100K budget because of the discount.

The PDP-10 was at that time the most popular computer at university CS labs, but it cost around $1M so I knew I wasn't going to get that! The PDP-11 was their midsize "minicomputer" (as opposed to microcomputer) line, with prices starting around $10K for the PDP-11/10 up to, I think, around $60K for the 11/70. (The rest of the money went to terminals, a line printer, and a really expensive interface board to attach random things to it, which I used for three robot turtles.) And a card reader that the principal insisted on because he thought that was how we'd do administrative computing. Oh and a huge 67Mb disk drive -- huge as in washing machine size.

WOW! And if you put that into a comparison of nowadays computers.

Guess I was born in the right time, because people have found a way to fit 64 gigs (most likely more) on something smaller than a finger.

edit: I just found out that there's a 1 Terabyte micro sd card.

My 1st computer TRS-80 III
take 10-15 min to load a game from an audio tape

1 year later, i recieved a 5 1/4 floppy drive for chrismas: the same game took 5 sec to load from a floppy disk



Oh yes, of course, computers keep getting bigger and faster. Your children will probably have 1000 processors in the box, or something.

Is this the one described here?

trs-80 Color computer 3 (coco 3): 128ko memory

My first computer was the ZX Spectrum; probably unknown to you kids in Northern America. It was made in UK and used by European kids in early 1980s.

That was bold.

You just took chances and ask, or did you know people there?

I have a long history of biting the hand that feeds me. It's one of my defining characteristics. Productive more often than not.

I did know people there, but in the PDP-10 group out in Marlboro, not the PDP-11 ones at HQ in Maynard. They had an official grant application process and that's what I did.