Aug. 7th, 2009

terriko: (Default)
Around grade 3, I started reading with a vengeance. No book in the house, no matter how technical, was exempt from my curious gaze. I can't say I was able to make much headway into the biology textbooks found in my basement (at least not without help from my parents!), but I do remember reading a bunch of the "raising your gifted child" books my mom got out of the library when I was a bit older.

These books contained useful advice along the lines of, "try not to make your kid feel like a freak" which probably should have been supplemented with, "so don't leave this book lying around where she's going to read it." Let's just say it was a surprisingly educational experience, and my parents probably expected I'd read them.

Anyhow... I digress. When I saw a link to Wired's "5 Tips for Raising Your Girl Geek" (via @LadyRosePixie) I was half expecting a lot of cringe-worthy "try not to make your kid feel like a freak" and I admit, they're there. Or perhaps they're more like "As a geek, you may not notice your daughter's a freakish social outcast..." But the recommendations on making her feel less so are pretty decent, and the article itself is fun and has some good links to other female geeks in history, literature, and pop culture. So that's pretty fun.

But I have to admit, even if it is good advice, my inner 10 year old still thinks such parenting advice is both hilarious and mildly insulting. Be warned if your daughter may be reading this!
terriko: (Default)
I'm working on a Firefox extension.

For those of you who have not attempted this, let me tell you a few things about the experience:

(a) I'm working in JavaScript. JavaScript likes to fail gracefully, which means that it doesn't tend to spew error messages every time something goes wrong. That's nice if you're using it, but annoying when you're trying to track down an error.

(b) And then, in case it wasn't quiet enough, I put it into an add-on, where it's even more silent, and on top of that I can't bring my usual JavaScript debugging tools to bear on it because they only operate on the code in a web page.

So basically, I've been programming for the past few days without all the usual modern coding conveniences. I have been reduced to debugging almost entirely from the equivalent of printf or echo. Thank goodness I at least have syntax highlighting. To use a terrible analogy, this is akin to writing everything on a typewriter -- better than a quill and ink perhaps, but still not quite up to the modern computer when it comes to the easy fixing of mistakes.

I've lost track of the number of times where I've deleted my non-working code, retyped it all, only to find that this time, it works. The problem before was almost certainly a typo, but it was less trouble to re-write than try to find the missing character. Incredibly frustrating.

That said, I actually kinda like Firefox extension development, even if the minutiae are irritating. It's incredibly satisfying when it works, and I can then try my code out on any web page I want, really easily. So much data. And the idea that other people will be able to install my code is surprisingly appealing. (Well, perhaps not that surprising -- I used to write IRC scripts back in the day.)

But I do feel a little like I'm the dark ages here, and I find it hard to believe that other people placidly program in this environment. So I'm guessing there are tools out there, I just don't know them. Last time I tried any was probably pre Firefox 2.0, and I wasn't thrilled, but I'd be happy to take some recommendations now if things have gotten better now that we're up to 3.5!
terriko: (Default)
I forgot to mention my favourite issue in my previous post about JavaScript and Firefox extension development.

Sometimes, magically, your entire log on the error goes poof! 'cause, you know, it wasn't hard enough to debug.

I'm pretty sure the error log goes poof if you try to print something undefined to it, but there may be other cases where it does.

Special.

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terriko

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