Monday, February 04, 2008

Knocked on the head with BASIC

A close friend of mine schooled in C++, Smalltalk, Java and Groovy told me the other day that he has written his first BASIC program by using Run BASIC. He had never written code in BASIC before, but he took my word for it that BASIC is a great language for throwing together solutions quickly. He said he was struck by the lightness of the BASIC language and that he enjoyed working in it. This is my paraphrase of what he said, because I don't remember his exact words.

I know there are a lot of modern BASIC implementations that force you to declare all your variables and give them types and sizes. Some of them keep the core keywords but add Pascal syntax, and some make BASIC look more like Java. I know there are some benefits to the way these other languages work, but BASIC is really meant to be very light and simple. In my humble opinion any language claiming to be BASIC which forces the programmer to dot too many i's and cross too many t's is not BASIC, but an imposter.

BASIC is a small language without too many rules.

iPhone development - activation experience

Since we have decided to create some iPhone development features for Run BASIC I bought an iPhone for this purpose. I thought it would be interesting to post my personal iPhone experience.

So, I went to the Apple store. I said that I wanted to buy an iPhone, so the youthful Apple employee grabbed me a small black box from behind the counter and handed it to me. "Big day," he said with a certain air of importance. I thought that was a little over the top. I mean, it's a phone. I wasn't having a baby. My daughter put it well, "Maybe if he was going to give you the $400 phone for free it would have been a big day." Ah well. I suppose Apple store employees can be forgiven for drinking the corporate koolaid. ;-)

I told him that I was buying the iPhone because I am working on easy development tools for it. He didn't quite get it right away that I wasn't working on iPhone apps for people to consume, but a really easy way for anyone to create their own iPhone apps that run in the Safari browser. I explained more carefully and got a gratifying 'Ahhhh' response from him. Gotta work on that marketing message.

So I took the phone home and unpacked it. There's no manual at all. There really should be for that price.

Alright, I understand that you activate the iPhone using iTunes. I am a Mac user (and a PC user) so I thought I would activate the phone from my Mac. That didn't work. I needed a newer version of iTunes. No big deal. I downloaded and installed the latest. Still no good. Why? Because then I discovered that I needed OS X v10.4.x or better. What then dawned on me made me a bit angry. I was going to need to activate the phone using iTunes on Windows. I think that qualifies as mistreatment by Apple of its customers.

Okay, so now I upgraded to the latest version of iTunes on my Vista box. I plugged the phone in and activated it. It went smoothly from there.

I'll post more about the iPhone and our work to support it using Run BASIC in the days to come.