[Chugalug] Learning Python via Minecraft

Mike Robinson miker at sundialservices.com
Wed Aug 28 13:24:09 UTC 2013

> Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2013 21:21:38 -0400
> From: Tim Youngblood <timyoungblood at gmail.com>
> Let's face it, the turtle (Logo) just isn't cool anymore. So glad to see
> this. Now I have a reason to allow my kids to get into Minecraft. Treading
> lightly on this!

Today, I think that in order to be truly motivated to get into a programming language, you need to have a genuine, self-felt need to do it.  The novelty of computers (alas ...) is forever gone, so there has to be a "payback."  In the work-a-day world of IT, that of course could be "writing a script to do in a few seconds what would otherwise take a laborious hour."  (Wheeeee ...)  But that's not really enough.  There needs to be something that -you- (whoever you are) want to achieve, such that writing computer software is the most effective or the only means to do it.

My personal fave happens to be the 3D Computer Graphics program, Blender.  (http://www.blender.org)  Which does very astonishing things(!) and which is scripted in Python.  Furthermore, there's a reason why Python was chosen, I think:  for its ability to efficiently handle vectors and lists (without (annoying) ((little) parentheses)).  There's voodoo math in those scripts that I do not (yet) profess to fully understand.  I'm fascinated by that sort of thing -- about "how to make a digital machine Do Stuff" -- and I still am.

Another thing that I find very, very compelling is non-procedural languages that are designed to do a unique and difficult task ... such as G-Prolog, whose finite-domain problem solver allowed me to solve a logic problem ("The lady in the red hat is not sitting next to the sofa.") involving 21 variables, and then to solve a Sudoku problem from hell.  Figuring out how to use this tool to do that, and thus to be "first to find" on a Terra-cache, was a delight.
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