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Andrew Roach @ajroach42

Here is a great post about using qBasic on an eeePC to teach kids programming fundamentals.

Please read it before you come at me with your qBASIC is bad takes.

Find something better than qBASIC for the tasks outlined in the article, and I'll listen. :-D

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I read it. QBasic is fine. I prefer Pascal as a teaching language. I did, however, take a term of basic, a term of pascal, and then a term of assembler.

What I hate is QuickBasic. It would almost always be able to almost do what you need, but rarely could it do exactly what you need. At least when it came to data handling.

@ajroach42 #love2d comes close, but an all-in-one package would be much better. Lua is as easy to learn as Basic for beginners but is still suitable for advanced users, but zerobrane has too many moving parts.

Arguably Pico-8's sprite editor actually makes it more accessible to kids than qbasic IMO. Making graphics out of circle/line calls is too hard, speaking as someone who tried as a kid.

But I think the point of the article is that enthusiasm is far more important than technology choice.

@technomancy Lua, via PICO-8, is what I've been using to teach the youth in my life, but it's weeks before the are writing from scratch (because we start by playing a game, and then by modifying some aspects of that game.)

I feel like this approach would make for a better experience in many cases.

But yeah, Pico 8 is great.

@ajroach42 sure; modifying existing games is where I started as a preteen in qbasic, but all we had was nibbles.bas and gorillas.bas.

It's ironic and frustrating how games written in Pico-8 are such amazing examples of the free software spirit of creativity, sharing, and end-user hacking, and yet Pico-8 itself is the opposite.

@ajroach42 dang... I heard of this a while back but never really checked it out. It's a lot more polished than I expected! Thanks for the reminder.

@ajroach42 I used to try to introduce my kids to foss even when it didn't match the polish of the mainstream equivalent; like minetest is pretty disappointing compared to minecraft. I quit doing that because it was counter-productive, and bit the bullet with Pico-8. but TIC-80 seems to hold its own in terms of quality, not just foss principles.

Of course, the community is much smaller, but past a certain point it doesn't matter that much.

@technomancy See, I tend to do the opposite.

I know these kids are using propritary software at school and etc, so I try to only demonstrate FOSS when it does something that will make them jealous. (More often than you'd guess, if you try hard enough.)

Have you played with PicoLove at all?

@ajroach42 I contributed to LIKO-12 early on, but then it drifted off my radar. This looks similar?

To me, minetest is actually more interesting than minecraft, because the mod API is amazing, and minecraft's mod API is actively user-hostile, frustrating, and super gross. But of course my kids don't see it the same way, and I can't blame them.

@technomancy I'm not familiar with LIKO-12.

Pico-Love is supposed to be able to run Pico-8 files out of the box, plus you can bypass some of Pico-8's arbitrary limitations.

I look at it as a Pico-8 extender, rather than a replacement.

If you can program an infinite loop by the age of 10, you're all set for a career in software...

Another post in the same (excellent and fascinating) blog asks how you might teach CS by snail mail: