I want to document but I need to learn first!

Jerry Balzano gjbalzano at ucsd.edu
Tue Mar 11 12:52:38 PST 2003


Since I am teaching today, I haven't had time to digest the overwhelming
number of responses to my postings, but I am *greatly* encouraged by them. 
Before I run off to class I do particularly want to thank you Alan for your
long reply...and even if some of what I said was a bit annoying, I have to
say it was probably worth it to get you to expand on some of those projects
("Orbits", "Springs", "Weighing", etc.) for both the Squeakland and the
SqueakDev groups.

As far as separating the groups ... I thought at least some of what I had
to say was of interest to both groups and thought it was probably easier
for readers to skim parts they found uninteresting than it was for me to
evaluate each paragraph for suitability in each group.  And I wasn't so
much "complaining" about 2000+ February postings to SqueakDev as, on the
one hand, marveling at the amount of energy and expertise in the Squeak
community, and on the other hand, feeling somewhat despondent that there
was apparently not enough of it to motivate a serious and sustained effort
to develop a stable version suitable for novice programmers.  Call that
"complaining" if you must, but it's not the kind of "complaining" you

Will my reference to 2000+ postings confuse the Squeaklanders?  Well, I
*am* trying to stir the pot a little, but I really don't think it will
confuse these smart and resourceful folks.  I think Squeaklanders are
hungry for more postings (I know I am, as a member of both lists); there
were 58 February 2003 posts to Squeakland, and 9 of those were from Alan
Kay, 8 from Kim Rose, and 12 about the Kay/Papert talks in Toronto.  So if
I'm a Squeaklander I should at least feel good that there's lots of
activity going on "behind the scenes", as it were.  With all this
Balkanization of knowledge going on (Papert 1980), and given how easy it is
to delete an unwanted message, I don't want to be contributing to it by
placing my contributions in this or that segment or the Balkans.

You're right that it's Squeak proper that is "too fast moving" and not
etoys; but more than once I have found changes in Squeak proper causing
either inexplicable behavior in etoys or just making things break.  (We try
to make things fully separate but we can never really achieve it.)

Let me focus on one more thing in your gold-mine of a response, your "Food
Fight" hints:

>>  * have an agent (smiley) create another agent (burger) in the space
>>next to him
>Let's suppose that smiley is in a playfield called "fastfood".
>smiley create
>    smiley's temp <- burger copy
>    fastfood include smiley's temp
>    smiley's temp's x <- smiley's x + 25
>    smiley's temp's y <- smiley's y
>I found "copy" and "include" just by going through the views of the two
>objects and seeing what the balloon help told me. This is the
>documentation that is there, but most people don't use it. I found that I
>could make a player valued variable by looking at the menu item "change
>data type", etc.

OK Alan, I get the subtle dig (maybe not so subtle).  In fact, I not only
know all the balloons in etoys by heart, I have even prepared a three-page
handout called "Etoy Viewer Commands" (incl balloon helps -- not including
"do menu item") that I will be posting to the Squeakland list (immediately
after this).  There is no "include" there that I can see!  And so you
shouldn't be surprised that I therefore don't fully understand your
"pseudocode".  For the record, it seems to me (and it seemed to my
Stagecast Creator - literate teachers) that having a character create
another character should be more straightforward than this in any case.  Do
you not agree?

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