Gmail eats Python

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Sun Jul 26 19:40:42 CEST 2015

On Mon, 27 Jul 2015 01:59 am, Rustom Mody wrote:

> Its 2015 now and any ½ decent teacher of programming, writes programs in
> front of the class. 

Yeah, but the fully decent teachers prepare before hand, so the students
don't have to wait while they type out the (buggy) program in front of

*half a smiley*

> And debugs and hacks and pokes around OS-related stuff 
> (ps, top and more arcane) etc.

And you do that in Emacs instead of the shell?

Or IPython?

> [Yeah I did hear complaints about an OS teacher who puts up PPTs and reads
> [them out. So the set < ½-decent is not empty I guess]

Did the students really complain "Teacher X came to class prepared with code
already written"? Or was the complaint about the technology used? Or
something else?

I really don't know how I feel about this. I did maths and physics at uni,
and it seems natural for the lecturer to work through the mathematics in
front of you. I also did computer science, and it feels completely natural
for the lecturer to hand out notes with the code already written. (These
days, I suppose, you would use slides, or give them a URL and tell them to
download the code.) Except for the most trivial interactive examples in the
Python REPR, I can't imagine why anyone would want to watch the lecturer
type the code out in front of them.

I can think of one exception... watching somebody go through the iterative
process of debugging code.

> So while emacs makes everything else look rather puerile, setting it up
> is such a bitch that last python course I just switched to idle.
> Must admit it was more pleasant than I expected.
> Except that sometimes we need C and C++ and assembly and haskell and make
> and config files and git commits and...
> And so emacs (or eclipse!!) remains the only option

Um... your students are probably using Macs, Windows, and a small minority
with Linux, yes? On laptops?

Your Linux students are probably fine. Some of them probably know more than
you :-)

Mac users have access to a full BSB environment, even if most of them don't
know it.

Your Windows users are the problem. You could try GnuWin and Gnu Core
Utilities for a set of GNU tools for Windows. You could build a bootable
USB stick containing the Linux installation of your choice, and get them to
use that. (Of course, I can imagine your school/university having a
conniption fit at the thought of the liability issues if the software
erased somebody's hard drive...)

Things were much better in my day. Nobody expected the students to have
access to a computer at home. You used a dumb workstation to log into a VAX
running Unix, and used the tools the uni supplied, or a standalone Mac 512K
(if you were lucky) or Mac 128K (if you weren't), and again, you used the
tools they supplied.


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