0519: "11th Grade"

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby LSN » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Freiberg wrote:Wow. I am in 10th grade, and this has just inspired me to go and learn PYTHON! Thank you, Munroe!


Hey, I'm learning Python now over Christmas break. But I'm a 3rd year in college, so you're getting a good head start....

I guess Perl is next on my list then. Thanks for helping me decide, Randall :D
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:19 am UTC

I learned two things in high school: People are assholes and high school is a waste of time. Now, college on the other hand...
Randall wrote:And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby BigRig » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:19 am UTC

This is why I spend an hour a day of class time fooling around with Java. Computer Programming "class" ftw ^^
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Benson » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:28 am UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.

Homeschooled all the way, though in a (very loose) traditional model rather than unschooling or the like; it included a computer class most years, which was some of the best stuff. I started programming around the age of five (BASIC, on a C128) not long after I learned to read. Within a couple years, my older sister and I started learning to solder, and then we built our own 8-bit (YASBEC, if anyone's heard of them). Computer class was tied for my favorite with "personal time", which it turns out was actually stealth literature class. Alas, I have much less time to read than I used to, but computers are still a big part of my life, both in work (grad school) and pleasure.

plin25 wrote:
Freiberg wrote:Wow. I am in 10th grade, and this has just inspired me to go and learn PYTHON! Thank you, Munroe!
Heh, I tried learning Python, I hated how everything was done using indentation and not braces :? well at least it's better than LISP right?

High five, go sophomores :D

No, operators are vile, LISP is the best, and Python is the work of the devil! :lol:

Seems Python is a lot more popular these days, but AFAICS both Python and LISP are thoroughly designed high-level languages, and I think everyone ought to learn one of them (de gustibus non est disputandum!), but some exposure to assembly, substantial experience in C, and dabbling in several scripting languages, is also valuable for those considering any computer-related career.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Clyde » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:32 am UTC

Reduce the sliver for homework down to zero and you have my high school 'career.' Especially in English. I took AP English my senior year to save money and time in college. I finished with a D- total in the class, and a 3/5 on the AP Test (passing, for those unfamiliar with the AP Test). My teacher expressed to me, rather angrily, that she hated the fact that, even though I did not do an ounce of homework during the first trimester, she could not fail me in good conscience due to me scoring a 98% on the exam. I was, understandably, very smug after this.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby netcrusher88 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:33 am UTC

And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.


I can vouch for this. That strange kid became my girlfriend of four years and counting.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby pltnmvenus » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:36 am UTC

I can really see how the the non-curriculum things will have a greater impact down the road. For example, my Calculus class in high school went reeeaaalllly sloooooooow. Seriously, it was the "honors" class, yet the lady spent a ridiculous amount of time on even simple things. Or I'm just quick to learn math, and thus quickly bored. Either or. I spent that semester learning how to program my calculator. TI-BASIC, just going by trial and error - I had found the old TI-83 (not even "Plus") in my sister's room after she moved out, so I never got a manual. Coincidentally, I also spent the semester uttering profanities at my friend, and his fancy TI-89 Titanium.

I ended up making a fully-fledged Minesweeper program, along with a bunch of other less presentable games. I also make a really crappy Pong game that was just a front - at the menu, if you pressed a 3 or 4 key sequence, it kicked out a dozen or two Chemistry note pages (needless to say, this one made the rounds quickly). I also discovered the "PointChange()" function, and promptly created one of the few NSFW images to ever grace the 83 (it's still saved as one of the "Pic" variables).

At a summer job, I managed to acquire an old TRS-80 model 4P (portable my ass). After learning 8085 assembly this past semester in college, I cursed the fact that both the TRS and my calculator have Z80's, and thus use a new (albeit similar) language. Mark my words, by the end of the year, I will be playing Minesweeper on that old hunk of junk.

And to think, I'm semi-proficient in a half-dozen programming languages now, all because my Calculus teacher was a ditz.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Pizzashark » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:38 am UTC

Jack21222 wrote:I agree wholeheartedly with this comic. That's one reason why I think the Sudbury Valley model of schooling is very beneficial to many children and teens.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_school

Basically, it's a system where there are no classes, no homework, no grades, et cetera. Learn what you want to learn when you want to learn it.

The so-called "wasted" time is more than offset by the fact that when somebody learns something on their own accord, it sticks FAR better than having it hammered into their head.


Yeah, but wouldn't that school model have serious issues succeeding with people like me, who prefer to be directed to learning something? I love learning, but on my own, it's very sporadic and unfocused.

The idea of no grades and crap is a good one, I think, but without some tests and quizzes, how can you be sure the person's not just bullshitting their way through it all? Guess I'll have to read up on that school model.

The comic was brilliant, as usual. Munroe definitely knows how to make a damn good webcomic :)

EDIT:
netcrusher88 wrote:
And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.


I can vouch for this. That strange kid became my girlfriend of four years and counting.


Well, I'm sure a lot of folks are gonna think romantically in that sense, but it could just mean taking the time to talk to the nerdy outcast in your homeroom, not necessarily the geeky girl you thought was cute.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Shadyjames » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:58 am UTC

While Randall has definitely had much more profound insights in past comics, no other single piece of written material I have ever encountered has rung as true in my mind as this.

There is a time for insight, and a time for awesome. Today, it seems, was the time for awesome.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby branan » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:04 am UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:
And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.


I can vouch for this. That strange kid became my girlfriend of four years and counting.


Same here. It'll be four years on January 1st when we decided that "friend" was no longer an adequate term.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Peripatetic » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:08 am UTC

I didn't know "applicability to a career" was the ultimate measure of the worth of classes and school in general.

Granted, much of the current pedagogy is useless (especially the hours and hours of homework) and when I start teaching high school physics a year from now I'll keep that in mind. However, to me, the purpose of education is not job training. Every different class teaches you how to look at the world from a different perspective with a different tool set. For the 99% of my future students who won't become physicists and the 90% who won't be scientists or engineers*, my class will be "useless" to them. But, I'll consider my teaching a success if they leave my class with the understanding that the world is comprehensible, that it follows patterns, that it is worth observing closely.

History is useful for when our President says, "They hate us for our freedom."
Foreign languages are useful since not everything survives translation.
English classes are useful because I like to have models for how to communicate forcefully and with style.**

Ideally, the totality of these "useless" classes should show is that everything around us is worth observing closely: literature, history, Earth, space, art, and other people. When I spent a semester in Budapest, the most intimate knowledge of Hungary came from a comparative literature course.

Maybe it's just me. But I don't think so.

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Specialization is for insects.


* Numbers made up.
** Sometimes I think classes in rhetoric should be brought back. Never mind what you're saying, say it better!
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby tyen » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:11 am UTC

retro22 wrote:so, nobody found the alt text disturbing and depressing(however true it may be)?

I read the "not really alt text" as:
And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school columbined.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Silh » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:13 am UTC

High school is long past for me now, but I went to a pretty decent school with some pretty decent teachers, some better than others.

How much of what I learned back in high school is applicable to my current job (that of a dentist)? Some, but not a whole lot, for sure. How much of it served as a background for what was learned later and have to deal with on a daily basis? In hindsight, no small amount. From basic biology stems biochemistry, physiology, anatomy. From basic chemistry stems materials science, and understanding the behaviour of the materials used from day to day. From physics, anything from appliance design to fluorescence diagnostic techniques. Math and calculus? Okay, not so much at work, maybe some use in hobby coding at home and balancing the books... This will differ from field to field, obviously.

More importantly though, in my mind, is the lesson of learning to think, and this is something I realized years later, again in hindsight. Some teachers were good at promoting it, others less so. Sure, you have the typical rote memorization exams, where you forget everything the week after... this goes all the way through high school, post-secondary education and beyond. But that's not the point. While you're 'learning' this material, what are you doing with it? How are you analyzing it? Even if it may be utterly boring or useless down the road, how do you tie it in with everything else you know? Where are the connections? What can you glean from it? Where can you take the source material beyond what was presented?

Yes, school can suck and can include lots of extraneous cruft. But dismissing what you don't enjoy, find interesting, or find useful is short-sighted and only limits yourself. Whether you remember it or not for later use may not necessarily the most important thing (granted it is important if you need it for your job in the future); the skill of how you deal with it may be the bigger issue. And teaching that, unfortunately, seems to be a failing of much of the educational system, leaving it to the students to develop the discipline on their own, if at all.

As much as you may want to learn only what you need to know, dealing with The Real World(tm) often includes having to manage subject matters you don't care for at all.

(Edit: Rephrasing of sentences and grammatical corrections).
Last edited by Silh on Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:39 am UTC, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby WMC » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:21 am UTC

I agree. I like the breadth of knowledge I got from high school, and miss that kind of learning as I grow older and there's more pressure to become more 'specialized' in a particular field. I don't want to just learn to think like a "computer scientist" or "engineer", very often that kind of thinking ends up resulting in things that are admittedly impressive, but entirely impractical for the people they're designed for. I think there's a certain aspect of creativity that comes from being able to think about things from multiple perspectives and, essentially, do the job of multiple 'specialists' even if you can't do it but 85% as well as them.

That being said, learning programming in high school gives you a huge advantage over those who don't and then major in a CS course. While everybody else is struggling with the design and process of thinking like a programmer, you can be thinking undergraduate research...or simply spending less time on simplistic assignments. ;)
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby 1800yolk » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:22 am UTC

this is amazingly true. Post it in schools, quick!
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby plin25 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:32 am UTC

I have sent this to all the teaches at my school, hopefully it gets through :D
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Affableprechaun » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:35 am UTC

This comic isn't hilarious or funny except in a bit of a dark sense, but is undoubtedly true. Sadly. So sadly...
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Amarantha » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:37 am UTC

There's a Montessori school (Will Wright went to one) at the end of our street, that we'll totally consider if we happen to breed whilst living here.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby guyy » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:40 am UTC

Comics like this one are almost the entire reason why I read XKCD.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Bulvox » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:53 am UTC

I'm the strange guy that you didn't want to talk to in homeroom. Fortunately, I wasn't dumb enough to take a gun to school. Also, I rarely, if ever, did any homework, so I spent 1 semester more at high school than I should have.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Unforgiven » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:10 am UTC

Jasn wrote:This comic seems to have been created for the purpose of describing my life.

I started in GW-BASIC when I was 10. Well, I typed sequences of letters that sometimes executed, I would hardly call it programming. :P Single-letter variables, no structure whatsoever. It didn't get much better for quite a while (I upgraded to Visual Basic only to have projects full of monolithic subroutines and controls named Button1, Button2, etc.). Only when I started to learn C++ when I was sixteen did the situation improve.

And now, I have a Master's degree and am doing a PhD in computer science. :)

EDIT: Also, I have no idea what "home room" is. Nor what age 11th grade is. Stupid differing school system. :P
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby plin25 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:28 am UTC

11th grade is usually 16-17 years old
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Magilla » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:38 am UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.

I started when I was about 10. And at 110kg, you can't say that I'm not a big programmer ;)
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Belial » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:39 am UTC

Some Asshole wrote:EDIT:
netcrusher88 wrote:
And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.


I can vouch for this. That strange kid became my girlfriend of four years and counting.


Well, I'm sure a lot of folks are gonna think romantically in that sense, but it could just mean taking the time to talk to the nerdy outcast in your homeroom, not necessarily the geeky girl you thought was cute.


Hahah. Yes, especially since he's referring to a specific strange kid....

And if they start dating, I'm going to be more than a little freaked out.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Carnildo » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:59 am UTC

Peripatetic wrote:** Sometimes I think classes in rhetoric should be brought back. Never mind what you're saying, say it better!


That might be nice. Have it replace something useless like the Advanced Algebra 2 class where I was marked down for figuring out how to extend matrix inversion to solve systems of n equations in n unknowns, or the English class where I lost 10% on a test for saying I didn't like The Diary of Anne Frank, and another 10% for my explanation of why I didn't like it.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby nodmonkey » Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:04 am UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.


I only started learning Java about a month ago - my first language to learn other than light dabbling in BASIC as a kid.

And I'm 27.

So, I'm hoping it's never too late. Yesterday IBM invited me to a 'selection day' for one of their graduate software developer roles... as far as I can see, if you're happy to work for a larger organisation, 'potential', 'interest in the field' and the ability to demonstrate core competencies in line with what the company wants are a lot more important than a list of languages you have mastered. A lot of big places get graduates they hire into in-house training schemes anyway.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Shpadoinkle » Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:30 am UTC

I misread Perl as Pearl at first, leading to an entirely different interpretation of the comic.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby mrbaggins » Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:50 am UTC

"I have not once yet let schooling interfere with my education"
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby jspenguin » Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:56 am UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.


I got my first computer (an Epson Apex / 8086 / CGA) when I was 4 (in 1989). I discovered DOS batch files at about 8. My first real programming language was Turbo Pascal 5.5 for DOS about two years later (I still have the compiler/IDE if anyone wants it).

I then learned, roughly in order, Javascript, Perl, Java, C, Python, Lua, Ruby, and dabbled in a few others along the way.

Once you learn 5 or 6 languages, learning a new one is just a matter of skimming the documentation, or in some cases just looking at code examples.

Currently, the language I use most is Python, followed by C, Lua, and a bit of Javascript.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby mesiash » Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:33 am UTC

I'm not good with numbers :) 11th grade ar 17yo kids? I'm not from States, so I dunno ;)

I must disagree with one thing. I know not many programmers care for social acceptance etc., but when I was in high school, it was the only matter i went there. And I started programming on college, but not yet good with all these silly classes and methods :) Turbo FTW (friend told me that he is writing his grade work in TP :shock: - he's studying at Warsaw Tech, but dunnno how to translate the name of the studies - Mechanics and Airborne Energetics? )
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby gkemp » Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:54 am UTC

I find the timing of this comic quite humorous, i just spent a week doing homework like little machine, i finished, and xkcd has a comic about that kind of stuff. This made my day.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Dobblesworth » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:20 am UTC

While I certainly agree with today's strip, I have to offer one piece of worthwhile educational content of the years leading up to A-Levels. That my friends, is Ox-Bow Lakes. The Formation of Ox-Bow Lakes as a geographical process is, was and shall continue to be vital to the survival of humanity. We must ensure that such vital teaching remains in the education system for generations to come.

I jest, it's the most worthless piece of knowledge, yet somehow every British schoolkid who's not shagging the supply teacher or smoking crack can quote it exactly...
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Threb » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:36 am UTC

On a semi-related note, is it just me, or is the quality of a teacher in school directly proportional to how much they ramble and tell stories about things unrelated to the subject? This year, I have an amazing Spanish teacher whose most commonly used phrase is probably "I gotta tell you a story, guys" and whose favorite activities are mentioning Greek philosophers and pointing out Greek word origins, seeming really proud, (in an odd way) that the words came from Greek. (Guy can read and write Hebrew, as well. He's all around awesome.) His class is the only one I learn a lot in consistently. (though that could be in part due to having no knowledge of Spanish gained from reading books. I kind of just 'ended up' in the class, but I'm very pleased with it.)

Other teachers that have rambled like this have been my favorites, too.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby stormoftara » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:41 am UTC

The only useful thing I did in high school was to make a statue so big I could not remove it from the campus.

Last I heard it was still in the nurse's office. My ever lasting legacy to NBHS. Other than my legendary jump into the swimming pool while wearing my clothes. Cause I was hot. Yeah I was crazy.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Maybe2posts » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:46 am UTC

Another first time poster, this seems to be the cool place for them to hang out. And even though I have followed xkcd for more than a year, have read every single one multiple times, had about a million 'get out of my head Randall' moments, this one has touched me the most. I was the strange kid in homeroom, and the alt text is exactly how I feel. Although I was in 12th grade. Still touched me.

And I also have to agree with Threb. I swear the unrelated rambling stories are the best part of high school, definately the most educational.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Poochy » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:06 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.
Well, I started sometime in elementary school. First started playing around with computers at age 2, became mostly computer-literate by age 3 (though not fully English-literate - thankfully, GUIs had rolled out and I just remembered what the little pictures were), and started with programming a couple years afterward. Not sure when exactly I started, but I still have some of the stuff I wrote when I was 10, so it's sometime before that.

Don't sweat a late start, though. I know a couple people who are still getting along as a CS major just fine despite having little to no programming experience entering college.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Rustrum » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:22 pm UTC

Very true. And now because my laptop fried, i have absolutely nothing to do in school, its horrible.

It wouldnt even be all that bad if only my teachers werent all teaching posthumously. I mean, combined they have enough wrinkles to go two times around the globe. At least.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Sonja » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:26 pm UTC

I wish I had messed with Perl more as a highschooler. I wouldn't be sitting her with a Linux exam in two and a half hours going 'shit I don't know perl'!

Thinking about it, I really should have learned more of it on my own time, instead of what the instructor showed us in class, as I really didn't understand any of that.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby boxbrown » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:53 pm UTC

So true in real life! Also it's true in Superbad and other teenage comedies.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby carlc75 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:03 pm UTC

Did anyone else read this comic and assume "Perl" was one of Monroe's old girlfriends.

When language names are interchangeable with women's names, I always imagine an melancholic programmer thinking of a way to immortalise a memory.
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