40 years of programming

It been 40 years since my first experience of programming as an undergraduate at Strathclyde University.

It was very different experience from today, to begin with programs were written on punched cardsibm-punchcard

prepared on punch card machinepunch-card operator

with no delete, you punch the wrong character you discard the card and start again. Once you had typed your program it was handed over to the computer operations staff who would process the job and, depending on how busy the department was your output would be available on 132 char wide printout when completed. The last thing you wanted to see was a compilation error as you were back to punching a replacement for the card containing the error, back to computer operations then wait for printout. You certainly got into the discipline of ensuring that your syntax was correct first time. My first programming language was ALGOL68-R.

Since then I have dabbled in a range of other programming/scripting languages, Assembler, Pascal, C, C++, Prolog, Ruby, Python, Perl, JavaScript, PHP and Java to name a few. In most cases the reason for getting involved in a language came as I encountered a problem I wanted to get around where there was nothing available to do what I wanted.

It quickly became apparent that the best way to get to grips with a language was to use it to solve a practical programming program, not just learning the syntax, data types etc. Only when trying to resolve a real world issue do you get to grips with a language. Even then, as a hobbyist, you can miss more efficient solutions.

Today, with so many cloud services providing Application Program Interfaces, API’s there is great scope for developing utilities and tools that can customize how you access and use these applications.

I don’t have an idea for the next great app but there are times when I catch myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be good if……?”

Recently I have had more time to devote to programming, early last year I took an on-line course on Android Application writing, Begin Programming: Build Your First Mobile Game, and subsequently was involved in testing a revision of the course moving from the use of the Eclipse I.D.E. to Android Studio.

This has got me more active in programming again and I am now working on developing utilities to personalize the way some cloud based apps work for me, and who knows, if I find it useful perhaps other folks will too.

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Using Linux one year on


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Roberts Stream 93i Review



The Roberts Stream93i DAB/DAB+/FM/ Internet Stereo Sound System with 3 Way Speaker System is a great piece if technology.

It offers DAB/DAB+,FM,WiFi,Internet Radio, Music Player ad Spotify Connect.  The sound quality is surprisingly good from such a compact device.

Looking at the list of features:-

DAB and FM radio are pretty self explanatory, you can listen to conventional radio broadcasts with the ability to have 5 preset channels on DAB and FM using the keys but you can save 40 presets on DAB and FM that can be selected using the built in screen.

Internet Radio required connection to the internet, with the Stream 93i you have two options, you can connect the radio to your router using a cable, or you can connect to wi-fi.  Once connected you can browse an online database of internet radio stations.  In addition to this you can access the database from a web browser and add your own stations if required.  As with DAB and FM you can have 40 presets.

Music Player enables you to listen to music stored on your PC or via a USB device plugged into the back of the radio.

Spotify Connect allows you to play spotify selections to be played under the control of your iPad, iPhone or Android device, requires a Spotify Premium Account.

Additional Features

  • ability to set two alarms set to either buzzer or radio.
  • Sleep timer set from 15 to 120 mins
  • Equalizer with 8 presets and the ability to create your own pofile
  • Headphone socket
  • Aux in for playing from external device.
  • Remote Control supplied with the sound system
  • Free app for android and iOS which allows you full control of the sound system via wi-fi

In an ideal world it would be nice to have Bluetooth to connect to wireless headphones however this is easily fixed by using a Bluetooth transceiver like ESYNiC AD2P Bluetooth Music Transmitter Sender/ Stereo Audio Dongle, plug it into the headphone socket and you are able to listen via Bluetooth and control the sound system over wi-fi from your tablet or smartphone.

If you are looking for a flexible, controllable sound system I would strongly recommend taking a look at the Roberts Stream 93i.

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