Hell, World!

As time drudges on, the past makes sneaky echoes that we are sometimes stunned to notice.

I'm sitting cross-legged today, clanking on my custom X210 ThinkPad — a modded X201 with new internals (8th gen i7, 32GB DDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD). I'm performing my routine monthly search for a programming language that doesn't suck, and I'm being pedantic as usual and blowing off any language that doesn't have string interpolation and support for lamdas. I'm trying a few languages that I don't think I'll immediately hate by coding up the traditional "Hello, World!" to see if I like the feel.

Unaware of the typographical error I made, I compile the program. I run it. The console prints out:

Hell, World!

Suddenly, I'm in junior high again. My father is a computer scientist that somehow thinks that what he does is cool. I don't want to do that boring crap. I want to make funny animations and whatnot. I've been getting more and more into Macromedia Flash, but lately I've had some ideas for silly games and I hacked up ActionScript to sort of make them work.

I run my latest game. It starts up and it actually works! The music is playing, too! Wow, that was easy! Just listen to the reggae—wait, what's that I hear?

My father is fidgeting with his keys at the front door, trying to make it back into our home. He is coming home from his boring banal work where he was debugging some code for some lame spaceship. I rush over to the door, and try to unlock it before he does. It's a draw.

"Look at this game I made!" I eagerly shout. I drag him over to our family computer, an iMac — we only use Apple computers at home.

He looks at the game.

I had taken an image of Bob Marley, vectorized it, made an animation where his mouth moved like a ventriloquist's dummy, and created an object for it with key-frames where it was facing four different directions. I put this object in a Pac-Man like game that I managed to get actually working (despite some bugs).

"It's called 'Pac-Marley'," I says.

He chuckles.

"Play it," I command, all sly-like.

"Okay," he says. He starts to play it.

As he plays, I duplicitously say, "Listen to the music," and turn up the volume almost to the max. It's "Stir it Up." He chuckles again and continues playing. He apparently was a Pac-Man professional in his youth and makes a comment about the buggy behavior that I hadn't figured out how to fix.

Right as he completes the level, the computer screams and shakes a picture of the girl for The Exorcist. Father is startled. I explain to him that I didn't want to try to make more levels, so I made it jump-scare at the end of the first-and-only level, instead.

Conversation continues . . . and now it's almost after dinner. He's trying to show me what the kind of programming he does is. He goes and audibly digs through all the books in his closest.

As I finish the meal, he comes back into the kitchen with the book. It's a C++ book he found from his college-days. He flips through some of the pages, and points at some of the code, spouting esoteric terms that sounds like it might be Elvish.

"That looks harder than ActionScript," I say.

"It's easy," he says. "Look, I'll show you."

He gets his black work laptop, and opens up a text editor, and says, "Alright, come here."

I go there. Now he wants me to sit at the computer and type.

Alright, he says. "I added some standard imports for you."


He explains, but I don't understand. I pretend to, though, and nod my head. He quickly explains the main(...) function to me, but I don't understand why it has to return a number, or even what "returning" really is in this context.

He continues explaining to me, and starts telling me things to type. After the main() function is right and we have this thing called cout, he gives me more instructions.

"Alright, now do two 'less-than's," he says.

"Like this?" I ask, uncertain because it seemed a little strange.

"Yep," he says. "Now in quotation marks, type 'Hello, World', add a semi-colon at the end, and then click this button," he says, pointing to a button of the text-editor.

"Should there be a comma after the 'Hello' in 'Hello, World'?" I ask.

He is unsure. I decide to use a comma, and then I click the button that he pointed out. A console appears. The console prints out:

Hell, World!

He laughs, because neither of us caught the typo until now. I get up from the laptop at this point. It was more work than the Pac-Marley game and not as interesting. If that's what programming is, I don't want to do it. I'll stick to making animations on the iMac.

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