What in the heck is a program? A program is a logical set of instructions. When I taught computing at a local college, the first thing I would ask students to do is to write out a list of what needed to be done if someone were to take your place. Once they completed that task, I praised them for writing their first program. If we want a computer to complete a task we have to give it a set of instructions. A lot of instructions have already been created for us to use such as operating system (what manages the computer i.e. Linux) and applications software or tools for humans to use to take advantage of the computer without having to do everything from scratch (i.e. LibreOffice).

How do we program or talk to the computer? Just as humans use several languages, we can do the same thing with computers to get them to do what we want. You can have instructions in Spanish, English, or a number of languages. Likewise computers have languages to that can be converted or translated to what it can understand. Actually, Your desktop computer, laptops, touchpads, and etc really only understand ones and zeros commonly known as machine language. So we need a way to talk to the computers to give them the instructions or program so they will do what we want.

High level computer based languages much like verbal languages have their own special form of nouns and verbs that are easy for us to understand. At the end of the article will be some examples of those. Hence. the “Habla usted Python?”. Python is an up and coming computer language. So we can know both a verbal language and a computer language. Most computer geeks probably know several.
Computers have special programs that can translate the high level programs to the ones and zeros it understands. These programs can compile or translate the code to the ones and zeros so the computer can allowed to do what we want.

So how do we get the computer to understand what we want. A programmer or even a user will create a set of instructions that will allow the computer to do what we want. Oops we said earlier that computers only understands ones and zeros. In the early days of computing, there were cartoons of programmers with thick glasses because they had to deal with all the ones and zeros. Today we can use a high level language such as HTML (Hypertext markup language) or a choice of many other languages. If you ever take a course in computer programming or open a computer programming book, the first thing you are usually asked to do is to get the computer to print out “Hello world!” to the screen. For example in html:

in a web browser would yield:

This is probably an oversimplification, but that is generally how it works. This page you are looking at is a wee bit more complicated. you can look at the source code of this page by going to the menu and choosing view and then source….

One of the reasons I want to be able to program my own computer is to have it do what I want and not what computer vendors will only allow me to do.

Note: newer programming environments allow you to point and click objects to put together a program instead of just typing in text.

But in any case you still have to type in at least a minimal set of instructions.

See some examples of traditional programming languages at:

Command for the day:
less – page through a file backwards and forwards using the command line.
$ less filename.ext

$ man less

for more info.
Slumming it with toast and gravy.

Good day.