Short Takes on Python, Surveillance, and iPod Tax


Some short takes on news from the end of last week:

  • Dana Blankenhorn asks whether to teach his son Python or Java. He got a lot of comments. Almost everyone brought their crusader's sword and shield. As someone who's been in these discussions since the mid 80s (although then it was Pascal or Scheme), I can tell you that everyone will have an opinion and facts to back them up. I offer my two cents: Don't teach him a programming language; teach him to program. Grab a copy of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and DrScheme. If he works his way through that, he'll be able to pick up Java or Python and make them work without much trouble.
  • A recent Slashdot article makes much of the fact that new USPS stamp machines take your picture when you buy stamps and asks the question: "As the cost of cameras and digital storage approaches zero, is it inevitable that every machine you interact with will take your photograph and store it?" The answer is "yes."
  • Canadians have been paying a $25 tax (that's roughly 50 cents American) on every MP3 player to pay musicians and record labels for the copying that would occur when the devices were used. A Canadian judge has thrown that out saying that "MP3 player fees did not seem to be supported by the letter of the law." So, its back to Parliment.