Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2011 June 10

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June 10[edit]

Back button[edit]

I seem to have lost the ability to go back to last screen previously viewed (alt-left arrow). How can I restore it please? Windows XP and firefox 4.0.1. Kittybrewster 10:13, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

We need some more information. Firstly, maybe there's a problem with the hardware - run Notepad or some other software that lets you check whether the left arrow key and the alt key each work. Secondly, try clicking the "Back" button in the browser instead of alt-left-arrow, and let us know if that works when the alt-left-arrow key does not. It may be a problem with some other software "hijacking" that particular key combo on your keyboard and not passing it along to Firefox. Thirdly, visit a couple of other websites and experiment with alt-left-arrow to see whether the problem behavior is all around the Web, or just on one website. Comet Tuttle (talk) 16:45, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
It seems that is not working / is greyed out on one one multi-window of firefox, while it is not on another. So it is not hardware. Kittybrewster 21:18, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for the dumb question but are you sure there is anything to go back to in that Firefox window? Nil Einne (talk) 22:50, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, if it opened a new window or tab, then you can't go back, since there is nothing previous in that window or tab. I've thought that the back button, in such a case, should close the new window or tab and return you to the previous one, but the software coders don't seem to agree with me. StuRat (talk) 07:20, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes I am sure. I can open a new window and go from URL to URL but never back. I can't refresh Ctrl-R either. Kittybrewster
Use 'F5' to refresh. (talk) 17:23, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't work. Kittybrewster 20:13, 11 June 2011 (UTC)


Exactly what is a blog and how is one set upPersephonelost (talk) 17:25, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Blog should do you nicely--Jac16888 Talk 17:41, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Fastest mainstream computer language to learn?[edit]

Which mainstream computer language would be the fastest for a beginner to learn? I mean languages which are used by programmers. Thanks (talk) 21:13, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

I don't know programming very well, but from what I hear Python isn't hard. --T H F S W (T · C · E) 22:22, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

You either want something like Scheme, which is designed to facilitate general programming understanding; or Perl, Python, Ruby, or PHP, (& JavaScript), which are the most popular "scripting" languages; or shell scripts (Unix land) or batch files (Windows land), which are somewhat more simple scripting systems usually used only locally. ¦ Reisio (talk) 23:16, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

I would caution about picking Scheme. Although it's designed as a teaching language, it was to teach computer science, rather than just programming. So there are a number of pons asinorums (e.g. immutability, recursion) which may be difficult for a beginning programmer to wrap their head around (but once they do, will make them a better programmer). I would second the recommendation for Python. Although not written explicitly as a teaching language, it was created by Guido van Rossum after his experience working with ABC, which was. Guido took what he learned from ABC, but altered it to be better suited for actual production use, rather than just teaching. But "which programming language is better for X" ventures into religious war territory - your best bet is to find resources or a community (either online or in physical space) which is willing to help you (and I mean you, specifically, at your current level) learn, to answer your questions, and to work through your stumbling blocks, and then go with the language they're using. Once you get the basics down, it's relatively easy for a committed person to switch computer languages. -- (talk) 16:39, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Python is good. I wouldn't inflict Scheme, or any other Lisp-based language, on my worst enemy. All those fucking parentheses -- there's no excuse for that sort of thing in the modern world. Looie496 (talk) 17:17, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
I would. Once you're good at Lisp, learning any other language is trivial. (talk) 17:22, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
I come from a school that teaches Racket, a dialect of Scheme, to first-year students. It's quite successful. In part, this is because the language is very direct. In Java, you have to use object-orientation to structure your code, and you're pretty much forced to use side-effects to do actual computation. In Scheme, you can learn to program first, and then pick up OO, side-effects, continuations, macros, etc., later. (I wouldn't say that learning any other language is trivial, since declarative languages like Prolog and SQL don't have a lot in common with Lisp or Scheme, but I agree with the folklore that it's faster to learn Scheme then Java than it is to learn Java.)
Incidentally, making a language that works like Scheme but doesn't have parenthesized syntax is a matter of ongoing research. (It's more subtle than it seems, and I will talk about it all day if given the opprotunity.) Whether this is useful or not is a matter of some debate, but I would argue that at least it would force people to find something more substantive to complain about ( : Paul (Stansifer) 18:05, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
My personal feel of a Forth was "a flavor of reverse LISP without parentheses". (I haven't tried any other concatenative languages though.) And Logo feels to me like some blend of LISP+Forth.
However, I will not recommend any of this to beginner: Lua should be the choice instead. It is incredibly simple. And it is gaining more and more popularity last few years, now surpassing Ruby, LISP/Scheme, Pascal, and comparable to JavaScript. --4th-otaku (talk) 06:18, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
In general I think any programmer of modern languages today recoils from these "teaching languages" because they are very alien from the syntax of any modern language. They look ancient, clunky, inflexible, and, frankly, not very powerful. To someone who knows, say, PHP or Java or C, they look hard. I don't know if this is really true — I know these languages have their supporters. But it seems like an awfully ass-backwards way of learning to program, unless you are really shooting for the kind of deep understanding that only CS majors care about (and most of those that I have met don't care much about that, anymore, for better or worse). I do think that it's fair to say that those languages were created for a very different era of computing, and if your goal is to quickly build useful applications, those languages are not going to be very satisfying. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:34, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
LISP, and Scheme in particular, are quite easy to learn (to a useful degree) if you do not have any preconceptions. Only if your mind is already locked into the mostly imperative but allegedly object-oriented framework, and into a C-like syntax, does Scheme look "hard" or "alien". And Scheme is a very useful language for anything that has some algorithmic complexity. That said, for beginners with some previous exposure, I tend recommend Python (which, BTW, has some unexpected similarities with LISP under the hood). --Stephan Schulz (talk) 19:42, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

With something like php you don't even really need to learn it to start using it. There are loads of guides available at and other sites. By looking at example scripts to see how they work and trial and error I manage to write quite complex php scripts without having to learn everything about php language AvrillirvA (talk) 17:55, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

I personally can't stand Python, but you can make good software with it, and there are plenty of jobs for someone that knows it. ¦ Reisio (talk) 20:44, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Are Rebol or Lua any good? (talk) 23:12, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

I've never heard of REBOL (I'm not sure if that should count against it), but the article page bills it as primarily a "cross-platform data exchange language" (and also a multi-paradigm dynamic programming language), which tends to indicate to me that it's use is probably confined to specialist usage - that is, it's probably not used to write programs themselves, but used as a glue layer to do cross-platform data exchange in specialized contexts.
Lua's a well-regarded scripting language, but in practice it's used primarily as an embedded scripting language. That is, while you can make independent programs with it, the most common application is to make a program in another language, and then include a Lua interpreter within it to control the workings of the surrounding program. If you're interested in some of the programs or video games that are Lua scriptable, that's actually a great way to learn programming by playing around. You can leverage the functions the game programmers include to do really interesting things in a short amount of time, as opposed to the traditional route of slowly building up functionality by doing "hello world" and factorial functions. -- (talk) 19:31, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
It should be noted, however, that Lua is well suited for both routes, not just embedding. Simply that the embedding is a field imposing particular requirements of small learning curve and high execution speed where Lua is the best technological choice for now. --4th-otaku (talk) 06:18, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Adjusting sound[edit]

How is one suppossed to adjust the sound for the music on this page: Happy hardcore? When you put your cursor on the loudspeaker symbol, a scale appears. But when you move your cursor towards it, it disapears. What is the secret? Thanks (talk) 21:25, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

The music is just a typical Ogg Vorbis file using HTML5 audio. Therefore it will depend entirely on which player you use. If you use the Cortado (Java) player (should be selectable via the 'More...' link) there is no volume adjustment so it's a moot point. If you use the native browser support then it obviously depends on your browser. On Chrome 12.0.742.91 there is no problem adjusting volume. On Firefox 3.6.17 and 4.0.1 you can adjust volume when the audio is loading but once it has loaded the behaviour you described happens. I guess it's a bug, try reporting it to the Firefox developers. If you are using a different browser you will have to look for help for that browser. If you are using a plugin for your browser rather then builtin support for HTML5 Ogg Vorbis then you will need to look for help with that plugin. Nil Einne (talk) 22:36, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
Found the Firefox bug is already reported here [1]. If I understand the discussion correctly, it will be properly fixed in Firefox 6 (unless perhaps there is sufficient community demand). Meanwhile the volume control may be hidden sometime in the future. Nil Einne (talk) 22:42, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
Meanwhile, as a workaround, I suggest you use your PC volume control. StuRat (talk) 07:16, 11 June 2011 (UTC)