Lottie Dexter on Newsnight

This post was originally a Facebook post in response to the following article and the appearance of Lottie Dexter, the director of the Government’s Year of Code initiative, on BBC’s Newsnight. The clip can be viewed on this website: http://politicalscrapbook.net/2014/02/tory-boss-of-government-coding-education-initiative-cant-code-lottie-dexter/, and the page on the government initiative is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/year-of-code-and-500000-fund-to-inspire-future-tech-experts-launched.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here: I don’t see this as a major issue. Firstly, she doesn’t know how to code, but she’s going to go through the process of learning, so she’ll have first hand experience of learning modern coding standards and technologies. Hopefully the process will be similar to, or a replica of, how they intend to teach it in schools, allowing the government to see what works and what doesn’t. Arguably, this process should have happened prior to creating the curriculum, but was obviously rushed through to get it out before election time. Continue reading

Memory Management – Part 3

So I finally have a little bit of time after the Christmas rush to finish off our 3 part post on memory management (see Part 1 and Part 2), by looking at garbage collection. So let’s dive in…

Garbage collection is a feature available to a number of programming languages, most notably .NET languages (e.g. C#), Java and Objective-C (though not currently available on iOS). Basically, garbage collection is kind of like, well, real life garbage collection. When you’re finished with something, you discard it, and at some point in the future everything you’ve discarded will get cleaned up by someone else (i.e. The garbage collector). Sounds like a perfect system, right? Just create what you want, discard it when you’re done and not worry about memory management. Unfortunately, a lot of people (myself included) soon come across the pitfalls of this approach, but with a little knowledge you can play nice with the garbage collector. Firstly, we’ll take a look at how garbage collectors generally work, then at some of the problems we can find ourselves in, and finally the solutions…

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