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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:49 am 
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Does anyone here know of a good forum to ask for programming advice? Especially for "how do I" kind of advice.
Searching with google keeps directing me to stack overflow and all of its sister sites, but they shun people asking "how do I" questions; they are designed for people who have code already or who have specific direct questions. I'm looking for a good place to ask more open-ended questions that would be received by a knowledgeable programming community.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:05 am 
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A lot of people don't like quick questions that require complex answers, because the amount of effort needed​ to answer the question is disproportionate to the effort put into asking it. Open-ended questions might end up sounding like "write me a tutorial", which is quite a big thing to ask. Showing some test code and explaining where your research has led you to shows that you're taking things more seriously, which increases your chances of getting meaningful help.

Hardly anything nowadays is so obscure that you can't find anything about online, so anyone serious about something is expected to do some research before crying for help.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:39 am 
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That's fair, and in a lot of general circumstances that's exactly what is going on.
But there are still plenty of situations where that isn't the case. And this becomes especially true if a person doesn't know existing terms or descriptions. There are A LOT of things that people have already solved and learned how to do, but those solutions can't help someone if they don't know what to look for.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:58 am 
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Give us an example the type of questions you have.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:39 pm 
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I always thought nesdev.com was a good place to ask programming questions...


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:57 pm 
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I do ask on NesDev when I'm looking for algorithms or ideas to solve specific programming problems.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:15 pm 
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I am amazed at how much time some of the knowledgeable people on 6502.org's forum will give to others' code to help them figure out their problem. The active members' expertise ranges widely, and several of them are in this professionally and are very knowledgeable, yet patient with newbies. There's also the non-forum part of the website with for example the "Tutorials and primers" section and the source-code repository (and many others), and the wiki. (That said, NesDev is undoubtedly more appropriate for questions that are specific to NES.)

My own 6502-oriented site has lots of general-application (ie, not particularly game-oriented) 6502 articles and hundreds of 6502 links. Some of the articles are there as a direct result of seeing patterns of things that people had asked on the forum many times so it made sense to spend the time to organize the information clearly for them and for future visitors.

Tokumaru (who I think is on the 6502.org forum too) made some good points though. I haven't been on this NesDev forum long enough to have much of a feel for anyone's personal communications habits, whether good or bad, so the following is definitely not personal toward anyone here.

It's usually quite tedious to study someone else's code to figure out their problem, especially if the problem is partly due to the code being cryptic and chaotic; so do prepare your questions the best you can and make your code as readable as possible, and leave out parts that aren't relevant to the problem. (I often find that if I go to the effort to make the problem clear to someone else, the answer pops out at me anyway so I end up not even having to ask.) Your variables, labels, routines, constants, etc. should have meaningful names that are long enough that someone else can figure them out at first glance (or even you yourself if you come back to it after having had enough time to forget what you were doing). Comments should be clear. Use white space and vertical alignment to improve visual factoring. If it's a matter of research, it should be obvious that you've put some effort into it yourself rather than just (ab)using others to be your personal search engine and expecting to get instant canned answers. Be considerate of the time of others whom you hope to get help from, and the favor will come back to you in that you'll be more likely to get the needed help.

This is a fun field to be in. Best of luck.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:38 pm 
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Garth wrote:
Tokumaru (who I think is on the 6502.org forum too)

I haven't been there in ages, maybe I should drop by to see how things are. I love 6502 programming, but I can't think of many discussions to have about the CPU itself.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:30 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
Garth wrote:
Tokumaru (who I think is on the 6502.org forum too)

I haven't been there in ages, maybe I should drop by to see how things are. I love 6502 programming, but I can't think of many discussions to have about the CPU itself.

Wow, your last log-in was Apr 01, 2007, and you only have two posts there. I didn't realize it was that long ago! Sure, come back and visit. The forum has increased tremendously in expertise since them.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:37 pm 
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10 years, pfft, that's nothing! :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:56 pm 
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OmegaMax wrote:
Give us an example the type of questions you have.


Eh, right now I just have some basic beginner questions. Though I don't wish to ask them right now because I haven't tried to research most of them. Mostly I'm thinking I could use a good place to turn to when I hit a wall.
But as I said, right now I mostly have beginner questions. Or perhaps, just a bit beyond beginner. And honestly, it pisses me off how f***ing hard it is get good beginner information. Seriously folks, it's not even funny.
I was at a bookstore and I started looking through big textbooks on C++, and you know what they teach you in the first chapter? The "Hello World" supersize, output through cout.
A book on C++ that was printed this year, and the first thing they try to teach you is how to output to the console.
You know, that thing that hasn't been part of the operating system for the last TWENTY F***ING YEARS, and they are STILL trying to start off with that.
Before you could even teach people your first lesson, you'd have start off teaching them how to pull up the DOS-prompt, how to navigate and execute programs in DOS, and THEN you can teach them how to even see if the program from lesson one is even working right.

...Sorry, I just had to vent. I wasted a decade of my life trying to learn programming with horribly inadequate teaching methods, and it pisses me off that it is next to impossible to find people teaching programming in any sort of reasonable manner.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:55 am 
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Funny, it's still a part of my 2017 Linux system. Your fault for using a crap OS. ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 4:58 am 
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This has the basic DOS commands. (Unless I'm misunderstanding your complaint).

https://www.computerhope.com/overview.htm

Interesting side note, my first Windows computer was 95. I almost never had to use the command prompt. The only computer classes I took were at the 'computer lab' which had UNIX systems.

Edit, furthermore. I've been using Visual Studio lately, and you can write and run command prompt programs INSIDE the IDE. That is to say, I don't have to open a terminal and navigate. I suspect you can with other IDEs as well.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:01 am 
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You're correct about DOS not having been part of the OS for 20 years, however the CMD interpreter in Windows NT isn't DOS. It's the Win32 Console, which is very much alive and well.

Then there's the real Win32 Hello World without the C/C++ standard libraries... At some point the code within printf or cout will end up doing a call to WriteFile specifying stdout.
Code:
const char *str = "Hello World\n";
HANDLE stdout = GetStdHandle(STD_OUTPUT_HANDLE);
WriteFile(stdout, str, strlen(str), NULL, NULL);

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Last edited by Dwedit on Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:07 am 
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I think there are a couple of problems with learning to code these days. One is there are too many options, and too much information, so one often can get bound up in what I'd call "option paralysis." When I was a kid, there were many fewer options, so I could ease in to being a programmer more easily. For me it was QBasic. You can start off with simple commands that only work inside QBasic, and as you move along you start to learn how to do more advanced things like interact with the hardware.

Pico-8 seems like a modern version of this basic idea. If you're 100% new to programming...and ultimately interested in game programming, I honestly couldn't imagine a better way to start. This video series about Pico 8 is excellent. After this intro video he does a series that guides you through making a breakout clone.

Pico 8 video series intro


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