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Thinking in C, Beta 2

10 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: May 12, 2006 8:35 AM by Robert K

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Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Thinking in C, Beta 2 (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Apr 8, 2006 11:52 AM
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Summary
(Closed) See Beta 3.
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The entry for Beta 3 is here.


Sasa Ebach

Posts: 4
Nickname: sv
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 8, 2006 6:01 PM
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Cool, this one works nicely. I only have one little nitpick. It would be nice to have a simple link back to the overview from the lectures. Just in case I open a lecture directly and cannot use the back button. I am looking forward to go through this. I really need to freshen up my C to be able to write modules for Ruby and other little programs. Thank you very much for this. There is not much good audio/video lectures for C around. Hope to see other lectures from you in the future.

Cleo Saulnier

Posts: 77
Nickname: vorlath
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 8, 2006 10:50 PM
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I looked at it. All I can say is that I'm flustered to find an appropriate way to describe what I encountered. I'll leave you with a short story.

I once had a prof that was very excited on seeing his student succeed and getting that "aha" moment. But going through required material, he was indifferent to it and sometimes his voice trailed off that you didn't even know if he was speaking anymore. This material in the beginning, which is the very foundation of the subject was often overlooked because the prof was WAY too knowledgable and could not connect with the students at this level. Neither could he convey the ideas in a manner that would flow naturally causing many to "lose footing".

True story. I just had flashbacks.

Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 9, 2006 6:16 PM
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> Cool, this one works nicely. I only have one little
> nitpick. It would be nice to have a simple link back to
> the overview from the lectures. Just in case I open a
> lecture directly and cannot use the back button. I am
> looking forward to go through this. I really need to
> freshen up my C to be able to write modules for Ruby and
> other little programs. Thank you very much for this. There
> is not much good audio/video lectures for C around. Hope
> to see other lectures from you in the future.

Interesting; I was considering adding such a button already. This feedback shows me it was a good idea. Thanks.

Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 9, 2006 6:18 PM
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> I looked at it. All I can say is that I'm flustered to
> find an appropriate way to describe what I encountered.
> I'll leave you with a short story.
>
> I once had a prof that was very excited on seeing his
> student succeed and getting that "aha" moment. But going
> through required material, he was indifferent to it and
> sometimes his voice trailed off that you didn't even know
> if he was speaking anymore. This material in the
> beginning, which is the very foundation of the subject was
> often overlooked because the prof was WAY too knowledgable
> and could not connect with the students at this level.
> Neither could he convey the ideas in a manner that would
> d flow naturally causing many to "lose footing".
>
> True story. I just had flashbacks.

From this description it's hard for me to tell whether you're saying you like Thinking in C or not. I do not think that Chuck's voice every "trailed off," and I think we tried pretty hard to produce good foundational material, so maybe you're saying you liked it.

Sasa Ebach

Posts: 4
Nickname: sv
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 9, 2006 8:11 PM
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By the way, the download was very slow. It took like more than an hour (averaging 10kbps). Maybe you could ask the guys at http://www.legaltorrents.com if they'd like to host your file (when it is out of beta) as a torrent or maybe do a tracker yourself.

Cleo Saulnier

Posts: 77
Nickname: vorlath
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 10, 2006 3:23 PM
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I don't like telling others the straight truth because it's not popular. Yet, I can see that you're denying that the narrator's voice trails off. It does. There's way too much dead air. The audio equipment is faulty. The decibal level is never the same. There's too much static in the audio. It's an amateurish presentation at best.

I haven't even gotten into the content yet. But right at the beginning, an overview should be just that: an overview. It's inconsistant. It says functions will be described later on, yet it tries to go into details about the main function. Just say that it's a function and the specific parts will be described later on. Many introductory topics need to be taken on faith. The student must be told this and that you'll go back at a later time to fit in the pieces. Otherwise the student will try and figure out what you're saying about the function when he or she should be concentrating on other things. The layout of the material is contradictory to this. The narrator cannot leave a subject alone for whatever reason and seems to stumble over his words because he doesn't how much to say or when to stop. Sorry for all the negativity, but I really hope this is a draft. If so, then it's a good start.

What I really don't understand is the target audience. If it's for people who already know another language, they don't need most of the material in this presentation. And it can't be for beginners because the material is lacking the basics even before you get into a language. Even in C, there is material that is lacking and out of order.

Like I said, the author seems to know too much and has no idea what a beginner needs to know. I tutor many people who start out programming and the questions they ask the most are not in the presentation or are not in the order shown.

I could go into specifics, but I would need to completely rewrite it. I'm not saying some students wouldn't get use out of it. I just can't see who.

Again, my apologies for the negativity. I'm not sure I should have even written anything. I know I hate hearing it. Many people have a talent for teaching or any other profession for that matter. But sometimes, you have to bite the bullet and admit that maybe you're just out of your league.

Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 10, 2006 5:26 PM
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I should probably give a little background so that people understand the context of this seminar.

It was initially recorded 8 or so years ago, in order to make a product for sale. At that time the technology for recording that we were using wasn't as good, and in later years we've reprocessed the sound in order to improve it. Although the sound isn't perfect, I do think it's quite understandable.

As "Thinking in Java" began being used as an introductory text (even though I hadn't created it for that purpose), there were complaints that it was assuming a background in C, so I began including a CD containing "Thinking in C" in order to help some people come up to speed.

In the third edition of Thinking in Java, the publisher dropped the ball on the CD and a large number of them came out cracked. People had a hassle getting new ones, and it was a bad deal all around. With the general increase in bandwidth in the world, I decided that I wanted to try delivering the essential contents of the CD, which is "Thinking in C", in an electronic format for people to download. That, ensconced in the Flash-based delivery system, is what you can download now. So even if the sound has a few flaws, the price is right.

In the index page, it clearly states: "Please note that we are assuming you have already written at least a few small programs in some programming language. You might still get some value from the seminar even if you've never programmed before, but that could require some extra effort at the beginning. You'll know by the end of the first lecture and exercises."

Thus, this is not a seminar for complete beginners; it's for people who have had some exposure to computer programming, even if it's scripting in a language like Perl or Visual Basic. So if you compare this to a course or book that attempts to teach people who've never even thought about programming a computer before, you will indeed find it wanting. It wasn't designed for those people.

In the context of the target audience, I wouldn't personally call it amateurish (in general, that term would not be considered constructive criticism, if that's what you were trying to offer -- it falls more in the realm of insult). Partly because Chuck is a professional teacher; as a college professor he is one of the most popular teachers in his department, and he has taught for years, presented seminars at conferences and for companies. I perceive him as a very good teacher. But again, if you did not read the section explaining that this seminar was not designed for people who had no exposure to programming, your expectations might lead you to that criticism.

This seminar clearly doesn't meet your needs, but over the many years that it has been published in one form or another, I've gotten good feedback about it, so I'm reasonably confident that a reasonable cross-section of people will find it valuable. And for those who don't, the price is right.

Cleo Saulnier

Posts: 77
Nickname: vorlath
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 10, 2006 10:59 PM
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I wasn't trying to offer constructive criticism. That would take too long and I'm not getting paid. I was only trying to shed some light on what is wrong with it so that you know what to fix it if you so choose (and if possible). But neither was I trying to insult. That serves no purpose.

I understood quite well that it was meant for people that had written a few programs before. But at what level exactly? The reason I can't figure it out is because the content (or more precisely the way in which it is presented) doesn't make sense for ANY target audience.

About a certain teacher being good, college prof's and their experience is hardly a sign of the truth. Post secondary educational institutions are well known for their crony-ism. So I don't buy your argument, but neither do I deny that this Chuck you speak of is a good prof. He may very well be.

My point is that teachers often can't connect with their students. They may know their material very well, and I've stated as much. But the presentation is what is lacking with most profs. And interest. That much, you can't deny is lacking in this presentation. When the narrator is bored, chances are the user or audience is too. But people in need of information will usually have to dredge through it. Because it is new information for them, many won't know how much easier they could have learned the material because they don't have anything to compare it to. So if you got good feedback, you may want to put in perspective.

Also, the price is right argument is very old and self-defeating. It's like saying you don't care about your creation and if other don't either, then whatever. If you know it's no good or you don't care, then don't put it out there. Otherwise, be ready to make it better or stand behind it. In other words, show some balls (to use a popular expression).

Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: Apr 11, 2006 11:21 AM
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> My point is that teachers often can't connect with their
> students.

I obviously wasn't clear. Chuck is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, professor in his department -- with the students.

And yes, to my ear, he is a dynamic speaker who is engaged with his material. I haven't heard this "trailing off" that you speak of, and in fact, it's hard for me to see that we're talking about the same thing.

> Also, the price is right argument is very old and
> self-defeating. It's like saying you don't care about
> your creation and if other don't either, then whatever.
> If you know it's no good or you don't care, then don't
> t put it out there. Otherwise, be ready to make it better
> or stand behind it. In other words, show some balls (to
> use a popular expression).

Just recently I've put about a full-time month in developing this version, and I've put lots of time and money in previous versions. I'd say I care about it, even if it doesn't meet your expectations. Because I've given away "Thinking in Java" in the past doesn't mean I don't care about that. Your argument would also suggest that anyone working on an open-source project doesn't care about it. It's a strange argument.

My point was that if you don't like it, it doesn't have as big an impact on you since you didn't have to pay money for it. You can just move on. And clearly it didn't work for you. It cost you a few minutes and no money to discover this. Would you have preferred that it cost you money and not worked for you?

> the content (or more precisely the way in which it is
> presented) doesn't make sense for ANY target audience.

Well, it seems to have been helpful for some people. Just because it doesn't make sense to you doesn't mean that it doesn't make sense for any targe audience. Clearly it does make sense, from feedback on previous versions, just not the audiences you understand.

> So if you got good feedback, you may want to put in
> perspective.

This is an odd sentence. You're saying that if I got good feedback, I should discount it because it doesn't agree with your experience.

This seminar is not for you, clearly. It doesn't make sense to you and it's not helping you. The teaching style that Chuck uses (which makes sense to me, thus you probably won't like my teaching or writing style either) doesn't make sense to you. It cost you a few minutes and no money to figure this out.

You say you're not trying to offer constructive criticism, and you're not trying to insult, so it's really hard to tell what you're doing. Being argumentative for its own sake, it would appear. If you can't offer constructive criticism to a beta, then your time is best spent elsewhere.

Robert K

Posts: 1
Nickname: compubomb
Registered: May, 2006

Re: Thinking in C, Beta 2 Posted: May 12, 2006 8:35 AM
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I have only 1 problem with "Thinking in C, Beta 3"; the problem is not a horrible one, but probably not an easily fixable one.

I notice as i listen to the voice dialog, i'm starting to get sleepy. If i ever had a professor who was that relaxing, i'd invite him to help me get to sleep on a regular basis, or use the voice recording as a good way to goto sleep. The voice is far too monotonous for my liking, but i do enjoy the good material and well thought out structure.

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