FORTRAN – The First Programming Language

Long before Java, Python and C# came along, some smart chaps at IBM, namely John Backus, came up with one of the first widely used programming languages, FORTRAN.

Still used today, FORTRAN has been part of computer programmers’ repertoire for 60 years.

Here’s a brief history of this revolutionary language.

Background

Around the time when FORTRAN was being developed, computers received their instructions through hand coding, as high level programming languages were difficult to use due to the limited memory capacity of 1950’s computers.

FORTRAN is credited as being one of the first compiler languages, which completed avoided the need to program using machine assembly code.

Although computer scientists were initially sceptical, the increased speed at which they could work with FORTRAN soon changed their minds. In later interviews, FORTRAN creator Backus has cited his laziness as one the motivating factors in creating FORTRAN, stating his desire to make it easier and faster to write programs.

Various versions of FORTRAN were created as the initial language was cleaned up and expanded. However, during the 1960’s and 1970’s problems began to emerge as individual programmers created their own FORTRAN dialects to suit their particular needs. This generally came to an end in 1990, with the release of FORTRAN ‘90’.

The code

Before disk files and text editors, programmers wrote code on punchcards which were fed into a card reader. Here is an example of FORTRAN code on a 1950’s punchcard.

The first version of FORTRAN had 32 basic commands. These included.

DIMENSION

EQUIVALENCE

and

IF

“Hello world!” example:

program helloworld

print *, “Hello world!”

end program helloworld

Usage today

Sixty years and an incredible number of technological advances later, FORTRAN is still being used to this day. FORTRAN is particularly useful for large scale number crunching and scientific computing such as computational fluid dynamics, numerical weather prediction and finite element analysis.

Sources:

https://www.ibiblio.org/pub/languages/fortran/ch1-1.html

http://groups.engin.umd.umich.edu/CIS/course.des/cis400/fortran/fortran.html

Coding for Beginners – How to Get Started

To the uninitiated, learning code can seem like a truly insurmountable challenge. Faced with lines and lines of random letters and symbols, you would be forgiven for thinking learning Chinese might have been a better choice. Fear not, learning code is not quite as daunting as it used to be, with a wide array – excuse the pun* – of resources to help you.

BENEFITS OF LEARNING CODE

There are many benefits of learning to code and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become a developer at the end of it. Of course, if you reach a good level of proficiency you can save money by building your own websites or programs using your new found skills. You will also be able to make changes to things on your site without having to consult external help.

 

Another incredibly useful benefit of learning at least some code is the ability to understand how a website or program is built and communicate more easily with the programmers you work alongside. From a position of knowledge rather than ignorance, you will have a better idea of whether tasks are possible and how long they might take.

 

Lastly, like any new skill, such as learning a language or driving a car, learning to code will push your brain to places it doesn’t usually go to. If you are a more creative, words-based kind of person, getting to grips with programming languages will take you out of your comfort zone thus improving your problem solving and logic skills. Even if you never use the code you’ve learnt, it’s still a worthwhile activity.

WHERE TO LEARN

Convinced? If you decide to learn some code but don’t know where to start, there are many free resources on the internet which can help you. Here are some of the best:

Free Code camp

http://freecodecamp.com/

Free Code Camp takes you through a series of challenges and by the end it you can provide some code for non-profit organisations. If you get stuck there is a large community of fellow coders to help you out.

Code Academy

https://www.codecademy.com/

Code Academy are trying to ‘disrupt’ education by introducing new methods of learning and teaching. Code Academy offers a series of challenges to learn code, with a forum of people to help you along the way and a sandbox where you can try out your code.

Code.org

https://code.org/learn

Code.org provides learning resources for a wide age range, from children to adults. You can create your own games or learn code whilst playing games! It also provides useful advice for teachers who need help teaching code to elementary school aged children.

Code School

https://www.codeschool.com/

Code School focus on teaching programming languages through fun and entertaining content. They combine videos and browser-based coding challenges to make learning fun. Like the others, there is also a ‘Support’ section if you run into problems.

WHICH LANGUAGES TO LEARN

This question could (and will) take up an entire blog post in itself and of course the answer is ‘it depends’. Most people recommend starting with JavaScript and certainly if you’re looking to work on websites, then knowing JavaScript and some HTML/CSS will serve you well. Besides that, Java, C#, Python, C and C++ are probably the most commonly used languages but it depends what you’re goal is. Mashable did a pretty concise article on this if you need more information.

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

So you’ve decided you want to learn code, you know which languages you’re going to start with and where you’re going to learn. So what are you waiting for? Go get started! And if you turn out to be a programming whizz, why not see if Techloop.io can find you a job?

 

*if you get the pun, then you’re doing well!

Why Learn to Code?

Learning at least some code is becoming increasingly important in today’s computer run world. For those considering learning, here are some of the benefits.

If you’re not sure where to start, read our other blog post on coding for beginners.

Is Working From Home As Good As It Sounds?

Working from home or ‘home office’ is an increasing trend in today’s working world, facilitated by advances in communication technology and mobile computing. For many employees, especially those working in IT, digital or online sectors, the option to work from home at least part-time is becoming as common and expected as a lunch hour.

Recent studies show that in the US, for example, the number of people working from home has more than doubled since 2005, demonstrating the dramatic increase in this method of working. However, other recent studies are conflicted on the real benefits of working from home. Some claim increased productivity, whilst others cite serious implications for psychological well being.

So, working from home – is it as good as it sounds?

 

ADVANTAGES OF WORKING FROM HOME

Of course, there are many great benefits working from home can provide.

These include:

  • Flexibility in the working day, allowing you to run errands, pick up children or work according to your natural schedule.
  • No distractions from other people in the office.
  • No need for a time consuming, unhealthy and costly commute.
  • Communication with colleagues can be maintained by a host of online tools such as Slack, Google Hangouts and Skype.
  • Money saved by employer on rent and upkeep of work premises.

One of the more surprising results of a recent survey by the Harvard Business Review showed that people who work from home can actually be more productive than those in the office. In the particular case they followed, home office employees answered 13.5 per cent more calls than regular staff, equating to almost one extra working day per week. Those who worked from home also reported a higher level of job satisfaction.

So all is well! Let’s pack up our stuff and head home to start our new modern work life.

Well not everyone is in agreement that working from home is without problems. Here’s why.

Why working from home might not be such a good thing

Despite the rise of working from home, there has been increasing caution issued on the supposed benefits of this style of work. A new study by Psychological Science in the Public Interest has cast shadow over the idea of working from home, claiming the lack of human contact stifles creativity, reduces productivity and lowers the morale of employees.

The study claims that whilst working from home now and then can be beneficial, permanent home office could be costing companies millions of dollars in lost productivity and innovation.

Critics of the home office trend point to the most successful companies in tech, the likes of Facebook and Google who encourage interaction amongst their colleagues and have created large, pleasant working spaces with the goal of fostering ideas and creativity.

There are other psychological problems with working from home, most notably the inability of people to differentiate between work time and free time.

Working from can blur the lines between work and social and those working from home can find it difficult to switch off at the end of the day or switch on at the start of the day. Many underestimate the benefit of going to a designated work space and the way the commute can focus the mind into work mode.

5 TIPS FOR WORKING AT HOME

With these challenges in mind, here are five ways you can improve you working from home experience and ensure you are productive yet balanced in your work and home life:

See our infographic for a more visual representation.

1. Have a designated working area

Even if you live in a small flat, dedicating one part of your desk or table to work can do wonders for your concentration and focus. Try not to work in places you normally relax and socialise. If you’re struggling, go to a cafe or shared working space to simulate the office environment.

2.Get up, get dressed and have a routine

Whilst it can be tempting to stay in bed all day when you’re working from home, this is the worst thing you can do. Get up and get dressed as if you’re going to work to kid your brain into getting itself ready for a full day’s work.

3. Leave the house at least once during the day

Being cooped up all day in your home can lead to a ‘cabin fever’ type feeling and ultimately is quite an unhealthy way to spend your day. You should always aim to leave the house at least once during the day, to do the shopping or run an errand to get a change of scenery.

4. Have a to-do list

With no-one there to watch over you it can be tempting to put work off or to spend too long on one thing at a time. Having a to do list not only keeps you focused in your unsupervised state but also prevents you from doing too much and gives you the satisfaction of having achieved your tasks.

5. Take advantage of the flexibility to the things you really want to do

Finally, if you’re feeling isolated or unproductive, make sure you are fully benefiting from the freedom and flexibility that working from home offers. Spend time with your family, visit a friend or take a stroll round the park to remind yourself how you lucky you are to be able to do such things whilst others are at work. A break of this kind can also help refocus the mind and increase your output when you head back to your desk.

CONCLUSION

All in all, it’s difficult to find a consensus on whether working from home is a good thing or a bad thing and it almost certainly depends on the individual, the company, and the type of work. What is clear, is that work is changing with the rise of different kinds of technology. We would love it if you told us about your experiences working from home. Does it work for you? Please get in touch.

 

Sources:

http://fusion.net/story/212971/working-from-home-telecommuting-sucks/

http://psi.sagepub.com/content/16/2/40.full?ijkey=EnhOwEhELZ4aI&keytype=ref&siteid=sppsi

http://greatist.com/connect/productivity-tips-for-people-who-work-from-home

http://www.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-wellbeing/the-effect-working-from-home-has-on-productivity-20151021-gkejof.html

http://www.abqjournal.com/662589/biz/careers/balancing-act-productivity-can-soar-when-working-from-home.html

Techloop at Web Summit 2015!

Techloop.io are delighted to say we’ll be in Dublin next week for the annual web conference, Web Summit.

Web Summit is one of the largest conferences in the world dedicated to the internet and all things online, bringing Fortune 500 companies, influential CEOs and inspirational speakers together.

 

Furthermore, this year’s Web Summit is a milestone in itself, as it marks the last time the conference will be held in its spiritual home Dublin. From next year, Web Summit will be held in Lisbon, Portugal.

 

Over 30,000 attendees will be heading to Dublin next week hoping to catch some of the 1,000 talks. The talks are stretched over a variety of categories ranging from marketing to sport, food to code. Everything kicks off on Tuesday 3rd November and wraps up on Thursday 5th.

Some high profile names to present at the summit include Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack, and from the sporting world, two-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome.

 

Attendees will also be able to hear from a host of other innovative companies and startups including Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Tinder. With so much experience and expertise on offer, those who are lucky enough to attend are sure to gain a huge amount of valuable insight into all kinds of business and online topics.

 

And what will Techloop.io be doing at Web Summit?

Well, besides taking in some of the amazing talks and meeting some like minded people at the after parties, we will have our own stand on Thursday. If you’re going to be there, please come see us at stand V-174 in the Village Green area, we’d love to say hi!

You can find more information about Web Summit on their website.

5 Tech Toys to Put on Your Christmas List

Each year Christmas comes around and with a new selection of must-have gadgets and toys. As we get older we inevitably lean towards to the same old sensible (boring) stuff…

 

But who really wants socks, gift vouchers or another terrible jumper? Unleash your inner child and feast your eyes on this festive fivesome of tech toys for grown ups.

Samsung Gear VR Virtual Reality Headset

Price: 2500CZK (94EUR)

Virtual reality is the all the rage at the moment, most notably with Facebook ploughing lots of time and money into what they believe is the future of gaming and social interaction. The Samsung Gear Headset works with your Samsung Smartphone to provide a completely immersive experience.

At only 2500CZK (94EUR), it is a pretty affordable gadget for your chance to experience the future of gaming. As with a lot of technology, the Samsung gear is only as good as the apps it’s compatible with but the VR headset comes with over 100 apps and not all are games, the VR Headset also provides new ways to learn and interact with others.

For the price and the chance to glimpse the future, the Samsung Gear Headset should be top of your Christmas list.

RED5 hoverboard

Price: 15000CZK (550EUR)

Another of this year’s crazes, amplified by the recent ‘Back To The Future Day’, hoverboards are seemingly the must-have gadget this Christmas. With a host of celebrity endorsements from the likes of Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner, the hoverboard’s appeal just keeps on rising. We admit that it’s pretty cool to whizz around on these futuristic transportation devices but being based in Prague we already spend most of our time avoiding tourists on segways and aren’t’ sure we want to add hoverboards to the mix.

Also, they don’t hover.

Still, these space age boards will almost certainly be on a lot of people’s Christmas lists. At around 15000CZK, you’d better hope your friends and family have been saving up!

Parrot Bebop 2 Drone

Price: 12000CZK (440EUR)

OK, so the Parrot Bebop 2 Drone is pretty cool.

The Parrot Bebop 2 is one of the most advanced drone products on the market, allowing you to take stunning photos and explore the world around you, all from your smartphone or tablet.

The Bebop 2 features a 14 megapixel ‘fisheye’ camera which records amazing videos (which you can upload straight to YouTube) and takes incredible photos from positions you could never normally reach. The drone can even double up as a WiFi hotspot in case you need to check Twitter whilst you’re out flying.

You can set a ‘home’ location so that when you’re finished having fun with your drone it will automatically return home without the need for you to do anything. It’s a very smart piece of kit for anyone with a spare 120000CZK and can provide some pretty awesome photos and videos.

Retro Duo Portable NES/SNES Game System

Price 2500CZK (90EUR)

This Christmas you can take your retro gaming on the road with this portable NES/SNES gaming system which allows you to play all the Nintendo classics on the move.

Instead of (unethically) downloading an emulator for your PC, this portable console allows you to play all your own old Nintendo games with the added bonus of button mashing rather than tapping your laptop keyboard. Play Nintendo and Super Nintendo games plus with an additional RetroGen adapter you can play Sega Genesis games too!

All in all this is a great Christmas gift for nerds who love to game like it’s 1993!

Sphero BB-8 Droid

Price: 5000CZK (180EUR)

And finally our personal favourite, the Star Wars BB-8 Droid. We’ve had the little guy in our office for the past few months and we’ve completely fallen in love with it. You can control the BB-8 using an app on your smartphone, using Bluetooth to guide the droid around your office or home. If you get tired of steering BB-8 yourself, you can put him onto ‘patrol’ mode and let him explore by himself, watching how he carefully avoid collisions with walls, chairs and cats (mainly).

The BB-8 Droid toy is great fun, if a tiny bit overpriced at nearly 5000CZK, but well worth the money for a little bit of Star Wars in your home.

So there you have it, 5 tech gifts to put on your list to Santa this year!

Techloop.io is live!

After lots of hard work, we are delighted to announce that Techloop.io is finally live and ready to use!

WHAT IS TECHLOOP.IO?

Techloop.io is an online marketplace which allows job seeking developers and hiring companies to connect without recruiters.

FOR DEVELOPERS

For developers, looking for a new job can be very difficult. The moment you suggest you’re interested in a new position you are bombarded with emails and calls from recruiters trying to sell you the latest ‘Great opportunity’ or ‘Dynamic, young team’.

Not only that, but looking for a new job means risking your current employer finding out that you’re looking to move on. Obviously, this can cause all kinds of problems.

Techloop.io solves these problems by providing an anonymous marketplace for job seeking developers. Simply create an anonymous profile on techloop.io and wait for hiring companies to contact you.

When you receive offers you can choose who to interview with based on the company’s profile page. On this page you’ll be able to see the types of projects they work on, what the offices look like and what the current employees think about working there.

Not only this but salary information is provided up front, so you know the score from the start.

If you accept a job through Techloop you will receive a signing bonus of 500 EUR.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

FOR COMPANIES

As more and more companies need developers to bring their business ideas to life, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find them. With techloop.io you have access to a pool of talented, active job seeking developers.

We allow your company to create its own profile page listing your mission, ethos and company culture. The page also contains photos of your workplace and interview with yoru employees. All of this is designed to make your business as attractive as possible to developers.