First there was BASIC. Then there was Quick BASIC.I had though we reached the end of the line with Visual BASIC. However there is now a new animal called Small BASIC. The goal behind this version was to make programming fun. It is supposed to be easy to learn. Therefore even young kids are supposed to be able to pick it up.

The author believes that this could be a good first programming language. It is based on dot NET. There are minimal concepts in the language. Some people who have tried it out say it reminds them of Python.

Like most BASIC implementations, it does allow use of the evil GOTO statement. There is built in support for extension libraries. Now there are other simple languages like Python, Ruby, and Alice. However the author says these do not have the same “charm” as small BASIC.

There are a total of 15 keywords supported by Small BASIC. Users have commented that it looks a lot like hackety hack. Others wonder why Visual BASIC cannot be a young developer’s first programming language. I for one know that VB can be a bit complex. I do recall the fun I had with BASIC as a youth. Perhaps even I will check it out.

Layoffs at Microsoft

There has been some bad news at Microsoft recently. Revenue from Windows sales has been low. This is causing the company to miss their earnings estimate for 2Q09. Nobody seems immune from the bad economy.

An outcome of the bad quarter is that Microsoft is laying of 5,000 people. Now Microsoft is a big employer, currently employing about 95,000 people. So this amounts to a little more than 5% of the workforce.

The real damage is in the image. Microsoft is one of those companies that used to dominate earnings year after year. My concern is that this may result in a pullback in product development. We shall see.