Still, I find it hard to understand how someone shows up on his first day of class at a university or community college, taking his first ever programming class, with virtually no previous experience programming. It's as though CS is attracts some people due to its applicability to the job market rather than for the love of programming. I think we see that a lot with professions such as nursing, law, "business"..
I'm not so sure that someone going into 1L or first-year nursing knows much about their field, unless they've been doing a ton of subject matter reading. Those students get into their programs because their aptitude has suggested they'll do well in that field. As far as that goes, I would suggest that it's way easier for someone to arrive at first-year CS already intimately familiar with database arcana, all kinds of networking information, and deep knowledge of one or more languages. They'd be the ones fiddling over cleaning up their program output and making the source code squeaky clean instead of walking that cute blue-eyed girl home (guilty!).
I would say that the barrier's a little higher for those on Windows-based systems, because the simplest 'Hello, World!' program means creating a window and writing text into it. However, I haven't used an VB or C++ IDEs -- perhaps writing something like that's trivial -- but getting that done in a command line environment like the one that Linux provides is way easier.
Alex / talexb / Toronto
Thanks PJ. We owe you so much. Groklaw -- RIP -- 2003 to 2013.