John Topley’s Weblog

How Soon We Forget

I first started programming for the PC in about 1996. I'd seen some screen shots of Visual Basic 4.0 in a computer magazine and thought that it looked pretty good and quite different from the boring programming in BASIC that I'd done at school. Fortunately a friend persuaded me to try Delphi 1.0 instead and started off a love affair with the product that's lasted ever since. Sure, there have been waverings. The purchase of a C++ book during a mad period when I considered making a serious effort to learn that language. Luckily, sense prevailed and I realised that for the sort of programming I was involved with I'd be thousands of times more productive sticking with Delphi; which by this time was 32–bit and had lots of new features to get excited about. So I treated myself to another Delphi book to atone for my infidelity. There were also odd distractions such as tinkering with Web languages; a bit of HTML here, some Javascript there and grand dreams about an awesome personal website, which came to nothing (until now that is!)

Nowadays I find myself in a position which I never thought I'd be in. I haven't touched Delphi for months and struggle to even remember how to write the simplest statements in the language. I feel so guilty about this that I double–click the Delphi shortcut once in a while, sort of like taking a neglected old pet for a walk. And then I realise that I haven't got anything that I want to write—or more accurately, anything that I have time to write properly—and close Delphi down again.

It's not even as if anything has supplanted my Delphi. All that's changed is that I'm now employed professionally as a programmer and I find that I don't want to spend the evening programming after a day at the coal face with J2EE. I spent a year using Visual Basic 6.0 at work and now that we've switched to Java I find that the same thing is happening again and that my VB knowledge is evaporating (some might claim that's a good thing)! All of which proves that languages are like muscle: use them or lose them.

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Languages are like muscle: use them or lose them.


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