The Most Powerful Piece of Code Ever Written

I’ve been programming for two years now. There’s still a lot for me to learn, but I’ve come a long way since deciding to learn how to code and since writing my first program.

I’d always been reluctant about programming. Everything about it felt so esoteric: arbitrary punctuation, use of characters I’d always considered decorative (like backticks, vertical bars, backslashes, angle brackets), words like “static”, “public”, “private”, “var”, whimsically strewn across oddly formatted  text. Yikes!

Programming looked scary, and it seemed like something only certain people could do. But even scarier was the feeling that I’d be left out and left behind.

I mustered up the courage to get started and asked my software developer (at the time) boyfriend to teach me how to program. “Okay”, he responded. “Write a program that prints “Hello, World!”. I assumed he meant print as we generally use it in the non techie sense, as in, send to printer. The thought of another definition never even occurred to me. And, foolishly, instead of asking him what he meant, I assumed he expected too much of me, or worse, that he simply didn’t want to help me.

It wasn’t until months later, when I tried a Codecademy Python tutorial, that I realized how easy this task was! Print, in this context, meant something entirely different from what I thought it meant. My boyfriend was actually trying to encourage me by recommending this meaningful little task as my first program. I should have asked for clarification, and I shouldn’t have given up so easily.

Today, I decided to slay this dragon, to complete this task that so perfectly represented my fear and my stubborn belief that becoming a programmer was out of my reach. I was going to write a program that prints “Hello, World!”, in the general non techie sense, and I was going to dedicate my whole morning to doing this!

It took less than 5 minutes.

import os
outfile = open("helloworld.txt", "w")
outfile.write("Hello, World!")
outfile.close()
os.startfile("helloworld.txt", "print")

This script only works on Windows computers.

The Surprising Case of the Unsurprising Translation

Google Translate is the best, even when it’s not:

So what happened here?

  • unsurprising correctly translated to oöverraskande, verified by the Translate Community
  • oöverraskande translated to oöverraskande, meaning it didn’t translate at all
  • oöver translated to unbeatable boat characteristics, which, whaaaat?! It shouldn’t translate at all…
  • unbeatable boat characteristics translated back to oöver, which makes some sense
  • unbeatable boat characteristic translated to oslagbar båt karakteristik, which also makes some sense

But how did we get “unbeatable boat characteristics”?

My theory: Google Translate is a fan of the Vasa and its oöverträffbart båtskrov.