Last night I couldn’t help going back to Squeak to play with it after the kids were to bed. I decided to make a critter to play with. I drew a fat red spider with googly eyes and named it Goober.
One of the first things I made Goober do was run away. I gave him a wiggly, back-and-forth run, and I made it so that when he got to the edge of his box he’d make an almost complete turn. I set the run to start when the mouse hovered over him, and to stop when he hit the edge of his box.
It was cool… until I thoughtlessly closed the little scripting box that constituted Goober’s brain. It would be easy to get it back of course and keep programming him…….. if I could right-click on him.
I couldn’t, though. He was too fast. I spent minutes amazed that my own programming creation had escaped my power, trying to click on him and watching him get away. Every programmer has had a program run out of control, infinite loop, too-deep recursion, too-fast memory leak, whatever. It happens. But there was a uniquely personal quality to having programmed a little critter to try to get away from you and being unable to catch it because it could move faster than you could click the mouse on it.
Goober dragged a pen behind him so he left a record of his attempts to escape my right-click (screenshot).
I eventually got it to stop somehow. I don’t even remember how. And I kept on programming. It was a lot of fun. But I’ve never had a programming experience quite so visceral as chasing Goober across the squeak screen as he evaded my every move. Very cool.