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The CS Primer Show

Author: Charlie Harrington and Oz Nova

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A show about computer science and computer science education by Charlie Harrington and Oz Nova.
18 Episodes
Programming is the best! We're chatting with Thorsten Ball (self-published author of Writing an Interpreter in Go and Writing a Compiler in Go) about all of our mutual favorite topics: learning new stuff, great textbooks, writing, and why bugs are actually great (a gift, even!).ShownotesWriting an Interpreter in Go (Thorsten's book): Writing a Compiler in Go (Thorsten's book) The Dragon Book (compilers)Thorsten's newsletter: Thorsten's website Sourcegraph 
Zach Latta is the founder of Hack Club ( Zach's a high school dropout who's now helped 30k high school students around the world start their own coding clubs. He also helped build the much-beloved "yo" texting app in 2014. This is a fun conversation about coding in school, being a kid, the importance of friendship in learning, and realizing that you can make awesome stuff with awesome people in this world.Shownotes:Hack Club László Polgár Yo App: Neopets Putting the You in CPU Pizza Hut BOOK-IT Program
Oz and Charlie brainstorm their "Stripe Press for kids" publishing idea! Shownotes:Klutz PressCharlie's blog post about Klutz PressHacker News discussion about Charlie's Klutz Press blogLittle Schemer: Algebra: A Student Friendly Approach: Systems: A Programmer's Perspective: CeleronThe Diamond AgeQuantum CountyExecute Program Mitsumasa AnnoOz's Requests for Collaboration 
Brandon Hendrickson (creator of says no one's ever asked him about the sabertooth tiger skull in his Zoom background - until now! Brandon's a teacher steeped in the ideas of Kieran Egan - a prolific educational theorist who believes the world is FASCINATING and that IMAGINATION is key to how we humans learn. We explore how Egan's approach could work for autodidact software engineers, offer untold book suggestions, and, of course, propose some ways that ChatGPT might be able to help us along the way.Shownotes:Science is WEIRDBrandon's 2023 Astral Codex Ten book review contest winning review of Kieran Egan's THE EDUCATED MINDKieran Egan (wikipedia)A New History of Greek Mathematics - Reviel NetzDie Hard water jug challenge XKCD someone is wrong on the internet
Brit Cruise creates educational videos, learning experiments, and other amazing things that "connect young people with their futures as young as possible." He's worked with Khan Academy, Codecademy,  Pixar, Disney, Unity, and more to conjure up magical educational experiences for kids.Shownotes: Brit Cruise's website Storyxperiential X in a Box Art of the Problem Pixar in a Box Khan Academy  James Burke "Connections"
Charlie wants to talk about the latest Paul Graham essay "How to Do Great Work" and Oz wants to talk about jiu-jitsu (again).Show notes: How to Do Great Work - Paul Graham  You and Your Research - Richard Hamming "Jozef Chen On Rapid Learning From Jiu-Jitsu Instructionals & Technique Tinkering" Jozef Chen recent competition victory Mikey Musumeci on Joe Rogan "There's no speed limit" - Derek Sivers Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons Oz's article about how his 3 year old learned to read Laura Deming on The Good Time Show#computerscience #learning #education #jiujitsu #startup #technology
We're joined by the co-founders of Warpstream Labs, Richie Artoul and Ryan Worl, to talk about how exploring your curiosity as a software engineer can lead to all sorts of interesting avenues and opportunities, like going from a coding bootcamp grad to building Warpstream - a Kafka-compatible data streaming platform.You may remember Richie from our previous podcast Escaping Web! Richie is one of Oz's students at Bradfield, and he's always up to something interesting and computer science-y.Shownotes: Warpstream Labs  Kafka is Dead, Long Live Kafka (Warpstream blog) Richie's "Escaping Web" episode Introducing Husky (Datadog blog) Turing Tumble (game where you build logic gates with marbles)
Linda Liukas (author and illustrator of HELLO RUBY - "the world's most whimsical way to learn about computers, technology and programming") joins Oz and Charlie to discuss how and why we love our computers, lessons learned from teaching kids about computer science using paper and scissors and glue, and Linda's latest project - designing an outside playground in Helsinki as a computer you can play in.Shownotes: Linda's website Hello Ruby (Linda's book series)  Love Letters for Computers (Linda's video series)
E10: The magic of Bell Labs

E10: The magic of Bell Labs


We're joined by Jon Gertner (author of THE IDEA FACTORY: BELL LABS AND THE GREAT AGE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION) and Jimmy Soni (author of A MIND AT PLAY: HOW CLAUDE SHANNON INVENTED THE INFORMATION AGE) to discuss our favorite "house of magic" - Bell Labs! Can Bell Labs ever be recreated? What would Claude Shannon think of ChatGPT? What can we learn about "doing great things" from Bell Labs?Shownotes:Bell Labs - Wikipedia pageClaude Shannon - Wikipedia pageGet Back (Beatles documentary)The Idea Factory - Jon's book about Bell LabsA Mind At Play - Jimmy's book about Claude ShannonThe Ice At The End of The World - Jon's latest book about the melting ice sheet in GreenlandThe Founders - Jimmy's latest book about PaypalJon's websiteJimmy's website Charlie's short story about the "Voyager 3" space probe
Steve Krouse is the founder of, a social network where you write and run - and maybe poke - code? Steve's a fellow computer science education and developer tools enthusiast. We explore what makes programming fun - and how tools like might just be able to recapture that joy we've all felt with computers before.Shownotes: Steve Krouse  Seymour Papert Mindstorms by Seymour Papert (book) Zachtronics Caveman Chemistry (book) Primitive Technology (book) Hack Club 
Are we creating evil in the world with this podcast? Should Charlie feel guilty about playing Zelda? Do any Oz-approved video games exist? What's going on with Charlie's book? Can we use GPT-4 as an effective personal tutor? And should we stop doing this podcast?Shownotes: Khanmigo (Khan Academy) Silicon Zeroes Shenzhen I/O Human Resource Machine
It's time for instructional design and ed-tech history with Jesse Farmer! Jesse is the co-founder, Chief Product Officer, and academics lead of Dev Bootcamp - one of the earliest, most influential, and successful coding bootcamps - the bootcamp that started it all!Shownotes: Dev Bootcamp Hipcamp Jesse Farmer's Mastodon account
Charlie wants to know if he can learn how to "think like an engineer", just like the Matt Damon/Mark Watney character in THE MARTIAN -- and Oz has some good suggestions, as per usual.Shownotes: Von Neumann probes  We Are Legion (We Are Bob) - Dennis E. Taylor Nibbles - Charlie's short story about von Neumann probes  The Martian - Andy Weir:  Shimmer - Charlie's short story about mining a giant diamond asteroid Ian Hubert's YouTube channel This week's XKCD reference Primer (movie) Farcaster social media protocol  Charlie's "fling" experiment on Farcaster 
Omar Rayward attended one of the first ever coding bootcamp cohorts, now he's a Senior Staff Software Engineer. Oz and Charlie connect with Omar about his study habits, motivation, and whatever else it takes to keep up his consistent learning habits.Shownotes: How to be consistent (Oz's recent article, featuring Omar!)
E4: Packet losers

E4: Packet losers


Charlie's unexpected packet loss devolves into a live Oz networking lesson.* Matt's (my) traceroute* How Verizon and a BGP Optimizer Knocked Large Parts of the Internet Offline Today* Border Gateway Protocol* Christmas Day Bug on ARPANET (grep for Christmas in 1973 section)* Great horned owl
Oz and Charlie catch up with Felix Tripier - now a Senior Staff Software Engineer at quantum computing company IonQ - for the first time in three years! Felix was our first guest on Escaping Web - a double high school and college dropout who become a self-taught web developer and is now a quantum computing engineer - so it only made sense for him to be our first guest on The CS Primer Show.We discuss Felix's path to staff engineer, the engineering manager vs. staff engineer career choices, staff engineering archetypes, building software for and working with scientists, the movie Grave of the Fireflies, the book When We Cease To Understand The World, and, of course, reference an apt XKCD comic.
Is there a benefit to figuring things out the hard way? Why learn to read disassembly if you can just ask Chat GPT. We talk about this, as well as somehow the Piet programming language and much more.Piet programming language
E1: Doing meaningful work

E1: Doing meaningful work


We kick off The CS Primer Show with a conversation prompted by our mutual love of "You and Your Research" by Richard Hamming. This is an essay that Oz frequently recommends to software engineers who would like to increase their impact. Be sure to watch the talk or read the transcript of Hamming's talk!- You and Your Research (transcript) - You and Your Research (video) - Unix: A History and a Memoir- CS Primer - Bloom's 2 sigma problem- Hoel on aristocratic tutoring- Auren on insiders vs outsiders- Charlie's project to write 52 short stories in a year- Escaping Web: Oz and Charlie's previous engineering interview podcast - American Prometheus (Oppenheimer biography)