MacHack: Meet Dylan the Yoot

by Chuck Toporek

As I mentioned in an earlier post to my blog, I was sitting behind a father and his two sons during Tim O'Reilly's keynote presentation here at MacHack. I finally managed to catch up with this "Yoot," and thought I'd post a little background info.

Meet Dylan. Dylan's a 12-year-old boy from New Hampshire who likes to program in Java, Python, and Objective-C. When I saw him at the keynote, he was hacking code on a lime green iBook with a copy of Jython Essentials by his side. At the time, I was thinking, "Man, this is cool!"

When I was his age, my friends and I were whacking away on BASIC on my friend Bob's Vic-20, and when I got my Commodore 64, I was the envy of the block. Now Yoots are programming on the latest and greatest hardware, using languages that many adults struggle with -- myself included.

Dylan first started programming in Logo when he was in First grade, but admits that he didn't start getting serious about programming until he hit Fourth grade. Of course it helps to have a father who's a programmer, but he said that he started learning C++ with the aid of CodeWarriorU.

His language of choice is Java, as he prefers its memory management capability. "There's a lot more powerful frameworks for C and C++," he said, "but I would like to have things like garbage collection and better memory management." If that were better, he'd "consider using Objective-C more." For now, he'll continue to build Java Swing applications.

When I asked "Why the Mac?", he responded: "It scares me to work on Windows. I just prefer the Mac so much more."

In school, Dylan says he tends to accelerate in math and gets asked lots of quetions about comptuers. Outside of school, he's like any other kid. He likes to ski (downhill not snowboarding), and has been studying the cello for a little over a year. Surprisingly, he tends to read plays and boasts that he's "an Arthur Miller" fan. He's also reading Stephen Hawking's, A Brief History of Time. While he doesn't aspire to be an actor, he said that he does enjoy watching movies. Two films he recommended seeing are My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and About a Boy.

When I asked Dylan what his aspirations were, he said "I'm not looking to be the next Bill Joy. That would be cool, but it probably won't happen." Instead, he wants to "create some cool web or desktop apps with Java."

His dream job, is to live the life of Rob Malda (a.k.a. Commander Taco). He'd like to spend his time, "sitting on the couch, posting things to the Internet, watching reruns of his favorite shows while commanding a team of killer lesbians in The Sims."

Seems like he's got his priorities straight.

Are you a Yoot? If so, let us know what your background is, and how you got started in programming.