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Learn programming constructs

If you want to learn how to program here’s a quick suggestion. As a new programming student there are two things you simultaneously have to learn: a programming language like Pascal, C or Java; the second thing is program design concepts. The bad news is that students often prioritize learning the language, paying little to no attention to program design concepts.  The student eventually hits a brick wall, gives up, maybe they jump across to a new language where they hit a brick wall again and finally give up, declaring that “programming is too hard”. Learning a programming language without first understanding program design concepts is like learning a foreign language without knowing the rules of grammar and punctuation. Without knowing the rules you can’t write a paragraph because you can’t write a sentence.

Instead focus on program design concepts, the fundamentals, the nuts and bolts. Learn them. Learn them well for these concepts will serve you regardless of the programming language you learn. I’m not at all saying that every programming language suddenly becomes easy. That’s not what I’m saying.

Without ever talking about a programming language, let’s define a program or algorithm (I’m not sure why but I dislike the word algorithm). A program is a series of steps that solve a problem. Exactly how many steps there are depends on the problem. You can put together any programming solution (or algorithm) using three programming constructs: Sequence; Selection; and Iteration/Loops.

A construct is a building block. Like a Lego block. Arrange these blocks in a sensible way and you will build a sensible solution. A quick note before we get to each of the three constructs. I’ve attached diagrams with simple examples of each construct: Sequence, Selection and Iteration/Loops. These diagrams are visual representations of each construct. In each diagram a circle represents: Begin/End; a rectangle represents a single programming instruction like “Ask the user for their name”; and a diamond represents a logical expression (for now let’s pretend a logical expression is a simple question like “Is the age the user entered less than 18?”.


The sequence construct is a series of instructions that happen one after the other: bam-bam-bam! The instructions flow uninterrupted. There is no obstacle. For example, a program begins, the program asks a user for their name and age and the user enters their name and age. Then the program ends.


The selection construct. Programs wouldn’t be very useful if they could only perform sequence steps. In life we often have to choose a path: watch a funny video or read a boring programming tutorial. Work out our arms or legs? Arms win! Consider a program that allows a user to vote only if the user is 18 years or older. Else if the user is less than 18, they are NOT allowed to vote. Regardless of the programming language (at least the ones I’m familiar with) the selection construct always asks for a logical expression (we’ll talk about logical expressions another day).


Iteration/Loop construct. Programs or algorithms often have to repeat instructions a certain number of times. The exact number of times is either known or unknown. Consider a real world example where a teacher is in a class with ten students. It’s the first class. The teacher points to the first student, asks for their name, age and hobbies. The first student answers. The teacher points to the second student, repeats the exact instructions, and the second student complies. This happens until the tenth student has said their name, age and hobbies. There isn’t an eleventh student so the introductions end.

Here’s another example of iteration. A grocery cashier is scanning items a customer is placing on a conveyor belt. The cashier isn’t sure how many items are in the cart but each time the cashier scans an item the customer’s bill increases by the cost of the scanned item. This activity continues until there are no more items in the cart. Once the cart is empty, the system displays the total, the customer pays, the transaction ends.


Notice we haven’t talked about any ONE programming language. These three programming constructs are the building blocks of any solution. There are other building blocks like variables, relational operators and expressions that will clarify exactly how sequence, selection and iteration/loops work. Those are lessons for another day. In the meantime, rest assured that, depending on the problem you need to solve, you can write an algorithm/program by stacking these three constructs in different ways. The best part is that you can take your intimate knowledge of these constructs to any programming language.

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Rendelina Reviews: 3 takeaways for content creators

Recognition is nice. Powerful. Recently, while chatting with Christophe Pierre from Design By Spirit, he recognized Rendelina Reviews, and the importance of their work as Caribbean food bloggers from Trinidad and Tobago.

Rendel and Melina Robinson from Rendelina Reviews

Rendelina Reviews is a husband and wife team from Trinidad and Tobago. Rendel is the husband, Melina is the wife. Since 2017 they’ve grown their Social media presence to over 200,000 followers and subscribers.

Rendel listened to that episode. Heard Christophe’s positive comment. Rendel and I connected, chatted on the telephone trying to put things in place. It took time but in December 2024 we sat down to chat. There’s a lot more but here are 3 takeaways for content creators

  1. It takes time to make a breakthrough. Rendel and Melina have a production company called Render Vision. Before Rendelina Reviews they were filming events like weddings. Food vlogs were a passion project, something they did because they enjoyed doing it. After 5 years, the food vlogs published through Rendelina Reviews got bigger and attracted more attention and profit than Render Vision. Through their work with Rendelina Reviews, they’d eventually connect with Mobil, their first major sponsor.
  2. Create content because you love it. It’s not about a payday or a side hustle. Focus on what you know. Rendel expressed that he creates videos for fun. He does it because he loves it. One of his driving goals is to make a Hollywood movie. Producing content allows him to create short documentaries and flex the muscles that could one day lead him to a Hollywood movie.
  3. How to make better food videos. Focus on your niche. Focus on what you’re good at. Be consistent. Know your strong suit. For example in Rendelina’s their emphasis is on production quality and they’ve invested on equipment that allows them to walk the talk. Make sure your audio is crisp. Be relatable, consider where your target audience is and the equipment you use, in some cases it may mean choosing a phone versus cinema camera.

If you’re a content creator, there’s a lot in the episode. For your convenience, I’ve included the YouTube video.

Vince Warnock on and AI tools for podcasters

Today we’re talking to Vince Warnock about podcasting and the work that goes into preparing for an interview. Vince is an author, marketing strategist and host of Chasing the Insights. He’s been presented with numerous awards and is part of the Fearless 50, a program designed by Adobe to recognize the top 50 marketers in the world who drive bold, fearless marketing and digital transformation. On his podcast, he talks to the biggest and brightest minds in marketing, sales and entrepreneurship.

Lyndon Baptiste: Tell me about ChatGPT for Female Entrepreneurs

Vince Warnock:  it’s designed to help as many women as possible. It’s designed for two purposes, actually, to help as many female entrepreneurs to accelerate their business. And there’s so much in there that will help them to basically 10x their productivity and to understand how to use these tools for every aspect of their business. But the other reason that we’ve done it is I’m very aware of the male bias in AI tools. In fact, we’ve just done some case studies on it and shown definitively that there’s a male bias in there. And one of the ways you get rid of bias in things like this is to train as many people, or particularly women or underrepresented people to use these tools because the more they use it, the more it trains out the bias.

Lyndon Baptiste: Recently, I was invited to a podcast and when the host asked me to introduce myself, I immediately froze. When you’re going on as a podcast guest, what are some of the things you consider in crafting a suitable introduction?

Vince Warnock: Yeah, definitely. The key thing for me is, I’m from New Zealand, for those who don’t know, and we have a bit of a challenge over here in New Zealand. We have this concept called tall poppy syndrome, which is in most countries, but we tend to have it a lot more over here. Basically, what it is, is we love an underdog. We love it when someone is doing really, really well that comes from nowhere, but the moment someone actually achieves success, we want to tear them down. It’s built into the culture here in New Zealand where anyone who sticks their head above others gets their head chopped off essentially. So the problem with that is it also relates to ourselves. So in other words, when I’m telling you, hey, I’m one of the top 50 marketers in the world, on the inside, I tense up and I don’t want to say that because it feels like I’m bragging and it feels like people are going to think I’m a jerk and going to think I’m arrogant and all this because that’s the culture we grew up in. So it’s always been a challenge to me to talk about my backstory and talk about my bio and all this kind of stuff.

So what I learned to do, Lyndon, is I learned a couple of things. First of all, I list out my relevant accomplishments. And I don’t mean like I got the scouts badge for not tying or the scouts badge for the other. I mean things that are relevant for whatever episode I’m going to be on or whatever show I’m going to be on. So if I’m going to be talking on a show about podcasting, what I have is I have that I’m the host of the Chasing the Insights podcast, but I also have some follow-up information on there. For example, the fact that it’s one of the top 2% podcasts in the world. Or if I’m talking about publishing, then I’ll mention that I’ve got a publishing company, but I’ll also mention that I’ve got a 100% track record on bestsellers, I’ve got five bestselling books out there, those kind of things.

So each of these, you have your key kind of takeaway. You’ll have something that supports it there. But more importantly, to wrap it all up, you’ll have a little bit of a story there. And that’s when people ask me, hey, Vince, where did you come from? How did you start your business? Or what do you do for people? I basically say, look, I have spent most of my career kind of trying to get notice from a child that used to hide away because he grew up in an abusive family. I used to hide away from the world. And then I realized that actually all of us deserve to be seen and all of us deserve a voice. So I’m on a mission to help other entrepreneurs do that and I do that through XYZ. So I bring these points to life.

So for me crafting it is really important. So crafting it so that it’s agile so that you can actually change it and shift it up depending on the show you’re going to be on and the topic you’re going to talk about, but also crafting it in a way that has a story behind it. So that way, for example, when I often when I’m talking about the Adobe award and getting recognised as one of the top 50 marketers, I don’t just blurt it out and say, well, I’m a top 50 marketer. What I say to people is, actually, I used to have the dream job. And when I was at Cigna, I was the chief marketing officer there. Everything there was on paper the perfect job.

The pay was ludicrous. The bonuses were insane, honestly. We got to work on some crazy stuff. I got the recognition. I got the results when I’m there. I got a slew of awards, including being recognized by Adobe as one of the top 50 marketers in the world, published my first book when I’m there, and I’m listing out all these credentials, but then I turn it around and say, and none of that mattered because I was miserable. So I’m not doing it as a brag. I’m doing it to showcase to people actually that despite all of those accomplishments, I was unhappy and I was unfulfilled and therefore needed to step into what I’m doing now, which is incredibly fulfilling So so that’s how to get over the shyness of being able to brag about yourself or the other thing I actually have some people who you know teach a lot of people to do this They’ll get up there on a podcast and they say well, all right If you if you must if you must twist my arm and make me talk about myself I’ll give you my humble brag and then they’ll tell you about one of their major accomplishments that gives incredibility.

Styrofoam Ban: Trinidad and Tobago

Styrofoam. It’s cheap. And convenient. But it’s bad for the environment. And it’s annoying. Trinidad and Tobago wants to ban Styrofoam. By the year 2020. Impossible! For one styrofoam enjoys widespread use. It has. For more than 50 years. Particularly in the food industry.

And consumers, like you and me, are probably going to hate the alternatives. In the new beverage containers, the ice melts faster. Your coffee cools quicker. Plus The alternatives are more expensive. The price of corn soup, snow cone and chinese food instantly goes up; There’s no way i’m going to pay more than 25 dollars for a small noodles, chicken and chow mein.

And if they ban single-use plastics how am i going to drink my sweet-drink? In A calabash? What happens when I go to the grocery? Would I have to pay for plastic bags or scavenge for boxes to put my member’s select products which, ironically, are packaged in plastic and Styrofoam?

In theory a ban sounds great because of environmental dangers, but is it practical?

I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be an eco-warrior. I’m not. When I’m leaving a table, I pick up my garbage and put it in a bin; I do the same thing when I go to the river and beach; and i Pat myself on my back and say, “Well done, Big Head, well done.”

But investigating the impact of styrofoam and single-use plastic products on the environment i learned a couple things that shocked and terrified me more than one of Trevor Sayers videos.

In 2016, 12,258 tonnes of styrofoam food and beverage containers were used in Trinidad and Tobago. That’s enough Styrofoam to full over 1,225 garbage trucks.

Styrofoam is made from polystyrene, a toxic petroleum-based plastic. It’s bad for the environment. So are the raw materials. The manufacturing process is also bad for the environment. Under extreme temperature Styrofoam break down and leeches into food. Don’t ever microwave Styrofoam. Styrofoam is durable. “It doh rotten.” A cup can last anywhere from 500 years to forever. In a recent study, Styrofoam made up five per cent of solid waste found at landfills in the Caribbean. It’s bad for oceans, rivers, wildlife, humans and climate change. Imagine dumps and rivers littered with styrofoam products. Overhead there’s the Caribbean sun. Fumes. That mess with your lungs and the ozone.

Let’s talk business. And politics. In 2018, the government first announced a ban that was supposed to take effect in 2019. That date got pushed back. Again and again. So, in essence, Styrofoam is like that toxic boyfriend or girlfriend that you can’t just get rid of.

When it comes to banning Styrofoam. Trinidad is lagging behind countries like Guyana, St Vincent and Hotel Rwanda. We’re lagging behind Guyana and Tobago, which is a little bit embarrassing; considering that Trinidad is part of Tobago.

The proposed ban isn’t an outright ban. The ban means local manufacturers must include additives to make their products biodegradable. Businessmen are saying that T & T isn’t ready for the ban. One representative said, “Fish don’t eat Styrofoam, they eat the plastic.” Which is a silly argument. That’s like saying. Fast food doesn’t kill people. High cholesterol kills people.

Just so we’re on the same page. When Styrofoam breaks down into little pieces, the fish thinks its food. The fish eats it. The fish cannot digest it. The fish dies. A clamshell box.
It costs about 48 cents to produce. An alternative container costs about $1.48. Apart from the price, there are arguments against alternatives. There’re claims that the bagasse alternatives, like Styrofoam, con­tain chem­i­cals linked to can­cer.

Alternatives often creates more waste and generates more air and water pollution. Local companies that have tried to go green have actually returned to single-use plastic because alternatives like bagasse food containers result in soggy foods. Bagasse. That word just sounds wrong.

Some say the costs outweigh the benefits; and until a better, less-costly alternative to plastic foam is created, recycling programs are a better option. Let’s not forget that a person could throw an alternative product out of a car window as easily as a Styrofoam container, a bottle or a cigarette pack.

So, what happens if, come 2020, there aren’t any alternatives? What if manufacturers aren’t ready? What if they’re never ready? Do we continue to use Styrofoam and single-use plastics products? Trinis could stop buying items packaged in Styrofoam. That would work. For at least two weeks. Or two days. People could walk around with with your own cup and bowl. Can you imagine walking into a restaurant and saying,

“Le’me get a small noodles, chicken and chow mein.”
“That is a big bowl.”
“Mr Chin, you’ blind or what? This is a small”.
No. That is big… like your mother box.”

For the ban to work everyone has to work together: The state; manufacturers; businesses; law enforcement; and consumers like you and me.

Manufacturers need support from the state. Businesses need incentives; and they need to know where they can source alternatives at competitive prices. It isn’t as easy as announcing a ban and hoping for the best.

Listen, There’s no doubt that A styrofoam ban is going to present a number of inconveniences. But if that’s the cost of a better Trinidad and Tobago, for you, for me, for our children, then I’m willing for it. And once we’ve figured out how to get rid of Styrfoam we could work on getting rid of illegal guns.The average person may not care if they ban Styrofoam. It’s like a smoker. A smoker may not truly care about the dangers of his habit until he has lung disease. Like some arguments and some people, Styrofoam is 95 percent hot air and 5 percent substance.

Open Broadcaster Software

Today we’re talking about Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS. It’s a free software for offline video recording and live streaming that you could use to level up your recordings and livestreams. And! the great news is it works on Mac and Windows.

The tool gives you a canvas and you can mix a variety of audio and video
sources to a single output for creative video and broadcast applications.

You can record straight to your desktop or broadcast to streaming services like Youtube, Facebook Live, Twitch, Twitter

Choose the right settings: Choosing the right settings is crucial for recording high-quality videos. Make sure to select the appropriate resolution, frame rate, and bitrate based on your computer’s specs and the content you’re recording. Keep in mind that higher settings require more processing power and may affect your recording’s performance.

Use hotkeys and shortcuts: OBS offers many useful hotkeys and shortcuts that can help you streamline your recording process. For example, you can use hotkeys to start and stop recordings, switch between scenes, and adjust audio and video settings on the fly. Familiarize yourself with these shortcuts to save time and improve your workflow.

Audio quality matters: Audio is just as important as video quality, if not more. Make sure to use a high-quality microphone and adjust the audio settings in OBS. You can also add filters, such as noise suppression and compression, to enhance the audio quality further.