Re: OT: helping son of a friend learn programming

It used to be that they used Pascal introductory programming classes.
And just like Java, it's a good language to learn programming in because
it has a lot of training wheels on it.  And just like Java, it's a bad
language to develop actual applications in, but people did it anyway because
that's what they knew.
Correct - I started with Pascal. I think Java is a lot more advanced/
better than Pascal but I would NOT use it for a large development
project (unless I had no other choice).

If you're going to do that, you might as well just cut out the middleman
and learn assembler.  (Which everyone should do at some point, but probably
not as their first experience programming.)
I disagree here. It's a BIG step from assembler to C++. However, as
you say, I think think it's good to have some assembly knowledge/

I have never really seen Visual Basic.  Is it as apt to encourage bad
programming practices and spaghetti code the way that traditional BASIC
Yes but it's still good for some simple GUI applications, etc. MS
really pushed Basic for a while but now they're focusing on their C#
(their "Java killer").