Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Real Media

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  • Mark Easterbrook,

    As for teachers: IMHO, there are two types of teachers you should hope your kids have at some point.

    The first are ones like my Mum and older sister - teachers who give every ounce they have to give, and then some, to their students. Who genuinely care about every kid in every class, every year, and get emotionally thanked by those kids 10 years (even 30 years for my Mum) later.

    The second ones are like a few I had at high school, and a few I know now: intelligent, worldly, interesting people who seem to fall into teaching somewhere around 30 because they want to share what they know and make a difference.

    NB: The first sort usually don't know the first thing about YouTube.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    In that case Ben, I would of course nominate toilet training.

    Yes, it's important to learn when to give a shit! Although learning to get others to clean your shit up works too....double edged sword, that one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Neil, teach her Visual Basic. Much as I hate to say it, it's a good learning tool for programming.

    I'm planning on teaching my 10 year old daughter VB.Net, IIRC the Express version is free from Microsoft, although Linux users can use the Mono version. The amount of blogs / fora / MS articles on the net for .Net is fairly staggering, and there are usually answers to any tricky questions available within a few googleseconds, although the bias is squarely towards C# - which is not particularly n00b-friendly.

    From the slideshow, KPL looks to have similar construction to VB, and I'll keep that in mind if she wants to try out a different language.

    I've known Nandor for years and he is an excellent thinker and communicator. I suspect that a major factor in the misrepresentation / misperception of his public image is: Dreadlocks = pothead. Which, given his virtual non-use of cannabis, is highly ironic.

    Wouldn't he make totally the best ever Minister of Justice ?

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    On the same topic, my 19 month old has already learned to eat shit, and why you don't want to. That lesson is a keeper.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Try Kids Programming Language.

    Or LOLcode

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    At uni, however, tutors were very useful cats.

    <i>Added bonus is it is semi-acceptable to have one as a love interest.</i>

    Ahem.... I married mine.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    Just a quick note from a trainee teacher (Secondary)

    totally endorse 81st column and Barts posts

    I think we as teachers are there to ensure that students can

    learn and think

    even outside of class!!

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    also as a parent....

    i think it is really important that you instill a love of learning
    in your children right from the start.
    it will stand them in good stead

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Mikaere, nice one. It's a pretty tricky choice now, of course. Back when I was a kid, to even use a high-level language at all was pretty new. Now it's all visual and drag-and-drop if you want.

    There's no best advice on what language to teach. Actually, they're all the same at heart anyway, and switching is pretty easy - I'm up to at least my 15th computer language. If I had to guess, I'd say that we'll still have 'Algol-like' languages, such as C++, Pascal, VB, Java etc, as core competences for programmers for a few decades more. Lower level is only relevant for a small subsection of engineers. But even now there are people who program extensively who wouldn't know what a nested loop is. In one job I did, supporting Excel users internal to the company, a small subset of them, about 15 or so, had basically learned programming entirely from Excel, then recording Excel macros (which are VB), then modifying the macros. Some of the programs were extremely complex, and this was from people who had picked it all up entirely from reading help files. I employed one programmer once who made Access database apps, and was shocked to find out she had not the faintest idea how many bits there were in a byte. Seriously. No idea, and yet she'd written applications used by dozens of people that did extremely complex queries and reporting which they loved. She was actually one of my star performers, and had no friggin idea about any of the fundamentals of computing. Didn't matter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    Nandor's speech was awesomely concise. My concern is that the legislative process (this review began in about 2002) is just not quick enough to keep up with the quantum changes digital technology is making to the way we do things.

    The whole point of the digital review was to ensure that the centuries-old 'Copyright' based legislation could apply equally to digital technologies (ie, the words/ideas were technologically neutral). But the very concept of protecting and stimulating the creative process is unlikely to be protected by legislating against 'copying' in the digital age [its so damn easy everyones going to do it anyway, right?]. Perhaps it is commercial distribution without consent that should be prohibited?

    At the start of the Digital Review, the entire paradigm shift caused by the digital revolution couldn't be anticipated ( we certainly never thought about bands like Radiohead making a business decision to offer their music on-line for no fixed price...). And now, the legislative process is so far down the track, that its too late to go and look at issues like "Is Copyright the wrong protection to ensure that creatives are fairly recompensed for their talent/work - and third parties can't make a commercial killing at their expense?".


    Just saying, thats all.

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    Touch-typing has served me well, but all the other skills - like counting spaces and tabbing across to lay out a brochure - were virtually obsolete when they were being taught.

    LOL tell me about it. The typing teacher at my high school didn't even fully grasp the concept of the electric typewriters we were using and was constantly telling us the best way to get optimal rapid downforce with your fingers so as to get an even print level. She was mighty impressed by how fast I could type, because she never cottoned on that I cheated by loading up the little screen buffer, and then mimed typing when she asked me to. She couldn't believe I never made any mistakes, and thought I was some bizarre prodigy.

    Man, you guys had ELECTRIC typewriters? We had the old imperial mechanical ones, and learnt about punchcards in 'Computer Studies' - on the plus side, our teacher did have the Apple franchise for NZ....

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Try Kids Programming Language. I haven't looked at it in any depth myself, but someone i know was saying nice things about it.

    Karl from CactusLab has been doing some work with Leo, and we found that specialised kid stuff like Phrogram, for all its merits, falls down because it's not the real world -- you can't share the stuff you make. OTOH, Flash -- that's fun, not too hard to learn, and any browser runs it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    The whole point of the digital review was to ensure that the centuries-old 'Copyright' based legislation could apply equally to digital technologies (ie, the words/ideas were technologically neutral). But the very concept of protecting and stimulating the creative process is unlikely to be protected by legislating against 'copying' in the digital age [its so damn easy everyones going to do it anyway, right?].

    Centuries old copyright was developed in part precisely because of the development of easy copying in the form of readily available cheap printing, and writers being ripped off by publishers who would print stuff up with no recompense.

    Perhaps it is commercial distribution without consent that should be prohibited?

    I can think of plenty of reasons to object to non-commercial distribution without consent that I might reasonably object to, not least of which is that it can destroy the very possibility of commercial distribution.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    I have been keeping half an eye on flash. The flash 9 VM is very nice. I even had a play with converting a 6502 emulator from javascript to flash. ( http://www.screamingduck.com/Lerc/6502asm/ Left side flash, right side javascipt).

    One of my many "I'll never get time to do it" project ideas, is something like that with a more sophisticated language.

    The idea that you can past some code into a text box and run it on your browser would be excellent for a learning tool. Programming youtube even.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    At the start of the Digital Review, the entire paradigm shift caused by the digital revolution couldn't be anticipated ( we certainly never thought about bands like Radiohead making a business decision to offer their music on-line for no fixed price...).

    Although it had been already done by a headlining act. In 2000 the Smashing Pumpkins released Machina II/The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music via the internet. Well, actually, they pressed 10 vinyl albums which they gave to their mates with the instruction to rip them and get them onto the P2P networks.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    OTOH, Flash -- that's fun, not too hard to learn, and any browser runs it.

    Gosh yes, forgot that one, probably because I can't stand what people do with it.

    The idea that you can past some code into a text box and run it on your browser would be excellent for a learning tool.

    Sounds like a job for...Javascript!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Russell, you may want to investigate Pt England Primary School. They have a stunning program there. And to go a bit further down the age scale, Roskill South Kindergarten is a Centre of Innovation. Min of Ed website will have details on both, I think.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Then there's Silverlight, the so-called "Flash Killer" by Microsoft. They guarantee it will work on IE, Firefox and Safari which is a sizeable proportion of browsers in use.

    And you can program it using any of the .Net family of languages such as VB.Net, which leverages any .Net learning.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    because it's not the real world -- you can't share the stuff you make.

    Heh guess that should have been obvious. When you learn how to do something new you usually want to show what you can do to your friends and get their feedback. After all they are the important people in your life.

    That is probably one of the cool things about teh internet. Learn how to do something new, post it, get feedback.

    Almost like what happens in a classroom :).

    I'd like to see some of Leo's creations - bearing in mind I have no such skills myself and hence would be easily impressed :).

    cheers
    Bart

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Doh, now I feel stink, I thought Leo was some arcane language! What does he have to say about Flash?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Despite apparently being able to type at 500 words a minute I actually was a 2 finger typist until I left university

    Oi, the world record for typing is about 170wpm! Did you maybe mean 50wpm or 500 characters per minute?

    Speed doesn't mean much without accuracy :)

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    Sounds like a job for...Javascript!

    Hell no. For starters, see my link above. It's a copmarison between flash and javascript. Canvas is a joke. I found setting cells in a table was faster than plotting pixels.

    Then there's Silverlight, the so-called "Flash Killer" by Microsoft.

    Also hell no. It's another of microsoft's 'solution to everything' products. I'll take a look at it when it is actually running on all platforms, but I don't rate it's chances. Two out of three .net applications that I try don't work on my computer.

    Flash is an impressive job for what it does and the size of the download. There are good signs that they have the right attitude about openness.

    (the fact that that 6502 emulator is only 5k in flash is also a plus)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    oh I forgot..

    teach her Visual Basic.

    hell no. :-)

    If it's Basic, It'll be Blitz. Let's you do pretties quickly, that counts for a lot when you're a kid.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Not really right on topic but I used my laptop in class last term to bring up the wikipedia page for a topic that we had just done assignments on. I hooked up to the projector and displayed the page on the whiteboard. At the same time I held up the students work and read from both of them. They were word for word the same. It was all rather amusing for the class and embarrassing for the lad who copied it. I teach using the demoralisation technique.

    For our current assignment a bit more of an effort is going in to put things in their own words.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Oh, and I learnt to touchtype by being addicted to IRC when I was 16...

    You and me both Joanna, except I think I was 18 and it was initially research for political studies.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1025 posts Report Reply

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