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Preview: thinair


views of various geekage from 1,655 meters (5,430 feet) above sea level

Published: 2011-01-24T00:54:30-07:00


interactive turtle graphics in a web browser


This one feels like one of those small-step-giant-leap things. I've written a simple interactive shell to play with turtle graphics in the browser. What's more, it works from my phone! source code is here: This makes me happy! div.thispage canvas {border: 1pt solid black;} div.thispage img, div.thispage .interactive {float: left; margin-right: 1.5em;} div.thispage .example p {margin: 0;} div.thispage .example p:first-child {margin-bottom: 1em;} Commands include: penup pendown move pixels turn degrees clear...

Ideal Job in Computational Education


My life's work is computational education : the systemic transformation of education as we know it through effective use of computing and networking technology. Systemic reform demands system-wide and system-deep solutions: no single area will be sufficient and all areas need attention. Although I have ideas for every dimension of the system, I'll focus here on a few specific areas where I would like to start now: ubiquitous computing, spatial reasoning, and programming. Ubiquitous computing Computing first stormed the gates of education back in the 1970's when the price of computers went down from 100s or 10s of thousands of...

map of computational education


It seems I've started down the road of systemic education reform which for me is focused on effective use of technology for learning and teaching. This is a rough map of what I'll be working on for the rest of my life. Ideas range from design of instructional units and lesson plans, a whole branch of lessons from Alan Kay presentations, professional development for teachers, a collection of really big ideas that computation and networking enable, among other things. If I have seemed like I'm all over the map when speaking to you about educational technology, the "systemic" part might...

pardon the dust


I'm rethinking the design of my blog visually, organizationally, and in instrumentation. Well, I'm also rethinking my career. Hoping to focus my professional attention on computational education. Those of you reading via the feeds, there's likely to be some churn as I rearrange things a bit. I'll try to minimize the noise, but just in case I break something badly, you'll have had a little warning....

Powerful ideas and powerful tools for education


Computational thinking and computational doing are powerful tools for teaching powerful ideas. In Makers vs. Sponges Elizabeth Corcoran comments via O'Reilly Radar: I keep wondering why we lump all "technology" into the same basket. By doing so, we ignore the most important distinction of all: whether we are sponges for absorbing other people's ideas, or whether we're making our own. Some of the comments on that article turned into a small discussion about tools vs. content. I composed this first in reply to that discussion, but wanted to expand on the idea here. The article Gary S. Stager wrote: A...

video games and forex trading


The secondary market for games has a liquidity that approaches foreign-exchange trading - Tim Bray (If you happen to know nothing about forex trading or video games, move along. Nothing to see here.)...

Inner and Outer Beauty


As I left the house this morning, my mind was racing over concepts of finance that I'd watched last night. Jon Udell interviewed Salman Khan about education and screencasting in his work on Their conversation began with thoughts about using a minimalist approach to produce tutorials on a vast array of subjects. They moved on to exciting conversations about education and technology. I spent some time watching a few of the videos... surprised to find that some among that collection were directly relevant to some of the work I do for bivio. My mind was buzzing about present value...



What to do with 18 to 24 inches of snow in the yard? When I shovel our driveway, I always pile the snow up on the lawn, especially when it's good packing snow. This heavy wet storm... fantastic stuff. Last night, I decided to take one more pass at the driveway before the heavy wet snow froze overnight. Usually I'm thinking about getting some much needed water to our trees. Last night I was thinking about Halloween and Elliott's recent interest in mazes. Inspiration took hold of me and I spent an extra hour making a labyrinth with the Great...

Perl OOP: TMTOWTDI (aka. Object Oriented Programming: there's more than one way to do it)


Only of interest for perl programmers, and from 2003 so there's some chance you've seen this before. This node at perlmonks is beautiful, even if it does illustrate the rampant re-invention of wheels that mostly defines perl culture: We have our own style of objects in bOP. At their core they're all blessed array refs, but it's not quite as simple as that....

Punk Snot Dead


Back in the early eighties, one of my best friends introduced me to a bunch of music I really wasn't ready for at the time: Dead Kennedy's, Suicidal Tendencies "before they sold out", Butthole Surfers, and a bunch of others who's names I can't remember now. Shannon had run away from home. He was squatting in an abandoned house in Denver with some other punk rockers and skin heads. I seem to remember that he had some respect for Metallica at the time, but I didn't know that band for probably another decade. He also left some vinyl records with...

New Cliché: Playing Politics


Hey Politican! I'm not moved when you whine about the other politicians playing politics. You say it with such conviction, but did you really miss that part of the job description when you were campaigning for office? Is it really a surprise? Didn't think so. In that case, do you really think I believe you're the good guy, or the innocent victim of wicked politics and they're the bad guy, the cynical politician? You may be underestimating our cynicism about the nature of your business. (Just in case it's not obvious, I'm looking at BOTH of you, Barack Obama and...

A brief history of Skynet


This dialog from Terminator 2 still sends chills down my spine. SARAH: I need to know how Skynet get built. Who's responsible? TERMINATOR: The man most directly responsible is Miles Bennet Dyson, Director of Special Projects at Cyberdyne Systems Corporation. SARAH: Why him? TERMINATOR: In a few months he creates a revolutionary type of mircoprocessor. SARAH: Then what? TERMINATOR: In three years Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned, Afterward, they fly with a perfect operational record. SARAH: Uh huh, great. Then those fat fucks in...

Tribalism and a sense of belonging


I originally wrote this in an email following a pretty damaging exchange that took place on Columbine's Visioning committee this time last year. The original email is here. I'm reposting it now (May 5, 2010) with the original date and time. At last Tuesday's visioning meeting, I tried to make a point about the challenges of being in the visible minority. That proved to be volatile coming from me (as The Rich White Male in the room). A week later I believe even more strongly that this demands attention and discussion. Back in February (Black History Month), there was an...

Community and Volunteering


In recent months I have become deeply involved in the formulation of a new instructional program at Columbine. What I see with new eyes tonight is that a community is a different sort of organization. Businesses and governments depend on money like most living things depend on fresh water. A community depends on time and commitment. Volunteers are the engines of community. Wednesday night four representatives of the programmatic visioning team met with other non-Spanish-speaking parents who either have kids at Columbine or might have kids there in the next few years. Our goal was to collect three lists from...