Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Programming introduction for kids



I have been increasingly aware that children are not getting a good introduction to the world of software development in school. Mainly because teachers are often not trained, or get limited by curriculum and resources. A few external ventures such as coding club (run by ARM volunteers) and a visit to the computer history museum might spark interest, but there is always going to be room for making learning fun. Programming might be an interesting hobby for kids, but is also a very useful way to get to grips with a technology area that drives a lot of what we do today. So I'll not bore anyone with how Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg jump started their careers in software, but rather go hands-on with a practical lesson aimed at children 10-13 years approximately.
Aimed at those with no experience, to the intermediate, I am going to run a one-off coding club Saturday. If it works, we will repeat it. It will be a drop-off 3 hour session run by industry professionals and teaching kids the basics programming using Scratch on a Raspberry Pi.

Why 10-13? We have chosen our target age range, in the hope of getting girls as well as boys involved. I'm flexible on age, but find this is the age-range is where computers are cool and there are not yet any teenage distractions. Not too young to be able to grasp mathematics and to think logically either. Historically software engineering and many of the sciences have seen also few women taking up the career. I do really hope to get some of the boys who rage about glitches in Minecraft for example, to create simple programs of their own and perhaps go on to become the next Silicon Valley startup founders.
Why Raspberry Pi? Two reasons: One; is it's a cheap and small computer and can interface with the real world and bring programs to life. Two; it is very simple and does not have the distractions associated with programming on a desktop computer.
Just how basic? Scratch. Scratch is graphical, but has enough basic features of proper computing languages. So we can teach software engineering principles that kids can later take into careers.
Who? I'm looking for women. Yes women in software industry who have a Saturday spare. At the moment, Rob Pearce, David Newton and myself Conrad Braam will be running and helping put together the content. If it's popular a repeat Saturday would benefit from having a practice run, and have girls come along. But for that to work I need a female volunteer.

As a takeaway, kids will have learned how to use Scratch (some already have experience using it) to create a simple computer program. They will learn programming concepts such as design and debugging from people who do these things every day. They will learn how to link programs to simple hardware attached to the Raspberry Pi. And they will create a small computer game, who knows, sometimes that is enough to get them hooked. It was enough to get me hooked back in 1985.



Because Scratch is not a proper programming language, it is also our intention to hold a more advanced Python programing session. The takeaway will be the same, but will allow for more practical application of knowledge. Python is much more popular for use on the Raspberry Pi, and there are hundreds of good examples out there to get kids to go further. Which brings me back to the reason I'm promoting using a Raspberry Pi, they are cheap so won't break the bank. They are simple to use, and simple to dig deeper into when it comes to it. The internet is full of cool Raspberry Pi projects for those who do get hooked.

Charge will be about £7.00 for 3 hours which is a good deal really, and will cover us for equipment.
No need to bring anything with you either on the day, snacks will be provided. Kids take home a head full of inspiration. Location and date (before summer breakup) still to be decided.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Frog clip

I'm looking for a animation or actual frog on high speec footage clip. Green screen or contrast background preferable obviously.
All I can find is one clip that looks ideal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnx8tHyKMNU but not shareable :(

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Use Cyanogenmod and hosts file to block ads

I am running CM11 on a Samsung Galaxy S3. I noticed that add supported apps suck a lot of my data and are sometimes just producing plain buggy and annoying banners.
Block em!
ok So I googled it, a few decent hits are:
So let's try it out. But before we go, lets get our hosts list pre-compiled. I found more resources and a slightly old one here http://mathdotrandom.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/block-ads-on-pc-android-with-uber-hosts.html

So far it's not blocking much, but it's a start.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Radio sound effects : RTTY

When I was in the military (you have been reading all these blog posts?) so you will know. I uset to use a handheld RTTY of sorts. It ran at a super low baud rate taking 4 minutes to send a whole sitrep. Yes, I used to compose sitreps. and get them signed off and then sent. You had to write them up, type them in and send them. On the other end you just printed them off. The transmission was FSK and worked over a VHF radio if I remember. Anything from 25 to 100 watts, although the smaller portable radios could hold the carrier for long enough to send a short message too. Portable radios were good for practice, but never managed to keep going from long enough; pretty much because they were designed for voice and not being continously held with the key down. To hear what they might have sounded like if you happened to be on the same channel.
http://www.nonstopsystems.com/radio/radio-sounds.html


You might recognise these noises from some popular naval criminal investigative TV series intros.

Additional sources to look into crediting and getting copy permission:
http://www.kb9ukd.com/digital/

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Abandon Alpha Terra

YOUNGER: TATA, THE SKY HAS BEEN GRAY FOR 2 MENSE CYCLES NOW. SHOULD WE NOT LEAVE ALREADY?
ELDER:  YES, AND NO. TOGETHER WITH THE OTHER ELDERS WE NOW HAVE CONTROL OF 2 OF THE NEW SOL NATIVE'S ORBITAL COMPUTERS CALLED CUBESATS. BUT WE CANNOT CONTROL MANY MACHINES ON THEIR NETWORK ON OUR OWN WITHOUT YOUR HELP.
YOUNGER: TATA,THIS IS IMPORTANT TO YOU I CAN SEE, BUT WHY?
ELDER: YOU COULD GO WITH THE OTHERS.
(PAUSE)YOUNGER: I CANNOT LEAVE YOU TATA, WILL YOU TEACH ME HOW TO SHAPE THE THOUGHTS OF THE SOL NATIVES?
ELDER:  SO YOU DO UNDERSTAND. THE NATIVES HAVE FORMED 3 GROUPS, ONE WISHES TO LEARN, THE OTHER TO FIGHT AND A THIRD GROUP ARE NOT PART OF THE EQUATION. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE PLANET AND IT'S ENVIRONMENT AT ALL. WE ARE WORKING ONLY TO CONTACT THE 1ST GROUP AND INJECT DATA INTO THEIR NETWORKS USING HIJACKED MACHINES.
YOUNGER: OK, HOW DOES IT WORK?
ELDER: THE SOL NATIVES ARE NOW AWARE OF OUR VIRUS, WHICH HELPS OUR CAUSE.  IT IS NO SECRET THAT JUST LIKE ALPHA TERRA HAS BEEN RUINED, SO TOO WILL SOL. WE WILL SEND THEM MESSAGES IN THE DATA STREAMS, SOME NATIVES ARE ALREADY STARTING TO UNDERSTAND.
YOUNGER: WHY CAN'T THEY ALL SEE THE DAMAGE TATA? MA AND THE OTHER FAMILIES ON THE BLOCK ARE GOING TO GAMMA CENTAURI THIS CYCLE. MOST OF MY SCHOLA FRIENDS HAVE LEFT FOR A NEW LIFE ON NEW TERRA ALREADY.
(STATIC)

Agent wildfire01: So, what's the trade?
Agent zaphodikus: It's a container. I got it in a hack, did you bring the virus?
Agent wildfire01: Yeah
Agent zaphodikus: OK, this feels creepier than it needs to be. Some agents take the game far too seriously, lets find a beer so long. That was the plan, right?
Agent wildfire01: I don't drink, nothing serious.
Agent zaphodikus: That's OK. I don't much either but I like trying different ales to be social.
Agent wildfire01: I also find the game strange, but it works socially, just look. It go us to meet up. So what do you do, I mean, like for work?
(CONVERSATION DRIFTS)
Agent wildfire01: I trained in marketing. I want to find work doing good things myself too. Environment agencies and such like is my thing right now. It feels important.
Agent zaphodikus: Me too. I wanted and still do, to find work up North where more of the energy sector work is going on. Energy is a source of jobs that will never go away, but my interest is energy efficiency. I like green stuff...
(STATIC)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Dirt 3 youtube with no sound fix

Does your Dirt game youtube upload have no sound? That's because the audio works, but the correct drivers are not 100% set up in the game. If you cannot see Rapture 3D in the Audio settings...
You need to update the audio drivers -
1. Download the latest http://www.blueripplesound.com/get-update2
2. Uninstall the Rapture3D drivers if old.
3. Install new Rapture 3D drivers version 2.6.5
4. (optional) Set system environment variable ALLOW_RESTRICTED_RAPTURE3D = 1
5. Restart Steam (if you did step 4)

6. In game, change Sound from "Software" to "Rapture 3D", and restart game.

To see the result, check out this uploader instruction.