Archive | December 10, 2013

Did The Alton Central School (ACS) Board, That Voted Down ‘Common Core’, Really Give Permission For This Week’s “Code Day”?

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.201304261366955021493465584

Anura Guruge

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>> ACS Code Day — Dec. 10, 2013.
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Will the miracles never cease in Alton?

The highly astute ACS School Board that voted downCommon Core‘, whatever that vote meant, has obviously given the go ahead for ACS to participate in the Obama-sanctioned, Bill Gates endorsed, Microsoft sponsored ‘Code Day’!


What about Local Control?

The kids will be using applications in the cloud. Heaven forbid? Has anybody checked the standards for these APPS? Are they safe for Alton kids?

Are we sure that these potentially nefarious APPS are NOT biometrically, via Webcams, sucking up all sorts of information about the kids?

Are we sure we have the right IT infrastructure at ACS to participate in such a global initiative?

Has anybody checked the STANDARDS for JavaScript? I am sure it was not developed in Alton.

This is scary. I am sure the promise of free food had all to do with this.

I am confused. Common Core is NOT ‘OK’ for ACS but ‘Code Day’ is. OK.

Sticking Automated Lens Cover On Panasonic Lumix ZS20 & ZS19 Cameras. BE AWARE, Very Aware. Shy Clear. Buy Something Else.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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This camera when it works is magical! No doubt or debate about that.

The problem is that it doesn’t work as well as you would like or expect much of the time.

This is Deanna’s camera. I got it for her as a Christmas present last year.

This morning, while I was in bed having my coffee, she came and told me that she has HAD IT with this damn camera and that she wants me to write the most scathing of post. So, I am trying though I am not sure I am that good at writing anything scathing.

We had trouble with the lens just 20 days after Deanna started using it. Amazon, to their credit, had a new camera sent to us in days.

Then on the way to the Grand Canyon, in April, we had to get ANOTHER camera and Amazon to their eternal credit gave us a partial refund.

Since we couldn’t find a ZS20 in Arizona we ended up with a ZS19 — same camera, the ZS19 doesn’t have GPS.

Now the lens cap is sticking on the ZS19.

So this is the 3rd ZS20 & ZS19 we are on. We haven’t had the 3 for a full year yet. We got the ZS19 in April!

Deanna is going to return it. I told her I will get her another camera.

She, however, wants to sort it out.

We have heard from one other person that they too have had lens cap issues.

I tried cleaning the lens cap because I am sure that dirt and grease must play a role in why it sticks.

Alton Central School (ACS), To Their Credit, And Amazingly, Taking Part In ‘Code Day’ To Expose Kids To The JOYS Of Programming.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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Yes, they had sent flyers home.

But, I only really heard about it last Tuesday at the ACS ‘junior school’ concert when the Principal spoke about it twice (one in each ‘half’). Since I had NOT read the flyer and I could only go by what the Principal was saying I had NO IDEA what this was all about. The Principal spoke MAINLY about all the FREE food that will be available and the local restaurants that are kindly donating that food. I am glad. But, I wished she had STRESSED, did a little jig, and explained that this was an initiative to expose kids to the unmitigated JOYS of programming. Yes, I appreciate, that the Principal, the Superintendent, William (Bill) Lander and the School Board are extremely ‘oral‘ — but a little bit of elucidation about the ‘code‘ aspect of the evening as opposed to the ‘gastronomic‘ would have been cool.

That ACS is taking part in ‘Code Day‘ is cool.

Not sure whether the kids will get a full, uninterrupted HOUR to write some code that evening — but this is a good start. I just hope the kids aren’t distracted by the food. Hopefully, and this is a BIG hope, some of the teachers will try and continue this program sans the free food. But, to be fair, Devanee was taught MIT’s SCRATCH ‘animated programming’ a couple of years ago at ACS. So, that was good.

See below, after the images as to why I am so gung ho about kids getting exposed to the JOYS of programming.


Click to ENLARGE. Use link below to access Website.

Link to access Website.

Link to access Website.


Click to access article …

I got a chance, in 1969, yes 1969, to take weekly 90 minute Computer Programming classes in school, viz. Mill Hill School in North London (also attended by Denis Thatcher and where James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary once taught).

It was every Thursday and the classes were sponsored by the British International Computers Limited (ICL). They provided each of us with a BIG light green binder about computers and programming. I had yet to see a computer! But, computer programming and I clicked. Duck to the water. Natural affinity.

In those days there were no PCs. We didn’t have any terminals at the school. We wrote our programs on coding sheets; a practice that I continued to use, off and on, even when I worked for IBM, 8 years later — though by the time I was at IBM, and writing microcode, for the 3270 display system, I was classed as a programmer who wrote his code in ink (which I often did do) as opposed to pencil (because I was sure of what I was coding).

Our coding sheets were sent by mail (which is always overnight in the U.K.) to ICL. They punched it onto paper tape and ran it. The next Thursday we would get back our original coding sheets, the paper tape and the computer output. If you made a mistake you program would not have done what you wanted. But, it took a week to find out.

The rest is history. I went to Swansea College, University of Wales, to ‘study’ a 3-year B. Sc. course in Computer Technology. I, for the first time in my life, had unlimited access to computer resources. I programmed like I was possessed (in between near non-stop fornication). I had a great 3 years at Swansea. By my 2nd year at Swansea Ph. D. students were coming to me for help with their programs! One of my lecturers told IBM about me. IBM hired me during my 2nd year, after getting me to sit three IQ tests (as is permissible in the U.K., one of them at 10 pm at night) and told me that I can start work whenever I wanted — with or without a degree. Since I was having so much fun and really didn’t want to work — I hung around Swansea for another year and did get my 1st degree. Yes, I also do have a M. Sc. in Computer Science from the University of London — paid for by IBM.

Programming has been good for me, though in reality I didn’t write that much code professionally! I was considered ‘too good’ to just write code! A sign of the time. IBM and others wanted me to do more ‘executive’ tasks or do much more technical tasks such as Systems Programming or crafting microcode. I was IBM youngest ‘Planner’ — essentially a Product Manager. But, I wrote code in my ‘spare’ time — a program that I wrote as such in my spare time, which I called ‘NDSIO’, ‘New Display System Input/Output‘, where the ‘NDS’ was the now legendary 3270 display system, became a primary testing tool within IBM in the U.K., U.S. and Germany.

So, I am all in favor of kids being taught to program early.

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