Monthly Archives: January 2006

More on Programming for kids

This week Timmy, has really been bugging me to teach him to program. He wants to write a video game. Hmmm…. I guess I’d rather he spent his time writing video games than playing them!

One of his questions was how to create a window. Well, he got a bit of an introduction to Interface Builder. Now he wants to work on his program all the time!

Anyhow, I’ve been playing with AgentSheets a little. This is software by Alex Repenning that started out at CU back when I was there too. It looks pretty interesting, but only has a 10 day evaluation, and costs $100. That’s really steep in my view. And honestly, it doesn’t look much different than it did back in the early 90’s. There’s what looks to be a newer version for Windows, but nothing on the site says how it’s different from the Mac version. Sigh….

The latest issue of Wired magazine has an article on the next version of LEGO Mindstorms (also see the nxtbot blog). I caught Tim reading it, so I did too. Looks very interesting, but they won’t be coming out until August or so. That’s a bummer. It would be really nice to have them for the beginning of summer since it’s likely that the boys will be staying home a good deal of the time.

Of course, I should probably be talking to Steve Richards about all this. He’s an old friend from RSI, and started a company called Acroname Inc. Time to invite him to lunch.

A Roof

Well, the roof is going on the addition, and the old part of the house. No pictures as Teresa is away with the camera this week at her great uncle’s funeral in Utah. (She’s going to take pictures of gravestones in Richfield. That’s something those genealogist types like to do.) I didn’t tell her that they were doing the roof, so she’s in for a big surprise when she comes home tomorrow. They’ve also done the plumbing rough-in for the new laundry room.

The one problem here is what to do with the satellite dish. They took it off yesterday (it had been temporarily screwed directly into the roof since the chimney got removed months ago), and last night I screwed it down to the front walkway. I actually got it pointed at the satellite on the first try. Zero adjustment. It took us more than four hours to get it pointed right when we took it off the chimney!

So, where should we put it once the roof is done? We’re planning to upgrade to DishHD (and put in a big TV in the rec room) soon, so it doesn’t make sense to install the old dish permanently. I suppose I could upgrade the satellite plan sooner, and make them install the new dish. But I still don’t know where to put it. I kinda wish we still had a chimney….

Programming for kids

Teresa and I have been trying to figure out how to teach our kids programming. We spent last night’s dinner talking to Scott and Tim about bits and bytes, storing characters, and binary arithmetic. The term “Unicode” even came up.

But we really don’t know how to get things started.

Someone at work recently pointed me at James Gosling’s blog. In an old post, he talks about BlueJ. Perhaps that’s the right direction.

Also, back in grad school, there were a couple of projects going on that were geared towards kids. I need to go figure out what all that was again. (And see what’s been happening since!)

Garmin Mac Support

Bill mentions in his blog that Garmin’s adding Mac support for their GPS’s. Very cool. I’ve been using an eTrex Vista on my bike since last summer. I don’t really need maps when out for a lunch time ride, but it was nice to have them on a ride to Carter Lake. They helped me a find good way home that day. If only they’d shown the big hill I was going to have to climb….

Anyhow, with Mac support and the new Edge 305, I’m drooling for a new GPS. (Teresa won’t like that!)

New Year’s Resolutions

No, I don’t actually have any New Year’s Resolutions. Should I? No, I don’t think so.

But I am human, and I do have goals that change over time. I want to be healthier. And I want to play around in the new internet.

A few months ago, I found myself helping out on a secret project at work. No, I can’t talk about it. There have been plenty of rumors about it out on the web. All I’ll say is it’s another geek tool. But it did inspire me to learn some new things. Much to Teresa‘s chagrin, I bought a new iMac G5. (A bit of a mistake as it turns out, but I still love the machine.) On it I’ve been playing with and learning about Web 2.0, and all that other stuff. I’ve started this blog. More interestingly (at least to me and perhaps people inside Apple), I’ve started an internal blog on what I’m working on now (which I also can’t talk about). That blog is intended to be my modern replacement for an engineering notebook.

More things I want to learn about:
– More HTML/CSS/JavaScript (aka Ajax)
Core Data
Unit Testing (Not much to learn here. It’s a matter of practice!)
Ruby on Rails

But mostly I want to work a little harder at keeping up with what’s going on technically in the world. Towards that end, I’ve started listening to a few podcasts. My favorite is probably This Week in Tech. I love to listen to John C. Dvorak piss and moan about how everything sucks.