Monday, May 30, 2011

Interesting Links Post 31 May 2011

Since yesterday was Memorial Day I posted something just a bit fun and saved my links post for today.  I hope those of you in the US enjoyed a three day weekend and also found time to remember those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I spent time with family including my World War II combat veteran father. I cherish all the time I have left with him as so many of his generation are now gone.

Now for some links.

Here is a bit of the real world of software development that they don’t teach you in school. This was tweeted and retweeted a lot last week. “ And the award for "Most Legally Encumbered Hello World Program" goes to Oracle for” A few lines of code and a lot of lines of legal boilerplate.

A number of good articles in the Microsoft Boston blog including this one about how  Microsoft’s Elevate America Community Initiatives are making a difference in the lives of Bostonians.  And this All About the Boston MTC – Q&A with Sven Ingard, MTC Director The MTC is one of Microsoft’s interesting field offices that works with customers before large projects get rolling.

The big summer doings for Microsoft’s international academic relations teams are the 124 student teams who  are competing to solve the world's toughest issues. See GOOD Magazines' favorite five projects

New Game Development Education on App Hub for the Windows Phone Mango Tools Release. This is where I am learning things for my posts like  XNA and Visual Basic–Your First Lesson and  Windows Phone 7 Games in Visual Basic

Have you read about the Microsoft Tech Student of the Month for May 2011?  – Kevin Ballinas

I saw this interesting Tweeted link from @weemooseusRed Hot: The Computer Science Job Market: (Ok HS, where are your CS teachers when your students need them?)” In spite of news stories like this I keep hearing of schools cutting back on computer science education. It doesn’t make any sense to me.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Imagine Cup WorldWide Game Competition Finalists 2011

Andrew Parsons is the Game Capitan for the Worldwide Imagine Cup Game competition. This gives him a good close look at the competitors especially the finalists. This week he has posted summaries of the finalists in the three competition fields.

I grabbed some of the information about the US teams in the finals but you’ll want to take a look at all the other competitors in all three categories.

Team Name: ICsquared

Game Name: Embryonic

Country: United States

Embryonic is a combination of arcade style games to promote awareness and education of maternal health. The primary game is an Asteroids-style game where the player is put in charge of protecting an unborn child while later levels revolve around other parts of the process, including the umbilical cord and nutrients being delivered, as well as an awareness of rudimentary genetics.


Team Name: Team Dragon

Game Name: Azmo the Dragon

Country: United States

Azmo the Dragon is a 2D side-scrolling game that helps children learn about their asthma as they play as a dragon who destroys civilizations.

DragonWindows 2011-04-27 18-20-22-84DragonWindows 2011-04-27 18-20-32-43DragonWindows 2011-04-27 18-21-01-97

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Interesting Links 23 May 2011

Every week end I go to grab by Twitter stream and the notes I have taken as ask myself “Do I have any thing interesting this week?” Invariably I have more than I expected. Stuff flows like crazy many weeks. While I pass a lot of it back out via Twitter I find that that is a transient media. Oh it’s great if you have time to follow it (and I don’t always) but you are bound to miss a lot. It also doesn’t feel like a good archive either. So something may come by while you don’t need it but not be easy to find when you do. That is why I believe that these weekly posts are a better way for me (and I hope others) to find things when I need them. Blogs are searchable.

Tara Walker recorded an hour long workshop on building Windows Phone apps that is now available for viewing. May be a good way for you (or students) to get started.

Coding for Fun (@coding4fun) posted some resources for the "graphically challenged" among us with places we can get resources that can be used in XNA games. Trust me – your programming students are probably not the graphic artists them may think they are. These are useful resources.

Learning to learn Is a great post by Garth, a CS teacher and frequent commenter on this blog, who does what good teachers do - help students to learn how to learn more. I recommend this post and Garth’s blog in general.

Have you students seen the big summer deal from Microsoft? Qualified students who buy a new Windows PC and get a free Xbox 360, too. For your graduating seniors – every dorm room can use a new Windows PC and an Xbox 360. Smile 

Programming concepts in Scratch is a very helpful post from Gail Carmichael (@gailcarmichael) . If you are using Scratch or looking into using Scratch for teaching computer science or programming concepts check out her post.

Some interesting things from Microsoft Research (@MSFTResearch:) this week  How much energy is your computer really using? Download Joulemeter and find out. May be just the thing to spark conversations about power usage of computers and how that impacts both society in general and computer hardware design in specific.

Teachers looking to attend Microsoft’s Innovative Educators Forum this summer have created videos. There is a people’s choice voting now open and you can vote for your favorite People's Choice video – Two most "liked" videos go to MSFT Innovative Educator Forum  ( via @TeachTec)

Great article by @Dean Kamen on @CNN : Want U.S. to keep tech edge? Teach kids science

Insightful post by Mark Guzdial (@guzdial) If you want CS in High School, Require CS in college  You have to wonder why don’t more colleges require some computer science? They require math and other sciences. CS is pretty key to the future of almost all fields. If they did require it in college, as Mark says, a lot more high schools would jump to teach it.

I had to link to this video -- 5 year old & Visual Studio – In it a five year old explains why “she likes” Visual Studio 2008. It’s funny, its cute, but there is a lot about what is in the product shown in the video.

Sitting = Bad is an info graphic posted by Ed Donahue (@CreepyEd) about how bad sitting is for you. I have been thinking about a standing desk myself. I’ve also read some things that suggest that standing desks might be helpful for the sort of student who just can’t sit still as well. Either way some things to think about.

One last thing, if you are on Twitter I hope you will follow my updates at @AlfredTwo Thanks!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Seth Godin Needs To Visit a Library

Now I am married to a school librarian so a) I have a bias toward them and b) I have a bit of an idea of how they think and how libraries operate. OK not all libraries or all librarians but at least one really good one. So I had to read this post by Seth Godin (The future of the library)

In that post he describes a future librarian that sounds a lot like my wife and a library that sounds a lot like the library she is always working towards. But what Seth misses is the reason librarians still need to fight for sharing and borrowing on eBook readers. In a word – access.

It’s all nice and fuzzy to say you can get everything you need on the Internet if you have a nice set of Internet connected devices and good access to the Internet everywhere you go. And Seth probably has that. Many of the patrons of most libraries, especially the libraries that serve poor and rural areas do not have those things. For these patrons even inexpensive books are outside their price range and 24/7 Internet access is still the realm of science fiction. For these readers the loan of an eBook reader is a door into future possibilities. If librarians do not fight to get them access to this technology and to the information on them they may never get to see it.

Also librarians have for the most part redefined themselves away from guardians of books to sharers of information. (well the good ones anyway)They have embraced media of all types from eBook readers to videos (online and on hard media), online databases to Internet searches. They are all about helping people find information and entertainment (yes people do read for entertainment). There are lots of computers in most libraries. It’s still hard to take those computers home though and if someone doesn’t have a computer at home (or Internet) than eBook readers are yet one more tool in the librarian’s toolbox.

Seth says:

Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.

Librarians are not missing the point. Seth is missing the point. Librarians do see themselves as “producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario” and have for years. Seth misses the point that librarians are about access and sharing by almost any means or media possible. They are not defending the library as warehouse but the library as a source for information sharing. And that is something  you would think Seth would be onboard with.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interesting Posts 16 May 2011

Computer Science teacher Pat Yongpradit  seems to be everywhere on the educational blogosphere lately. I posted about his 5-6 week XNA course curriculum last week. Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) posted an interview on her  Cool Cat Teacher Blog posted a video interview him - Attracting Girls to Technology and Science. Pat himself had a post on the Huffington Post about My Year as a Teacher Beauty Queen: Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum in which he recounts some of what has happened to him since he was involved with last year’s Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum.

Speaking of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum, IEF awardee Cheryl Arnett has a new blog post in the Huffington Post called Learn how to transform education to meet the needs of 21st century learners.

I like this article by a pair of Advanced Placement  English teachers in Virginia who utilize InterroBang (@playinterrobang) in their classroom. The article is  "Challenge, Discovery, Insight, Surprise" and they wrote about it for Best In Tech Today


Play InterroBang

The socially-networked, mission-based, problem-solving game in partnership with the Exploratorium, Learn and Serve, sponsored by Microsoft


Nice blog post by Ed Donahue on the recent Digigirlz Tech Camp: Baltimore 2011. DigiGirlz is a wonderful program designed to help introduce girls and young women learn about and develop an interest in technology and careers in technology.

Diversity and Inclusion at Microsoft

Have you ever wondered how committees select what presentations are included in a conference? On the CSTA blog you can read Choosing CS&IT Conference Sessions about how sessions were selected for this summer’s Computer Science & Information Technology Conference in New York. BTW you really want to attend this conference if you are a high school (or middle school) computer science teacher or district curriculum coordinator charged with building CS programs.

I don’t often post to my blog over the weekend but this past Saturday I did write a blog post:  about  Returning Data From A Second Form in Visual Basic and/or C# If your students are looking at using multiple forms or building custom dialogue forms that post will be useful.

Are you interested in images of historical devices? Checkout the Buxton Collection 30 Years of Interactive Technology.

Lastly I want to link to a few posts by my good friend Sam Stokes who works with higher education in California.



Friday, May 06, 2011

Teaching Students To Create Their Own Business

One of the things that I tell students when I do career talks is that it has never been easier to start a software business than it is today. Many great companies have been started in hard economic times (Microsoft for example) and many have been started by people who were students at the time. Dell may be one of the more well known examples of that even though it is more hardware related. But new markets in games (for hand held devices like phones for example), cloud computing for fast, easy and scalable computer resources as well as easy availability of software bring a new round of low cost of entry. Technical skills are not all that you need though. The making of a company requires some entrepreneurship. While entrepreneurship is in large part an attitude and a confidence we don’t often teach the other skills that support the attitude and build the confidence students need. That’s why I really enjoyed a blog post in the TeachTec blog today. This is one you really want to read!

The article titled Can you develop the next Gates or Zuckerberg in high school? Combining computer science and entrepreneurship talks about a program that Doug Bergman has created in his school in South Carolina. The project is called Entrepreneurship through Xbox Game & Simulation Development .and I’ve included a blurb from a recent announcement of the 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum - Round One - Finalists Announced!

Doug Bergman, Porter-Gaud School (Charleston, SC)
Project: Entrepreneurship through Xbox Game & Simulation Development
Students in this hybrid computer science & entrepreneurship class learn how to manage and work on a single large computer programming project as well as develop their own software coding and problem-solving skills. They apply the equally important skills around entrepreneurism using the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) curriculum, building and eventually presenting an actual business plan for the game idea they choose. Additionally students consider an area in their life (i.e., a subject they are passionate about, an extra-curricular area, or an idea that helps makes the world a better place) and they take that idea and create a game or simulation for the Xbox that teaches, demonstrates, and generates interest in the area they have chosen.

Doug is working cross the curriculum and really taking advantage of student interests to promote learning. He is working closely with his school IT department, Guidance, local colleges and local industry. Guest speakers through the course of the school year help “make it real” for students. It’s great stuff and I encourage you to read the full article.

Doug Bergman came to Microsoft’s attention through the Innovative Education Forum program. There is still a little over a week left to submit applications for the 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum. The final deadline to apply is May 15th. I’d love to see more computer science teachers submit and share what they are doing in their classrooms. There is a lot of exciting and truly innovative work going on, not just in computer science of course, and the Innovative Education Forums highlights many of them but we don’t know about them unless teachers tell us about them.

I’ll close with a picture of Doug Bergman and some of his students. Looks like they are having fun!


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Most Read Posts–April 2011

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the top read blog posts from April 2011. I look at both web statistics and RSS statistics.In some ways I feel like the RSS statistics tell me the most about what is useful for my most regular readers. Although I know that several people who seldom if ever miss my posts (I love you all) read via web browsers many follow using RSS readers of some sort. The web hits come from search engines and in links. The search engine traffic is also very informative. It also lets me know that I am covering topics that people are interested in. Hopefully I am helping. The in links most often come when I get a little opinionated. OK I can live with that. Smile So for what ever it is worth here are the top 10 posts according to RSS statistics as provided by Feedburner.

And then there are the posts the analytics tool says are the top posts as read by web browsers. Mostly a different list with a couple the same. If you only read via RSS (which is how I read most blogs) you may have skipped by one of these and find it worth taking a second look.

  • Interesting Projects-A Collection A post from March that continued to get a lot of web traffic this month. Search engines or links? I’m not sure but I do think it is a useful post if you are looking for interesting and educational programming projects
  • Object Oriented Programming Is Dead – This is another post from March that was heavily linked to. The post it was suggested by seemed to get a lot of attention (much more than mine which is good) and a lot of others linked to this one of mine.
  • Microsoft Math 4.0 This post from January received a big boost because of a new in link and the fact that Math 4.0 is now available in a bunch more international languages. Your math people will love this one.
  • Books for Computer Science Students The first of a few posts that made both lists.
  • How Does Kinect Work This post from last November keeps getting a lot of search engine traffic. Hope they all are looking forward to the Kinect SDK (coming soon) as I am.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For An other post that made both lists.
  • Movies For Computer Science Students Yea! Three posts on both lists.
  • Programming Projects Using Arrays I guess a lot of people are searching for this sort of thing. I would have expected more in the fall during ramp up but if people are finding this post useful I’m happy.
  • Fizz Buzz A programming Question Yet another project post that continues to get traffic. All the great replies make it valuable in my opinion.
  • Credit Card Project Who knew there were that many people looking for information on parsing credit cards!

What was useful (or useless) to you? What topics should I be looking to research and blog more about? How can I be helpful to you this month?