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Comment: reading writing arithmetic & CHESS (Score 2, Interesting) 125

by johnrpenner (#46975493) Attached to: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

what would really help prepare children better than writing code is playing chess — it will help them learn how to think logically and consistently — if they learn it in chess first — learning all the various changing semantics of languages that may come and go will be trivial — if they got a good grounding in thinking properly through chess. a couple years of chess for grades 5-10 should be mandatory in every school curriculum.

chess is even more important than learning to how to code — because to get anywhere with code, you have to immerse yourself in a language, an API, an IDE, and a way of thinking that is large, legacy, and arcane. by contrast, chess gets it down to the critical skills in a pretty efficient way.

teach chess, then code later will be a piece of cake — because chess teaches the essential skills of grasping clear thoughts/moves in a facile way with the mind — and this mind muscle can be brought to higher level of logical consistency and clarity of thought with chess. something that is simple, yet lends itself to the greatest sophistication.

another reason to teach chess is science standards — lack of critical thinking in regards to science is a reflection of a nation that has lost its ability to think clearly upon basic subjects. chess is the remedy for a lack of clear and lucid thinking on many subjects.

one must work the mind, or it becomes weak, and unable to judge things very well — and then tends to be easily manipulated by political and emotional cues.


Comment: monocultures (Score 0) 392

by johnrpenner (#46663355) Attached to: How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

the GMO mono-culture which wipes out all with roundup, and allows to live only sterile copyright gmo seeds at the expensive of the natural diversity of nature — in mexico, the many many varieties of corn are replaced in america with a mono-culture of sterile gmo seeds — it is insidious destruction of our own planet's natural and abundant diversity.

Comment: where are the entwives? (Score 1) 333

by johnrpenner (#46351561) Attached to: Will Peggy the Programmer Be the New Rosie the Riveter?

i've met some really good women programmers over several decades in the tech world —but precious few. :-(

to make things fit our statistical ideal — we strive to glamourize writing code, the good pay, how easy it is to start, and the cool places you can work if you do. yet these things, have little to do with actually being interesting in numbers and algorithms.

if you have a real interest, the difficulty doesnt stop you, no more than salmon swimming upstream. the insatiable desire to grok code is its own reason. if we cant draw more people into computer science by showing how fascinating powers of 2 arithmetic, binary logic, and how neat pointer references are — then i'm afraid there's little hope — sometimes it seems they just dont like it. they have other less abstract, more practical concerns. so often, in perplexity, i have wondered — why are there so precious few women who are intrinsically interested in writing code? guys dig chicks with whom they can talk C++ —— but where are they!?!?

so i dont know if they are being shut out, or if they are simply averse. for the ones that arent — please, come code. the guys more than want more female programmers around. because of this, i've spent a lot of time trying to help women grok technology more deeply.

one thing i've noticed though, while machinery speaks in hexadecimal; the women are using the machinery more. instead of 'how it works', their quesion is 'how to use'? instead of making machines, they would rather use them. it reminds me of an old quote from Heinrich Heine's mom — 'the man thinks, and the women steers'.

in the end — it is for women to decide.
all we can do is encourage, and hold the door open. :-D
please come.

Comment: embrace and extend (Score 1) 241

by johnrpenner (#46301713) Attached to: With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android

at it again.. the way everyone had to code everything twice.. once for explorer and once for netscape.. well its going to be even more fun for android and android-like devs.. then droid will fracture, leaving a more coherent market for ios dev.. allowing ios to hold on to 30% longer than it would.

maybe it works out w each of the big three (google, apple, microsoft) with a third of the market - with incompatible clouds and digital thunderstorms - more fun ahead! ;-)
2cents from toronto island (snow and thunder tonight)

Comment: Re:realism doesnt improve gameplay (Score 1) 134

by johnrpenner (#46252011) Attached to: Game Developers' Quest To Cross the Uncanny Valley

no slight against beautiful graphics — but to quote george bernard shaw — 'The quality of a play is the quality of its ideas'

i'd say the same is true for games — the quality of the game is in the quality of its ideas.

also there's also a certain rhythmic tempo which is pleasant to attain which makes gameplay satisfying.

the graphics can be great and everything, buts without a good gameplay, they fall flat.

when the ideas are good, and the gameplay is good — then the graphics just add to the special sauce and completes it. :-)

Comment: CHESS (Score 1) 387

by johnrpenner (#46134141) Attached to: Should Everybody Learn To Code?

before you do algebra, you need to learn to multiply, and before that you need to learn to add and subtract.
certain higher levels of abstract thinking require prior training in order to be of good use.
getting a good grounding in the basics gives one better preparation to wield the forces of code.

for the earlier grades —when they're still learning to add and subtract, and count their ABCs.. up to grade two and three, you cant even really assume that kind of stuff yet — kids grow slow, just like plants, and you cant just stuff it into them like cabbages — give them time to develop basic skills like recognising the 26 letters of the alphabet before giving them the ASCII code 65, 66, and 67 — give them the simplest introductions of a subject area gives them a better ability to start a good core understanding which will help them for a lifetime.

a lot of what you learn in programming is not the requisite clear training in thought — but the semantics of a language, and the APIs which it is calling.. things which continuously change — distracting from the main thing — learning how to think clearly and logically.

stripping all the semantics and APIs away — and just left with the six rudiments of logic to contemplate — the motions and interactions of the king and queen — how the rook and bishop move along vectors; how how the knights intersect in circles, and how variables advance and pawn chains interact — these are the kind of things that get children to think in abstract arrays and logical collisions. i would start Chess in Schools in grade 2, and every year the classes play each other.. with as much reward given as they do for other sports activities.

train the national mind.. train the human mind.
once they got chess down for a couple years — programming,
starting in grade 7 and 8 should be a piece of cake.

2cents from toronto island
john penner

Comment: Re:chess? (Score 2) 449

by johnrpenner (#46072813) Attached to: 23-Year-Old Chess Grandmaster Whips Bill Gates In 71 Seconds

you are right that it is unsurprising — as is the result of a game between a tennis champ and an amateur — but you are wrong in saying that the skills one squires in chess are unrelated to everything that matters in life.

you obviously have never taken up the sport, or you would soon see how it disciplines and trains the mind to meet everything else in life with more and better discrimination — just like science enables one to cut out a lot of the crap that people superstitiously believe — chess teaches your mind how to think clearly in a better way than anything else. it shows you how to overcome superstitious instincts, and train them towards better results — and this helps in almost every area of life.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1750 in his article, The Morals of Chess — The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess... By playing at Chess then, we may learn:

1st, Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action.

2nd, Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action—the relation of the several pieces and their situations...

3rd, Caution, not to make our moves too hastily...

two cents from toronto island

If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else. -- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"