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Comment Instant Gratification is the Key (Score 1) 315

Does anyone program for programming's sake? Can you lead a horse to water AND make it drink?

Show a kid what the possibilities are first, which means learn what you want to teach them. Also, instant gratification is key - no kid wants to be there writing what seems like arbitrary lines of code so that they can see the Fibonacci sequence rendered up to n terms. My top 3 suggestions as a computer science teacher:

1. Scratch: free, online, massive community, tweak stuff before you make your own, instant gratification. There's some complex stuff out there so try to restrict examples to simple ones, stuff that they can try to emulate themselves. Kids will typically have very high expectations of what they can achieve without appreciating the complexities involved. Code is built using drag and drop. It's not immediately intuitive but you can get results very quickly once you pick it up.

2. Minecraft Pi: get a Raspberry Pi. The Raspbian distribution comes with a special version of Minecraft that has a Python API attached to it, and there are some very simple examples on the RPi website that can get you rendering all sorts of cool stuff in the Minecraft environment within minutes. Pixel art made from blocks, a digital clock floating in the sky, hunt the diamond, Midas touch, the list goes on. You can tweak the existing code after copying it out (like we used to do from coding magazines) before trying out your own programs. Also exposes him to an operating system other than Windows.

3. Spirograph: technically I mean 'turtle'. It's a great way for kids to learn about randomness, iteration, geometry and efficient coding tecniques. Scratch, Small Basic and Python all have a turtle module built in so you can draw shapes on screen very quickly and easily.

Comment Distinction Between TV and TV (Score 1) 205

It didn't start with the Apple TV or even the Anniversary Mac. Apple got straight into delivering on demand TV into the home with the advent of broadband: There are no definitive details on how or why the project was cancelled, but it's right around the time Jobs made his comeback. Personally, I think he liked the idea of the project but knew it was sub-standard and didn't yet know how to do it 'the Apple Way'. Once the iPod came along and changed the way we listen to music, he had the means to change the way we watch TV and the Apple TV was born (an iPod for video). Remember the distinction between TV (as in broadcast programming) and TV (as in the device). The former is analogous to the record labels - Apple is neither a record label nor a TV channel, but makes a great technological middle-man. The latter is the means by which Apple gets into the living room (much as it did with the Airport Express for music) but it couldn't do that adequately until the technology became available.

Comment Option for the N900? (Score 2, Interesting) 198

It's no secret that Maemo isn't exactly allowing the N900 to spread it's wings - perhaps having other OS options such as Ubuntu would let more developers in the door. I know Maemo's Debian base isn't exactly an alienating factor for developers but, given Ubuntu's current prevalence, it opens a few more doors competition-wise.

Would be somewhat indicting of Nokia's choice of OS should an alternative, indepdent platform take off though!

Comment Re:Why bother Indeed! (Score 1) 416

In short, if you have no interest in gaming then you have an inherent disinterest in the Xbox 360. As a hackable toy it's practically useless, and extremely fulfilling giving the amoebic state of the scene at the moment.

As a result I have to agree wholeheartedly with my man Nick about the original Xbox, even if we're slightly OT in doing so.

As for HD output on a European box, it's 100% possible on a softmodded box with the right software installed and the right cable (£10 off eBay). I realised there is no physical difference between the two models - it's a BIOS thing.

XBMC is a thing of beauty in 720p (1080i's a bit sticky). And contrary to Pro Coffee Drinker's claims that it doesn't have the oomph to play HD content, I'm not sure he's tried - I'm watching Lost in 720p quite nicely thanks. Aside from the slightest hint of perceptible jitter here and there it's a joy to behold.

Perhaps the best thing of all is the Milkdrop visualisations for the music player, which are also rendered in HD - stunning and mesmerising.

Shame the (vast majority of) games are SD, but aside from that it's the perfect Media Centre, and beats the hell out of any off-the-shelf model you could get for £100-300 because it's been in development for so long and its internal storage capabilities are so flexible (if you know how).

Comment First Use Of Linux (Score 1) 739

Let's see. OS X Server 1.2 won't count because that was NeXT-based which itself was UNIX-based so it would have to be some distro of Yellowdog I installed on a pre-OS X G4 PowerMac. After that it was Xebian on an XBox. I've got a thing about making technology do things its not meant to to, so installing Linux on a PC seemed a bit pointless...

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard