Recent blog entries for mikal

Ancillary Justice




ISBN: 9780356502403
LibraryThing
I loved this book. The way the language works takes a little while to work out, but then blends into the background. The ideas here are new and interesting and I look forward to other work of Ann's. Very impressed with this book.

Tags for this post: book ann_leckie combat ai aliens
Related posts: Mona Lisa Overdrive; East of the Sun, West of the Moon; Count Zero; Emerald Sea; All The Weyrs of Pern; Against the Tide


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Syndicated 2015-05-05 20:48:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Coding club day one: a simple number guessing game in python

I've recently become involved in a new computer programming club at my kids' school. The club runs on Friday afternoons after school and is still very new so we're still working through exactly what it will look like long term. These are my thoughts on the content from this first session. The point of this first lesson was to approach a programming problem where every child stood a reasonable chance of finishing in the allotted 90 minutes. Many of the children had never programmed before, so the program had to be kept deliberately small. Additionally, this was a chance to demonstrate how literal computers are about the instructions they're given -- there is no room for intuition on the part of the machine here, it does exactly what you ask of it.

The task: write a python program which picks a random number between zero and ten. Ask the user to guess the number the program has picked, with the program telling the user if they are high, low, or right.

We then brainstormed the things we'd need to know how to do to make this program work. We came up with:
  • How do we get a random number?
  • What is a variable?
  • What are data types?
  • What is an integer? Why does that matter?
  • How do we get user input?
  • How do we do comparisons? What is a conditional?
  • What are the possible states for the game?
  • What is an exception? Why did I get one? How do I read it?


With that done, we were ready to start programming. This was done with a series of steps that we walked through as a group -- let's all print hello work. Now let's generate a random number and print it. Ok, cool, now let's do input from a user. Now how do we compare that with the random number? Finally, how do we do a loop which keeps prompting until the user guesses the random number?

For each of these a code snippet was written on the whiteboard and explained. It was up to the students to put them together into a program which actually works.

Due to limitations in the school's operating environment (no local python installation and repl.it not working due to firewalling) we used codeskulptor.org for this exercise. The code that the kids ended up with looks like this:

Tuggeranong Trig (again)

The cubs at my local scout group are interested in walking to a trig, but have some interesting constraints around mobility for a couple of their members. I therefore offered to re-walk Tuggeranong Trig in Oxley with an eye out for terrain. I think this walk would be very doable for cubs -- its 650 meters with only about 25 meters of vertical change. The path is also ok for a wheelchair I think.

             

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150415-tuggeranong_trig photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; One Tree and Painter; A walk around Mount Stranger

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Syndicated 2015-04-24 18:04:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

One Tree and Painter

Paul and I set off to see two trigs today. One Tree is on the ACT border and is part of the centenary trail. Painter is a suburban trig in Belconnen. Much fun was had, I hope I didn't make Paul too late for the wedding he had to go to.

 

Interactive map for this route.

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150412-one_tree_painter photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; A walk around Mount Stranger; Forster trig

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Syndicated 2015-04-11 23:53:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Thinking time

I've had a lot of things to think about this week, so I've gone on a few walks. I found some geocaches along the way, but even better I think my head is a bit more sorted out now.

Interactive map for this route.

Interactive map for this route.

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog canberra bushwalk
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker; A quick walk through Curtin; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches

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Syndicated 2015-04-09 16:16:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Bendora Arboretum and Bulls Head trig

Prompted largely by a not very detailed entry in a book, a bunch of friends and I went to explore Bendora Arboretum. The arboretum was planted in the 1940's as scientific experiments exploring what soft woods would grow well in our climate -- this was prompted by the large amount of wood Australia was importing at the time. There were 34 Arboreta originally, but only this one remains. The last three other than this one were destroyed in the 2003 bush fires.

We also did a side trip to Bulls Head trig, which was interesting as its not the traditional shape.

                                       

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Interactive map for this route.

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150404-bendora_bulls_head photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; A walk around Mount Stranger; Forster trig

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Syndicated 2015-04-04 15:35:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

A quick walk through Curtin

What do you do when you accidentally engaged a troll on twitter? You go for a walk of course.

I didn't realize there had been a flash flood in Canberra in 1971 that killed seven people, probably because I wasn't born then. However, when I ask people who were around then, they don't remember without prompting either, which I think is sad. I only learnt about the flood because of the geocache I found hidden at the (not very well advertised) memorial today.

       

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150323-curtin photo canberra bushwalk
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs

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Syndicated 2015-03-23 13:41:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches

I walked to the Narrabundah trig yesterday, along the way collecting 15 of the 16 NRL themed caches in the area. It would have been all 16, except I can't find the last one for the life of me. I'm going to have to come back.

I really like this area. Its scenic, has nice trails, and you can't tell you're in Canberra unless you really look for it. It seemed lightly used to be honest, I think I saw three other people the entire time I was there. I encountered more dogs off lead than people.

 

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150321-narrabundah photo canberra bushwalk
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island

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Syndicated 2015-03-21 14:29:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

A quick trip to Namadgi

I thought I'd drop down to the Namadgi visitors centre to have a look during lunch because I hadn't been there since being a teenager. I did a short walk to Gudgenby Hut, and on the way back discovered this original border blaze tree. Its stacked on pallets at the moment, but is apparently intended for display one day. This is how much of the ACT's boarder was marked originally -- blazes cut on trees.

 

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150320-namadgi photo canberra bushwalk namadgi border
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island

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Syndicated 2015-03-19 20:02:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

Goodwin trig

I talk about urban trigs, but this one takes the cake. Concrete paths, street lighting, and a 400 meter walk. I bagged this one on the way home from picking something up in Belconnen. To be honest, I can't see myself coming here again.

   

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150318-goodwin photo canberra bushwalk trig_point belconnen
Related posts: Harcourt and Rogers Trigs; Big Monks; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; A walk around Mount Stranger; Forster trig; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

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Syndicated 2015-03-18 14:01:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

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