As I look back on the previous post I’ve done, I look to January 31st when I geeked out about binary and different number systems. I did it because 31 was 00011111 and a little trick I teach my students to read binary numbers quicker. Binary is a Base 2 number system and there are dozens, if not hundred’s, or other number systems out there – but not all of them are used. Hexadecimal is commonly found in colors when designing for the web and often confusing for students, but it can also be a lot of fun when you get to a certain level of abstraction.
March 31st – Hexadecimal
Deci-mal is a base 10 system, numbers are read from right to left, smallest to largest and you have the tens place, then hundreds place, thousands place moving over one spot to the left each time. Bi-nary is Base 2 with a ones place, then 2 moving left, then 4 moving left, then 8 moving left. Both of these systems can also be viewed in powers of 10 and 2 respectfully. Binary moves to the left when we have too many for the ones place (in binary it’s 2, so 1 is the highest digit in the 1’s place – hence the 1’s and 0’s), and Decimal moves left when we have too many for the ones place (in decimals case = 10, so the single digit 9 is the highest number in the 1’s place). What happens when two digits isn’t the highest value in the “1’s” place?
Hexadecimal is a Base 16 number system, meaning that the “1’s” place goes up to 16 (15 as the highest number) before moving to the left and taking up the “16’s” place – much like the “10” in decimal when you add “1” to “9”. but we can’t have two digits in the “1’s” place. So we start using letters. “A” represents 10, “B” represents 11, “C” is 12 and so on until “F” represents 15. So in Hexadecimal, the letter “f” is 15… mind blown. 2f is equal to 47 in decimal (2 16’s = 32 + 15 (f) = 47).
You’ll see hexadecimal values often in colors on the internet which are RGB (red, green, blue) and values can range from 0 to 255 which is equal to FF in hexadecimal (15 16’s (15 x 16) = 240 + 15 1’s = 255). Why 255 for red, green and blue? having the available combinations of 0-255 for each of these colors gives the outrageous number of 16,777,215 color combinations. Here is a great hexadecimal page to play around with the colors.
This post is really about 2 separate but together things. 1.) Kickstarter is awesome and if you frequent it enough, you’ll find some really great deals. 2.) Childhood Computer Science education is taking off and you had better jump on the bandwagon!
March 30th – Cubetto
Kickstarter, for those who don’t know, is a crowdfunding website with great ideas and great products. You’ll need to sign up for an account and then be able to fund others ideas and help them get off the ground, by getting in on the ground level. Kickstarter also sends out weekly emails of “Projects they Love” but really when you get the email it’s too late, the project has most likely been funded and the funding levels are gone.
There are a bunch of Computer Science related projects, but one that has caught on recently is Cubetto. Cubetto, as the website below says, teaches Computer Science concepts to 3 year olds – amazing! The physical block based programming (compared to digital block based programming of Scratch and Blockly) is appropriate for the age and teaches children concepts without forcing them onto a computer. Cubetto has been successfully funded, 8 times over, but they have opened up more funding opportunites and the video on their website says this isn’t the first Kickstart round. So be on the lookout for a revision of this project or the next “Cubetto” to Kickstart!
Every once in a while I have a tool or website that I love but it doesn’t exactly fit into any narrative that I’ve been discussing (yes I try to have some flow to this) – today is another one of those days but the website Tweetping is so cool I just have to share it.
March 29th – Tweetping
The world is full of data. People are constantly producing it (have been since the beginning of time) but now we are able to collect, sort and organize it. A lesson I go through in the ECS curriculum is all about data stories. Recently I was in Prince George’s County, MD facilitating a group and another facilitator, let’s call him Kevin B, introduced me to tweetping.net or tweet-ping, which is what the site does. It provides a more in depth service to be able to follow trends and hashtags as posted, but the home page (see below) just shows every tweet sent since you’ve opened the website. Amazing.
Students don’t always get the bigger picture and understand their actions – this helps to see things in the bigger picture. Tweetping also tells a great story in visual data. Watching the US wake up (and start Tweeting) is a great visual for those East Coast schools that can log in early. The screenshot above is an hour on a Tuesday night (from 7:45p to 8:45p EST) with no major US events and still over a 2,243 tweets a minute (or over 38 tweets a second!)
Visualization of data also leads to bigger questions. “What do you think is happening in Brasil right now?” “Are they always behind the US in Tweets?” “Where is it the middle of the night?” What would this look like on the weekend?” “Why aren’t their any tweets from China?” “Who is sending tweets in Antarctica?” And so on…
Over the past few days we’ve been looking at different types of general cloud storage, today we get a little more specific within cloud storage, communities and Computer Science.
March 28th – GitHub
GitHub is an incredibly popular community for programmers by programmers. It’s an easy way to upload a project, have team members work on it and helps greatly with version control (making sure everyone is working on the most recent versions, but also saving old ones in case somebody royally messes up). GitHub is another “industry standard” product so it would be great to expose programming students to it early, so they can feel comfortable when they are tossed into it at a job.
The initial setup creates a repository which in a industry job you could upload a project to work on. In a classroom setting this is where you could/would put files for the class to work on. The great thing about GitHub is its focus on programming languages.
As you can see from the screenshot above, you can place any number of files into the repository and give you team access. Again, this is great for programmers but can certainly be an additional skill you teach yourself and your students to navigate!
Full Disclosure: I wanted to write about one of my favorite cloud storage platforms, Copy.com, but they are closing shop on May 1st. So just recapping we’ve looked at Google Drive (including “A Week With…”), iCloud from Apple, OneDrive from Microsoft, Dropbox, Box.com all of which are free. Today we look at a online storage system that isn’t free, but a lot of people have access to it, they might not know it.
March 27th – Amazon Cloud Drive
If you’re a Amazon Prime Member, and really you should be, you’ve been enjoying 2 day shipping (sometimes 1 day or same day!), the Amazon Video Library and Amazon Prime Music – well you life is about to get a little better with Amazon Cloud Drive.
All Amazon Prime Members have space in the cloud which they can store unlimited Photos, and 5 GB worth of movies that isn’t attached to their purchases from Amazon. As you can see from the screenshot, you can get unlimited everything from $59.99 a year.
Once you’ve uploaded some photos (see above) you recognize a similar interface to other cloud storage systems. The ability to organize in albums, share and find pictures quickly are all located on the left side and you can upload on the top right. Amazon Cloud Storage, like most of the other cloud storage services, has an App for your phone or tablet that easily allows you to share to and an app that you can download and install to your computer – personally I don’t like downloading these things but I suggest you try it out – remember it the “personal computer” so do whatever your “person” likes!
Continuing from yesterdays post on Dropbox, another cloud based storage system, Box.com. Box.com is another “college project gone big” and focuses on collaboration in the cloud.
March 26th – Box.com
Box.com is very similar to Dropbox. It comes with 10 GB to start and multiple upgrade plans as well as corporate accounts that unlock a lot more storage. Box has a similar organizing system of folders and shared documents, but what really separates Box is the ability to post something and it display as an embed document. This means that you can share a PDF and then embed it on your website and be able to move back and forth through the pages and view them, rather than downloading and viewing. Very powerful indeed.
Box also has Apps for almost every device and a great web browser interface. With a free trial, 10 GB’s of storage and the instant ability to post and make it view able, why not take Box for a spin?
One theme I’ve been noticing in my writing is to “expand the walls of your classroom”. This can be done many different ways from Screencast to Google Slides and creating websites. I’ll discuss websites in a few weeks, but something you can do right now to help your students is give them resources and the best way to do this is in the “cloud”.
March 25th – Dropbox
Dropbox is probably the most popular file sharing service out there (and one of the first popular ones). Starting with 2GB for free, you jump into the cloud and are able to access files from anywhere, have shared folders with team members and do basically anything you could in person, but much easier in the cloud. Dropbox also has a great App for multiple devices and is very simple to navigate.
Dropbox is very similar to Google Drive as a cloud based storage system, you just don’t need a Google email address to access it. This can be very helpful in schools without a email system setup (which you’d be surprised how many out there still exist). The downfall of Dropbox is the size limit on the free storage, you can pay for more and earn extra storage through a number of different means so keep your eye out for those. I use multiple file sharing services based on the ease of each. The best use for Dropbox I saw was a student in my AP Computer Science A class had .java files stored and easily was able to modify and put them right back into the cloud, rather than having Google Drive ask him what he wanted to open the files in each time. It’s free to sign up and everyone can use an extra 2 GB of online storage!