Sunday, February 14, 2010

Learning CS by Programming Games!

I just found this great author, Jonathan Harbour.  Take a look at his site and look at all his cool books.  I've been reviewing hisBeginning Game Programing 1st ed which focuses on Windows programming with Visual C++ and DirectX 9.04.  I think his thrid edition has new projects and uses Allegro instead of DirectX.  

Allegro is supposed to be cross-platform.  This is good as I am actually looking for something like this that I can use with Linux! I'd rather not shell out money for Windows compilers if I don't have to.  Maybe I'll look at his Beginning Java 5 Game Programming.

Teaching with Technology, 

Doc: iPads? Where we're going we don't need iPads!

OK, this was supposed to be a post on the "Rise and Fall of the Smart Airliner Slate."  So, what does this have to do with the iPad?  Well, I was going to look for an update to the Airliner when Steve Jobs started his rant on the iPad.  So, I started to think that the iPad would serve as a nice platform for my screencasting activities.  However, the iPad isn't all its cracked up to be!  It was supposed to be Mac's answer to a Tablet PC.  If that were the case, I could use it, but it's just a big iPod Touch (ie: iPhone without a cell phone or a camera)!  If the iPad used Mac OS X, which is just a form of Linux BTW, that would be one thing, but it uses the iPod OS....

So, I figured I'd see if they updated the Airliner and I wanted to see if I could use it in Linux.  All this SmartTech stuff tends to work best in WimpDoze.  So, what did Smart do?  They discontinued the Airliner and replced it with a smaller device!  The smaller slate does not surprise me. It fits in perfectly with SmartTech building everything around their Notebook software. They just expect us teachers to prepare every single class, from start to finish, ahead of time as a Notebook file, just like a ppt, and use the tablet just as a remote mouse not a pen!

The new model is the WS200 retailing for $350 with a writing surface measuring just 6.75"x4.25" instead of the Airliner's 6"x8" writing  Maybe I'll look at the new HP Slate PC?

Learning with Technology,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Meeting VIII - New mini cluster with 64 bit Fedora 12 DVD

Today's Aim: more g++, where fore art thou, g++?
Tonight's Reading: Building Parallel Programs, Chapter 8
This Week's Research: new mini Fedora 12 DVD cluster
Attending Tues: ALL
This Tuesday we will again take stock of what we've done and what needs to be done.  For example, we got a Hello World program (hello.c) working over our Fedora based cluster using openMPI and gcc.  This is a great accomplishment!
However, when we tried to do this with C++ ( we found that g++ was not installed!  I did not realize that the 64-bit Fedora 11 CD we used for installation had GNU GCC with only gcc installed.  Usually, GNU GCC has gcc, g++, gf77, etc.  A lot of room on the CD is taken up with GNOME and Compiz.  So, we tried to yum install gcc but found the mirrors were down or missing or blocked?  Some of our nodes have some strange networking issues, so yum is fubarred on some.
What we need to do is reinstall a bank of 4 nodes with the 64bit Fedora 12 DVD, whichincludes gcc and g++, and start from scratch one step at a time! 

Happy Clustering,

Friday, February 5, 2010

Course Selection Week! (How to get new students to take your class!)

Last Friday, I sent my regular classes off with a reading assignment and a sub and said "I'll be back ... Monday!"
Then I took as many of our Honors 9th grade and 11th grade Math classes on a "mini field trip" to my PC Classroom. I wanted to show them a little of what we do and entice new students to take Computer Math, Advanced Computer Math, AP Computer Science as well as AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC and Calculus Research Lab. So, in a nut shell, this was my presentation:

Part 0: Flyers - At the beginning of each period, I selected one class to bring.  So, I went down to that class and dragged everyone to the PC Classroom and gave out flyers first thing. The 9th grade Geometry Honors got one flyer about Computer Math & Advanced Computer Math. The 11th grade preCalculus Honors got two flyers about AP Computer Science and Calculus Research Lab. The 11th graders also got a pep talk about taking AP Calculus next year as some do chicken out. See the flyers here in sidebar.

Part 1: Introducing Shadowfax! (10 mins) - What's a cluster and who needs one?  I showed off one of our fractal prints and one of our ray tracings.  We talked about how they render farms like the one they used to make Shrek III.  We even discussed weather forcasting and the blizzard that was coming tomorrow.  Then I mentioned that use Linux geeks like to name our computers, like my home PC is Hall 9000 and this cluster is named Shadowfax.

Part 2: Introducing Mr. G! (10 mins) - I showed them my website and asked why its up to version 22.0?  Then I showed off my blog,, especially the post entitled: "does this happen to you?"  Then I showed how I save my math class videos on my youtube channel, u CAN learn AP Calculus, Finally, just for fun, I showed them the youtube Novell ad "linux vs. mac vs. pc."

Part 3: SAGE Demo! (20 mins) - I used via Firefox and my students used the SAGE liveCD.  This demo was similar to this one The SAGE Notebook pages are best viewed in Firefox or Safari.  For more info about SAGE, see

Teaching with Technology,