Wednesday, June 28, 2017

AP Computer Science 2016-2017: Life After CompSci? (June)

AP Computer Science 2016-2017:
Life After CompSci?
Bye Bye, AP CompSci period 6! 
I hope you keep on coding!

Life is a lot more laid back around here now that the AP Exam is over! Every Monday and Friday we play set up a FLOSS LAN Party! Tuesday-Thursday every week after the exam is devoted to our final project. I was going to have the students help me to come up with a new project to add to each lab we did this year using openProcessing. came up with a free online course on React Native, so we are trying that out first.

AP CompSci Pep Talk 2017
The best way to learn how to code is to watch someone else code and try to do some coding yourself everyday! That's what I try to provide for you in class.

Also, the best way to succeed on the AP CompSci Exam is to read and write code everyday even at home! You should be playing around with or everyday now that we have a server we can use in class and at home! 

You also need to get the latest Barron's Review book and read and write a little code in there everyday. You should be reading our textbook ppts and trying our lab pdfs everyday! 

Just a little advice from your friendly neighborhood CompSci teacher who's been coding for over 40 years!

Ever since the 1995-1996 school year when Linux came out, I have always provided my students with a sftp/ssh server they could log into in class and from home. This was a great solution for us as students could work on labs in class, in extra help, in the library and at home. This made our workflow very efficient so that we could do a lot of programming assignments in a short amount of time. I'm used to giving my students a lot of lab time and coding practice in class everyday as well!

In recent years, my district has hired out our tech services to some off campus "experts" in IT and Cyber Security. This new "Tech Dept" has found fit, in its infinite wisdom, to change the school's internet firewall in such a way so as not to permit ssh tunnels in or out of campus. My pleas to the contrary fell on deaf ears, I'm afraid! So, now my students cannot login from home. I've been struggling with alternate solutions involving Teamviewer, SplashTop and Chrome Remote Desktop just to name a few. These experiments have had varying degrees of success, but still no joy.

This semester I started playing around wih online java IDEs. I tried many and found Cloud9 actually provided an online Ubuntu terminal very much like what we use in class. However, javac is no longer installed and customer service is not very helpful....

Cloud9 is free. However, if you want to setup a teacher account, it costs a modest $1 per month.

Why would you pay if it's free? The problem with cloud9 is the registration process. They require a credit card for identification purposes.

Students can join your Team without a credit card if you have a Teacher Account.

One way around the credit card issue is to audit the CS50 course at and then use their version of via instead! Most of the work we do all year is text based, these servers will do! BTW, I think could9 is running on the Amazon cloud.

Regarding the APCS Labs (Magpie, etc), I still have my local sftp linux server in class for GUI and graphical work.

Also, if we want to play with graphics we could use 

I may want to download the Processing IDE directly to my Linux Desktop from

I'm used for last year (2016-2017) as my students are doing well with it and it's easy to share code on my SmartBoard as I teach.

If you are not using but directly, you can install default-jdk (openjdk) from the commandline much as you do in a standard Ubuntu terminal with apt-get. Here's an example of some coding I did,

If you want to play with c9 you can make one workspace for the whole year, just make a new directory (aka folder) for each project,

Also, make a "custom workspace" by clicking on the Ubuntu icon. They have different workspaces for c++, python, html website dev, etc.

Your Custom Workspace is basically a plain vanilla install of Ubuntu (virtual machine like Harvard's CS50 uses) that works over a web interface.

Do this once in the bash terminal:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install default-jdk

This installs the latest version of openjdk from the debian repositories which is fine for text based work.

We did play around with and found it very useful. Students get their own free accounts. Students can store their work with revision histories. Students get a text editor with syntax completion and syntax color highlights (simple java IDE). Students get an ASCII terminal for output. You can use a variety of programming languages and you can share your work! 

Teachers can get a teacher account where they can set up online classrooms and assignments but I haven't done that. I'm using my account as the students do. Each new project is saved as a separate session. Each session can have multiple files and classes. One thing to watch out for is that the main method has to be in in the Main class. 

YouTube Wednesday: SymphonyOfScience!

Well, that's all folks,
A. Jorge Garcia

 Applied Math, Physics and CS
2017 NYS Secondary Math PAEMST Nominee

Sage Ebay

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