Back in January, over on my thesis blog, that I wind up never using, I mentioned that I wanted to work on stuff for the Teaching Open Source Textbook. I just finished a review of my thoughts on the target audience, and objectives for the first chapter. To sum it up, it is targeted at competent/high level students, but reads like a tutorial for someone newer to development than I am! The objectives are solid, but when I read it it has a lot of “let’s pay pretend you’re going to do something, that I know damn well your professor is probably going to assign anyhow.”

Despite my gripes with the tone, I think it’s an excellent book. The objectives in the finished chapters are clear, and the exercises correlate closely to the stated, or implicit goals for that chapter. Anyone, with the pre-requisite knowledge of programming, who sits down and does all of the exercises in the book will wind up much more comfortable participating in Open Source communities. Just by reading it I felt more comfortable shooting of my thoughts to the project list, and asking for feedback and thoughts on the direction I want to take in adding review questions, and knowledge checks to the book.

We’ll see what the results are, but I think the best way to proceed is to divide the actions and the ideas into two separate tests. The Exercises test the actions the student should be able to take. The purpose of the review questions then is to prompt thought on the new ideas, and help test if the student has absorbed the ideas.

Since each chapter’s ideas seem to be pretty atomic I suspect that the hard thing is going to be to devising more than a handful of questions for each chapters review questions, and devising ones with clearly correct or incorrect answers that can be self checked. I’ll block out a few hours tomorrow afternoon to working out how to do this for chapter 1, and work on a objective inventory for the first two chapters.


>My lack of posts over here is not anything to do with a lack of motivation or any deficit my thinking about it. I just haven’t had enough time to put together something meaningful. I started a new blog over at hacking-education.blogspot.com this is for my senior project, and most of my writing time and brainpower has gone towards that in the past week. I think I need to keep up over here though since this is where I keep a record of my life.


Is going quite well, none of my classes are boring, and none of them are so challenging that I feel completely overwhelmed. Web Development so far has been a review of stuff I learned back in the early 00′s with a few new things taught about doctype. We’ll be covering styles next week and I think thats when I’ll start learning more things than I knew.
CS II is “fun” in the ohh god I didn’t realize I was gonna have to wrap my head around 2-3 new and difficult concepts every week. I finally understand pointers, and am fairly sure that I can use them when necessary, even if I don’t grokk them deeply enough to use them to optimize things like sorts without needing to do a lot of drawing out what I want to happen. I did accomplish a long time goal while learning this though. I’m quite comfortable in emacs, and find it much better than the gedit+terminal, or vi+terminal dev envroment I was using for CS I.
Epistimology seems to be covering ground I’ve already thought pretty deeply about, but getting a solid sense of what the “important” thinkers have has to say on the topic is a good thing. If only I was feeling more like being in that classroom was a genuinely solid use of my time. About 1/2 of the class seem more interested in “seeming smart” than in exploring the issues. I am trying to be charitable in my thoughts because I know that I’ve been “that guy” in the past.
My Sr. project is detailed over at the new blog, and all I’m going to say here is, maintaining that kind of visible to-do list and then going into edit it and strikethrough my to-do items was way to satisfying.

Health and Diet

My weight keeps creeping up, about .5 lbs a week. that may not seem like much, but adds up to 25lbs over the year. It means that I’m eating 750 calories a day more than my goal. I just picked up a secret weapon in this fight, a blender, for the last week I’ve done smoothies for breakfest, which has helped me cut my overage by about 250(from 500). I’m switching to salad for lunch and suspect that I may be able to push my count back below “even” to something closer to my goal of a 500 cal/day deficit.

Games and Leisure

I’m trying to pick up the amazing game of go again. I got two books on the topic and have enjoyed reading them. The book by Iwamoto is espeically interesting, and quite dense. I’ve tried following what is happening and still wind up getting lost. I would love to make time to play once a week with some friends.

I am really really loving my current L5R game. The GM has a bog hag loose at winter court, and it’s busy eating all the female guests. My character is absolutely terrified because he was recently tainted by a bloodmage, and the person assigned to make sure he doesn’t go crazy is the girl he’s had a crush on since before he was really a shugenja. Their families are negotiating a marriage between them, which basically means he’ll be married to the person who is supposed to kill him when the taint drives him mad.

In Camstuffs – Mage is interesting and finally has a lex magica that is almost usable. Issue being that I think custom status manipulating mechanics are global. The consillium is pseudo democratic with a concentration based model for decision making, and a “high council” whose membership consists of the most powerful mage of a particular path. Vampire is likewise interesting and I look forward for opportunities to play Jacques again. Greg seems like I may wind up playing the “how long can I get away with mocking the elders” game, but if I can get him released I think he’ll become a contributing member of the city.

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