Categories
Coding Design Education Tutorials

A CSS Grid refresher with Mozilla

I really like CSS Grid for layouts. My challenge is that I tend not to use it all that much in my day-to-day work (I provide a fair amount of CSS support, but it tends to be focused on narrower issues), so I don’t practice it all that much. Then, when I return to CSS Grid, I don’t remember any of the syntax beyond display: grid; 😜

Fortunately there are loads of resources online to learn CSS Grid. The latest is a video by Miriam Suzanne on the Mozilla Developer channel, titled “Build a Classic Layout FAST in CSS Grid” –

My favourite CSS Grid resources also include the MDN guide “CSS Grid Layout – CSS: Cascading Style Sheets“, and Wes Bos’ terrific CSS Grid YouTube series:

Categories
Coding Design Education Miscellany Photography Useful stuff

Opportunistic diversions for 2019-04-17

I watched a couple interesting videos that I enjoyed, and thought I’d share:

This Engadget video about the differences between DSLR and mirrorless cameras is terrific. Chris Schodt did a great job explaining both camera categories, and the advantages each type has. Well worth watching.


Leonardo Da Vinci was clearly a remarkable person, and this Vox Almanac video by Phil Edwards highlights just how perceptive Da Vinci was.

You can find a few more related links in Edwards’ post “How Leonardo da Vinci made a “satellite” map in 1502 – Vox“.


I work with CSS every day as part of my work at Automattic, and while I’ve encountered pseudo elements, I haven’t really understood them until I watched Kevin Powell‘s video.

This video is the first of a three part series, and just having watched this first episode, I feel like I already have a better understanding.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Victoriano Izquierdo

I’m trying out a post format for sharing a few quick things that probably wouldn’t make for a decent length post. I like the idea of this sort of collection of interesting things, but it feels a little disjointed. Perhaps three short posts would work better. What do you think?

Categories
Education Tutorials Useful stuff

Teaching kids fractions

Our son is learning fractions at school. He’s finding them a little challenging, so I’ve been trying to help him. On one hand, my math knowledge still seems to be sufficient at his level. On the other, I don’t remember doing this stuff like he does it at school.

I found a couple links that will hopefully be helpful to him (well, aside from the examples I worked through with him, some artful diagrams with blocks, and loads of patience), so I thought I’d share them –

I also found the Khan Academy videos on YouTube (also worthwhile if you just want the videos):

Kids these days have such awesome resources available … (and, thankfully, so do we parents!)

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Dawid Małecki
Categories
Books Education People Useful stuff Web/Tech

Building a computer with my daughter and Hello Ruby

I bought the Hello Ruby books for my daughter a couple months ago. She was interested in learning to code, and I had recently watched Linda Liukas’ wonderful TED talk about how she came to write her books.

So I bought both of the Hello Ruby books: one about programming, and the other about computer hardware. I read the stories in both books to my daughter, and then we paused for a time.

I realised that Liukas also made available PDFs of the computers that school kids could download and print to make little cardboard computers. I downloaded the PDFs, and had them printed on 300 gram paper the other day.

Our daughter cut out the various pieces, read about components like RAM, ROM, the CPU, and GPU, and then we sat together this afternoon and built her computer.

Having done this, it may be time to return to the books, and start exploring some of the exercises in the books. It’s a great way to introduce kids to what is otherwise a pretty technical field. Our daughter loves the Hello Ruby approach. I’m a fan too.

Categories
Applications Coding Design Education Science and nature

Scientific papers shouldn’t be published as PDFs

Jupyter notebook examples
Examples of Jupyter notebooks

I enjoyed James Somers’ article in the Atlantic titled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete” about how the standard format for scientific papers, namely PDF, is no longer the appropriate format for such data-intensive work.

This is, of course, the whole problem of scientific communication in a nutshell: Scientific results today are as often as not found with the help of computers. That’s because the ideas are complex, dynamic, hard to grab ahold of in your mind’s eye. And yet by far the most popular tool we have for communicating these results is the PDF—literally a simulation of a piece of paper. Maybe we can do better.

The article recounts the history of Wolfram’s Wolfram Mathematica notebook model, and the rise of Jupyter notebooks as an open source alternative that’s also rising to prominence in the space.

I love the idea of more open, more dynamic formats for sharing knowledge, capturing ideas, and promoting access to knowledge.

Categories
Coding Education People

Learning Flask with Corey Schafer

My Summer project is to finish an initial version of my Practice Math site for our kids. I’ve hit a bit of a snag with fractions, but the functionality for whole numbers is almost ready.

The next step is to create a web site for the project so our kids can use the app through their browsers, rather than using the command line (somehow, I don’t think a CLI interface will grab our kids).

My plan was to learn Django, and use that to create a front-end for my Python back-end. I decided to follow along with Brad Traversy to help me learn how to create a basic Django app. It was a little trickier than I expected, and I hit a snag with my database configuration.

I then thought I’d take a look at Flask, and see if that would be a little easier for me to grok. I noticed that Corey Schafer has a Flask tutorial series where you build a basic blog with Python and Flask, so I decided to work through Schafer’s tutorial videos.

This has proven to be a terrific idea. Schafer’s tutorials are detailed, and really clear. There are times when he speeds up a little but, for the most part, I can follow along pretty comfortably, and understand what he’s doing.

Even though the goal of Schafer’s series is to build a blog, it covers a range of topics that I can incorporate into Practice Math down the line. It’s really an awesome introduction to building web sites with Flask, and well worth the time.

Not only does Schafer take you through the process, step-by-step, but he also provides links to snapshots of his code at each step of the process, along with useful code snippets in his GitHub repos.

You probably need about an hour for each episode. I binged for most of today (I’m on vacation this week), and worked through about four or five videos.

If you’re interested in Corey Schafer, listen to this TalkPython interview with him:

On a related, side note, working through this tutorial series just reinforces how glad I am that I returned to Python to start learning it (again). I still have a long way to go, but it feels like I’m picking up bits of it easier than I did with JavaScript.

I’ll return to JavaScript, for sure (you can’t really ignore JavaScript these days). For now, though, I love all the things I’m learning to do with Python.

Featured image by Sharon McCutcheon

Categories
Applications Education Politics and government

An alternative to Israel’s expensive Microsoft licensing dilemma

Interesting article on OnMSFT: Israel, scared off by Microsoft subscription deals, won’t renew Office licensing agreements:

Under the current deal with Microsoft, Israel pays about $27 million a year for Office on the desktop, Windows, and server software being used across the government. The ministry issued a bold statement, saying “This will also encourage government ministries to re-examine their needs of using Microsoft technology or switch to other technology alternatives.”

Open source solutions are worth exploring. I’d love to see Israel adopt something like
LibreOffice, especially for schools where PowerPoint slides have become the default choice for notices.

I think Linux also makes a lot of sense for most people who just default to Windows because their computers come with it (albeit at a cost).

Schools, in particular, shouldn’t be sitting with PCs running Windows 2000. They can probably revitalise their old PCs with a lightweight Linux distro, and give kids an opportunity to use them for more than just gaming.

Certainly a switch like this is only possible with an investment, but the longer term benefits must outweigh the initial costs.

Categories
Coding Education Useful stuff

Making sense of JavaScript array methods with Array Explorer

Sarah Drasner shared her awesome Array Explorer tool on Twitter the other day. It’s design is pretty simple, and yet a powerful way to learn JavaScript arrays. What you do is pick a couple options from drop-down lists to find the right array method you need for a project.

I still find arrays challenging and yet learning how to work with them in JavaScript is so important. If you’re still figuring this stuff out, definitely take a look at Array Explorer, bookmark it, and use it.

Sarah even made the code for Array Explorer available on GitHub so you can see how she put it together too.