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Four short links: 3 April 2012

CS for Kids, Pwn in a Box, Mobile Companions, and 8-bit Linux

  1. Why Our Kids Should Be Taught To Code (Guardian) — if we don’t act now we will be short-changing our children. [...] their world will be also shaped and configured by networked computing and if they don’t have a deeper understanding of this stuff then they will effectively be intellectually crippled. They will grow up as passive consumers of closed devices and services, leading lives that are increasingly circumscribed by technologies created by elites working for huge corporations such as Google, Facebook and the like. We will, in effect, be breeding generations of hamsters for the glittering wheels of cages built by Mark Zuckerberg and his kind. (via Karl von Randow)
  2. The Pwn Plug — $770 gets you a wall-wart full of network attack tools and wifi for remote access. Plug and Pwn. (via Ars Technica)
  3. Mobile Phone as Companion Species (Matt Jones) — They see the world differently to us, picking up on things we miss. They adapt to us, our routines. They look to us for attention, guidance and sustenance. We imagine what they are thinking, and vice-versa.
  4. 8-Bit Linux — Ubuntu 9 ported to an 6.5KHz 8-bit CPU (running a 32-bit emulator because Linux itself requires at least a 32-bit system). Takes 2 hours to boot up the kernel, four more to get to a login prompt. Moore’s Law for the win: I’ve seen more than 1000x improvement in speed from my first computer (1MHz C64) to current (1.7GHz i5). (via Slashdot)
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  • Thomas C

    As a parent of a 14 year old who has been through the various levels of ICT education in the English system, I have always been amazed at how little computer science is included. All they seem to learn is how to create documents and edit photos. Even in spreadsheet usage there’s no depth of understanding how to create formulas, or the power they offer.

    I’ve tried to interest my son in Processing but it’s hard to make a strong case when schools follow the standard ICT line. I’m considering trying again with Python and the “Hello World” book by Sande & Sande, but really these skills should already have been built up over the past several years.

    John Naughton’s Guardian article doesn’t mention another reason to have these computer science skills: for the fields of science and engineering. There are so many potential uses of computer skills. Innovation opportunities will be lost and overlooked if those skills don’t exist.

  • Gwen Jenkins

    “The power of spreadsheet formulas” isn’t a computer science subject. Teaching formulas in a spreadsheet class would be like teaching grammar and punctuation in a word processing class. The effective use of spreadsheets requires a knowledge of business math, statistics and similar subjects, not computer code.