Tag Archives: Learn To Code

Kano’s Educational Operating System Now Works on the Raspberry Pi Zero 

Kano's Educational Operating System Now Works on the Raspberry Pi Zero 

Kano’s Raspberry Pi kit is a bit of a crowd favorite, even though it clock in a bit on the expensive side. The bright orange colors combined with the custom operating system built for learning makes it appealing for kids learning to code. Now, they’ve updated their OS to work on the much cheaper new Raspberry Pi Zero.


The operating system works pretty the same as before, packing in tons of different education programs in so kids can learn all kinds of things about electronics and coding. But this version’s made especially for the Zero, so it’ll run well even though the Zero’s pint-sized by comparison. It’s worth checking out if you have kids you’re teaching to code, and you don’t need the full Kano kit to make use of the operating system.


CourseBuffet Organizes Online Courses into a DIY Degree in Computer Science or Management

CourseBuffet Organizes Online Courses into a DIY Degree in Computer Science or Management

CourseBuffet not only highlights free courses from top universities, it groups some of them into degree paths, so you can get a college BA-equivalent education from these free online courses.

Currently two degree paths are available: Computer science and management, with finance coming soon. When you choose one of these paths, you’ll be presented with groups of courses organized similarly to traditional degrees, with core, advanced, and elective courses. And, just like a traditional degree, to complete the “program” you’re expected to achieve all the credits.

The Core Computer Science courses include everything from intro to computer science to computer architecture, algorithms, programming languages, and databases. Within each topic, you can select from a variety of online courses to add to your path.

There’s no actual degree conferred, but it’s a helpful tool that organizes the great many different courses you can take in these subjects. You can learn on your own while having a structured curriculum, kind of like this selection of free courses in computer science.


Register Your Child for a Free Hour of Code Workshop at Apple

Register Your Child for a Free Hour of Code Workshop at Apple

If you happen to be near an Apple Store with your kid next Thursday, December 10th, why not stop by to get your kid a free one-hour introduction to computer programming? Registration is open today.

The hands-on lesson will be based on Code.org tutorials, so technically you could just keep your kids home and do one of the Hour of Code lessons with your child yourself. But there’s something about being at a table full of other kids working on their own projects that makes learning even more meaningful for kids.

Depending on the store you select, time slots are available during the day and in the evening for kids ages six and up. If your child has already been exposed to coding, this probably isn’t for them. But otherwise it could be a great intro to coding for young kids (while you shop the Apple Store, perhaps, or participate in your own hour of code).

Hour of Code Workshop | Apple

Learn Git, an Essential Tool for Programmers, with Codecademy’s New Course

Learn Git, an Essential Tool for Programmers, with Codecademy's New Course

Codecademy just launched a new course that will teach you how to use the version control application Git. In the free two-hour course, you’ll learn how to create and manage a project with Git.

The four units cover basic Git workflow, how to backtrack (or undo changes), Git branching (managing multiple versions of a project), and teamwork (Git collaborations).

We’ve talked a bit about Git before in our guide to using GitHub, but nothing is as effective for learning as hands-on practice, which Codecademy provides.

Learn Git | Codecademy

Technical Books and Videos from O’Reilly Are Half Off Through Cyber Monday

Technical Books and Videos from O'Reilly Are Half Off Through Cyber Monday

O’Reilly is one of the biggest sources of tech ebooks and videos. If you or someone you know could use a new book or two on programming, design, and other techie topics, this weekend and Monday are the perfect time to shop.

Everything is half off on the site through the end of Cyber Monday, including the company’s Safari learning library, which includes a year of access to video training, O’Reilly conference content, and books from over 200 publishers. Normally it’s $399, but $199 with the sale.

The titles available aren’t all computer or programming related either. Jeff Potter’s excellent Cooking for Geeks, for example, is available for half off.

The sale is even better if you spend over $100: You’ll get 60% off your purchase.

Use discount code CYBER15 by December 1st at 5am PT to save on your tech learning wishlist.

Cyber Monday Sale | O’Reilly

NASA’s Rules for Writing Mission Critical Code

NASA's Rules for Writing Mission Critical Code

When you’re NASA, developing critical applications that lives literally depend on (code that controls airplanes and spacecraft, for example), code quality and safety are paramount. That’s why they’ve been looking into coding standards or rules to ensure the reliability of critical software.

The guidelines were developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA, and are currently being used experimentally, with encouraging results, at JPL. While it focuses on code written in C because of the language’s long history and extensive tools support, the guidelines could be adapted for other programming languages and used even if your software programs won’t be used to launch aircraft.

There are 10 rules, to make the set small and clear enough to remember. Some of them are broadly accepted standards for good coding style and practices, such as declaring data objects at the smallest level of scope (rule number 6) and checking code daily with at least one source code analyzer (rule 10). Some might appear strict or confining, such as rule number four:

No function should be longer than what can be printed on a single sheet of paper in a standard reference format with one line per statement and one line per declaration. Typically, this means no more than about 60 lines of code per function.

Rationale: Each function should be a logical unit in the code that is understandable and verifiable as a unit. It is much harder to understand a logical unit that spans multiple screens on a computer display or multiple pages when printed. Excessively long functions are often a sign of poorly structured code.

As the guidelines paper notes, however, these rules are meant to make it possible to make mission critical code clearer, easier to analyze, and ultimately safer.

Check out the PDF below for the ten rules and their rationales.

The Power of Ten – Rules for Developing Safety Critical Code (PDF) | Pixels Commander via JAXenter

Photo by Traveller-Reini.

Learn to Code for Free While Building Apps for Nonprofits

Learn to Code for Free While Building Apps for Nonprofits

Learn a highly valuable tech skill and build a portfolio of apps while helping a nonprofit? There’s a lot to like about Free Code Camp.

The online camp offers free, self-paced coding challenges online that will help you learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript (and jQuery), Node.js, database usage, and more—hundreds of hours of practice and learning projects that by the end should have you not only ready for a coding job but also have a portfolio of projects that have helped actual nonprofits. Free Code Camp also offers a free front-end development certificate after you finish the course.

The only downside is you have to put the time in. You have to complete the challenges— which include acquiring basic coding skills and practice with algorithms, front end development, and full stack development—before you can work on building nonprofit projects. It takes (more or less) 1,600 hours to get through the course, but it’s something you can do at your own pace.

There’s a great community of fellow learners and Free Code Camp volunteers (with real-time chat) to help you along your way as well.

Go get coding and hopefully see you there!

Free Code Camp

This Video and Interactive Article Explain How Code Works

From the computers in our cars to the ATMs that spit out our money, our lives are run by software and hardware. Yet not everyone knows how code actually works and why it’s so important. Bloomberg Businessweek’s explanation will enlighten and engage you on the subject of programming.

The video above is a kind of TL;DR version of the massive 38,000-word “article” on Bloomber Businessweek. While the video is a nice three-minute basic introduction, the interactive “What Is Code” article by Paul Ford is a remarkable read.

It takes the confusing subject of coding and makes understandable, while offering fun exercises throughout to demonstrate each point. There’s a demo in the article, for example, that simulates circuitry, another demo that changes the attributes of the web page you’re reading (don’t click “Wreck it all”!), and a Clippy-like character that talks to you as you read (if you scroll too fast, it’ll ask you if you’re actually reading or just looking at the article). There’s even a “hot or not”-like widget that lets you rate code:

This Video and Interactive Article Explain How Code Works

The article also explains code culture, why programmers are so intense about which programming language they adopt, why learning to code is so hard, and other issues and trends in the industry.

Whether or not you are interested in coding yourself, it’s worth learning how software and technology work, since they’re “eating the world.” This might be the most entertaining, thorough, and easiest way to do so, though it’s a long read.

What Is Code? | Bloomberg Business

Code Kingdoms Teaches Kids JavaScript with a Puzzle Adventure Game

Code Kingdoms Teaches Kids JavaScript with a Puzzle Adventure Game

Web/iOS: A growing number of apps now are geared toward teaching kids to code because it’s a valuable skill to learn. Code Kingdoms is another such app, but it’s wrapped in a game that kids would most likely want to play anyway (programming lessons or not).

Code Kingdoms is targeted towards six- to 13-year olds and looks very much like your everyday puzzle adventure game. Choose an animal, walk around a kingdom saving animals through puzzles. The difference is most of the puzzles require kids to use code elements to solve the puzzles. At first this is through dragging-and-dropping code snippets, but as they progress, kids will be typing in code themselves.

Besides teaching actual JavaScript through play, Code Kingdoms also helps kids develop problem-solving skills and the encouragement to keep pushing on when they’re faced with a challenge in the game—much like programmers often have to push through challenging walls.

There’s a school-specific version being used in the UK and potentially coming to the US and other countries in the future. But for home use, the app is free to play on the web or to download for iOS.

Code Kingdoms

Learn HTML5 from the W3C with This Free Course

Interested in creating websites and apps? You can learn HTML5, the standard language of the web, for free with this course from W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium), which developed HTML5.

The course runs six weeks starting in June, but you can sign up now at edX. You’ll learn the new features introduced in HTML5 and how the language powers video, audio, and apps both on the desktop and mobile web.

The course does assume you have basic knowledge of HTML and some familiarity with CSS (JavaScript helpful but not required). If you’d like to get a running start before the course begins, this guide by designer and developer Shay Howe can teach you the basics of HTML and CSS for free.

There’s an option in the edX course to get a verified certificate for a fee, but anyone else can audit the course and access all the material.

Learn HTML5 from W3C | edX