Take Apart A Computer: Follow-Up Post

(If you’re here because you want to know what to do with your shiny new Linux DVD, you can skip about the first third of this.)

Today I attended Take Apart A Computer Day, hosted by the Women In Computing club here at UNI. This was kind of a beta test run for a potentially larger event later on.

I worked together with two other girls (if you ladies are reading and want your names here, let me know–but I don’t generally mention names on this blog unless asked, for people’s privacy) on a huge old box. We have no clue if it worked beforehand (the consensus after two professors and all three of us took a crack at testing it was no), but it definitely isn’t working now, so I guess that’s a success. After all, the event isn’t called “Put a Computer Back Together in Full Working Order Day,” and we did get it apart. Eventually.

So, we learned a couple things from the beta run for next time:

  1. Test all the machines beforehand–after moving them.
  2. The test monitors that the computers also need to be tested on a known working box, so we know our testers work. Nothing like screwy monitor settings to make you crazy wondering what’s up with the computer.
  3. Two people is probably a good number for working on a computer together… three is a bit much. Having a partner makes things easier, but six hands is pretty awkward even if the people are friendly.
  4. WHERE IS THE RIGHT SCREWDRIVER. WHAT EVEN IS THE RIGHT SCREWDRIVER. NONE OF THESE SCREWDRIVERS WORK. HOW.
  5. Juice boxes! Yes, this is kind of a tradition with me now: bring juice into a place where it would be very bad to spill juice. But they were still all consumed! On the other hand, we need more people willing to take home pizza that’s been sitting out for a few hours…
  6. Having extra Linux install DVDs to hand out is a good thing! Not necessary, but good–people are curious!

Anyway, I’m sending this post around the WIC mailing list (er… Google group? It’s different from the CedarLUG list, which is legitimately an old-fashioned mailing list). About five of you folks from this event now have Linux test/install DVDs. If I remember right, I handed out a Xubuntu, a Mint, two versions of Debian, and… something else? Maybe that was it.

I’m pretty sure I’ve used each of them at one point, and they should all work even if they’re not all the newest and greatest; I think they’re all the long-term-stable releases so they’ll be fine. If they don’t work for whatever reason, don’t sweat it; email me or whatever and I’ll make more, or if you have blank DVDs lying around (or are willing to buy a pack for $5 at an office supply store), you can make one.

 

Anyway, when I give people techie stuff, I like to make sure they can easily figure out how to use it. (Doesn’t always happen, but I try to.)

So! If you’re curious about Linux and maybe just got a DVD from me, here’s a guide to all the guides I’ve written on the subject:

If you didn’t get a DVD or yours turned out to be a non-functional dud, here’s how to make one.

If you don’t have an optical drive in your computer, or want a more permanent plaything than the DVD, here’s how to make a virtual machine instead.

If you’re confused about the Linux ecosystem, here’s how I learned what I know.

If you’re just confused, period, here’s the FAQ I wrote for another event which involved lots of Linux newbies.

If you just want to run Linux off your DVD to play with it a little, it’s simple. Stick it in the optical drive of your computer, and restart the computer. While it boots, tap F12 (it’s probably F12, but keep an eye out for what key you’re supposed to press for menu options during your computer’s boot sequence) and select “Boot from CD/DVD” in the menu.

The difference between doing that and making a virtual machine is that a virtual machine will save any files you create from session to session (unless you do magic to configure it otherwise). An install DVD won’t save anything, so you get a fresh, clean system every time you start it up.

If that’s not working for you, email me in the list or comment on this post and I’ll try to help. If that still doesn’t work for you, bring the offending computer to the next WIC meeting if it’s portable (let me know what you’re doing so I make sure to come), or invite me over to your place if it’s not/if you can’t attend the meeting. I will help you get a Linux running if that’s something you want.

I’ve installed Linux on some weird old machines and gotten at least workable solutions out of them. Sometimes a setting needs to be tweaked or Google needs to be scoured for information. Sometimes a certain distro just doesn’t like your hardware, and you need to try a different one or download extra driver files or plug your computer into a wired Internet connection or something weird. Such is technology.

That’s usually not the case though. Most installs these days go really smoothly, especially with Mint or Xubuntu.

Speaking of installs, CedarLUG–UNI’s Linux Users Group–is holding a Backup Day pretty soon, and an Install Day sometime after that. If you want in on that, here’s the web site (I coded that! The penguin at the top is a bit of a giveaway…). Subscribing to that mailing list will get you updates on those events, and the occasional computer puzzle.

Happy Linux-ing!

What I Did in 2015

The Muse suggested I write one of these to highlight my professional accomplishments, especially since this blog is listed on my resume (I don’t know if that looks kind of tacky, but LGL does give a good idea of what I’ve been doing and what skills I have, so it is practical). I guess it feels a little odd for me, because I can’t remember everything offhand myself. Fortunately, I can flip back through my archives and see what’s been up based on my blog posts.

I’m not sure who this is for, honestly. Mostly, my accomplishments last year were not exactly professional, more just personal projects and so on.

Divided up into sections which are roughly the same length, for easier reading. Not all have the same number of months. Roughly chronological order because I’m using old posts to help me remember all the stuff I did last year. (It was a lot.)

January-March

Attending community college to earn an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree in Programming (have been since the previous fall).

I was in the Linux learning stages myself, and also learning to use VirtualBox. It seems like a lot longer ago than it was. I made this blog, and wrote a post describing how to set up a Linux VM. I discovered Debian and it became my favorite distro so far. I tried learning to program in C, but didn’t go very far with it because my classes became pretty difficult right after I started getting into it, and haven’t come back to it yet because I haven’t had anything I want to make that requires low-level programming. I’m still learning the high-level stuff for now.

April-May

Took a Linux class and surprised myself with how much of the material I already knew from a few months’ odd tinkering here and there. Read Eric S. Raymond’s paper “Cathedral and the Bazaar” and wrote a bit of commentary on it. Converted a Windows box into a mostly-Linux box (it has had very few problems to date, mostly from the age of old files that needed transferring). Started looking for jobs, but as I wasn’t of age until late June, most turned me away on the spot.

Oh, and I got some kind of honor award or something because I’d gotten straight As that semester. I forget what it was. President’s List or something.

June

Started poking around in the book Head First Design Patterns. (I should come back to that.) Decided I was pretty competent with Linux and wrote the post that made this blog popular–it was actually a long time in planning, starting with a cold email to ESR about whether there was a book on learning to use Linux, and a casual remark that if not, I’d throw my links on a WordPress blog or something and send it to him so he could send it to all the other teenage nerds who were probably emailing him the same question. Instead, he put it on his “How to Become a Hacker” page–which is a courtesy I was not expecting, and suddenly this blog gained a whole bunch of readers. So many that my link above is basically superfluous, because nearly all of the people reading this are reading because of that page. I can’t thank ESR enough for this, my readers are awesome.

Anyway, June was a busy month, and I definitely didn’t stop there.

I discovered Paul Graham’s essay page and started binge-reading. I decided I wanted to start a startup (which I still do, but am putting off due to a lack of cofounder candidates until I go to a 4yr university) and began mentally designing my product. I discovered TechWeek and arranged with my parents to go during September to the Kansas City event.

Also, I turned 18.

July

Finished reading the last of PG’s essay archive. Started building a cross-platform app called tinypapers, which was to be an app to store notes, business cards, receipts, and all the other clutter paper that ends up in wallets and pockets. I spent a lot of time on that. Also wrote some casual essays on the blog based on reader comments and whatnot.

August

Wrote some more essays, including a long, rambling one about software licensing and how to compromise on it for businesses that want to make money from selling software. I probably overthought that.

Worked on tinypapers some more, had several major impostor syndrome episodes, went back to work, fixed bugs, etc.

Got my first job that had paperwork attached: a 3-month internship at an engineering company. To be honest, it wasn’t really a programming job as I’d believed, and it wasn’t something I would have wanted to keep long-term for reasons I won’t elaborate on, but it was a job, it paid more than minimum wage, and it wasn’t retail or food service, so on balance it wasn’t a bad deal.

When I went back to school later in August, I started working on Raspberry Signage. If you haven’t read about it on the blog yet, Raspberry Signage is a project I designed in response to a school official’s announcement in one of my classes that our digital bulletin boards were on some very shaky, unsupported ground, because the company that the school had been paying lots of money to maintain the boards had gone out of business.

I designed a solution in which the monitors would each get a $35 Raspberry Pi minicomputer attached to them, which would be programmed to visit a WordPress website in Chome’s Presentation Mode (which hides the navigation bar). This web site would simply display a slideshow of whatever signs we needed to show around the school.

This project is my baby, and it’s almost finished. We’re going to need some real hosting, rather than just the little Apache server I set up back in one of our labs. We’ll probably want a dedicated Internet connection for them–or at least getting them hooked up to the tablet network, which is a mysterious secret thing where only dedicated people are allowed to know the credentials and whatnot, so if we go this route, I sure hope one of their dedicated people knows how to stick together some code on a Linux box. I wish I could say the school doesn’t have anyone who’d faint at the idea of using a terminal-based text editor on Linux config files so as to give the machine access to the school network… but I can’t, because there’s bound to be at least a few people who would look at that and think we were cracking the network. And then there’s the ordeal of configuring aaaalllll the different monitors with their different screen resolutions, because I don’t think I’ve seen two around the school that are alike, and RPis are not the best at auto-configuring screen resolution, so you kind of have to do it by hand.

(I probably would not have understood most of that giant paragraph I just typed a year and a half ago. My, how far we’ve come.)

Most of the programming is done, though. I just need to tweak the image I have.

Kudos to my brother Tim Yoder for doing big, big chunks of the work on this. I didn’t have access to an RPi or anything when I came up with this idea, so he was the one who found out which config files to edit. He even poked around until he found a WP slideshow theme that fit our needs. I was going to code one by hand, being green enough not to look for the pre-invented wheel first.

September-November

Attended TechWeek in Kansas City, and visited UMKC. I really liked Kansas City and decided to apply to UMKC. (My other three choices are Chicago colleges. Chicago is pretty awesome too.)

I discovered that tinypapers was basically Evernote, and “officially” stopped working on it, as I decided I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. (Unofficially, I’d been busy with a combination of my job and a very stressful set of classes, and hadn’t been working on it for a while.) I guess I’m still kind of holding a candle for the idea that I’ll finish it as an open-source project, but I can probably find more productive things to make.

I applied to Y Combinator with a different idea that had been in the back of my head for a while, even though I had no cofounder and they’re really reluctant to accept one-person companies (they’ve only taken a few). I got turned down; oh, well. I’ll find someone who wants to make neat stuff with me eventually.

Made a GitHub account and put tinypapers up on it. Not properly, because I had no idea how to use git at the time. It’s since been cleaned up.

December

Volunteered at my school’s “Plant Yourself in STEM” event, where we make a day out of the Hour of Code program and run other programs on the same day. I ran a Linux activity both days we held the event. My activity consisted of this game I wrote, this FAQ I wrote, and my giving a little mini-speech on what Linux and open-source was all about. It was a very successful event, and I’m proud of the work I did to help make it happen!

I also learned the basics of git and cleaned up tinypapers’s GitHub repository.

—–

Anyway, that’s what I did last year! Which also makes a history of this blog, basically, since it started in March. That reminds me: I have to figure something out for the blog’s first birthday.

It was really interesting reading through some of my old posts. I have poor emotional memory, but I’m also a good writer, so it brought back a lot. I’m remembering how much fun it was to work on a big project with big aspirations, and it’s making me want to go back to that. Maybe it won’t be tinypapers, but I want to get back into something big I can work on for eight hours straight on weekends and stuff, because that was a lot of fun.

Post in the comments below: what did you do last year that you were most proud of? It can be your proudest programming-related moment, or just your favorite accomplishment.

Signing off, and happy hacking!

–Rebekah

 

An update, a project, a new book

I apologize for this post coming a week later than I’d planned! To be honest, life happened and I forgot I’d left you hanging until I got an email about a reader’s comment on it. Sorry about that!

No more suspense, then. Saturday’s event was a complete success! We didn’t have all seventy kids, though. We had thirty-five or so again, and since we’d scheduled for seventy, they were a lot more spaced-out. It was a lot more laid-back than the day before (when we’d scheduled to pack the house), and let us work with smaller classes. Which, as any teacher will tell you, is an easier crowd to handle.

This time, we also handed out live Linux CDs with mass-printed disclaimers on them about not installing on the host computer, etc etc, disclaimer of warranty/responsibility/legal cya stuff. We also passed out slips with the URLs of my FAQ and the GitHub where the game I used lives. (I’ve been meaning to write some decent non-techie documentation for how to use that thing…)

I had originally volunteered to be part of the Hour of Code portion of the event on Saturday, rather than the Linux part, but stuff got a little mixed up. The teacher who was going to take the Linux event hadn’t looked at the Hour of Code activities for a year or two and hadn’t realized that it had changed; it now looks like Scratch or Alice, not a text-based activity like she’d thought. She’d planned on letting the kids play around with Scratch (because it’s a good intro to code, which is why HoC uses a similar system) on their Linux live CDs.

When she emailed me with her plans a day or so before her event, I didn’t connect the dots immediately–it took me a few hours before I emailed back to warn her that she had a duplicate activity on her hands, and by then it was rather late. She showed up on Saturday as we were starting to prep the Linux room (I was kind of early and was helping another teacher who had been in the building for a while). I warned her again about her duplicate and she pulled up a computer to look at the HoC activity. But before she could really panic, I reminded her again that I had a different setup that I’d already used, and which had worked well. So I swapped places with another volunteer who was going to help in the Linux room (he went to HoC instead) and kind of took over working my system.

And that’s how I ended up mostly in charge of that event again. Combined with the Raspberry Pi she’d brought, I feel it’s safe to say it was a really good experience for everyone involved.

Mind, this teacher is totally competent and a great teacher–she’s no newbie, she just happened to be relying on old info and I just happened to have something good up my sleeve. I got to squeeze more use out of my script game, and I earned major brownie points with someone I respect. 😉

As the participants fiddled with the game, I stood up and gave a little background info about Linux and the open-source world. I’m actually a decent speaker, believe it or not, when I’m speaking on something I know well. I’m still a much better writer than speaker, but I’m reasonably good at giving impromptu lectures if I know the subject matter. I read audiences fairly well, and though I have plenty of other fears and self-doubts, public speaking isn’t really one of them. (What I’m actually awful at is video. I can’t read a camera. It’s not a good audience.)

The people liked my game so much. A good number of them thought it was funny–one of the older girls got to the part about forfeiting your firstborn son to Microsoft (it’s deliberately campy) and couldn’t stop laughing until I gave her a juice box. Her friend, in turn, discovered the potential to create text-based adventure fanfic. (What have I done??) It was only too difficult for one person, a young girl about eight years old who put up a valiant but losing battle against it until I redirected her to the games that came with the operating system instead and she started playing Potato Guy. (It’s a virtual Mr. Potato Head. The kids seemed to like it a lot.)

One of our other volunteers, a second teacher with minimal (nonexistent?) Linux experience, seemed to not like me very much on the first day. Don’t ask me to name her, because I won’t. I think we got off on the wrong foot, and it was exacerbated by the reality of how disorganized the first run through the activity was, which had been partially preventable if my (and everyone else’s, honestly) brain hadn’t been scrambling around like a drunken monkey. It’s not like we had a dress rehearsal for this sort of thing. I think the kicker was that I’d dropped her online class earlier this semester, and it’s hard not to take that personally; I know that it was because of work overload from my other classes and how well I don’t do with online stuff, but she couldn’t know that.

Whatever the cause, she seemed to kind of radiate disapproval the whole day; I tried to meet her halfway in my speaking to her, trying to apologize for the disarray, but I guess she wasn’t in a good mood. I gave up and got on with what I was doing. The second group was much better handled, at least.

But on the second day, she came back with what seemed like new respect for me, even before I took things over. Maybe it was the presence of the other teacher (the competent Linux teacher), who already had respect for me; maybe she’d spent the previous evening trying to fact-check my FAQ and decided that I was competent after all; maybe she decided that the way I bounced back on the second group the previous day meant I could run things all right after all. Maybe she’d just taken that second cup of coffee and the barista complimented her outfit, so she was in a better mood. There’s no way of knowing, I guess. But she was a lot more helpful then.

I rarely see people change their mind the way she did, and to me, that engenders respect in return–not stubbornly holding on to an ill opinion of someone like a lot of people do. I don’t know her very well, but I was pleased to have her help. So few people have the willingness to change a poor opinion of someone. I’m not trying to be condescending or even implying that I’m any better than average about that. Just… major kudos.

Anyway, that’s enough about the STEM thing.

I’m still kind of designing and turning over the job site in my mind. (I talk about the idea and my design changes for it here.) I want to build it, but I’m not sure where to start. I have basic, slightly dated knowledge of HTML and CSS, and of course I know Python, and I’d like to build the site on those. I think I’d rather not use big frameworks or anything like that–no Django, no Rails, DEFINITELY NO .NET, although I’ve cloned Django and I might poke through the code for ideas if I need to. I want to keep my code fast and lean and I want to know what everything does.

My experience with web design has been pretty limited since I was 13-15. Even this blog is just a plain old WordPress site. Still, it’s not the front of the web site I’m worried about; it’s the backend. Databases? Files? Search? It’s the real code design stuff that I just don’t have the experience to be confident with, which school can’t teach, and the backend stuff, that school won’t teach because it’s too preoccupied with showing you how Microsoft’s latest product “solves that problem for you” and teaching that instead. Paradoxically, this is a very good argument for trying to get into it and screwing it up so badly that I learn.

I’ve got notes in my design notebook about the stuff I plan to do better, which is a lot easier than actually trying to do it better. But I need to get to the latter sooner or later.

I’m reading a new book. It’s called The Charisma Myth–it’s all about how charisma isn’t inborn and can be taught, and then turned on and off like a switch. It’s a really good book.

It says that charisma is composed of three main components: presence, or how in-the-moment you are and how focused you are on other people when you speak with them; power, or how much influence you have to potentially change people’s situations for better or worse; and warmth, which is how compassionate and empathetic you are towards people.

Basically, others assess 1) whether they have your attention, 2) whether you have the power to do stuff for them, and 3) whether you seem like you’d want to. If the answer is “yes” across the board, you have their immediate attention and they want to be around you.

Then the book goes on to say what actions you should take to increase those three qualities. Focus on the feelings in your toes to bring you back to the moment and increase your presence. Visualization and thought exercises to increase your apparent power and warmth. So much of charisma is in body language, and body language is so hard to fake, that you have to learn to manipulate your brain into feeling confident and powerful, and warm and full of goodwill, so that your body language follows. None of those are bad things and none of them change your personality–they just make you kind of a more attractive person to be around. They make others feel better about talking to you.

The book goes on to explain that there are four styles of charisma (actually, it hints at more, but these are what it touches on).

  1. Focus: people are drawn to you because you pay attention to them, because you seem genuinely interested in what they have to say and respect their ideas and opinions.
  2. Visionary: people are drawn to you because you have some big idea you’re intent on bringing about, perhaps something that promises to improve people’s lives. They feel inspired by what you say and more creative after talking to you.
  3. Kindness: people are drawn to you because you broadcast loving acceptance of them for who they are. They feel they can be themselves around you.
  4. Authority: people are drawn to you because you’re in charge. You seem like an impressive decision-maker with some sort of power, so they think you might be able to help them or do things for them.

Everyone has some kind of charisma to some degree, often a mix of them. You shouldn’t try to adopt a style that is alien and unnatural for you, and you need to be wary that you use the right style in the right situation. You should also try to cultivate as many as you can, so you’re adaptable.

I naturally have a fair bit of visionary charisma, particularly in my writing. (But you knew that, didn’t you, you clever thing?) But I think I’ve been walking around with a lot more authority than I’ve realized. I think that’s a big part of why people were so wary of me in high school and thought I was unapproachable. I wear nice clothes–I don’t generally leave the house in sweats or yoga pants unless I’m sick or in costume, and I’m lucky enough that my family can provide me with more expensive, good-quality clothes.

I used to be able to sneak into the school library to sit out a period I technically wasn’t supposed to have free under the usual rules, without leaving the paper trail of signing in, by walking past in my wool trenchcoat with a gait that suggested I was supposed to be there (I copied the quick, confident walk of the school administrators). The librarian rarely looked up, and when she did, she ignored me. Even though I had turquoise hair at the time. My body language just said that I was not to be stopped and bothered, so she didn’t. And when I sat around reading and knitting, nobody thought I was out of place.

This mostly went away when I got to college, where nobody knew I was underage until they got to know me a little better and had already seen that I wasn’t so unapproachable. And the average level of confidence is higher around here, so I didn’t stand out quite so much.

So, apparently I channel authority well? But… that’s not the most appealing of the charisma styles to me. I’d rather make people feel respected (focus) and then inspire them to go do great things (visionary). I don’t really want to boss people around. If other people rely on you to give orders, they can’t handle not having you around, and they can’t go off and do great things on their own. Besides, it’s more fun to be doing great things too rather than making other people do them. I prefer the power that comes from controlling things (like computers), rather than that of controlling people, and I’d rather persuade than barge with my ideas. I’d be okay with directing and organizing a bunch of people to do something they want to do, though. There’s a lot of overhead and grunt work in organizing a collaborative effort. But it probably wouldn’t be as fun as doing things myself.

Uh… looking back on that paragraph… I wonder if I’ve just read Ender’s Game one too many times or if there was a seriously deep reason I connected with it the first time I read it. Anyway.

Focus isn’t something I currently do well, because my mind wanders so much. Even if it’s wandering on something the other person just said, it doesn’t make them feel so great if it looks like I’m zoning out. I’ve decided I’m going to work on cultivating that.

As for kindness charisma–I actually do care about people and try to think the best of others. I also happen to be completely awful at expressing it. (It’s an INTP thing.) I’m actually a pretty warm person, but the associated body language isn’t really wired well into my brain. (Authority’s wired in instead. I’m so girly.) I tend to surprise people by doing nice things for them instead, which catches them completely off guard.

Here’s another story. I was taking a college Psych course in my senior year of HS, and I was working on knitting a super-long pink scarf as a Christmas present for one of my friends. After having worked on it during class for a couple days, a girl comes up to me and asks, “Hey, will you knit me a scarf?” In retrospect I think she meant it jokingly, but I was so caught off guard that someone had talked to me that I blinked and said, “Uh… sure. What’s your favorite color?” It took a minute for her to recover and reply. The next day, she asks, again jokingly, “Hey, have you finished my scarf yet?” I say no, I want her opinion on the color first, explaining that I don’t have any light purple yarn and offer a skein of baby blue instead. She’s taken aback but accepts it and I start knitting. I give it to her a few days later (I was really fast at that point through practice). By then of course she was totally cool with it and thanked me.

Knitting seemed to make me look more approachable, I think. A lot of people were more willing to talk to me while I was doing something so low-key. Especially working on something as absurdly pink as that scarf was. (It was a copy of the really long, bright pink scarf from Homestuck. It was like eight feet long or something crazy and took me… I think well over a month?)

I know that book isn’t technology related, except in the sense that people skills are important in this field, as in any. But psychology is also one of my interests, as are self-analysis and social analysis, so I hope my readers don’t mind my going off on tangents like this.

For sticking with this really long post, here’s a set of Muse songs. These three were among my very favorites for their incorporation of beautiful classical music. Part 3 is particularly striking.

It seems there’s also a Part 4 on YouTube that I’ve never heard before? I’ll investigate it when it isn’t 3 AM.

 

 

 

Friday’s STEM event is over

There’s another round tomorrow, twice as big. I’m not sure how well we’re going to handle that. This group was big enough!

They were mostly 7th graders. There were three HS freshmen in the group, I’m told. They all looked really young and the main group was huge–ostensibly 35 kids, but it seemed like more. After Hour of Code, they were divided into two groups between the virtual reality room and my Linux room and spent half an hour in each. Both rounds, the group I got filled nearly every working computer in the room.

And they… liked my game?

When I learned I was getting a younger group than I thought I was getting, I started wondering how a really nerdy text-based adventure was going to go over. But they either liked it enough or wanted to impress me enough that things went really smoothly. I’m not questioning it.

I’m exhausted. I’ll update with more details later.

Plant Yourself in STEM: My school is running Hour of Code!

And I’m involved!

I was a volunteer last year, too. It was a very popular and successful program, so we’re doing it again this year–only now we’re not only full but overflowed. Originally, we were supposed to run the program on Saturday, 12/12. But we’ve got two more schools who want to send their classes, and they didn’t want to do Saturday because it’s not a school day (by the time they’d heard, Saturday was full anyway), so we’re running on Friday too. In total, we have 105 people coming. It’s really exciting!

I’m going to be there both days. On the first day, I’ll be talking to 35 7th-9th graders about Linux and helping them figure out some basics like how to install stuff and where the web browser is. Maybe I can fit in a few command line tricks, too. I’ll be putting up an FAQ on this blog for them later. We’re doing it off a bunch of live CDs that Raine’s going to burn. And the “we” is kind of questionable–I may be handling that event on my own because volunteers for Friday are harder to get since some of our Saturday volunteers have to work.

On the second day, I’ll be helping with the actual Hour of Code event, which will be attended by 70 people (!). It’s totally booked, so we have to make sure every computer works that we can and see that there are no problems logging on. I think we’re getting an older group this year. We had a lot of kids last year–like, younger grade-school kids, starting out at maybe seven years old? And they did really well. I wonder if the older kids will get bored more easily. Some of those seven-year-olds whipped through like five Hour of Code activities and then looked at me and went, “What next?”

Hopefully if that happens, we can just send them up to look at our Oculus Rift and Google Glass and Raspberry Pis and some other neat gadgets we have. Or one of the other events… demos… activities… panels?… whatever. We were discussing an activity on how to make crossover cable, too, but I don’t know if we’re doing it–both because of price with how many people are coming, and with the fact that making crossover cable can be really bloody frustrating. And I think Raine is going to do another Linux event on Saturday. I’d be helping her, but Hour of Code needs programmer assistants, and Raine’s more than capable of handling the Linux panel on her own.

They didn’t really give me specific instructions on what to teach in the Linux thing. I’m going to run one of my VMs and see what I can come up with–it has to be doable on a live CD, not overly difficult, and not have a ton of room to make trouble or get off track. For example, showing where the browser is will come last. Someone will probably figure it out anyway and start messing around on the Internet–I’ll have to get them back on track. And someone will stop listening to me and start just exploring the system–I’m not going to stop them. Proto-hackers 😉

I guess they trust me enough to just send me off and trust that I know what I’m doing and will whip up something decent without a bunch of guidance. Or they didn’t think about it, but that’s ok because I’ll do just fine on my own.

I think I should draft my FAQ and the activity outline now.