Coding for pre-schoolers: a ‘Turtle Logo’ in Forth

*New!* (26 Nov) – Turtle Logo v1.4 is available now! Entirely key operated, suitable for 3-4 years+ to 99 years. 750 lines of Forth code. Algorithmic drawing program with advanced features, incl. macro record & playback, color, etc. Works on WinXP to Win10.

1. Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

A challenge faced by both parents and teachers is how to help young children develop a ‘builder’ relationship with technology, instead of becoming increasingly passive consumers of content created by others. The consensus on what’s important for older kids and adults is clear: coding. This enables children to participate in the creation of their own technological “micro-worlds” — environments rich in educational potential.[14]

This autumn, spurred by having our own young children (one aged 4 years, the other 16 months), we began an experiment, the result of which is a Turtle Logo program for Windows computers (freely downloadable) that is simple enough to be accessible for children from 3 years and older, while providing an extensible platform that can grow with the child.

The long-term goal is to enable children to express their creativity, artistry, and natural ‘builder’ impulses using coding, computer graphics, and robotics as readily as the previous generation could using paints, brushes, and building blocks.

Turtle Logo - Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

Turtle Logo – Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

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Software: A Force-Multiplier for R&D

Your computer, kitted out with specialised software (mostly free) and configured for efficiency of use, is perhaps the single greatest ‘force multiplier’ that you can have as a Scientist, R&D Engineer, or Mathematician — unless of course you have a large budget and a team of bright minds at your disposal.

With good tools, a bit of creative joinery, and a good dose of persistence, you can become an army of one…

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Disaster Management for Web-Hosted Data

(Technology Infrastructure Series)

In case you’re taking seriously guarantees about uptime, reliability, or backups advertised by website hosting companies, you should know that most guarantees of service are an idealized concept, especially if you use a low-cost web hosting service. Now, this doesn’t mean you should avoid low-cost web hosts. What you should do is give a little thought to the “what if’s” that may arise, and what you can do before they arise to minimize the pain when they do.

In this article, I’ll go through a few situations you might want to consider, and some options you can use to reduce your risk.

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Assembly Language and Embedded Systems Development

On the Value of Assembly Language, and Resources to get you started in Digital Logic, Computer Architecture, and Assembly Language programming.

Despite advances in programming technologies since the 1970s, there are still reasons to understand and learn assembly language programming. Contrary to what one may imagine, Assembly Language is not a relic of the past, even though a typical applications programmer will almost never need to drop into assembly.

In this article, we’ll look at practical situations in embedded systems development in which assembly language programming is still used, pedagogical reasons to learn assembly language, and provide resources and projects for gaining a working knowledge of digital logic, computer architecture, and assembly language programming.

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Bare Metal Programming: The C Language

…for Embedded and Low-Level Systems Development

C provides the convenience of learning one language while retaining the ability to target a variety of platforms including modern operating systems (Linux, Windows, Mac), real-time operating systems, systems-on-a-chip, and a host of microcontrollers for embedded development. And if you have to “mov” the bits around yourself (device drivers, DMA controllers), you can do that too. This is a significant efficiency over assembly languages which are essentially chip-specific control codes and therefore require understanding the architecture of the chip in each target platform.

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Hurling Boulders: Assembly Language Programming

… An Overview of Assembly Language Programming

Assembly language programming often evokes images of a time when real programmers hurled boulders the size of small UNIVACs. The mystique is there for those whose computer science training is primarily in higher level languages.

But programming is programming, and one language shouldn’t be much harder to pick up than another? In theory, perhaps. But in practice, there are a myriad of details.
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