Next event, January 31: HOUR of CODE Challenge

Saturday, January 31, 2015, 1-3PM
Rutland Free Library, Fox Room (upstairs)
10 Court Street, Rutland, VT

http://code.org/learn

http://hourofcode.com/us

http://www.codecademy.com/

All ages welcome.  Bring your laptops.  We will do the Code.org “HOUR of CODE” challenge.

Learn the basic concepts of computer programming, using a fun visual approach.  If you have never done the Hour of Code, you can start with the HOC Challenge.  Using a video-game maze theme, build short computer programs to make Angry Bird catch Bad Piggie, by snapping together Lego-like program code blocks on your screen. Later on you can make the Zombie find the Sun Flower in the corn maze.  When you successfully complete the HOC, you will get an online Certificate of Completion.  We can help you save or bookmark your certificate image to your computer, so you can print it out at home.

HOC_view_code

In between the HOC exercises you can view video messages from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Black Eyed Peas founder will.i.am, and NBA star Chris Bosh (he studied computer science in college).

If you have done the HOC Challenge before, you can go “Beyond the HOC” with additional exercises and challenges to learn more programming concepts on Code.org.  Also, for those who might be interested, you could also try the free tutorials from Codecademy.com, another free to use website to learn programming logic.

In 2014, we held two events around Scratch programming.  If you complete the Hour of Code and/or Codecademy, you will be ready to tackle Scratch programming, which has even more capabilities, and is also a visual approach to computer programming.

As Douglas Rushkoff’s book title says: “Program or Be Programmed”.  Learning to program is like learning another “language”.  It’s another aspect of “computer literacy”, writing programs, instead of just using them.

Tell your friends and family about the Rutland Tech Club.  This event is also posted on the Rutland Herald inViTe Calendar!

We look forward to helping you with the Hour of Code Challenge,

Ron, Steve and Chad

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Rutland Radio Club offering classes in winter 2015

Tim Abraham is an amateur radio operator, WA1VT and president of the Rutland Radio Club, the Green Mountain Wireless Society:

website: http://www.gmws.net
Facebook: http://goo.gl/As8GMq

The Rutland Radio Club is offering classes to learn about Ham Radio.  It’s a good way to learn about electricity, electronics, physics, earth science and other technical subjects. It’s also a fun hobby as you can talk to the world via amateur radio or talk to your ham friends locally via 2-way home or mobile radio.

The Rutland Radio Club is conducting Introductory License Classes weekly, for 10 weeks, starting on Wednesday evening January 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rutland Red Cross building.  At the end of the class, students will be ready to take and pass the Technician class amateur radio license exam.  You do not need to learn Morse Code to get a license.

If you have any questions, please call Tim Abraham (WA1VT) at 802-558-0389.

Next Event: November 29, Linux 101

The next learning event is on Saturday, November 29, 1-3PM, again at the Rutland Free Library. This month Chad Merkert will be our guest presenter, and will give an introduction to the Linux operating system.

Linux 101 will cover the fast growing and popular open source operating system called Linux. Chad will describe what Linux is, as well as what Open Source software is. He will also explain and demonstrate how you can start using Linux and Open source software on your computer!

If you have an old Windows XP computer, you might already know that Microsoft is no longer supporting the XP operating system. If you have since purchased a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer or laptop, or plan to do so, have you thought about what to do with your XP?

It turns out you can install Linux on your old XP computer. If you’ve wanted to learn more about using Linux, converting your old XP computer is an inexpensive way to do so. You can install Linux on your PC or laptop directly. Or, there is also another option to boot your computer up with Linux, via a a “bootable” version of Linux on a flash drive.

We look forward to seeing you at our next event.

Ron, Steve and Chad

Scratch Program Demo: Rutland Halloween Parade Route

This project is a starter project, as it has some pre-loaded Sprites (Halloween cartoon characters), Background images of streets along the Rutland Parade route, and Audio sounds.  The initial code scripts for the Cat going along the parade route is there to give you some ideas on how the code blocks were put together.

Rutland Halloween Parade demo Scratch project:

Rutland Halloween Parade route

Scratch Project page:
scratch.mit.edu/projects/30959062/

You can copy this project and use whatever you like as far as Sprites, Backgrounds, Code and Sounds.  You can also add your own Sprites and Sounds, and use whatever Backgrounds you like.  Make the characters follow some or all of the parade route.  Have fun!

The background photos were captured as screenshots from Google Maps of downtown Rutland streets, which follow the annual Halloween Parade route (Strongs Ave. to Wales St. to West St. to Merchant’s Row to Center St.  The sprites are Halloween cartoon characters.  The programming challenge is to move your chosen character(s) through the Halloween Parade route.  Good luck!

Next Event: October 25, Learn Scratch Programming

The next event is on Saturday, October 25, 1-3PM, again at the Rutland Free Library.  We are going to do another hands-on event.  This time we are going to start working with a programming tool called “Scratch” from MIT.  For those who were unable to attend our first Scratch event back in April, this is your chance.  October 25 is also the date of the annual Rutland Halloween Parade (in the evening), so our Scratch programming activities will have a “Halloween” theme, as far as ready-to-go sprites for your Scratch program or animation.

Scratch is another visual programming tool / language.  For those of you who participated in an Code.org “Hour of Code event, you will notice that Scratch has some similarities to the visual programming approach of “Hour of Code”.  But Scratch has many more programming features, and introduces you to many more programming concepts and ideas.

http://scratch.mit.edu/

Scratch enables you to program your own interactive stories, games, sounds and animations.  You can also share your creations with others in the Scratch online community.  According to MIT’s website, “Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.”

At hour “Hour of Code” event back in February, one person had a question about “sprites”.  Scratch does allow you to have one or more sprites (visual graphics to represent people, animals, characters, things), that can be animated.

For each sprite, you can tell Scratch to do different things based on different “events”.  This is called event-driven programming.  For example, you could play a sound, or have a character say something in a cartoon bubble, if the user clicks on something, moves their mouse or presses a key on keyboard.  These mouse/keyboard events drive the action on the screen.

This blog also has some earlier posts regarding Scratch Programming.  Scratch is a very nice tool and way to learn and develop programs.

Hope to see you on October 25th to start to learn Scratch programming.

Ron and Steve

Next Event: September 13, Computer Security Best Practices at Home or Office

Hope you’ve had a nice summer.  After a summer hiatus, the RTC will present our next event on Saturday, September 13, 1-3PM, again at the Rutland Free Library (Fox Room upstairs).  Our guest presenter for September is Chad Merkert.  The topic this month is best practices in computer security.  Chad will give us some useful information on how to keep your computer and information safe from viruses and hackers, including tips on how to manage your passwords, and other helpful tips.

Chad is a local computer tech guy and web developer.  He owns his own tech biz called Merkert Tech.  Chad is finishing up his college degree in computer science this school year (an up-and–coming Tech Guy).  Chad also runs the VermontDev group on Meetup.com (check it out, if you are interested in meeting other local folks interested in Info Tech).  I recently joined the VermontDev group, and that’s how I met Chad!

Check out Chad’s website at www.merkerttech.com.  We look forward to seeing you on September 13th at the Library for computer security best practices!

Ron and Steve

Upcoming events for Fall 2014

Just a quick update on this fall’s events that are being planned.  These events will again take place at the Rutland Free Library in the upstairs Fox Room, from 1-3PM on Saturdays:

September 13: Guest presenter is Chad Merkert, who will do one of these topics (still TBD): A) Tips on PC / data security and passwords, or B) using Linux in the context of an older computer, like a Windows XP (now unsupported), and how you can still make use of an older computer.

BTW, Chad also runs a local Meetup Group (VermontDev):

October 25: Scratch Programming.  If you did not attend our April event, here is another chance to get started with Scratch.  If you did attend in April, we can help you get started on other aspects and features of Scratch.

http://scratch.mit.edu/

https://rutlandtechclub.wordpress.com/?s=scratch

November 29: TBD, although I am thinking about an introduction to Arduino.  I went to SolarFest this weekend in Tinmouth, and there was a workshop on Arduino, which was very interesting.  The presenter at SolarFest was Jeff Molson from Ottawa, Canada.

http://www.arduino.cc/

http://www.solarfest.org/program/solarfest-2014-mini-maker-faire-workshops/

Have a nice summer, and I look forward to seeing you later in Fall 2014.

Ron