Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Tue, 05 May 2015



Ancillary Justice

posted at: 20:48 | path: /book/Ann_Leckie | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 30 Apr 2015



Coding club day one: a simple number guessing game in python

    I've recently become involved in a new computer programming club at my kids' school. The club runs on Friday afternoons after school and is still very new so we're still working through exactly what it will look like long term. These are my thoughts on the content from this first session. The point of this first lesson was to approach a programming problem where every child stood a reasonable chance of finishing in the allotted 90 minutes. Many of the children had never programmed before, so the program had to be kept deliberately small. Additionally, this was a chance to demonstrate how literal computers are about the instructions they're given -- there is no room for intuition on the part of the machine here, it does exactly what you ask of it.

    The task: write a python program which picks a random number between zero and ten. Ask the user to guess the number the program has picked, with the program telling the user if they are high, low, or right.

    We then brainstormed the things we'd need to know how to do to make this program work. We came up with:
    • How do we get a random number?
    • What is a variable?
    • What are data types?
    • What is an integer? Why does that matter?
    • How do we get user input?
    • How do we do comparisons? What is a conditional?
    • What are the possible states for the game?
    • What is an exception? Why did I get one? How do I read it?


    With that done, we were ready to start programming. This was done with a series of steps that we walked through as a group -- let's all print hello work. Now let's generate a random number and print it. Ok, cool, now let's do input from a user. Now how do we compare that with the random number? Finally, how do we do a loop which keeps prompting until the user guesses the random number?

    For each of these a code snippet was written on the whiteboard and explained. It was up to the students to put them together into a program which actually works.

    Due to limitations in the school's operating environment (no local python installation and repl.it not working due to firewalling) we used codeskulptor.org for this exercise. The code that the kids ended up with looks like this:

      import random
      
      # Pick a random number
      number = random.randint(0, 10)
      
      # Now ask for guesses until the correct guess is made
      done = False
      
      while not done:
          guess = int(raw_input('What is your guess?'))
          print 'You guessed: %d' % guess
          
          if guess < number:
              print 'Higher!'
          elif guess > number:
              print 'Lower!'
          else:
              print 'Right!'
              done = True
      


    The plan for next session (tomorrow, in the first week of term two) is to recap what we did at the end of last term and explore this program to make sure everyone understands how it works.

    Tags for this post: coding_club teaching coding
    Related posts: Huffman coding; I'm glad I've turned on comments here

posted at: 01:18 | path: /coding_club | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 24 Apr 2015



Tuggeranong Trig (again)

    The cubs at my local scout group are interested in walking to a trig, but have some interesting constraints around mobility for a couple of their members. I therefore offered to re-walk Tuggeranong Trig in Oxley with an eye out for terrain. I think this walk would be very doable for cubs -- its 650 meters with only about 25 meters of vertical change. The path is also ok for a wheelchair I think.

                 




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150415-tuggeranong_trig photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig; Big Monks

posted at: 18:04 | path: /diary/pictures/20150415-tuggeranong_trig | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 11 Apr 2015



One Tree and Painter

    Paul and I set off to see two trigs today. One Tree is on the ACT border and is part of the centenary trail. Painter is a suburban trig in Belconnen. Much fun was had, I hope I didn't make Paul too late for the wedding he had to go to.

     







    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150412-one_tree_painter photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig

posted at: 23:53 | path: /diary/pictures/20150412-one_tree_painter | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 09 Apr 2015



Thinking time

    I've had a lot of things to think about this week, so I've gone on a few walks. I found some geocaches along the way, but even better I think my head is a bit more sorted out now.










    Tags for this post: blog canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 16:16 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 04 Apr 2015



Bendora Arboretum and Bulls Head trig

    Prompted largely by a not very detailed entry in a book, a bunch of friends and I went to explore Bendora Arboretum. The arboretum was planted in the 1940's as scientific experiments exploring what soft woods would grow well in our climate -- this was prompted by the large amount of wood Australia was importing at the time. There were 34 Arboreta originally, but only this one remains. The last three other than this one were destroyed in the 2003 bush fires.

    This walk appears in Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT by Marion Stuart, which was the inspiration for this outing. The only thing to note with her description is that the walk is a fair bit longer than she describes -- its 2km from the locked gate to the hut, which means a 4km return walk before you explore the arboretum at all. The arboretum has received some attention from the ACT government recently, with new signage and a fresh gravel pass. Also please note this area might only be accessible by four wheel drive in winter, which is not mentioned in the book.

    We also did a side trip to Bulls Head trig, which was interesting as its not the traditional shape.

                                           

    See more thumbnails







    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150404-bendora_bulls_head photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig

posted at: 15:35 | path: /diary/pictures/20150404-bendora_bulls_head | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Mar 2015



A quick walk through Curtin

    What do you do when you accidentally engaged a troll on twitter? You go for a walk of course.

    I didn't realize there had been a flash flood in Canberra in 1971 that killed seven people, probably because I wasn't born then. However, when I ask people who were around then, they don't remember without prompting either, which I think is sad. I only learnt about the flood because of the geocache I found hidden at the (not very well advertised) memorial today.

    This was walk inspired by one from Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT by Marion Stuart. I was disappointed that the guide book didn't mention the flash flood however, and skips the memorial.

           




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150323-curtin photo canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 13:41 | path: /diary/pictures/20150323-curtin | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Mar 2015



Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches

    I walked to the Narrabundah trig yesterday, along the way collecting 15 of the 16 NRL themed caches in the area. It would have been all 16, except I can't find the last one for the life of me. I'm going to have to come back.

    I really like this area. Its scenic, has nice trails, and you can't tell you're in Canberra unless you really look for it. It seemed lightly used to be honest, I think I saw three other people the entire time I was there. I encountered more dogs off lead than people.

     




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150321-narrabundah photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig

posted at: 14:29 | path: /diary/pictures/20150321-narrabundah | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 19 Mar 2015



A quick trip to Namadgi

posted at: 20:02 | path: /diary/pictures/20150320-namadgi | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 18 Mar 2015



Goodwin trig

posted at: 14:01 | path: /diary/pictures/20150318-goodwin | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 08 Mar 2015



Stromlo and Brown Trigs

    So, the Facebook group set off for our biggest Trig walk yet today -- Stromlo and Brown Trigs. This ended up being a 15km walk with a little bit of accidental trespass (sorry!) and about 600 meters of vertical rise. I was expecting Stromlo to be prettier to be honest, but it wasn't very foresty. Brown was in nicer territory, but its still not the nicest bit of Canberra I've been to. I really enjoyed this walk though, thanks to Simon, Tony and Jasmine for coming along!

                         




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150309-stromlo_and_brown photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig; Big Monks

posted at: 22:07 | path: /diary/pictures/20150309-stromlo_and_brown | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 25 Feb 2015



Tuggeranong Hill (again)

posted at: 16:06 | path: /diary/pictures/20150225-tuggeranong_hill | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 22 Feb 2015



Oakey trig

posted at: 20:50 | path: /diary/pictures/20150223-oakey_trig | permanent link to this entry


Geocaching

posted at: 01:14 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 20 Feb 2015



Command and Control

posted at: 20:27 | path: /book/Eric_Schlosser | permanent link to this entry


Forster trig

    Its been too long since I've attempted a trig walk -- 15 days to be exact. That's mostly because I've been really busy at work these last couple of weeks. That said, it was time for another trig, and this one was a bit of an adventure.

    Forster Trig is in the Bullen Nature Reserve and is one of the least urban trigs I've attempted so far, which is why this post is a bit more detailed than normal. Big Monks is probably the other trig walk most similar to this one. One of the challenges with this trig is that there is no track to the trig point. Reading John Evan's walk notes from his single assent of this trig, it seems that many people follow the 132kV power lines to the trig, but I consider this "cheating" as the power line is on private land and I didn't want to spend effort on getting permission to walk on someone's farm.

    Instead, I followed the Kambah Pool to Cassurina Sands track, and then turned right to bush bash to the trig when I got reasonably close. There wasn't any formed track this way, so I don't think this is a common approach. On the map you'll notice a fence marked -- that's where I had to jump a barbed wire fence, which wasn't the best plan ever. On the way back down from the summit I found a vehicle track, and I'd recommend that others follow that route (the one on the map with two gates marked and some stairs). The stairs are interesting -- a previous walker has mounded stones on both sides of the fence to make it easier to cross.

    Either way, its a bush bash up the hill itself, which is covered in reasonably dense spiky vegetation. You're going to want gaiters or long pants.

                 




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150220-forster_trig photo canberra tuggeranong bushwalk trig_point
    Related posts: Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig; Big Monks; A walk around Mount Stranger; Oakey trig; A quick walk to Tuggeranong Trig

posted at: 16:39 | path: /diary/pictures/20150220-forster_trig | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 18 Feb 2015



Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker

    I was an orienteering marker for the kid's scout troop tonight -- I guess it could have been a trick, but I think they were genuine. The basic idea was I went and stood at where the mark on the map was, and then noted which kids found me. Nice little hill in MacArthur, with pleasant views. I think I've found a good place for a geocache as well.




    Tags for this post: blog canberra bushwalk tuggeranong
    Related posts: Point Hut Cross to Pine Island; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake; Taylor Trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; A quick walk to William Farrer's grave

posted at: 02:59 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 17 Feb 2015



Little Black Mountain

    I went on a walk on Monday with the Canberra Bushwalking Club up Little Black Mountain. Its a nice area and I mostly enjoyed the walk. I say mostly because the walk leader was quite un-welcoming. There was the lecture about emergency beacons, and then the lecture about how he's never been bitten by a snake. It was quite an odd experience. I think I might avoid that leader in the future.




    Tags for this post: blog canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; Goodwin trig; Tuggeranong Trig (again); Stromlo and Brown Trigs; Point Hut Cross to Pine Island; Two trigs and a first attempt at finding Westlake

posted at: 14:21 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 11 Feb 2015



Geocaching in the evening, the second

posted at: 15:32 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 08 Feb 2015



Tuggeranong Stone Wall

posted at: 02:08 | path: /diary/pictures/20150208-tugg_stone_wall | permanent link to this entry