Easter Tuesday Constitutional


Today it was Easter Tuesday and we beat the weather and managed a stroll along the coastal path from Mumbles Pier to Langland Bay. Here’s a view along the path towards the coastguard station at Bracelet Bay. More photos on [Flickr](http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpjobling/sets/72157604243690444/).

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Internet Explorer 8: Will support CSS, lukewarm on ECMAScript!

In a report in this week’s Technology Guardian (March 13, 2008), Tim Anderson discusses Microsoft’s announcement that Internet Explorer (IE) 8 will be standards compliant by default after all. This is a reversal of its previous position which was that it would be IE 7 compliant by default to avoid “breaking the net”. (To become standards compliant, web authors would have to set a tag in their code: this is known as Version Targetting and was seen by some Web Standards Advocates as a minor threat while others were less sanguine.) Whether the turn around is a result of lobbying by the web standards community, or whether it’s a result of a general policy of “support for industry standards and data portability.” is arguable, but the decision seems to be a victory for web standards – at least up to a point. Microsoft’s concentration on its rich web application framework Silverlight seems to be deflecting support away from the emerging ECMAScript 4 standard. So the CSS headaches may have gone away with IE 8, but cross-browser JavaScript may still be some way away!

Teaching Kids to Program

Michael Kölling is a Senior Lecturer in Computing at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He was one of the the key developers of the [BlueJ](http://www.bluej.org/) programming environment and is one of the authors of [Objects First with Java](http://www.amazon.co.uk/Objects-First-Java-Practical-Introduction/dp/013197629X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205426224&sr=1-1). His demonstration to folks at Google HQ of [Greenfoot](http://www.greenfoot.org/) , his new Java programming environment for young learners, has just been published on [YouTube](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcwx-I6Arwk). By providing a programming environment based on graphical objects that move in artificial worlds, Kölling hopes to make programming compelling to high-school-age kids and thereby reverse the current UK trend of students thinking that ICT is only about office programs and spreadsheets (and thereby convincing most of them that computing is boring). These are excellent aims, and Greenfoot is an excellent programming environment and the video is excellent and inspiring presentation by one of my heroes.

It’s worth noting that Greenfoot, and its bigger brother BlueJ, support the Java programming language. This is a potential weakness of the approach in that, as Kölling himself admits, the Java programming language may not be suitable for students younger than 14 or 15 (see also an earlier [post on this topic](/2007/09/thoughts-on-programming-languages.html)).

The video is available on YouTube in the [googletechtalks ](http://www.youtube.com/user/googletechtalks) channel. Enjoy!

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How to Write a Technical Report

In another experiment in Web 2.0 for learning technologies I recorded a soundtrack for a presentation that I make annually to my first, second and final year students, and put it up on Slideshare. This wonderful site is a social sharing site for PowerPoint files. It allows the usual social networking features. So you can upload a PowerPoint presentation, tag it, share it, and comment on others. You can also link it to an MP3 track, and there’s an easy to use tool for synchronizing the audio track to the slides.

Because I tend to use slides that, because of copyright, may not be publishable in this way and my recorded lectures are recorded and published as podcasts which have to be listened to with a copy of the downloads slides. However, Slideshare has real potential as an alternative presentation medium. It certainly compares favourably with to the expensive desktop tools that do the same sort of thing. It’s also really easy, which desktop tools often aren’t!

Here’s the presentation. Leave your comments here or on the Slideshare site.


[![SlideShare](http://static.slideshare.net/swf/logo_embd.png)](http://www.slideshare.net/?src=embed) | [View](http://www.slideshare.net/cpjobling/how-to-write-a-technical-report?src=embed “View ‘How to Write a Technical Report’ on SlideShare”) | [Upload your own](http://www.slideshare.net/upload?src=embed)