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May 26, 2012


I've packed the family off to the London Shogi Club this morning.

Obviously everyone in the world has linked to Neil Gaiman's commencement speech, but I'm going to as well. Much of the advice in this is for people contemplating careers in the arts, but not all, and the bit that really resonated for me was the section on doing great work, doing things on time, and being a good person to deal with. tl;dr spoiler -- you can get along fine with any two of those three. My observation is that people with only one of those three really struggle, but if they're superlative in that area even that might just be enough. But two out of three is fine.

Speaking of really resonating, this week I have learnt a great deal about resonant frequency in MITx, and also started working with the operational amplifier abstraction. (Almost the first time that MITx has completely ignored the underlying maths and said -- ok, you can see how these work if you like, but for this course, you need to just assume that an artefact with these properties exists, and then learn how to analyse circuits containing it). In Udacaity CS212 we worked through a solver program for Scrabble or Words with Friends (ie, given a hand, a board and a dictionary, what are the top scoring moves?). That was mostly demos, but the homeworks included coding a Boggle solver. Which was pretty cool. Finals coming up this coming week in 212, and the following week in MITx. I may need to get Steven to take the children out for a day to do the final, as it's during half term and I need several hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet with a reliable internet connection.

No MITx in the summer, which I think means I'll be able to do at least three Udacity courses at once next hexamester. (The lectures in MITx are typically 2-3 times as long as the lecture set in a Udacity course, and each week has homework and a lab).

And a little plug -- my favourite interactive fiction writer, Andrew Plotkin, has released an IF game for iOS, Dreamhold. It's free (to encourage people to try out IF, or text adventures as we used to call them), and is designed to include both handholding for beginners and challenges for experts.

Posted by Alison Scott at May 26, 2012 09:52 AM


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