Thursday, 27 June 2013

Mail Pending

Latest Arrivals

There's been little to add over the last few days, all parts I need had been ordered, so it's just been ticking them off as they started to arrive. The CPU arrived first, shortly followed by the case, and then the rest of the stuff. The only thing that's been holding the job up is the HDMI to VGA converter which I'd bought on eBay.

My son has been highly interested in keeping track of which bits have been outstanding. Obviously the whole process just isn't happening fast enough for him. But I've given over wasting my money on the lure of next day delivery, or the hope of orders arriving by the weekend and the disappointment it typically brings. Now I go for the cheapest shipping cost and accept that it'll get here in about a week, and for places like eBuyer (here's a good tip) go for the free 5 day shipping option and it'll be delivered in two days anyway.

Educating the Upstarts

I've decided to involve my 12 year old son Saul in the build as much as possible. Number two son is also interested but at 6 he's a little too young to be more than a hindrance, even though he is mega-bright. The young brainiac's already been reading about motherboards & daughterboards and such things that my oldest son hasn't even heard of, so I'll have to find some way of letting him join in. But Saul wants the Minecraft server, so he can get his hands dirty (he might even enjoy it) and I'd like him to see there's more to computers than game platforms. Honestly I despair at times for all the game install requests I get from him.

I've tried to interest him in learning more but it seems there's no "street creds" in it, so he normally shows little interest. We've tried HTML and Databases (which we suggested could form the basis of scouts badge work), but it just doesn't compare to semi-mindless clicking on crudely rendered blocks. Perhaps these building blocks are just too abstract for him?!

It certainly seems a quandary these days, how to get your kids interested in the nuts and bolts of technology. Back when we were kids computers were all about the nuts and bolts, and if you wanted to play space invaders then you'd better bloody well write it first. Of course we never did, but we tinkered around learning basic programing in the guise of having fun, or we typed in simple (and slightly rubbish) adventure games from the pages of computer magazines.

But look at what they ARE teaching kids at school! Back in the 80's I was fortunate to have Computers Studies classes on Commodore Pets and we learnt real programing and used words like algorithm and hashing, but even back then I was aware of the rise of something involving BBC Micro Model B's called ICT that the less bright kids did. These days ICT is all there is, unless the school runs a computer club, so our kids are being taught how to use Microsoft Office. So if you need help knocking together a power-point, or tips for collating your data in excel then you'll know where to turn! I can't help feel slightly outraged by this... and slightly saddened.

Britain used to have a booming computer industry,..(sighs).. it's hardly surprising there's little sign of it these days.

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