Our Programs Are Fun To Use

There’s a strong association for me in this with Neal Stephenson’s idea of A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. We might have to wait another 5-10 years for a technology like that be introduced, though.

I’ve been trying to find an open source way of building codeschool type lessons for internal use, here, and not yet found a tool. At the moment I’m building something about term.js and a wrapper around bash before presenting the shell over websockets.

There are surely better ways: I’m sure codeschool’s shells (for example the one on try.github.io) are not real shells but instead made to look that way, allowing a specific set of commands and checking the output.

Is there a tool or framework like that already available, that’s not kept secret for someone’s business model?

The Diamond Age is a great novel about interactive textbooks! Read it.

I totally agree, does anyone have a list of great websites that allows readers to participate?

It would be great, if we could also sort them by prerequisites and indicative age.

Wait! “Imaginary brothers”? You mean there weren’t any real Beagle Brothers? Dude, you’ve just totally ruined my childhood.

Next thing you’ll tell me Bartles and Jaymes weren’t real either…

One site I haven’t seen mentioned here (or maybe I missed it) is acko.net. It has beautiful animations and visualizations and I’ve wasted quite some time there in awe… Unfortunately I can only post 2 links being a new user but the first one should help you find/discover the other animations and visualizations.

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Animagraffs by Jacob O’Neal has several excellent mechanical visualizations.

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[quote=“sehetw, post:10, topic:3097”]

[quote=“codinghorror, post:1, topic:3097”]
That experience is another reason I’ve always resisted calls to add “intro videos”, …[/quote]
I don’t think I get that. seems too ironic to me since every single example given on this page is effectively precisely that: the intro level, interactive playground.[/quote]

I think you might have missed the point. Intro videos are the opposite of the examples given. Video are possibly the least interactive form of instruction, second only to audio.

Going back to redo a section requires jumping around until you find something familiar or re-watching unrelated sections. Plus, it’s totally isolated from the rest of your environment. The best you can hope for is a second monitor to play the video. You can’t even copy-paste boilerplate stuff.

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The piece of code you’re looking for can be, potentially, here:

Thanks for this post. I didn’t know the Beagle Bros. Software but I now have the impression that my didactic DOS-based software at the time were deeply influenced by it.



“This is an online edition of the classic technical reference Five Hundred and
Seven Mechanical Movements by Henry T. Brown.”

“This site contains the original illustrations and text from the 21st edition of
the book, published in 1908. It also includes animated versions of the illustrations,
and occasional notes by the webmaster.”

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So true – much of the benefit here is in the “side by side”-ness of the interaction. Putting the textbook and the live interactive demos in the same exact space is powerful stuff.

I might have read Diamond Age a long time ago, I can’t recall. It’s this?

The primer is an interactive book that can answer a learner’s questions (spoken in natural language), teach through allegories that incorporate elements of the learner’s environment, and presents contextual just-in-time information.

The primer includes sensors that monitor the learner’s actions and provide feedback. The learner is in a cognitive apprenticeship with the book: The primer models a certain skill (through allegorical fairy tale characters) which the learner then imitates in real life.

The primer follows a learning progression with increasingly more complex tasks. The educational goals of the primer are humanist: To support the learner to become a strong and independently thinking person.

You sure about that?

By the end of 2013, we were able to report that the [JavaScript performance ] gap had shrunk to around 1.5x native – which is close to the amount of variability that different native compilers have between each other anyhow, so comparisons to “native speed” start to be less meaningful.


The Code Keyboard is still up for grabs. I suggest searching the Beagle Bros disks for the word “books”.

Well, look at it this way: take any textbook you like, from the most beginnery of beginner ones, to the most hairy advanced, and make the diagrams / formulas / graphs in them interactive. I think this works at any level.

Yes, this is a very good description of the Primer. However, in the book, the Primer is connected to the Internet every time the child opens the book, and automatically hires a professional reader if the Primer ‘understands’ that the child cannot read herself. The voice of the reader is than streamed back to the child. The reader is presented with the text to read on-the-fly, too. What I don’t recall is whether the reader hears the voice of the child and whether the reader can respond anything other than what she’s presented with by the Primer.
I think I want to read Diamond Age again sometime soon as it is full of cool futuristic staff that is getting closer and closer to us.

Randy Olson used genetic algorithms to find an optimal way to find Waldo in the Where’s Waldo books. He treats it as a traveling salesman problem and his post includes a visualization of the genetic algorithm iterating over search paths. It’s only one visualization, but it’s a cute domain for application of algorithms.

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Definitely searched the disks for the words “books” and even looked up Randy Brandt over emailand asked if he knew (he didn’t) but he said to check with Bert Kersey who I contacted (Twitter) and he didn’t know either.

You’ve got a heck of a challenge but I sure was interested in that keyboard :slight_smile:

And I further contacted via the curator of the Beagle Bros Museum, Steven Frank, about this and he replied “I did a simple string search over the disk images I have for “BOOKS” and didn’t find that message. But that’s not to say it doesn’t exist in some other, non-ASCII form.” So yeah… unless it was a graphic, I really would love to find out where this quote came from…

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Appreciate your effort on this, perhaps expand the search to the word “book”? It is possible I am misremembering this, of course, but I sure have a strong memory of this text happening in one of the sample / demo Beagle Bros programs.

I hate ‘type-and-see-results’ tutorials. Clearly written text is better. I learn way faster from text, then from these cuties.

Hardest problems in science are incredibly hard to visualise, or even impossible. Or visualisation of them is not useful at all. People must develop abstract thinking.

So, no, please don’t make every book interactive.

Alright Jeff, this time I went and downloaded everything I could find for all the software and using hex editor software, searched across them for “book”, “interactive”, “animated”, even partial words for interactive and animated to just no avail. I’m thinking it’s not there but would who knows… (other than the museum curator, creator of the company and one of the programmers from back then :smile:)

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For me it was Lemonade Stand on the Apple IIe. (Oh-no, I didn’t read the small text about street repairs and am not able to sell lemonade to workers). I learned via playing STRTRK on the mainframe from my school and AHL’s Basic Book of Games. Where I manually edited basic games and learned by visual example and trial and error for the early programs. Fortunately in Boulder County (CO) in the early 80’s had computer classes where I supplemented my Basic skills with Cobol, Fortran as well as actual Basic class before entering college. Ahhh good times.

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I have fond memories of Beagle Bros. software. They were one of the few software programs I actually bought when I was a dirt-poor high school student. They were one of the few companies that didn’t copy protect their software, and I would have felt too guilty. After all, they trusted me not to pirate their software.

Of course, at that age, I was under the delusion that software companies were mega-corporations run by faceless adults instead of real people like me. The BB, on the other hand, were obviously real people and it would be really immoral to steal from them, rather than only sort of immoral to pirate other companies software.

I am utterly amazed that “Parable of the Polygons” isn’t revealed for the unscientific, heartstring-tugging manipulative piece of propaganda that it is.

It is a living contradiction. In the author’s own words, it aims to make a point about biases while not drawing attention any real life issues like racism and sexism. Yet it presents a binary model, with discrete transition states, on a 2d grid, and pretends that this can teach us a valuable lesson. It can’t. Any number of tweaks to the model… changing the action radius, changing the discretization, changing the grid… and it would work differently.

The authors themselves admitted on Gamasutra that they didn’t really understand why their model behaved the way it did. Because it was never about building a decent model, only about getting it to behave the way they wanted it to behave.

For shame.