Monthly Archives: April 2009

Look in the bathroom for a surprise!

Nefarious visited her grandmother this weekend so that she could have a big family easter with her three young cousins, and one of the things they did was an easter egg scavenger hunt (I did one for her on her first real Easter years ago). When she got back, she hid all her easter eggs around the house and proudly made a series of notes for Caitlin and I to follow — below is the starting note (which, to translate, says “look in the bathroom and you might find an egg”). Caitlin’s parents visited this weekend as well, and brought along a couple new books and other goodies for Nefarious, so we took a break from reading The Black Cauldron and did Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus yesterday and Polar Bears Past Bedtime today, both cover-to-cover. The books were both thoroughly enjoyed by her, and held her attention well for the three or so hours total of reading.

Other than that, stuff is slowly being put into boxes and we’ll finish off the move either at the end of this week or the start of next. I can’t wait to start utilizing the space. Oh, and the other good news is that it seems there’s a circus school in the building (or something like that).


BING-BONG! Javascript Game

Edit/Update II: Major play change! I’ve added some new bricks and levels, but more importantly, I’ve changed the paddle mechanism so you can hit with different amounts of force, and most interestingly, rather than the ball moving in a straight line, it moves with GRAVITY. It’s a totally new game now! Try it out, let me know what you think.

Edit/Update: I’ve added a new brick type at Caitlin’s suggestion (indestructible bricks), and there are now new level designs. The game is pretty “complete” now. Enjoy, and do feel free to use the source code for help in your own projects.

I put together another Javascript test/demonstrator, this time in the form of a Breakout/Arkanoid type game. It’s all Javascript with no Flash or plugin elements. It handles mouse interaction, collision detection, animation, multiple levels, score keeping with custom font, pre-loading code (it doesn’t render until it’s done loading the images) and a bunch of other stuff. The code is all clearly commented. It’s my third project in Javascript so I expect there are better and less buggy ways to do things, but it still might be useful to someone. There are some unfinished issues (the paddle reflection code needs work, double collisions are handled wrong, there’s a condition where the paddle stops working, and there’s some minor bugs in the pause/restart/up-level code) but I’m not motivated to spend more time tweaking it.

Click to check it out.


By the way, I’ll mention that doing this was inspired by Google’s Chrome Experiments which show off some of what you can push Javascript to do. You can do some pretty remarkable things with it — although it’s also quite interesting what you can’t do.

Other than that, I’ve watched Friday’s finale to Terminator: TSCC a couple times now… I really think it’s a brilliant show with a deliciously complex story, and I sure hope it survives — the ratings leave a little to be desired, and the richness of the story make it hard for new viewers to pick up on — into season three. Love it!

Experimental Javascript Gallery II

I made another Javascript-based animated webpage. To be clear, there’s no Flash on this at all even though it has lots of effects that would normally be done in Flash. It has a multi-level animated background, a multi-level animated foreground, animated and state-changing widgets, handles resizing, should work in all current version browsers, and has clearly documented code if you want to see how it works. There are definitely still things on the to-do list, including a cleaner load routine that puts up a “loading” screen until the images are loading. (Pre-loader patched in!) I left it without that for now in part to illustrate how it works. Anyway, here it is, click away. Pure Javascript, no Flash.


Montessori School Ramblings

One of the big reasons that I’ve been happy with and am keeping Nefarious in the Montessori school system is that they have the same general philosophy as I do — that the role of parents and educators is to guide a young person to grow and learn independently, and become their own person that’s capable of expanding themselves. In the Montessori system, kids are expected to meet all of the Ontario educational standards (she’s definitely way ahead of where I was at her age, and I think I was a bright kid), but on the whole each child dictates what areas of study they’ll focus on and it’s done very independently, solo or in small groups of students — rather than mindless copying of lines from a chalkboard, followed by more mindless homework, all of it holding back the top students and failing to meet the needs of the students at the lower end. As a result, it’s not uncommon for kids to have areas that they’re working at a university level on by the time they are in grade six — which is not really a surprise, since the mind of a child is far more capable of learning — and desiring of learning — than a twenty year old.

It’s a broader skill set and independence as well, so when Nefarious moves up to elementary school next year (right now she’s finishing off the equivalent of kindergarten) the school integrates the students into the community. So for example, parents no longer send in snacks — the classroom has a budget for apples, which the students are expected to manage and also supply (so a small group of students is sent out to the nearby grocery store to purchase the needed apples). Or instead of having a big school library, the kids go out to the local library, get themselves cards, and understand how to do their own research in the community when they are doing projects… So as well as providing a traditional education, they build the skills that eventually create an adult that has no fear of all the responsibilities of life.

Maria Montessori died before really developing a high school system, but her basic idea, if I understand it correctly, was that at that age (twelve or thirteen) kids need to learn with increasing distance from their parents. There’s a Montessori secondary school in Ohio built on those ideas where the kids all live on an organic farm, which they help run — in addition to all the regular high school level studies — on all levels, including growing the food and managing the animals, as well as running the market and keeping it profitable… It really seems like a remarkable idea.

When I was doing the tour of the elementary school, there was another parent there as well and it was very sad. Because she’s new to the Montessori school system, she had lots of questions… One of the things she was most concerned about was homework (which is never required, but sometimes kids get excited about a project and want to continue it into the evening). Not because she objected, but because she and her husband were both hard working dentists and leave before their kid gets up and get back after their kid goes to bed, so she is tended for exclusively by a nanny that is apparently not linguistically capable of helping with schoolwork. How sad! I mean, if you’re both dentists, you’ve got more money than you need — surely at least one of you can spend some time other than at most one day on the weekend with your child! One of the teachers we were talking to created a very awkward moment when they pointed out that it was very important they they be reading higher level literature (ie. novels, not little kids books) to their child. Sorry, too busy with work. Anyway, very sad. There are a couple kids in Nefarious’s school as well that take advantage of both before and after school care — imagaine a three year old that gets dropped off at 7am, and then is picked up at 6pm by a nanny. Sure, you’ve got lots of money, and I’m sure you have a very nice house and a fancy car, but is it really worth it?

Today Caitlin and I are going to serve pizza lunch at Nefarious’s school (which reminds me — one of the other cool things is that the older kids at the elementary school plan lunch once a week, research the recipe, shop for the supplies, and cook the meal), which means I got to be lazy today and not pack Nefarious anything to bring to school… other than her tooth of course, which I watched her proudly showing to her teachers as soon as she arrived. So we had time to watch some videos this morning — a selection of what we watched is below. I like watching YouTube videos with her much more than TV because it not only offers something more than the same mindless repetative formulamatic modern kids show, but greater variety and a great opportunity to discuss what we’re watching. And after school is her yoga class, so I think today will be a very good day.


We were playing at the park after school with friends, and as Nefarious walks over her mouth looks really red so I ask her if she’s bleeding. We then realized her loose tooth — wiggly for the last couple months it seems — finally fell out. She retraced her steps and was able to find it!

Oh and this is a great video (this is good too).

And Lionel Richie has a good sense of humor…