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Is Python what I need?

 
 
newbie
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      08-23-2009
Hi all
I'm interested in developing computer based, interactive programs for
students in a special school who have an aversion to pen and paper.
I've searched the net to find ready made software that will meet my
needs but it is either written to a level much higher than these
students can cope with or priced beyond our school budget. I came
across a blog of someone singing the praises of Python. My question is
therefore aimed at those that know what they are talking about (ie
users in this group). Is Python the language I need to learn to
develop these programs?
 
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Peter Otten
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      08-23-2009
newbie wrote:

> I'm interested in developing computer based, interactive programs for
> students in a special school who have an aversion to pen and paper.
> I've searched the net to find ready made software that will meet my
> needs but it is either written to a level much higher than these
> students can cope with or priced beyond our school budget. I came
> across a blog of someone singing the praises of Python. My question is
> therefore aimed at those that know what they are talking about (ie
> users in this group). Is Python the language I need to learn to
> develop these programs?


From the distance it looks like these children need a good teacher rather
than a bad (or just starting) programmer. They need goals they can
understand and share, not yet another tool.

But it's interactive? Yeah, three canned answers instead of just one...

That said, Python is a good language for the casual developer. You can whack
together something pretty quickly. It may not be perfect, but you don't
waste time on administrative overhead either.

Peter

 
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Tomasz Rola
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      08-23-2009
On Sun, 23 Aug 2009, newbie wrote:

> Hi all
> I'm interested in developing computer based, interactive programs for
> students in a special school who have an aversion to pen and paper.
> I've searched the net to find ready made software that will meet my
> needs but it is either written to a level much higher than these
> students can cope with or priced beyond our school budget. I came
> across a blog of someone singing the praises of Python. My question is
> therefore aimed at those that know what they are talking about (ie
> users in this group). Is Python the language I need to learn to
> develop these programs?


Perhaps, maybe, yes.

Python has simple syntax and it can be grasped quite fast. It is also
quite easy IMHO to go from easy interactive, calculator-like stuff to
bigger things. It also has quite big library of specialized functions, to
be used in bigger programs.

So if this is what you are looking for, it seems you are in the right
place.

You may also have a look at Squeak. It is an implementation of Smalltalk
language. As far as I can tell, it is targeted for kid users or young
students, who are interested in programming.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smalltalk
http://www.squeak.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeak

Or, I mean, Smalltalk is a general purpose language, just as Python. It is
not a "kid language". Squeak, however, seems to be a bit easier for new
users. After tinkering with it a little, I think it has few batteries not
only included (like Python has) but connected to few toys as well. This
makes it more playable than Python after unpacking the box.

Wrt languages, their "goodness" or differences between them - I am pretty
much sure a number of people will start pointing them out to you. But I
don't think this is really that much important. All languages are more or
less similar because they serve the same purpose. Just try and do not use
(Visual) Basic and you should be ok. Well, maybe this is just me, but
I consider VB to be a dead-end. Besides, if this is going to be "let's
show them how interesting it is", you should stay away from languages more
complicated, like Java. Those who are going to learn Java, will learn it
anyway. Knowing something different and cool first should not kill them.
Quite the contrary, it can be an eye opener.

Regards
Tomasz Rola

--
** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature. **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened... **
** **
** Tomasz Rola (E-Mail Removed) **
 
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Dave Angel
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      08-24-2009
newbie wrote:
> Hi all
> I'm interested in developing computer based, interactive programs for
> students in a special school who have an aversion to pen and paper.
> I've searched the net to find ready made software that will meet my
> needs but it is either written to a level much higher than these
> students can cope with or priced beyond our school budget. I came
> across a blog of someone singing the praises of Python. My question is
> therefore aimed at those that know what they are talking about (ie
> users in this group). Is Python the language I need to learn to
> develop these programs?
>
>

I think I'm a bit confused as to just what you're intending, and what
your background is. So if this response doesn't fit, please don't be
offended.

I'm guessing you don't want these special students to do any
programming, but instead you just want to find/develop inexpensive
applications for their use. You have some specific ideas, but haven't
found anything already available within your budget.

I'm also guessing that you're a total beginner at programming. If so, I
claim that most programs are much, much harder to write than you can
imagine. Python is one of the easiest languages to learn and to write
things in, but even so, most GUI programs take hundreds of hours to
develop. And I've been doing it for forty years, in about 30 languages.

DaveA

 
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c
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      08-24-2009
> I'm interested in developing computer based, interactive programs

That is so open-ended it could mean anything. If you give a much
more specified idea of what you are imagining creating, people could
be helpful.

> for students in a special school who have an aversion to pen and paper.


<academic aside>
Aversion? Why? Is it that they have such bad penmanship that
writing
is too frustrating? I've taught such students in college, and
suspect
(but do not know) that what would be good is to get them young and
really put in the remedial time to train their penmanship up to
sustained
legibility and speed. Eventually society might go 100% electronic;
for now, being able to write notes on paper is very helpful, and
paper
is still such a great technology aside from renewable concerns, but
they can be greatly improved. (I even suspect rigorous and successful
penmanship training might pay off in "general intelligence" gains)
</academic aside>

> I've searched the net to find ready made software that will meet my
> needs but it is either written to a level much higher than these
> students can cope with or priced beyond our school budget. I came
> across a blog of someone singing the praises of Python. My question is
> therefore aimed at those that know what they are talking about (ie
> users in this group). Is Python the language I need to learn to
> develop these programs?


I agree with Dave A that writing a useful program is often far harder
than a beginner might imagine. That said, much would depend on what
you would need the program to do. Python, in my limited experience
as a hobbyist, strikes me as fairly easy to get started with in
programming, and yet can do a great deal, too. So, as I said, more
details about the intended program would help people guide your
choice.

Che
 
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Dennis Lee Bieber
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      08-24-2009
On Sun, 23 Aug 2009 22:09:45 -0700 (PDT), c <(E-Mail Removed)>
declaimed the following in gmane.comp.python.general:

> legibility and speed. Eventually society might go 100% electronic;
> for now, being able to write notes on paper is very helpful, and
> paper


And most PDAs and tablets with touch screens still need fairly
legible strokes...

Or are these students surgically grafted to a messaging phone such
that they can only manipulate a micro key-board with their thumbs? <G>
--
Wulfraed Dennis Lee Bieber KD6MOG
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) HTTP://wlfraed.home.netcom.com/

 
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Jean-Michel Pichavant
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      08-24-2009
Peter Otten wrote:
> newbie wrote:
>
>
>> I'm interested in developing computer based, interactive programs for
>> students in a special school who have an aversion to pen and paper.
>> I've searched the net to find ready made software that will meet my
>> needs but it is either written to a level much higher than these
>> students can cope with or priced beyond our school budget. I came
>> across a blog of someone singing the praises of Python. My question is
>> therefore aimed at those that know what they are talking about (ie
>> users in this group). Is Python the language I need to learn to
>> develop these programs?
>>

>
> >From the distance it looks like these children need a good teacher rather

> than a bad (or just starting) programmer.

Wow, that is rude. Let's keep this list friendly, won't we ?

JM
 
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Peter Otten
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      08-24-2009
Jean-Michel Pichavant wrote:

>> >From the distance it looks like these children need a good teacher
>> >rather than a bad (or just starting) programmer.


> Wow, that is rude. Let's keep this list friendly, won't we ?


I may have been too blunt, and if my message has come across as an insult I
apologize for that. Let me try again:

If you are trying to teach children that are unwilling to use pen and paper
putting them in front of a computer doesn't help you and them one bit. As a
starting programmer you'll have to spend a lot of time in front of your
computer that may be better spent with your students.

Better?

Peter

 
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David Robinow
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      08-24-2009
On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 9:32 AM, Peter Otten<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> If you are trying to teach children that are unwilling to use pen and paper
> putting them in front of a computer doesn't help you and them one bit. As a
> starting programmer you'll have to spend a lot of time in front of your
> computer that may be better spent with your students.

I don't think you were rude at all, but I like your second answer
even more than the first.
Nevertheless, I'd still like to hear from the Original Poster.

What are you trying to accomplish?
What software have you found that is too expensive?

Given more information, somebody might be able to help.
 
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Robert Kern
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      08-24-2009
On 2009-08-24 08:32 AM, Peter Otten wrote:
> Jean-Michel Pichavant wrote:
>
>>> > From the distance it looks like these children need a good teacher
>>>> rather than a bad (or just starting) programmer.

>
>> Wow, that is rude. Let's keep this list friendly, won't we ?

>
> I may have been too blunt, and if my message has come across as an insult I
> apologize for that. Let me try again:
>
> If you are trying to teach children that are unwilling to use pen and paper
> putting them in front of a computer doesn't help you and them one bit. As a
> starting programmer you'll have to spend a lot of time in front of your
> computer that may be better spent with your students.


I suspect everyone is reading too much into the word "aversion". There may be
physical or mental handicaps involved, not the personal preference of the
students. In such a case, the OP's word choice is not ideal, but the readers
here should give a little more thought before assuming the most ludicrous
interpretation.

--
Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
an underlying truth."
-- Umberto Eco

 
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