Showing posts with label class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label class. Show all posts

16.11.23

What Learning to Program in the 1990s Taught Me About How Computers Work and Why Generative Artificial Intelligence Makes Sense to Me

It's circa 1991 — during my middle school years — I attended a small Catholic school where I enrolled in a computer science class. The computers ran on a slow-running operating system called MS-DOS that included a cool feature — a way to code in a basic programming language called QBasic, featuring a simple lime green blinking cursor on the screen. It ran Nibbles, a fun game to boot, but to play more advanced games, we used floppy disks, slightly larger than a postcard but smaller than a standard piece of paper, containing a metallic tape where data was stored.

Illustration of a classroom filled with old Commodore computers running on QBasic
I requested Dalle-3 to create an illustration depicting
my computer science classroom, vividly filled with
Commodore computers operating on QBasic.

The fun aspect of these classes involved playing games on these floppy disks. However, equally engaging was experimenting with QBasic. It's a simple, beginner-friendly programming language developed by Microsoft. It was quite popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s for teaching programming basics in an easy-to-understand way. QBasic is known for its simplicity, making it a good starting point for beginners in programming. We could create command lines and basic math problems. Our teacher introduced us to subroutines, enabling us to develop more complex programs like a quiz show. For instance, I programmed a game where the user would answer questions like "What is the capital of Washington State?". Correct answers led to more challenging questions, while wrong ones could end the game or reduce progress. By the way — the answer is Olympia.

Over time, I developed an advanced quiz bowl game with fifty unique questions embedded in different subroutine categories, enhancing my programming skills. My fascination with QBasic grew, prompting me to research more about it in the public library. I learned to replicate other programs, such as the classic snake game.

For illustrative purposes — here's a snippet of QBasic code.

SUB AskWashingtonCapital
    DIM answer AS STRING
    PRINT "What is the capital of Washington State? The answer is Olympia."
    INPUT answer
    IF LCASE$(answer) = "olympia" THEN
        PRINT "Correct! Now for a more difficult question."
        AskUSTerritory
    ELSE
        PRINT "That's not correct. Let's try an easier question."
        AskUSCapital
    END IF
END SUB
 


Fast forward to 2023, the world of generative AI is an evolution of my early programming experiences. When using a tool like ChatGPT, asking a question like the capital of Washington State, it processes the query using its neural network and provides an answer, similar to the if-then statements in my quiz game. However, the complexity and scale of these large language models (LLMs) are far beyond what we had back then.

These models, like ChatGPT, are based on vast amounts of data fed into them, enabling predictive text generation. Yet, unlike human cognition, these computers don't 'understand' in the same way we do. They process information based on input from human-made sources, creating an artificial neural network.

Looking ahead, these neural networks could eventually update themselves, especially if they gain access to the internet or large databases. This self-improvement capability in computer programs could lead to significant advancements in AI, potentially paving the way to what some refer to as 'the singularity.' The future of this technology is uncertain, but its potential is undoubtedly intriguing.

6.5.20

Quotation: On Considering Heteronormativity in Society (Thank you, Jane Austen)

It's a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. 
Mrs. Bennet — from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Nineteenth-Century British Novelist
A lion roars.
Photo by Adam King on Unsplash
Source: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. United Kingdom, RD Bentley, 1853.

21.5.19

May Teacher Journal: Teacher Gonna Teach Animated GIF

Teacher Gonna Teach GIF
Teacher Gonna Teach
So, I wanted to make an animated GIF to represent teaching in May - and here it is (see above).

7.2.17

Notes on a Tuesday Evening After Instructing the Pupils


Chalkboard inside Greig Roselli's classroom
A Word Wall

At the end of the school day, most kids shuffle to their locker, collect wallets, purses, slung-over-the-shoulder book bags, and whatever else they've deigned to take home with them on a weekday afternoon. At the end of the school day, teachers make last-minute conversations, shuffle to the copier and churn out dittos (that's what we used to call those things), input grades, drink a cup of coffee and then head out the double door into oh-so-beautiful reality.

Or. Sometimes teachers bolt. Taking a breath, needing space between teacher and student, teacher and teacher, it is sometimes necessary to do the after bell plunge.

Today I bolted with a fellow teacher compatriot. We took solace on the local train back to our prospective boroughs (and burrows). I was dressed very dapper today. Normally I am presenting a six (or seven) o'clock shadow, my tie a bit untied, and the color scheme on my body jarring - to say the least. Did I tell you that yesterday I wore a shockingly yellow paisley tie on top of a red checkered shirt - complete with a professorial coat that seemed to have forgotten its trip to the laundromat? I am not sure if I should blame my slovenly father or my very exquisitely dressed mother, but I have chosen to not really take seriously the concept of "professionally dressed."

Anyway. I digress. I have thirty research papers to grade - ranging from topics such as Yankee Doodle Dandy and Bowling (the students chose their topics - those lusty scholars of learning!) - and instead of doing just that, grading, I am finding solace on my blog. And I have my wardrobe laid out for tomorrow - at least I'll look dapper again tomorrow. 

Here's a shout out to all those educators out there: you do you. And do clothes make the man?

23.5.10

Quote of the Day for a Viper

Why Madame Rawdon “was no better than a vipère”:

She became a perfect Bohemian ere long, herding with people whom it would make your  hair stand on end to meet.

William Makepeace Thackeray, - Vanity Fair



photo credit: ceillac