Ask and ye shall receive…

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Mar 112013

I’ve mentioned before that one of the most oft-repeated imperatives in the scriptures is to ask.  The same holds true for learning to program.  In addition to documentation, APIs, forums, blogs, books, peers, and tutorials, there is another source that you might be able to tap into as you are developing.  Pretty much most of the resources I’ve given you so far are asynchronous.  But how would you like to get help in real time?  Usually, that requires the physical presence of the other person.  Using IRC (internet relay chat), you can participate in a chat with people all over the world, asking real-time questions and (possibly) getting real-time answers.  IRC is the precursor to modern chat and chat rooms, and is something developers have actually been using for decades.

To download an IRC client, try out one of these:

Once you have these in place you just need to find the right “room” on an irc server.  For those in this class, you may find the following to be useful:

  1. #corona on
  2. #wordpress on (check out their official IRC info page at:
  3. #codeacademy on

And finally, once you get into a room, it’s nice to know the commands for doing more than shouting out everything to everyone in the room.  Here’s a quick resource on basic IRC commands:

 Posted by at 10:52 am  Tagged with:

Example of how to post a step on your PLE

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Jan 072013

After submitting your Learning Contract, you’ll submit a step by Friday at midnight each night.  In submitting this step, you need to:

  • indicate what you did
  • include the source files
  • include a critique of your work
  • grade your work (out of 10)

Here are some previous examples that may help you to see what a useful “Step” post looks like:

Setting up a server

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Feb 212012

After watching everyone’s design presentations last week, it became apparent that everyone is going to need to set up some server space at some point in their projects.  Usually, this is something you’ll have to pay for on a remote server.  Check out the links on the “Hosting services” page for a few options regarding hosting.  For 1 free database with PHP already setup, you can check out

Even when setting up a remote server, though, you’ll want to set up a server on a local machine for your own development purposes.  Developing on your own machine is called “sandboxing.”  The idea behind sandboxing is that you first develop something in a safe area, where you can “play” with the code, before deploying it for all the world to see on the public server space.  I strongly encourage you to sandbox your development by setting up a server development environment on your own computer.

In order to set up a server, you are going to need the server software on your own computer.  Lucky for you, this is way easier than it used to be.  First, let’s understand what you need.  There are three things:

  1. First,  you need the actual server software.  We are going to use the free, open-source Apache server software.
  2. Second, once your server is up, you are going to need some database software.  We are going to use the free and open source MySQL database.
  3. Finally, you’ll need some way to translate between database calls and HTML.  We are going to use the free and open-source PHP for this.

I didn’t include the links in the above descriptions, because I don’t want you downloading each of those software packages separately.  Instead, there is an awesome, free tool called either WAMP (for Windows), MAMP (for Macintosh), LAMP (for Linux), or XAMPP (another linux/mac alternative).  The first letter stands for the respective operating system.  The A-M-P stands for Apache (the server), MySQL (the database), and PHP (btw, the extra “p” on XAMPP is for Perl, another programming language).

So, download the either WAMP or MAMP, depending on your OS.  The really nice thing about these is that you can turn them on and off quickly.

 Posted by at 7:50 am  Tagged with:

Learning to code with CodeAcademy

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Feb 212012

Dr. West sent me an interesting link yesterday to a place called CodeAcademy.  It’s an online site that intends to take learners through a step-by-step process to start programming.  They begin with javascript.  I went through the first 50 exercises or so and I’m curious to see how a beginner would approach these lessons.  To me, they’re pretty straightforward, but I wonder if their use of programming jargon with minimal explanation is a good thing or not.  Either way, it’s worth checking out if you’re learning to code.  So, head on over to and sign up for your first few lessons (they’re very quick to go through).

 Posted by at 7:17 am  Tagged with:

Online HTML editors

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Feb 172012

Sometimes, it’s nice to not have to worry about which IDE or program you’re using and just get to the coding. If you’re interested a free online HTML5 editor that allows you to also edit the css and javascript, I just found a handy editor at:  This is similar to one that Robert has been using.  Robert, what was the name of that editor?

 Posted by at 3:43 pm