Learning Python, JavaScript And Raspberry Pi With Dummies

Last month, my wife, Jenn, shared about "Learning Digital Filmmaking with Dummies". While she and my son, AJ, are away on a mission trip to East Malaysia, I took this golden opportunity to share my review on these 3 books.

If you wondered why I didn't join them. Not that I don't want to, I couldn't take leave from my teaching. :(

Time flies - it’s been 25 years since the first of the ‘For Dummies’ series of instructional and reference books was published in November 1991. The series has achieved worldwide recognition and success as the go-to source for their non-intimidating guides to anything from beekeeping to YouTube, although the primary focus is still on IT and computer-related topics.

In November 2014, the John Wiley and Sons publishing company (Wiley for short), the owner of the ‘For Dummies’ franchise since 2001, launched the first installment in the For Kids For Dummies, to help introduce kids to coding and related topics.

I’ve approached these three titles here - Python for Kids, JavaScript for Kids and Raspberry Pi for Kids, from two perspectives. 



Firstly, as a father to my ten-year-old, who is a self-proclaimed fan of computer programming and things IT (but not computer games, which his parents frown upon as a negative influence).  I am always on a lookout for suitable materials that will pique, sustain and develop his interest, which should not be too out of reach which many introductory books can be, e.g. with jokes about in-laws or income tax, and a generally more adult world view.  On the other hand, not too elementary to leave him with a ‘been there done that feeling’ - e.g. yet another book on learning to program with Scratch.

Secondly, as an instructor in a local polytechnic, with a continual interest in finding new ideas and approaches to make IT topics interesting, less stressful, more enjoyable and personally satisfying for my students. A lot harder than it sounds, because programming and IT may not exactly be the coolest (or hottest) preoccupation for most people in their late teens/early twenties, compared with the latest fashion, Hollywood stars, opposite sex, etc.

Excerpt from the Introduction of Raspberry Pi for Kids


From the two perspectives above, there are many good things to say about these books:

  • Each title has the blurb “X Fun Projects” above the title on the cover page, where X is a number that varies by title. So ‘Fun’ is literally the first word of each title!
  • The fun theme is followed through with a lively and colourful layout throughout the pages of each title. Compared to typical For Dummies books, there are more use of colour in the headings, diagrams and photos. The font size is also bigger (small fonts turn kids off) and white (instead of yellow) paper is used.   
  • The authors know both their stuff and their audience, with considerable experience in teaching. Their approach demonstrates great care in guiding their readers gradually, from the preparatory steps (that often include getting familiar with and/or installing a new computer program) onwards.
  • The approach taken in all the titles is learning by doing. The authors endeavour to explain just enough for the reader to have the most basic understanding so that they can move on to the next topic. 
  • In such titles, knowing what to leave out is as important as what to include, in both respects care has been shown by all the authors in selecting content which balances learning with the appropriate challenge levels and fun. For example JSFiddle, introduced in the JavaScript title, is a good tool to let readers understand the relationship between Javascript, HTML and CSS while having fun with the animated programs the authors have created. 
  • In line with the For Dummies series, each title has an Introduction and Foolish Assumptions (about the reader) sections. The authors have used them well to set the expectations of their readers - what they can hope to achieve after completing the books, the activities they will be involved in, as well as encouragement to ‘hang in there’ and ‘don’t give up’.  The excerpt above is a good example, taken from the Introduction of Raspberry Pi volume, which is the most demanding of the three titles - for a start, it requires an additional investment of hardware (thankfully below $150).

To summarise, the books are educational, fun and accessible as an introduction to the respective topics. Readers with the correct mindsets and expectations will benefit. It’s a good first step to learning that will open up possibilities for further development of skills and knowledge. 


References - includes table of contents and sample excerpts for each title
Python for Kids

JavaScript for Kids












Birthday Party At Pastamania Doughworkz

[Sponsored]


I have been very busy this year, and the next, so the 10th year-old birthday party has to be 'sub-contracted' because I have no time to prepare at all. Thankfully, Pastamania' Doughworkz came to the rescue, phew!

All I have to do was:

  1. check with Doughworkz whether my choice venue (3 locations to choose from: SMU, Serangoon Nex or Sengkang Recreation Centre) and timing (2 time slots to choose from) are available;
  2. once that is confirmed, visit the party site at least 1 week before the party to pay for the deposit and collect the birthday invitation cards;
  3. then you give out the invitation cards and wait for the RSVP.




That's all! It's as simple as ABC and it is completely hassle free. And if you would like to have a birthday cake, please order one from a bakery that is halal-certified.

On the party day itself ... ...

We went there slightly early and some of his friends were already there. And then the havoc of boys-only party started.

Love this wall feature that hangs the bags!

The functional kitchen

Chef hats, aprons and goodie bags

The first thing he did was to ring the bell

When all the boys arrived, yes, he specifically asked for boys-only birthday party, the party started rolling. The party host asked the boy to ring the bell to signal the start of the party. 

Ring the bell, again

Running through the history of pasta. Lots to learn!

The boys were seated to learn about the history of pasta first. Wow! We didn't know that pasta has been around for more than 1000 years, created by Arab and that it is made from Durum Wheat. Because there was no dough mixer then, people in the ancient time step on the dough on bare feet to knead it. Do you know how many types of pasta are there? I didn't know there was over 650 types! Amazing pasta history lesson the boys had (and the accompanying parents too!). 

After the pasta history lesson, it was time to knead the dough! But first, the children need to wash their hands. Then they put on the aprons and chef hats.


The party host went through with the children the ingredients needed to make the dough. Then she used the gigantic dough mixer to mix the dough. The process was projected onto the projector screen to safeguard the children, preventing them from going near the mixer. Then they were each given a dough to start powdering and flatten it.

The ingredients to make the pasta dough


video



This is the way we powder our dough

While waiting, why not?

video

The most exciting part was, perhaps, decorating their very own pizza! Each child was given a set of cheese, chicken ham, mushrooms and tomato pasta to do up their own 7-inch pizza.

Ingredients for the pizza 

Let's start making pizza!


Yup, all the pizzas were labelled so that they would go to the right owners 


While the pizzas were being baked, we sang birthday songs (English, Mandarin and French) to the little boy.

A mandatory group photo 

video

While they were eating their cakes, their own pizzas were gradually served 

Nothing beats eating your own fruit of your labour. Gotta be the yummiest pizza ever!



Lest you think the children only had pizzas and birthday cakes, nope. Doughworkz also served finger food and packet drinks as part of the birthday party package. The amount of food were adequate, not to worry. The boys didn't even finish all those finger foods.

And just like that, 2 hours had passed and it was time to bid farewell to Doughworkz. I must say, every boy in the party had thoroughly enjoyed the party. As for me, I am just so glad that I had someone hosting it. It was just great to sit back and relax and let someone else run the party with everything else being well taken care of.


Pastamania Doughworkz Birthday Package
$450 Package – for 15 pax ($25 for each additional kid)
Venue Rental (2hrs)
Party Host & Chef
Party Balloon
Birthday Invites
Doughworkz Merchandise
Party Snacks & Drinks

$650 Package – for 20 pax ($25 for each additional kid)
Venue Rental (2.5hrs)
Party Host & Chef
Party Balloon
Birthday Invites
Doughworkz Merchandise
Party Snacks & Drinks
Doughworkz’s Certificate 

Photo Taking 

To book a party, please fill up your request here.


British Council Open House

[Media Invite]


I have heard of British Council (BC) since I was in primary school, but I didn't have any chance of attending their courses though my English was poor (still bad now) because my family was not well to do. Honestly I know BC has been present in Singapore for very long, but I didn't know until yesterday that they have been here for almost 70 years! Little did I know that BC has expanded their branches to Marsiling, Tampines, Katong and Toa Payoh, beside their main branch in Napier Road! Wow! It is now more convenient for parents around the island to find a BC near you!

I was invited to visit BC at their Toa Payoh branch yesterday and I must say I was impressed with their offering. BC now has enrichment programmes for pre-school, primary school and secondary school, and they even run a half-day pre-school in Tampines! You may book a school visit if you are considering sending your little one to BC Pre-school. Simply click on this link to register your interest and BC's personnel will get in touch with you. 


Let's first talk about its pre-school's enrichment programme


BC’s pre-school enrichment programmes focus on improving early literacy and oral communication skills for learners between the ages of 3 and 6. Through its interactive class environment, the courses help children develop literacy skills as well as build confidence and socialisation skills for successful transition to Primary school.

We had a chance to observe a trial class where the teacher was teaching a mixed of N2 to K2.








You might have observed that the lesson plan is well-structure and the interactive whiteboard (in all classrooms) is very engaging. You might have also noticed that BC incorporated auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning in the entire lesson too. Bravo to that! I really like what I saw. Now, I hope AJ is 4 years old once again! :)

English for Primary School


BC’s primary courses cover the core content of the Singaporean MOE English Language Primary Curriculum (2010), building towards the new format of PSLE (2015). The courses will help children gain confidence and the skills needed to improve their overall performance in English. The 6-year programme supplements learning in local schools and targets areas that Singaporean students find most challenging, to support them on the pathway to a successful PSLE. The English experts at the BC believe that having greater world knowledge gives students an edge in school oral, comprehension and composition activities.

English for Secondary School


BC’s four-year Secondary course is aligned with the MOE syllabus and will help students to succeed in the 'O' Level English examinations. At Secondary 1, 2 and 3, the focus of the curriculum is comprehension and composition. Lessons cover topics relating to current world issues, widening students' general knowledge and equipping them to comprehend texts on an increasingly complex range of topics and to write well-informed compositions. This is supported by weekly comprehension and composition question practice tailored to each level by an MOE expert. At Secondary 4, the course focuses on analysing past 'O' Level papers, anticipating common errors and teaching key exam strategies.

Open House 2016

It's the time of the year when we, parents, do a stocktake of our children's academic performances and start planning for their education path for the new year ahead. Hence, you might want to take this opportunity to visit BC and check out their offerings as well as enrolling your children into their trial classes free. You and your children will be able to experience the teaching methodology that the BC adopts in their courses as well as have the opportunity to speak to academic heads.

The Open House will be held at various BC Centres in Singapore. There will also be fun activities catered for families and children such as balloon sculpting and face-painting. You will also enjoy exclusive discounts when they sign up for an enrichment course on these dates.


Registration for the free trial classes is needed. You may call BC at +65 6439 2148 to do so or register online at www.britishcouncil.sg/openhouse


British Council









Birthday Celebration At Blend It Up

[Media Invite]


The boy turned 10 last Saturday and we had a feast with him with my sister's family. But we usually have a chain of celebrations with different groups of people. So, on Tuesday, our family went to Blend It Up for another feast, just the 3 of us. 



Blend It Up is an Italian Fusion Casual Dining restaurant along Upper Paya Lebar Road helmed by popular Celebrity Chef, Peter Neo. His latest venture into Italian fusion food, combining local flavours with Italian dishes brings a new face to casual dining. 


Celebrity Chef Peter Neo

Blend It Up is a play on the restaurant’s fusion concept, bringing an Asian twist to Italian cuisine. With a local spin on classic Italian dishes, you could observe the Asian favourites like salted egg, roasted pork belly, tom yum, etc. subtly introduced in the extensive menu.


Walls of fame in Blend It Up

More importantly, it represents Chef Peter Neo’s guiding principle to only use the freshest quality ingredients, blending all of them together with their natural goodness to create the restaurant’s handcrafted soups, sauces and mains.



The first dish that was served was AJ's favourite. This thick, rich and creamy bowl of Mushroom Soup contains chunks of mushroom in every mouthful. 

Mushroom Soup 


As for me, I love this Seafood Soup concocted with prawn, clams, mussel and squid in spicy tomato sauce, white wine and basil leaves. It was not too salty, not too spicy and not too sweet, everything was just right and the soup was just too good to share.

Seafood Soup

Our main dish included this delectable thin and crispy crust signature pizza with feta and mozzarella cheese, honey baked ham, mushroom and sunny side up. This is Blend It Up Pasta. The uniqueness is in its sunny side up. The yolk will just ooze out if you peel off the pizza. If you want to have the whole egg yolk on its own (like I do), use a spoon to scoop out the yolk first.

Blend It Up Pizza 

A foolproof method that my mother had taught me to test if the prawns are fresh is to check if the shells stuck to flesh. I tell you, the prawns I have eaten in the Seafood Soup, in the Tom Yum Pasta and the Prawn Paste Pasta were so flesh and I could de-shell them for AJ to eat so effortlessly.

The husband loves this plate of Tom Yum Pasta so much that he cleaned it up alone. Fortunately I had 2 mouthful before I passed it to him. I too, would have cleaned it up if I wasn't watching my carbo intake. We are super afraid of tom yum which is spicy that could choke us if we aren't careful, but this plate of Tom Yum Pasta has the intensity that was just right. It was bagus!

Tom Yum Pasta

The next main course that we had was Prawn Paste Pasta. This is a dry version, much like stir-fry, and was very delicious. If you love spicy food, this will definitely suit your palate.

Prawn Paste Pasta

Before we left, we had the chance to taste this mouth-watering Sesame Lava Cake that is not launched yet. Woo... you got to watch the video below. I simply wiped up all the sesame lava. It was slightly salty, not on the sweet side, totally suit my palate. The vanilla ice-cream was licked clean by the little boy, of course.

Sesame Lave Cake

video



We are giving away five $10 Blend It Up vouchers for you to feast. Hop on to my instagram to check it out! Of course, you will be too eager to try, and here's a good offer for you. Visit Blend It Up on weekdays (excluding Public Holidays) between 11.30am to 3pm and enjoy a 1 for 1 offer (selected dishes). I'm definitely going to take advantage of this offer, it is so worth it!


Blend It Up


About Chef Peter Neo

Celebrity Chef Peter Neo has 35 years of culinary experience and was the former Chef di Partie at Raffles Hotel. Following his passion, he spent time in Italy learning to cook authentic Italian cuisine from some of the best Italian chefs. Upon his return to Singapore, he joined an established local Italian restaurant chain.

He is the man behind local Italian restaurant Pietro Ristorante Italiano, formerly from Raffles Hotel and Bruno, and his latest venture into Italian fusion food is represented through his quaint and cosy restaurant, Blend It Up.

Chef Peter Neo is well-known for his exceptional culinary skills with numerous awards and accolades, widely sought after for food demonstrations and has previously contributed his own recipes to local magazines. He has appeared on various TV programmes, radio shows and events showcasing his culinary skills.


About Blend It Up

Blend It Up has a cosy and quaint interior and is the perfect place for you to visit with your family, loved ones and friends. Enjoy authentic, affordable, fresh and delightful dishes prepared with commitment and dedication to bring you the finest Italian casual dining experience.

Blend It Up is also open for corporate or private events. Capacity: 45 pax  

Blend It Up is located at 325 Upper Paya Lebar Road, Quemoy Building S(534946). Telephone Number: 6281 2688

Operating hours (daily): Lunch: 11.30am to 3pm | Dinner: 6 to 10:30pm 


PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Stand

[Sponsored & Product Review]


I love laptop because of its portability. It is a wonderful invention, I think. Little do I know the health hazards it brings until we had the chiropractic sessions with Natural Healing. Like any handheld devices, the invention of laptops created more back aches, neck aches and straight neck bones (instead of C-curve neck), these sorts of posture issue. While the technology invention brings us much convenience, we also need to be aware of the cons it brings along and learn to manage it. There are some exercises you could do at home to help alleviate back pain. You can read more on it here.




We welcome the laptop stand, the corrective measure that helps to alleviate our pains and posture problems.


We tried out PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Stand and PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser and are pretty happy how they have helped us in our sitting postures when working on our laptops.




What you have seen here is AJ using PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Stand. He is using my decade-old heavy laptop with separate keyboard and wireless mouse. Hey! This PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Stand can hold my retired 2.4kg Compaq Presario V3000! With this laptop stand model, you will need a separate keyboard and mouse. This model is useful for heavy user, when one needs to type a lot.


AJ is using PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Stand and I am using PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser

I am using PRIMERO ErgoSilver Riser because I surf and look at the screen more than typing. This model suits users like me.




We are extremely happy that we are able to find products like these that suit our needs yet easy on our pockets. We strongly recommend you to visit laptopstand.sg to browse through and see what might suit your family, especially you have kids working (or playing) on the laptops and you spending long hours working on laptops. It's a small price to pay but it will benefit you a lot. What's more, all their products come with a 7-day money back guarantee and a 6-month warranty! You can choose to pay a flat delivery charge of $7 or drop by their office to self-collect.



Before I go, I need to share that you could use this promo code upon checking out to enjoy 10% discount if you are a new customer: primerostands. Alternatively, if the purchase is less than $70, then like their Facebook page to enjoy $7 off. Don't miss such a sweet deal!





Laptopstand


Safari Zoo Run 18 Feb 2017

[Media Invite]



I am running again! This will be the second run in my life and my first run in 2017. It's gonna be 5.5km for me, yea, I'm not attempting any longer distance, ammm ... ..., at least not yet.



The Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most loved animal personalities —Ah Meng the Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008.The objectives of this run are to encourage family bonding and raise awareness on wildlife conservation.

The run’s theme, “Run for Wildlife” focuses on raising awareness for wildlife conservation. There will be 4 animal icons for Safari Zoo Run 2017 featured. They are Ah Meng the Orangutan, Chawang the Asian Elephant, Canola the Manatee and Sunny the Hornbill. Each animal icon team supports an endangered wildlife species that the zoo would like to raise awareness for. 

The Early Bird period ends 30 Nov 2016, so if you are keen to sign up for the run, I urge you to book yours quickly as the discount for early bird is pretty substantial. On top of that, you could get another 10% off (valid till 15 Jan 2017) using this promo code: SZR2017BGPBKWORM10



As mentioned, I'll be running the 5.5km route (non-competitive). We are indecisive whether AJ would run the 2.5km non-competitive or competitive one. AJ's decision will determine the father's route because an adult is needed to supervise the kid in the non-competitive category.  



Wait no longer, let's get started by first training for it.
Oh, and don't forget to book your run and use this promo code  SZR2017BGPBKWORM10
to get a further 10% discount!





Safari Zoo Run 18 Feb 2017 6am