Other thoughts/Questions

  1. I need a good Ruby IDE for both windows and Linux. Right now we use Freeride, which seems to be in neither the Debian or Ubuntu repositories. Plus its a bit on the clumsy side and seems to crash quite a bit, although I suspect we are using an older version. Still, suggestions are welcome.
  2. A good cheap Ruby book would also be useful. My suggestion has been that we write one covering the basics of the language with a ton of examples and problems for the Institute to freely distribute.
  3. The difference in power draw between CRT and LCT screens needs to be seriously considered when purchasing time comes around, a point I attempted to make about the Intel Iadvance systems when we first saw them(more on this later). While CRT’s are cheaper, the difference in power draw should matter a lot in a country which is beginning to subsidize power saving light bulbs and has huge energy issues right now.

5 Comments on “Other thoughts/Questions”

  1. Nell says:

    I can provide you with a Ruby book in electronic form. We have Safari Books Online, http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Libraries/researchinfo/safaritechbooks.asp , available to the public from where I work. If you would like I can provide you with access. I regard this as a professional courtesy, as I have great respect for the educational work you are doing. I am not entirely sure access will work from an IP address outside the US. If it does, it is perfectly legal. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. In any case, I may be able to send some of these books chapter by chapter, or x number of chapters at a time, if that would be useful. There is one I found on Ruby: Ruby Cookbook (Amazon listing). This one is online at Safari. There are others that come up with a search on Ruby programming, but this one is specifically Ruby. Safari Books describes it thus:
    Book Description
    Do you want to push Ruby to its limits? The Ruby Cookbook is the most comprehensive problem-solving guide to today’s hottest programming language. It gives you hundreds of solutions to real-world problems, with clear explanations and thousands of lines of code you can use in your own projects.

    From data structures and algorithms, to integration with cutting-edge technologies, the Ruby Cookbook has something for every programmer. Beginners and advanced Rubyists alike will learn how to program with:

    Strings and numbers
    Arrays and hashes
    Classes, modules, and namespaces
    Reflection and metaprogramming
    XML and HTML processing
    Ruby on Rails (including Ajax integration)
    Internet services like email, SSH, and BitTorrent
    Web services
    Graphical and terminal interfaces

    If you need to write a web application, this book shows you how to get started with Rails. If you’re a system administrator who needs to rename thousands of files, you’ll see how to use Ruby for this and other everyday tasks. You’ll learn how to read and write Excel spreadsheets, classify text with Bayesian filters, and create PDF files. We’ve even included a few silly tricks that were too cool to leave out, like how to blink the lights on your keyboard.

    The Ruby Cookbook is the most useful book yet written about Ruby. When you need to solve a problem, don’t reinvent the wheel: look it up in the Cookbook.

    Speaking as one who has written a number of training manuals, if you are writing your own, it is useful to look at the work of other people, both for what to do, and what not to do.

    Let me know if this might be useful.

  2. kwasi says:

    Thanks Nell,
    The job already has access to a couple of Ruby books (thanks to my slipping them unto last year’s purchase lists)

    What I am interested in is a low cost book we can distribute in large numbers to the participating schools. I doubt if we can afford the pickaxe book in large enough numbers to cover anything more than the winning schools.

    Thanks a lot for the offer though

  3. Nell says:

    From what you describe, it sounds like you are much better off if you can write your own manual or book. The great advantage to writing your own manual, as I’m sure you already know, is that you can tailor problems and examples to your specific target audience. The other plus, which requires the luxury of time that isn’t always available, is that you may be able to test how well your clientele understand and can use it, and then fine tune and republish as needed. In my experience, the hardest part is getting started, and the most time consuming part is verifying that all the problems and examples work and stay up to date.

    My interest in Ghana comes from being married for 27 years to a lovely man from Ghana. We have a home there as well as here. Both of us are interested in improving educational opportunities, and we provide about a dozen scholarships, seeing the students at least through secondary school. We will continue from there according to what is possible on an individual basis. My husband handles most of the details, and makes sure the kids have money for uniforms and meals. He makes most of the decisions, as he is there more, and knows more about what is what. Generally I like to keep a very low profile so as not to create any awkwardness with family or business. However, I very much admire your thinking and your style of writing, so I have taken the liberty of commenting on your blog. I like to be able to do what I can for education, both in Ghana and the US. I also serve on a Commission in the US that awards scholarships to the local community college. So my interests in education are both professional and personal and on both continents. What I can do is very small, but I try at least to do that. Educational opportunity is extremely important to both me and my husband, it has advantaged both of us, and we would like to share that.

    I believe you went to Oberlin, so you may have had an old friend of mine, Michael Henle, as one of your teachers. I was actually closer friends with his brother Jim, who was my contemporary, but their parents were close friends with my parents, and I used to spend a lot of time at their house when I was young.

    As far as the Safari Tech books go, if you are ordering again, and want to take a look or compare books, you can check their public site at http://search.safaribooksonline.com/ , which provides a fair amount of information. If you ever find you want more info, such as looking at a chapter or two, let me know.

  4. kwasi says:

    Thanks for the input Nell,

    It is always great to bounce ideas off someone about this kind of stuff and it seems like you and your husband to a ton of great work in Ghana.

    I suspect we’ll be sinking some time into a good book or tutorial at some point in the future, provided we can get the job to support it.

    I actually did have Michael Henle as a teacher once or twice. I was almost a mathematics major at one point and spent a decent amount of time in the Math department at Oberlin. He’s a very good teacher. I doubt if he remembers me but you can mention one of his old students says hi.

    And next time we are looking at books I will take you up on the book offer. Thanks

  5. Brian says:

    Thank you for sharing the details. I found the info very helpful.

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