Coding for kids: Alice’s Story

Nothing is cuter than pictures of kids sitting at their computers, mastering skills their parents never dreamed of. And nothing is more popular than the current idea that all children should learn to code.

My husband, Philip,  & I strongly support this idea.  He has been in IT since he was 18 years old and wants our oldest daughter, Alice, to get involved in the IT field as well.

Alice is an 8 year old and extremely active child.  When we introduced her to coding she was hooked!  She spent hours working on her coding projects.  It was so wonderful to see her working with her father and asking questions when she hit a difficult task.

Yesterday, she received a certificate of completion stating that she has demonstrated an understanding of basic concepts of Computer Science.  

We couldn’t be more proud!

Here is the list of the main sources that could be tapped for teaching kids how to code:

Code.org
This nonprofit foundation website is a great starting point for coding novices. It shares plenty of useful online resources, apps, and even local schools that teach coding. Be sure to watch the inspirational video on the main page. Updated periodically, the current iteration features some of the biggest names in tech talking about how they got started in coding.

CodeAcademy
This interactive website is user-friendly and teaches kids basic code through fun, simple exercises that feel like games.

Code Avengers
While Code Avengers lacks the eye-catching graphics of other options, it does offer a series of free intro classes in building web pages, apps, and games. Get started with the 7-day free trial, which grants access to the first five lessons in each course, ranging from Python, to web development, JavaScript, and more. If you like what you see, register for a membership plan that cost $29/month and requires no long-term commitment. A six-month plan costs $120.

Code Combat
Best for older kids, Code Combat uses an interactive, competitive gameplay mode to stimulate learning. Once you set up your parent account, kids can be online, playing in seconds. FREE

Codemoji
Put those ubiquitous emojis to work in an educational way with this website that eschews complex codes for user-friendly expressions, quite literally. Kids learn to code by using emojis to substitute for html or css codes. They’ll have so much fun, they won’t realize the work they’re putting in. Codemoji plans start at $9.99 for three months, but include up to five kids’ accounts in that price.

Code Monster
Particularly good for kids, Code Monster features two adjacent boxes. One displays code, the other shows what the code does. As you play with the code (with some help from a prompt), you learn what each command does. FREE

Khan Academy
Known for its extensive and challenging math games, Khan Academy also has basic programming tutorials that teach kids how to build graphics, animations, interactive visualizations, and more. FREE

Lightbot
Predominantly an app-based program, Lightbot offers a FREE demo online as part of its Hour of Code. Like what you see? Its pair of low-cost programming apps are all-ages friendly. Available for iOs, Android, and Amazon devices for $2.99.

Scratch
Designed by MIT students and aimed at children ages 8 to 16, this easy-to-use programming language lets kids build almost anything they can dream. There are no obscure lines of code here. Instead, arrange and snap together Scratch blocks as if they were virtual Legos. But it’s more than just a coding guide, it’s a vibrant online community of programmers who swap ideas and inspiration. FREE

Stencyl
Inspired by Scratch’s snapping blocks system, this software allows users to create simple games for iOS, Android, Flash, Windows, Linux, and Mac systems. If your child is serious about it, there are paid pro plans that come with advanced functionality.

Tech Rocket
Founded by iD Tech, Tech Rocket’s free platform allows access to a dozen classes. For those looking for a more advanced experience, paid subscriptions are $19 per month.

 

What was it exactly? Space history’s most fascinating misquote.

This is an interesting article. What was it exactly? History’s most fascinating misquote.

“Houston, we have a problem’: The amazing history of the iconic Apollo 13 misquote.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/podcasts/retropod/historys-most-fascinating-misquote/

To me, the differences are small, especially since the problem was not resolved at the time of the radio message,
and could have lead to the death of the 3 astronauts.

“Houston, we have a problem’

and “Houston, we had a problem’ (That was apparently what was actually said).

If you want to know more about Space and Satellite Design, go to
https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space

If you want more history od Apollo 13, see
https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/apollo/apo13hist.html

28th Annual INCOSE International Symposium July 7 – July 12, 2018 In Washington DC

INCOSE’s Annual International Symposium is the largest annual gathering of people who do systems engineering for four days of presentations, case studies, workshops, tutorials and panel discussions. The program attracts an international mix of professionals at all levels, and includes practitioners in government and industry, as well as educators and researchers.

https://www.incose.org/symp2018/home

ATIcouses has more than 50 courses in Systems Engineering. See
https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#systems

YouTube – Russian Nuclear Submarine Fires Four Ballistic Missiles

ATI has courses on Missile System Design and Missile System Guidance. View the missile launch salvo using the YouTube link.

https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#radar

Russia’s Nuclear Submarine Successfully Test-Fires 4 Bulava intercontinental Ballistic Missiles SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy successfully tests 4 Bulava missiles in salvo.

The whole video is 2 Min 34 sec. The firing of the 4 missiles takes less than 30 seconds.

The Bulava missile is designed for Russia’s fleet of ballistic missile-carrying Borei-class nuclear submarines. It is capable of delivering up to 10 nuclear warheads at a range of 8,000 kilometers. Russia has been paying ever greater attention to bolstering its nuclear deterrent in recent years as the United States works to deploy anti-ballistic missile defenses in Europe.

Bombers and Subs and Missiles, oh my!

Speaking for myself, I always considered the nuclear triad to include bombers, submarines, and missiles, but, I was wrong. Sandra Erwin points out in her Space News article, we really need to remember that these three components of the triad could not be effective without two other complimentary components, a competent work force to operate them, and a modern and reliable Nuclear Command, Control and Communications ( NC3 ) network.

Lt. Gen Jack Weinstein, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration recently pointed out that nuclear modernization efforts cannot be strictly focused on subs, bombers, and missiles, but must also be concerned about modernizing the NC3 system, causing him to remark “The Triad also means space capability.” The Nuclear Posture Review reported that many of the components of the current NC3 system are antiquated technology which has not been modernized in almost 30 years. 

Sandra Erwin reports that the Air Force does have programs under way to modernize communications and early-warning satellites, but integration of these new systems will be very complex, and highly trained work force will be needed to build the systems.

Interestingly, Lt. Gen Weinstein has confidence in the military’s ability to train their people to operate these systems, but he expresses concern about educating the civilian workforce which will also need to be involved.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI) can play an important role in preparing the workforce which will support the future nuclear Triad since it offers a diverse collection of courses which cover all of the domains where the Triad will need to operate; air, sea, and space. Please consider looking at the current set of course offerings at ATI and consider taking some of our courses to better position yourself to make significant contributions to solving the complex problems associated with Strategic Deterrence in the future.  

 

Wow, just Wow!

Happy 118th Birthday US Submarine Force!

alaska

Happy 118th Birthday US Submarine Force!

Take a look at an inspirational video at https://www.facebook.com/SUBLANT/videos/2214786651871777/  made by COMSUBLANT commemorating this anniversary.

My first inclination after watching this video was to join the US Navy and become a submariner. If you want to do that, you can go to the US Navy homepage.  The Navy is always looking for good people.

Since I am too old to join the Navy, my second inclination was to learn more about Submarines and Submariners. Lucky for me, ATI has just such a course.  You can learn by taking the ATI “Submarines and Submariners Course” taught by two retired Submarine Commanders.  Check out the Submarine Course at https://www.aticourses.com/Submarines_and_Submariners_Introduction.html

Launch Time

As a Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The rocket will boost a Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:55 p.m. EDT. On its 11th commercial resupply services mission to the space station, Dragon will bring up 6,000 pounds of supplies, such as the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, instrument to study the extraordinary physics of neutron stars.
A Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

In less than a week, on April 16, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket will launch NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), and I will be watching. I am not going to be able to break away from my daily grind to go to Florida for the launch, but I will still have a really good view of the launch.  My plan it use an App that I recently loaded onto my Iphone.  “Launch 321” is an Augmented Reality (AR ) app created by USA TODAY that will give me a front row seat for the launch.  As explained by US TODAY, this app “fuses traditional Space Coast Rocket Launch coverage with augmented reality.”

April 16 will be my first live launch with “Launch 321”, but I am planning on a pretty spectacular experience.

Don’t wait until launch day to load the app because there lots of features in the App that allow you to learn about pre-launch procedures so that you will be ready to take full advantage of the app on the launch day, and future launch days.

Check back on this blog after April 16 and I will share what the experience was like.

You can read more about the App in the USA Today article.

And, if you want to learn more about Space, Satellite & Aerospace topics, consider taking one of the many courses offered by ATI. A complete list of offerings can be found here.

The Need for Agile in Government

The Need for Agile in Government

 

It’s a balancing act. We all know what we want, capable and effective systems which meet or exceed all requirements, built on smaller budgets and tighter schedules. But, how do we get there?

Government work requires using Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) processes, but that can be slow and cumbersome.   Non-Government work often uses Agile processes which are typically more streamlined and produce results in more timely manner.   So, are JCIDS and Agile processing diametrically opposed, or are they processes that can be used together in order to take advantage of the benefits of each?

Elbridge Colby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, expressed his frustration recently at the annual Directed Energy Summit, co-sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. As reported by Paul McLeary in the Breaking Defense Blog, Mr. Colby said that for the past two decades, Americans have used overpowering might to fight wars, but “the Chinese and the Russians have been working to undermine that model,” Mr. McLeary believes that by spending billions on modernizing their militaries and fielding new technologies like artificial intelligence and hypersonic missiles at a faster clip than the Americans, the two countries have changed the way the United States must approach future conflict.

Mr. McLeary states that Colby underscored the view that Washington has entered an era of “long-term strategic competition” with Moscow and Beijing, and Colby used his remarks to lay down a series of challenges for defense industry types in the audience.

The traditional method of slowly testing and evaluating new technologies for year, or even decades, “ain’t gonna work any more…we need to change,” Colby said. He then went on to say that Chinese and Russian defense officials don’t keep such long development schedules, and the U.S. tech industry has scoffed at working with the Pentagon thanks in part to the cautious, time-consuming schedules so anathema to tech Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Taking decades to field aircraft like the F-35 or Ford-class carriers might provide long-term stability, but “it doesn’t matter if we’re stronger in the global context if we lose in the Pacific or Europe” tomorrow, Colby warned.

To the defense industry, Colby said bluntly, “we’re not interested in something that’s kind of a whiz-bang thing that’s not connected to a plausible deployment or not nestled within operational concepts. We do want to encourage breakthrough and creative, kind of, activity and investment in technology, but it’s got to be something that we can actually use.”

 So, how do we deliver on the challenges proposed by Mr. Colby. This author believes that the JCIDS process is an effective one, and that it should continue to be used.   In fact, such an assertion is essential because there are no signs that the JCIDS process requirements are going anywhere soon.   We must, however, smartly integrate Agile Processes within the JCIDS methods, so that the JCID timeline can be shortened so that we are producing technology for the fleet that “they can actually use.” 

The U.S. Federal TechFAR Handbook highlights six key reasons why government should adopt agile for IT project management and development. They are as follows.

  1. Improvement in investment manageability and budgetary feasibility
  2. Reduction of overall risk
  3. Frequent delivery of usable capabilities that provide value to customers more rapidly
  4. Increased flexibility
  5. Creation of new opportunities for small businesses
  6. Greater visibility into contractor performance 

To learn more about how you might incorporate Agile Processes into your government projects, consider taking ATI courses found at the following link.

 https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#sharepoint

 

Chinese Naval Plans for Subs and Carriers

Do your friends tell you that you surf the Internet too much, or do you tell others that they spend too much time surfing the Internet?

Well, it is lucky that someone was surfing, and had the foresight to grab some Chinese Documents during the brief period when they were available online. As reported in Popular Science on March 16, “For a brief moment, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), put online China’s next big naval projects (but quickly pulled them down).” Sure, some conspiracy theorists may claim this was nothing more than a clever way to spread disinformation, but to others, it represents a wealth of accidentally released information about “ China’s ambitions for a world class navy.” What do you think? The article explains that CSIC is a PLAN shipbuilder with a history of building Carriers and Submarines. It is believed that they will build the Type 095 Nuclear Attack Submarine. “The Type 095 SSN will include new noise reduction measures, like an integrated electric propulsion system and possibly a shaftless rim drive, single hull, and electronic noise cancellation.”
The Chinese continue to be concerned about area denial. The article describes that “To defend Chinese home waters and expand the anti-access/area denial umbrella underwater, CSIC is designing an underwater attack and defense system. It could likely be an armed variant of the “Underwater Great Wall” of UUVs, other maritime robots, and seafloor sensors.”

You can read the full article here….. https://www.popsci.com/china-nuclear-submarine-aircraft-carrier-leak

Or if you want to learn more about the concepts detailed in this article, consider taking an ATI course such as the following.
Submarines and Submariners

My Name Is Going to the Sun! What About Yours?

Capture2CaptureNASA’s Parker Solar Probe — designed, built and managed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) — will launch in summer 2018 and travel to our star on a historic mission to “touch the Sun.” Now you can get on board and be a part of this voyage of extreme exploration.

NASA is giving everyone across the world the opportunity to submit their names for a journey to the Sun. Names will be added to a microchip that will fly aboard Parker Solar Probe as it makes its way from Earth to the Sun — the first mission to ever do so.

Along for the ride will be a revolutionary heat shield, which will protect the spacecraft from soaring temperatures as it plunges into the corona to get the first close-up view of Earth’s star.

Name submissions will be accepted until April 27, 2018. Learn more and add your name to the mission here: http://go.nasa.gov/HotTicket.

Contact me for more information at
jim.jenkins@aticourses.com

Also, see http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/index.php#newscenter