Computer coding as child’s play at Saturday festival in Augusta

With just a few keystrokes Vincent Blanchard programmed a computer, at the Maine Digital Festival, to draw a circle and a three-dimensional cube, though the 11-year-old confessed to the workshop instructor Jon Janelle he wasn’t entirely sure how he managed to draw the cube.

“It took a lot of coding,” the Augusta boy said. “A lot of thinking, too. Actually I don’t know how I got this, to be honest.”

Janelle, a software engineer for Tyler Technologies and a former teacher, said that’s okay, and assured Vincent that there is a lot of trial and error, and trying things you don’t know how to do, and even doing things without really knowing how you did them, in coding, even for adults whose career is in programming.

“I, all the time, if I don’t know how to do something, I just give it a shot,” said Janelle. “If it doesn’t work, it’s okay. We do this a lot in programming. That’s how you learn what things do. You just try stuff.”

Janelle explained the basics of what they needed to do but let the half-dozen middle-school-aged students taking part in the workshop Saturday figure out the details themselves, and also gave them time to just try out the programming language they were using, Python, which allows users to draw, and animate, pictures.

Vincent managed to draw what looked like a circle, without that particular skill being shown to him, by typing in commands and numbers to make the program draw a line making 180 separate turns on his laptop screen. His parents, Vanessa and Zach, also took part, though their drawings, for the most part, appeared to be less elaborate than his.

Vincent said he’d already done some coding before taking part in Saturday’s workshop on how to code using the Python programming language, making video games. He said he also likes to tweak codes, to see what changing them does to the program. He said he’d consider, when he grows older, seeking a career programming computers.

Jason Judd, program director for Project>Login, a nonprofit program of Educate Maine which seeks to interest, and educate, Maine students in computer science and programming, said the Maine Digital Festival also has the same goal, to instill an interest and knowledge in computers in Maine students.

“We believe every student in Maine should have access to computer science,” said Judd, who added that less than 30 percent of Maine schools have computer science programs for their students. “We see it as a foundational subject, like math or reading. We want to make sure students are learning to program and learning to code, so kids understand they can tell a computer what to do. Part of that is showing kids computer science is accessible, and enjoyable.”

Toward that goal of showing that coding can be fun, even for students as young as kindergarteners, Saturday’s festival at the Augusta Civic Center included activities for young students including assembling Code-a-pillars, caterpillar-like devices which kids assemble out of individual pieces, each of which represents a different command, such as to go straight or turn left or right.

By altering their placement of the individual sections, youths change the path the Code-a-pillars take when they are set loose to roam on their own.

Saturday students from the math club at the University of New England setup an obstacle course of fake mushrooms, with a basket full of prizes in the corner behind them. Kids who successfully assembled, or coded, their Code-a-pillars to make it through the maze of mushrooms to the basket got a prize. Jennifer Fatula, an assistant lecturer at the Biddeford college, said many youngsters were able to do so.

Shawn Pilling, a UNE student volunteering at the event, said it’s one of the club’s biggest events of the year and he and his fellow students wanted to help get young students interested in computer coding at an early age. He said he didn’t do any coding until he was 19 years old.

The Maine Digital Festival, which Judd said drew about 120 students, was held on the second floor of the Augusta Civic Center as, below in the auditorium, the Maine FIRST LEGO League state championship robotics competition took place. Students, who were between 9 and 14 years old, in that competition programmed robots they assembled as teams to complete a variety of scored tasks, primarily involving moving objects on a gaming table.


With this $25 gadget, Amazon will finally get you to stop scoffing at the idea of a ‘smart home’

Dave Limp, Senior Vice President of Amazon Devices, introduces the 'smart plug' during an event at the Amazon Spheres, on September 20, 2018 in Seattle Washington.

Stephen Brashear | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Dave Limp, Senior Vice President of Amazon Devices, introduces the ‘smart plug’ during an event at the Amazon Spheres, on September 20, 2018 in Seattle Washington.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched a $25 smart plug that lets you control any outlet in your home by voice with an Amazon Echo. That means you can control any lamp, appliance or anything else that plugs into an outlet by speaking a phrase to Alexa like “turn on the living room lamp,” without having to find a switch. It even lets you add other smarts, like a schedule so the light turns on and off at certain times.

It’s a really easy way to turn a “dumb” home into a smart one that you can control with your phone or by voice. You don’t need to fiddle with complicated hubs or spend too much time trying to get something to connect to your WiFi network.

If you can plug in a lamp, you can get the smart plug working. I’m going to show you how to get the most out of it.

This is the smart plug

Amazon smart plug

Amazon smart plug

It’s very simple. Think of it as a sort of adapter that adds the brains to anything you want to plug into an outlet. It will let you schedule an appliance to turn on and off at a certain time, enable you to turn it on or off even when you’re away from home and let you activate it by speaking to Alexa.

All you need to do is take the smart plug, plug in the appliance to one end —it makes the most sense with a lamp because it’s a simple on/off appliance, but you can use anything from a humidifier to a fan — and then plug it into the wall.


New leak offers closer look at the Galaxy A8s Infinity-O glass and its selfie camera hole

The future of Samsung’s mobile display tech is nothing short of exhilarating at the moment, but also equal parts confusing. After the official announcement of the eagerly-anticipated Infinity Flex Display, along with a roadmap for at least four other display designs (Infinity-U, Infinity-V, Infinity-O and New Infinity) the industry and especially the rumor vines permeating it are struggling to put their finger on the exact look of future models. Samsung’s constant patent filing for even more solutions for the notch dilemma and slight design variations are only making things worse.

The latest leak in this regard thankfully comes from a reputable source, who claims that the Galaxy A8s will have an Infinity-O design panel with the camera and sensor hole in the top left corner. A la original Samsung design, showcased on stage and unlike another recent leak, picturing an Infinity-U notch for the same upcoming device. Of course, somebody in the information chain may have easily mislabeled the part, pictured in the photo. Given its curvature, it could easily belong to one of what will likely be three upcoming Galaxy S10 flagships. Obviously not the alleged flat-screen one. Although, looking at the shot once again, we have to wonder how that display curvature would relate to corner curvature, as described in this paten filing and its “Model A”, “Model B” and so forth designations. You see what we mean? Total chaos!

Anyway, looking past the inner-working of Samsung, which are clearly not out on display in any coherent way, this photo does serve a great overall purpose, since unlike previous leaks, it only shows the glass panel, or perhaps a screen protector, without the rest of the display assembly. This makes it a lot easier to actually get a feel for the new “hole in the display” design that is coming to Samsung devices in the near future, one way or another. Speaking of which, the source also throws a February 2019 date out there – a typical time frame for a Galaxy S flagship announcement. This could rule out the A8s bit of the leak. Then again, it might not, since the S10 has been rumored to come tardy on several occasions. Bottom line here – this is what Infinity-O will probably look like when and where it first pops up.

As for other news on the Galaxy A8s, for now, the rumors suggest the phone will be powered by a Snapdragon 660 chipset although, there’s a possibility that we see a more powerful SD670 or even SD675 paired with 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage. The back panel will boast a triple-camera setup – perhaps something similar to the Galaxy A7 (2018).


What happens when a KTM RC200 hits a metal grill at 125 Kmph

Image result for What happens when a KTM RC200 hits a metal grill at 125 KmphYou can never be fully prepared for riding on Indian roads. Even after decades of riding experience, the obstacles that you may encounter on our highways will surprise you. The statement above gets confirmed in the near-miss video of a KTM RC200 that was uploaded on Youtube. In the video, the rider encounters a metal grill on the highway while riding at 125 kmph. Take a look at the video.

The rider was riding his KTM RC200 on the highway, with moderate in sight, so he was doing the speeds of 120-130 km/h. In the most unexpected turn of events, out of nowhere, a metal grill appeared in the middle of the road. The rider somehow managed to save himself from a fatal crash by applying the brakes effectively, while also avoiding locking up.

Although the rider survives the crash miraculously, the metal grill gets stuck to his gear lever and drags along with the bike. He separates the metal grill but a weird sound starts coming from his bike. There is no physical damage visible in the video but there is a good chance that some internal components may have been damaged.

KTM RC200 has no ABS unlike it’s elder brother, the RC390. Still, the bike is not a slow motorcycle by any means. Its liquid cooled 199-cc engine produces 29.85 PS of power and 19.2 NM of torque, it has a top speed of 140 kmph, which is more than enough for riding on our highways. The incident just goes to show how important ABS is, especially, in a country like ours.

Aside from the usual dogs, cows and bad drivers, you can also add a metal grill to the list of things to watch out for while riding on Indian highways. The situation could have been handled well by the ABS but it is always advisable to not to ride faster than the recommended speed limit. The rider managed the situation effectively because just ahead of the metal grill was a Toyota Fortuner and a luggage truck which he also had to overtake. The lesson to be learned here is only one that you can never truly expect what you may face on our roads. So always stay sharp while riding.


Commonwealth Games Medallist Mouma Das Has Anxious Moments Over Baggage At Airport

Commonwealth Games Medallist Mouma Das Has Anxious Moments Over Baggage At Airport

India’s table tennis ace Mouma Das, who returned home on Tuesday after a spectacular double medal conquest at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, spent some anxious hours when the Delhi Customs held her check-in baggage after detecting a power bank, which the player said she did not carry. Then, Mouma, on her arrival at the NSCBI Airport here, found her baggage had not arrived and took to Twitter to complain to the air carrier Jet Airways. The air carrier replied that she had put her power bank in the check-in baggage, which was “strictly prohibited”.

“Mouma, your baggage has been held by customs due to carriage of power bank in the check-in baggage which is strictly prohibited,” said the carrier, asking her to share documents so that the process of releasing the luggage could be expedited.

Mouma, however, replied that she had not carried any such gadget.

The paddler, who was part of the gold medal winning India women’s team and also partnered Manika Batra to the doubles silver at Gold Coast, then tagged Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore in one of her tweets. A little later she also sought help from External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and the Prime Minister’s Office, by tagging them in a tweet.

Acting promptly, Rathore directed the Sports Authority of India in another tweet to take up the issue with the Finance Minister immediately.

But the issue was resolved late on Tuesday night after Mouma spoke to her teammates and learnt that a souvenir bag presented by the games organisers did carry a power bank. She admitted her mistake to the Delhi Customs authorities.

“The issue has now been resolved. It was my fault. I never carry a power bank with me.

“When I tweeted earlier I did not know that a souvenir bag given to us carried a power bank. I have confirmed it from Manika and others. I have written to the authorities about the presence of the power bank. The baggage will now be sent to me on Wednesday morning. I am told they are taking very good care of it,” Mouma told IANS.


Thugs Of Hindostan Box Office Collection Day 2: Despite A ‘Decline’ At The Ticket Window, Aamir Khan’s Film Earns Rs. 81.50 Crore

Thugs Of Hindostan Box Office Collection Day 2: Despite A 'Decline' At The Ticket Window, Aamir Khan's Film Earns Rs 81.50 Crore

Vijay Krishna Acharya’s Thugs Of Hindostan couldn’t have got a better start at the box office as the film has managed to collect a whopping sum of Rs. 81.50 crore (adding the business of Tamil and Telugu releases) within two days of its release, reports Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh. However, the film’s performance witnessed a dip in its performance on Friday as it managed to collect Rs. 28.25 crore. According to Mr Adarsh, the film needs to perform well on Saturday as well as Sunday in order to keep its performance at the box office intact. Mr Adarsh tweeted: “Thugs Of Hindostan has to show a positive upturn on Day 3 [today], else its sustainability from Day 5 [Mon] onwards will be extremely doubtful…One thing is crystal clear. Thugs Of Hindostan has not met the monumental expectations…The BO numbers are doing the talking now.”