StackOverflow answers your programming questions

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Today I discovered a nice service for getting quick answers to programming questions. I had come across before, but I actually had a question to ask now so I signed up and asked it. Within an hour, I had some responses, and in two hours I had many possible answers that would all work for me.

The way this site works, from what I gathered from their FAQ, is that anyone can ask a question as long as it is related to programming. Then, as people answer they get awarded reputation, and with certain levels of reputation you can vote up or down answers, then with more rep you can edit answers and so on. It is all community-run, so to speak. 

Anyway, results speak for themselves, and as you can see from the question I asked there were a number of attempts at answering it:


Testing the answers

I got carried away looking at the answers and trying to figure out which one was better, so I could “accept” one as the right answer. I therefore came up with a page to test the different methods of answering the same question:

Click here to run the test with your own browser

You can look a the code to see the methods, I changed them slightly so they could be plugged in to the project I was working on.

Here are my results, using the browsers I had on my computer (Windows XP SP3 Core2 2.13Ghz):

Test results on Chrome
Test results on Firefox 3.0
Firefox 3.0
Test results on Internet Explorer 7
IE7 (on another machine WinXP Pentium D 2.8ghz)
Test results on Internet Explorer 8 RC1
Test results on Opera 9.63
Opera 9.63
Test results on Safari 3.1.1
Safari 3.1.1
Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The ability to classify things

FUNDAEC logoI just completed the first two chapters of the unit “Classification”. This forms part of the entry-level text Basic Arithmetic, part of the educational program Preparation for Social Action (PSA) from FUNDAEC. According to the instructions for the tutor, this unit provides students with the opportunity to develop further the fundamental capability of classifying things.


Why Arithmetic? I’m not sure, but I was invited to a study group for PSA, and that’s the book they are currently working on. Once I figure out more about the whole sequence of things I’ll post that here. I’m just catching up on the first two chapters, and tomorrow we’ll be doing the third in our study group. Looking forward to it!

The first two chapters were on Sets and Subsets. They seek to develop further the basic capability of classification, which we acquire from early childhood, by providing examples and exercises designed to help the student think about the theory then apply it to real world objects and situations. Some of the exercises, for example, get you to make a set of the crops, or towns, or animals in your surroundings. The style of the exercises is similar to another program that is related to FUNDAEC – the Ruhi Institute’s sequence of courses, and anyone familiar with the exercises in those books will be quite comfortable with these. 

After introducing the basic concepts, such as how to define a set (by rule or roster), identical sets, the empty set ∅, set-builder notation, the “belongs to” symbol ∈ and the “is part of” symbol ⊂, there were some questions designed to make the students reflect on one of the applications of these concepts in daily life – to the human race. The premise here is that we can take the set of all humans, divide it into certain subsets and talk about the relationships between those subsets. For example, parents and children – how should they behave towards each other? Is it with love and respect, or through control and violence?

I can already see how useful and exciting this material is – how it combines many levels of education together – while teaching concepts of arithmetic, it makes students actively aware of the world around them and how to apply those concepts to that world; it provides an introduction to other disciplines such as botany, food sciences and geography; and right there at the beginning is the most important part – teaching morals and ethical values, the spiritual aspect of education. All of this in a few pages of text and exercises, which would probably only take a few hours to go through in a group setting. Brilliant!

Coming up next in this series: Species then Genus.

Posted in Education, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , | 3 Responses