National / International News

Wales sees rise in spending money

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:32
People living in Wales have had the second largest rise in the UK in the amount of money they have to spend, according to the latest figures.

Apology over crashed anti-hack site

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:27
The head of a government-funded cyber-security advice website apologises and says he is "not sleeping" after the site collapsed under heavy traffic.

Hampden Park ready for 2014 Games

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:26
Work is completed to transform Scotland's national football stadium into an athletics venue in time for next month's Commonwealth Games.

​The best starter-coding language? How about English?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:25

Douglas Kiang was tired of having the same types of students in his computer-science class year after year: socially awkward boys.

"I used to only get one or two girls who'd take course," said Kiang, who teaches computer science at Punahou School on Oahu.  

So Kiang took a page from his wife’s teaching manual--she’s a 6th-grade teacher--and gave something called interactive fiction a try.

Think of the famous "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series, where the reader decides what the protagonist does next,  jumping to a new page with each decision.

In online interactive fiction, readers must tell the computer program what they want to do next.  There are common commands that work in most programs, like “put,” “feel,” “take” and “open,” as well as custom commands for different stories.

What does interactive fiction have to do with coding?  Everything, says Kiang,  who has  a Master's Degree in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard.

"One of the core concepts we try to teach is abstraction -- the idea that you take a large idea and break it down into smaller pieces," Kiang said.

To create a story in interactive fiction, you have to figure out how to give the reader a bunch of understandable decisions to make that will allow her to navigate through the story and understand it.  

The same thought process applies to coding.  Say you are building an app to play blackjack: you would need to figure out how to create the card, how to allow the user to hit or stand, how to deal the cards, and a bunch of other tasks.

Kiang has had success with the approach.  Students who have started with interactive fiction more easily pick up actual coding languages, he says.

For technophobes, interactive fiction also has the benefit of being surprisingly low-tech.  It’s nothing but text.  You can see (and play) one of Kiang's student's stories below (hint: try walking south, east or west to start with).

Frozen creators plan stage musical

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:22
The Oscar-winning creators of the animation Frozen are planning a stage musical entitled Up Here, the show's producer says.

NHS 'failing elderly patients'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:07
The care of frail elderly patients has become fragmented because of the drive for hospital doctors to specialise, the new NHS England boss says.

25 Years After Tiananmen Protests, Chinese Media Keep It Quiet

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:04

On the anniversary of the massacre that broke up pro-democracy protests, China is quashing attempts to mention the fateful date, with heavy security and online monitoring.

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Central African Republic bans texts

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:53
Mobile phone text messages are banned in the Central African Republic, a move the authorities say is aimed at restoring security.

Harris groping claims 'ridiculous'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:48
A brother of Rolf Harris tells court that allegations the entertainer groped a make-up artists are untrue.

Woman killed for resisting molesters

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:43
A 35-year-old mother-of-four is shot dead by militants for resisting their attempts to molest her in the Indian state of Meghalaya, police say.

'12th completion parade' turned down

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:42
The Orange Order has again been barred from parading along a contentious stretch of road in north Belfast.

Secrets of how to pick a Test squad

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:42
With England set to name their first Test squad since the Ashes debacle, the selectors explain how they pick players.

VIDEO: Anger at China embassy Tiananmen protest

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:40
Members of staff at the Chinese embassy in London reacted angrily on Wednesday when people arrived to lay flowers to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Give umpires control of 'Mankading' - Agnew

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:39
If umpires had control of batsman backing up and penalised them for doing it too much, 'Mankading' would be resolved, says Jonathan Agnew

How do you create a World Cup XI?

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:34
You will be able to choose your all-time World Cup XI with our new squad selector - but selecting the shortlist was no easy task.

Child cruelty law in Queen's speech

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:17
Ceredigion MP Mark Williams's bid to tighten the law on child cruelty has been backed in the Queen's Speech at the state opening of parliament.

A genome for the blind mole rat

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:17
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the blind mole rat, a mammal that digs with its teeth, lives for 20 years and has never naturally developed cancer

What Does A Good Common Core Lesson Look Like?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:03

You've heard the complaints — now take a close look at a top-notch lesson plan.

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Billy Bragg blasts YouTube rates

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:00
A body representing independent music labels is asking the EU to intervene in a row over a proposed YouTube music subscription service.

VIDEO: New £2.5bn Heathrow Terminal 2 opens

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 03:43
The first paying passengers begin using Heathrow's new £2.5bn Terminal 2, with bosses pledging lessons have been learned from the troubled opening of T5.
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