John A. Logan’s professor teaches electronics via pinball

Rob Craig John A. Logan College

Rob Craig, an electronics instructor and chair of the John A. Logan College Applied Technologies Department, stands next to a pinball machine – one of many tools he uses to teach and connect with students.

Dinga-ding-ding-dinga-ding. Ching-ching, thump, bumb, thump, ding.

The sounds of a pinball machine may not be what one would expect to hear in a classroom, especially one housing a community college electronics course, but for Rob Craig, an electronics instructor and chair of the John A. Logan College Applied Technologies Department, a pinball machine is the perfect piece of teaching equipment.

“Students are allowed to play on it,” Craig said of the prototype of a machine being developed by Chicago-based American Pinball and provided to the college by an alumnus. “Many have never played real pinball before and they have so much fun, but the beauty of it is, we can open the thing up and take a look. There’s wiring and circuit boards and it’s everything we talk about and do in class.”

To Craig, electronics is about fun. In fact, he said he really “gets into it” and loves bring real-world applications – including pinball – into the classroom. He said that is a feature of many of the electronics, technology and career-track programs at John A. Logan College.

People are also reading…

“It is absolutely vital that we bring people from the industry in to teach,” he explained. “If you have two instructors, both teaching the same material, but one has a decade of experiences in the field versus the other who just came through the education system, I think the impact on students is dramatically different.”

He continued, “The students desperately need someone to paint the picture for them with real experiences, not stuff that they have read, but things that they have lived. Inspiration really hits when a teacher can say, ‘Look guys, let me tell you about a time that this same thing happened in the real world.’ You can’t do that if you don’t have the life experiences.”

Craig brings his own “real world” experiences to the classroom and his students. He worked in in the technology support group for United Parcel Service for nearly a decade and then worked in information technology and cybersecurity for a number of years at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“I got to see a lot of cool things and it is just awesome to talk about what I’ve seen,” he said.

To further bring the realities of the industrial and work world to students, Craig said his department utilizes a large advisory committee to help instruction keep pace with the needs of employers and to develop networks for students.

One example of the evolution of technology instruction is the artificial intelligence. Craig is in the process of developing a class on it.

“We have to find ways to use it as a tool and not just be a tool for it, if you understand my meaning,” he outlined.

He said he also

Read More

Programmers, beware: ChatGPT has ruined your magic trick | John Naughton

Benedict Evans, a tech analyst whose publication is demanded examining for individuals who abide by the business, made an attention-grabbing place this week. He experienced, he stated, been speaking to generalist journalists who “were continue to beneath the impact that ChatGPT was a trivial parlour trick and the whole point was about as exciting as a new Apple iphone app”. On the other hand, he continued, “most men and women in tech are strolling around slowly, holding on to the major of their head with each palms to quit it flying off. But inside that, I assume we can see a array of attitudes.”

We undoubtedly can – on a spectrum ranging from the check out that this “generative AI” is likely to be the most significant bonanza due to the fact the creation of the wheel, to fears that it augurs an existential hazard to humanity, and various opinions in concerning. In search of a respite from the firehose of contradictory commentary, I suddenly remembered an interview that Steve Jobs – the closest detail to a visionary the tech sector has ever experienced – gave in 1990, and dug it out on YouTube.

In it he talks about a memory he experienced of looking through an article in Scientific American when he was 12 a long time old. It was a report of how a person experienced measured the effectiveness of locomotion for a variety of species on world Earth – “how lots of kilocalories did they expend to get from point A to point B. And the condor gained – came in at the top of the record, surpassed almost everything else and individuals came in about a third of the way down the listing, which was not this kind of a great displaying for the ‘crown of creation’.

“But then anyone there experienced the imagination to exam the performance of a human using a bicycle. A human riding a bicycle blew absent the condor, all the way to the top of the checklist. And it produced a seriously major perception on me – that we individuals are resource-builders, and that we can vogue applications that amplify these inherent abilities that we have to amazing magnitudes.

“And so for me,” he concluded, “a laptop has normally been a bicycle of the brain – some thing that normally takes us much outside of our inherent abilities. And I think we’re just at the early levels of this instrument – extremely early levels – and we’ve come only a extremely shorter length, and it’s even now in its development, but already we have seen enormous adjustments, [but] that is nothing at all to what’s coming in the up coming 100 years.”

Effectively, that was 1990 and here we are, three decades afterwards, with a mighty powerful bicycle. Very how impressive it is turns into apparent when a

Read More

John Myers column: The ‘Vex Hex,’ mesmerized by ice fishing electronics – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — I’ve develop into a little bit of an nervous human being in my old age.

Sitting down to view a television exhibit has grow to be virtually unachievable. Almost nothing holds my desire for a lot more than a number of minutes. An entire movie? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Looking at a ebook has been difficult lately. I just can’t get more than a couple of chapters in and I’m prepared for a little something else.

Even observing a hockey sport in particular person has been tougher, my thoughts wandering by the second period. I know, I know. Blasphemy.

But on a few warm December times previous 7 days, I sat in a tent on a frozen lake in Canada, for additional than 4 several hours each time, and stared at an digital box that flashed crimson and green and whirred a hypnotic buzz. And I could not end observing. My eyes did not shift from the display screen. I was captivated. Enthralled. Bewitched.

I call it the “Vex Hex,” the spell forged by a Vexilar fishing depth finder, or any other identical model of machine.

walleye and Vexilar
A 16-inch walleye caught Dec. 9 even though applying a Vexilar ice fishing depthfinder.

John Myers / Duluth Information Tribune

Vexilars are potentially extra hexing, or vexing, simply because they develop a faint but audible whirring audio as they flash, exactly where most of the other units are silent. But it’s extra the shades — Christmas-like reds and greens, and the spinning motion of the Vex display — that cast the hex on me. Particularly when that very little purple blip moves up from the base, then will get larger, as it approaches the minimal red blip that represents your fishing entice.

That blip coming up from the bottom is a fish, and you can enjoy in real time as they assume about munching your bait. From time to time they attack instantaneously. Often they feel to be maddeningly undecided. From time to time they leave, unimpressed with your offer you.

That these gadgets assist you capture is not in question. They present you how fish react to distinctive lures, diverse baits, distinctive jigging steps. They also keep you mentally in the game.

For generations, ice fishing meant waiting and wanting to know what, if something, was down there. Now, you know the second you turn on your Vex. If you see absolutely nothing and are impatient, move on to new places. If you are assured in the place, as I was past 7 days, hold out and check out for the minimal pink blips to exhibit up.

Either way, you know if the fish are down there.

But perhaps greatest of all is they give you that split next to get all set. Like the point of a very good pet that tells you a pheasant is keeping shut, you get a 2nd to compose your feelings and make the proper decisions, the proper steps. Of study course, I however overlook as lots of

Read More

Desktops can write their very own code. So are programmers now out of date? | John Naughton

I examined engineering at university and, like most of my contemporaries, found that I sometimes necessary to publish pc packages to do selected types of calculations. These pieces of utilitarian software were being created in languages now regarded as the programming equivalent of Latin – Fortran, Algol and Pascal – and what I learned from the encounter was that I was not a born hacker. The software package I wrote was clumsy and inefficient and far more talented programmers would search at it and roll their eyes, significantly as Rory McIlroy could possibly do if demanded to enjoy a round with an 18-handicap golfer. But it did the task and in that feeling was, in the laconic phrase occasionally utilized by the wonderful pc scientist Roger Needham, “good sufficient for government work”. And what I took away from the expertise was a lifelong respect for programmers who can produce stylish, successful code. Any person who thinks programming is quick has hardly ever done it.

All of which goes to make clear why I sat up when, final 12 months, anyone realised that Codex, an offspring of GPT-3, a massive neural community qualified on wide troves of text gathered from the net that could crank out plausible English text, could generate applications, ie, quick laptop packages which includes buttons, textual content input fields and colors, by remixing snippets of code it experienced been fed. So you could check with the program to write code to do a simple task – “make a snowstorm on a black background”, for case in point – and it would publish and operate the required code in Javascript. In no time at all, there had been tech startups such as SourceAI aimed at harnessing this new programming device.

This was extraordinary, quirky and possibly useful in some contexts, but really it was just buying reduced-hanging fruit. Apps are tiny systems and the types of duties Codex can do are types that can be explained succinctly in standard language. All the program has to do is to look for by the enormous repository of pc code that exists in its database and discover a match that will do the job. No true inference or reasoning is required.

At this position, DeepMind, the London-centered AI firm, became interested in the challenge. DeepMind is popular for establishing the Go-playing environment winner AlphaGo and AlphaFold, the machine-finding out process that would seem far better at predicting protein structures than any human. Lately, it introduced that it had formulated AlphaCode, a new programming engine likely capable of outperforming lots of human developers.

In vintage DeepMind model, the firm resolved to see how its procedure would execute on 10 issues on Codeforces, a platform that hosts all over the world aggressive programming contests. Whilst these worries are not regular of the regular day-to-day workload of programmers, the skill to remedy the issues it

Read More

How slash-and-pasted programming is putting the world-wide-web and society at risk | John Naughton

In just one of those delectable coincidences that heat the cockles of every single tech columnist’s heart, in the exact same 7 days that the full online neighborhood was scrambling to patch a obvious vulnerability that affects countless hundreds of thousands of world wide web servers throughout the earth, the Uk government declared a grand new Countrywide Cyber Stability Strategy that, even if truly implemented, would have been mostly irrelevant to the disaster at hand.

Originally, it appeared like a prank in the surprisingly well known Minecraft match. If an individual inserted an apparently meaningless string of figures into a dialogue in the game’s chat, it would have the impact of taking more than the server on which it was managing and obtain some malware that could then have the capacity to do all forms of nefarious factors. Due to the fact Minecraft (now owned by Microsoft) is the very best-promoting online video activity of all time (additional than 238m copies sold and 140 million regular monthly active people), this vulnerability was clearly worrying, but hey, it’s only a video game…

This a bit comforting believed was exploded on 9 December by a tweet from Chen Zhaojun of Alibaba’s Cloud Protection Workforce. He produced sample code for the vulnerability, which exists in a subroutine library identified as Log4j of the Java programming language. The implications of this – that any software program utilizing Log4j is probably susceptible – have been amazing, simply because an uncountable selection of applications in the computing infrastructure of our networked environment are composed in Java. To make matters even worse, the mother nature of Java makes it incredibly uncomplicated to exploit the vulnerability – and there was some proof that a whole lot of negative actors were being presently performing just that.

At this position a shorter gobbledegook-break may perhaps be in get. Java is a very preferred significant-level programming language that is specially helpful for client-server world wide web purposes – which essentially describes all the applications that most of us use. “The 1st rule of becoming a very good programmer,” the Berkeley laptop or computer scientist Nicholas Weaver explains, “is really do not reinvent issues. Instead we re-use code libraries, offers of formerly written code that we can just use in our possess applications to accomplish unique duties. And let us deal with it, laptop or computer units are finicky beasts, and glitches transpire all the time. Just one of the most popular methods to come across troubles is to only document all the things that comes about. When programmers do it we simply call it ‘logging’. And good programmers use a library to do so instead than just employing a bunch of print() – that means print-to-monitor statements scattered via their code. Log4j is a person such library, an amazingly common 1 for

Read More