dimitris kalamaras

math, social network analysis, web dev, free software…

Category: Education

Σχολίνουξ: ένα linux για μαθητές Γυμνασίου

Τις τελευταίες βδομάδες, έχω βρει ένα νέο …project: την «ανάπτυξη» του Σχολίνουξ. Το Σχολίνουξ ή sxolinux, όπως προδίδει το όνομά του, είναι ένα «σχολικό Linux» που στοχεύει στους μαθητές του Γυμνασίου. Γιατί ντε και καλά του Γυμνασίου; Επειδή η όλη ιδέα περί «σχολικής διανομής» ξεκίνησε από την παρατήρηση-πρόταση ενός φίλου στο φόρουμ του Linux Format, ότι εφόσον θα δοθούν φέτος κουπόνια για δωρεάν laptops στα παιδιά της Α’ Γυμνασίου, καλό θα ήταν να «φτιάξουμε μια διανομή που θα ενσωματώνει όλο το απαραίτητο λογισμικό και τα βιβλία»…

Σε αυτήν την πρόταση ανταποκρίθηκαν αρκετοί χρήστες, διαλέξαμε το όνομα «sxolinux/σχολίνουξ», κι εγώ προσφέρθηκα να φτιάξω ένα σκριπτάκι (μια εκδοχή του melux.sh) που κάνει remaster το εκάστοτε ISO του Ubuntu, δηλαδή του προσθέτει τα σχολικά βιβλία σε PDF και το αντίστοιχο εκπαιδευτικό λογισμικό της Α’ Γυμνασίου, μαζί με άλλες εκπαιδευτικές εφαρμογές του Gnome και του KDE, media players, όμορφα παιχνίδια, κατάλληλα εικονίδια και χρώματα, και φυσικά διαφορετικά λογότυπα, κλπ….

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Create complex visual elements with Processing language

I was having a kind of …insomnia attack last Friday night, so I decided to search the openSUSE repositories for interesting applications. I was using openSUSE (11.1) at the moment, with lots of additional repos [1] from the excellent Build Service, so there were a lot of things there to explore. One thing led to another, and soon I ended up downloading Processing. What is this? The package description looked interesting:

Processing is an open source programming language and
environment for people who want to program images, animation,
and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers,
researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production.
It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming
within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook
and professional production tool. Processing is an alternative
to proprietary software tools in the same domain

I thought “ok, this is promising, let’s have a closer look at it”, and waited a couple minutes for all 85MB of packages to be downloaded and installed from the Education repository (no Ubuntu packages yet, but you can just download a tarball with linux binaries). Then I started the application with the command:

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SocNetV 0.70 – the web crawler release :)

It’s been only one month since the release of 0.60, but Social Network Visualizer version 0.70 is here! This summertime release justifies its existence with two new features, a built-in web crawler and multiple node selection.

The web crawler, based on some older tutorial code I had, is pretty simple software (don’t expect Google power here!), which automatically creates mathematical graphs starting with a given URL, called the seed. As the algorithm crawls that seed webpage, it identifies all the links inside the page and adds them to a list of URLs (called frontier). Then, all the URLs from the frontier are recursively visited. In this process, a network of pages (nodes) and links (edges) is being developed allowing the researcher to study and visualize network properties, such as centralities, etc.

At the moment, the web crawler code is quite immature (i.e. doesn’t recognize framesets) but I hope it will evolve in the future. To test it, go to menu Network > Web Crawler (keyboard junkies, press Shift+C). A dialog will appear – enter the initial web address (seed), the maximum recursion level (how many URLs from the frontier will be visited) and the maximum running time and press OK. Here’s a screenshot of SocNetV crawling http://socnetv.org with betweenness centrality radial layout:

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Crayon Physics (and what about an open-source Crayon-Physics?)

Crayon Physics is a fascinating 2D physics sandbox/game, which came to my attention today when I was reading  Sarinee Achavanuntakul’s blog entry about the sad HotU (Home of the Underdogs) demise and, more than welcomed, revival.  Sarinee mentioned Crayon Physics Deluxe in her blog post, and I checked it out. What I saw in the flash video was jaw-dropping. Crayon Physics  is not just an indie game, but imho a great educational tool in which you really get to experience “what it would be like if your drawings would be magically transformed into real physical objects”. I wonder, is there an open-source counterpart for creative use of physics?

See the video (2.50min, Vimeo):

Crayon Physics Deluxe from Petri Purho on Vimeo.

Update: There is a wonderful open-source alternative, called Numpty Physics, with lots of different levels. Thanks Mike, for pointing to it.


Also, nuclear mentioned a physics engine, called chipmunk. Check it out.

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