Sunday, December 21, 2008

Avego Shared Transport

Via a NYTimes article, a cool new service called Avego Shared Transport (tm) that uses an iPhone client, a web client, GPS, GIS, SMS and micropayments to connect people who need a ride with people who have extra space in their cars.

When I commuted in Seattle I did it alone, along with many other drivers. While rideshares are a great idea, sometimes they are not practical, especially if you plan on running errands during your commute. A system like Avego, the Times notes, is that Avego's approach does not require the commitment to a ride share or carpool. Instead, commuters can make available seat space to riders as the driver sees fit.

The iPhone app is in beta. It will be interesting to see if the iPhone-toting commuters pick up on the app and build the critical mass to make this a powerful social networking app that helps cut down the number of cars on the road.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snake Wrangling

I've been learning Python with the help of Jason R. Briggs' Snake Wrangling for Kids, a free, online book that is targeted at younger students but which I find perfectly engaging, too. Mr. Briggs does a great job introducing students to the concept of programming with good examples, snippets of code, and a very logical, studied approach to learning to program.

OS X 10.5.x has Python included, though it is a slightly older version than the current 3.x release. However, for the exercises there is a slightly older version of the book available so you can follow along and get the code examples working just fine.

I've shell scripted in the past and learned a little Perl, so I'm pretty comfortable with the syntax and approach to programming using Python. If you are looking for a way to teach younger students how to program, Snake Wrangling for Kids might be a great starting point.