I’ve got rhythm (and more)

It never fails to amaze me to think about how primitive we were in the good ol’ days.  We needed a program for everything to be the most productive.  Huge hard drives and a large inventory of programs were needed to get the most from that digital thingy in front of you.

These days so much has changed and you can do so much in your browser – provided you and your browser know where on the internet to go.  Today, I’m talking about music.  How many can remember the days of needing a separate Soundblaster card and decent external speakers to have your computer generate anything but some tinny sounds from the internal computer speaker?

Now that most everything can be miniaturized and built into the internals of your computer, we just take these things for granted.  That’s what we expect from a computer.  But, I’ll admit to continuing to use my Bose external speakers when I’m docked here to get the best of sound.

And, coding has become so sophisticated with the browser and web combination paying off big time for us.  Technology like the Chrome browser, Web Audio, WebGL, TONE.JS, and PIXI.JS are used to provide the experiences that you can interact with at the Chrome Music Lab.

What strikes me as so helpful for the music learner is how easily the end result works. The first activity deals with rhythm.


Within moments, you’re playing with and exploring rhythm with this very kid-friendly interface.


We’ve come a long way from tapping in rhythm on our desks as the teacher plays piano at the front of the room.  Heck, interfaces have become either so intuitive or we’ve become so accustomed to clicking around that instructions aren’t necessary.

There are 12 music activities at this experiment.  But, I wouldn’t just limit them to music; music happens because of the science involved.

This resource may be just what you’re looking for.



To boldly go …

… where no browser has gone before!

Recently, Google has made space exploration so easy from within Google Maps!

All that you need to do is fire up Google Maps (https://www.google.ca/maps) and switch to Satellite view.  (the little satellite button in the bottom left part of the screen)

First, you’ll switch to a satellite view of where you’re currently located but you need to scroll out.  Way out.  Way way out!  You’ll pass Canada, then North American, and then there’s the beautiful Earth.  You’ll probably want to spend a moment or two spinning Earth with your mouse.  I always do.

But keep on scrolling out and, all of a sudden, a Space menu will pop in from the left.  It’s probably a great deal of scrolling with the danger of getting lost in space to use your mouse to navigate so just choose the space place you want to explore.


Settle in for a quick ride and you’re at your destination.  It’s complete with things to learn and explore.  And, of course, use your mouse to take things for another spin.  Make sure that you zoom in and click on the hot spots to get the best from your exploration.

OK, here’s your skill testing question.  What kind of laptop computer will you find on the International Space Station?

Enjoy your trip through space.  Just don’t wear your red shirt.

When will we ever need this?

It’s been a long time since I took an English course.  It would have been in my last year of high school – three mathematics, three sciences, and English.  You needed six credits and English was my fail safe.  Sorry, English teachers.

Now, I did learn a great deal going to high school and I like to think that the skills learned there continue to serve me today.  As a person who blogs every now and again, I do want to come across as somewhat literate.  Blogging does give you license to do various things that were projects in high school.  There are all kinds of things to try out.

How do I know if they’re effective?  Really, I don’t.  There’s always the kick that I get when someone writes a reply or shares a post with others.  I’m pretty sure that this is inspired by an idea I’ve shared and not as an example of the quality of my writing.  I do know that I’ve been affected by various authors on the internet and I know that periodically they do things that would have generated red ink in high school.

So, it was with more than a passing interest that I took at look at this blog post from the Google Open Source blog.

Making the Google Developers Documentation Style Guide Public

Holy Turabian, Batman.  There are standards?  Don’t people just sit down at a keyboard and hammer out instructions for their product?  Or, take the original and plunk it into Google Translate so that it becomes “English” for sale in Canada?  Could I have been right all along by asking my Computer Science students to create manuals/instructions for each program they submitted?

Google Developer Development Style Guide

I dove into this like a duck into water, like a moose to the woods, like an airplane to the sky, ….

And, you know what?

Much of this I remember from high school.  And yet, there were things that we never addressed.  I guess I just never wrote any technical manuals.  Certainly, we didn’t have a Google at the time.

How’s this for advice?

Google, Googling

  • Don’t use as a verb or gerund. Instead, use “search with Google.”

How many people have done this?  I guess it goes without saying that Googley as an adjective is out too!

Then, there’s a section about good writing.

Some things to avoid where possible

  • Buzzwords or technical jargon.
  • Being too cutesy.
  • Placeholder phrases like “please note” and “at this time.”
  • Choppy or long-winded sentences.
  • Starting all sentences with the same phrase (such as “You can” or “To do”).
  • Current pop-culture references.
  • Jokes at the expense of customers, competitors, or anyone else.
  • Exclamation marks, except in rare really exciting moments.

This is fantastic stuff.  I’m going to work my way through this and hope to learn more or just take a refresher course on writing.

If I was an English teacher, I’d have this bookmarked as the answer to the question “When are we ever going to use this?”

In the real world.  You know, the one that’s behind everything on your phone!

Games with Blockly

Coders of all ages are going to like this!

We all hear about how students get engaged learning to code by programming their own games.  That can sometimes be a challenge for the student learning coder and/or the teacher trying to stay attuned to the best in coding and generating ideas.

So, check this out. – Blockly Games.


Pick a starting point and you’re off.

At the time of the screen capture, you’ll see that I had worked my way almost all the way through the Maze option on this computer.  (To be honest, I spent lots of time and enjoyed them all.  I hadn’t thought about blogging about it until later.)

The Maze option has 10 different levels and challenges.  As you would expect, they start pretty easy and then get challenging.

Here’s my solution for Level 9.


And, winner winner, chicken dinner.  Your congrats message lets you see the Javascript behind the code.


Just a warning before you click through and get started.  This is from experience.  This is really addicting.  And, I do have a solution for level 10 that’s reasonably priced.

Where I’d see immediate use of this…

  • with beginning student coders to learn the principles of a block coding environment
  • as an environment to get a coding club off to a great start
  • as part of an understanding of computational thinking
  • with teachers who are learning or refreshing their coding skills
  • with older students who already know some coding, as a start of year activity to get the coding juices flowing

Got an idea of your own?  Please add it to the comments below.


Did he have them?

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that you need to bookmark Peter Been’s Google A-Z collection if you’re serious about using Google.  Especially, the “deep” Google.  Everyone knows about search and maps.  But there’s way more.

Screenshot 2017-08-07 at 06.56.03

He’s always looking to update this document and keep it complete.  I know those of us who follow this document really appreciate it.  There’s so much there, along with Peter’s commentary here and there.

So, I read this article this morning:

6 Google products and services you never even knew existed

I decided to put his document to the test.

From my perspective, it’s a win-win situation.  If he already had them, it’s a testament to the completeness of his efforts.  If he didn’t have them and reads this post, he’ll add them to the already huge document and it will become more complete.

Here goes:

  • Google Arts and Culture
  • Google Express
  • Google Sky
  • GBoard
  • Google Ngram Viewer
  • Google One Today

So let me see:

  • Check
  • Check
  • Check
  • Check
  • Check
  • Check

Was there any doubt?

Bookmark Peter’s document today if you already haven’t.  You’ll be that person that knows that Google has an answer for darn near everything.

Follow Peter on Twitter – @pbeens – he announces any changes to the document there.

There’s always more!

I’ll start with the moral of the story first.

It never hurts to click around; you never know what you’ll find.

That was my learning recently.  I was producing a Google Document and I wanted people to check off a particular day.

So, it kind of started like this.

__ Monday

__ Tuesday

__ Wednesday

__ Thursday

__ Friday

All that you had to do was choose one.  Now, being electronic, there were all kinds of ways that people responded.

  • they deleted everything except the day they wanted
  • they typed an X in the appropriate day and left it – that shifted that particular entry to the right because of the extra character.  That’s OK; it’s the intent that matters
  • type either typed the X and the deleted the extra underscore or they tapped the “Insert” key on their computer, changing it to overstrike, and then typed the X

Now, there are all kinds of ways that I could have composed that list.  Since it was in Docs, I could have used a bulleted list or a variation on that list.


In particular, look at the one with the checkboxes (top right option)

It’s pretty elegant.  The user just had to select the right day with the left mouse button, and then the right mouse button for a popup of characters to use.  Note that the check mark is an option.


I’ll be honest.  That’s about as far as I would expect anyone to go.  Perhaps it was the summer laziness but I noticed that there was another option…

“More bullets…”

This did get a click from me and there was every option under the sun!  (or at least on my keyboard)


Which takes me back to the moral of this story…


There have been many stories recently about Google’s problems with its business, which we know is all about the advertising.  MSN reports about it here.

Google Hit a $2.7 Billion Fine in EU Antitrust Case

Is this the price that we pay for free?  Advertising does make the Google world go round.

I was curious and so thought I’d find out just how big it was.

I turned to eBiz.

Top 15 Most Popular Search Engines | July 2017

I expected to see Google at the top and with big results.  I didn’t expect this though.

  1. Google – 1,800,000,000 – Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors
  2. Bing – 500,000,000 – Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors

and then it goes downhill for the remaining 13 search engines.  Some of them, I’ll suspect you’ve never heard of.

Should the world be concerned?

Have you checked out any alternative search engines lately?