Monday, October 20, 2008

Problems are important

This is the first year I've worked with the Cricket Logo microcomputer and I'm encountering some interesting problems. The crickets are actually increasing the problems quite a bit over the Mindstorms RCXs I used before so it's fortunate I'm teaching 9th grade instead of 7th. The crickets have some finicky hardware and to make things worse I've chosen to use Jackal, a finicky program, because it's the only one that provides syntax coloring for Logo. So today my class was getting the simple vehicles they had built to stay on a road course I made on white butcher paper. Four of the teams were successfully navigating the road little-by-little and three were stuck getting a single motor to turn on. So I trouble-shot with them. Here's what we did:
  • send the beep command. Success? Yes
  • send a, on. Success? No
  • maybe the batteries are dying, not strong enough to power the motor, so change them. Success? No
  • send it b, on for the second motor. Success? Yes, hah!
  • maybe it's the actual motor, so switch it for another. Success? No
  • maybe it's the wires connecting the motor to a, so switch the 9 volt adapters, try a, on Success? YES!
  • try b, on. Success? No!
  • So the wire or circuit board on the 9 volt adapter is bad
Replacing it worked and the students were happy campers. In the end, problems are good, because now I know even the 9 volt adapters can be faulty.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How to install Storytelling Alice

It's almost as easy as 1, 2, 3, in that you have to install 3 things. Kelleher only made a version for PC and has no plans to make one for any other platform. First download the Storytelling Alice zip file and unzip it anywhere you want it, like your desktop. The program runs on Java and needs the Java 3D API and Media Platform to work. You can find the 3D API here (look for "j3d-1_5_2-windows-i586.exe") and run it from your desktop. Finally, download the Java Media Platform here (after clicking download you choose your platform).

UPDATE (7-2-09): In reinstalling SA on an image for a new model of Dells I realized that the Java software is only necessary for rendering the 3D content in an HTML page. You only need that if you're publishing a story as HTML, which you do from the file menu. If you don't plan on using this (and you may not as it doesn't support the speech bubbles or any audio) then all you need is SA itself!