Been Really Busy The Last Couple Weeks

cropped photo of Brainiac

Trying to cram as much info into my brain as possible.

I’m still around, jut been really busy the last couple weeks and haven’t got around to posting but I am going to try to post more often. I’ve been working on math, programming, I started taking literature courses from the open Yale site (American classic novels/Hemingway,Faulkner,Fitzgerald/Spanish 300- Don Quixote), and then I am still learning Castilian Spanish. I am currently on Unit 2, Lesson 2 and seem to be progressing a decent pace so far.

For programming, I am alternating days between the different languages I’m learning from CS50, Udacity, and YouTube. The languages I’m focusing on right now are C, Python, JavaScript, PHP, and then some Ruby and Java.
I have to go now, but I will try to post more often and will make an attempt to make my future posts more interesting to read ;)


Take care!


Learning Castilian Spanish

the labyrinth of pan

Thought I would throw up a short update on my foray into learning Spanish (Castilian). It’s been a little over a week since I started learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone and I have progressed so far to Unit 4 of Lesson 1, or level 1 I’m not sure which, but it’s definitely Unit 4! I’m still really confused about the many conjugations of some words and when/where to use them, but that understanding will come with time. I also have watched Pan’s Labyrinth a couple times as it’s the only spoken Spanish (Spain!) DVD I own at the moment (also turned Spanish captions on which helps when hearing it spoken so fast). As I close this post I will rattle off some of the phrases I know and understand (just an example and by no means my entire vocabulary so far):

La mujer come arroz.

La luna es blanca.

El gato negro no duerme.

Las ninas corren.

Hola! Que hace?

Anyways, I know probably around 50+ words so far or maybe even more than that. Many different forms of the same word is the biggest obstacle I’ve encountered so far. Oh, and trying to say the double “R”… ‘rr’ that is trilled or rolled is a hard noise to make without it sounding obnoxious and spit flying haha.

Learn Programming from Free Online Video Tutorials

Derek Banas avatar

Today I thought I would share with you one of my favorite resources for learning how to program, free and online of course. Derek Banas used to work in advertising, for Apple doing research and development, as well as a stock broker for Morgan Stanley. However, now by day he is a marketing consultant and in his free time he creates amazing video tutorials on programming and other topics (completely free of charge for humanity to enjoy and improve off of!). I love his tutorials and more people should know about New Think Tank. Here is a list of some of the programming languages he covers in his video tutorials:

  • PHP
  • Python
  • Java
  • JavaScript and jQuery
  • HTML and CSS
  • Objective C
  • XML
  • AJAX
  • and many more topics!

His YouTube playlist of programming video tutorials (+more):


There Are 10 Types of People In This World…

base-2 math

… those who understand binary, and those who don’t! Today I thought I would share a video link with everyone that explains how binary works. If you don’t know, binary is how computers know what to do. At some level, everything the computer does is because of the binary base-2 number system. One and zero, on and off, true and false. This is because electricity is either flowing or it isn’t, so base-2 math of binary is logical and an essential part of computer science. Check out this fun video by Sal Khan of Khan Academy as he explains how binary mathematics works:

What The Frak, Part Deux

my khan academy energy points and stats

Chillen with Magellan! (awarded for achieving proficiency in 100 different skills)

Finally! Yesterday I finally finished the Khan Academy module on Fractions. It seemed to take forever but I achieved proficiency in the 35 skills that make up the module. I am now working on Exponents and Radicals, Statistics, Probability, and a dozen other little odds and ends (like stem & leaf trees, graphs, bars, charts, perimeter, etc) in the Arithmetic and Pre-Algebra section.

I now have over 400,000 Energy Points.

If Only I Had A Penny For Every Time…

Just a quick update on my foray into computer science and my studying of the CS50 open course ware at

I am currently working on the problem set for Week One (course starts on Week 0, like a computer would), called Pennies. You have to write a script in the C programming language that calculate a user’s input of the month, and is based on the old wisdom tale of would you rather have a bag of money or start with a penny and your pennies double every day for a month? I think this is a take on a similar tale I heard from my father when I was a kid. Only in his example, it had something to do with Ancient China and a guy asking the king as payment if he could have one grain of rice on the first square of a chess board and which would double each square on the chess board. Of course the king laughed at him wanting rice on a chess board instead of gold or money, but if you do the math… that is a fortune in rice!

Now I am attempting the Hacker editions of the problem sets, so I also in addition to writing a C program that computes the pennies problem I have to also create a program that prompts a user for a credit card number and then determines if that credit card is valid or not, using an algorithm created by Hans Peter Luhn who was a Computer Science pioneer at IBM. But I won’t get into this problem set yet, I will explain it later when I get it to work correctly.

A third problem in the Hacker Edition is to create some sort of vertical bar chart, but I haven’t got that far yet, so, for those curious here is the basic instructions of the pennies.c problem set (more details in the PDF if you go to the site):

Implement, in a file called pennnies.c, a program that first asks the user how many days there are in the month and then asks the user how many pennies he or she will receive on the first day of that month. The program should then calculate the amount that the user will have received in total by the end of the month (not just on the last day) if that amount is doubled on every day but the first, expressed not as pennies but as dollars and cents, with dollars formatted with commas every three digits. If the user does not type in 28, 29, 30, or 31 for the number of days in the month, the program should prompt the user to retry. If the user does not imput a positive integer for the first day’s number of pennies, the program should prompt the user to rety.

For instance, your program might behave as follows, whereby boldfaced text represents some user’s input.

jharvard@appliance (~/hacker1): ./pennies
Days in month: 32
Days in month: 31
Pennies on first day: 1

Mucho gusto and domo arigato!

Spain, has more than just a beautiful language

I’ve always wanted to learn new languages and this week I will finally start on my path to joining the ranks of the multilingual people of the world! I wrote down a list of about 20 languages I was interested in learning and then cut it in half to a top 10. Upon some thinking over the list, I decided to start with two languages in which one I will start this week and the other I will start in a month or so.

First up: I will start learning Castilian Spanish this week. I’ve always had a great interest in Spain, and plan to visit the country eventually. Since the version of Spanish spoken in Spain is so similar to American Spanish, it makes sense to me to learn the European variety as I will also be able to communicate with my American amigos.
Next: After I have a decent grasp of Spanish, I will start learning Japanese! I plan to begin around a month from now.

This should be fun, I will post more updates on my language studies in time when I have something worth posting ;)