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.

Just a quick update on my foray into computer science and my studying of the CS50 open course ware at http://cs50.tv/2011/fall/

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 cs50.tv 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 $21,474,836.47

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 ;)

Just a simple update today on my progression in mathematics. I have now been going through the Khan Academy mathematics modules for 19 days. I started at the very beginning with simple addition and subtraction and have now worked my way up to theĀ fractions modules. I have two months until my online classes on edX start (offered by MIT and Havard), so I have a couple months to get through algebra and hopefully trig so I can be ready for the computer science and programming courses. Current Energy Points (KhanAcademy): 291,195

Last week I started “taking” the Harvard CS50 Fall 2011 OCW course provided online by David Malan. It’s an introduction to Computer Science and Programming course. I am currently finishing up my ‘homework’ which is the problem set from Week Zero and you create a program using the Scratch application created by M.I.T. I decided to make a small pseudo-first person shooter game in which Lauren Bacall has to shoot her way through a bunch of peacocks… it made sense in my mind I swear!
What’s really cool is that I can take the class online with others, starting on October 15th via this site edX, created by MIT and Harvard (and now joining in is UC-Berkely) which provides online versions of real courses, for free:

Being a lot better at the maths would really help me in my goals to further my own education and especially with computer science and programming.

As part of my independent learning journey I have started reviewing mathematics from the ground up. I started onKhan Academy about 13 days ago (at the very first level with basic addition and subtraction) and have quickly progressed through the arithmetic stage. What has startled me, is just how much basic math skills I have forgotten in the 8+ years since I used math and probably 15+ years since I did math without a calculator. Reviewing math from the bottom up I can confirm my own thoughts that it would be vital to get back into the swing of things mathematically. I have progressed up to the factors, fractions, and exponents modules and will be moving on to the geometry & algebra modules within a week I predict.

I have a new thirst for knowledge and have given myself a goal of becoming proficient at math and progressing all the way to the higher level maths that I never achieved before. The furthest I went in math was what my high school, Kent-Meridian in Kent, Washington, called “Algebra 3 with Trig”. It was the class right after Geometry and before Precalculus. I was always good at geometry but never desired to go very far with math; but that has all changed and I am looking forward to, and even excited about, becoming highly educated on mathematics.

My very generic planned course of progression for learning mathematics:

Arithmetic — > Geometry / Algebra –> Algebra II –> Probability / Statistics –> Precalculus / Trigonometry –> Differential and Integral Calculus –> Multi-variable Calculus –> Differential Equations –> Linear Algebra –> Proofs –>

… and then in no particular order I intend to at least get familiar with the following topics:

* Graph Theory * Real Analysis (Key) * Number Theory * Complex Analysis * Abstract Algebra (Key) * Topology * Discrete Mathematics *

So to end this post I will give an update on my progress thus far in math at KA:

To put it simply: this blog is just a ‘journal’ for me to document and keep track of my progress in my goal to change my life. I spent most of my life so far (I turned 30 a few months ago) just existing, and being content to simply exist. I spent most of my twenties spinning my wheels, not getting anywhere, and not doing anything MORE to change it. Without getting too personal on here, I can say that I didn’t have a very high opinion of myself and a handful of other factors helped contribute to my lack of development over my life to date. I went to art school right out of high school and got an AA degree in 2004. I spent about 6 months going on interviews, with companies such as Mackie instruments and Pop! web design, and didn’t land any jobs after the interviews. So, I went to work for myself. I spent the next six years finding many ways to fail as an entrepreneur (internet marketing, eBay/Amazon businesses, article marketing (even tried ‘Bum Marketing’ once haha), selling other peoples digital products via Clickbank, affiliate marketing, creating and selling private label rights products, web designer and developer, graphic designer, and so on) and spent the last couple years unemployed and in debt. I currently live in a low-income government subsidized apartment and survive on food stamps.

My biggest issues I know have been those of a mental and emotional variety and that started to change not long after my 30th birthday. It itself was actually a very depressing event as I reflected on just how pathetic and pointless my life had become and then that “something” happened. The only way I can describe it is that a “spark” happened inside myself and ignited a fire, a thirst to be more than I am, to be better than I am. A desire for knowledge that I never had before has taken me over. And the most amazing thing occurred to me that I never truly believed before now: I can, I CAN be and do ANYTHING I want… if I work hard and dedicate myself to that goal or undertaking.

And that is what I have decided to do, to go back to college eventually if I can figure out how to pay for it or in the mean time be an independent learner and educate myself if I have to. My ultimate educational goal for now is to attend the University of Washington and get into the Computer Science and Engineering program as I want to become a professional in the industries of the internet/web and mobile. I also plan to take some business courses to learn how to run and operate a business successfully as trying to invent the way myself didn’t work (and I admittedly lacked the drive, motivation and dedication to make it work before).

So to end this first post I want to say that I also want to help others find free education and try to help them improve their lives as I am trying to do to mine. My journey is just beginning and like an iceberg protruding from the sea my potential has yet to be revealed. I am finally ready to step up and am not afraid to succeed.

I realized that if I and anyone reading this just dedicate yourself to something, you will achieve everything you want to.