Stuff My Kid has Programmed

This braggy parent moment comes courtesy of one of my favorite programmers.

Pictured here is the regular Air Hockey game I’ve told some of you about. I’m not sure why he has a green circle around the puck right now (probably testing something – and he hasn’t quite grasped the idea of keeping a good copy for production).

In the “restless mode” version, he took out the walls, made the enemy smarter, and only gives you one life, with the challenge “How long can you survive?”  I lasted 5 seconds, personally. Maybe later I’ll see if I can last longer.

You can see EMC’s other programs here. He’s currently working on learning other languages and platforms in hopes of being able to do something more. So if you’ve got suggestions for him, leave them in the comments! :)

javascript hockey game

Mispost, now: How I use WordPress for Homeschool

Edit: Oh hi!  I just realized  I posted this link to the wrong blog.  No wonder my kids couldn’t find it.  I use WordPress for a ton of things, including a private blog we use for tracking our tasks and projects at homeschool. In case you’re wondering what that looks like or how we’re doing it, here you go.

We use the p2 theme (also available for  I added important curriculum links to the sidebar widget, as well as a schedule.  We have a sticky post with a checklist for our daily routines. Frankly I haven’t done  much with the top menu, but if I had, we’d put important page links there.  In this case, you can see links to our brainstorm page and one to my instructions for an assignment we use frequently.

wordpress for homeschool

The checklist function of the P2 theme is especially helpful. To make a checklist in P2, all you have to do is put Xs and Os in front of each item on your list, and it turns out like this:

checklist in wordpress

P2 is so helpful, in fact, we’ve used it for years to communicate here at Automattic.  Give it a try!   P2 is available for and

Starting Homeschool

It’s official, and I’m terrified. But to put things in perspective:

  • The current commute takes 2 hours
  • Homework has been taking at least 3 hours per day
  • We already spend time learning outside the school/homework framework
  • And…

  • We’re only required to hold school 5.5 hours per day

The hours are there; they just need to be reallocated. Maybe with a different homework setup my kids can actually have time to hang out with friends or even play sports.

What else do we have going for us? Let’s see:

If this doesn’t go well, I can work on enrolling them in a closer charter school or even send them over to the middle school nearby. We have several options within a few miles.

But if it does go well, and I am hoping it will, these kids will have more room to stretch and do amazing things.

All of this starts next Monday. Got any tips you’d like to share?

geeks on vacataion

I get my kids all week this week, so I took some time off work for “vacation.” But did I take them to Disneyland? No.

Amid hikes, home organization, a birthday (mine!), a wedding (not mine!), and a dozen other random things we have going, I challenged my kids to build a Pokémon Database.

That’s not a new challenge, by the way. But they hadn’t grokked databases before, and even now the tutorials online left them frustrated. So I sat them down with a pencil and paper and did my feeble best to explain them myself. Mind you, I’m no expert. But this time the lights went on. We jumped to a computer, and I showed them a super basic two-table example and how to do some different queries. They were astounded. Yay vacation!

After showing them what happens when you select fields from two tables without a where clause, which in our case indicated that everybody’s favorite ice cream is every single flavor:

M. “Wait… I could use that to solve those math problems where they make me list all possible combinations!”

E. “Yeah! And Order By is WAY easier than alphabetizing the old fashioned way!”

V. “Guys… you are NOT gonna make technology do your homework for you.”

They both sighed dramatically and stared at the screen.

I silently justified myself — surely the hours we spend every day doing menial tasks are worth it, right? Kids have to learn to be self disciplined enough to do busy work, right? And it’s not busy work anyway … it’s practice, right?

… right?

School, and its hours-on-end of repetitive homework, starts in just a few weeks now. Realizing that, I sighed too. Ethan must have read my thoughts, and presently piped up:

“Honestly, the only homework I can’t stand is homework I could do faster with programming.”

I can’t concede this out loud, but the kid makes a fine point, and not just about homework. I mean, that’s why we program, right?

I don’t have another adult around for feedback, so I’ll ask you: what would you do?

Stage Fright

It’s been a few months since I said anything here, even though I’d had full intentions to add a series of posts. I know exactly why I’ve been putting it off, and this is my attempt to get over it. Written in 5-7-5, because that’s the Automattic way:

I’ve not posted since
people started following.
I’m a little shy. :)

I’m still glad you’re here, though. Shyness is a weird thing, especially since people confuse it with introversion. My son Ethan is introverted and not at all shy. I’m shy but not introverted. And my daughter is … well … Mary.

Ethan said introverts are like cats, and extroverts are like dogs. A fair assessment, right? Being a shy extrovert is like being a scared dog… but I’m not really afraid of you! So I’ll try to be better about posting.