Conversations about an 8 month old

Vian is starting to pull himself up. He stood up and tried to grab everything in his reach. 

Me: We shouldn't keep the water cup here. Vian might grab it.

Yoshi: We just have to keep an eye on him. You might think he has tiny T-Rex hands, but nooo. He's more like an octopus with tentacles.


Alphabet Race - a kid's game

TL;DR: I built a little truck "game" to teach my son alphabets.

I started watching http://javascript30.com a couple of days ago. It's a series of 30 videos that uses vanilla Javascript to do amazing things.

I have only done the first two videos in the series. Based on what I learned in those two videos, I decided to write a small game. My son is a fan of trucks, so I cobbled together a truck race that teaches him alphabets.

The game is written using the latest version of Javascript. It will not work in old browsers (sorry). It is not designed for tablets or phones, you need a keyboard to play this game.

Game: http://alphabetrace.itsybits.xyz/

Source: https://github.com/amjith/alphabet_race/

My goal was to create an educational game that is entertaining but not addictive. 

You can send me feedback about the game via twitter or email.

'Tis the season for giving

Some of you might know that I created a couple of open source projects that became successful.

I added a donate button to one of the project's homepage. A couple of days ago, I received a donation through that link (thanks, Daniel). This is the second donation I've received since it's inception. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

My current job pays me well, so I decided to funnel the donation to the following charities. It's a small sum ($15) but it had a big impact. 

Solve Hunger: https://onetoday.google.com/p/pnvzxbtk

$5 to provide 4 meals for 5 school children.

Nepal Earthquake: https://onetoday.google.com/p/mjsxg_gq

$5 can provide 785 water purification tablets.

Clean water: https://onetoday.google.com/p/66rfdsta

$5 can provide clean water to 5 children for 3 months. Isn't that incredible?

If you happen to use pgcli or mycli and you're happy with it, consider making a donation. I promise to pick the best charities out there to contribute your donations. :)

Nostalgic Programming

For some unknown reason, I looked up GWBasic today and downloaded an emulator. GWBasic was the first programming language that I learned. I have fond memories of that language. I love the fact that I could switch to a graphics mode and start drawing circles and squares. 

After about 30 minutes of fumbling around, my muscle memory kicked in and I started to write a simple program to draw some shapes on the screen. I asked Sempi to sit with me and help me with the drawing. He wanted me to draw a truck, so I decided to give it a shot. 

He lost interest midway when I started looking up various commands in the programming manual, but I stuck with it. 

Here's the creation in all it's glory. 

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun. 

Broccoli and Carrot

A few weeks back while eating at a restaurant Sempi wanted me to tell him a story. I noticed he wasn't eating his vegetables, so I made up a story about these animals that lived in the forest and how they discovered Broccoli. When they ate broccoli they became strong and could lift heavy things. Then came carrots which made them fast. Somehow this worked and he polished off every broccoli and carrot in the plate. 

Recently we were playing with a hole punch and he was having difficulty piercing through some strong pieces of paper. So I helped him out and punched holes. He asked me if I've been eating broccoli. I said yes and told him that I'm going to eat all the broccoli in the house. Visibly disturbed by that he protested "But appa, I want some broccoli, can you please give me some broccoli next time?".

I'm supposed to feel bad for manipulating him into eating vegetables, but I have no regrets.

I want a baby

Sempi had this conversation with Yoshi yesterday. 

Sempi: Amma, when can I have a baby?

Yoshi: Well, you have to study hard. Finish your pre-school, then your elementary school, middle school and then high-school. Go to college, well that part is optional. Get a job, meet someone, fall in love and then you can have a baby. Most importantly you have to be at least 18 years old.

Sempi: Man, I'm never gonna have a baby.

Yoshi: Why do you want to have a baby? 

Sempi: So I can fiddle with my own baby monitor.

Previously, Yoshi had told him not to play with Vian's baby monitor and this is his solution. :)

My little helper

Sempi loves Vian. Vian thinks Sempi is the coolest guy ever. When Vian is crying and I've tried every trick in my book, I call Sempi for help. Sempi starts doing something funny (sing a song in gibberish or jump up and down on a mattress), immediately Vian starts laughing (not just a smile but a wholehearted laughter). Vian thinks Sempi is hilarious and Sempi loves to entertain Vian. It works out great for me. :)

Little Hands Big Work

My son's preschool Whole Child Montessori is running it's annual fundraiser called Little Hands Big Work. It's an event where the school raises money to provide scholarship to kids who need it. In addition the kids and parents volunteer to restore a natural water shed. So donors get the double benefit of supporting early childhood education as well as making the environment better. 

It is a worthy cause that deserves your support.

Here's the link to donate: http://www.wholechildmontessori.org/little-hands-big-work/

When you donate mention Sempi's name in the student column, I'm sure he'll appreciate it. :)

Levelling Up

A common advice that is given to people in software is "Surround yourself with programmers better than yourself". Somehow this advice does NOT work for me. Whenever I've worked on a team with programmers who are better than me, I get lazy. I tend to write code that is slightly worse than my average. I reckon it's because I rely on the better programmers to catch my mistakes. I do learn things from them but it's not quite at the same pace as when I'm thrown in the deep end with minimal help.

When I work in teams where people are about as good as me or they come to me for advice, I produce significantly better results. This goes beyond code, I've noticed this effect in project direction or project management. I find myself doing a lot of self-study and personal experimentation to make sure I know what I'm talking about. This naturally leads to better results.

I still need access to the expert when I'm stuck, but that access should not be as easy as turning my head to ask a question. I prefer that access to be through an email where I'm forced to write my thoughts down. Describing my problem in written form usually triggers cognitive dissonance and I end up solving the issue before hitting send.

The Lemonade Stand

Last Sunday Sempi decided he wanted to setup a lemonade stand. Yoshi and Sempi went to store to pick up a bunch of lemons and spent the morning hand squeezing them.

It was made with the finest ingredients (cane sugar and ice cold water). Yoshi said she can help make the signs and Sempi declared that he's going to give free lemonades. He insisted that he won't charge for his lemonade. 

At this time I'm beaming with pride with his decision to give away his lemonade for free.

He sat out in the scorching sun in the middle of the day calling out to passersby "Free Lemonade". When people came over his first words were "you don't have to pay, this is free lemonade". Then he diligently poured some lemonade in a cup and handed it over.

Our neighbor across the street came over for some lemonade. He not only gave him a few quarters as tips and he was also the salesman of our fine stand. Calling out to bikers and walkers to come taste the delicious free lemonade. It was a grand success.

At one point even Vian was sitting inside the little lemonade stand helping his brother. 

I'm incredibly proud of my son's decision to setup a free lemonade stand. He is the best.