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Day 1: So many interests / Adventures in Scratch Week 1

The “Day 1” on this post means that it is another reset of my plan to write. every. day.

Part of my problem is that a lot of things interest me. While I don’t have much of a problem maintaining focus on projects at work, in my personal life I’m sort of an intellectual raven, dashing to and fro to the shiny and tasty things. Chasing after one interest has often meant other interests languishing. Case in point. I do want to write every day, either non-fiction or fiction. I’m also interested enough in computer programming, web resources and their potential uses in libraries that I enrolled in a new edX course from Harvey Mudd College – Programming in Scratch, CS 2002x.

What this combination has meant is that I’m either working through lessons and programming OR I’m writing. This results in breaks in my “write ever day” streaks, or ensures I don’t don’t work on programming. But I think I have a way to let them work together. On programming days I’ll be writing about my experiences in CS 2002x.

I’ve finished Week 1 and have this quirky little music program to show for it. In the course of making this program I learned a number of things:

  • Scratch has a musical toolbox. I missed that detail the last time I dealt with Scratch last year.
  • I relearned the frequency of some musical notes.
  • It’s possible to translate the music patterns in some songs into computer repeat loops.
  • If you want to transcribe (?) a tune into Scratch, you don’t have to read music. You can go to a site like Letter Note Player and see an arrangement by letter instead of standard musical notation.
  • I learned a little bit about time, so I could have two channels of sound playing at about the same time.

So far I’m very appreciative of the format of the course. Since I did know some programming in Scratch and other languages coming in, I can’t be sure of its effectiveness in helping someone with no programming at all, but it seems helpful. There is a mix of very short instructional videos, practice assignments and encouragement to play with blocks until you understand what they do. There are many opportunities to make educated guesses about what blocks of code ought to do.

I like that the course started with a music project because it gave me a dose of immediate gratification. We’ll see how to build on this in week two.

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