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SCIENCE (is robotic)
posted by John : November 12, 2011


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Coder in training


In case you didn't know, I'm kind of a nerd. In spite of the manly things I do I like computers. And just like I make the kids do the manly things I do I figure they need to be nerdy, too. It will be difficult. I mean, just look at them. They have too much of Amy in them. They're doomed to be popular in school with lots of friends. Poor kids.

Unless I save them, that is. So... they need to learn to program. Programming is a one way ticket to nerdsville. (I've been lonely and I could use some company.)

I figured Clara would latch on to it immediately. ERROR. No such luck. She wasn't that into it. In fact, she went off to read. And not even a nerd book. One with relationships.

Lilly, though, was into it. Really into it. It might have had something to do with the goal. I placed three Hershey's Kisses on the mantle and told her that if she could get me to give them to her she could have them. I'd start in the quilt room and she could direct me. But only with the following commands:

Move left foot forward (LFF)

Move right foot forward (RFF)

Push with left foot (LFP)

Push with right foot (RFP)

Lift left foot (LFL)

Lift right foot (RFL)

Lift left arm 45 degrees (LA45)

Lift right arm 45 degrees (RA45)

Drop left arm 45 degrees (LD45)

Drop right arm 45 degrees (RD45)

Grasp left hand (LHG)

Grasp right hand (RHG)

Release left hand (LHR)

Release right hand (RHR)

Turn 45 degrees right (T45)

Bend forward 45 degrees (BF45)

Bend backward 45 degrees (BB45)

Drop left foot (LFD)

Drop right foot (RFD)

At first, Lilly just copied down the commands one after another. Needless to say, that didn't work at all. I showed her a simple set of commands and what would happen when they were strung together. LFF, RFP, RFF, LFP. I took two steps.

Ohhhh. I get it.

She wrote the pattern over and over and over. I ran into a wall.

She added a turn. I ran into a different wall.

She added another turn and I started toward the fireplace. But it was a long way to go so I showed her that if she wrote the four step pattern on a piece of paper and called that T22 she could just write T22. She ran me into the fireplace in her excitement.

This is where Clara decided to get back into the game. It might have been because she saw her sister struggling with the final bits, but also might have been because she saw the chocolate being eaten without her. (Who are we kidding? It was neither of those!) Regardless, she helped Lilly debug her code.

They proudly gave me the sheet and I walked to the fireplace. Turned to the right a lot (there is no left turn), picked up a Kiss, dropped the Kiss right where I'd picked it up, turned...

But that's not what you're supposed to do!

Don't blame Robot Daddy. He only does what he's told. (That's actually my excuse for a lot of things. It works great.)

A quick change, recompile, execute. Two Kisses on the floor to be picked up by the successful coders. (Um... weren't there three originally? Yeah, but Mr. Henry decided he'd just grab one while we weren't looking. He's destined for a career in management.)

They got their chocolate. I got an introduction into programming. And Amy got an extra hour of sleep.

Everybody's a winner.

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