December 2010

About me

Uncle Sam

Yep, that's me as Uncle Sam, backed by the Rocky Ridge Elementary School choir. The year was 1976, America's Bicentennial, and the porches of a patriotic nation were bedecked with tricolor bunting. The music of fife and drum filled the air, and gentlemen of taste and honor strolled down the boulevards in powdered wigs and long coats with silver-dollar buttons. Or perhaps it only seemed that way.

If I look a little perplexed in this photo, there's a reason. Having finished my prepared remarks, I've just heard Ms. Hayden, the music teacher on the left, informing the crowd that I would now lead the choir in singing "America the Beautiful," a song I didn't know all the words to, certainly not past the first verse.

Since then I've learned a lot about programming and computer science in general, and have written two books about the subjects: Computer Science Made Simple, and Think Like a Programmer. If you need a consultant for any aspect of computer science or programming instruction, including technical writing, feel free to contact me. Or feel free to contact me just to say hello. That's nice, too.

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Something Good for the Children: First Post

Well, here goes my attempt at a review blog. Here's the deal. Nearly five years ago I became a father, and since then, I've watched a lot of family and "children's" programming, most of which is terrible. So I thought, why not start a review service to help other parents, especially new parents, separate the uncommon stuff of quality from the rest? On this blog, I'll be reviewing films and television shows that are current or nearly so, as well as revisiting some of the children's programming from my youth to see how it holds up.

Let me say straight away that I am mainly interested in whether the film or show is any good. Whether it shows quality, wit, humor, has characters one can believe in, whether it works. I see lots of websites that rate movies purely on the basis of adult content, naughty words or actions, that sort of thing. I'm not really interested in that. Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't show R-rated content to my daughter, but at the same time, I don't think the mere absence of something bad makes something good. I don't want to give my daughter boring junk just to keep her occupied. In the best scenario, it should be something we enjoy watching together. At worst, it should be something I can at least respect as an adult.

So here we go...feel free to comment. I'm especially interested in suggestions for future reviews.

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Rating System

Here's my intended rating system:

1/4: Films and shows in this category should be kept away from children at all costs. These are terrible, brain-rotting pieces of garbage. It's important to note that the ratings have nothing to do with the perceived enjoyment of a child. Many children would enjoy squirting Cheez Whiz into their mouths until the can was dry, but that doesn't mean it should be allowed.

2/4: Child contact with entertainment in this category should be minimized, but is acceptable. Films and shows in this category are not terrible, and have some redeeming qualities, but just don't hold up to repeated viewing.

3/4: This is truly good children's entertainment, something you would be happy if your child embraced.

4/4: This is the highest state. A film or show in this category is not simply good children's entertainment, but good entertainment, period. This is something you would watch on your own.

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