Caveat: Venter

Think about all of the things that make your brain itch. These are mine.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bridge Widget!

I finally have a complete, if not beautiful, version of BridgeKeeper. I released the 1.0 (final) version at at just after 10 p.m. Pacific on Friday night (replacing the 0.9b version that lacked certain required interface tweaks). Apple's widget doanload site now has a copy, and it should be up there too, provided it passes muster, within a couple days.

I cleaned up the code between 0.9b and 1.0, made the Done button on the back a proper "glass" button (though Apple's code seems to be leaving the left side in "clicked" mode after the first use), and included a lot of comments in the .js file, both for curious coders and for bridge players wanting to decipher the underlying game principles.

What is BridgeKeeper, you ask? Well, it is a little Dashboard widget (you Mac users running Tiger or 10.3.9 with the Amnesty browser will know what that is, though Konfabulator users will also be familiar with the concept) that calculates duplicate bridge scores. While I realize my readers, few as they are, probably count amongst them few, if any, bridge players I do not personally know, there you have it.

This brings up another issue, though. I was considering, before realizing I lacked the proper technical expertise to pull it off, submitting a presentation proposal to next year's Tech Ed conference. I am interested in how Konfabulator widgets, Dashboard widgets, and the upcoming Sidebar gadgets (to be part of Windows Vista when the product ships a few years late in the second half of 2006) can be used as pedagogical aids and student reference tools. Already there are widgets for certain student populations, and some developers have proposed more (for instance, a case law widget). Since the underlying technologies for all three tools are similar, any widget developed by someone willing to grant the rights can be ported pretty quickly to all three forms (Konfabulator runs on Mac and Windows, though not all widgets made for it are cross-platform).

What I need now is suggestions. What kinds of widgets (follow the above links to learn more about these technologies) could we develop for students? What could I be working on for English students? Can we find people to code these little buggers up for Astronomy and philosophy students? How useful, actually, can these things be?

I am no believer in the idea that technology is always good for education, nor am I anything resembling a Luddite stranded in a world that forces technology down his throat. There are proper uses for this technology, but I have yet to settle quite what those uses are. Any suggestions are most welcome.


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