Let's Read Code Together!

Hi there! My name is Brad Thompson. I'm a professional software engineer and informal computer science & engineering educator. I'm also kinda bored sitting at home doing the shelter-in-place, avoid the pandemic thing. I'm used to spending a solid chunk of this time of year working with my FIRST Robotics teams and helping run FIRST Robotics Competition events. So, I've got all this time on my hands and I'm miss spending time teaching & working with my robotics kids.

I had this idea of a cool online thing we could do together, but with a lot of schools doing weird e-learning schedules I figured why not open it up to... pretty much anyone! The plan is to get some people together - virtually, of course - and go through one of my favorite books ever. Code, by Charles Petzold, is half history book and half computer engineering textbook. It takes you from the basics of Morse code & how telegraphs worked and builds up from there until we've figured out how modern computers actually do their thing.

The plan is that every week y'all will read the assigned chapter(s) and then we hop on a video call to review, ask & answer questions, watch some demonstrations, and talk about how you can try some stuff at home. The material starts out very, very simple and maintains a relatively low learning curve up until the last couple of chapters. I'm gonna say that your typical 7th grader will probably be able to keep up with what's happening pretty well. Older folks are definitely welcome to join in too - I can think of a couple of current & former coworkers who would probably enjoy this as well.

The book is available on Amazon or can probably be acquired from fine booksellers everywhere. It may be a little hard to track down - the book's actually 20+ years old! (other than a few references to landline telephones, Radio Shack, and 486 processors, it's hard to tell!) The e-book version does fine - even if you don't have a Kindle, the Kindle Cloud Reader or Kindle app for iOS/Android will do the trick.

Our first live session will be Saturday, April 11th at 3PM! If you want to participate live, contact me directly if you haven't already and I will send more info & invite you to a video call. I will also live stream the sessions to YouTube where they will also be recorded for your later viewing pleasure.

If you have questions, feel free to email or message me!

Week 1

April 11

Chapters 1-3

Morse Code, Braille, and Why We Call Cats 'Cats'

Week 2

April 18

Chapters 4-5

Flashlights, Batteries, Light Bulbs, and Burying Copper Poles in the Ground

Week 3

April 25

Chapters 6-8

Replacing People with Electromagnets and Learning How to Count Again

Week 4

May 2

Chapters 9-10

Bits & Switches & Formal Logic Systems

Week 5

May 9

Chapters 11-13

Logic Gates, Addition, and Subtraction

Week 6

May 16

Chapters 14-15

Flipping Flopping Feedback & Revisiting Counting

Week 7

May 23

Chapters 16-17

Remembering Data & Instructions for Later

Week 8

May 30

Chapters 18-19

Microchips & Microprocessors

Week 9

June 6

Chapters 20-25

The Rest of the Story

bkt at brad-thompson dot com
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