Discussion:
Squeak on http://www.versiontracker.com/
(too old to reply)
Stephane Ducasse
2012-01-28 11:21:42 UTC
Permalink
Hi
just to let you know that I sent Squeak 3.4 to version tracker and that
now we can
add stars to the Squeak page ;)

Stef


Prof. Dr. St?phane DUCASSE (***@iam.unibe.ch)
http://www.iam.unibe.ch/~ducasse/
"if you knew today was your last day on earth, what would you do
different? ... especially if,
by doing something different, today might not be your last day on
earth" Calvin&Hobbes

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it..." Alan Kay.

Open Source Smalltalks: www.squeak.org,
www.gnu.org/software/smalltalk/smalltalk.html
Free books for Universities at
http://www.esug.org/sponsoring/promotionProgram.html
Free Online Book at www.iam.unibe.ch/~ducasse/FreeBooks.html
Hannes Hirzel
2012-01-28 11:21:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephane Ducasse
Hi
just to let you know that I sent Squeak 3.4 to version tracker and that
now we can
add stars to the Squeak page ;)
Stef
It shows up only as a Mac application. Could you file it as well as a
Windows app, please.

-- Hannes
Tim Rowledge
2012-01-28 11:21:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Hannes Hirzel
It shows up only as a Mac application. Could you file it as well as a
Windows app, please.
And how about unix and RiscOS as well? Or is this one of those
objectionable websites that only caters for the uninteresting platforms
?

tim
--
Tim Rowledge, ***@sumeru.stanford.edu, http://sumeru.stanford.edu/tim
Useful random insult:- Has a one-way ticket on the Disoriented Express.
Jerry Balzano
2012-01-28 11:21:45 UTC
Permalink
(Preamble/Epigraphs)
... I've been using Squeak since 2.7 and I have never come across any
programming language or system that can humiliate me quite as thoroughly
as Squeak does.
... It is PAINFUL to feel stupid and dumb and helpless when you are used
to feeling clever and competent, especially when the language itself
is so simple.
R. O'Keefe, 2/13/03
--------------------
Hello Rachel
Nine days ago you wrote the interesting mail below
to the Squeaklist.
May I ask you what are your expections for the documentation
team to come up with?
...
There are various things which are beeing worked on now.
But we need "customers" like you. What are your interests in
doing with Squeak?
H. Hirzel, 2/19/03
--------------------
I am hoping this message will not make a persona non grata on the Squeakdev
list, or make me go squeaking back to my little lurker hole in the wall ...
but as a competent programmer in many languages (and around Squeak since
*before* 2.7), I nonetheless feel the way R. O'Keefe does, *in spades*.
And as for Rachel, cited in H. Hirzel's epigraph/email, she, like so many
newbies to the squeaklist, appears to be long gone. I did begin, awhile
ago, doing a kind of ethnography-of-disappearing-squeak-newbies, tracing
their initial enthusiastic postings, the helpful replies (always, always
including Ned Konz, bless you sir), the dreadfully high percentage of cases
in which this initial enthusiasm would fade away ... but it was too
depressing, and to what end?

I am not here to trash Squeak -- far from it! I have been around so long,
on and off, because I truly do believe, on the one hand, that herein lies a
potentially *great* environment for newbies to programming. As a teacher
of teachers and an advocate of programming, this gets me very excited, as
you can imagine. (And the record 2005 posts to squeak-dev in Feb 2003 was
due in no small part to a sudden upsurge in the pedaogical consciousness of
the list...also exciting...less so recently...) But I think that if the
Squeak insiders really believe that "kids in fifth grade are able to master
etoys" (A. Raab, 2/10/03) without one or more Squeak insiders hovering
close by, they are sadly mistaken! (This is similar to a problem a fellow
named Papert had vis a vis the "learnability" of Logo in the late 70's -
early 80's....)

"So why should we even listen to this guy?" ("Maybe he really can't even
program his way out of a paper bag...") Well, maybe some of you have
stopped already. I've made many false starts in Squeak, and the
responsiveness of Ned Konz, Karl Ramberg, and Stephane Ducasse (to name a
few) to my previous postings is part of what keeps me around ... now I'm
responding, instead of Rachel, to Hannes Hirzel's request.
But we need "customers" like you. What are your interests in
doing with Squeak?
***I want to see -- and show others -- a viable learning path through etoys
to Morphic-Squeak proper.***

I have some "field notes" from an attempt I made to show etoys to
teachers-to-be in UCSD's Teacher Education Program that I would love to
share with people on this list. Some of the contents border on painful,
but if I could only answer all *their* questions (and remember, if I am
twice-, these teachers are three-times-removed from Squeak-insiderness), I
would be able to document some of the projects on Alan's "Partial list of
Etoy Projects" -- posted to Squeakland 2/11/03 (but not SqueakDev!). Get a
load of these (the total "partial" list was almost 40 lines long):

Orbits
Springs
Weighing
Gradient following - Salmon and Clownfish
Tree Growing
Epidemics
Multiple Mentalities
Grey Walter Conditioned Response Learning
Circuit Models
Anyone who could create projects like these in any programmable medium, I'd
say, would have a serious leg up on "real" programming by anyone's
hard-nosed definition of that elusive (and ever-changing) concept. My
students (same ones as above) wrote programs in NetLogo, Microworlds (a
descendant of Logo), and Stagecast Creator, including a "Turtle Epidemic"
model in NetLogo for which I wrote the tutorial (see
http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/resources.shtml) and a "Food Fight"
game in Stagecast Creator, for which I'd love to be able to write the
"etoys tutorial", if I could only see how to do several simple things in
Etoys, for example
* have an agent (smiley) create another agent (burger) in the space next
to him
* have an agent (smiley) send a message to a counter agent (count down)
each time he "uses up" a burger, and another message to a counter-scorer
agent (count up) each time one of his burgers hits his opponent
...just to name two.

So, speaking of "viable learning paths", does anyone have a suggestion for
one for *me*? Who wants to respond to all the questions my
teacher-students raised in my field notes? Who wants to help me complete
all the projects on Alan's list?

If *I* can't figure out how to do this stuff on my own, there's no way any
of the teachers I teach -- even after they've been thoroughly
Balzano-indoctrinated to the virtues of programming and completed my
more-rigorous-than-99%-of-other-teacher-ed-computer-courses course -- will
be able to figure it out either.

Respectfully submitted,
Jerry Balzano

-------------------------
Dr. Gerald J. Balzano
Teacher Education Program
Dept of Music
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
Cognitive Science Program
UC San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093
(619) 822-0092
***@ucsd.edu
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Jerry Balzano
2012-01-28 11:21:45 UTC
Permalink
Thank you for these comments, Jerry. I think you're bringing up important
points. I think it needs to be emphasized over and over again that Squeak
is a research system. It is not a completed product, but a work in
progress, and that causes ome of the frustrations teachers and other
novices experience.
But John, I really don't consider myself a "novice" in the sense that I
think you mean. NetLogo (the Illinois version of StarLogo) is a research
system too, but I have learned to program in it pretty well, and to teach
others to program in it pretty effectively themselves, **even though it is
much "harder" than Squeak**.

And NetLogo/StarLogo is a moving target too, but *nothing* (maybe in the
whole Universe) moves as fast as Squeak. 2005 posts to SqueakDev in the
month of February alone! The plea from me is to slow the train down enough
to let some of us who are in the education business do what we do best to
show what you do best to the best possible advantage. As it is, we both
lose. Is that too harsh? I don't know; but it seems to me even the people
developing Squeak, some of whom may care not at all about education, are
moving so fast in potentially different directions that it is very
difficult to coordinate their (your) efforts. That can't be optimal for
their (your?) goals either, can it?
Any programming environment provides challenges to non-expert users, and
expert help is often needed. In my opinion many who promote computers as
tools for learning say too little about the amount of support teachers and
students need in order to get good results.
Amen to your second sentence; I am not quite "in the trenches" but I am
closer than most, and believe me, I know this. As to your first sentence,
this is part of my point, and it requires a willing suspension of disbelief
on your part: Why can I not provide something even close to "expert help"
on Squeak, when given comparable amounts of time on half a dozen other
languages/environments I have been more than equal to the task? And if
it's true for me, how many other potential educational "middlemen" are you
losing? Do you care?

-Jerry
goran.hultgren at bluefish.se ()
2012-01-28 11:21:46 UTC
Permalink
Hi Jerry and all!

As one of he Squeak Guides I thought I should chip in with a few
reflections, and while doing so I realized that the post was turning
into a status report about the community so I realized we should
probably have a monthly little status report from the Guides trying to
tell everyone what is going on - it's *a lot* now.

So I took the liberty of changing the subject line to reflect this, hope
that is ok. :-)

NOTE: This is a report based mostly on my personal view on what is going
on. Please remember that. I may for example simply be wrong about stuff
- it has been known to happen. ;-)
Post by Jerry Balzano
Thank you for these comments, Jerry. I think you're bringing up important
points. I think it needs to be emphasized over and over again that Squeak
is a research system. It is not a completed product, but a work in
progress, and that causes ome of the frustrations teachers and other
novices experience.
But John, I really don't consider myself a "novice" in the sense that I
think you mean. NetLogo (the Illinois version of StarLogo) is a research
system too, but I have learned to program in it pretty well, and to teach
others to program in it pretty effectively themselves, **even though it is
much "harder" than Squeak**.
Are you here referring to eToys or Squeak as in Smalltalk? I assume
eToys and in that area I am a complete idiot so I will not imply that I
have any answers to that. From what I have seen and read though
(SqueakNews had a lot of interesting articles about eToys/kids/schools,
and who stole my CDs at OOPSLA btw? Grrr.) eToys probably works pretty
fine **with proper guidance**. Just a hunch.
Post by Jerry Balzano
And NetLogo/StarLogo is a moving target too, but *nothing* (maybe in the
whole Universe) moves as fast as Squeak. 2005 posts to SqueakDev in the
month of February alone! The plea from me is to slow the train down enough
But wait a minute - now we are talking about Squeak and not eToys. Those
two must be kept separate in this discussion. Or at least we need to be
aware of that separation. :-) Even though the activity is high on the
list, currently eToys is more or less sitting still (right guys?).

And frankly, the noise/signal ratio has gone up a bit I think, but I am
not sure - on the other hand that is natural given the current
development, read on.

One thing I am sure about is that the community is "waking up" and we
are having a hard time trying to coordinate all the discussions and
decisions. I think it is gradually sinking in that SqC isn't around
anymore and the community - that's us - we need to stand on our own
feet. And people are standing up a lot. :-) So it's probably a kindof
"rush" right now that may cool down. In short - a lot is happening but I
think we - as a community - are still coping.

One very good example of "people standing up" is the documentation
project steaming ahead by first cleaning up the Squeak Swiki - a juicy
job, but I think they are doing fine. I just hope they will have some
energy left in the end to try to keep it in the good shape they are
bringing it to. :-) And btw, this project does generate quite a lot of
traffic on the list - for very good reasons.

In general I think we are doing "ok" so far, even though I myself feel
like my head is spinning. :-)
Post by Jerry Balzano
to let some of us who are in the education business do what we do best to
show what you do best to the best possible advantage. As it is, we both
lose. Is that too harsh? I don't know; but it seems to me even the people
developing Squeak, some of whom may care not at all about education, are
moving so fast in potentially different directions that it is very
difficult to coordinate their (your) efforts. That can't be optimal for
their (your?) goals either, can it?
Well, coordination is hard. But this is open source doing what it does
best. Evolution.
Or you can call it chaos if you like! :-)

In short - I don't think we are capable of "slowing down". Honestly. But
we *are* capable of making the ride more enjoyable. The
sociology/psychology of open source is quite interesting - people are
here to have fun, scratch itches, learn and of course simply to use
Squeak. But I don't think we can tell people to "slow down". That would
be like telling people what to do in their spare time! Obviously people
do what the heck they like in their spare time. :-)

But again - we can make the ride less bumpy. In very, very short, this
is what is going on in that sense right now:

1. Documentation project, see http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/808
This project is cleaning up the Swiki to start with. Exactly how they
are proceeding after that is still open I think, there are ideas about
an interactive reference "Magic book" inside Squeak and much more. They
are also actively writing new/missing class comments. This has
revitalized the whole "documentation question" with a lot of interesting
ideas. We will see where it leads - the cool part is that somebody is
*doing* something instead of talking about it.

2. Morphic cleanup project (MCP), see
http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/3005
This project is doing an overhaul of Morphic. And they are moving in an
impressive speed and are automating a lot of parts of their process.
These procedures that they are developing have turned out as a
"template" for other projects, especially the KCP project below.

3. Kernel cleanup project (KCP), see
http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/3083
The SCG group in Berne are digging into the deep, meta-mythical kernel
of Squeak with intentions of making it better/simpler/cleaner. And they
are very capable to succeed. They are also stepping up to the plate to
become Stewards of the kernel. Being a Steward is a concept that has
been coined on the list and it is essentially being a "package
maintainer" for a part of "base" Squeak - typically some part that is
currently in the standard image. The community have not yet (!!) given
them the "official" approvement as Stewards of the kernel but I think
this is simply an oversight. Yes, I did look through the thread in
question but I couldn't find any "definitive decision" even though all
who responded were positive. In order to not drag this out any more I
just posted a "decision time" post on the sqf-list where the Guides
communicate. If all guides agree then its "official", otherwise we will
simply discuss it further.

4. The Guides are leading the discussions/decisions about how the
releases should work and how we "harvest" all the abundant improvements
to Squeak that we are swimming in. Currently we are deciding how/what
version 3.5 will be. This is a big subject and there are tons of threads
regarding this area.

5. SqueakMap is slowly moving forward. The current version is pretty
stable - there is one or two silly bugs but apart from that it is
ticking like a clock. Thank god. This weekend I will try hard to get
SM1.1 cooking and out the door in a first alpha! Yep, my soon-to-be-wife
is going away so, hehe, I can code all night long... ;-) SM1.1 will make
SqueakMap hopefully work much more "as it should" and make it much
easier for all of us to keep the universe of packages in good coherent
shape.

I have probably missed a few projects going on like Marcus Denker's
brilliant TEST-project and many others (forgive me) but all in all
almost everything going on right now is about making the ride **less**
bumpy. This is IMHO an important observation. We are **not** simply
hacking away in various directions.
Post by Jerry Balzano
Any programming environment provides challenges to non-expert users, and
expert help is often needed. In my opinion many who promote computers as
tools for learning say too little about the amount of support teachers and
students need in order to get good results.
Amen to your second sentence; I am not quite "in the trenches" but I am
closer than most, and believe me, I know this. As to your first sentence,
this is part of my point, and it requires a willing suspension of disbelief
on your part: Why can I not provide something even close to "expert help"
on Squeak, when given comparable amounts of time on half a dozen other
languages/environments I have been more than equal to the task? And if
it's true for me, how many other potential educational "middlemen" are you
losing? Do you care?
We care. And while I am not sure I agree with the fact that we are
"loosing educational middlemen" (at least not in Squeak in general,
eToys is something I don't know about) do you have any more concrete
proposals other than simply slowing down? This is an honest question, I
am not trying to sound arrogant. It is just that I don't really know
what we can/should do that we aren't trying!

Currently the whole community is on their toes and "all ears" - the
energy is high. We can do **anything** (just look at those crazy guys
digging into Morphic, jikes ;-) ) right now. And it is simply a joy to
me - Squeak is finally standing on its own!

But to get back to your question: eToys in particular is tricky - I will
leave that area to someone much more capable than me: ...eh, someone?
Post by Jerry Balzano
-Jerry
regards, Göran

PS. Again, I hope you didn't mind me splashing this monthly report all
over your thread... Perhaps it was a bad idea, well, whatever.
goran.hultgren at bluefish.se ()
2012-01-28 11:21:46 UTC
Permalink
Hi Squeaklanders!

Regarding the possibly confusing report I just crossposted to the
squeakland-list and to the squeak-dev list...
Hi Goeran,
Don't you think this cross-posting to squeakland won't confuse
everybody on that list? They don't know anyting about squeak.org,
Eh, oops. Well, Marcus is of course right. It was just this time since I
also replied to the post in question and that one was already
crossposted. We don't intend to do that in later reports.

This report was really only intended for Squeak-dev and the development
of Squeak - not Squeakland.
In fact I know very little of the Squeakland activities so, well, sorry
for any confusion, my mistake! :-)

regards, Göran
Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Jerry --

I think you should first separate out the Squeak system -- an
experimental version of Smalltalk that is quite beyond the scope of
this list, which is for parents and teachers -- from the Squeak
"Etoys" which is aimed at children and *is* discussed on this list.
So complaining about 2000 posts to SqueakDev on this list is just
confusing for most of the folks here -- it's like complaining that
LISP is big and comprehensive -- it's not an enduser system, etc.

I will confine myself to the tradeoffs with the Squeak etoys. First,
we really do need better documentation, even for a system that is
still being tested by us. We have found that it takes about 3 years
in a classroom to get a good set of tests and we are just now in that
3rd year. The results of these 3 years have been written up by
teacher BJ Allen-Conn and Kim Rose in a "book of 10 projects" -- they
have done a great job! -- and drafts of this book will be available
online not too far in the future. Another terrific contribution is
from Sebastian Hergott's 8th grade class in Toronto. They did lots of
projects and he got them to write them up as documented examples.
These two books together supply lots of examples and should help to
bridge some of the gaps in documentation.

However, I should say a little about the history of etoys. They were
originally not aimed at classrooms but as 10-20 minute projects
supplied on the web for parents and their children to do together. I
stripped out as many features as I could and tried to come up with a
system that could do "100 examples" pretty straightforwardly. The
documentation that was intended here was to have been to teach
parents how to do the examples so they and their kids could have a
good experience. For several reasons, this plan did not work out at
Disney. But BJ saw it and wanted to try etoys in her 5th grade
classroom. I was initially against the idea because I thought that
etoys were not complete enough for that venue. But she and Kim Rose
decided to do it anyway. Six weeks later they started to show me some
really good results, and I realized that it would be worth doing a 3
year experiment to see how well the etoys -- even with some of their
lacks -- would work out with 10 and 11 year olds.

The results have been excellent -- in the proper environment most
children have no trouble getting joyously creative and fluent -- and
hence the forthcoming book by BJ and Kim to help other teachers and
parents achieve the same results.

Our previous plans to make a kind of "superhypercard" and then get
version 2 of etoys from that much more comprehensive design did not
work out at Disney, and it wasn't until recently that we've been able
to get that plan going again. I think this is more like the system
you want, and you'll have a chance to try it out this summer.

To zero in on a real critique of today's etoys, it is helpful to
confine discussion to 10 year olds and up, since essentially all the
experience that we and others have had are in this age range. The
etoys have changed very little in several years, in part because of
the testing that is going on, so comments such as "too fast moving"
really have to do with the larger Squeak community over at
www.squeak.org. Here I think the problems are not so much lack of
documentation as lack of particular kinds of documentation, such as
detailed tutorials and project workbooks. The user-tested books
mentioned above should help this.

Let me turn to another area, and tell a story that I witnessed
recently. I was visiting a classroom with a really terrific teacher,
who was truly ecstatic when his children could figure out something
before him (we need more of these kinds of teachers!). But he brought
up a problem that he couldn't see how to do. He wanted to general
random colors, and had seen that the red, green and blue blends are
given in the color picker. In etoys colors are not manifested as
three numbers (we possibly should, but don't) though they are in the
larger Squeak system (and in many other ways). So he didn't see how
to make up colors, especially random ones. My thought was to put a
bunch of objects (such as ellipses) into a holder, give them
different colors and then do random picking by moving the cursor
holder's cursor <- random
to get an object whose color can be gotten at.
We did that and he was happy. But then we saw a child who came
up with a much better way to do this. He just put splotches of paint
on the desktop and ran a Squeak player (like a car) over the
splotches in a random "drunkard's walk" and used "color under" to
pick up the color as a value.
My thought on seeing that was that it was the child who found
the "etoys way" of solving this problem, and that the general
solution in this fashion would involve using the color rainbow of a
color picker to supply a wide range of colors for the car to wander
about on.
My second thought was that both the teacher and I were somewhat
trapped in our pasts. The teacher had done something with color
numbers in the past and wanted to do it again. I went to a table
lookup solution that I had done many times in the past for other
kinds of problems, and this worked. The child went at the heart of
the matter with a completely simple and concrete approach that was
quite brilliant and original.

One of the reasons I'm telling this story is that today's etoys --
that lack a wide and comprehensive range of features that "they
should have" -- are best approached through the kinds of projects
that *can* be done really nicely using the features that are there.
There are more than enough such projects to occupy a full year
(really more like 3 years) of work and play by children. As for the
larger scope that is eventually needed, I'm hoping we can accomplish
this by the time today's projects are used up.
Post by Jerry Balzano
Orbits
Springs
Weighing
Gradient following - Salmon and Clownfish
Tree Growing
Epidemics
Multiple Mentalities
Grey Walter Conditioned Response Learning
Circuit Models
Anyone who could create projects like these in any programmable
medium, I'd say, would have a serious leg up on "real" programming
by anyone's hard-nosed definition of that elusive (and
ever-changing) concept.
I think I agree here. I've done each of these strictly in etoys to
see what the process is like and to understand how one would explain
the process to both teachers and children. Most of these projects are
aimed at older children (such as Sebastian's 8th graders and older),
and I think are quite doable, but they haven't been tested yet with
adults and children of a good age and mindset. Just to provide a few
more comments on some of these:

*Orbits* is easily done in etoys if you understand Newton's inverse
square law, vectors (and that each etoy player -- like a logo turtle
-- is a vector and can do vector arithmetic). The script that does
the work is about 4 lines of tiles long and is a pretty direct
translation of the inverse square law using "increase by" of vectors.
It's a very clean script.
Here quite a bit has to be worked up to for most teachers and
other adults. There are hurdles of mathematics, science, and learning
more about how to use etoys. The scaffolding would require many
projects to be done earlier, including the accelleration and gravity
projects that were easily done by BJ's 5th graders. I think a good
next one is to do a spaceship floating in space without a gravity
field to get a sense of how velocity is often (usually) in a
different direction than the ship is pointing.

*Springs* are fun to do, and easy to script in etoys if you go
through the exercise of deciding that the force on a spring is
proportional to the displacement and in the opposite direction. I
think there is quite a bit of scaffolding needed to do the science
part.

*Weighing* is part of doing a real roller coaster in etoys. An
insight is required here. Most people get stumped about needing sine
and cosine, etc., to find the forces on an inclined plane. But in
fact, you can "weigh" them using a postal scale on an inclined scale.
You can make up a simple table -- using a holder -- of the forces
every few degrees and this is quite good enough to make a real roller
coaster in etoys.

*Gradient following* If you make a gradient using the graphic
properties sheet you can do tests on it using "Brightness under".
This allows a simple feedback program to be written (very much like
the follow the road ones) that will cause a simulated object to
follow and find the darker or lighter regions of the gradient.
(Gradient following is a feature in starLogo, but I think people
should learn about it by actually scripting it.)

*Tree Growing* Most people have cognitive difficulties with
recursion, but one nice way to look at trees is recursively. This is
a conflict. Because etoys can make new objects via copies (see below)
it is possible to bypass recursion altogether in favor of a branching
activation. This turned out to be a very clear script and a good
model for other kinds of "recursion changed to branching activation"
problems.

*Epidemics* have a wide range. The easiest ones are just having
infected objects bump into noninfected ones and transmit the
infection. This is just a few lines of script to do.

*Multiple mentalities* comes from the Vivarium work we did 15 years
ago. Here we have separate scripts or even objects that represent
parallel and mostly independent drives of the simulated animal. The
main thinking that is needed is to figure out which of the drives
should be allowed to control the animal. This is easy for two (a
simple comparison) and needs something like a sort for more (it is
actually just looking for the one with the largest "urgency", so it's
a matter of using the "max" operator to perculate the largest urgency
one in a holder.

*Grey Walter* conditioned reflex learning model. Here it is hard to
guess about the appropriate age for this wonderful etoy. My guess is
high school since Grey Walter's model is nicely subtle. (He did this
with a single vacuum tube in 1949, so parsimony was the order of the
day. He got all of his power from very careful reasoning and clear
thinking about a simple model to do this.) Once you understand how he
did it (I made a diagram to show the 7 steps you have to go through)
it was quite easy to do in etoys and generated a nice set of dynamic
graphs for the animal's "state of mind".

*Circuit Models* I've not quite figured out an appropriate approach
here. One way is to use the connectors stuff of Ned Konz and
propagate signals though his objects. Several folks have done this,
most notably a high school student who is working with us -- he went
to the heart of the matter and decided not to do batteries and bulbs
per se but to see about simulating logic.
Post by Jerry Balzano
My students (same ones as above) wrote programs in NetLogo,
Microworlds (a descendant of Logo),
This is a product
Post by Jerry Balzano
and Stagecast Creator
so is this. Etoys is an experimental system that is still quite a
ways from being a finished packaged product.
Post by Jerry Balzano
the tutorial (see
http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/resources.shtml) and a "Food
Fight" game in Stagecast Creator, for which I'd love to be able to
write the "etoys tutorial", if I could only see how to do several
simple things in Etoys, for example
* have an agent (smiley) create another agent (burger) in the
space next to him
Let's suppose that smiley is in a playfield called "fastfood".

smiley create
smiley's temp <- burger copy
fastfood include smiley's temp
smiley's temp's x <- smiley's x + 25
smiley's temp's y <- smiley's y

I found "copy" and "include" just by going through the views of the
two objects and seeing what the balloon help told me. This is the
documentation that is there, but most people don't use it. I found
that I could make a player valued variable by looking at the menu
item "change data type", etc.
Post by Jerry Balzano
* have an agent (smiley) send a message to a counter agent (count
down) each time he "uses up" a burger, and another message to a
counter-scorer agent (count up) each time one of his burgers hits
his opponent
burger scoring
Test burger's color sees <color of boundary>
Yes smiley's score decrease by 1
Test burger's color sees <color of opponent>
Yes smiley's score increase by 1
Post by Jerry Balzano
...just to name two.
So, speaking of "viable learning paths", does anyone have a
suggestion for one for *me*? Who wants to respond to all the
questions my teacher-students raised in my field notes?
I do.
Post by Jerry Balzano
Who wants to help me complete all the projects on Alan's list?
I have done these projects. I need help in explaining them in a way
useful to parents and teachers.
Post by Jerry Balzano
If *I* can't figure out how to do this stuff on my own, there's no
way any of the teachers I teach -- even after they've been
thoroughly Balzano-indoctrinated to the virtues of programming and
completed my
more-rigorous-than-99%-of-other-teacher-ed-computer-courses course
-- will be able to figure it out either.
I don't necessarily agree here, but your point is well taken. I think
that quite a bit of success for different kinds of people is the
match up between types of thinking, types of motivation, and the
kinds of materials and scaffolding available. Some teachers have been
amazingly successful with our inadequate documentation and others
have been less successful that one would expect, given the amount of
documentaiton that is there. Many children who like to explore and
don't want to read documentation have done even better. Some children
are quite stumped without explicit help (but that's what teachers are
supposed to be for.)

But the clear lesson is that we need to provide enough coverage for a
wide range of styles of learning. Please continue to be interested
and to help.

Cheers,

Alan
--
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Jerry Balzano
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Squeakers,

Since I am teaching today, I haven't had time to digest the overwhelming
number of responses to my postings, but I am *greatly* encouraged by them.
Before I run off to class I do particularly want to thank you Alan for your
long reply...and even if some of what I said was a bit annoying, I have to
say it was probably worth it to get you to expand on some of those projects
("Orbits", "Springs", "Weighing", etc.) for both the Squeakland and the
SqueakDev groups.

As far as separating the groups ... I thought at least some of what I had
to say was of interest to both groups and thought it was probably easier
for readers to skim parts they found uninteresting than it was for me to
evaluate each paragraph for suitability in each group. And I wasn't so
much "complaining" about 2000+ February postings to SqueakDev as, on the
one hand, marveling at the amount of energy and expertise in the Squeak
community, and on the other hand, feeling somewhat despondent that there
was apparently not enough of it to motivate a serious and sustained effort
to develop a stable version suitable for novice programmers. Call that
"complaining" if you must, but it's not the kind of "complaining" you
suggest.

Will my reference to 2000+ postings confuse the Squeaklanders? Well, I
*am* trying to stir the pot a little, but I really don't think it will
confuse these smart and resourceful folks. I think Squeaklanders are
hungry for more postings (I know I am, as a member of both lists); there
were 58 February 2003 posts to Squeakland, and 9 of those were from Alan
Kay, 8 from Kim Rose, and 12 about the Kay/Papert talks in Toronto. So if
I'm a Squeaklander I should at least feel good that there's lots of
activity going on "behind the scenes", as it were. With all this
Balkanization of knowledge going on (Papert 1980), and given how easy it is
to delete an unwanted message, I don't want to be contributing to it by
placing my contributions in this or that segment or the Balkans.

You're right that it's Squeak proper that is "too fast moving" and not
etoys; but more than once I have found changes in Squeak proper causing
either inexplicable behavior in etoys or just making things break. (We try
to make things fully separate but we can never really achieve it.)

Let me focus on one more thing in your gold-mine of a response, your "Food
Post by Alan Kay
Post by Jerry Balzano
* have an agent (smiley) create another agent (burger) in the space
next to him
Let's suppose that smiley is in a playfield called "fastfood".
smiley create
smiley's temp <- burger copy
fastfood include smiley's temp
smiley's temp's x <- smiley's x + 25
smiley's temp's y <- smiley's y
I found "copy" and "include" just by going through the views of the two
objects and seeing what the balloon help told me. This is the
documentation that is there, but most people don't use it. I found that I
could make a player valued variable by looking at the menu item "change
data type", etc.
OK Alan, I get the subtle dig (maybe not so subtle). In fact, I not only
know all the balloons in etoys by heart, I have even prepared a three-page
handout called "Etoy Viewer Commands" (incl balloon helps -- not including
"do menu item") that I will be posting to the Squeakland list (immediately
after this). There is no "include" there that I can see! And so you
shouldn't be surprised that I therefore don't fully understand your
"pseudocode". For the record, it seems to me (and it seemed to my
Stagecast Creator - literate teachers) that having a character create
another character should be more straightforward than this in any case. Do
you not agree?

Best,
Jerry
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Ned Konz
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jerry Balzano
There is no "include" there that I can see! And so you
shouldn't be surprised that I therefore don't fully understand your
"pseudocode". For the record, it seems to me (and it seemed to my
Stagecast Creator - literate teachers) that having a character
create another character should be more straightforward than this
in any case. Do you not agree?
Hi Jerry,

Thanks for your message; it's obviously stirred up some interesting
responses!

About this question (NOTE: I am not an eToys expert!)

The "include:" is in the "collections" vocabulary of Playfield/Holder,
at least in 3.4. The method itself is dated 2/3/2002, so if you have
an older version you may not have seen it.

As far as making another character, "burger copy" is as easy as I can
imagine. Sticking it into "temp" is a bit obscure; you could also go

fastfood include: burger copy

but then you'd have no way to refer to the new burger.

If there were a name: method, it might be handier:

burger copy name: 'fred'
fred's x <- smiley's x + 50
fred's y <- smiley's y

Prototypes are an important part of eToys, as far as I can tell.

What would make this easier?

Thanks,
--
Ned Konz
http://bike-nomad.com
GPG key ID: BEEA7EFE
Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:50 UTC
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Stephane Ducasse
2012-01-28 11:21:45 UTC
Permalink
but feel free to mention them that Squeak works on PC, Unix, and all
our wonderful platforms
Post by Tim Rowledge
Post by Hannes Hirzel
It shows up only as a Mac application. Could you file it as well as a
Windows app, please.
And how about unix and RiscOS as well? Or is this one of those
objectionable websites that only caters for the uninteresting platforms
?
tim
--
Useful random insult:- Has a one-way ticket on the Disoriented Express.
Prof. Dr. St?phane DUCASSE (***@iam.unibe.ch)
http://www.iam.unibe.ch/~ducasse/
"if you knew today was your last day on earth, what would you do
different? ... especially if,
by doing something different, today might not be your last day on
earth" Calvin&Hobbes

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it..." Alan Kay.

Open Source Smalltalks: www.squeak.org,
www.gnu.org/software/smalltalk/smalltalk.html
Free books for Universities at
http://www.esug.org/sponsoring/promotionProgram.html
Free Online Book at www.iam.unibe.ch/~ducasse/FreeBooks.html
Hannes Hirzel
2012-01-28 11:21:45 UTC
Permalink
Dear Jerry

Thank you for sending in your two long mails. I do not have the time
to answer them thouroughly the next too days but I would welcome a
discussion on these issues which may last even a few months.

So I just answer one point and suggest
a way to organize the discussion which will (hopefully) follow.
Post by Jerry Balzano
I think it needs to be emphasized over and over again that Squeak
is a research system. It is not a completed product, but a work in
progress, and that causes ome of the frustrations teachers and other
novices experience.
But John, I really don't consider myself a "novice" in the sense that I
think you mean. NetLogo (the Illinois version of StarLogo) is a research
system too, but I have learned to program in it pretty well, and to teach
others to program in it pretty effectively themselves, **even though it is
much "harder" than Squeak**.
Trying to come up with a specific answer...

A problem here surely is that Squeak can be considered a superset of
Logo
in terms of the size of the library. The programming model is more
complex;
in Logo you achieve exciting results if you combine a few two or three
sentences procedures. The Logo-IDE is more limited but that makes it
easier to
teach and learn.
Squeak (Smalltalk) offers more possibilites, but many are not well
worked out; for
this reason you see all this "cleaning and harvesting fixes" efforts
under way.
Squeak e-toys actually offers fewer possibilites than Logo in a sense
but this has been deliberately chosen by Alan Kay (cf. mailing list
archives)

I think the approach Stephane Ducasse is using is good for teaching.
He is a universtity teacher (software engineering) but his his wife is
a teacher as well. I do not know for which age of the children.
Stef has written a browser for doing turtle graphics that basically
allows
you to work in logo style. This approach is surely worth beeing
discussed
further. (StarSqueak etc.)

Another problem I perceive is that Squeak is "sold" for children K-5 and
up.
A psychologist I'm in contact with thinks that is way too early and he
pointed me to reading Piaget which I didn't do yet. I rather think
Squeak
would be fine for doing K-9 to K-12, and/or college, university level.

How should we proceed?

You mentioned that you have a list of 40 questions or so?
We could either discuss them here or you could write them to a swiki
pages; (title to be defined)
The swiki page would then be the working place while we
comment on it here. The documentation team needs this kind of questions.
They are a very valuable contribution for driving the documentation
forward.

May I suggest to use a tag [TEACH], perhaps combinded with [DOCS],
in the title of the emails which follow discussing this issue.

Many people use email filters (especially nice in CELESTE) to navigate
within the thousands of mails .

This will allow somebody to come up with a summary of the discussion
spread out in many threads.

As you cross post to the Squeakland mailing list you are probably
following that discussion as well. I am there a well but do not
closey follow the topics discussed.

My personal summary (reflecting my momentary state of knowledge)

1) e-toys is a research prototype which needs close following by
the original researchers.

2) Squeak developer edition (with classic Smalltalk) could be a good
replacement for Logo; the environment is very rich which makes it
attractive but there are not enough fences and it is easy to get lost.
Beginner level documentation (and probably other as well is
still relatively poor, but we are working on it). The debugger as a
main point of interaction with the system when programming could
be more user friendly (Daniel Vainsencher wrote about this)
If you could join the documentation team for example in the role
of a "customer" just asking questions that would be incredibly great!
Even a an effort of 4..8 hours to put together a list would really
help.

Regards

Hannes


P.S. Excuse my English writing style. To write such an email
in a very polished style would need a lot more effort from
my side and I think I get the message through this way.
It is a kind of trade-off (time used / result).
In the documentation team we have language and editing experts.
Hannes Hirzel
2012-01-28 11:21:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stephane Ducasse
but feel free to mention them that Squeak works on PC, Unix, and all
our wonderful platforms
I would have been nice if you had done that in the first place.
The interface of that web site looks clumsy and it is not a good
use of time that Tim looks into that as well. We really prefer
him updating swiki pages on VM issues ;-)

-- Hannes
Stephane Ducasse
2012-01-28 11:21:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by goran.hultgren at bluefish.se ()
As one of he Squeak Guides I thought I should chip in with a few
reflections, and while doing so I realized that the post was turning
into a status report about the community so I realized we should
probably have a monthly little status report from the Guides trying to
tell everyone what is going on - it's *a lot* now.
I LIKE this idea of a monthly report!!!!
Post by goran.hultgren at bluefish.se ()
So I took the liberty of changing the subject line to reflect this,
hope
that is ok. :-)
NOTE: This is a report based mostly on my personal view on what is
going
on. Please remember that. I may for example simply be wrong about stuff
- it has been known to happen. ;-)
Post by Jerry Balzano
Thank you for these comments, Jerry. I think you're bringing up
important
points. I think it needs to be emphasized over and over again that
Squeak
is a research system. It is not a completed product, but a work in
progress, and that causes ome of the frustrations teachers and other
novices experience.
But John, I really don't consider myself a "novice" in the sense that
I
think you mean. NetLogo (the Illinois version of StarLogo) is a
research
system too, but I have learned to program in it pretty well, and to
teach
others to program in it pretty effectively themselves, **even though
it is
much "harder" than Squeak**.
Are you here referring to eToys or Squeak as in Smalltalk? I assume
eToys and in that area I am a complete idiot so I will not imply that I
have any answers to that. From what I have seen and read though
(SqueakNews had a lot of interesting articles about eToys/kids/schools,
and who stole my CDs at OOPSLA btw? Grrr.) eToys probably works pretty
fine **with proper guidance**. Just a hunch.
Post by Jerry Balzano
And NetLogo/StarLogo is a moving target too, but *nothing* (maybe in
the
whole Universe) moves as fast as Squeak. 2005 posts to SqueakDev in
the
month of February alone! The plea from me is to slow the train down
enough
But wait a minute - now we are talking about Squeak and not eToys.
Those
two must be kept separate in this discussion. Or at least we need to be
aware of that separation. :-) Even though the activity is high on the
list, currently eToys is more or less sitting still (right guys?).
And frankly, the noise/signal ratio has gone up a bit I think, but I am
not sure - on the other hand that is natural given the current
development, read on.
One thing I am sure about is that the community is "waking up" and we
are having a hard time trying to coordinate all the discussions and
decisions. I think it is gradually sinking in that SqC isn't around
anymore and the community - that's us - we need to stand on our own
feet. And people are standing up a lot. :-) So it's probably a kindof
"rush" right now that may cool down. In short - a lot is happening but
I
think we - as a community - are still coping.
One very good example of "people standing up" is the documentation
project steaming ahead by first cleaning up the Squeak Swiki - a juicy
job, but I think they are doing fine. I just hope they will have some
energy left in the end to try to keep it in the good shape they are
bringing it to. :-) And btw, this project does generate quite a lot of
traffic on the list - for very good reasons.
In general I think we are doing "ok" so far, even though I myself feel
like my head is spinning. :-)
Post by Jerry Balzano
to let some of us who are in the education business do what we do
best to
show what you do best to the best possible advantage. As it is, we
both
lose. Is that too harsh? I don't know; but it seems to me even the
people
developing Squeak, some of whom may care not at all about education,
are
moving so fast in potentially different directions that it is very
difficult to coordinate their (your) efforts. That can't be optimal
for
their (your?) goals either, can it?
Well, coordination is hard. But this is open source doing what it does
best. Evolution.
Or you can call it chaos if you like! :-)
In short - I don't think we are capable of "slowing down". Honestly.
But
we *are* capable of making the ride more enjoyable. The
sociology/psychology of open source is quite interesting - people are
here to have fun, scratch itches, learn and of course simply to use
Squeak. But I don't think we can tell people to "slow down". That would
be like telling people what to do in their spare time! Obviously people
do what the heck they like in their spare time. :-)
But again - we can make the ride less bumpy. In very, very short, this
1. Documentation project, see http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/808
This project is cleaning up the Swiki to start with. Exactly how they
are proceeding after that is still open I think, there are ideas about
an interactive reference "Magic book" inside Squeak and much more. They
are also actively writing new/missing class comments. This has
revitalized the whole "documentation question" with a lot of
interesting
ideas. We will see where it leads - the cool part is that somebody is
*doing* something instead of talking about it.
2. Morphic cleanup project (MCP), see
http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/3005
This project is doing an overhaul of Morphic. And they are moving in an
impressive speed and are automating a lot of parts of their process.
These procedures that they are developing have turned out as a
"template" for other projects, especially the KCP project below.
3. Kernel cleanup project (KCP), see
http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/3083
The SCG group in Berne are digging into the deep, meta-mythical kernel
of Squeak with intentions of making it better/simpler/cleaner. And they
are very capable to succeed. They are also stepping up to the plate to
become Stewards of the kernel. Being a Steward is a concept that has
been coined on the list and it is essentially being a "package
maintainer" for a part of "base" Squeak - typically some part that is
currently in the standard image. The community have not yet (!!) given
them the "official" approvement as Stewards of the kernel but I think
this is simply an oversight. Yes, I did look through the thread in
question but I couldn't find any "definitive decision" even though all
who responded were positive. In order to not drag this out any more I
just posted a "decision time" post on the sqf-list where the Guides
communicate. If all guides agree then its "official", otherwise we will
simply discuss it further.
4. The Guides are leading the discussions/decisions about how the
releases should work and how we "harvest" all the abundant improvements
to Squeak that we are swimming in. Currently we are deciding how/what
version 3.5 will be. This is a big subject and there are tons of
threads
regarding this area.
5. SqueakMap is slowly moving forward. The current version is pretty
stable - there is one or two silly bugs but apart from that it is
ticking like a clock. Thank god. This weekend I will try hard to get
SM1.1 cooking and out the door in a first alpha! Yep, my
soon-to-be-wife
is going away so, hehe, I can code all night long... ;-) SM1.1 will
make
SqueakMap hopefully work much more "as it should" and make it much
easier for all of us to keep the universe of packages in good coherent
shape.
I have probably missed a few projects going on like Marcus Denker's
brilliant TEST-project and many others (forgive me) but all in all
almost everything going on right now is about making the ride **less**
bumpy. This is IMHO an important observation. We are **not** simply
hacking away in various directions.
Post by Jerry Balzano
Any programming environment provides challenges to non-expert users,
and
expert help is often needed. In my opinion many who promote
computers as
tools for learning say too little about the amount of support
teachers and
students need in order to get good results.
Amen to your second sentence; I am not quite "in the trenches" but I
am
closer than most, and believe me, I know this. As to your first
sentence,
this is part of my point, and it requires a willing suspension of
disbelief
on your part: Why can I not provide something even close to "expert
help"
on Squeak, when given comparable amounts of time on half a dozen other
languages/environments I have been more than equal to the task? And
if
it's true for me, how many other potential educational "middlemen"
are you
losing? Do you care?
We care. And while I am not sure I agree with the fact that we are
"loosing educational middlemen" (at least not in Squeak in general,
eToys is something I don't know about) do you have any more concrete
proposals other than simply slowing down? This is an honest question, I
am not trying to sound arrogant. It is just that I don't really know
what we can/should do that we aren't trying!
Currently the whole community is on their toes and "all ears" - the
energy is high. We can do **anything** (just look at those crazy guys
digging into Morphic, jikes ;-) ) right now. And it is simply a joy to
me - Squeak is finally standing on its own!
But to get back to your question: eToys in particular is tricky - I
will
leave that area to someone much more capable than me: ...eh, someone?
Post by Jerry Balzano
-Jerry
regards, G?ran
PS. Again, I hope you didn't mind me splashing this monthly report all
over your thread... Perhaps it was a bad idea, well, whatever.
Prof. Dr. St?phane DUCASSE (***@iam.unibe.ch)
http://www.iam.unibe.ch/~ducasse/
"if you knew today was your last day on earth, what would you do
different? ... especially if,
by doing something different, today might not be your last day on
earth" Calvin&Hobbes

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it..." Alan Kay.

Open Source Smalltalks: www.squeak.org,
www.gnu.org/software/smalltalk/smalltalk.html
Free books for Universities at
http://www.esug.org/sponsoring/promotionProgram.html
Free Online Book at www.iam.unibe.ch/~ducasse/FreeBooks.html
Lic. Edgar J. De Cleene
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Our previous plans to make a kind of "superhypercard" and then get version 2
of etoys from that much more comprehensive design did not work out at Disney,
and it wasn't until recently that we've been able to get that plan going
again. I think this is more like the system you want, and you'll have a chance
to try it out this summer.
And when we have a truly Hypercard compatible system, I think our users base
are ten times what is now.
I beg you and others for give us this.

Edgar
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Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Well, we don't want a "truly hypercard compatible system". Hypercard
was wonderful for what it got right and slammed the door in your face
with the many things that needed to be better. It's an inspiration to
do a 21st century version of what it was trying to do, and to do it
in a better way. BTW, there is very little that Hypercard could do
functionally that hasn't been in Squeak for many years (much more
extension of function). The trick is partly to wind up with a simple
powerful comprehensive model -- and this is very difficult. I shall
never forget the factor of 20 or so difference in the resources
needed to invent Hypercard, and what was required to package it for
its 4 million or so endusers. However, we are going to take another
run at the fence with a release of some quite new stuff for people to
pound on this summer.

Cheers,

Alan
Post by Alan Kay
Our previous plans to make a kind of "superhypercard" and then get
version 2 of etoys from that much more comprehensive design did not
work out at Disney, and it wasn't until recently that we've been
able to get that plan going again. I think this is more like the
system you want, and you'll have a chance to try it out this summer.
And when we have a truly Hypercard compatible system, I think our
users base are ten times what is now.
I beg you and others for give us this.
Edgar
--
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Dan Ingalls
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alan Kay
Our previous plans to make a kind of "superhypercard" and then get
version 2 of etoys from that much more comprehensive design did not
work out at Disney, and it wasn't until recently that we've been
able to get that plan going again. I think this is more like the
system you want, and you'll have a chance to try it out this summer.
And when we have a truly Hypercard compatible system, I think our
users base are ten times what is now.
I beg you and others for give us this.
Another take on this that might interest you is my intention to
revive a Fabrik-like system in Squeak (see
http://users.ipa.net/~dwighth/smalltalk/Fabrik/Fabrik.html). This is
another thing that did not work out while we were at Disney. The
idea is just to make it really simple to do little "computational
sketches" in Squeak, whether with wires or with little
spreadsheet-like tables, and with probably some overlap with Morphic
Wrappers. My metaphor for this is to turn any pen computer into the
proverbial "back of an envelope" for simple calculations. It could
then be married to some of the very cool parts of eToys, or possibly
into a cool web scripting system. For the latter I have in mind a
different marriage to, eg, screen-scraping and Flash components, but
this would require help from others.

At any rate, as soon as I have something that's at least fun to play
with, I'll put it out for others to play with.

Regards

- Dan
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Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:48 UTC
Permalink
David --
Alan -
I shall never forget the factor of 20 or so difference in the
resources needed to invent Hypercard, and what was required to package
it for its 4 million or so endusers.
Would you mind elaborating on this a little bit? You seem to be
implying that there was something intrinsic to Hypercard that made
the 20x difference unavoidable.
Not at all. It took Bill Atkinson and a few people a few years to do
Hypercard. It took many dozens to hundreds of people about as long to
document it, package it, support it, etc. I think this is quite
normal. E.g. Much of Squeak was done by 5 people in a few years and
look how much work, how many books, etc., have already been expended
to not yet even document it, let alone package it.

Cheers,

Alan
Thanks,
david
--
David Farber
--
Brent Vukmer
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Our previous plans to make a kind of "superhypercard" and then get version 2 of etoys from
that much more comprehensive design did not work out at Disney, and it wasn't until recently
that we've been able to get that plan going again. I think this is more like the system you want, and
you'll have a chance to try it out this summer .
The super-HyperCard and etoys 2.0 sound really cool based on what you've said. I'm just curious -- who's doing this development? Will there be a Squeakland update stream that interested folks can point their images at?

[ cool story about working in current eToys environment ]

[ *really* cool description of eToys scripts ]

Will your design diagrams and/or scripts for the projects you described, be available online somewhere?

I went to the Squeakland mail archive and read the post that listed those project ideas ( http://squeakland.org/listarchive/squeakland/msg00523.html ). In that email you said something about "hints and project books". Are "project books" done in Squeak project form, or written up on the Squeakland swiki?
I think that quite a bit of success for different kinds of people is the match up between types of
thinking, types of motivation, and the kinds of materials and scaffolding available. Some teachers have
been amazingly successful with our inadequate documentation and others have been less successful that one
would expect, given the amount of documentaiton that is there. Many children who like to explore and don't
want to read documentation have done even better. Some children are quite stumped without explicit help
(but that's what teachers are supposed to be for.)
I think that I'm definitely one of the folks that is quite stumped without explicit help. It seems like the whole eToys / direct-manipulation thing has got to really "click" for someone; maybe it's a ca
But the clear lesson is that we need to provide enough coverage for a wide range of styles of learning. Please continue to > be interested and to help.
Thanks for the lengthy email! Very helpful.
Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Hi Brent --
Post by Alan Kay
Our previous plans to make a kind of "superhypercard" and then
get version 2 of etoys from
Post by Alan Kay
that much more comprehensive design did not work out at Disney,
and it wasn't until recently
that we've been able to get that plan going again. I think this is
more like the system you want, and
you'll have a chance to try it out this summer .
The super-HyperCard and etoys 2.0 sound really cool based on what
you've said. I'm just curious -- who's doing this development?
A bunch of us led by Andreas Raab.
Will there be a Squeakland update stream that interested folks can
point their images at?
Perhaps another site.
[ cool story about working in current eToys environment ]
[ *really* cool description of eToys scripts ]
Will your design diagrams and/or scripts for the projects you
described, be available online somewhere?
When we get to something that is good enough to be criticized.
I went to the Squeakland mail archive and read the post that listed
those project ideas (
http://squeakland.org/listarchive/squeakland/msg00523.html ). In
that email you said something about "hints and project books". Are
"project books" done in Squeak project form, or written up on the
Squeakland swiki?
Good question -- like to help with the answer? I've tried lots of
approaches to this very interesting problem: how to close the gap
between the ease of thinking up an etoy project and making it and the
amount of work needed to explain it, annotate it, etc., to help
others see how to do things like it. Scott and I are at work at yet
another attempt at making this work better (or at all).
Post by Alan Kay
I think that quite a bit of success for different kinds of people
is the match up between types of
thinking, types of motivation, and the kinds of materials and
scaffolding available. Some teachers have
been amazingly successful with our inadequate documentation and
others have been less successful that one
would expect, given the amount of documentaiton that is there.
Many children who like to explore and don't
want to read documentation have done even better. Some children
are quite stumped without explicit help
(but that's what teachers are supposed to be for.)
I think that I'm definitely one of the folks that is quite stumped
without explicit help. It seems like the whole eToys /
direct-manipulation thing has got to really "click" for someone;
maybe it's a ca
I think the difficulty with etoys -- for the people who do have
difficulties -- is that the combination of the limited scripting
features and the different object model requires latching onto a
particular style of outlook in order to "see" what's easily doable
and what isn't worth trying to do. This is why I was initially
against BJ and Kim trying etoys in the school -- there is a real
sense in which it isn't general enough. However, what they showed me
is that it is pretty easy to help the children stay within a fruitful
style and that there are many other features of etoys that make the
children incredibly productive and creative. So this worked like
gangbusters -- they were right and I was wrong.

For example, the single biggest drawback to etoys right now is
that the UI is *extremely* biased towards simple whole lines of
script with very simple substitutions. It will allow you to make
complex expressions (sort of by doing it backwards) but it just isn't
set up for this. A much better approach would be one that was
inspired by etoys but much more comprehensive: the Alice 2 interface
from our friends at CMU. This is really nice, and one can get some
great ideas about a left to right direct manipulation expression
building UI. We will probably try something like this in the stuff
we'll show this summer.

So the people who have been very successful at etoys are those that
are comfortable with any limited palette they are given. This has to
be widened before we can declare etoys to be a real release.
Post by Alan Kay
But the clear lesson is that we need to provide enough coverage
for a wide range of styles of learning. Please continue to > be
interested and to help.
Thanks for the lengthy email! Very helpful.
Keep on asking questions -- they are very helpful to me.

Cheers,

Alan



--
Brent Vukmer
2012-01-28 11:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Jerry --

Could you post your field notes from your eToys demo? Also it would be great to see what the teachers' questions were.

You may have already found this on the Web, but Alan Kay did a fairly detailed tutorial/exploration of eToys-and-Squeak for Tamika Knox's class problem. See http://www.squeakland.org:8080/super/200 .

I found that link via Google. I suspected that it was on the Squeakland Swiki, but I couldn't find the link when I navigated around the Squeakland website -- neither http://squeakland.org/author/swikis.html nor http://squeakland.org/author/swikiserver.html points to the Swiki homepage URL ( http://squeakland.org:8080/super ).

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerry Balzano [mailto:***@ucsd.edu]
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2003 9:44 PM
To: squeak-***@lists.squeakfoundation.org
Cc: ***@squeakland.org
Subject: I want to document but I need to learn first!

[snip]

I have some "field notes" from an attempt I made to show etoys to teachers-to-be in UCSD's Teacher Education Program that I would love to share with people on this list. Some of the contents border on painful, but if I could only answer all *their* questions (and remember, if I am twice-, these teachers are three-times-removed from Squeak-insiderness),

[snip]
Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:48 UTC
Permalink
Thanks Brent --
Post by Alan Kay
Jerry --
Could you post your field notes from your eToys demo? Also it would
be great to see what the teachers' questions were.
You may have already found this on the Web, but Alan Kay did a
fairly detailed tutorial/exploration of eToys-and-Squeak for Tamika
Knox's class problem. See http://www.squeakland.org:8080/super/200 .
I hate to say this but I pretty much forgot what I did here -- even
that I did it -- and certainly did forget this link (life has been
complicated the last 2 years ...). This is actually a pretty good
start at some of the things that Jerry wants and needs. I think the
reason that I didn't link this up is that I didn't get done with the
general stuff and didn't hand it off to anyone else .. then it got
forgotten. But, it's on a swiki so it is open to be added to and
changed for the better ... Maybe we should link this into the
squeakland.org site even in its unfinished state and hope someone
(perhaps with the energy of Sebastian's students) will add to it.

Cheers,

Alan
Post by Alan Kay
I found that link via Google. I suspected that it was on the
Squeakland Swiki, but I couldn't find the link when I navigated
around the Squeakland website -- neither
http://squeakland.org/author/swikis.html nor
http://squeakland.org/author/swikiserver.html points to the Swiki
homepage URL ( http://squeakland.org:8080/super ).
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2003 9:44 PM
Subject: I want to document but I need to learn first!
[snip]
I have some "field notes" from an attempt I made to show etoys to
teachers-to-be in UCSD's Teacher Education Program that I would love
to share with people on this list. Some of the contents border on
painful, but if I could only answer all *their* questions (and
remember, if I am twice-, these teachers are three-times-removed
from Squeak-insiderness),
[snip]
--
Gary Fisher
2012-01-28 11:21:48 UTC
Permalink
"You may have already found this on the Web, but Alan Kay did a fairly detailed tutorial/exploration of eToys-and-Squeak for Tamika Knox's class problem. See http://www.squeakland.org:8080/super/200 ."
Amen to that! Alan did this about the time I was coming to terms with Squeak, and I found it tremendously helpful, not only for the tutorial material itself but for the degree to which Alan shared his thought processes as he assembled the tutorial over a period of time.

I've often wondered how that story ended -- whether Tamika was able to bring Squeak successfully to her class, and how she may have progressed since then.

Gary Fisher


----- Original Message -----
From: Brent Vukmer
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
Cc: ***@squeakland.org
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 9:44 AM
Subject: RE: I want to document but I need to learn first!


Jerry --

Could you post your field notes from your eToys demo? Also it would be great to see what the teachers' questions were.

You may have already found this on the Web, but Alan Kay did a fairly detailed tutorial/exploration of eToys-and-Squeak for Tamika Knox's class problem. See http://www.squeakland.org:8080/super/200 .

I found that link via Google. I suspected that it was on the Squeakland Swiki, but I couldn't find the link when I navigated around the Squeakland website -- neither http://squeakland.org/author/swikis.html nor http://squeakland.org/author/swikiserver.html points to the Swiki homepage URL ( http://squeakland.org:8080/super ).

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerry Balzano [mailto:***@ucsd.edu]
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2003 9:44 PM
To: squeak-***@lists.squeakfoundation.org
Cc: ***@squeakland.org
Subject: I want to document but I need to learn first!

[snip]

I have some "field notes" from an attempt I made to show etoys to teachers-to-be in UCSD's Teacher Education Program that I would love to share with people on this list. Some of the contents border on painful, but if I could only answer all *their* questions (and remember, if I am twice-, these teachers are three-times-removed from Squeak-insiderness),

[snip]
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Lic. Edgar J. De Cleene
2012-01-28 11:21:48 UTC
Permalink
Another take on this that might interest you is my intention to revive a
Fabrik-like system in Squeak (see
http://users.ipa.net/~dwighth/smalltalk/Fabrik/Fabrik.html). This is another
thing that did not work out while we were at Disney. The idea is just to make
it really simple to do little "computational sketches" in Squeak, whether with
wires or with little spreadsheet-like tables, and with probably some overlap
with Morphic Wrappers.
Dan:
I?m playing with Fabrik until 3.2.
Maybe you and others are listening my pray !!
And besides others tasks like Spanish documentation / tutorials, minimal
image and commercial work soon to be announced with Squeak, I could do any
testing work you need.
Edgar
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Avi Bryant
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dan Ingalls
Another take on this that might interest you is my intention to
revive a Fabrik-like system in Squeak (see
http://users.ipa.net/~dwighth/smalltalk/Fabrik/Fabrik.html). This is
another thing that did not work out while we were at Disney. The
idea is just to make it really simple to do little "computational
sketches" in Squeak, whether with wires or with little
spreadsheet-like tables, and with probably some overlap with Morphic
Wrappers. My metaphor for this is to turn any pen computer into the
proverbial "back of an envelope" for simple calculations. It could
then be married to some of the very cool parts of eToys, or possibly
into a cool web scripting system. For the latter I have in mind a
different marriage to, eg, screen-scraping and Flash components, but
this would require help from others.
Very cool. Dan, this interests me in a couple of ways: the first is that
I've been playing recently with using Squeak for controlling theatrical
sound and lighting. One thing I'd like to be able to do is let sound and
lighting designers "wire up" a custom console of sliders, VU meters,
go-buttons, etc for a particular show. The Max/MSP product does this
fairly successfully for realtime audio processing, but I think something
much cooler could be built in Squeak+Fabrik.

The second is that I'm intrigued by what a web-based Fabrik would look
like. I'd be more inclined to do this with straight HTML and Seaside than
with Flash, etc - I think Seaside's UI model would be up to it now, though
obviously HTML itself is quite restrictive.

At any rate, I'm eager to hear more about where you're going with this.

Avi
Ned Konz
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Avi Bryant
Post by Dan Ingalls
Another take on this that might interest you is my intention to
revive a Fabrik-like system in Squeak (see
http://users.ipa.net/~dwighth/smalltalk/Fabrik/Fabrik.html).
This is another thing that did not work out while we were at
Disney. The idea is just to make it really simple to do little
"computational sketches" in Squeak, whether with wires or with
little
spreadsheet-like tables, and with probably some overlap with
Morphic Wrappers. My metaphor for this is to turn any pen
computer into the proverbial "back of an envelope" for simple
calculations. It could then be married to some of the very cool
parts of eToys, or possibly into a cool web scripting system.
For the latter I have in mind a different marriage to, eg,
screen-scraping and Flash components, but this would require help
from others.
Very cool. Dan, this interests me in a couple of ways: the first
is that I've been playing recently with using Squeak for
controlling theatrical sound and lighting. One thing I'd like to
be able to do is let sound and lighting designers "wire up" a
custom console of sliders, VU meters, go-buttons, etc for a
particular show. The Max/MSP product does this fairly successfully
for realtime audio processing, but I think something much cooler
could be built in Squeak+Fabrik.
Probably could. I'd like to see a Fabrik done with my Connectors.

Have you see VNOS? This already has a presence in the market you're
referring to, and might be the easiest way to just get something
going.

Of course, it's not as cool as a Squeak-based project <g>.
--
Ned Konz
http://bike-nomad.com
GPG key ID: BEEA7EFE
Richard A. O'Keefe
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
***@bluefish.se wrote:
eToys probably works pretty fine **with proper guidance**.
Just a hunch.

Yes, but that's precisely the point.
BECOMING A PERSON WHO CAN PROVIDE PROPER GUIDANCE IS HARD.
And it isn't just eToys.

For example, I still do not feel competent to instruct my students in
how to use Morphic effectively, and that is _despite_ reading all the
Squeak books and all the Morphic tutorials I have come across. Leave
to one side the fact that the books and tutorials get seriously out of
date fairly fast, they tend to spend a long time on fairly basic things
and then stop in mid air. It really _isn't_ true that you can learn
about Squeak from the code, not the Morphic code anyway, and heaven
knows I've squandered enough paper trying.

One very good example of "people standing up" is the documentation
project steaming ahead by first cleaning up the Squeak Swiki - a juicy
job, but I think they are doing fine. I just hope they will have some
energy left in the end to try to keep it in the good shape they are
bringing it to. :-) And btw, this project does generate quite a lot of
traffic on the list - for very good reasons.

The documentation project is **THE** most encouraging thing I've seen in
the Squeak world for as long as I've been in it. There is a special
corner of heaven reserved for those people. And if the Morphic cleanup
project people make good notes as they go along, the documentation project
people will have company there.

I don't know what happened, but it seems that suddenly things I've hoped
for for a long time, that have been much talked about but little seen,
have started happening. This is a good time to be Squeaking.
goran.hultgren at bluefish.se ()
2012-01-28 11:21:50 UTC
Permalink
"Richard A. O'Keefe" <***@cs.otago.ac.nz> wrote:
[SNIP of things I agree with]
Post by Richard A. O'Keefe
I don't know what happened, but it seems that suddenly things I've hoped
for for a long time, that have been much talked about but little seen,
have started happening. This is a good time to be Squeaking.
Indeed. I just hope we can keep it all together, but we can do
*anything* at the moment, right? :-)

regards, Göran
Swan, Dean
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brent Vukmer
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 10:19 AM
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
Subject: RE: I want to document but I need to learn first!
So the people who have been very successful at etoys are those that
are comfortable with any limited palette they are given. This has to
be widened before we can declare etoys to be a real release.
Hi Alan,

You know, this could also be interpreted as a feature rather than a limitation. It's been my experience that constrained resource environments encourage "better" design. In an environment where resources are abundant, there tends be little "competitive pressure" in the sense of survival-of-the-fittest type evolutionary pressure, so people may "get the job done", but not necessarily in an elegant or efficient manner.

I don't think modern systems take up megabytes of memory and millions of lines of code so much because that's what is needed to get the job done as because we can and it's "easy". It seems that this has actually led to less code re-use, lower quality software, and unmanageable quantities of it.

I don't imagine you need much convincing on this point, but I get the impression that this point of view is not widely held. I just wanted to mention it so you will think as much about what to leave out as about what to add.

I could site endless examples to support this idea: The Alto and the original 128k Mac come to mind. I've often felt that the most amazing things are accomplished when resources are very limited and the people doing the work don't know any better.

-Dean Swan
Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:49 UTC
Permalink
I would tend to agree. I like the limitations. But, in this case, I
want to reach everyone, including those that don't want interesting
challenges for every little thing.

Cheers,

Alan

-----
Post by Swan, Dean
Post by Brent Vukmer
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 10:19 AM
To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
Subject: RE: I want to document but I need to learn first!
So the people who have been very successful at etoys are those that
are comfortable with any limited palette they are given. This has to
be widened before we can declare etoys to be a real release.
Hi Alan,
You know, this could also be interpreted as a feature rather
than a limitation. It's been my experience that constrained
resource environments encourage "better" design. In an environment
where resources are abundant, there tends be little "competitive
pressure" in the sense of survival-of-the-fittest type evolutionary
pressure, so people may "get the job done", but not necessarily in
an elegant or efficient manner.
I don't think modern systems take up megabytes of memory and
millions of lines of code so much because that's what is needed to
get the job done as because we can and it's "easy". It seems that
this has actually led to less code re-use, lower quality software,
and unmanageable quantities of it.
I don't imagine you need much convincing on this point, but I
get the impression that this point of view is not widely held. I
just wanted to mention it so you will think as much about what to
leave out as about what to add.
I could site endless examples to support this idea: The Alto
and the original 128k Mac come to mind. I've often felt that the
most amazing things are accomplished when resources are very limited
and the people doing the work don't know any better.
-Dean Swan
--
Jerry Balzano
2012-01-28 11:21:54 UTC
Permalink
[Alan Kay, 3/11]
Post by Alan Kay
So the people who have been very successful at etoys are those that
are comfortable with any limited palette they are given. This has to
be widened before we can declare etoys to be a real release.
[Dean Swan, 3/11 (later)
Post by Alan Kay
You know, this could also be interpreted as a feature rather than a
limitation. It's been my experience that constrained resource
environments encourage "better" design.
Dean -

I guess I have to weigh in on the side of those who would want a wider
palette of resources. Interestingly, the smaller number of primitive
commands in BASIC vs LOGO back in the 70's was used as an argument for
BASIC (e.g. "BASIC is easier because there are fewer commands to learn");
in fact, your comment reminded me of a rebuttal of this argument provided
An example of BASIC ideology is the argument that BASIC is easy to learn
because it has a very small vocabulary. The surface validity of the
argument is immediately called into question if we apply it to the context
of how children learn natural languages. Imagine a suggestion that we
invent a special language to help children learn to speak. This language
would have a small vocabulary of just fifty words, but fifty words so well
chosen that all ideas could be expressed using them. Would this language
be easier to learn? Perhaps the vocabulary might be easy to learn, but
the use of the vocabulary to express what one wanted to say would be so
contorted that only the most motivated and brilliant children would learn
to say more than "hi". This is close to the situation with BASIC. Its
small vocabulary can be learned quickly enough. But using it is a
different matter. Programs in BASIC acquire so labyrinthine a structure
that in fact only the most motivated and brilliant ("mathematical")
children do learn to use it for more than trivial ends. (Mindstorms, p. 35)
Let me, however, add the following provisos:
(a) The "minimalist" exercise of "making do" with an artificially reduced
set of resources to accomplish particular (selected) tasks can be quite
valuable and satisfying, even if it is not something you would wish (esp on
novices!) as a constant state of affairs.

(b) Access to the relatively large set of resources should be controlled or
at least managed so as not to overwhelm novices, and there are a number of
ways to go about this. HyperCard's five "user levels" constituted an
interesting attempt at this "shielding" of beginners from unwanted
resources, although I'm still not sure what I think of how well it worked.
And etoys does have its language resources organized into panes, but here
too I keep thinking a better way is on the tip of our collective tongues.

- Jerry

P.S. I know I am invoking Papert a lot in my postings, but I am trying both
to celebrate his insights and take proper warning from (what I believe to
have been) his mistakes. Not to confuse necessary and sufficient
conditions, I am nonetheless hoping that we Squeakers, by being more aware
of history (of both events and ideas), won't be doomed to repeat it.
Alan Kay
2012-01-28 11:21:57 UTC
Permalink
None of the limitations in etoys have *any* effect at all on really
high quality projects by 10 and 11 year olds. That's who we wanted to
test with over 3 years and (a) really good results happened, and (b)
only about a third of the stuff we came up with easily covered a
whole school year -- so there is plenty more that can be done.

I think one problem here is that you, like many adults, really want
the next version of Hypercard with lots of features and wide range.
This is good. That's what we want to do also, and we have been
working on this for a few years. But this is not what etoys are
about, as I've said many times over on this list. Etoys are an
experimental authoring environment for kids around the age of 5th
grade, done solely to allow us to test a bunch of ideas that seemed
fruitful and needed testing. We made the work open source to attract
potential colleagues, not to be a vendor (Squeak and etoys are not
products, we are a nonprofit public benefit corporation operating on
a shoestring for the public good, etc.)

Forgive me for saying this, but there's a certain amount of special
pleading and rhetoric in your recent remarks. At one point you're
using LOGO as "something that can't easily be learned", at another
point you're invoking Seymour against BASIC. Neither of these have
much to do with etoys -- in part because neither has a powerful
dynamic object system with automatic graphical update. They simply
aren't comparable and shouldn't be compared. The real heart of the
matter is that children with pretty minimal help can do a wide range
of projects that are engaging and empowering to them and that we
think are intellectually interesting in the context of "real
education".

The one place I agree with you is that "a new thing like Hypercard"
(with even wider scope and higher ceilings) is what is eventually
needed. But until that comes, a fabulous range of ideas can be pretty
easily explored with children using etoys. (I.e. you shouldn't wait
for the "76 Trombones" before you start a music program in a school.
The children can sing and make instruments and a musical adult can
bring them to very above threshold musical experiences with just
that.)

Cheers,

Alan
Post by Jerry Balzano
[Alan Kay, 3/11]
Post by Alan Kay
So the people who have been very successful at etoys are those that
are comfortable with any limited palette they are given. This has to
be widened before we can declare etoys to be a real release.
[Dean Swan, 3/11 (later)
Post by Alan Kay
You know, this could also be interpreted as a feature rather than a
limitation. It's been my experience that constrained resource
environments encourage "better" design.
Dean -
I guess I have to weigh in on the side of those who would want a wider
palette of resources. Interestingly, the smaller number of primitive
commands in BASIC vs LOGO back in the 70's was used as an argument for
BASIC (e.g. "BASIC is easier because there are fewer commands to learn");
in fact, your comment reminded me of a rebuttal of this argument provided
An example of BASIC ideology is the argument that BASIC is easy to learn
because it has a very small vocabulary. The surface validity of the
argument is immediately called into question if we apply it to the context
of how children learn natural languages. Imagine a suggestion that we
invent a special language to help children learn to speak. This language
would have a small vocabulary of just fifty words, but fifty words so well
chosen that all ideas could be expressed using them. Would this language
be easier to learn? Perhaps the vocabulary might be easy to learn, but
the use of the vocabulary to express what one wanted to say would be so
contorted that only the most motivated and brilliant children would learn
to say more than "hi". This is close to the situation with BASIC. Its
small vocabulary can be learned quickly enough. But using it is a
different matter. Programs in BASIC acquire so labyrinthine a structure
that in fact only the most motivated and brilliant ("mathematical")
children do learn to use it for more than trivial ends. (Mindstorms, p. 35)
(a) The "minimalist" exercise of "making do" with an artificially reduced
set of resources to accomplish particular (selected) tasks can be quite
valuable and satisfying, even if it is not something you would wish (esp on
novices!) as a constant state of affairs.
(b) Access to the relatively large set of resources should be controlled or
at least managed so as not to overwhelm novices, and there are a number of
ways to go about this. HyperCard's five "user levels" constituted an
interesting attempt at this "shielding" of beginners from unwanted
resources, although I'm still not sure what I think of how well it worked.
And etoys does have its language resources organized into panes, but here
too I keep thinking a better way is on the tip of our collective tongues.
- Jerry
P.S. I know I am invoking Papert a lot in my postings, but I am trying both
to celebrate his insights and take proper warning from (what I believe to
have been) his mistakes. Not to confuse necessary and sufficient
conditions, I am nonetheless hoping that we Squeakers, by being more aware
of history (of both events and ideas), won't be doomed to repeat it.
--

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