Duo your lingo up with Duolingo!

This is a longer version of the article submitted to SkeriesNews for their 21 April 2017 edition.

duolingo-10So you’re thinking about that summer holiday, as you would, this time of year. South of France maybe. Or Italy. Spain beckons. Or that city tour to Germany you’ve been promising yourself? Finally make it to Russia, see the Kremlin for yourself? You could probably get by with English there, but wouldn’t it be more fun to be able to understand and speak the lingo a bit?

Indeed it would, and there is an easy (and free!) way to prepare yourself for the linguistic challenge – in just 5 minutes a day!  Continue reading

cccSkerries – The First Three Years of my Creative Computer Classes

The door to the cccSkerries room first opened in July 2013.

It’s hard to believe that I’m about to begin the fourth year of summer camps in what used to be our guest bedroom and what I now call “the cccSkerries training room.”

In the summer of 2012, I decided to become a self-employed digital educator, and – after four years as a primary teacher – to focus on what I enjoyed most in teaching: Helping kids to express their creativity through digital means, to enable them to achieve their aims through technology, and to have fun in the process.

Looking back, I can say that this was the best move ever!

Continue reading

Start taking the tablet!

Techie Column Header June 2016

A slightly shorter version of this post appeared in the June 3, 2016 edition of Skerries News

If you (or someone you know) belong(s) to those who don’t use the internet much (yet), because computers with their big screens and keyboards don’t suit, and smartphones are just too fiddly, then you might want to consider going the middle way- tablets!

Tablets are great because they can be taken practically anywhere, and yet their screens are big enough to actually see what’s happening.

Two experiences over the last year

About a year ago, a lady came to me for individual lessons. She had been given a smartphone for her 70th birthday – and returned it a couple of days later. She really didn’t like the tiny screen, and the way she never seemed to be able to tap on the correct link or icon. We tried a laptop, but she found it quite frustrating to use mouse and keyboard. But then she got herself a tablet – and never looked back since! The larger touchscreen was ideal for her. After two more sessions, she was able to do what she most wanted to – send and receive emails, take pictures and share them with friends and family, and stay in touch via Facebook and Messenger. I regularly see her updates from Skerries and from Spain, and they always cheer me up.

2016-05-08 21.30.50And last month, I once more saw how good a tablet can be in certain circumstances.  My mother, who is 79, was knocked off her bike and fractured her shoulder. She had to have surgery and spent ten days in hospital.  She has been using computers for a good while, and one of the first things she asked me to do when I went over to Germany following the accident was to check her email. She doesn’t have a smartphone (too small, too fiddly), and with an injured shoulder, the laptop wouldn’t have been very useful. A tablet once again was just right. I got a decent, not-too-expensive Lenovo, set it up for her, and brought it into hospital. After a short while (and with some assistance at first), she took to it and was now able to stay in touch from the hospital bed. She could find contact details for insurances and lawyers, she was able to google facts on her injury, and she could also send and receive emails.

Continue reading

Hour of Code 2015

This December, practically all cccSkerries groups are participating in the Hour of Code. Starting with code.org/mc we watched Jeb of Mojang / Minecraft fame and then worked our way through a coding tutorial – amusing for those who can already code, and a good introduction for those who can’t. Why not try it yourself? 🙂

It being Minecraft-themed added to its attractiveness, of course.

And then there are those of us who like Doctor Who.

So we are trying their Game Maker platform as well. This is more assembling a game than actual coding, but worth a go as well, especially to those of us who are Whovians and maybe find the time until the Christmas Special that little bit long…

Hit the pic to open it!

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By the way, if you would like to join one of our cccSkerries classes, or know somebody who would, we have limited availability at the moment for Introduction to Coding, Minecraft Club, and Computer Wizards. Start in January!

See cccSkerries.com/weekly or contact me at Sabine@cccSkerries.com!

Five reasons why you might join Facebook after all.

 

Digital Thoughts for Non Techies – a new monthly column in Skerries News, by Sabine McKenna

Digital Thoughts for Non Techies – a new monthly column in Skerries News

Want to keep up with what’s happening in Skerries? Be on Facebook!

Dec 2015 Skerries News front pageYou can, of course, enjoy Facebook for seeing what your friends and family share, and for sharing your own thoughts, pictures, and opinions with them. Many people enjoy this part of Facebook. Others prefer not to. Either way, Facebook has evolved into a platform that is about much more than that perfect cappuccino you just had, or your favourite holiday haunt. It’s become part of the fabric of our local community. And that can be a brilliant thing!

If you have been reluctant to join Facebook so far, I would advise you to think again, and here are five reasons why – all from a Skerries point of view.

Facebook search how

One. Fancy going to a play, a gig, a movie? See what’s on.

Skerries Theatre Group, Raff’s On The Corner, Blue Bar, Rockabill Film Society

Two. See what’s happening in the community.

Skerries Community Association. Skerries Tidy Towns. Skerries Town Twinning. Skerries Adopt A Beach. To name just the first five that come to mind. And of course Skerries News!

Three. Try a new hobby or activity? There are quite a few to be found on Facebook!

Millhill Ladies Badminton Club. Skerries Camera Club. Skerries Chess Club. Skerries frosties (swimming). Skerries Watersports Academy. Skerries Women’s Volleyball Club. Yoganamara. And many, many more.

Four. Shop local!

Wisteria Skerries. Aidan O’Brien Butchers. Chic Boutique. Greg Reddins. Skerries Bookshop, Red Island Wine Company. All hairdressers, as far as I can tell. Delis. Restaurants.
The shops in Skerries Mills Courtyard, like Karen Wilson Art and The Stash Cupboard. The list would go on and on!

And five: Know what’s on for kids, too.

Many schools have Facebook pages, many parents’ association have Facebook groups.
MSPA (Moore school of performing arts), Needles & Pins, Skerries ArtSchool, Skerries Cookie Club.

The beauty of Facebook is that you don’t HAVE to see all this – just what YOU are interested in.

SCA on FacebookAnd this is just the start, I haven’t even gone near information about local attractions like Skerries Mills or Ardgillan Castle, local artists & writers, or local services! There are loads more of voluntary / charitable / community organisations, certainly worth a full column in their own right. Fingal County Council, the local libraries, the met office… all of those have information available online – at times useful, at times colourful, and sometimes both.

Once you’ve joined Facebook, all you need to do is search for Skerries!


 

Insider TiFacebook snipp: – You will not automatically see everything posted by a page you follow. If you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, you need to tell Facebook. You can do that by going into the page, and hovering over the “Liked” button. Then go to “Posts in News Feed” and “Notifications.”

 


 

This post first appeared in Skerries News, Dec 1-14, 2015, p. 33.

A Minecraft Space Station Project

In the summer of 2015, during a number of sessions of our cccSkerries Minecraft Club, Eoin (age 10) used the time to build something great.

While the others were having adventures on our shared server, he created two space stations and four fighter planes.

This was done for the 2015 EUMETSAT  Learning Zone Minecraft Competition.

EUMETSAT is the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and Ireland is one of its 30 member countries.

We made a short video (just over four minutes) of his entry – hope you like it!

PS: Unfortunately, the entry didn’t win a prize – but it’s still fantastic, don’t you think? The judges said: “It was a real challenge to evaluate the wide range of satellites from so many entrants as fairly as possible. All of the designs were exceptional from their backgrounds, ideas and / or interpretations, to the amount of effort that went into them.” See the 2015 Learning Zone Minecraft Results page for the winners.

Scratch Competition Studio 2015

2015 Scratch Competition Entries

All these projects were created by participants in our cccSkerries Coding Classes (beginners and advanced). For the National Scratch Competition 2015, we had to pick 10 as we could not enter more than that. Here are our ten contestants! We should know by the end of April how they got on. Fingers crossed! – Sabine

PS: Wait for the page to load (might not work on a phone / tablet), then click into the project you’d like to watch or play. Enjoy!

Scratch Competition Studio 2015

  • draw your own things by destroyer200
  • “green flag to start.r to rub out.space to stop drawing.a to start drawing again.it may glitch at the start.arrow keys to move.press small line for skinny line.fat line for fat line.white for rubber”

  • weather by bazzab
  • “press green flag and see what happened. ENJOY!!!”

  • Purpleman (BETA) by ChikenEater
  • “Arrows to move and space to jump. There may be a few glitches and only levels 1 and 2 are programmed.
    V.1.0: Added this game to Scratch.
    V.1.1: Added Level 2”

  • The Zombie Infestation 1.3 by MrSupreme4543
  • “W = up A = left S = down D = right ( you’ll get used to it once you’ve played it a couple of times) Left mouse button to shoot You can use your arrow keys to select weapons. (To properly play make sure you have a mouse and its best to play this on a computer) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
    Notes and Credits
    V1.3 Added the crosshair back changed the hit marker a bitV1.2 Finallyyyyyyyyyyyyy character selectI have a started a character select but its taking some time so just pick one of the circles.V1.1 Added a high score system (new accounts will only have a personal score system upgrade your account to have a chance to be the best)New people have started working on this with me
    egganiki : http://scratch.mit.edu/users/egganiki/
    space sphere : http://scratch.mit.edu/users/space_sphere/
    but remember i’m in charge and get the most credit (saying that in the nicest way possible) (:

    Added a super secret easter egg

    V1.0 added a main menu

    V0.9 added so when a zombie dies he respawns somewhere else deleted the health pack added health regen but it is very slow edited the hit marker

    V0.8 Added a shotgun press left arrow key to select

    V0.7 Added weapon selection by arrow keys UP = USP.45 DOWN = AK-47

    V0.6 added ak47 no more movement by arrow keys.

    V0.5 Added stuff to randomize where everything spawns and i tried to add a AK47 but its pretty glitchy and you cant use it now i’ll try to get it to work.

    V0.4 just did some stuff readying variables for a time in the future

    V0.3 Added a health bar for the player and loads more zombies and
    in the comments tell me what you want in the game.

    V0.2 Added more zombies and they can now die also changed the survivor to Santa Claus.

    V0.1 The game is made but nowhere near complete.

5 simple steps to saying Bye-bye to cheques and cash!

How to pay online for cccSkerries courses (and other recurring costs)

Are you tired of having to root for that cheque book, or cash?

Do you want some track record of what you’re paying for your son or daughter’s activities?

Then set those who run the classes up for electronic payments – and pay online from the comfort of your PC or even your smartphone!

In order to set up a payee from your account, all you need is online access to your own account, and the payee’s IBAN and BIC – in the case of cccSkerries, the relevant details (as updated & correct in March 2017) are:

Creative Computing Courses Limited, Bank of Ireland Skerries
BIC BOFIIE2DXXX
IBAN IE47BOFI90354125230144

I’m showing you here how it works with the AIB. Bank of Ireland is similar!

1.    Go to your Online Banking and log in.

2.    Click on “Pay & Transfer”

epb 01

3.    Click on Payees to set up a new payee

epb02

Then select A new payee

 

4.    Enter the details

You choose what you call the receiver (does not have to be the name in which their account is). It could be “P’s computer teacher” – or “cccSkerries”!

For cccSkerries, the details are:

IBAN: IE83 BOFI 9008 9346 3793 00

BIC: BOFIIE2D

epb03

 

5.  Confirm the details

You will be asked to get a code from your card reader.

epb04

 

And now: You’re ready to transfer money straight away!

Select Pay & Transfer – To Another Irish Account.

epb05

 

“Saved Details” is preselected, click “next” and make your payment.

epb06

Select the payee = receiver (e.g. cccSkerries), add a message, specify the amount – you will be asked one digit of your online PIN, nothing else. No more card reader needed! The money goes straight away on its merry way.

It’s easy to pay from your phone, too.

Bye-bye, cheques & cash!

Another advantage: You always know what you’ve paid, and when.

Plus it’s cheaper than cheques (and cash, if you consider how much you pay each time you take money out of the hole in the wall)…

I for one will try to pay all my son’s classes online from now on!

Sabine