Friday, July 30, 2004

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da CunhaI was sitting in a boring meeting yesterday and directly across from me was a very large map of the world. While staring at the map, I noticed some lonely looking islands in the middle of nowhere. One particular group of islands seemed rather odd because they simply stuck out of the middle of what seemed to be the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, half way between Cape Town, South Africa and the coast of Argentina. It seemed like the kind of place that wouldn't be easily discovered.

My thoughts started to drift to wondering if anyone lived on these islands. As the meeting broke up, I walked over to the map and wrote down the name of the little group of islands, Tristan da Cunha. I also noted the names of other remote islands that had caught my eye: Kerguelen, Les Îles Crozet, Amsterdam and St Paul Islands, Bouvetøya.

Later, I looked up these islands and discovered that of all of these islands, Tristan da Cunha is the most remote island in the world with a permanent population. The other islands may have a few scientists or researchers but Tristan da Cunha is the only one of these islands with families living their lives. Almost 300 people of British and US ancestry make their home on this island. They are all descendants of British and US sailors who stayed on Tristan in the 1800's.

It is hard to imagine living in such a remote place that phones are virtually unknown and the internet is so expensive that no one has it. Even snail mail can take six months to arrive on Tristan da Cunha. And yet the people there are happy and live there by choice. In 1961, the islanders were evacuated to England because of a volcanic eruption and yet two years later they all chose to return. What a different life they lead by choice compared to the technological civilization we live in.

I have included a couple of links below that will give more information to those that are interested.

Tristan da Cunha

The Tristan Times

The South Atlantic & Subantarctic Islands Web Site

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Life Sucks - Part 4

This is getting to be like a soap opera. Last weekend while at work, Michel fell over some boxes that someone had left in an aisle. She twisted her neck and did something very bad back there. For those who don't know, Michel had brain surgery last year and her neck was sliced open. (For those with strong stomachs, here is a picture of Michel's head stapled up - notice the JavaRanch t-shirt. - click here.)

Anyway, Michel spent two days in the hospital and has been in constant pain since the incident. She has also been experiencing weakness on her right side.

When are we going to catch a break?

Friday, July 02, 2004

Review - JavaScript Goodies by Joe Burns

JavaScript GoodiesJavaScript Goodies (2nd Edition)
by Joe Burns

This is the JavaScript book for the non-programmer who knows some HTML and wants to learn how to enhance their web site with some JavaScript. The book assumes no knowledge of programming at all so even the complete novice can learn some programming skills. I used this book in my JavaScript class and by the time we got through the book, my students were even able to write some simple games like Blackjack and Craps.

The book opens with a look at the main objects of a web page that are used in JavaScript and gives some example scripts that are explained in detail. In fact, the book is full of scripts that are used to explain each technique as you learn. The key concept of what an object is and what properties, methods, and events are is explained in some detail. Validating a form is explained. Image flipping and animation are covered. Example scripts will explain how to create scrolling text and a digital clock on your web pages. Basic programming techniques such as if statements, loops, and arrays are covered.

Examples are really the one thing that make this book worth the investment. Each new subject being discussed is introduced with a script followed by explanations and further examples. Then an assignment is given to help you verify that you have learned the information covered. The solutions to all the assignments are on the author's website.

The book covers the basics of JavaScript and will provide a good foundation for the novice. After reading this book you won't be an expert JavaScript programmer but you will be ready to move on to more complex programming tasks and more difficult books.

This earned 4 stars on Amazon. The book is published by Que and came out in October 2001.

The review can be seen on Amazon on My Amazon Reviews page.