Of mice and men and Win 7 Phones

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,

Or in other words, it was a good idea that developed issues.  I had the kids working on the Windows 7 Phone for Absolute Beginners for about 2 months now.  The videos were working out fairly well and I had started to build a reference document for the videos just to make life easier for the kids.  So we would have a device to fiddle with I had planned to replace my present antique phone, a five year old Windows Mobile the size of a thick deck of cards, with the latest and greatest Win 7 Phone.  Imagine my surprise to discover Verizon is not going to do Win 7 phones and the advertised provider, AT&T, is sort of non-existent in Missoula, Montana.  Therefore I plan to end the Win 7 Phone programming at the end of the semester.  This is actually kind of nice; it will give me time to write up materials for the course for next year.  I can spend next semester writing up the reference document and figuring out how Rob Miles’ videos can fit in.  I also want to write up a quiz/project for each video.  The kids have a tendency to skim over the videos at times.  A small project at the end of each (or most) videos will slow them down and do some reinforcing.  By next year there might be a few Win 7 phones in the kids’ hands to use as experimenting devices.  The emulator is nice but it lacks the cool things in a modern phone, in particular the accelerometer.   I did find a decent book,” Professional Windows Phone 7 Application Development” by Randolph and Fairbairn.  By decent I mean I can read the first couple of chapters without having 10 years of C# background.  I also found one not so decent book, “Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development” by Lee and Chuvyrov.  The word “Beginning” does not apply.

Windows 7 Phone programming is too good to abandon.  Lots of good free material, lots of interest in the platform and the Silverlight/XNA/XBox/C# game connection is a good attractor for kids.  The access to decent videos fits my requirements nicely.  I am the school computer tech so half the time I have to abandon the kids to their own devices while I go fix something.

Next semester I am going to have the kids work with the Lego robots for a month or so.  As a language, NXT-G is pretty poor but I really like the logical thinking a robot project requires from the kids.  It is also a lot of fun for them.  While they are tinkering with the robots I am going to brush up on my Java and get some materials gathered on Droid programming.  There are a lot of Droid phones in the school so device availability will not be an issue.  It is also somewhat important that they see a little Java programming.  Since most of my advanced kids will probably do some university level programming, and most U.S. universities seem to be hung up on Java, it will be a good direction.

This summer I will attack the Objective-C and iPod Touch project.  Being able to write an app for a device that does not have a phone bill attached is just too tempting.  And the school has Touches.


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