How much time does a person need to learn HTML?

Here is a question for technical people among your – how much time does a person need to learn HTML?

The reason I am asking is that I gave to one of our newer colleagues a whole weekend (from Friday evening until Monday morning ) to do it.  I promised to unleash all my fury and beat him severely with a stick, if I will find something that he doesn’t know by Monday 09:00am.

Now, before you will call me cruel, I’ll give you a couple of more details.  The person who I gave the task isn’t just a random fellow from the street.   He’s someone holding a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from a known UK university.   He has also studied Computer Science in USA and Cyprus, and even has some experience in the field of programming and web development.  So, yes, I would have expected him to know this stuff already, but somehow it happened that he doesn’t, and now he’ll have to catch up with it.

Also, when I gave out the task, I was as soft as I usually am.  So, I  provided the person with all the necessary learning materials, including digital copies of O’Reilly books, famous web sites, and relevant Google queries.

Am I fair with my timing?   How much time would you need to learn HTML?  Should I beat up the person on Monday even if he learns it inside out?  These are the questions rushing through my head right now…

The future is expensive. Very expensive.

Again, news from Slashdot:

“The City Car, a design project under way at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is envisioned as a two-seater electric vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. It would weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds and could collapse, then stack like a shopping cart with six to eight fitting into a typical parking space. It isn’t just a car, but is designed as a system of shared cars with kiosks at locations around a city or small community.”

Here is one of the ways I see it:

  • most families won’t be able to afford children (“two-seater electric vehicle”)
  • most families won’t be able to afford petrol powered cars (“powered by lithium-ion batterries”)
  • most families won’t be able to afford their own cars (“shared cars”)
  • most families won’t be able to afford parking spaces (“six to eight fitting into a typical parking space”)

I’m glad that science in general and MIT in particular are here to help us survive in the future.

P.S.: by the way, most families won’t be able to afford university education either, so MIT is giving out for free already – MIT OpenCourseWare.

P.P.S.: yes, I’m just kidding.  The stuff linked to from above is cool.

Traces of digital revolution

The digital world is upon us.  Everybody knows it and nobody ever argues with it anymore.  But that’s too general.  What is actually changing?  What are the specific examples?   Today I came across one, while catching up with Slashdot news.  Here is a quote from the post:

 “An inspired professor at University of Washington-Bothell, Martha Groom, made an interesting pedagogical experiment. Instead of vilifying Wikipedia as some academics are prone to do, she assigned the students enrolled in her environmental history course to contribute articles. The result has proven “transformative” to her students. They were no longer spending their time writing for one reader, says Groom, but were doing work of consequence in a “peer reviewed” environment, which enhanced the quality of their output.”

If you read through the comments to the post, there are many insightful thoughts too.  Here is one of those that I liked (apart from the age criteria):

Wikipedia should be output, not input, for students past a certain age. It gets them used to writing for real people as opposed to just for getting graded, it gives them the experience of having their writing edited by people of varying abilities, and it gives them motivation for doing research. Another, easier, option would be to assign students to correct Wikipedia articles.

Another comment mentions that this is not by far the first time that this happens.  It conveniently links to the page with more examples of school and university projects.