Thursday, November 16, 2017

Learning the Python Programming Language

As I had mentioned in my previous post, Raspberry Pi and Minecraft Pi My Oh My!, the version of Minecraft that came pre-installed on my Raspberry Pi 3 was very rudimentary and in order to do some basic functions, like getting a TNT block to explode, you actually need to know how to do some basic programming. For my son, not being able to explode TNT was a major deal breaker, so... as I always tell him, quitting is not an option...

Where to go to learn Python? The first place I went to begin my Python crash course was Codecademy. I chose Codecademy for a few reasons. One, it is free. You can create a basic account and take, what is essentially a full course. If you upgrade to the paid version, it gives you access to multiple choice questions and projects. Another reason I chose Codecademy is that you do not have to download anything (we will get to that soon), it is all internet based.

(Hint: If you have trouble completing a Codecademy assignment, Google the lesson name and you can usually find discussion boards on how to get the correct answer/code.)

I had no preconceived notion that I would be an expert at Python once finishing the free Codecademy course but rather a very introductory view of it. I'd imagine it would take years of courses, training, and practice to become a "Pro". Now that I had a basic understanding of Python and some of its capabilities, it was time to accelerate my learning. I did a lot of research on the Internet to try and find additional resources and one resource I kept stumbling across was Reddit. Reddit is a large community of users that discuss various topics, ask and answer questions, and post content. I quickly found a Python Reddit, a Raspberry Pi Reddit, and even a LearnPython Reddit. I posted a question, "What are best tools/courses/etc. for learning Python?" and almost instantly I started getting responses. I kept seeing responses for ATBS but had no idea what it meant. I Googled "ATBS Python" and sure enough, I found it! Automate The Boring Stuff.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Rasperry Pi and Minecraft Pi, My Oh My!

Over the past few months I have not been very active with this blog. I apologize to all 3 of you! Haha, joking aside, I will be the first to admit; I was discouraged that my lists kept getting rejected, that my blog was not getting as many visitors as I would like, not to mention it was a lot of work. Then I got a new "toy", a Raspberry Pi, that kept me nice and distracted (and gave me an idea for a new blog series).

Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries. In my particular case, my wife had read an article about it and decided it would be fun gift for my birthday so she got me a Raspberry Pi 3. I didn't know what to think or do with it but as soon as the box showed up on our doorstep, my 5 year-old's curiosity peaked. Then I read that it came with a version of Minecraft Pi already installed on it and when my son found this out, he had to try this Raspberry Pi thing. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

10 Infamous Elephant Poachers

Conservationists fear that approximately 96 elephants are killed every single day for their ivory tusks. A single large tusk can sell on the black market for six thousand dollars, ten times the annual salary of a typical worker in the same region. In 2016, The Great Elephant Census reported results of a multi-year effort to count elephants in 18 African countries and the results were very disheartening. The census found that savanna elephant populations declined by thirty percent, almost two hundred thousand elephants between 2007 and 2014. The number one reason for the decline, illegal poaching for the animals’ ivory tusks.
Yang Feng Glan
In 2015, authorities in Africa arrested the “Queen of Ivory” after Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit had followed Yang Feng Glan for over a year. She had been traveling between Beijing, Uganda, and Tanzania, facilitating the illegal tusk trade. She was the key link between African poachers and buyers in China, where ivory can be sold for very expensive prices.
Appearing in court in October 2015, Glan was charged with smuggling ivory, seven hundred and six elephant tusks worth approximately three million dollars between 2000 and 2014. Authorities suspect she could have been engaging in the illegal trade dating all the way back to 1980. Being right in the middle of the illegal operation, investigators are hoping Glan will help them identify other key players in the trade, leading to more arrests and protecting the elephants and rhinos from further poaching.
Jean-Phillippe Nkaga
Determined to be the owner of thirty-seven pounds of ivory that had been seized, Jean-Phillippe Nkaga was arrested in December 2013. Three poachers detained by police months before named Nkaga as the owner of the illegal ivory. Nkaga is known by local police for organizing the mass slaughter of elephants and coordinating the trafficking of the resultant ivory. Nkaga had previously been in jail for possession of drugs and firearms, assault, and even a murder in which there was not enough evidence to jail him for a long time. Nkaga is a very violent person. At the time Nkaga was arrested, the laws against poaching were not strong enough to encourage rehabilitation.
Boniface Matthew Mariango aka The Devil
Considered the most infamous poacher in East Africa, authorities suspect that Boniface Matthew Mariango and his gangs are responsible for thousands of elephant deaths across Africa. He was arrested on October 29th, 2015, in Tanzania, after escaping capture for over a year. The Devil, as he was nicknamed, managed approximately fifteen criminal poaching and ivory smuggling syndicates. Mariango’s capture came soon after a census report showed that the Tanzania elephant population dropped sixty percent between 2009 and 2014.