November 05, 2006

Walkie Talkie Web

"Are you there? Can you hear me? This is Anthony. Over and out."

"Yes I can. This is Daddy. Over."

My son Anthony, mister Python guess-my-number programmer, stormed into my office last Thursday afternoon asking "hey Dad, can we program a website?" Apparently he has been telling all his schoolbus mates about his grand plans for a website where all the members of his "apfund" club can communicate with each other....

CGI Programming in an Hour or Less

Teaching Anthony what he needed to know was a blast; he knew a little python but we had to learn a little bit about HTML, HTTP, CGI, and file I/O.

I decided to take the approach of starting from "print" statements in python instead of starting with HTML code. We started with plaintext webpages and graduated to HTML as a second step.

If you avoid worrying about all the acronyms, it turns out you can learn what you need to know to build a toy communication website in less than 50 lines of code. I don't have time to blog about it right now, but here is a link to his website so you can get the idea of what we built together. (You can leave a message for Anthony, but please be gentle on it, or else i will have to put an IP filter on it; protecting it against attacks is beyond the scope of a third-grade lesson.)

Over and Out

It is remarkably fun to watch Anthony play with his "communications website" as he is trying to get it to work. He tells me to wait by the downstairs computer while he runs up to my office to type in a message. "Did you see that?" he shouts. "Y-E-S," I type.

It is just like walkie-talkies.

But better. Yesterday, Anthony's friend Sam called him and they typed messages to each other on the website from opposite sides of town. Yes, they were talking on the phone all day while typing messages at each other in the computer program. Fun fun fun...

Posted by David at November 5, 2006 08:55 AM
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