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Breaking into houses with Dan Meyer

Dan’s got another What Can You Do With This1 challenge up. This time it’s dealing with a numeric keypad. Basically, it’s what can you do (in a more lesson plan focused format this time) with an image he’s posted of a numeric door key pad2. I’m not helping much with Dan’s lesson plan but I’d actually have the challenge be to break the combination. I’d take bets on how long it’d take to break into this door if it had a one digit code, a two digit code, a three digit code and a four digit code (maybe go higher?). I’d write down the bet times- maybe graph them. Then I’d give them a chance to try it and I’d record the times when they did break in. If people had computers this would be an easy thing to do. Here’s the Excel spreadsheet I’d use (not very pretty – just a proof of concept). I’d lock the one I gave the kids with a password of course. It’s pretty simple stuff. It amused me though. Might be garbage for math class but maybe someone will get some other use out of it. Here’s a video if you’d like more explanation on the construction. It’s nothing fancy but it might inspire some other better ideas3. Excel as a lock 1 […]

Pretty Formatting in Google Maps w/o ANY HTML Knowledge

I don’t like what plain Google Map or Google Earth windows look like when you enter text. They always end up too wide for me and I just want a little bit more style and formatting. It just looks better and that is part of why we use computers- to produce a professional looking product. So the question is how do you get students/profs/teachers creating better looking information w/o having a bunch of time sucked away by teaching them HTML? (Yes, I realize Google does a form of this here but it’s not set up for Google Maps and involves more hassle for many by introducing the idea of networked kmz links etc.) My solution is Excel. Excel can do all sorts of neat tricks with text. So I just built what is essentially a form with a few inputs (the ones selected for this project) and then used a bunch of formulas to wrap the HTML around the information that’s entered. This is a fairly simple example but it’s smart enough to cite the picture source and know if certain information has been entered so it doesn’t botch the html if the field is left blank. You can see what it does if you unhide the columns and view the formulas then tweak it to your heart’s content. Before […]