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Texas Historical Markers
programming : by Tommy - September 1st 2011, 10:51AM
programming
While arguably probably not my best work, it only took me all of a couple hours, I present a listing of all the Texas Historical Markers. I don't know why I never linked to it before. Maybe I'm not too proud of it, but I wanted to give you access to it. What features do I need to add?

I discovered one evening that Texas has a database of all historical markers in the state freely available online in a comma separated value file (among other formats). What's a geek to do but grab the file and throw it in a MySQL database!
I whipped up a quick drop-down list of all the marker names and used AJAX to show the marker's text. A couple of simple URLs allow you to see, generally, where the marker is located. I have the location information in the database, but it's not Lat/Long which would make for easy map-making. Perhaps that will be my next step. Found a supporting .txt file that has most of the Lat/Long. A simple JOIN from the database fixed that problem. (though, to be honest, some of the coordinates are way off. Unless Texas has markers in Mexico.)

At any rate, take it or leave it, there it is: http://n5dux.com/histmark/

tags: texas history php database

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

 
Mr. Gober's Games
programming : by Tommy - April 20th 2010, 10:40PM
programming
Most of the students where I teach have time in their computer labs to surf the web or play flash games. The IT department, in order to conserve bandwidth and filter "inappropriate material", need to block most games. Since most games are just mind-numbing wastes of time, most teachers support this. Students looking for games will scour the web searching for game sites that aren't blocked. As soon as one game site is discovered, the URL spreads like wildfire before the site is blocked in the next few days. The cycle repeats itself ad nauseum.

Seeing the problem from both sides, I decided to make an "approved games list" of games that at least feature some academic merit. I understand that games can be beneficial and educational while still being enjoyable. I asked my Computer Science class to find games they enjoy and add them to my games list. They needed to list the educational lessons found within the game and the supporting TEKS on my games list.
The end result has grown into "Mr. Gober's Games". Several students use the site daily and it has received the approval of administration.
Ideally, the next step will be to house the site on the school network to reduce the bandwidth load and increase response speed for the user.

Recently I have added a page to add games, a method to report broken or inappropriate games and a new ratings system. The ratings system was my first successful foray into AJAX. I've attempted AJAX before but came up short. Fortunately jQuery made the effort much easier by abstracting most of the work for me. So, take a look at Mr Gober's Games and have fun - don't forget to vote for your favorites!

tags: games flash php ajax school

( Comments : 4 | Full article )

 

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