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Topic: Is it assignment hand-in time again? (Read 5 times) previous topic - next topic

Nick Gammon

Apr 25, 2012, 10:07 am Last Edit: Apr 25, 2012, 10:13 am by Nick Gammon Reason: 1
Is it assignment time?

We seem to be getting a lot of posts along these lines:

Hi! This is a great forum. I'm really really interested in electronics and computers.

I started learning about them today.

I've decided for my first project I am going to do (some incredibly complicated thing) ... a line-following robot that has to follow a line 1 cm wide along a course 200 x 300 cm long within a time-frame of 2.10 minutes. Just a whim. Not a school project, of course not!

My assignment hope is that this can all be completed by ... 4 pm this afternoon. If not I am DESPERATE ... because I might fail the course due to playing World of Warcraft all holidays.

So please please you kind guys help out a noob like me. I don't have time to learn electronics / C++ / logic today, so can you please post the code here, so I can hand in my assignment er, try out my new hobby IMMEDIATELY!

Thanks a lot, you guys are great!


4 pm this afternoon. If not I am DESPERATE ... because I might fail the course due to playing World of Warcraft all holidays.

LOL'ed out!

try out my new hobby IMMEDIATELY!

Thanks a lot, you guys are great!

]:D  :smiley-mr-green:  :D hahahahaha! doesn't have the time for the Hobby and its a Hobby!!?
"Real Men can Accomplish  Anything"
- <a href="http://www.winacro.com">  <b><font color="red">Website</font></b> </a> 
- skype : nishants5  

ਫ਼ਤੇਹ ਕਰੁਂ!


I guess some students will need to file their end of year projects soon. ]:D
By the way. Are you sure it is World of Warcraft? I have delays in my projects due to assassins creed  :smiley-roll-blue:

Anyway I stopped responding on threads which obviously show a lack of reality from the writer. My point is that, even when you pinpoint the fact of complete unawareness other people will have a different view and help out. When I read the threads later on (which I do for personal education on human interactions) the problem rarely gets solved. In many cases the original poster (level newbie number of posts 1) seems to have dropped dead after starting the post.
I know a dutch forum www.circuitsonline.net where they have a board for shoolquestions.
Maybe an idea for Arduino?

Best regards
Do not PM me a question unless you are prepared to pay for consultancy.
Nederlandse sectie - http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/board,77.0.html -


Just ask them to better describe the problem and encourage them to do the research. Lots of kids have about a month before the end of school and they may not have a clue how to analyse the problem or define the problem. If they then come back with a better description and better defined questions then you can figure they are at least a little serious. Give pointers and hints as to where to look and what they need to look for. (Data sheets have a lot of info, but which info actually means something???) If they don't come back with better questions and a better idea then they were not very serious about learning/accomplishing anything. If they do come back with better questions and ideas then we may potentially have found another addict to string along...
There is a lot of stuff that has become intuitive to us old guys (I'm 54) that the noobies will have no idea about - current limiting resistor on a diode? What's that for?

In some areas it is easy to give help - Add some serial print statements so you can see what that variable is doing. Others require more restraint - Just code it this way...

Some of these kids have never done anything like this before. Heck - they haven't ever taken an appliance apart and tried to re-assemble it to see what would happen. They have never written a computer program (they didn't have a clue you COULD write a computer program...). Much of what they are "taught" in school is to get an answer, not solve a problem. They think the result matters, when we all know that the process is much more important. No one ever learned anything when all they had was success. Failure is much more instructive. They think that everything should be easy and you just throw money at it. They think the iPod and iPhone are magic boxes and have no clue that a simple board like the Arduino has so much more magic hidden inside. Some will fail miserably and some will be addicted. Some will fight through the frustration, and some will quit because they have been taught that everything should come easy.

Be patient with them. Some will give up after the first post and others will do some pretty dumb stuff but learn a lot from the experience. Just like we did. And some of their questions are no worse than some of us geazers who are trying to get the old and lazy brain cells to work again...

Jack Christensen

LOL Nick! There may be material for a book in there...
MCP79411/12 RTC ... "One Million Ohms" ATtiny kit ... available at http://www.tindie.com/stores/JChristensen/


Apr 26, 2012, 11:18 pm Last Edit: Apr 26, 2012, 11:34 pm by fkeel Reason: 1
while I understand your sentiment nick, I sometimes feel that some of the regulars expect too much of newbies.

There is a bit of an attitude that some users display, that the thread starter somehow owes something to the forum. My first post in this forum for example, was an extremely specific question, which was not actually appropriate for this form. I got quite some verbal abuse for an honest mistake.

In the same way, sometimes people say "please tell me how to do X" ... often this can be solved by just a couple of lines of code. Instead of telling the op how to do it, it is fed to the op by bits and pieces... again, I understand why people do this, but giving something to somebody by bits and pieces is the response to "please teach me how to do X". which often was not the question.

I sometimes get the impression, that some of the regulars feel like a newbie "owes" them a good post, a good question. I find this behavior to be quite irritating at times.


OK. This also to some extent keeps the quality of this forum as high as it is, and if somebody with 130 posts is still demanding to be handed the code for blink without delay, then it might be appropriate to call that out... so its all relative I guess.

edit: i don't mean to discourage anyone to post. its just - maybe the person asking the question has not spent all his time in front of WoW but has a crazy insane professor trying to fail him breathing down his or her neck (which I had last summer. And this forum was a treasure of knowledge and pretty much saved me) ... or maybe they where ill. Or jumped into a course mid way and need to hand in something *now* before they can catch up. ...

Nick Gammon

My original post was supposed to be a humorous take on how it seems sitting where I am.

I understand the importance of education and try hard to be helpful. And I'm probably as guilty as the next person at times of asking something that is already there. Although sometimes searching for what you want can be hard.

I think it is courteous of posters to at least indicate that they have attempted to research their problem (eg. I looked at site X but there code failed to do Y).

And it is hard to stay calm when you get to the 10th post in a single day along the lines of "my code (not posted) has an error (not shown) ... what should I do?". But of course individually, each of these guys are doing this for the first time, it's just at the other end this is time #10.

I tend to be more directly helpful when I think that the poster probably could not be reasonably expected to know something. Such as, "how do I make I2C go faster?" or "can you run two processors from one crystal?" (I didn't know that one until recently).

But when people say something like "I got an Arduino today, and I need to have it working perfectly by this afternoon" then I think, first this is unrealistic, and second, sounds like someone is trying to get their homework done for them.

Finally remember the saying:

If you give a man a fish, you feed him today. If you teach him to fish, you feed him for the rest of his life.

If we can teach people to fish, them they will get more out of their hobby, be more satisfied and have more fun down the track.


I am learning here too. I do need experience in coding. So I visite this : http://arduino.cc/en/Reference/HomePage a lot ! I wonder why some of the newbies - kids simply read it, try to figure this out and try to experiments. And also try to lean to read datasheets. Here the thing, if you studing EE, EET, ET, Programming , etc... you SHOULD do research, experiments, web surfing and learning to figure this stuff out.  While I was at DeVry in the ealy 1990's, I did read a lots of Electronics Magazine, going to the library, buy books, and did use the college lab has much as possible. As for programming ( PASCAL, GW-BASIC, C ) , I did use the computer lab a lot. Beside doing a part time job, heh I even work at Radio-Shack, so I study / read  a lot. And to buys parts, I did go a lot on Queen Street West <-- Close to CITY-TV building in Downtown Toronto for cheaps parts.

Back then, it was a bit difficult, BUT today...( I am in my mid 40's )  man !!! HOW easy !!! You got ... Web for your research / datasheets... Electronics Software Simulators, free IDE ( JAVA, JAVA 2, C++ ) and a computer at home <-- if you have the money.  So to those in Computer / Electronics study, you have those easy tools, so what is the problem here ? Party ? TV ? PC Game ? Video game ? Work ? <-- That is a good raison to "have no time"... you have to work... The thing is, I expect more from someone studing Electronics / Computer, because it is your field of study. As for the rest ( no electronics / computers ) experience / knowledge... well I will do my best to help, but YOU have to do YOUR part.

In conclusion : Try to learn on your own as much as possible.



I realize you meant it as a joke. And I had to smile :-)
A while back I just saw a bunch of posts where I felt people where being quite harsh to people asking "please give me" instead of "please teach me" type questions... since then what I just wrote has been on my mind... didn't feel relevant enough to post a thread specifically about it... especially since, in generall, people on this forum are astoundingly well behaved.
I dont really know as what to "classify" myself academically - a lean towards sociology and philosophy. The only reason I can do the things I can do is because of the internet making things like arduino and processing available for me. Which puts me in the weird situation: I would like to get into computer sciences, however I cannot apply for grad-school as I hardly have any computer science credits. However I know that in many way I am a lot better educated in regards to computer science than many people who have studied it.

(I actually walked somebody through, step by step, building their final final prototype for their master thesis in computer science. ... but no. no grad school will accept my application...)

Jack Christensen

Kids these days ;) -- To follow up on the theme of doing something incredibly complicated in an unrealistically short period of time, and with little background in the subject area, I've made the following observation about teenagers, as I run into one or more of them on a daily basis :smiley-eek: and I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed anything similar:

They will often assume that they can do or make complex things with little effort. But when they get to the point of actually trying, and get a small glimmer of the work and learning involved, they back off in a hurry.

I don't know why this is, but it causes me some concern. Perhaps because they have grown up with complex and inexpensive technology, and they have no idea of the inner complexities. This is not to fault the kids entirely, they don't have the opportunities to tinker with stuff the way I did. This is one reason I like the "maker" movement and Arduino, etc. It's an opportunity to get hands on, imagine, and make something.

Thoughts? Concurring or otherwise?
MCP79411/12 RTC ... "One Million Ohms" ATtiny kit ... available at http://www.tindie.com/stores/JChristensen/

Nick Gammon

My view is that people don't change, basically. There is no genetic reason why this generation would be more than very very marginally different to the previous one.

However I think technology is profoundly changing our lives, in the sense that we now have gadgets (like iPhones for example) that are really incredibly complex, but hide almost all of that away from you, so they "look simple". Put it this way, if we had iPhones and laptops when we were young, we would have done the same thing the current teenagers are doing.

And indeed, this is what is great about the Arduino. It has just enough complexity (eg. the USB interface) that you don't need to be an electronics whizz to just get it to work, but enough simplicity that you can understand how to make it do nice stuff.

And despite what they say about the Raspberry Pi (or whatever it is) I worry that it crosses back over the threshold to "too complex" - where you will need device drivers, and be abstracted away from the base hardware. I mean, once you start installing Unix, you will have to worry about what kernel version you have, and whether you have the right device driver loaded for your Ethernet interface, and so on.

Getting back to teenagers, I know adults my age who boast they don't know anything about computers and aren't about to start learning. That's what their staff are for.


... okok. i was just looking t some questions you have been answering ... I find posts which follow this pattern quite amusing: "i understand all that, I just need you to write the code for me" is ... well... do they actually believe, that they understand it?


@Jack Christensen

I don't know why this is, but it causes me some concern. Perhaps because they have grown up with complex and inexpensive technology, and they have no idea of the inner complexities. This is not to fault the kids entirely, they don't have the opportunities to tinker with stuff the way I did. This is one reason I like the "maker" movement and Arduino, etc. It's an opportunity to get hands on, imagine, and make something.

Me too. I like to thinker and the discovery of the Magazine Maker and the Arduino issue, let me decide to want an Arduino and lear to program it and do things. The kids at High school, Colleges and University doing projects using the Arduino, have to learn to "thinker", to experiments and learn the hard way if your board get "damage" You learn more by making mistakes.


"i understand all that, I just need you to write the code for me"

In my opinion, most of them posting something like that, they need help in coding...yes and the help they need is a way to Implement a code to do : x do y. They just need help in the logic to how to accomplished what they want the code to do. They may know the statments, commands, etc but how can I do this ? .  It just like someone know how to use a saw, use an hammer but how to make a table ? The logic to make a table they need help to do, for example.


Another side of the coin...

How many of us really need to take on their programming project for them. We do have our lives and responsibilities. I don't mind giving direction and some help, but I do expect that the ones posting would the the real work themselves. I never mind the post where they list some bad code and want some help because there is at least an attempt on their part to try. To try, have poor success and ask some questions is a great way to learn. To get someone else to do the work for free is just freeloading and I really get tired of the freeloaders. Show a little effort, run into a problem, ask questions, That's the way we learn. If everything works out the first time then we are just doing what we already know.

And as I said earlier, many of these kids have been taught that the answer is important. I had math and science teachers that taught me that the process was more important. If the process is correct then the answer comes for free. If the process is wrong then the answer can't be had. We can give them the answer, but then they will just need the next answer. Try to teach them the process and they will be able to give us some of the answers.

Arduino is just what they say there needs to be more of in the schools. Problem Solving and open ended solutions. But then they just ask for the answer and expect them to do it the same way the teacher does.


many of these kids have been taught that the answer is important.

So true.
A long time ago when I was at school and doing exams, we were told "to show your working".
The actual answer arrived at was important, but how you got it was equally important.
There were even guidelines on how to divide your answer sheet to separate "working out" from "answer"

I carried the same principle into job interviews - as an interviewer, it becomes obvious that a candidate does or doesn't know their stuff, if you ask them how they arrive at an answer, even if the answer isn't 100% correct. I even guided people who I felt knew the answer, but couldn't express it correctly. They may not have got the job, but they never left feeling stupid or diminished.

I rarely give direct answers here, preferring to gauge the questioner's experience, and aim to guide them to a solution.

I was once rather angrily asked why I didn't answer the OP's question, and why I kept asking them questions.
The answer is obvious; if I don't ask questions, how am I ever going to learn?

"Pete, it's a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart." Ulysses Everett McGill.
Do not send technical questions via personal messaging - they will be ignored.

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