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OpenSCAD ... and the True Type Font! 
We went looking to create a few 'logoed projects recently. Since printing text can be a problem in 3D (strange looking 'As, 'Os, 'Qs, etc.), for best results when hollow-rendering one should us a STENCIL font.



Sadly, far from being universally supported, at the moment modern operating systems never provide any type of stencil-family fonts.

Arriving to the rescue however, today we should note that OpenSCAD will allow us to 'import' a font for ourselves.

Here is an example of using a True Type Font (.ttf) with OpenSCAD:
line1="Randall Nagy";
line2="foo@bar.net";
line3="Soft9000.com";
border=12;

zlength = 10;

zscale = 4;
zscale2 = 7;
zscale3 = 8;

use </d_archive_static/Ttf_2016_002/allerta_stencil.ttf>

difference() {
$fn=32;
minkowski() {
union(){
cube([max(len(line1), len(line2), len(line3)) * zscale + border, zlength, 0.75], center=true);
if(line2||line3) {
translate([0,-15,0]) cube([max(len(line1),len(line2),len(line3))*zscale2+border,15,0.75], center=true);
}
if(line3) {
translate([0,-30,0]) cube([max(len(line1),len(line2),len(line3))*zscale3+border,15,0.75], center=true);
}
}
cylinder(r=3,h=1);
}

font_name = "Allerta";
zhi = 3;
szfont = 8;
union() {
linear_extrude(height = zhi, center=true)
text(line1, font = font_name, "center", size = szfont, valign="center", halign="center");
if(line2) {
translate([0,-15,0]) linear_extrude(height = zhi, center=true)
text(line2, font = font_name, "center", size = szfont, valign="center", halign="center");
}
if(line3) {
translate([0,-30,0]) linear_extrude(height = zhi, center=true)
text(line3, font = font_name, "center", size = szfont, valign="center", halign="center");
}
}
}

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On-Line Educational Experences 
From in-class to on-line and at-the-fort, I have taught in many places, and under many circumstances.

Reviewing the results of decades of in-class consulting as well as on-line educational engagements with a prospective client recently allowed me to neuron-together a few interesting insights. I thought I would share them with you:

Comparison


When comparing the quality of education received on-line with a traditional classroom it is true that - while classroom teaching is our classic model (and therefore understood by more people,) that on-line education requires allot more lower level, hands-on content. Why? Because impersonalized presentations simply cannot engage people long enough to keep an average student's attention!

Yet the demand to create allot of exercises to keep students engaged creates a classic case of a "top down," versus that "bottom up" approach... or perhaps a College, versus a Middle-School educational experience? (i.e. holding a student's attention for an average of 1 minute for every year-in life?)

Surely creating on-line versus in-person education also requires understanding that on-line students are usually allot more interested in a "how to," rather than the often-equally as-important "when to" and / or "why to." --Yet I believe that the problem lies with the delivery media. The problem seems to be engaging each student at a level that only an in-classroom educator seems able to achieve?

Simple Case Study


The USMC - for example - tried to save allot of money by not flying teachers out to students. Yet after less than a year of telling their students to "learn it all on-line," up-front & personal, instructor-lead classroom training is not only back, but it is becoming more popular than ever before.

Why? One reason is - when it comes to being taught - that people need an opportunity to participate, as well as to be mentored in terms that can be related to their problem domains. So while I "talk geek" on my Udemy training, I "talk financial" when teaching at financial companies, "talk military" when teaching at the DoD, and therefore turn on as many light-bulbs - as well as encourage as much classroom participation - as humanly possible.

Certainly those critiquing their own experience when comparing an on-line versus an in-room training experience may often discover that the mere potential of asking - or being asked - to participate if and of itself often encourages one to be more attentive & alert.

The "D Word"


So it is teaching on-line that tends to be the "knowledge dump" these days. Indeed, until 'chatbots get allot better ("Alexa, teach me Python"?) today one simply cannot mentor - let alone engage any student properly - en masse.

Hence the challenge with creating 5-star on-line education is to teach "knowledge," (a hands-on activity every 5 minutes is a good metric!) versus imparting "wisdom." Showing on-line students - whose attention spans are ALLOT less engaged - not only "how to," but also ramping-up to present those top-down / higher-educational concepts ... via a series of hands-on exercises ... every few minutes?!

Big changes, to be sure!

Interactive Video


Even when teaching students on-line and in real-time (WebEx etc,) allow me to observe that remote-only educational opportunities universally ignore the fact that the best educational experiences invariably connect with people in more ways than on-line educational experiences are presently able to provide. Without the ability to walk around & read the body language of each student, how can any instructor know if their message is even being received?

So perhaps in education - just as everywhere else - one truly tends to get no more than what one pays for?


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Python From Requirements 
Supporting yesterdays skill review session, we added a series of "sub-challenges" to project PR05. The additions were added to the bottom of the document.

Designed to help new students understand how to develop software in the professional software development world, such presentations are being extremely well received.



Those needing extra help with PR05 and / or any of the other activities can find the solutions to these & other projects in our new Python by Requirement book on Amazon.


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-Randall


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