I would imagine that a lot of people are looking for interesting things to do with brand new computers this week. Some people are (I hope) looking for ways to teach young people about programming. Or perhaps you are looking for your self regardless of your age. Well it seems like this is also a time when I am finding updates on some of the popular and more interesting beginning programming languages.
For example I received an announcement from the Scratch team about a conference they are running this summer at MIT. Information is here and it looks like a potentially very good conference. One of the best things about Scratch is how light weight it is and how few resources it requires. I also like the sharing that goes on through their web site.
For a bit more sophistication there is always Alice from Carnegie Mellon. The advantage of Alice is that it allows for three dimensional worlds and very detailed control over characters. It's been a favorite of teachers for several years now.
For languages that are a bit more traditional there is Leopard and Phrogram. Leopard is just out with a new version 2.2 that adds loops, discussion structures (if/then) and a bunch of other new features.
Leopard has a long standing partner ship with Weather bug but I see that Phrogram also now has one. There is information on programming with Weatherbug and Phrogram here. Information on programming Weatherbug and web widgets with Leopard are on their main page here. I'm impressed with the growth in both products. There is an interesting article about Leopard being used in a classroom here BTW.
Now the the very traditional but still approachable programming there is Microsoft's Beginning Developer Learning Center and the Microsoft Visual Studio Express products. Lots of curriculum, projects, videos and other information at the Beginner Developer Learning center.
And for special interests there are:
- XNA Game Studio Express for programming real Xbox 360 (and Windows) games
- Microsoft Robotics Studio for robots both real and simulated
- Coding4Fun with projects and plans for hobbyists who already know some programming
- Popfly for creating fun and interesting web based mashups.
Everything on this list is free by the way. For several things there are paid versions that offer more capability or support but all let you get started for free. And free is a good price at this time of the year.