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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Kids + coding + fun = CoderDojo


Courtesy of Erik Zhang
Loyola School fifth-grader Erik Zhang uses programming tools such as Unity, above, with guidance from mentors at the CoderDojo program.

I’m a fifth-grader at Loyola School in Los Altos. In the heart of the Silicon Valley, everyone works in the high-tech industry, and many of them start at a very young age. Nevertheless, it’s still unusual to see 40-plus elementary school kids crowding Microsoft Corp.’s Silicon Valley Campus on a Wednesday afternoon, ready to code with laptops in hand. Fortunately, we aren’t child labor for Microsoft. We are here to learn how to code games with the latest programs like Python, Unity or Scratch.

For free.

It is made possible because a new CoderDojo was formed in our area in August 2012. With the tireless efforts of the founding team, many coding sessions like this have been organized for kids my age featuring great corporate sponsorships (like Microsoft, in this case) and countless volunteer mentors to teach.

CoderDojo, founded by Bill Liao and James Whelton, was started in James’ school in early 2011 when he received some publicity after hacking into an iPod Nano. Some younger students expressed an interest in learning how to code. James set up a computer club in his school, where he taught basic CSS and HTML. Later that year he met Bill, an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Together, they decided to make the program into something bigger than just an after-school computer club. They successfully launched the first CoderDojo, which provides free and open learning in programming technology, in June 2011.

Since I started going to CoderDojo, I’ve learned many new programming tools, including Unity and Python, and have developed many games of my own. I have shared these games with my little brother and many of our friends, and they all loved them. I can’t help but feel how lucky I am to have this wonderful opportunity to play with the latest technology, with so many experts walking around available to help whenever I have a problem.

Not many kids my age have this kind of opportunity. In fact, I remember the comments from my dad about the fact that he never touched a computer until he was 20. Even in this day and age, many kids don’t have a computer, let alone the opportunity to learn from the brightest programmers while they are still in elementary school, for free.

What a wonderful contribution CoderDojo and its volunteers are making for the children lucky enough to have this experience. I hope that when I grow up, I will be able to make similar contributions to less-fortunate people.

As the tagline from IBM states, “Smarter Planet” – let’s make our planet smarter, for us and for future generations.

I just added one of the games I coded at CoderDojo to my website at soundisimore.com. Please check it out. I hope you like it.

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