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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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