Make Smarter - Khan Academy, OpenHatch, Yahoo Style Guide

First up in this month’s Maker Smarter is a Google Tech Talk on OpenHatch. If you have ever wanted to get involved in open source software, OpenHatch is a great way to start. An open source volunteer finder, it makes it easy to search for ways to contribute by bugs, projects, or languages, and you can submit a request for help for your own project.

One of the frustrating things about CSS is the lack of preprocessing. Projects like LESS and SASS help fix the problem on the server side, but now there’s a Less.js library for the client side side of things. It allows you to do things like set variables, use the properties of one class for another class, nest rules in a more logical way, and perform some basic operations. The library is out on Google Code.

Via Slashdot, Salman Khan has created more than 1500 video tutorials on a variety of subjects. His videos are viewed 100,000+ times each day, each made with $280 of equipment and a free copy of SmoothDraw3. The videos are licensed under creative commons, and he’s made a huge impact for people all over the world. You learn more about him and view his courses at Khan Academy.

Lifehacker mentioned a couple of free books for web developers and designers recently. The first is the Yahoo! Style Guide. While there’s a little CSS thrown in there, it isn’t a CSS guide at all. It’s more like a Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for the web. The next book is The Web Book, which walks you through everything from registering a domain to using PHP and MySQL.

I normally don’t tout things that cost money in Make Smarter, but I thought this course was interesting enough to earn an exception. Titled Intro to PostgreSQL with Spatial Analysis Extensions, it leverages PostgreSQL, PostGIS, and the PL/R to do high-end open source spatial analytics. The class is in September, and it’ll cost you a cool $2k. Ouch.

Google released GoogleCL recently, which is a command line tool for Google’s most popular apps and services. You can add a calendar event or extract your list of contacts right from the command line. Lifehacker has a great tutorial to get you started. Windows users will need to grab cygwin.

And now a few quick hitters before I go hunting for food:

  • The Open Source Way is book/wiki online resource with a ton of articles and more added all the time (you can add one yourself if you want to).

  • Lifehacker posted about The Einztein Knowledge Network, which aggregates virtual courses from all kinds of college and other web sites.

  • If you have a youngster that wants to learn about programming, you can’t go wrong with Scratch, a visual programming tool created by MIT. Over 1 million Scratch projects have been uploaded to MIT.

  • Downloadsquad posted on, a catalog of over 1600 cheat sheets ranging from Adobe Air to zypp. Am I the only one that prints out cheat sheets and then never looks at them again?