The ep5 Educational Broadcasting Foundation

educational content for public radio and television

Welcome to ep5

The ep5 Educational Broadcasting Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable institution established in 1988. We produce educational content for cable and for public radio and television. Our television programs are broadcast locally, and we produced a radio series on topics in science and technology for a year and a half. This series is still carried by a number of stations from Florida to Malibu to Alaska.

We are funded by public donation and rely upon volunteers for almost all functions. You may want to know why you should even consider ep5 as a production house for the programs you will find on this web-site. It’s a fair question, and we are delighted to answer it.

Every organization eventually decides how it will deal with the world. Some are quite remarkably pompous and choose to take themselves very seriously.

ep5 is one of the others.

For our corporate Statement of Purpose - everyone needs one of those! - please click here. As for how we work, including an explanation of why you should take the time to read what we present on this web-site, you might take a look here. Several of our productions are available for download. For a view of broadcasting from long ago, still relevant today...the two words that propelled Newton Minow into immortality.

Ben Radford

Natalie Gray

Paula Reynolds

Jim Van Dusen

Frank Stecky

David Fisher

ep5 currently has a critical need for a volunteer marketing manager to oversee the foundation’s social media presence and relationships with potential underwriters.

Interested? Looking for a way to actually make a positive difference in the lives of others?

Call us!

585.889.4026 or 1@ep5.org

What are we doing – right now?


Java cup

The world-wide growth in interest in software development skills makes this the ideal time for a public television series which will teach the viewer computer programming. With an emphasis on actually writing functional and useful code, the series will forego the academic rigor of a university course on computer science and concentrate on creating real-world applications which do useful and fascinating things.

Even better, it’s time to do a series on programming in which we emphasize how good a career choice software development is for young women. There is a theory in Darwinism which holds that women are better at tasks requiring meticulous attention to detail and the taking of great care in getting everything right. It would be difficult to identify a set of skills better suited to writing software than these. From the presenter/instructor, a charismatic and articulate woman, to a full fifty percent of the on-screen class of students, women will be shown as full and equal participants in programming.

Better still, this series can open the door to young people mired in the hopeless darkness of poverty, giving them a path to follow that can take them up into the world of light and give them the hope of remunerative skilled work in jobs that offer promise and potential.

Unlike the vast array of Internet videos and web-sites purporting to instruct avid neophytes, our series will be a well-thought-out presentation done to the high production value standards of public television. Using a unique combination of proven teaching techniques and proprietary methods we have developed for this series, our program about programming takes a “cookbook” approach to teaching coding. The examples used in explaining the principles will take the form of reusable modules that do useful tasks and which can be “plugged in” to the programs that the viewer creates on her own. It works, and we have developed additional methods which neatly and reliably steer the program around obstacles which often render ordinary Internet tutoring ineffectual. No secrets or magic tricks; simply, ways of teaching which work.

In one sentence, our emphasis is NOT on what the viewer will learn but on what she can DO.

The best way of learning is from a really good teacher, in the classroom, one on one. With television, even the best explainer in the most elegant simulated classroom cannot hear the questions that the students in the television audience invariably have. In the classroom, it’s all about being interactive. How can you possibly achieve this on the ’Net?

We’ve found a way that comes very close.

Many tutorials consist in the main of a seemingly endless listing of the language’s features and capabilities, apparently on the assumption that the student has an eidetic memory and has mastered total recall at will. We all know that the best way of learning is doing, yet many programming courses seem long on theory and short on coding. When Edsger Dijkstra made his now-infamous recommendation to “Resist the urge to code!”, he wasn’t talking to you!*

The heart of our approach is writing as much code as possible, with constant evaluation of how well it works. Integral to this is an emphasis on code black boxes and their re-use.

For instance…

In conventional training, the principles and objectives of object-oriented programming (OOP) are explained at length, with analogies to cars and animals, accompanied by earnest assurances that the OOP paradigm is best. The student must take it on faith that all this is true, having no way to see the truth of it. She thinks, “Yes, all very clever, but why should I bother with it?”

This is as silly as it is unnecessary.

Our teaching method begins with a simple and utterly straightforward program utilizing traditional procedural code to accomplish an easily grasped nothing program objective. This might be copying a file between directories or making entertaining things appear and disappear on the screen: it hardly matters.** We then rewrite this function, converting it to the OOP model and show that it still works. Next, we demonstrate how a similar functionality is implemented in the procedural world, using a new procedure or functions with parameters. This is immediately followed by the equivalent in OOP, demonstrating that a hierarchy of objects can bring efficiency and clarity to the task of implementing a group of related algorithms in a concise and reliable manner. At all times, we use fully working programs to show what is accomplished and how this is expressed in code. Not in mickey-mouse make-believe code examples. In code that accomplishes recognizably useful real-world tasks that properly ought to be done by computer.

In the simplest possible terms, “Don’t tell me how it works. Show me!


On occasion, we are asked why there is no demo reel or sample episode for “The Art of Programming”. It’s simple: the essence of the entire series lies in how it presents the course content to the viewer, with:

  • Conciseness
  • Clarity
  • Easily followed organization
  • Syllabus tailored to the beginning student

To make a demo reel that would usefully reflect the quality and effectiveness of our teaching method would require actually starting to make the series, as that is the only way in which the necessary resources would be available. The key to the success of this series is the polish and elegance of its production values enhancing the carefully thought-out tutorial content. Achieving this requires the resources of a full production process. In short, some things cannot be properly simulated, and this is one of ’em.

If one principle characterizes “The Art of Programming” more than all others, it’s the vital need for reliability — and we strongly recommend reading this essay on software reliability, written by a hardware guy. Students of formal computer science education risk being buried in the complexity and detail of their studies. Our audience will begin, at the very start, with an emphasis on the importance of reliable code that always does what the programmer intends. We will teach the value of creating black boxes which can be verified, validated, tested, and certified as reliable tools which accomplish specific purposes and can be reused as often as necessary. The cookbook method means that code segments of proven value reduce the risk of program failure, while intensive and unrelenting testing of evolving program code ensures that reliability never fades in importance and priority.

It needs to be emphasized that “The Art of Programming” is not intended to serve as an introduction to a comprehensive education in programming. It’s not the first course in a variety of languages covering all of the skills that a commercial software developer needs. This series is for someone else entirely: the person who really finds programming fascinating and wants to develop some degree of proficiency in one general-purpose language that she can use at will, when and as she wishes.

What will follow this series on learning programming with JavaScript? A series, using Java, which will teach more serious programming, in greater depth and with more involved real-world applications. It will run for three trimesters, thirty-nine weeks, with even more WWW content.


* He was actually making a singularly important point, to wit, think the problem through before dashing off the obvious code that looks as though it’ll answer the application’s demands.

** We propose to be the first in history to teach a programming language without ever once writing “print (‘Hello world’)” anywhere, under any circumstances.

What else are we doing – right now?


Who has not, at one time or another, watched a train rumble by and wondered what it would be like to work on the railroad? Some even wonder what it’d be like to own and operate one, a railroad all of your own. Don’t scoff; it happens.

As shocking as the admission may be, we ourselves have occasionally fallen prey to such temptation. Not to actually build a railroad. No, but we have wondered what it would involve. How much would it cost? What would its chances of success be?

Difference is, we made a feature-length movie about it. Based on an almost true story, it’s called...

We have just completed it. Despite our best efforts, it turned out splendidly.

In less than an hour and a half, we explain how you can make a small fortune in the railroad business.

After first investing a very large fortune, you gradually convert this obscenely huge amount of money into a long stretch of track, add a few locomotives, find customers, hire some people who, it is earnestly to be hoped, know something about running a railroad, and stir constantly ’til you have become the owner of the world’s newest railway. We also take a close look at a few of the Forces of Darkness who will all line up to take pot-shots at you, both figuratively and literally (Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 223).

Shinkansen 500 Type EVA

The program has been completed. It is broadcast periodically on the Rochester, NY, cable system. Watch the hour and twenty minute movie in full here, or see the 03:47 trailer here.

Public radio – out now


Between mid-2015 and early 2017, ep5 produced a public radio series entitled "Ninety Second Science". It was released at the rate of one episode per weekday. The series featured daily minute-and-a-half stories on fascinating topics and themes from science and technology, with an inclination toward the exotic, peculiar, and remarkable. It is distributed nationally by PRX and NPR.

Click the image below...

science in ninety seconds

 

Public radio – upcoming


What do we have in the works for public radio?

Currently in the prototype stage, Wow! I Didn't Know That! is a science news magazine both whimsical and serious that won't insult your intelligence or speak down to you. Intended for weekly release, Wow! I Didn't Know That! will run half an hour and feature short stories about what’s new and interesting in science and technology. We’ll bet that you won’t have heard these stories anywhere else. In fact, if you take the bet and we lose, we’ll let you buy us lunch at the best restaurant in town!

In addition to news from science, technology, and engineering, WIDKT will feature provocative editorials.

To listen to the Wow! I Didn't Know That! entire first episode, click the caveman.

cave man gag

What else will we have?

Few today know about the canal that New York State built to connect the agricultural and industrial areas of the western part of the state with the rest of the country, back before railroads and highways became common.

It was a good idea, the right idea, but the canal was doomed from the start, thanks to an invention made in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne a few years earlier by two engineers, Richard Trevithick and Robert Stephenson.

To learn more about the “Death of a Canal” project, please click the image below...

canal marker

Television


ep5 has produced a number of locally broadcast television programs, still shown on the Rochester cable system.

We have developed several proposals for public television. These include episodic series and hour-long documentaries.

To learn more about these, yeah, you know what to click...

television projects

This web-site does not use cookies. If you find any, don’t complain to us about it; we didn’t put them there. Personally, we blame the Girl Scouts...

From time to time, there comes upon the management of this establishment the urge to make various improvements to this web-site. We have removed a number of inconvenient peculiarities in its layout, rearranged the order of things to be a little less confusing, and added substance and detail to the overall presentation. We do this work wholly in-house, using the most extraordinarily incompetent of amateur web-design talent, so this entire process occurs slowly. Very slowly.

If you have been here before, you’ll possibly need to refresh each page when it shows, in order to have the new links function properly. We have put in code which, in theory, should accomplish this automagically. This varies with browsers, of course, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. In our extensive testing, involving guinea pigs trained to operate computers, it worked about half the time.

Typical of anything on the ’Net...

Don’t you just hate it when browsers don’t work correctly? Don’t you just hate it when guinea pigs go on strike demanding smaller keyboards?

As the glacier said to the Ice Man, we appreciate your patience.

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