"games" entries

Teaching kids how to code with Minecraft

Maintaining a focus on fun and interactivity keeps students engaged and enthused while learning Java.

I am jealous of kids these days. The sheer breadth and depth of technology and software at their disposal is staggering, everything from Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Scratch to Minecraft, Python, and iOS app development. What’s even more profound to me is how fluent they are in using and interacting with these technologies. And yet during this process of assimilation, they are mastering fundamental mathematical concepts, like trigonometry, by figuring out how to shoot an arrow in Minecraft, as opposed to the classical way of learning the formulas. Or in learning how to program in Python, they are creating a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Or in understanding basic circuits, they are building a traffic light using Arduino or Squishy Circuits.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be involved with Devoxx4Kids, a Not-for-Profit, 501(c)(3) registered organization in the U.S., whose goal is to deliver Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) workshops to kids at an early age around the world. We delivered over 40 workshops in the U.S. alone last year on topics ranging from Python, Scratch, and Minecraft modding to NAO robots, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Little Circuits. Globally, we’ve delivered over 350 workshops and connected with approximately 5,000 students, with over 30% girls. Attendees from these workshops often leave with unique and inspirational stories to share. Read more…

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Four short links: 23 March 2015

Four short links: 23 March 2015

Agricultural Robots, Business Model Design, Simulations, and Interoperable JSON

  1. Swarmfarm RoboticsHis previous weed sprayer weighed 21 tonnes, measured 36 metres across its spray unit, guzzled diesel by the bucketload and needed a paid driver who would only work limited hours. Two robots working together on Bendee effortlessly sprayed weeds in a 70ha mung-bean crop last month. Their infra-red beams picked up any small weeds among the crop rows and sent a message to the nozzle to eject a small chemical spray. Bate hopes to soon use microwave or laser technology to kill the weeds. Best of all, the robots do the work without guidance. They work 24 hours a day. They have in-built navigation and obstacle detection, making them robust and able to decide if an area of a paddock should not be traversed. Special swarming technology means the robots can detect each other and know which part of the paddock has already been assessed and sprayed.
  2. Route to Market (Matt Webb) — The route to market is not what makes the product good. […] So the way you design the product to best take it to market is not the same process to make it great for its users.
  3. Explorable Explanations — points to many sweet examples of interactive explorable simulations/explanations.
  4. I-JSON (Tim Bray) — I-JSON is just a note saying that if you construct a chunk of JSON and avoid the interop failures described in RFC 7159, you can call it an “I-JSON Message.” If any known JSON implementation creates an I-JSON message and sends it to any other known JSON implementation, the chance of software surprises is vanishingly small.
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Four short links: 20 March 2015

Four short links: 20 March 2015

USA Hire, AR Game, CS Cheatsheet, and 3D Printing Cured Resin

  1. David Recordon Joins US GovtThis afternoon, President Barack Obama will announce a newly created position for David Recordon, who has worked as one of Facebook’s engineering directors since 2009. Recordon will join the White House as the director of information technology. Obama building an A team from Foo Campers.
  2. MagicLeap/Weta Workshop FPS in AR (YouTube) — fun!
  3. Theoretical Computer Science Cheat Sheet (PDF) — how to appear smart.
  4. Carbon3DTraditional 3D printing requires a number of mechanical steps, repeated over and over again in a layer-by-layer approach. CLIP is a chemical process that carefully balances light and oxygen to eliminate the mechanical steps and the layers. It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV curable resin. The build platform lifts continuously as the object is grown.
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Four short links: 6 February 2015

Four short links: 6 February 2015

Active Learning, Tongue Sensors, Cybernetic Management, and HTML5 Game Publishing

  1. Real World Active Learningthe point at which algorithms fail is precisely where there’s an opportunity to insert human judgment to actively improve the algorithm’s performance. An O’Reilly report with CrowdFlower.
  2. Hearing With Your Tongue (BoingBoing) — The tongue contains thousands of nerves, and the region of the brain that interprets touch sensations from the tongue is capable of decoding complicated information. “What we are trying to do is another form of sensory substitution,” Williams said.
  3. The Art of Management — cybernetics and management.
  4. kiwi.jsa mobile & desktop browser based HTML5 game framework. It uses CocoonJS for publishing to the AppStore.
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Four short links: 5 December 2014

Four short links: 5 December 2014

Gaming Cancer, Touch Interface, Petal Lampshade, and Biology HLL

  1. Nanodocan online game that allows bioengineers and the general public to design new nanoparticle strategies toward the treatment of cancer. (via The Economist)
  2. Rendering Haptic Volumetric Shapes in Mid-Air Using Ultrasound (PDF) — SIGGRAPH paper on using ultrasound to fool your senses into feeling a 3D shape in the air. (via Slashdot)
  3. Open Up Lamp — genius lampshade that opens with the heat of the lightbulb, like petals opening. (via Matt Webb)
  4. Anthaa high-level language for biology, making it easy to rapidly compose reproducible work flows using individually testable and reusable Antha Elements. (via Mike Loukides)
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Four short links: 31 October 2014

Four short links: 31 October 2014

Reactive Documents, Emulated Games, Web CAD, and Reviewable Code

  1. Tanglea JavaScript library for creating reactive documents from Bret Victor. (via Tom Armitage)
  2. The Internet Arcade — classic arcade games, emulated in the browser.
  3. Verba CAD library for the web […] a JavaScript library for creating and manipulating NURBS surfaces and curves in the browser or node.js.
  4. Writing Reviewable Code — good advice.
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Four short links: 7 October 2014

Four short links: 7 October 2014

Chinese Makers, Code Projects, Distributed Data Structures, and Networked Games

  1. On the Maker Movement in China (Clay Shirky) — Hardware hacking hasn’t become a hot new thing in China because it never stopped being a regular old thing.
  2. A History of Apache Storm and Lessons Learned (Nathan Marz) — his lessons on building, promoting, releasing, maintaining, governance … all worth reading.
  3. Tango: Distributed Data Structures Over a Shared Logprovides developers with the abstraction of a replicated, in-memory data structure (such as a map or a tree) backed by a shared log. (via paper summary)
  4. Making Fast-Paced Multiplayer Networked Games is Hard (Gamasutra) — This may all sound like smoke and mirrors because that is exactly what it is – we are just maintaining the illusion the game is playing out in wall clock time even though updates are arriving from the past.
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Four short links: 18 August 2014

Four short links: 18 August 2014

Space Trading, Robot Capitalism, Packet Injection, and CAP Theorem

  1. Oolite — open-source clone of Elite, the classic space trading game from the 80s.
  2. Who Owns the Robots Rules The World (PDF) — interesting finding: As companies substitute machines and computers for human activity, workers need to own part of the capital stock that substitutes for them to benefit from these new “robot” technologies. Workers could own shares of the firm, hold stock options, or be paid in part from the profits. Without ownership stakes, workers will become serfs working on behalf of the robots’ overlords. Governments could tax the wealthy capital owners and redistribute income to workers, but that is not the direction societies are moving in. Workers need to own capital rather than rely on government income redistribution policies. (via Robotenomics)
  3. Schrodinger’s Cat Video and the Death of Clear-Text (Morgan Marquis-Boire) — report, based on leaked information, about use of network injection appliances targeted unencrypted pages from major providers. Compromising a target becomes as simple as waiting for the user to view unencrypted content on the Internet.
  4. CAP 12 Years Later: How the Rules Have Changed — a rundown of strategies available to deal with partitions (“outages”) in a distributed system.
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Four short links: 12 August 2014

Four short links: 12 August 2014

Digital Services Playbook, Brain Computer Interface, In-Game Economics, and Motorcycle Reality

  1. US Digital Services Playbook — good sense from the US Govt’s latest “try not to cock up more Govt IT projects” brigade.
  2. Open Brain-Computer Interface — “open” as in “source”, not as in “cut”.
  3. Blockmarket — visibility into the in-game trading of The Blockheads. (via Dave Frampton)
  4. Skully (trigger warning: TechCrunch) — a step towards augmented reality for motorcyclists: panoramic visual awareness via in-helmet display.
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Health games platforms mature in preparation for mainstream adoption

Business models and sustainability will drive success in the health games space.

SPARX_screenshot

SPARX, a behavioral therapy game for youths,
combines a fantasy setting with skills for life.

For the past several years, researchers have strived to create compelling games that improve behavior, reduce stress, or teach healthy responses to difficult life situations. Such healthy games tend to arise in research settings because of the need to demonstrate clinically that the games are effective. I have covered such efforts in my postings from the Games for Health conference in 2012 and 2013.

These efforts have born fruit, and clinical trials have shown the value of many such games. Ben Sawyer, who founded the Games for Health conference more than 10 years ago, is watching all the pieces fall into place for the widespread adoption of games. Business plans, platforms, and the general environment for the acceptance of games (and other health-related apps) are coming together.

Read more…

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