It's a shame that this Minecraft comic never happened. The art looks fantastic. Brandon Sheffield, video game director and webcomic writer, has sample character designs, screens, and a script on his website.
Shaped like a hexagon to mimic the dimensions of a cube, Minecraft: Blockopedia is designed for full-on Minecraft geeks, although those of us who have only watched the game over the shoulders of children and loved ones will find plenty to admire here too. After the briefest of introductions and a quick glossary to help noobs make sense of the stats that accompany each block’s name, it’s off to the races, with page after page devoted to blocks made from rocks, blocks made from plants, blocks that serve particular functions (a ladder), and blocks that do particular things (acting as a switch).
One of the coolest characteristics about Minecraft is how it chooses to observe the laws of nature and physics, or ignore them. Sand, we are told, can be a cave-in hazard, but when it’s smelted in a furnace, it turns to glass. Both statements are true, but don’t go looking for glowstone the next time you’re spelunking – it is only found in a sinister dimension of Minecraft called the Nether. And while sugar cane in both the real world and the Overworld of Minecraft can be used to make sugar, guess where it can also be used to block flowing lava?
Though the format and illustrations in Minecraft: Blockopedia are the book’s most prominent features, it’s still a book filled with lots and lots of, you know, words. Writer Alex Wiltshire mostly plays it straight (“Water is incredibly useful.”), but often he lets the language and logic of Minecraft add color, as in “Sticky pistons are made by crafting a piston with a slimeball…” and “If you dig podzol without the silk touch enhancement it drops dirt.” Got that? Read the rest
Who doesn’t like playing games? If your high school and college educations had been all playtime instead of studying, you probably would’ve liked it all a lot more. Well, even though you’re all grown up now, the child in you is going to rejoice that you can learn electronics and engineering using the fun of Minecraft, now for 18% off. Make learning awesome again with this hands-on, interactive way to master these essential computing skills.
Level by level, the game play here will walk you through the rungs of building a computer from scratch. You’ll get to tinker with buzzers, motion sensors, LED lights, switches and more and connecting these hardware pieces will bring you steps closer to the Raspberry Pi. From there you’ll build a totally self-contained computer that runs on a Raspberry Pi project board. All the hardware challenges can be played as Minecraft game levels, making it super fun to build at every stage. For extra levels and more sharing opportunities, simply connect to WiFi.
Knowing how to build systems like this can really amp up your career potential. Use this excuse to play games for hours on end because you can pretty much call it work or school, ramping up your engineering and electronics prowess. Playing Minecraft has never been so productive and now it’s all 18% off. Check out the link below for more details on how you can level up to a Raspberry Pi master.
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…Microsoft suggests the open-ended nature of Minecraft makes it particularly useful because of the huge variety of situations it can simulate from first-person perspectives.
"It allows you to have 'embodied AI'," explained Matthew Johnson, the principal software engineer working on AIX.
"So, rather than have a situation where the AI sees an avatar of itself, it can actually be inside, looking out through the eyes of something that is living in the world.
"We think this is an essential part of building this kind of general intelligence."
Simon writes, "With just 3 days to run, this Kickstarter to make 'Beep Beep Yarr!' a fantastic, pirate-themed programming book for kids needs your support to graduate." Read the rest
Confession: I know nothing – NOTHING – about coding. I’m still stuck in the glory days of the “if/thens” of my original Apple IIe, circa 1983. And I barely knew how to do anything past whatever I copied verbatim from Byte. I never got that right either. I don’t think. Ever. I remember staying up all night to do a Thundercats hi-res game. Tried to run it at 4am. Nothing. No Lion-O, no Cheetarah, no Snarf... NOTHING. Thus began a life of failure. BUT. I did not want my kids to suffer that same fate. Especially because it is now a presidential mandate that all kids must learn to code. And code they shall.
Kano is built on a simple idea: If kids can piece together Legos, then why not a whole computer? So they not only have a tactile experience in the building of the thing, but more importantly, they take ownership. Have a hands on experiece with their computer, and know it inside and out. My kids opened the cleverly packaged Kano box and had their machines up and running in about 45 minutes. The directions are sort of similar to Lego directions. Very simple, very easy to understand, and I’ll be damned... these boys, ages 7 and 9, were coding within the hour.
The computer itself comes with a Rasberry Pi brain, all the necessary cables, a keyboard, instructions and stickers to personalize the experience. It comes loaded with a bunch of different apps: Minecraft, Scratch, hack old school Pong, hack Snake, and many other great things, all with an eye towards hacking, coding and exploring. Read the rest
I first heard about Scratch, when one of our attendees gave a brief show-and-tell on it at Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder. It sounded pretty accessible. It came to mind again when recently, in an attempt to get my daughter to use the iPad for more than watching Bratayley, I decided to try and interest her in creating something. She loves art, but Minecraft was far too confusing for her and I was looking for another kid-friendly programming option. ScratchJr is a tablet based, even simpler version of Scratch, installing was as easy as any other app.
The Official ScratchJr Book does a great job, with friendly illustrations, of walking us through the basics. My daughter prefers the painting and drawing of characters, and backgrounds, to the organization of blocks, but the book did a great job of walking us through it all. Having gone through the book together, once, she can now refer to it one her own, if she runs into a problem. Generally, her problem is me grabbing the tablet and adding things.
I am not going to tell you we've made high art, but I think I could throw together a decent 1980's King's Quest parody.
In this beginner friendly book, called Learn to Program with Minecraft, you will learn how to do cool things in Minecraft using the Python programming language. No prior programming experience is needed. Author Craig Richardson shows you how to install Python (it's free) on your Mac, PC, or Raspberry Pi. The book has step-by-step instructions to show you how to teleport your character, create palaces and other structures with a few lines of code, stack blocks, duplicate villages and geography, and a lot more.
Every other week, it seems, an exciting new discovery crops up in a distant star system. The latest is Wolf 1061c, the closest Earth-like world yet found, barely a probe's throw away at 14 light years. But this got me thinking: which is the least interesting exoplanet yet discovered?
To my inexpert eye, OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb looks like a terrifically boring world. Though it was scientifically interesting early in the exoplanetary race due to its tiny size and vast distance from Planet Earth, this merely makes it the Rand Paul of planets.
It's at least 18,000 light years away, so we're not getting there until we can reach billions of other, more interesting worlds. And when someone does get there, they'll find what appears to be rocky blob well out of its star's habitable zone.
It's covered in abundant elements such as ammonia and nitrogen, all frozen solid because it's so cold. Its star is believed to be a red dwarf, which is to say, very boring in its own right.
"I wish I'd had a chance to visit OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb," no-one will ever say.
But I could, of course, be completely wrong. I'm not an astronomer, after all. Tell us in the comments which exoplanet you are most bored by!
Tara Tiger Brown is the founder of nonprofit organization LA Makerspace, the premier STEAM service provider for the Los Angeles Public Library. She’s also the co-founder of Kithub, creative electronics kits for kids, and co-founder of Connected Camps, which has online camps for kids including a Minecraft coding club. Read the rest