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Zombie Dice: eat brains, avoid shotguns

Zombies aren't known for their critical thinking skills, but in Zombie Dice, a fast-paced, risk-vs-reward dice-rolling game designed by Steve Jackson, you play a zombie who must balance its desire for human brains with its fear of getting blasted to necrotic bits by a shotgun.

The game comes with 13 specially marked dice. The dice have three kinds of markings: brains, shotgun blasts, and footprints. (Green dice have more brains, red dice have more shotgun blasts, yellow dice are in-between).

The rules are simple: two or more people can play. Everyone is a zombie. The dice represent humans. When it's your turn, pull three dice from the cardboard cup (without looking) and roll them. Set any brains to one side. Set any shotgun blasts to the other side. Footprints mean the human got away - keep those in front of you. Do you want to roll again? No problem. Just re-roll the footprints dice along with enough fresh dice from the cup so that you roll three dice. You can roll as many times as you like in an effort to eats lots of brains in your turn (my record is 11 juicy brains in one turn), but if you end up accumulating three shotgun blasts, you lose all your brain points for that turn and the next player-zombie gets its turn. When one player gets 13 points, play continues until the round is finished and whoever has the most points wins.

Here's a sample turn:

Colorful keyboard how-to

The process shots for Chica and Joe's colorful keyboard how-to are like photos from a candy factory.

DIY Colorful Computer Keyboard

77 fun ways to play fast-moving Tenzi dice game

A couple of weeks ago my friend Kent Barnes recommended a simple, fast-moving dice game called Tenzi. I bought it and my wife, 11-year-old daughter, and I had fun playing it. The rules are simple - everyone starts out with 10 dice and the goal is to roll your dice as fast as you can until all of them show the same number. Every time you roll, you are allowed to set aside any dice that match your desired number. When all ten of the dice show the same number, you shout "Tenzi!," throw your hands in the air, and gloat while the other players gnash their teeth. The game rules included a couple of variations on the basic rule set, which we also played and liked.

A few days later Kent told me about a $10 deck of cards called 77 Ways to Play Tenzi. I ordered the deck and last night my wife, 11-year-old, 16-year-old daughter (who doesn't like games and joined us reluctantly), and I tested the deck out. Ninety minutes later we decided that this deck takes Tenzi to a new level. The deck adds variety, surprise, and humor to Tenzi. It makes Tenzi so much more fun that I think the company shouldn't sell the dice without the cards. My 16-year-old daughter was surprised that she had such a good time.

77 Ways to Play Tenzi | Buy Tenzi cards and dice as a set See example cards

Kandu: kids' app development program on iPad

[Video Link] Kandu is an iPad based app for kids that lets you make apps and games. Here's co-founder David Bennahum demonstrating it at New York Tech Meetup earlier this month.

There are more ways to arrange a deck of cards than atoms on Earth

[Video Link]There are roughly 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique ways to order 52 playing cards. “Any time you pick up a well shuffled deck, you are almost certainly holding an arrangement of cards that has never before existed and might not exist again.” (Via Adafruit Industries)

Tenzi: fast dice game with simple rules

My friend, Kent Barnes, told me about Tenzi, a simple dice game. The object of the game is to end up with all of your dice showing the same number.

Here's how to play: Each player gets 10 dice. When one of the players says "go!" everyone rolls their dice. After the first roll, you set the dice with the most matches, and roll the remaining dice to try to match the ones you've set aside. You don't take turns; you just roll as quickly as you can. It usually takes less than a minute for someone to win. It seems idiotically simple. It's more fun than it sounds.

We play a variation: the winner of the previous round gets to choose the point number (between 1 and 6), and everyone has to try to match their dice to that number.

Tenzi $14

Arduino for Beginners, by John Baichtal

John Baichtal is a contributor to MAKE online, and is good at explaining complex things to newbies. He's put this talent to use in his new book, Arduino for Beginners, which assumes nothing from the reader except for a willingness to learn. (Arduino is a inexpensive electronic prototyping platform.)

The Arduino projects in the book are presented in full color: a laser/infrared trip beam to protect your home from intruders, a Bluetooth doorbell, an LED strip coffee table, a plant-watering robot, an ultrasonic cat toy, a bubble-blowing robot, and more.

The book goes far beyond teaching you how to make cool things with Arduino. His chapter on maker tools (hand tools, power tools, laser cutters, 3D printers, design software, etc.) alone is worth the price of the book.

Read the rest

BB exclusive: What does it take to make the creator of Adventure Time laugh?

Here's an exclusive Blu-ray clip from 3rd season box set of Adventure Time, which went on sale this week. The Blu-ray and DVD both feature all 26 episodes from the series’ third season, as well as bonus features including episode commentaries for all 26 episodes, an interview with series creator Pendleton Ward, and an alternate show introduction. Plus, the packaging for the DVD and Blu-ray is a custom die-cut BMO slipcase, which transforms into a figurine of the beloved mini-computer.

Adventure Time: The Complete Third Season

Learn to Program with Scratch - tutorial to kids' programming language

Scratch is a free drag-and-drop programming language for kids, developed at MIT. My 10-year-old daughter Jane uses it to create puzzles, games, and interactive cartoons. In 2012 I reviewed a book called Super Scratch Programming Adventure, a comic book guide to Scratch. I recommend it.

I also recommend the new book, Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math. Like Super Scratch Programming Adventure, this book is aimed at the complete beginner, but it goes deeper, exploring powerful programming concepts that show how useful Scratch is, for kids and adults.

Read the rest

Meet Sabine, a character from Star Wars Rebels who "likes to blow things up"

A fun video from the creative team making Star Wars Rebels, about Sabine, a character with a "love for blowing things up and tagging her work with graffiti."

Star Wars Rebels is scheduled to premiere in fall 2014 as a one-hour special telecast on Disney Channel and will be followed by a series on Disney XD channels around the world. I have not been a fan of Star Wars movies except for the first two, but I'm willing to give this a try.

Wonderfully weird 1961 Russian kids book about space flight

Dreams of Space is an excellent blog that focuses on a single subject: nonfiction kids books about space flight between the years 1945 and 1975. The publisher, John Sisson, recently posted scans from a 1961 Russian children's book called As We Were Flying on a Rocket. The photos are wonderful.

Read the rest

Encouraging kids to complete chores by paying them with screen-time tokens

Little Mom on the Prarie made game tokens that she gives her daughter to do chores.

"I started using an alternate version of the reward system with my daughter, to balance out our struggles of getting her to help out with chores and limiting her computer/game time. I made these little "game tokens" that she can earn by doing her chores without complaining, and when we ask her to do them (not later, not in 5 minutes, now!) Each token has a different time allotment on it; 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and there is one token good for 1 hour.

It would be fun to add RFID chips to the coins so that the kid can spend the coin by passing it over a USB-RFID reader connected to the computer.

Game Tokens (Instead of Allowance) Reward System

Pete Seeger's music for children

With the death yesterday of folk singer/activist Pete Seeger, I recalled how much my entire family enjoyed his children's music when my kids were little. His collection of animal folks songs, Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes (Little and Big), originally released on two LPs in 1955, were a big hit in my household. His compilation, Stories and Songs for Little Children, is also fantastic, drawing from the Birds, Beasts record, Abiyoyo And Other Story Songs For Children, and Seeger's other 50s and 60s Folkways children's albums. Above, Seeger performs "Abiyoyo."

"The Toy" by Ray and Charles Eames

Socks Studio has a short article and a bunch of photos of "The Toy."

“The Toy” was a self-assembly project made in 1951 by Charles and Ray Eames and sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. This construction kit for children sums up the simplicity and playfulness of most of the Eames’ works. It comprised dowels with pierced ends, pipe cleaners and brightly colored panels (four square and four triangles) of plastic-coated resistant stiff paper. The pieces of “the Toy” came packed in a hexagonal tube and could be used to produce multiple structures, playhouses, theatres and shelters.

"The Toy" by Charles and Ray Eames (Via This Isn't Happiness)

How to draw Adventure Time characters

Cartoon producer Fred Seibert posted this fun and informative sixteen-page manual with tips for drawing Finn & Jake from Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time series. Ward is one of the best character designers around! (Via Super Punch)