Intro to measuring tools

As Steve Hoefer’s uncle would say, “I cut it twice and it’s still too short.”

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Free video class: 12 cool parent-child projects with Jane and Mark

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My 11-year-old daughter Jane and I recorded a 2-day video workshop produced by CreativeLive. You can watch it today for free. We'll show you how to make 12 cool projects, ranging from electronic musical instruments to balloon videocameras.

Whipped Cream spray angle test

Rob Cockerham says: "I enlisted my kids to help with a trial where I hoped to illustrate the optimum spray angle of whipped cream. I thought it would be 90 degrees, I was totally wrong."

Let’s Learn Japanese – an illustrated dictionary with over 1500 Japanese words

For anyone learning how to speak Japanese, this is a fun illustrated “picture dictionary” with over 1500 words that will help build up your Japanese vocabulary. Designed like some of Richard Scarry’s classic books (What Do People Do All Day, Best Word Book Ever…) Let’s Learn Japanese is filled with colorful scenes, each with a theme such as the doctor’s office, the supermarket, colors, the zoo, clothing, etc, and each theme offers dozens of related, illustrated words.

At the end of the book there is an English-Japanese and a Japanese-English glossary and index so that you can look up a specific word when needed. I originally bought this for my husband and I to brush up on our vocabulary before making a trip to Japan, but now my daughter, who is interested in Japanese, pores over the pages as if she’s reading one of her favorite comic books.

Let’s Learn Japanese: Picture Dictionary

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Best ever cooperative boardgames

Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen recommend their favorite cooperative board games.

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UNBOXING: $150 Kano computer

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I took photos of the cute-looking Raspberry Pi powered Kano computer, which was made for kids to learn how to code their own music, games, and software. Jane and I will hook it up to the TV (it uses any HDMI device as a monitor) and let you know what we think.

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Open Field Echo Sounder - game app for blind kids

Bob Smolenski developed a game for blind kids to play outdoors. It's called Open Field Echo Sounder. He wrote about how he made it on Medium.

I used Adobe Air to program this app. After years of Flash animation and as3 programming I decided to put those skills into making cross-platform game apps. The biggest challenge was to translate the players movement using the data from the phone. iPhones have detailed direction finding. I use that to “shoot” out an audio ping. The program can sense a “hit test” either on the right, center or left side of the object. Android phones do not have any compass heading data. So I hacked a way around that. Implementing a breadcrumb trail to point the way.

The other programming challenge was to scale a field around the player’s longitude and latitude data. I found a bit of code that calculated your location between the four corners of a 960 x 640 screen.

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! - A gamer’s alphabet

Video game players have their own jargon and much of it is foreign to non-gamers. My 11-year-old daughter, an ardent gamer, was familiar with more of the words in Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! (e.g., griefer, instance, mod, sandbox, unlockable) than I was, but we both appreciated Joey Spiotto’s cute and colorful illustrations that accompanied the terms. The book was written by Chris Barton, author of The Day-Glo Brothers, previously reviewed on Wink.

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! by Chris Barton (Author), Joey Spiotto (Illustrator)

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Making better use of dice in games

Game designer Stefan Feld has designed eight published games that focus on dice. Each takes its own approach to using the 5,000-year-old randomizers without creating a random winner. By Matt M. Casey

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Book of supercute crochet patterns for Sanrio Friends

A couple of days after I received a review copy of Hello Kitty Crochet I read an article in the LA Times about the 40th anniversary of Sanrio’s iconic character. The most surprising fact I learned is that Hello Kitty is not a kitty. She is a British girl named Kitty White who “lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy.” Also, she has a pet cat named Charmmy Kitty, which is kind of like Goofy having Pluto for a pet, I guess. Many Hello Kitty fans were outraged by the revelation, but I loved it. Hello Kitty is more charming and mysterious than I thought!

Hello Kitty Crochet, by Malaysia-based blogger Mei Li Lee (her name is so adorable that Sanrio should create a character called Mei Li Lee), has complete instructions for making 18 Sanrio characters, from Kitty White herself to the devilishly mischievous tomboy Kuromi (who reminds me of DC comics’ Harley Quinn). Mei Li Lee does a great job of retaining the cuteness of the characters in their transubstantiation into yarn, which is an impressive feat. I just might have to learn to crochet and try my hand at making these.

Hello Kitty Crochet ($9)
by Mei Li Lee
Quirk Books
2014, 96 pages, 7.3 x 7.3 x 0.5 inches, Hardcover

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Hanabi: card game with the goal to launch a spectacular firework display

In this immediately enjoyable card game players take on the role of Japanese pyrotechnicians with a shed full of unlabeled fireworks that they must assemble correctly before the show begins. By Jon Seagull

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Kit to study Venus Fly Traps

Our friends at Backyard Brains (makers of the Spikerbox and the Remote Control Cockroach kits) have been studying Venus Fly Traps lately. They have developed a new product called the Plant SpikerShield Bundle to measure the action potentials generated by plant cells.

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Experiment: Yes, Electricity in Plants

Freaky baby clothes and accessories by Mitch O'Connell

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Artist Mitch O'Connell recently had a baby. After making a pipe pacifier for his infant, he started a line of baby clothing featuring sideshow characters!

Step right up! The Fair has come to town!

From "The Prince of Pop Art," artist Mitch O'Connell introduces "Lil' Sideshow," a tent full of adorable carnival cutie characters ready adorn all your baby wear needs!

Have your wee one look fashionable on the midway as they turn over a prize winning plastic duck or ride high on the Ferris Wheel!

A circus parade of choices, including the cute "Lil' Mermaid" to mighty "Lil' Strongman" or the even spookier "Lil' Spidora" and mischievous "Lil' Devil Child" on everything from diaper bags to onesies!

Alive! Real!

If your heart can take it, see them all by clicking on the link

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Light Bulb Baking – The 50-year history of The Easy Bake Oven

The 1960s were a magical decade in the world of toys. Toy companies like Wham-O, Hasbro, Mattel and Kenner were churning out captivating toys faster than toy stores could keep them in stock. Toys like Lite-Brite, Etch A Sketch, Twister, Creepy Crawlers, Operation, Hippity Hop, Spirograph… and of course Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven (launched in 1963) were all the rage.

With an entertaining narrative, Light Bulb Baking explains how the miniature working oven got its start, dissects the oven, explains how a simple light bulb can bake a cake, and tells us loads of fun anecdotes and trivia about Easy Bake (such as the shelf life of Easy Bake mixes, the horrible burns caused by the 2006-2007 models, and the story of a 9-year-old Easy Bake Baker of the Year who won $5,000 for her Toffee Trifle Cake). The book, which is smartly designed with photos, diagrams and sidebars, ends with a bunch of award-winning recipes that make me want to dig out the old Easy Bake Oven I have somewhere in my garage.

Light Bulb Baking
by Todd Coopee
Sonderho Press
2013, 178 pages, 8.7 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches (paperback)

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Managing expectations on a trip around the world

When Tom Fassbender took a trip around the world with his family, he wasn’t naive enough to think that it was going to be a year of easy adventure full of laughs and endless fun.

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