Boing Boing 

Fun online color brightness vision test


My daughter, her friend, and I had fun taking this non-scientific color brightness vision test. You have to identify the one square that has a different brightness level within a grid of similarly colored squares. It gets harder as you progress. It took me a few tries, but I finally received the "hawk" badge, with a score of 25.


Daddy daughter beatboxing

La Guardia Cross, a first-time dad, lays down some fat beats with his 7-month-old baby girl.

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USB Microscope — a zoom function for the real world


I had the earlier version of the Plugable USB Handheld Digital Microscope and liked it a lot. The second version just came out and I love it. Smaller than a prescription pill bottle, the microscope has a USB cord that can be plugged into any computer. Download the software here and start looking up close at money, leaves, circuit boards, bugs, skin, hair, and anything else.

The scope has a built-in, adjustable-brightness LED for illumination. The brightest setting is not always the best - try different levels of illumination and let the software auto-adjust the contrast. I also learned that in order to see things at the maximum 250X magnification you need to follow the instructions in the FAQ.

The scope comes with a suction-cup gooseneck mount that is very stable, and a plastic board with a grid pattern, which helps you align and locate the thing you are looking at. You can also simply hold the scope against things. The software takes still photos and movies, and hasn't crashed on me yet (the earlier version was buggy).

At this price, the microscope is an amazingly entertaining device and I find myself grabbing it to check out all sorts of things, including splinters, skin cuts, bugs, and playing card designs.

Plugable USB 2.0 Handheld Digital Microscope with Stand
By Plugable
$35 Buy one on Amazon

Top row (left to right): One black whisker and many white whiskers on my chin, strawberry seed, George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill at 250X
Middle row: Snap blade knife at 250X, pixels on an iPhone 6 Plus display, seal from $1
Bottom row: Nickel, George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill at 50X, Snap blade knife at 50X,

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Super Balloon – As with all Wham-O toys, so simple yet so delightful

Chances are you’ve heard of many classic Wham-O toys such as the Frisbee, Silly String, and the Slip ’N Slide. The Super Balloon is another Wham-O invention, originally introduced in the 80s, that never quite reached the same legendary toy fame. The good news is that a new version of the Super Balloon is being produced today, so you still have a chance to enjoy an underrated classic toy with your family and friends.

To inflate the Super Balloon, you run into the wind with it, finish it off by blowing it up with your mouth, and then just twist, fold, and seal the open end with a rubber band. A large open space is the best place to use it. My kids love when I throw it as high as I can into the sky, so they can run across the field trying to catch it as it slowly sails back to the ground. They also enjoy spinning it in the air and bouncing it off of walls. With two or more balloons, you can have some very humorous jousting tournaments or slow-motion sword battles.

We did find that the material is susceptible to rips and punctures due to hard play, although some scotch tape repairs gave us a few more hours of play. It’s also hard to control on windy days, therefore it's great as a backup when there isn’t enough wind for kite-flying. This is quite a large and unique toy that you don’t see every day, and when we took it to a local park, we had several families come to check it out and play with us. – Mike Evans

Wham-O Super Balloon
Ages 6 and up, inflates to 10 feet
$12 Buy one on Amazon

See more photos at Wink Fun.

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: Astroboy's God of Manga

The kamisama of manga. The Japanese Disney. The godfather of anime. Tezuka-san has had many labels bestowed upon him both before and after his untimely death, but very few do justice to his contributions to a truly transatlantic medium, one which has dramatically surged in popularity in the last decade.

A doyen of over 500 individual print titles and scores of feature films, his creations – numbering amongst them the maverick doctor of Black Jack, the epic treatise on immortality Phoenix (Hi no Tori), and the all-conquering, sci-fi inflected Pinocchio retelling of Astro Boy (Mighty Atom) – are adventurous, topical, riotously funny and fundamentally human.

Part biography, part showcase of a lifetime spent in creative abandon, author Helen McCarthy traces his early inspiration drawn from Disney's wide-eyed characters – a look that would define manga's similarly neotenous bent – to a public, if officially unacknowledged repayment in the form of Kimba The White Lion re-imagining The Lion King. Packaged with a DVD of Tezuka at work, and a relief cover of the aforementioned Mighty Atom, Osamu Tezuka: The God Of Manga is a compelling and comprehensive work. – Nick Parton

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
by Helen McCarthy (author) and Osamu Tezuka (illustrator)
Harry N. Abrams
2009, 272 pages, 9 x 12.2 x 1 inches
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Roscoe the Goldendoodle rides off on his ATV like he's not even a dog (but he is)

You can't fool us, Roscoe you rascal you.

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The largest worm in the world is as tall as an elephant, and many other wormy facts in We Dig Worms

Three fun facts about worms:

1. The largest worms in the world are 10 feet long (that's feet, not inches!).
2. Worms move with the help of tiny bristles.
3. A million worms can live in one small park.

A lot more facts can be found in We Dig Worms, an adorable and interesting picture book for ages 4-8 that turns the worm “eww” factor into a sense of awe and respect for the hard-working cold-blooded creatures. As a fun side note, Author Kevin McCloskey, an illustration professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, used paper bags as his canvas for the book’s charming paintings, “because, just like worms, he believes in recycling.”

We Dig Worms
by Kevin McCloskey
2015, 40 pages, 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
$11 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Impress your demanding Russian in-laws in this cute, weird game


Surviving family dinners can feel like a gauntlet at the best of times, especially when it's your potential in-laws. Za Vas (To You) makes a game out of impressing your date's demanding Russian family by managing a series of simple gestures.

The small game, created by Brittney Oberfeld, Kimberly Karanya and Lee Tran for a Dames Making Games jam last October, is not complicated to play; it's the aesthetics that are charming, from the Russian music to the expectant relatives that resemble Matryoshka dolls. I personally wouldn't know whether Russian in-laws are really so overwhelming or hard to please, but if you have first-hand experience you're sure to appreciate this.

Thanks to wonderful discovery site Forest Ambassador for spotlighting this one!

Princess Penelope Pricklepants the pretty little pygmy hedgehog


Portraits of the lovely Princess Penelope Pricklepants, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by Boing Boing reader Steven Bach.

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Spot It! is a fun game where you try to match the most pictures

Spot It! is a fun matching game that anyone can enjoy. It’s easy to play – just flip over a card and start spotting. Find the matching picture between your card and the card in the middle – there’s always a match. Whoever spots a matching picture first wins the card. When the deck is gone, count your cards to see who has the most. The spotter with the most cards wins. Fun, right?! And that’s just one of the many ways to play. I love how this game sharpens your sense and reflexes. Spot It is a favorite in our family, especially on road trips – it keeps everyone entertained! – Alyse Thompson

Spot It!
Blue Orange
Ages 7 and up, 2-8 players
$10 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Gotcha Gadgets – A book with a built in electronic mischief maker

Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets comes with a multifunction electronic circuit, wires, and sensors that kids can use to build a variety of pranksterish devices: A cookie jar that sounds an alarm when the lid is removed, an electronic whoopie cushion, an intrusion detector, a fake lie detector, and more. Once you try a few projects from the book, it wouldn’t be hard to come up with other ways to use the components, both mischievous and mild.

Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets
by Ben Grossblatt
Klutz press
2015, 32 pages, 0.5 x 10.2 x 12 inches (paperback)
$21 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Makies Doll – A doll you customize before it's 3D printed

The most fun my 12-year-old daughter ever had shopping for a toy was last winter when she ordered a Makies doll (pictured above). Or shall I say, when she created her Makies doll. With endless choices ranging from hair color to nose width and length to eye shape and color to ear roundness (or pointiness!) to the volume of the cheeks, and many more options, Makies allows you to completely customize your own doll, and then prints the unique doll out from a 3D printer before shipping it to you. My daughter spent the better part of an afternoon getting all of the details of her doll just the way she wanted them.

Makies was started by my friend Alice Taylor (Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow is her husband), whose own nerd-chic style is reflected in the cool selection of printed and hand-sewn doll outfits offered (dresses with patterns of skulls or scissors, T-shirts with “3D” or “Geek” printed on them, thick black-framed glasses, candy-colored wigs, blue platform shoes…). I have to say, the clothes and accessories are the coolest I’ve ever seen for this type of doll and makes me wish they sold them in human sizes as well.

Whether you want to make a “mini-me” replica of yourself or allow your imagination to run wild, customizing a Makie doll is almost as much fun as owning one.

Makies Doll
Ages 6 and up
$115 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

“Conversations with my Toddler” video series, in which grown man plays role of little girl


Matthew Clarke created a long-runnning video series of actual conversations he had with his daughter, who was 2 when his web video project began.

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Watch kids react to the original Transformers cartoon series

“This is not the Transformers I know!”

Sesame Street is giving girls around the world access to basic education

An inspiring video about educating girls in developing nations from Sesame Workshop's Global Education Initiative.

LightUp Faraday: a toy to teach electronics and coding

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