How To Train Your Robot, a free kids book by an engineer and his 10-year-old daughter

My buddy Ken Goldberg, a UC Berkeley professor of robotics, his 10-year-old daughter Blooma, and science communicator Ashley Chase wrote a delightful children's book called How to Train Your Robot! Illustrated by Dave Clegg, the story, about a fourth grade robotics club, is a fun and understandable introduction to how deep learning can help robots gain new skills in the messy, unstructured human world.

Thanks to support from the National Science Foundation and UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, How to Train Your Robot is available as a free PDF online and student groups can request free hardcopies!

Read the rest

Show your kids! Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor reads inspiring children's book from space!

Astronaut and physician Serena Auñón-Chancellor spent almost 200 days aboard the International Space Station. Here she is in orbit reading the wonderful book Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty.

(Story Time From Space) Read the rest

Wolfeye Studios' Weird West is looking like my kind of game

I'm looking forward to Weird West, for a number of reasons. Its hand-painted aesthetic and  top-down tactical game play bring to mind all of the love that I hold for Fallout and Fallout 2 and Wasteland 2—as does the fact that it's full of monsters and other horrific entities that crawl around the desert waiting to carve up any travelers that they come across. the description for this recently announced title reads like a shopping list for all of the shit I adore in a game:

From Wolfeye Studios:

Survive and unveil the mysteries of the Weird West through the intertwined destinies of its unusual heroes in an immersive sim from the co-creators of Dishonored and Prey.

Discover a dark fantasy re-imagining of the Wild West where lawmen and gunslingers share the frontier with fantastical creatures. Journey through the origin stories of a group of atypical heroes, written into legend by the decisions you make in an unforgiving land. Each journey is unique and tailored to the actions taken - a series of high stakes stories where everything counts and the world reacts to the choices you make. Form a posse or venture forth alone into otherworldly confines of the Weird West and make each legend your own.

Currently, it looks like Weird West is only destined to make its way to Steam, but tell me I'm wrong: this title has Nintendo Switch written all over it. Read the rest

Valve killing Steam Support for some Ubuntu users

A few years ago the announcement that Steam would begin supporting Linux was a big deal: it meant that anyone who preferred to rock an open-source operating system over Mac OS or Windows 10 would have instant buy-it-and-play-it access to a large catalog of game titles that would have otherwise taken a whole lot of tweaking to get up and running or wouldn't have worked for them at all. For some, at least, the party may be coming to an end.

From Engadget:

If you're a Linux gamer who prefers Ubuntu, you might want to look for another distribution in the near future. Valve is dropping official support for Ubuntu in Steam as of the operating system's upcoming 19.10 release, which will cut 32-bit x86 components. The Steam crew aims to "minimize breakage" for existing Ubuntu users, according to Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais, but it'll shift its attention to another distribution in the future.

So, in short: no 32-bit support means no Steam support. Given that the many of the games available on Steam can only be had by buying a license, this news sucks in so many ways. That said, as noted by Engadget, at some point in the future, it could be possible to switch to a different distribution that'll allow you to undertake some, glitch-free fragging. However, for the time being, Canonical and Valve haven't made any announcements of which distribution will best serve gamers, moving forward. When that announcement will come down the pike is anyone's guess. Read the rest

GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter indicted on wire fraud & campaign finance crimes, incl. $1,500+ of Steam games

Actually, it's about ethics in purchasing videogames with campaign funds. Read the rest

Trump's tariffs will kill making, especially STEM education, while encouraging US manufacturers to go offshore

With Trump poised to exact high tariffs on goods from China, it's tempting to declare the gadget party over: everyone is going to pay through the nose for electronics, from makers to Apple, and that's the end of the story, right? Read the rest

Kickstarting maker-kits for kids based on conductive play-doh

Technology Will Save Us (previously) have fully funded their Dough Universe Kickstarter, maker kits for kids that combine conductive play-doh ("electro-dough") with simple components like motors and switches with apps that make it all programmable. Read the rest

Kickstarting a pirate-themed programming book for kids, with accompanying app

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

Upvote this: Teach kids in underserved communities how to code with Minecraft

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality. Read the rest

Just released: Lego's own version of Minecraft

If the endless galaxy of Minecraft just isn't big enough, we've now got another virtual world to make our own (with bricks, of course): Lego Worlds.  Today Lego announced its "early access" release of its video game on Steam, currently available as a beta program for $14.99.

Just like Minecraft, the game features procedurally generated worlds where players can modify their surroundings to create whatever they like. Only this time, those worlds are made of Lego bricks. "Lego Worlds enables you to populate your worlds with many weird and wonderful characters, creatures, models, and driveable vehicles, and then play out your own unique adventures," the game's Steam page explains.

 Unfortunately for Mac users, the game is only available on Windows... for now. Read the rest

Back a community makerspace, get a Dinosaur Comics laser-dino

Andy sez, "What could be better than dinosaurs? Dinosaurs made with lasers, of course! STEAMLabs community makerspace has been working with our friend Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics to bring you just that! There are 2 new rewards options for our Kickstarter to equip our makerspace." Read the rest