I think it was fourth or fifth grade when I got my first real look at a computer. It was a Commodore Pet, complete with cassette tape loading of programs, the tiniest Chicklet-style keyboard around, and a small monochrome screen. Five minutes after seeing it in action and getting to play a game of Snake, I was hooked. Continue reading
Apparently the folks at Sugru never sleep. Just a week after I shared their cable-wrangling solution that involved LEGO minifigs and Sugru, they’ve gone and released another fun video involving water guns. I won’t spoil it… just take a look below. And the video afterwards shows you the How-They-Did-It portion. Just in case, you know, you might want to try and duplicate it before July 4th weekend. Pro Tip: You’ll need a LOT of Sugru! Continue reading
With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, I wanted to give GeekDad readers a few book possibilities to entertain them before the fireworks and afterwards. These four are in no particular order — I enjoyed each and every one of them. Have a safe and fun Fourth of July to those celebrating this coming weekend! Continue reading
Last week I had the opportunity to conduct a camp titled Beginning Electronics and Robot Building (BERB) to a group of 21 kids, ages 8 to 12. It went great, and I’ll be holding the camp again for another group in late July. In addition to learning some basic electronics skills (such as soldering and breadboarding), the kids also got to build a full-fledged Arduino-based robot that they took home. It was a great week, and it also gave me an opportunity to introduce the kids to some other concepts and tools, including 3D printing. Continue reading
I’m not a paid spokesman, but I sometimes feel like it! Ever since discovering Sugru so many years ago, I’ve become a devoted fan of this great little product. If you’re not familiar with it, it starts out a bit like PlayDoh — you can mold it, roll it, and even mix its basic colors (black, red, blue, yellow, white) to make more colors. But what’s cool about it is that it begins to cure… but not harden. When the curing process is complete (about 24 hours, but you have a solid 30 minutes to mold it and experiment), it not only has a rubbery feel to it, but it also pretty much sticks to anything. This means that it can not only be used to attach different materials together, but it can also be used to mold unique parts, repair broken parts, and hundreds more solutions. Continue reading
If this post’s title doesn’t quite make sense, then you’re probably unfamiliar with the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) book series that started a phenomenon back in the 80s for young readers. Other book series that follow its format exist (or have come and gone), but the CYOA brand, now over 30 years old, continues to find new young readers as parents discover not just reprints of the older titles on bookstore shelves but new titles as well. Continue reading
If you’re going to be in the Atlanta, Georgia area the weekend of June 27-29 and your children are fans of LEGO, then you absolutely must plan to attend LEGO KidsFest. Continue reading
For Father’s Day, I wanted to do a special project with my boys. We started but didn’t finish it on Sunday (paint sure dries slow in the Atlanta humidity), but the wait was worth it. For both my boys (and two nephews), we followed the instructions provided by author Scott Bedford in his new book, Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff, and this dad and two boys are quite happy with the final results. Continue reading
I’ve built a number of 3D printers over the last few years, and I’ve had a chance to sit down and actually use even more of them… all mix of brands and models. One of the questions I hear most often from friends and colleagues about 3D printers is “how hard are they to setup and use?”
The answer to that question depends on the printer, of course, but the amazing thing about 3D printers over the last few years is just how out-of-the-box simple some of these things have become. I thought it might be fun to actually document the unboxing and setup of a 3D printer for GeekDad readers, so that’s what I’m going to do here with the new Metal Simple from Printrbot. I’m going to shoot some photos as I unbox, unpack, setup and begin printing… and hopefully convince anyone nervous about purchasing a 3D printer (or at least the Simple) that they needn’t worry.
The El Grande graphic novel Kickstarter project is only $800 from funding… maybe even less by the time you’re reading this! If you’re interested in reading a unique science fiction story with some A-MAZ-ING artwork, check out some of the behind the scenes artwork that Joe and Elio have released since the KS began. Continue reading
My friend Rick Schertle is down to less than four days for his Kickstarter… and he is SO close to funding. He’s attempting to raise $25,000 and they’re nearing the $20k mark, but they sure could use your help.
Robogenesis, while a sequel, is both a retelling of the events in Robopocalypse as well as the fallout. The entire novel is broken into three parts, with each part focusing primarily on one of the major characters from the first book. I have to be careful here, because there’s a huge spoiler opportunity that looms… just know that the New War may be over, but there’s a True War that has also been raging in the background, with two parties vying for control of planet Earth. Continue reading
Cibola Burn, the fourth book (of six) in The Expanse series from James S.A. Corey (pen name for authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) is out.
Scale of 1 to 10? That dial needs to be upgraded to 11.
(Haven’t read the first trilogy? Congrats — you’ve now got four books, averaging about 600 pages each, to add to your reading list.)
One-more-chapter, nail biting tension.
Scoundrel heroes versus law-abiding villains.
Political intrigue that’s not annoying.
Space-travel discussions that don’t bog you down.
Technology that you’ll believe will be available (and needed) in a few hundred years. Continue reading
I met a lot of people and saw a lot of cool things a few weekends back while at Maker Faire in San Mateo, California. I also spent way more money than I should have on a lot of electronics components and books and gifts. But it was an enjoyable event, and I learned a lot of new skills. During the last few hours of the event, I was doing my final walktrough of the Expo Hall where the majority of vendors and booths are located and I found myself stopping at one particular booth (sewn up by his daughter, Meg, and based on the Bioshock Infinite game’s arcade design — cool!) where kids were having some real fun. Because I’m teaching a beginner’s electronics camp in just a few weeks, I was on the hunt for anything new and interesting to possibly add to electronics projects I want to share with the kids. And I found something… from Senseless Devices. Continue reading
I’m not an infinite bank of craft ideas for my son, however, so lately we’ve been working through his copy of Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun by Amanda Kingloff. It’s 270+ pages of full-color steps for creating all sorts of wondrous things — Cotton Ball Sheep, Yarn Birdcage, Robot Bank (we’re almost done with this one, and it’s awesome!), Low-Tech LED Banner (no LEDs, but round stickers), Tube Train, the Bottle Rocket (seen on the cover), Newspaper Pirate Ship, Arrow Through Head (a classic accoutrement), Homemade clay (done, and he LOVED it!), and even Salad Spinner Art (you have to see it to believe it). And 90 more. Continue reading
I’ll keep this short and sweet. Bounce on over to fellow geek dad Erik Wecks’ new Kickstarter project, The Far Bank of the Rubicon. It’s Erik’s newest novel in his Pax Imperium universe, and it’s the first of a six book story arc. Erik is attempting to raise funds to cover both his editor and one seriously kick-ass cover by professional artist Andree Wallin. Continue reading
If you’re not familiar with that wonderful product called Sugru, now’s the time to grab some. Bonds to pretty much anything and after it cures (up to 24 hours, but usually faster) it retains a soft rubbery feel. Fans of Sugru have been using it for years to repair things and add grippy-like texture to slippery tools and objects. Continue reading
I go back and forth on podcasts… I’ll listen to a few like crazy during vacation or when I’m wanting to dive deep into a topic and then I’ll leave them for a while. Not so with the Mac Power Users podcast from David Sparks and Katie Floyd; since I discovered this podcast a few years back, I’ve been struggling to find time to go back and listen to the ones I’ve missed. Continue reading
Back in 2010, I hosted a Rocket Party at a nearby school’s playground for my son and seventeen of his friends from daycare. A few days prior to the party, you would have found me at the dining table with a small block of wood and a 15″ length of PVC pipe stuck down the block’s center — I was using this setup to create 20 rockets that would be launched from a custom rocket launcher I had built the previous weekend. Continue reading
Living in Atlanta, I always enjoy the chance to meet and greet local geeks — there’s an amazing assortment of talent and interests in this city, and sometimes I get lucky enough to share something new and interesting I’ve found with GeekDad readers. It’s even better when I happen to know the individual or organization personally, and for this post, I love that I can introduce a good friend of mine here in Atlanta, Joseph Karg, and his new Kickstarter project (along with artist Elio Guevara). Continue reading
Just a few more days… and it’s Maker Faire Time! I know a lot of geek dads and moms make the trek each year to attend what is called The Greatest Show (And Tell) On Earth, and there’s are solid reasons for it. Two days of open-mouthed staring and double-takes. Two days of access to experts (self-taught and otherwise), makers, inventors, tinkerers, dreamers, builders, hackers, and hobbyists. Two days of sightseeing, hands-on activities, and pure surprises. Continue reading
I have a small collection of books on the shelf, of mixed topics, that a visiting friend recently discovered. After spending about 20-30 minutes going through them, he wrote down each and every title and author and explained that he’d be ordering all of them, a few at a time, over the next few months. I was surprised that he’d never seen these kinds of books — ones filled with ephemera… removable content such as postcards, notes, photographs, and other inserts. I love these kinds of books. Love. Them. And there’s simply not enough of them. Continue reading
Geek dads and moms… I need your help. My son’s 7th birthday is around the corner, and although my wife and I have gift ideas that he’s provided to us, I find myself wanting to offer him something that will feed his creativity. For some time now, he’s shown a solid interest in just making things. Duct tape, scissors, glue… these are his tools. Construction paper, string, cardboard, popsicle sticks… these are his materials. Continue reading
My oldest son turns 7 in two weeks. Where did the time go? And my youngest is just a few weeks after that, with him approaching the big 4. As birthday parties are being planned and requests for birthday gift ideas are made, I find myself sitting alone in my office, contemplating the job I’ve done as a dad and what waits for me in the years ahead. The reason for this contemplation is that I’ve been enjoying reading a series of 22 essays from a number of popular dad writers, all collected in a new book titled When I First Held You, and edited by Brian Gresko. Continue reading
Author Ian Doescher is at it again — he released his latest book back in March, The Empire Striketh Back, a retelling of what is considered by most fans to be the best of the first three Star Wars movies… but written as if Shakespeare had been the scriptwriter. The obvious follow-up to his Star Wars: Verily A New Hope, the book features dozens of scratchboard illustrations including another amazing cover. Continue reading
We GeekDad writers often find ourselves buried in piles of books and games and software/apps – sometimes all three (looking at you, Jonathan Liu). Between the stuff we buy and the stuff we request for review and the stuff we did NOT request but absolutely love anyway, we sometimes get a bit behind in what we want to share with our readers.
Below you’ll find some books that one of our staff has finished or is close to finishing and needs to clear off the TO REVIEW list. Continue reading
Imagine two universes: one where British sailing ships in 1798 are able to leave Earth using the wonders of alchemy to sail between the planets, and another where astronauts in the year 2134 hitch rides on fusion-powered spaceships to explore the moons of Saturn. Got it? Now toss in an ancient alien warlord attempting to open a doorway to conquer both worlds and you’ve got the general idea of Michael J. Martinez’s follow-up novel, The Enceladus Crisis, in his Daedalus series of novels. Continue reading
While writing projects are in full swing, I often tend to collect small DIY projects that remain stacked on shelves until I have some of that free time… I’ve recently finished up writing two books that are now heading to the printer, and I find myself with some free time. I should be putting together a proposal for my next book, but instead I’ve reached for a small box of parts.
This past weekend’s project was quick and simple (relatively speaking), and I had a very easy gauge for determining its success or failure … would I be able to play the classic Atari 2600 game, Adventure, as it was meant to be played? Continue reading
I’m hoping the day never arrives when I don’t have access to a brick-and-mortar bookstore where I live. A few months ago my wife handed me the phone — on the other line was my father-in-law who lives in a different town. His first words were “Jim, I have some bad news. The bookstore closed.” What he was talking about was the last remaining bookstore in his little city, a place that I always tried to pay a visit when we were there. Shut down. Gone. Not coming back. Continue reading
My son came home from school recently and I sat him down in front of the TV and told him I had a huge surprise for him. I popped in a DVD and pressed play at the menu and he got to see a 2.5 minute long movie preview featuring his alter ego, D-Man. It was Decker’s face, Decker’s smile, and it was Decker fighting off the bad guy, Hazzardus, and his army, taking down some aerial baddies, and really pulling off the Titanium SUPER-suit. When the movie preview ended, three little words were music to my ears — “Play it again.” Continue reading
Just a quick note to remind any of you who might be on the fence about the Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter project that it’s ending in less than seven days. What started out as a simple attempt to raise $30,000 has crossed over to a rush for a number of last-minute stretch goals that the team at Goodman Games has been adding that come with no additional costs. Continue reading
I’m not a sky-is-falling kind of guy. I don’t have a bunker behind my house and a decade’s worth of food stocked away for my family (although I do sometimes think about it). Every generation has had its concerns about the world ending, but I’m one of those optimists that hopes we’ll be able to solve our problems — water shortages, global warming, pandemics — and not be despised by our great-great-grandkids.
But who really knows? Asteroids are flying around our universe with sufficient mass and speed. New and scarier viruses seem to pop up every few years. So many countries seem to want their own nuclear bombs these days. Experts seem to think a major financial collapse lurks around the corner. Just how prepared are we if the world we know it stopped functioning normally for an extended period of time? How long would we last without the modern conveniences of electricity, medicine, clothing, food, and clean water? Continue reading