Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Tynker: An App to Teach Kids Programming

Tynker App

My son is nine, and very familiar with Scratch, so I’ll start by saying that this app is most helpful for a younger child, perhaps kindergarten age, who hasn’t had experience with drag-and-drop programming yet. While three games came with my app preview — Puppy Adventure, Lost in Space, and Sketch Racer — only the first game comes for free on the downloadable app, with in-app purchases providing more games for the player at around $2 per game. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

What Developers on Kickstarter Can Learn from Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird

Months ago, I started sending out what I call a canary-in-a-coal mine email when it comes to Kickstarter. People are asking me for money, and if they are, they better take the time to be accessible. If they don’t have the time or energy to deal with the outreach necessary to raise funding for a project, they probably shouldn’t undertake the project at that time. And frankly, with the fact that there is little recourse if the project isn’t delivered after raising the money, it behooves investors to do some research into what sort of developers they’re funding beyond the basics of the project: are they reliable, accessible, and most importantly, will they have the emotional bandwidth to see the project through to its end? Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

What I Learned from Hour of Code (x12)

Image: Melissa Ford

Each day, when I returned to the school like the Pied Piper of Circuits to lead another round of workshops, more and more kids started gathering at the computer lab door. I think that’s a sign of how interested kids are to keep exploring STEM fields. I had a fifth grader who told me at the beginning of the workshop that she didn’t really like computers who informed me later that she’s now thinking about studying computer science. I think that’s an hour well spent. After all, there are going to be 1.2 million new jobs in STEM fields in 2018. Who is going to fill them if we don’t raise the next generation with that information? Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

The Elf on the Shelf Smackdown

Image: Mark Baylor via Flickr

If we really believe that kids learn from play — and companies such as GoldieBlox are hedging all their bets on that ideology — what are we teaching them with The Elf on the Shelf? Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Is It Okay to Put Mummies on Display?

Image: Wonderferret via Flickr

The exhibit begins with an ethical statement, reminding visitors to be respectful of the dead. But it begs the question: can an exhibit of mummies ever be respectful of the dead? Is it respectful to put the dead in glass cases without their permission and allow visitors to gawk at them in the name of science? Are displays of mummies unethical? Or if there are no living descendants to offend, is it okay to put someone’s ancestor on display? Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Geekery: Is it Better to Go Wide or Go Deep?

Image: Nomadic Lass via Flickr

I’ve been internally debating whether it’s better to go wide or go deep when it comes to Geekery. Is it better to dabble, trying dozens of games and books and projects? Or is it better to seriously commit to one thing — Python, let’s say — and immerse ourselves in it fully? Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Are You Teaching Your Daughter to Wait for Her Geek?

Image: Pascal via Flickr

As I was brushing my teeth one morning, I realized what I was doing. I was waiting — like Snow White and her prince — for my geek to come. My subconscious game plan was to leave this task until last minute and then ask my husband to take care of it. It’s a strategy that has worked well for me in the past. I often hand over pieces of technology to Josh and say, “please fix this” even though he technically has less technological knowledge than I do. What he lacks in capabilities he makes up for with confidence and a willingness to try things out until he figures out what works. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Hour of Code, Coming in December

Image: Thomas Guest via Flickr

Wait, why are you sitting here, still reading this post? Don’t you know you’re supposed to be over on Code.org, registering your child’s school for Hour of Code? Or talking with other parents on how to get this program up and running? Fine, if you’re going to keep reading, you might as well know what I’m cooking up for my children’s school. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

The Geek Immigrant’s Guide to Learning Coding (aka Learn Like a Kid)

Image: Melissa Ford

Being a Geek Immigrant mother to two Geek Native children, I set off to learn coding so I could turn around and help my kids learn coding. And I learned some valuable things along the way. Enough to construct this guide in case you are like me and coming to Geekhood in middle age. It will help you learn coding as an adult so that you can turn around and teach coding to kids. It’s for every teacher, every Coderdojo organizer, every parent, every person who wants-to-learn-coding-for-whatever-reason-but-knows-nothing-about-computers. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

What if You Don’t Fall in Love with iOS7?

Image: Karlis Dambrans via Flickr

An hour later, he came into my room, his lip quivering. “I hate the new operating system.” He could get used to the new look, the new set-up, but he couldn’t get accustomed to a new sound. Siri’s voice had changed ever so slightly; it was less robotic, less hesitant. The fluidity of sound made him feel as if it wasn’t his Siri anyone. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

No, Kids, We Don’t Need Every New Gadget (Even Though I Secretly Want Them Too)

Image: Ryan Tir via Flickr

There is always a newer, shinier gadget on the horizon, especially at this time of year when manufacturers want to get your Christmas dollars. As an adult, it’s hard not to get swept up in believing that you need a new iPhone 5S (or even an iPhone 5C… in blue… since it’s pretty) when you hear all the cool things it can do that your current phone cannot. As a kid, it’s impossible not to believe that life will be magically different, as wonderful as those adults at Apple make it sound. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

The Hardest Level of Candy Crush

Screenshot of Candy Crush

The geek in me can’t just play Candy Crush. Instead of merely wasting my evening, lining up pieces of brightly colored candy on the iPad, I also spend an inordinate amount of time thinking through the construction of the different levels. What makes a level frustrating vs. challenging? Which is more dreaded: multiplying chocolate pieces or multi-layered jellies? I threw these questions out there to the vast Internet, trying to figure out what was the hardest level of Candy Crush. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Request Rejected: No, You’re Not Getting That Video Game

Screenshot of Jetpack Joyride

There isn’t enough time to research games thoroughly before download. I work a full time job, and I can’t keep up with the game request research. We have fairly strict rules about violence in games since I know my kids will end up in our bedroom with their nightmares. Of course every child is different, and what rolls off one child’s vinegary brain like a blob of oil will emulsify in another child’s imagination. So we can’t always go with popularity or another parent’s vetting of a game since every child is different. There are plenty of times when I have to say no not because there is anything wrong with the game, but because I don’t have the time to explore the reviews and look at screenshots. By the time I can get around to looking at the game, that game is already on its way out with the elementary school set. If you want to keep up with the video game talk, you need to pretty much download and start playing instantly. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Real Female Superheroes Wouldn’t Dress Like That

Image: 1derwoman via Flickr

“Real female superheroes wouldn’t dress like that,” my daughter decided.

“It doesn’t seem very likely,” I agreed.

“They’d wear a t-shirt and shorts,” she decided. “So they could move around easily.”

“And they’d probably wear knee pads and elbow pads to protect themselves,” I added.

She shrugged at the idea of protective gear but she laughed when I leaned down and whispered, “It’s almost like men think that we like to fight crime by whacking bad guys with our boobs.” Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

Fitting Coding Into an Already Stuffed Schedule

Image: Clive Darra via Flickr

It’s the same problem schools are facing. Everyone recognizes the need for computer classes in schools, but what do you drop in order to fit them in to an already packed school day? No subject seems expendable, and that includes the fine arts and physical education, which often get the shaft when it comes to fitting in more subjects. Cut out recess? Then students lose valuable time to learn how to socialize with their peers. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.

The First Time I Took My Kids to a Convention

Image: Melissa Ford

This weekend, I packed the kids in the car and we headed for Intervention, the Internet convention covering everything from gaming to comics to cosplay to Wordpress. It required a lot of explanation. When we checked in at registration, my daughter asked why a woman was wearing a rubber horse head at one of the nearby tables. Continue reading

Melissa Ford

About Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford writes women's fiction, but she does it while wearing a Superman shirt. A geek to the core, she is also the author of the award-winning site, Stirrup Queens which the Wall Street Journal named one of the top ten motherhood blogs. You can find her in all sorts of places around the web including Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, and Amazon. She completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.