Tech vs. Global Poverty: Berkeley Lab’s To-Do List

Tech vs. Global Poverty: Berkeley Lab's To-Do List

“Find a need and fill it” is common advice usually given to budding entrepreneurs and inventors, but it’s not often that someone hands you a concise list of needs to fill. A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies does just that. So how do we start crossing things off of that list? Continue reading

Acer Switch 11 DIY Tablet Stand

The old control laptop on the left, the new portable control tablet on the right.
Photo by Anton Olsen

As part of Acer’s Seize The Idea contest I’ve been looking around the house at my half finished DIY projects and thinking of innovative ways to use one of the Acer products to finally wrap a few of them up. Since nearly of all my recent projects involve one or both of my 3D printers, it seems fitting that I should take this opportunity to solve a little control issue I’ve been having. Continue reading

14 Tools to Turn Game-Obsessed Kids into Genuine Game Designers

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When you look at your kids playing video games, you might worry they’re wasting time and energy passively staring at a screen and pressing buttons. But what if their play time was actually a creative outlet that fostered their imaginations? Continue reading

Batman and Aliens Meet the Real World: GeekDad Interviews Nate Ball

Nate Ball power ascends.

I spoke recently to uber-geek and new dad Nate Ball about his inventions, his books, and his role in helping a new generation of makers get inspired about engineering. We didn’t get to discuss his beatboxing, but you’ll find a link to his Ted X talk on that here also. Continue reading

11 New Gadget Kickstarters You Want to See (and Back)

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Here are 11 cool new tech projects that have launched on Kickstarter. Check them out! Continue reading

Dancing LEDs Promises Maker Christmas and Hacker New Year

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What do you get when you hang a Christmas tree with 4,000 LEDs connected to a Teensy board? In the hands of Austin maker and electrical engineer Jarrod Eliason, you get, well, you get this… Continue reading

To Catch a Comet: PBS Documentary About Rosetta

Rosetta PBS

You may have heard the amazing news last week that the European Space Agency successfully landed a probe on a comet. This week as part of its “Think Wednesday” programming, PBS will broadcast To Catch a Comet, an hour-long, in-depth documentary about the the mission and how the ESA managed to land the Philae lander on an icy rock hurtling through space. Continue reading

Big Hero 6 Challenge Asks Kids What Big Problem They Want to Solve

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In anticipation of the release of Big Hero 6, Disney has teamed with partners XPRIZE, LittleBits, FIRST LEGO League, and the USPTO to create a contest for kids. Continue reading

Countdown To Maker Faire 2014 — Get Prepared

Year of Maker

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

Just Two Weeks Left to Enter MoonBots Robotic Competition

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Registration for the 2014 MoonBots competition is coming to a close. It’s a great way for kids to get involved in robotics… and it doesn’t cost anything. Sign up today! Continue reading

When the World Ends, You’ll Need The Knowledge

The Knowledge

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

Turning Off The Conair CD108 Infiniti Curling Iron Via Email

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My wife sometimes leaves things plugged in and turned on. Dangerous things. Like her curling iron. It’s not unheard-of for her to be a couple miles down the road, heading out to run some errands with the boys in the back seat all buckled in. “Did I leave the curling iron on?” she wonders. This problem called for a drastic solution. A solution that would justify four years of engineering school. A problem that so many of us geek spouses wait 20, 30, or even 40 years of marriage to encounter… and then take down with extreme prejudice. Continue reading

Registration for the 2014 MoonBots Challenge is Now Open

MoonBots

Registration for the fourth edition of the MoonBots challenge is now open. Red more about this year’s competition and prizes. Continue reading

The GeekDads Guide to SXSW 2014: 10 Must-see Events at the Nation’s Largest Interactive Festival

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I can’t tell you every session or event to be at, but I can recommend ten events that every geek dad should go to. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Drones: Parallax ELEV-8 & AR.Drone 2.0

[Parallax ELEV-8] [Parrot AR.Drone 2.0]

As we come out of a cold and bitter winter into spring, you may look towards the sky yourself and think of getting a UAV or drone of your own. There are lots of great smaller models of drone out there but in this article, I take a look at two of the heavier hitters, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and the Parallax ELEV-8. These are two very different commercial options, in a similar class, and both are outstanding for their different uses. Continue reading

The Martian — Mars Meets MacGyver

The Martian

Do you remember that scene in Apollo 13 when the engineer dumps a bunch of parts on the table and tells the other engineers in the room they need to create a carbon dioxide filter using nothing but that pile of parts? Did that scene totally make you smile? Yes? Then grab a copy of The Martian before anyone ruins it for you and read it. Seriously Read it. You won’t regret it. Continue reading

Perfect All-in-One Raspberry Pi Starter Kit (UK Only)

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I’ve been tinkering for some time with the Arduino family of micro controllers, but lately I’ve been wanting to start investigating the new Raspberry Pi credit card-sized computer. When the Pi first arrived, users simply purchased the small circuit board and provided their own add-ons like a keyboard, mouse, and display. But now, the Pi has arrived and is finally being bundled in kits that allow beginners to jump right in with a minimum of fuss. One of these is the U:Create Raspberry Pi Deluxe Starter Kit available in the UK for £99.99. Continue reading

Q&A with 101 Things I Learned Author Matt Frederick

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Matt Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School went on to become a bestseller. The book was such a success, Frederick decided to turn the 101 Things I Learned idea into a franchise, and it now has over 500,000 books in print. To date, he has coauthored, edited, and illustrated six additional books with Grand Central Publishing. The latest is 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School. We sit down with the author to ask him how he did it. And learn some stuff about engineers. Continue reading

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

Educators Can Push the Boundaries of Mindstorms With an Expansion Set

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Educators can expand the capabilities of their core EV3 sets with a new expansion set, packed with gears, structural elements, and more than 800 bricks to help students really explore robotics. Continue reading

The Atlanta Mini Maker Faire 2013 Wrap-Up

Atlanta Mini Maker Faire

The worst thing about the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire… is that it only happens once a year. The event was held at Georgia Tech on the Tech Green, a football field-sized area right in the heart of the campus. Booths were setup around the perimeter, with the big green grassy area open for kids to run and catch frisbees being flung from a robot and launch their handmade paper rockets. There were 3D printers galore, robots, artists, homeschooler groups, hackerspaces, inventors, hobbyists, and much more. Continue reading

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