Sunday, December 22, 2013

Robots help kids with Autism

Forget about The Terminator and Skynet, the robots are here to help (at least for now ;-)   New research has been released about how robotics can help with Autism.  Don't get too excited just yet.  For now, they cost about $16,000. Unless you are extremely wealthy it is most likely out of your price range.  However, as with most new technology this price will come down as the technology matures.  

Even though my son is not Autistic, I know several parents who struggle with a child on the Autism spectrum.  Autism is one of the most pervasive known childhood issues.  One in eighty-eight kids in the U.S. is affected.  If your family has not been directly impacted by this issue, chances are you know know someone who has.  Autism is an issue that affects everyone in some way, and we all need to be vigilant because, as with most things, early intervention makes a big difference in the outcome.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Importance of Good Conversation

To give some background for the conversation below:


I live in the Dallas area and we were in lock down for most of this past weekend with 3-4 inches of ice.  For many areas in the country this might seem paltry and somewhat laughable. However, this is Dallas and we are not equipped for ice, or rain for that matter. In some areas the highways were shutdown with drivers stuck for over 20 hours.   Power lines were down in several areas and over 100,000 homes did not have electricity to heat the house. Now that the stage has been set you can read my uncles account of his weekend.

Email from my wife's uncle.   The youngest 82 year old man I know.

This last weekend we were iced in, unable to leave the house. A good friend of my wife's stayed with us because her area had lost power (she got a ride here because a neighbor had a pickup with snow tires). She's a nice person, single and about mid between my wife and my ages. Our home was without conversation, humor or laughter for the weekend. Although she is a very nice person, she also is rather boring to be cooped up with. I don't mean to be hard on her, but to observe how fortunate I am to have met my wife and benefit from her personality and what she has to offer. Life is about "throwing things up in the air" and talking about them and not taking things so seriously that you cannot kid around and laugh at life. You don't realize how important small things are until you are deprived of them.

My response

Great conversation is the glue that binds a couple, and humanity for that matter.    I find that the people I am most inclined to spend time with must be good at conversation.  Conversation is not merely about what I want to say it is also listening and learning from those around you.   I have several friends who will not stop talking and that, in my opinion, is not conversation.   That is only a dissertation on what they know.   
Good conversation, like wine, must be allowed to breathe to attain its full measure,  and like wine age is usually a good thing. This weekend, it appears; instead of opening a fine vintage you uncorked a bottle of vinegar, and apparently still have the foul taste in your mouth.  Hopefully today you will fill your day with good conversation and cleanse your palate

My conclusion

Don't miss the point of the conversation starter.   He is praising his wife for her good conversation and had forgotten its importance.   Good conversation in a marriage is vital.  Sure everyone wants an attractive spouse,  but if you can't talk to each other you have an attractive wasteland that will crumble around you someday    
Attraction fades quickly when trouble comes, and it always comes.   Good conversation is not the only thing that will help you weather the storms of life, but it is a very good umbrella.   If you make it a priority to talk to your spouse regularly, and I don't mean about bills or who will take the kids to ballet, then you will be able to talk more easily about the harder things in life.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let's build - Fantastic Father-Son LEGO® Christmas Commercial

Cool Father and Son Lego Commercial. .   As with any you tube vide don't let the little one's read the comments from the trolls.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mom is playing Minecraft.

Minecraft is addictive....  

I now have the ultimate proof my wife, after years of saying no, finally gave in a month ago.    She played for a couple of hours and decided she did not like it..   Basically,  my son wore her down and she did it just to make him happy.  

Over the thanksgiving holidays she made a deal with the boy that if he did the dishes she would play Minecraft.   This time however, she played a little longer, actually engaged in the game, and enjoyed herself.   She was not hooked yet...   Later, and I believe unintentionally, he volunteered to do the next set of dishes without being asked.    When he was done he asked if she would again play Minecraft.  She relented and this is when her lizard brain kicked in and she got hooked. 

I know she is hooked now because the boy and I are doing other things and she is over on the couch playing Minecraft without us.  I fear she will soon digress into full blown Minecraft addiction.  Should I try to stop her or should I let her continue down this rabbit hole.    If she continues down the rabbit hole she will find a deeper connection with our son.   If she stops she will understand the boys love more but will still be able to function in normal society.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Mywife's uncle Don sent me the following this Thanksgiving morning.  I thought you guys would enjoy the email so I am posting it here for your reading pleasure.


Since today is Thanksgiving (it's after midnight) I though you might appreciate reading President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 15 July 1863. I had to cut the article down from my original pdf since it was 55 MB. This is in a newspaper that my family kept from the Civil War. It is the Winchester Army Bulletin of 23 July 1863, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps. We had six from the family serving in the Union Army.



Proclamation of Thanksgiving

July 15, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the army and the navy of the United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored. But these victories have been accorded not without sacrifices of life, limb, health and liberty incurred by brave, loyal and patriotic citizens. Domestic affliction in every part of the country follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father and the power of His Hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows:
Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday the 6th. day of August next, to be observed as a day for National Thanksgiving, Praise and Prayer, and I invite the People of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship, and in the forms approved by their own consciences, render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things he has done in the Nation's behalf, and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger, which has produced, and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation, through the paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of Union and fraternal peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Here is the Original scan Don made last night..












Friday, November 22, 2013

When does a discussion become an overbearing lecture?

One of my parenting struggles is fighting the urge to lecture.  I know it happens. I can see my son switch off after a certain number of words fall out of my mouth but I can't stop.   I must be looking for some acknowledgement that he understands and agrees with what I am saying, but instead I get a defeated slump.  If I were smart I would stop the lecture but I can't, I guess I'm not smart.

I get the same thing from the wife.  She just shuts down on me as well. Basically, it is genetic and it's her fault not mine--right?  I would love to think so, but since I am the common denominator, it is most likely my issue. So I need to come up with a plan to curtail this affliction before it becomes a real issue.

Right now it is a minor issue because the boy is pretty compliant and will listen.  But-- and it is a big but --  he is rapidly becoming a teenager which means he will very soon start to show his independence.   My fear is that the defeated stare will morph into aggression or an even further retreat beyond the blank stare. I know that either of these will cause a rift in our relationship.

I think this is a natural issue for Dads. When kids are young they are inexperienced, stupid, and need help with everything from tying their shoes to remembering to brush their teeth.   By the time they get to the teenage years the parent is conditioned to tell  their kids how to do everything.   I know I often forget that the boy is capable of rational thought, and that he does not really need my constant attention.

I would like to ask the readers for some advice and if you feel so inclined share this post with others.   I would love to have as much feedback as possible to get a wide assortment of strategies that would fit my personality.   This would benefit me personally but would also help anyone else that accidentally stumbles across this post.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kerbal: Basic Rocket Science

Kerbal Space Program
The Kerbal Space Program is a simulation game where the player builds a rocket, launches it into space, and returns home safely. Should be a piece of cake right.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as it sounds.  Personally I have not made it in to orbit, but my son has done so several times and is working on getting to one of the planet's moons with a lot of help from Youtube.

Game play

The game is set on the fictional planet Kerbin, home of the courageous Kerbin people. The player designs the rocket, acts as ground control, pilot and Logistics planner.   This game is not heavy on Math but if you are planning to explore the Kerbal solar system a little math will go a long way toward reducing trial and error.   If you don't want to do math you can just force your way in with trial and error.     

Step 1 Build your Rocket 
You start with a pod and add engines,fuel tanks, flight contol systems.   There is a decent learning curve to learn the menu system and where all of the parts are located.  The player will also need to determine which combination of parts are appropriate for their objective.   If you just want to get to space it is pretty simple, add a parachute, a fuel tank, and an engine.   However if you want to get into orbit you will need a different combination.    If you are planning on exploring the univers you will need even other combinations.    

Step 2 Launch the Rocket
Once the rocket is complete you move the game to the launch pad, at this point the game changes into a flight simulator.   I have always been bad at flight simulators which is why I have touble getting into space.   I will build the exact same rocket as my son but I usually just wind up flying all over the place and either crash into the ground or run out of fuel before I reach space and then crash into the ground.  

Step 3 get into Orbit
Once you are in space you will need to set your trajectory for an orbit.
As I said I have not personally made it into space but my son has and I have watched the process many times.   At this point the game changes from a flight simulator and into a planning game.  Since you are no longer dealing with an atmosphere steering basically becomes a matter of thrust.  

Get ready to learn the following terms.
  • Periapsis
  • Apoapsis
  • Delta-V
I know basic rocket science, these are household words all across the world.
Once you get into orbit you can stay stable for a while and cruis around the planet.
Here is a sample view of the launch screens.

Step 4 Land Safely
Once you are tired of orbit you have to begin planning your descent back to Kerbin.   Basically you have to change your trajectory to create a controlled fall.    If not done correctyl you can smack into the planet and destroy your ship..

Other Tasks
Once you have mastered the basics you can begin trying to land on any of the other planetary bodies in the Kerbin solar system, or create a space station.   Each planet has it's own challenges and you will need different types of rockets for each.  

KSP is currently in heavy development but bug fixes come out regularly.  That said the game is extremely playable and we have experienced very few issues with the game play. The learning curve may be steep for some but that, I believe, is the point if it were easy it would not be fun.   The game boasts a physics engine that is supposed to let things fly that should fly and those that should not fly will crash.   During the early days of playing you will crash, blow up, or get stranded in space.   One of the necessary skills the player will need is perseverance.  

The game is currently in a sandbox complete stage, meaning there are no set objectives other than what the player sets for themselves.   As stated on the KSP website there is a Tycoon/Career mode for anyone who wants to play with resource restrictions and goals.   I can't comment on this part of the game as I have not yet attempted career mode.   However,  once I have more of the basic skills required by the game I am definitely going to attempt following the rules.

Is this an accurate representation of real space flight?  

Short answer probably not 100% accurate, however what simulation is 100% accurate.  During game play you will learn tons of things that do equate to real space flight and exploration.   This game is definitely worth your time if you have a budding scientist or engineer.   Someday I expect the Kerbin people to come to Earth to recruit the best player like the kid in the "Last Star Fighter".   If that does not happen then they will will be recruited NASA or ther space programs.

Conclusion and references for more information.

In short this game is extremely educational and fun and should be on the list for the Budding scientist/engineer.  Just get ready for your living room to start sounding like NASA ground control.  

Other respouces

There is a large online community of people willing to share and help.   Listed below are a couple of places to look for more information.

The official KSP Forums
The KSP WIKI read this before posting questions
The KSP subReddit - It's Reddit so be careful with the Kid's
Great YouTube Kerbal 101 Video.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Journey through the Kingdom of the Nerd

"In a land of myth, and a time of magic… the destiny of the kingdom of nerds rests on the shoulders of a Noob."

noun: allegory; plural noun: allegories
  1. a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning.

The Beginning

The journey to the kingdom of the nerd is long and arduous, with many triumphs and failures along the way.  Our Hero will have to overcome trolls, giants, the dreaded couch potato, and unfortunately other citizens of the kingdom.  When a new citizen begins he starts at the lowest rank in the kingdom's caste system, a Noob.  Noobs are the most hated characters both inside and outside the kingdom.  Why are Noobs so hated you ask?  Well the Noob is basically a Muggle, yes I stole that from Harry Potter,  and muggles do not have any knowledge or special skills that benefit the kingdom.    They are hated by the Muggles because they have chosen to pursue a different path, one not easily understood by the average Muggle.  As a result Noob is often an outcast by the citizens of the Nerd Kingdom and the Muggles. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Minecraft Goes Quantum

I ran across this earlier today and wanted to share the link.   The following is just a snippet of the full article. 

Minecraft is an incredible Turing complete game as it is, but now Google is responsible for adding quantum mechanics into the mix. So can you now build a quantum computer from Minecraft bricks as well as a classical one?
Minecraft is, as we all probably know, a game that educates as well as entertains. As it is Turing complete you can use its bricks to build logic circuits and eventually an entire classical computer. This all takes work and a lot of brains, which is why Google, or at least part of Google, thinks that this is the place to find the computer geniuses of tomorrow. To quote from the Google Quantum AI Lab Team's Google+ post:
Millions of kids are spending a whole lot of hours in Minecraft, not just digging caves and fighting monsters, but building assembly lines, space shuttles, and programmable computers, all in the name of experimentation and discovery.
This raises the next question:
So how do we get these smart, creative kids excited about quantum physics?

Read More at iProgrammer

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Minecraft: A Parents Guide

Minecraft SplashI assume any parent with a school age kid has heard their kids or their friends talk about Minecraft.  It has become a cultural  phenomenon with over 12,000,000 copies sold worldwide and adding up  with about 13,000 additional copies being bought each day.  Those are impressive numbers for any game and there are many more downloads where you can play for free as long as you don't access a server.  In this parents guide to Minecraft I want to explain the basics of the game and at the end let you know some issues you need to cautious about.

My Credentials

I am a dad and my son and I have been playing almost every day since the dawn of beta 1.8 (2011), and his interest only wavers occasionally.  I am continually amazed by some of the creative things he is able to make within such a simple game and some of the YouTube videos we have seen of other people's creation are astounding.   Needless to say I am a fan and often act as an evangelist for the cult of Minecraft.

What is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a sandbox game; this means there are no defined rules and no set purpose.   I usually describe the game as being similar to an empty lot in a neighborhood.   One day the lot is used for a game of baseball, the next it is used to play war, and the next it is medieval kingdom.   The
boundaries and materials in the lot are always the same but the game is different depending on the mood and the players involved.  This leaves a lot of room for exploring and interpretation to the player.   This is a very different concept than most of the video games I have played.   I grew up playing games like Pitfall as a kid and Doom in high school and college.   In these games I had very little control, the levels were set and they were always the same.   Once I learned the rules I could play through the game very quickly.  The adventure was in learning the rules of the game and using those to my advantage.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Great Article on using Minecraft in the Classroom

Minecraft in all it's greatness can be a burden on parents that are unfamiliar with the game or Parents who grew up with Pitfall, Donkey Kong, and Mario.   We look at video games as levels and not as active play Games.   In the article link below you will find a great article on how to use Minecraft in the classroom or as an educational tool at home.

Toys as Tools: Using E-Games for Learning
By Jeffrey MacCormack

My daughters were supposed to be doing their homework, but I heard too much giggling not to be suspicious. Homework is not supposed to be giggly. Then, from down the hallway, I heard snippets of the following conversation: “I used fences for teeth. Come see how it looks” … “Hold on a second. I’m in the long intestine. I’ll be right there”
I was completely baffled. “Are you two playing video games or are you doing your homework?” I asked through the bedroom door. There was a long pause, and then they replied in sing-song voices, “Yyeesss!

Read More

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hunt for the Golden Apple IRL

The boy and I were lucky enough to score tickets to Minecon 2013 in November, and like any good Geek we can't show up empty handed to a CON.   But what is a Minecraft nerd supposed to take Minecon.   We thought about crafting a pick-axe, and still might, but a pick-axe takes space and we are driving from Texas to Florida and space will be limited.

We decided that the most compact yet cool item we could take would be the Golden Apple.   The Golden apple is small and we are going to try to get people to sign it like a baseball. Hopefully this will be a great keepsake he can put on his bookshelf.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Saving the Planet Saturday.

Have you ever thrown away something metal? Sure you have.  We all have.  Did you cringe just a bit thinking this piece of trash might be the tipping point that brings about the future apocalypse that forces humans to leave Earth forever? Probably not , but I watch alot of science fiction and I won't apologize for it. 

Over last several weekends My father-in-law and I have replaced the hot water heater in both of our homes and had two huge tanks to dispose of.   FIL decided we needed to recycle them and might actually make some money in the process.  It sounded like an adventure to me so I decided to take the boy and expand his horizons.   

Now the boy has been with me to the city dump a few times to drop off some yard waste and tree clippings.  (My wife thinks I have an unhealthy fascination with cutting down trees.)  If you can swing it, a trip to the city dump is an eye opening experience for a kid.   Possibly for the first time in their life they get a chance to see where the bags of trash go when  they leave your curb.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It's all just time and money...


Take the following post how you want, I don’t have a degree in child psychology or child welfare.  I am however working towards a degree in dad, it is a long hard study and failure is not an option, although I am sure I have made a few Bs and Cs along the way. I will not get my diploma until the kid has become a happy well-adjusted adult and that is still several years away.   So this post may be complete nonsense or the greatest  ever, you decide.    

So let’s get started

Kids are selfish little humans, little devils in angels clothing, if left untended they can display the worst in humanity.   It’s not their fault this is just the natural course of human nature.   Think of the last time your kids hung out with a group of other kids, I bet someone cried or at the least had their feelings hurt.   Now imagine if you or no other adult were present to keep the kids in check. Let your imagination run wild.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Concept to Completion: Building a House in One Month

Reblogged from makezine

I’m excited to see SketchUp‘s booth for Maker Faire New York! The challenge they set for themselves: design and build a WikiHouse in just over a month, which will serve as their World Maker Faire New York booth.
Working with Alastair Parvin and Nick Ierodiaconou of WikiHouse, they forked one of the latest WikiHouse design standards to create custom exhibit. Then the design was iterated a number of times until they had an “as-built” model, from which they prepared cutting sheets. At this point, they required the services of a CNC whiz.

Read the rest Here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Internet Security – Time to lockdown my nerd apprentice – Nerding out on OpenDNS Stats

I am a bit of a data nerd, give me a data set and I will play for hours.  I get lost with a good rich data set.  I don't always do useful stuff with the data I just enjoy playing with the data making charts and graphs until I find some useful information.  With that said I have been running OpenDNS for over a week and have a fairly rich set of data about how my family uses the Internet,  and how the Internet uses us.  

Because it is Saturday, and I am not a stay-at-home dad, this is going to be  a short post.  I have to budget my time because  I only get to hang with the kid in the evenings and on weekends.   Currently he is nerding out working on minecraft permissions for his server, and he wants my help. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cool homeschooling resources online, that aren't just for homeschoolers: Back to school tech guide 2013

Along with books, YouTube channels, and educational apps, there are loads of smart and fun websites that both my kids and I agree are worthwhile supplements to their schoolwork. And as I get ready to start my eighth (gulp) year homeschooling three kids, I've gathered together 8 of our favorite sites for exploring new topics, practicing math facts, or just having fun while learning something new. You don't even have to be a homeschooler to love them. - Christina

Internet Security – Time to lockdown my nerd apprentice – part 2

In my first post I gave a brief overview of how I am creating a security/protection strategy for my family network.
Suffice it to say I am trying to get ahead of my little nerd/geek before he knows what's up. In the last week alone with the blog post and the changes I have already made at the firewall level and the relentless requesting of his phone I think he's starting to get suspicious. I need to toe a fine line, I want to lock him down but not be repressive. If I am to hard line I will probably trigger some animal instinct to make him want to break out from under the thumb of "the Man".

Progress on the Lock down...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Internet Security – Time to lockdown my nerd apprentice

Nerd-Proof Web Content Filtering....does it exist?

The whole reason I started this site was to discuss topics about raising a nerd. My little nerd is a boy at the precipice of puberty; he got his first pimple two days ago. By definition nerds are smart and being smart he will undoubtedly have the skills, either taught by me or one of his nerd friends, to bypass any cursory attempts at internet security.  

Up until this point we have made sure that his internet activity has been in a visible place, usually on the couch next to me or his mother. We will also periodically go through his browsing history to see if we find anything that comes close to inappropriate. So far this has sufficed but as I said earlier, nerd boy is on the precipice of puberty and pretty soon the hormones are going to really kick in. Remember the pimple?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

22nd Anniversary-- What My Wife means to me

As of today I have been married 22 years.

I had to make the title big so my wife would notice the post.

The first part of the post is a brief synopsis of the last twenty two years.  I give an over view of each of the major segments so far in our marriage for those of you who don't know me in real life.  Since this is highly personal I have left out a lot of things, gotta keep some things private.  Basically the first part of this post is a State of the Marriage.  The marriage is strong.  

If my wife actually reads this she needs to read all the way to the bottom because that section is for her.


Early Years

Over twenty-two years ago I made the best decision I have ever made.   I asked the greatest woman in the world to be my bride.  I am not sure why, maybe a temporary bout of insanity, but she agreed to be my bride and twenty-two years ago today sealed the deal by showing up at the wedding and vowing to stick by my side no matter what.

We got married at the tender age of nineteen and thought we knew everything.  I  know seems out of character for nineteen year old's right.  Just like most people if we had known what lay ahead we might have backed out.  I am glad we didn't know we would have missed the ride.

Starting out we were both working full-time and going to college.   While those two things were hard enough I think they paled in comparison to trying to keep our marriage going.   Just like most couples our first year was blissful, and like many our second, third and ... were difficult.   Luckily we had undergone about six months of premarital counseling prior to our wedding day (the wife's idea).   Turned out to be one of the smartest decisions we ever made.   

Our premarital counselor told us early in the process that he was going to try to convince us not to marry;  apparently the thought process behind that move is that if premarital counseling had convinced us not to get married then we obviously were not ready to get married.    

Middle Years

We were married for ten years before we decided to have kids, subconsciously I think this was to prove that the wife was not pregnant when we got married.   Since the first few years were behind us and we didn't have kids the only way I can describe these years are as stupid and selfish.   Not necessarily selfish with each other but we were only concerned, but we were very short-sighted.

Don't get me wrong we had a great time and had tons of freedom but the years are fuzzy because they had no meaning outside of our careers and trying to have a good time.

The Kid Years -- 10 years in to the present

Like many dad's, I was never more scared in my life than when I heard the words "We need to talk, I'm Pregnant." 

Like most people our marriage went through a transformation and life was more about the kid than it was just each other.   Luckily we got some really good advice from several people including our pediatrician that we had to take time for our marriage. 

The early days of the kid were hard but fun.  Watching the boy grow up and the wife turn into a wonderful mom have been the most rewarding experiences in my life.  I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know how the teenage years will turn out but I have hope that we have laid the groundwork to prepare our family and the boy to weather the coming storm.  

Letter to my wife 

Dear sweetheart, even if the words above don't do it justice I need you to know I love you with my heart and soul.  You have been a wonderful companion on this journey.   The journey is not over and I am sure we will have more joys and struggles to come.  I want you to know I will always be by your side working with you through anything that comes our way. 

You are a strong and beautiful woman we have grown up together and you are my best friend.   I know I am not worthy of your companionship.   I have never understood how you have put up with me for this long I just hope your insanity lasts a bit longer and you will continue to put up with me well into our golden years.  

One last thing in case it's not clear. 

I love you sweetheart and thank you.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Have you ever been followed by the Google Streetview car

As we were taking the boy to his granparents this morning we were followed by the google streetview car.   My son was pretty excited and snapped a picture on his phone. 

Apperently son-spots are affecting his phone (snicker) because he has not emailed the pic yet. So the image you see is from google's website.

To learn more about the streetview car and technology follow this link, also here is a good wikipedia article on google.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been followed or photographed by the street view car.

Update 08/25/2013
Finally got the image from the boy.  It is a little grainy but you get the idea.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fun playing with the Wayback Machine

If you've never stumbled on the internet archive website you should really check it out.   The archive was born right about the time the web began explosive growth.   The site's purpose is to be an online library, if you want to watch old Superman, Popeye or Betty Boop cartoons this is a great place to start.  

One of the fun things to do with your kids is to play with the Way-Back machine.   For any one who ever watched Rocky and Bullwinkle you will recognize the name.  Check out this wikipedia article on Mr. Peabody and the WABAC machine. If you didn't follow the link, the WABAC machine was a time-machine to transport Mr. Peabody and his boy to any time in history.

The internet archive's version is used in the same way allowing you to select anytime in web history and see what your favorite websites looked in their infancy.   Wanna check out the first version Google, or take a ride down memory lane on your own site???

As you go through the images take a minute and remind yourself that the web is a collection of digital medium easly archived and tracked for a large amount of time.  This might be a good time to either remind your kids or tell them for the first time to be careful what they do and say online because it might get captured forever. 

Walk with me down memory lane as we check out some popular sites at their birth:









If you want to continue playing with the wayback machine follow the direct link here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reboot your relationship with your kids

All of us have goals even if they are only vague dreams.  If you set those goals without family life in mind then your career and dreams are probably causing some cognitive dissonance.  This is not uncommon for men when we are young and in college we do not typically dream of 4 kids and a mini-van.  No when we dream we dream big, we want to be "Elite: , the best of the best of the best.  ( no that was not a mistake it's from MIB.) 

Once you have kids though it is time to reflect back on your dreams and include fatherhood as an integral part of your dreams.   Don't misunderstand,  if you have the skills, charisma, and drive to be the next Steve Jobs  then by all means go for it but make sure to be successful as a father first. All the success in the world might make you a rich and powerful man, but if you do so at the expense of your spouse and kids are you really successful?

Nobody on their deathbed has ever said "I wish I had spent more time at the office"
-Rabbi Harold Kushner
Think through the quote and think what you to say on your death bed and also think about what you want your kids to say about you.   Personally I want to say "I'm ready to go I was a great husband and great father."  I want my son to truly be able to say I was a great father and not have to struggle to create a Eulogy.  

Grim I know, but get used to it I get a little dark sometimes.

If you are a new dad, old dad, step-dad, or grandfather, you need to understand that those closest to you know who you really are, and they will not measure your success as a father, husband or grandfather the way the rest of the world does.  No those closest to you will remember how much time you spent with them, how important you made them feel and if they felt loved.  You need to decide what's important to you.  

Once you have thought it through and reworked your real goals in life it's time to reboot your life.

  1. Take some time for introspection (think a lot about your life but don't get stuck)
  2. Write your own Eulogy - Write it how you want to be remembered.
  3. Rewrite your eulogy you got it wrong the first time.   This time rewrite it from each of your kids perspectives and again from your wife's perspective..
  4. Take all of those eulogies and create read through them and turn them into long and short term goals.
  5. Post these new goals on your office or somewhere visible.  
  6. Review your new goals periodically to see how you are measuring up.

PS. I'd really like your feedback. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A couple of great Movie Review sites

I believe what I expose my family to is an important part of being a dad. I also know what I think is appropriate probably differs from your view even if we align politically and religiously. Ideas are complex and should be graded on spectrum not hard and fast extremes. That is why I like the following review sites

This site is affiliated with Focus on the family check out the about us page here...
For some people this will be a turnoff, and great for others.  Even if you are not a fan of Focus on the family give it a try, they are not heavy handed and have a very structured review of each movie that allows you to make your own decisions about the appropriateness of the content.
There are three ways to consume the review:
  • Watch
  • Listen
  • Read
Review structure
  •  Synopsis
  •  Positive elements
  • Spiritual content
  • Sexual content
  • Violent content
  • Crude or Profane language
  • Drug and Alcohol content
  • Other Negative elements
  • Conclusion

This site is an independent non-profit organization read the about us link for their mission and 10 beliefs.

I think this site is great because of how the site combines the three ratings below to detemine an age level:
  • The site itself
  •  Parents rating
  • Kids rating.
It also allows comments, which are sometimes more beneficial than any rating system. If there are enough comments combined with the review, you should be informed enough to make the best decision for your family.

Review structure
One of the cool features is the visual view of the rating system this lets you quickly see what the biggest issues might be, and if you want more detail on any topic you can click the topic and read more.



Other Major review Elements

  • What Parents need to know
  • What's the Story?
  • Is it any good?
  • Explore, Discuss, Enjoy

Both of the sites listed above are designed to cut through advertising and hype and enable parents to make informed decisions based on your family’s values. As an added benefit both sites offer review on many other things.
  • Games
  • Apps
  • Websites
  • TV
  • Books
  • Music

Friday, August 16, 2013

MakerBot 3D Scanner.

The future is almost here.  This could be the revolutionary step that allows those of us with limited 3D modeling skills an entry point into the 3D printing revolution.   I have been hesitant to jump into the 3D printing world for this very reason.   I am not a CAD geek or a product designer but with a scanned 3D design file could alter something enough to fit my personal needs.
Link to the announcement
Link to the Maker-bot website

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Create a new Generation of Innovators

  Great article from the Make Blog about growing the next generation of innovators.

How to Create a new Generation of Innovators

Ping Fu at MAKE
[image: libraryprinting]With fun, relatable technology, children can immerse themselves in finding solutions and asking the right questions. Early on, they can experience the joy of creating something. We give them tools, then let them exercise the engineer inside from K-12 and beyond. That’s how you create innovators. Read more on MAKE

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

5 Ways to grow a smart Kid

As Dads, we have more impact than we think.   Traditionally fathers have been seen as a necessary evil for procreation and financial support, but new research is pointing out the importance the father displays in the development of the child.   This does nothing to take away from the dedication and hard work put in by Mom.  Without moms in the world, we would have chaos and roving bands of lunatics.  Moms are extremely important but so are dads, just in different, more subtle, ways.  While not an exhaustive list, hopefully some of these items will help level up in fatherhood.

1 Respect your Children's Mother

I am lucky enough to be in a happy committed marriage, but this advice is true for divorced parents as well.   Basically, by showing respect for your child's mother, you are showing your son how to treat women.  If you are blessed with a daughter you are showing her how she should expect to be treated by a boyfriend or a husband.

A mother who is appreciated and respected is a more effective/confident mother---and when mama is happy everyone's happy!

2 Spend time with your Kids

It might be hard to believe, but just spending time with your kids will improve their IQ and test scores.   However, sitting and watching tv doesn't count.  You have to actively spend time with your kids and get involved in their daily lives.

3 Affirm your children

Basically make sure your kids know you love them and will care for them at all costs.   Fathers easily fall into the habit of only affirming their kids in performance based ways: "good job," "you look pretty," or "way to go".  Subconsciously our kids hear that the only time dad loves me is when I please him.  This is never our intention we always love our kids.   My wife and I tell our son "We may not always like what you do, but we will always love you". Find your warm affirming words and really mean it.  Kids are great lie detectors and instinctively know when you are just saying stuff and when you really mean what you say.

Affirmation makes for self confident kids, and self confidence allows children to think outside the box and take chances.  Sure IQ is important, but smart guarded kids are not risk takers or entrepreneurs.  Kids with both intelligence and confidence can turn into adults with the world knocking on their doors.  

4 Foster Creativity
Going one step further to foster an innovative and creative spirit is the necessary key to making smart kids. Find things you want to learn and learn with your kids. Learn scratch programming or jump into hardware hacking with an Arduino or Rasberry Pi.   If you are an expert in either of these try to forget and see things through your kids eyes.  You will be surprised by what you can learn from your kids point of view.

5 Play Games
When our kids are really young, dads get to be kids again playing with Legos and pla- doh.  When they get a little older we get to teach them to count with monopoly and strategy with chess.  A good source of modern table games, usually for older kids/teens is watching tabletop.  
A section on games would not be nerdy enough unless I mention Minecraft.  I believe this is one of the greatest video games dads can play with their kids, girl or boy.   Set up a LAN party and invite all of your kids sun deprived friends over.   If all goes well your kids can have a good time cooperatively building, and the best is when one of them begins griefiing,  The parental opportunities are endless..

Conclusion As I said in the opening, these are subtle impacts, but they are important. In this  Telegraph article, it mentions that these can have definable effects well into your children's 40's.   Even though they are subtle they are powerful.   As father's we can never expect to play Mom's role as well as she can and we should not expect her to fill our role either.  All to often men try to compete with Mom and, when they can't, they just drop out.   What we should remember is that this is not a competition. It is a collaboration.   If both parents engage and do their part we can grow a generation of happy well adjusted kids.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nerd life Balance

It has begun...
The weekend I mean. This the time in life where the nerd-a-holic, who also wants to be a good parent, is at their most vulnerable. What do I mean? Basically we have been giving our time to "da man" for most of the week, but the weekend is our time to let our nerd flag. If we were selfish, no wife no kids or soon to have neither, we would obsess over whatever nerd topic strikes our fancy. 

So mull over the statement "soon to have neither". Basically if we do whatever we want without regard to our significant other or our precious little ones we would suck as parents.  Don't get me wrong, we are who we are, and "occasionally" we need dedicated nerd time or we would blow a hole in the space-time continuum.  What I am trying to say is that we have to participate in the things that our families are interested in, and if we are blessed with nerdy kids and spouses, then nerd out with them and their interests.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Minecon 2013 Lottery

My son and I were lucky enough to win the Minecon lottery and will be going to Orlando in November.   It should be a great time to get to meet, in person, many of the youtuber's we watch religously.

When the time comes we will document the trip and post pictures.   

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What does it mean to be a nerd Father

Dads come in all shapes and sizes and we are all good at different things. Some Dads hunt and fish, some are rabid sports fans and some, like myself, are tech nerds.   I have never been a huge sports fan and while hunting and fishing seems cool it's just "not my bag baby".   However, give me a laptop or iPad, and I am in my domain.   Don't get me wrong, you can be a nerd Dad and still be a sports/statitistics nerd or nerd out on gadgets for hunting/Fishing/camping, but being a nerd means your are off the beaten path, and that your thought patterns generally diverge from the average dude.

Nerd dads become passionate/obsessive about tech,math,science, etc., and these topics are not generally understood and set us apart from the mainstream. While these qualities are what makes us super nerds, they can often make us loose sight of our wives and kids.

I think the nerd Dad can be the perfect Dad he just has to include his kids in his passions and respect the passions of his kids as well.  

Wanna be Maker
Software Nerd
Table Games
Cord Cutter - only partially today
And what list of nerd Dadtopics would be complete with the Awesomeness of