Monday, January 19, 2009


My 12-year-old wanted to make a game, so we searched for KPL (Kids Programming Language), but unfortunately its developer has chosen to make its successor not-free and to prevent access to KPL. So we kept searching ... and happened upon Scratch, a visual scripting language by The Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT. Free... cool, my favorite price.

Downloaded it... started playing with it... and it's actually pretty cool. You can make games, interactive animations, all sorts of things. And it's actually pretty simple... yet provides a great background on event-driven (and also both functional and object oriented) programming, including variables, logic elements, etc. Even I, having been programming for for nearly a quarter of a century, enjoyed it.

That being said, here is the initial version of my 12-year-old's "Easiest Game on Earth" (his moniker when I mentioned that it didn't have any way to lose). A little input from me, but he did a lot of it himself. Not bad for a first attempt! Enjoy...

Learn more about this project

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Swimming can be hazardous to your child's life

According to this CNN article, you should be very careful with your children and swimming pools. Apparently there is a very real danger related to the suction/return on the pool or hot tub filtration system. I was never really aware of this... but it has claimed the lives of children. Quite honestly, the article doesn't give much information about what are or are not the "correct" (safe) drain covers. And personally, I am not sure where to ask about this information... if any readers have info, feel free to share.

This has been public service announcement number 1 on my blog (ok, maybe there have been others). Now back to your regularly scheduled life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009


Crossblock (that's a link). Enjoy.

(I'm currently stuck at the last level, 50.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Merry go round tragedy

Apparently someone must've died on the merry go round.. Notice the yellow tape on some of the horses.. Either that or some sort of mechanical trouble.. :)

Wendy's Chicken Boy

Ok, so I'm eating at Wendy's, before going to see a movie with the family and then onto my 3rd child's birthday trip with dad (we're going to the Foley outlet mall and then to Lambert's to eat), when out of the chicken nugget box pops chicken boy! Ok, maybe I added the arms and legs of fries, but the body and head were already intact from the box. Amazing (my friend Dean will love the ineffectual use of that word) the things I find at fast food places!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Finally arrived...

The book I "ordered" via Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program finally arrived. It was packed two days ago, after I sent an e-mail saying I still hadn't received it. They didn't respond to the e-mail, but apparently finally got around to packing & shipping the book.


Look forward to a book review here in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Don't hire this company

I saw this little ad on Facebook and thought, "I wonder if they might be of any possible use for my prior employer and their code conversion project."

So I clicked on the ad.

Apparently these guys are masters of everything... except the English language. I highly suggest the successful reading of the ad, which has, positively experienced English grammarians as writers of it.

Yeah, that last sentence was intentionally written that way, mean to sound like their "services" page. Read it - you'll see. It's quite amusing, actually...

Cell-phone Spam follow up - more info

Pursuant to the comments made on my Cell-phone Spam post, I've done a little more research. I thought you'd all like to know that the Do-Not-Call registration has been made permanent (previously the numbers would expire after something like 5 years if not re-registered). You no longer have to re-register your number. Also note: there is typically no need to register a cell (mobile) phone number, as it is already illegal for telemarketers to autodial or send autogenerated (pre-recorded or computer generated) marketing messages to your cell phone. I recommend this FCC info page about cell phones.

Also, if you want to be kept up-to-date on FCC headlines, they are online here - and check out this FCC site (near the bottom of the page) for telemarketing-related updates. Or you can subscribe to the FCC daily digest on this page - but I'm not sure why you'd want to. :)

Enough of that for now... hopefully the next posting will be a little more interesting.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cell-phone Spam

Today I received an unsolicited commercial pre-recorded message call on my cell phone (from 1-800-219-7425, which apparently belongs to a vehicle warranty telemarketer). I was away from the phone at the time and the pre-recorded message was left on my voicemail (well, part of it was: the voice mail prompt caused the first part of the message to be lost; the voice mail started partway through the pre-recorded message). According to the FCC, if you don't already have a "business relationship" with a company, it is illegal for them to call your wireless phone. REGARDLESS of whether you've listed it on the "do not call" registry (that's intended for your home phone, not your wireless phone). In fact, they (the FCC) have a list of "wireless phone blocks" - that is, prefixes that are associated with wireless numbers, so there's no excuse for an autodialer to call your mobile number. And it's illegal.

Anyway, I did a little research, and found this page which has some additional info and a "link" to the FCC online complaint site (the "link" doesn't work - you have to copy & paste it, and it's an outdated address that is forwarded to the correct site, here). This FCC link is for complaints about unsolicited commercial stuff. You can put your complaint in there - not that you'll get anything back (minutes, time, etc.), but at least the FCC can start compiling info and eventually go after the offender. You can also call your mobile carrier depending on the type of complaint (e.g., sometimes I get "unsolicited commercial e-mail" in the form of text messages on my phone; now, for me, it's simply a nuisance, since I have unlimited text messaging with my plan, but for some it's a chargeable thing since you get charged for every text message).

Just thought I'd share this info in the interest of the public good. Feel free to leave comments or otherwise contact me if you have any questions or anything... not that I necessarily have the answers, but I'll do my best to help.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Nerf (-like) fun for everyone!

I think I may have found a new hobby (as mentioned in this post): Nerf rifling. More specifically, foam-dart rifling, as my current weapon is a Buzz Bee Rapid Fire Rifle. I recently ran across a fun little blog: CSMacLaren's Nerf Intelligence Files.

Seems there are lots of places about Nerf Rifling... this is just one, which happens to do comparisons of various brand foam-dart rifles. I'm currently looking into the Buzz Bee Rapid Fire Refill clip/shell/dart sets, as a mere 6 shots is insufficient for a four-man game of two-hits-you're-out foam-dart-rifle-tag. Now, if we each had three loaded clips... well, for those of you who can't do multiplication, that's 18 shots each (with 3 simple clip-swap reloads). Might have to pick up some of the 20-shot motorized tommy-gun type rifles or some of the other pistols (single-shot or multi-capacity with the rotating chamber loaders) for backups. The advantage of some of the other styles is the loading of bare darts (as opposed to the cool-yet-cumbersome shell-dart-clip loading mechanism of the Buzz Bee Rapid Fire Rifle).

This is good exercise; I'm not just playing games. Really.

Oh, one more idea I had: getting the "velcro-tipped" darts (like the ones from Nerf Tag) and having everyone dress in flannel from head to toe (i.e., we'd all be running around in our PJs) so the darts would stick. Then you'd know if you'd been tagged!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Waste of Time

This video is ... um ... repetitive? Waste of 3 minutes of your life where you could be doing something more interesting? Good for people who are obsessive-compulsive? Is there any subliminal advertising in the background vocals?

You decide:

Don't try this at home part 2!

This one is a bit more serious than the other post with this title.

Apparently people are now (illegally) using the Google brand name in advertising "get rich quick or easy" scams (e.g., on Facebook). Check out this blog article about the "Google Money Tree" scam. If you have a Facebook account, beware the little ads to the right that talk about part time jobs at $90/hour, etc. They are scams that will offer a free kit, only paying shipping and handling, and do their best to hide the fact that there is a recurring charge (e.g., the "Google Money Tree" monthly fee is something like $72!) that will be billed to the credit/debit card you use to pay for the free shipping if you don't call them to cancel your "free trial."

They'll make it sound like something other than what it is (such as "filling out surveys") - apparently the kits are really more like the standard, "here's how to advertise on eBay or Google, here's how to find drop-ship companies for your business, etc." information kits.

I like my friends and readers... these guys like your money. Don't let them have it!