The ProScope Micro Mobile is the coolest iPhone/iPad accessory I have seen. It is a microscope that you can attach to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It has a magnification of up to 80x. You just attach it to your device and open the camera app and you are ready to go. You control the magnification with the touch screen. You can take pictures and video just like you normally would with your device.
I’ve included some pictures of some bugs and plants we found in our backyard. I also have a short video to show you some of the results you can get. We have certainly had a lot of fun using the Micro Mobile.
Minecraft has become a phenomenon on PCs, Macs, and more recently on ios devices (iPad, iPod, iPhone). Minecraft comes under the heading of ‘Sandbox Games’. Basically, Sandbox Games are games where the game is a world that you can interact with. Most of them are 3D and the world is made of blocks. These blocks can be altered, removed, or new ones can be placed. You can create anything that you want. Giant buildings, entire cities, space ships, or whatever you want. The only limit is your imagination.
With the popularity of minecraft, similar sandbox type games have started to appear in the app store in itunes. Each one has it’s own personality and unique characteristics. The games demonstrated in this video are: block fortress, eden, block earth, survival craft.
Block Fortress is unique in the fact that it is actually a hybrid game. It is a cross between a sandbox game an another type of game called a tower defense game. In tower defense games, the gameplay involves building defenses to a fortress that is then attacked by an enemy. Whether or not you win is dependent on how well you have designed your defenses. In block fortress, you build a fortress out of blocks. Some of these blocks have defensive capabilities (missile launchers, canons, that kind of thing). There is some ‘crafting’ involved. There are mineral deposits in the landscape that you need to utilize to build your defenses. You pick the difficulty level of the game. After you have built your fortress, you start the attack and see how you do. Your character is also involved in the defense and you can have a variety of hand held weapons to aid in the defense of your fortress.
Eden is a classic sandbox game. Your world is made of blocks that you can interact with and build things. There is no ‘crafting’ in Eden, but they give you a variety of blocks to work with. The world is populated with a bunch of cute, bouncy creatures. They leave you alone as long as you leave them alone. You have the option to change the colors of blocks or the creatures themselves. You do have the ability to set fires, and of course, there is TNT for blowing stuff up. Eden is a cute game that would be an appropriate game to introduce younger players to sandbox type games.
Block Earth is a very pretty sandbox game. There is no crafting involved, but the blocks they supply you with have a more photo realistic texture to them than most sandbox games. The sky has very realistic looking clouds and the sun and moon. There are also flying dragons in the sky and floating islands of land. You have a jetpack that allows you to fly for short distances. A unique aspect of Block Earth is you have missiles. These missiles can be used to either remove blocks or to place blocks. Underground they are really helpful in clearing out a cavern and above ground you can shoot them into the sky to build sky islands.
Survival Craft is similar to Minecraft in many respects. At the start of gameplay, you find yourself stranded on a shoreline after being abandoned by your ship. It looks peaceful enough, but you learn soon enough why the game is called Survival Craft. There are lots of creatures on land and in the sea that would like to have you for a snack. In one of my first games, I was chased into the ocean by wolves where I was promptly eaten by a shark. You do craft tools that you need to use. There are a variety of animals you interact with and each one has it’s own characteristics. For example, at night, the wolves can turn into werewolves. The horses can be ridden. You can pick the difficulty level and at the easiest level you have the power of flight, so you can get away from danger.
All of these games are fun for kids or adults. They are the types of games that are fun to play with your kids. I find them to be very good in stimulating creativity. Check them out and have fun!
I know, I know, guys don’t do scrapbooks. I don’t either. But what I’m about to tell you about is pretty cool. There is a company called Blurb. You can find them at Blurb.com and the software they have is called Booksmart. Basically, this company can make a custom book for you. You can do photos, text or combination of both. I have done several photos books of our son that we have used as Christmas gifts. The grandparents love them.
You use the digital photos you have on your computer. The program allows you to open the file that contains the pictures you want to use. You can do all the page layouts yourself or they can make it really simple and have an “autofill” type feature that randomly places all the pictures in the book. You can do a soft cover or a hard cover book. I think their prices are pretty reasonable. An example- the last one I did was a 10×8 inch hard cover, had 80 pages and about 250 pictures in it. The cost was $39.95. I’m pretty sure I would have spent many times that in ink cartridges for my computer printer. Apple has a similar service associated with their iphoto program, but I have found their books to be more expensive.
There is no cost to download the software, you send all the photos electronically, and you get the books back in about 10 days. Have fun!!
Yes, I admit that I was one of those people waiting in line the morning the iPad was released. The word I would use to describe it is, ‘awesome’. Love it.
I chose to get the WiFi version. I didn’t really feel the need to get 3G version. They are significantly more expensive and you have a monthly service fee you have to pay to AT&T.
For the most part, I view it as an entertainment device, but it does have some practical uses. I really like the fact that I can check my e-mail while sitting in the living room watching TV. USA Today, and AP news have very good news applications that I use quite a lot. Apple has an app called ‘Pages’ which allows you to write text documents (which can include pictures) that can be converted to word documents on your computer. I’m planning on using this app for our holiday newsletter this year. One of my favorite ‘practical’ applications is something called Instapaper. What Instapaper does is it allows you to download an article you are reading on the web onto your iPad to be read later. This really comes in handy for plane travel. What I do is a few days before going on a trip, I’ll spend some time surfing the web and download a bunch of articles I’m interested in. That way, I’ll have plenty of reading material when I’ve exhausted the in flight magazine.
For the kids, there are a ton of great educational apps. You can download interactive Dr. Seuss books (we have The Lorax and Dr. Seuss’ ABC book). The PBS show ‘Super Why’ has a great interactive learning to read app. One of our son’s favorites is an interactive Jack and the Beanstalk book.
For the kid in all of us, Marvel and DC comics have apps where you can download comics. In general, the comics aren’t free (they cost $1.99 each), but both apps do offer free comics (Marvel more than DC) If you have younger kids, you might want to review them first. Both companies do have ‘all ages’ comics that are fine for the younger kids.