Chemical Element Trump Cards
I can still remember the weight of the Lancia Stratos car that featured
in the Top Trumps
cards were playing as children in the 1970s: 870kg.
It was the lightest of all the flashy cars in the set,
and therefore a much sought-after card.
Other card sets that kept us busy included airplanes, motorcycles, and tanks.
Through them we learned tens of useless trivia,
but also got a feeling of the compromises inherent in engineering.
Wondering whether I could leverage such a game to make it even more educational,
I created a set of trump cards containing properties of chemical elements.
Continue reading "Chemical Element Trump Cards"
Research Proposal Becomes Reality
Eight years ago I submitted a research proposal for developing a
tablet-based game platform for toddlers.
Although the proposal was not accepted for funding,
it's nice to see the idea becoming a reality through the
unveiling of the Toys 'R' Us $150 Tabeo tablet for kids.
Continue reading "Research Proposal Becomes Reality"
Lego sells lovely toys with a great educational potential.
No peace-loving father would have a problem giving them as a gift
(especially, if he can also occasionally take part in the action).
Unfortunately, children seem to have their own (genetically preprogrammed?)
ideas of what is interesting to build.
I still love Lego, but I'm a bit worried about human nature.
Continue reading "Dual-Use Technology"
Daring Youth: Then and Now
My friend and colleague Stephanos Androutsellis-Theotokis
pointed me to two amazing YouTube videos
He commented that
it's crazy what these people can do,
and with how much flow and speed.
Continue reading "Daring Youth: Then and Now"
A Child's Crontab
When the time to go to sleep is approaching,
all children seem to be configured with the same crontab.
Continue reading "A Child's Crontab"
One Traffic Light Per Child
The XO machine of the
One Laptop Per Child initiative
has a display with two remarkable properties:
in reflective mode it can be read under sunlight,
and it can also work in both laptop and tablet mode.
Add a dozen-line
program and you have a real traffic light.
Continue reading "One Traffic Light Per Child"
The Capacitor Plague Hits a Baby Monitor
Good baby monitors are hard to come by.
Many tend to be oversensitive, others switch from squelch mode to
transmission with a loud hiss that is more irritating than a baby's
We were very satisfied with a Tomy Walkabout Digital
1998 baby monitor, until the day it started emitting a squeaking
Continue reading "The Capacitor Plague Hits a Baby Monitor"
White Noise Calms Babies
A week ago I told my colleague
that drying the body of a newborn baby with a hair drier keeps
it consistently dry avoiding rashes, and also calms the baby down.
Today he told me the advice worked wonders.
Many parents have discovered that sources of white noise, like the sound
of a vacuum cleaner or a hair drier, seem to calm down a baby's
Continue reading "White Noise Calms Babies"
Preparing for the Exams
The (retake) exam period has started.
At the metro the passenger sitting opposite me is obviously a student
frantically sorting the cards containing a 6%-reduced photocopy of her forensic
Continue reading "Preparing for the Exams"
A Plea for Usability Design in Children's Electronic Toys
I am not particularly fond of children's electronic toys,
but they constantly arrive at home as presents,
and they also attract the children's attention.
Unfortunately, the usability aspects of most electronic toys for toddlers
and children appear to be ignoring important and well-established
principles of user interface design.
Continue reading "A Plea for Usability Design in Children's Electronic Toys"
A Toddler Discovers Globalization
A toddler decided to explore and uncover
the production chain behind his touch-and-feel book.
Continue reading "A Toddler Discovers Globalization"