Archive for April, 2009

Lead into Gold: Get The Alchemyst for Free

April 30th, 2009

In a very pleasing trend, Randomhouse is offering The Alchemyst by Michael Scott for free. Choose your favorite book vendor and select the eBook to start reading about Flamel and all his alchemy fun.

The offer expires May 8.

Espresso Book Machine

April 27th, 2009

I get frustrated when I go to a bookstore and they say they have the book at every location except for the one I’m standing at.

I don’t like paying for shipping (or paying a subscription to not pay for shipping).

But have you seen the Espresso Book Machine? It launched on Friday at a Blackwell’s bookstore. You type in which book you want, it binds a new copy while you drink a cup of coffee.


Now you don’t have to worry about books being in stock, especially rare/old books.

What will really be interesting is to see how the employees of the 60 branches scheduled to get the machines adapt. Will people look for more recommendations now? Less? There will be less time walking the shelves, straightening titles and all that. What if the employees now had a set-up like an Apple Store Genius Bar?

Be in the sequel to Skeleton Creek!

April 27th, 2009

Did you like Skeleton Creek? (Creepy, right?) In October Ghost in the Machine is coming out. I’m very excited.

Yes. How does that book have a sequel? Perhaps it’s a companion book.

But would you like to be one of the video stars in the book? Patrick Carman’s studio will be holding auditions on May 1. Click on the link for more information.

Choose whether you want to read for the guy script or the girl script and it will open the audition PDF file. Videotape your audition and put it on YouTube following their directions.

Even if you don’t want to audition, it’s still pretty fun to read parts of the script ahead of time.

I can’t find where to audition as the bearded librarian…

Heather Brewer’s 10th Grade Bleeds

April 21st, 2009

I just finished 10th Grade Bleeds by Heather Brewer.

I will be completely forthright: I’m not a fan of vampire books. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as saw it performed at the Herberger and I broke into cold sweats.

I know that blood is necessary, but I’m just not a fan.

What I love about the Vladimir Tod series is that it takes your vampire cliches and has some fun with it. Nelly, Vlad’s guardian, sneaks home expired blood packets from the blood bank to put in his Twinkies. The ancient superweapon is a giant tube of condensed sunlight. Vlad can walk around with the lowly humans after he wears tons of sunscreen.

But book three breaks from some of the comedy elements (don’t worry, there still are some funny parts) and delves into some darker issues. Can Vlad survive off of just blood packs? Should Henry still be his drudge, forced to obey any command? Is it okay to lie to the people trying to take care of you?

10th Grade Bleeds takes the issues that teenagers struggle through and adds a vampire spin to it. What happens when friends grow apart? Can you make that sacrifice in letting people choose their own paths? Can a vampire date a popular girl?

It also has many more action sequences. Where before it was one battle in the middle and then a major fight at the end, every time you turn a corner you’ve got some vampire being thrown significant feet into a wall.

I’m a fan.

I will warn you, though – much like Ranger’s Apprentice Book 5 and The Hunger Games, be looking for a cliffhanger ending.

AIMS Writing Test Update

April 17th, 2009

An e-mail coming across today quoted Tom Horne looking at cutting the AIMS Writing test for 4th, 5th, and 8th grades in light of the budget crisis. This is an interesting move, because those essays need graders and now we save on materials as well as paying people to grade the essays. Now it will be just Scantron.

Some drawbacks, though, are that some students do poorly on Scantron. Also, will writing not be assessed for those three years? We also need to make sure that we don’t just teach to the test – even though 8th graders will not be AIMS-tested, they’ll still need to work on their writing to be able to survive in the academic world (and eventually the world outside of school).

The test will still be there for the other grades. I think it’ll work, especially at cutting some costs, but when we’ve conditioned ourselves to focus ourselves so subconsciously towards the AIMS, we need to remind ourselves that people wrote long before the AIMS test.

We’ll see if this proposal becomes official on April 27.

Random Numbers in ActionScript

April 15th, 2009

To create a random number in ActionScript:


but that will give you crazy decimals.

Add onto that code:


to give you prettier numbers to work with.

To give you a number between 1 and 10, use some multiplication:


Try putting this with some _x or _y actions.

Oceanography Videos

April 14th, 2009

As Crowell’s class is working on oceanography iMovies, these sites might be a good place for videos to use in your projects:

Michael Johnson Marine Natural History Photography

Cosmeo from Discovery Channel

For teachers to sign up for videos:
Teachers’ Domain

Re-Posting: Flash Game Sample

April 8th, 2009

Here’s a re-posting of a sample from last year. Use this to add some code to your circleman movies.

Today at Future Professionals I could see that some were almost ready to start programming in Flash, but were intimidated by the time that it takes to get used to ActionScript.

It, literally, is another language. Just like Spanish or French, it takes some getting used to. One of the ways that I became familiar with programming was by taking apart other people’s programs.

So I give to you a game that I made for my friend Brian. (In my high school group of friends was Tommy, Tommy, Brian, Brian, and Mike.)

Click on the .fla file to download the source. (Depending on where you are, you may need to right click/control click.)

Brianland Source File

Test the movie in Flash to see what it does (spacebar fires and arrows move) and then experiment.

As you experiment, try to:

  1. Increase the amount of money the character gets
  2. Increase the number of hook gnomes
  3. Change the amazing artwork

Once you are comfortable with editing the parts of the program, try editing other people’s files and finding tutorials.

Max Ride 5: Max

April 3rd, 2009

It’s been a while since I finished it, but with AIMS going on, a Friday afternoon is the first free time to put up a review.

I have to say that I enjoyed Max better than Final Warning. That one seemed more like an extended political pamphlet, with a lack of any worthy villains and not too much plot.

That is somewhat remedied in book five. Now we’ve got Mr. Chu, a megacorporation villain with lots of connections, but that’s the only one that stands out as memorable. We have hunters that seem like they’re going to have character development, but then they blow themselves up.

I miss Ari and the Erasers.

Give Max a chance. It’s better than Final Warning and still has most of the elements that make for a good James Patterson story. We’ve visited it before, but it’s still fun.

Potential Anti-virus Software

April 1st, 2009

Here are some recommendations from the Yahoo Tech guy.

If these break your computer, blame him.

Microsoft’s Web-Based Scanner