Archive for February, 2010

Read books on your Nintendo DS

February 24th, 2010

On June 14 the DS will have a “game” called 100 Classic Books that will let you read public domain classic books. The $19 price tag is cheap when compared to other DS games but expensive when compared to Kindle-ish apps for phones. A plus, though, is the ability to download new content via the Nintendo WFC.

Isometric Game: Displaying the Timer

February 24th, 2010

If you have missed a couple of sessions, check here.

If you’ve been here the whole time, let’s continue.

  1. Open up the Flash file we’ve been working on.
  2. Edit your hero movieclip.
  3. Add a textbox above the hero’s head.
  4. Change the textbox from ‘Static’ to ‘Dynamic’.
  5. For the instance name, type scarytimer.
  6. For the Var:, type _root.scarytimer. (_root lets us know that the variable exists on the main level of the stage and not just privately with the movieclip).
  7. If you don’t want the timer text to be selectable by a mouse, make sure the ‘Ab’ button is not selected.

A variation on this would be to create a new tile with the timer on it and spread those tiles throughout your maze.

Your dynamic text settings should look something like this:

New Camp Half-Blood

February 24th, 2010

Rick Riordan posted on Twitter last night that he just finished his draft of a new Camp Half-Blood book and was sending it off to his editor. It is on schedule to be released this Fall.

I predict that it’s going to focus on a new set of campers. (Reading Last Olympian’s final chapters gives you some strong hints.)

IEP iPhone App

February 23rd, 2010

Have you seen the IEP Checklist iPhone App?

It provides a listing of required and optional items to include on a student’s IEP. This could prove very handy, both for parents to know their rights and for teachers to speed up their workflows.

Yet another reason why we should all have iPod Touches on campus, like this school.

Hoops for Haiti

February 23rd, 2010

Tonight is the Hoops for Haiti fundraiser. Our staff is taking on the GrJHS staff. All money raised goes towards UNICEF’s Haiti earthquake relief efforts. I’ll be playing as the tallest librarian on the court.

Powerless by Matthew Cody

February 18th, 2010

Superhero books (not comic books/graphic novels – they’ve always been there) are continuing to increase in popularity/selection. I feel Brian Singer is part to thank for that with the first X-Men movie and Superman Returns. Superheroes are grittier, more realistic, and don’t always run around in their pajamas.

In Powerless, main character Daniel moves to a new town and struggles to make friends (does every MG/YA hero need to re-locate before the plot can begin? Is it a symbol of unease?). He befriends a group of kids who share a secret – they are Supers. Some can fly, others can hear ants digging holes, and one just smells really, really bad.

The hook for this superhero novel is that at age 13 the kids routinely lose their powers. This is what separates it from most books, where the kids traditionally grow into their powers and responsibilities. The transition into adulthood is represented here by a loss of memory and abilities.

What made the book for me is the villain. I don’t want to reveal too much because figuring out the villain’s motivation is central to enjoyment of the story.

Superhero tropes run rampant through the book. Matthew Cody knows his stuff. Another fun aspect is that Daniel, a powerless individual, has Sherlock Holmes as a role model. Daniel adopts some of Holmes’ philosophies and uses detective skills. Since I am a much bigger fan of Batman than Superman, I appreciated a hero who put clues together and didn’t just fly right by with superspeed.

Powerless is a fun novel for the middle grade readers, so junior high librarians would be wise to put it on their shelves.

Continuing with the Maze Game in Flash: Beat the Clock!

February 10th, 2010

We’re going to add a simple timer to our maze game that we’ve been working on. (If you’ve missed a few sessions, start here.)

We want the timer to start at 1000 and count down to the player’s imminent doom.

To set up the initial value for the timer, let’s create a variable called scarytimer.
var scarytimer:Number=1000;

Put that code at the very top, outside of any functions. If a variable is defined in a function, other functions will see it as undefined. So, at the top of the AcionScript, type in:
var scarytimer:Number=1000;
right above where you see
var tiles:Object = new Object({width:52, height:26});

The player will start with 1000 loops to be able to get to tile101, tile101 being our special tile from last time.

Now we need the player’s doom.

In the onEnterFrame function, we need to subtract from scarytimer each time the game loops in a frame.

Way back in the olden days when I programmed stone tablets for pterodactyls, we would write scarytimer=scarytimer-1 to subtract gradually from the variable with each loop.

ActionScript has simplified it with the code:
The two minuses tell ActionScript to subtract one increment from the variable.

Put scarytimer--; right above where you see input();

Variables get tricky when trying to determine what value they have. Run a trace on the variable to have the computer tell you what value scarytimer has.


Now the code will decrease scarytimer and then spit out its value to you.

Run your file right now to make sure your variable works. If it doesn’t, everything else will get nasty quickly.

Warriors Adventure Game

February 10th, 2010

I have not read Erin Hunter’s Warriors series. I have yet to delve into the dark world of killer cats. It’s not that I’m against the series, considering how much I enjoy a good Brian Jacques killer mice novel.

While flipping through Hunter’s The Fourth Apprentice, I was looking for the adventure game that is included since I’m always a fan of games.

Picture my excitement when I found a hybrid of the Choose Your Own Adventure/Lone Wolf stories. There’s an adventure for a narrator to lead a group down a series of paths.

But then imagine my surprise when I saw a reference to stats and a character sheet. It’s not just a Choose Your Own Adventure, it’s more like a paper and pencil role-playing game. Very exciting. You don’t have to use someone else’s concept for a character – you can make your own. I’m a hug fan of these types of RPGs because of their storytelling aspects, so I applaud Erin Hunter for taking the series in this direction.

You can find out more about the adventure game by clicking here.

Heist Society to be a movie

February 5th, 2010

The script has been optioned by Warner Brothers (who beat out Disney…interesting, since Disney-Hyperion is the publisher) and has the same team that made the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie working on it.

A change will happen, though. They’re turning Kat and her gang into people in their early 20’s instead of teenagers. Does this mean it will be a more mature-themed movie?

Check out the Hollywood Reporter article here and my review of Heist Society here.

Edit: If you look at the acting pool for the early 20’s versus the teen range, Kat behaves more like the 20-something roles than the teen actors. Also, there are bigger names at the 20-something age range right now. Finding one teen actor to pull off the role of Kat wouldn’t be too tough, but to find people for her whole crew would be a challenge. (Think about the cast of Glee and their real ages.) Let’s just say a reliable source clued me in.

King of Pop by Gordon Korman

February 3rd, 2010

I love that Gordon Korman can switch between books like the 39 Clues series and then give us a book like Pop.

Pop is the story of Marcus, a high schooler who is new to a small town and is trying to make it as quarterback of the undefeated football team. That story, in and of itself, has been told many times before.

But what makes Pop stand out is Charlie Popovich, an ex-NFL defensive player who befriends Marcus. Marcus is weirded out by the sudden camaraderie and investigates to find that this football player, the King of Pop, had a series of concussions that has messed with his mind. Marcus must navigate this friendship carefully, especially since Troy Popovich is the current star quarterback of the team.

Most of the action takes place off of the field. Charlie likes to pull pranks and leaves Marcus to take the blame, creating a detailed police record for Marcus. Marcus tries to convince the town that he’s a decent person without giving away Charlie’s secret.

The football games do have their exciting moments, but the games fly by very quickly. I think that students who enjoy sports books will still enjoy seeing another side of the sport. Make sure to sell the book to them with the knowledge that it’s about the game and Gordon Korman knows the game.

Like any Gordon Korman book, even if you’re not the biggest football fan you’ll find a character that you can relate to and enjoy reading about.