(Excerpt from the Community Advocate Newspaper, Friday, February 3, 2012, article by Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer.)
Marlborough â€“ Prior to November 2011, Andrew Roberts worked for County House Research performing in-court background checks. By the end of November, though, he retired to pursue his lifelong passion, building Army tanks with LEGOs.
Robertsâ€™ love for LEGOs began at age 5 when he was given a big bucket of the brightly colored building blocks as a gift, and he has been playing with them ever since. About two years ago, Roberts heard about a man who was building World War II tanks out of LEGOs. Intrigued, he decided to build his own LEGO tank which he then put on eBay â€“ and it sold. He made another and it sold as well, snowballing into something bigger than Roberts could have anticipated.
… Read the full article at the Community Advocate Newspaper site.
To see or purchase any of Andrew’s sets or instructions, visit his eBay store: http://stores.ebay.com/Battle-Brick.
We became involved with Minecraft early in its beta development cycle. Frankly, it’s been amazing and fascinating. We operate our own server at home, modded with Runecraft so we could make teleporters (generally it’s up from early evening until the morning), and have started to add more users to the system. There are still some open slots, if you’re interested in joining us.
The new addition of powered rail boosters has gotten us rail-and-rollercoaster-crazy.
A couple of weeks ago marked a watershed moment in MMORPGs: Star Trek Online wrapped up its mostly-open-beta program, and went live with its early-access-for-preorders launch. Delighted with the quality of the game, we sprung for a lifetime membership, which is approximately as costly as paying per-month for a year and a half. (I wish World of WarCraft would offer such a deal.)
The boys and I have been hooked. (Isaac, the weasel, has remained several levels ahead of me, and is about to get a promotion that will give him access to even better ships.) The game features space exploration and combat, and ground exploration and combat. The missions are described as “episodes,” and, like the plots of a television series, often require following unexpected developments and changing tasks as the plot unfolds across planetary surfaces and space. Each player captains his or her own starship, outfitting it with weapons, equipment that gives bonuses, and senior officers who also provide special abilities. I’ve attached a couple of screen shots of the gorgeously-rendered space exploration scenes below. The planets are beautiful, often including moving cloud layers that partly cover the ground below, as well as appropriate atmospheric illumination by the planet’s star, depending on one’s location in orbit.
(My first ship is named the USS Nichelle.)
Ground locations are often also highly detailed, with a wide variety of plants and terrain. Some of the outdoor ground locations (there are also caves, and starbase and other complex interiors) sometimes seem very reminiscent of the ToS set locations, although generally with more detail than the show’s budget allowed.
Combat and exploration are both integral to the game. Combat is far more skill-intensive than most MMORPGs, particularly as one commands an “away team” to whom orders must be given, and as space combat works in three dimensions and often against multiple enemies. Some missions automatically draft the cooperation of other players, and nearly everything can be accomplished by choice as a teamwork exercise. Like the best MMOs available, there are also large PVP combat areas where players can earn even more rewards.
The game is still in early release, and is apparently only going to get better, but it still shows some weaknesses of an early release with higher-than-expected levels of demand on its servers, and some frustratingly common bugs, such as the game locking up.
Overall, though, our romps through the Star Trek universe have been delightful, with much future enjoyment anticipated.
Addendum, Stardate 201002.18: I am fully convinced that this game was worth every penny. Even my beloved World of WarCraft has never captured me with this intensity.
In 2029, the 900-foot asteroid Apophis, will miss Earth by only about 18,000 miles. To put that in contrast, the moon is an average of 238,857 miles away, center-to-center, or about 234,000 miles surface-to-surface. (The moon, of course, has a slightly elliptical orbit, so that’s just an average.) If that doesn’t set up the right mental image, take a look at the animation below, from an article on Wired Science.
Below you’ll see some beautiful video compiled from the STS-129 mission launch. (STS stands for space transportation system, and is the designation for NASA’s own Space Shuttle.
STS-129 video highlights as compiled by the SE&I imagery team here at JSC from all of the ground, air, ET and SRB assets.
(Thanks to Christine J-B for the link.)
Ten years from now, this is where we very well may be. Click through to see these jaw-dropping videos. We’re already starting to see application of this technology. Ten years to make it commonplace sounds reasonable.
See more at Microsoft Office Labs.
These remind me of the A&T “You Will” ads from 1993, which have proven to be quite accurate:
My yaar Aashay Joshi pointed me to the Microsoft videos.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1, ESV)
Check out the 2008 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar; a new HST image will be posted each day through tomorrow.
Since the school year began, I’ve been teaching Lego Robotics two morning’s a week at Isaac’s new school, the Academy for Science and Design Chartered Public School, in Merrimack New Hampshire.
Many of you know I’ve been teaching Lego Robotics twice a week at the Academy for Science and Design, in Merrimack, N.H. As a function of the class, we had two teams competing in the FIRST LEGO League branch of the FIRST Robotics program, founded by Dean Kaman. (See http://www.usfirst.org/community/fll/ .) The ASD is a chartered public school, now in its second year of operation.
At the “MindStorms Madness” qualifying tournament in Merrimack, N.H., on Saturday, the two teams from the ASD came away with three trophies:
The team I officially coach, Robotic Revolution, won first place in the Technical category (Robot design and programming), and will go on to compete at the state competition on December 6 at Nashua South High School.
The other team I taught (but did not officially coach) won 2nd place in Technical, and got the top score during the seeding matches. (Sadly, they were eliminated in the finals.)
The photos from the slide show above are available here on PicasaWeb.
I’ll update this post with more details about the team and the event sometime in the next day or two.