LEARN TO PROGRAM WITH SCRATCH

“Learn to Program With Scratch,” by Majed Marji, $35 from NoStarch.com.

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BOOK: A THEORY OF FUN

“A Theory of Fun for Game Design,” by Raph Koster, $35 from oreilly.com, is now out in color, with a full-page cartoon flanking every page of text. The author was the lead designer for massive online games such as “Ultima Online” and “Star Wars Galaxies.” He discusses what makes a game fun and how games can teach primitive survival techniques. Creative designers, he says, use other games for inspiration. The forward is by Will Wright, creator of SimCity.

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BOOKS: PROGRAMMING FOR KIDS

“3D Game Programming for Kids,” by Chris Strom; $36 from oreilly.com. Here’s a great system for teaching you to program, no matter what your age.

All you need is a computer and preferably the Chrome web browser, though anything except Internet Explorer will do. The author explains things so well that in literally a few minutes, Joy had created a colorful ball and cube on her screen and was able to animate them.

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RETURN OF THE NATIVE

Dan Bricklin is perhaps the most famous programmer alive. Because he, with partner Bob Frankston, created VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet to run on a personal computer. It was 1979 and it ran only on an Apple II. Arguably it made Apple, because this was the first business program, and that created a reason to buy Apple, instead of the half dozen other desktops at that time. Before VisiCalc, most people in the business said the personal computer was a really a game machine, and would never be anything else. Visicalc changed that forever. The fact that it was written for the Apple and not some other computer was an accident. The two men were students at Harvard and initially started […]

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BOOKS OF INTEREST

Here’s another “Head First” book in the ongoing series from O’Reilly. This one is “Head First HTML and CSS,” by Robson and Freeman, $40 at oreilly.com.

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PROGRAMMING FROM SCRATCH

Super Scratch Programming Adventure,” by the Learning Through Engineering, Art and Design (LEAD) Project; $25, also from nostarch.com.

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KHAN CAN

KhanAcademy’s free educational videos have been viewed 178 million times on YouTube. Now they’ve launched a “Computer Science” program that teaches kids and adults how to handle JavaScript; that’s the computer language that dominates the Web.

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BOOKS FOR YOUR INNER INVENTOR

From the mid 19th through the 20 century, America was the world leader in technology. Perhaps the most important driver of those advances was kids who liked to take apart clocks. They took apart other things as well, of course: toasters, radios, automobile engines, etc.

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SO YOU WANT TO BE A GAME DEVELOPER

Gamustra.com and Kongregate.com have contacts that budding game developers may find useful.

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TOY ROBOTS AND TRAINS

This book shows you how to make LEGO toy trains, robots, and creatures.

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