Microsoft in Talks to Buy Minecraft Studio Mojang?

The Guardian (and others):

Microsoft is reportedly in discussions to buy Mojang, the Swedish games studio behind the multimillion-selling building game, Minecraft.
The Wall Street Journal has spoken to a source who claims the deal could be tied up as early as next week, for a figure in the region of $2bn

Part of me wonders if I can't see this happening because of Notch's opinion on the subject, or because I'm terrified about what would happen to Minecraft if it stopped being an 'indie' game. 

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014...

Blue Light, Sleep and f.lux

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore writing for GigaOm:

An eye doctor says he’s recently seen a few 35-year-old patients whose lenses, which are typically clear all the way up until around age 40, are so cloudy they resemble 75-year-olds’. A sleep doctor says kids as young as toddlers are suffering from chronic insomnia, which in turn affects their behavior and performance at school and daycare. A scientist finds that women who work night shifts are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who sleep at night.

Starts to bring a different meaning to the term 'retina display'.

Joking aside, I'm a huge advocate for f.lux. f.lux is a free utility for Mac, Windows, Linux and iOS (jailbroken only though) that adjusts your display according to your environment and lighting conditions to adjust for blue light. It's also backed by a truckload of research. I have it installed across all my devices (with the exception of iOS - I never really liked jailbreaking). Blue light is another reason why I switched to reading a Kindle before bed and not playing around on an iThing.

f.lux's preferences are easy to set. So easy, in fact, that you can just 'set it and forget it'. You don't have to wait until sunset to see how it works, though. You can invoke f.lux's adjustments at any time from a little icon in the menu bar.

If you're concerned about how blue light from screens at night might be affecting the sleep patterns of yourself or your children - check out http://www.justgetflux.com.

Source: http://gigaom.com/2014/09/01/what-is-the-b...

Top independent school puts lessons free on iTunes

BBC:

Principal Tricia Kelleher says: "The digital world requires teachers, like everyone else, to work differently."

The Stephen Perse Foundation, one of the country's highest achieving schools, has been experimenting with digital learning, with every pupil having their own iPad.

A great example of an educational institution embracing not just the physical technology, but the methods that make it work best for their students and teachers. iTunes U is a great resource, available to just about everybody and works not only on iOS devices but also on Macs. Look for another tablet/PC provider that's doing anything similar and you won't find them. 

Says Aisling Brown, the digital education officer at Stephen Perse Foundation:

Several people have been asking about buying a tablet, for different reasons. There are many excellent tablets out there, of varying prices and capabilities. However, if you are at all interested in using the tablet for educational purposes, I would go for the iPad. While other tablets such as the Google Nexus or Samsung Galaxy may offer several of the same or similar apps that the iPad provides, there is no equivalent to the iTunes U app.
Source: http://sixthform.stephenperse.com/news/201...

Analyzing iPad Myths in Education

Published back in May on ipad4schools.org, this is a great read for anyone trying to encourage their school to embrace iPads in the classroom. Written by educators, It takes some of the most common and misinformed arguments and holds them to the fire:

Teachers will no longer be teaching, students will just be playing
...teachers will both be learning on the go and teaching what they learn. Professional development is paramount in keeping up with the latest trends in teaching, and that is no different when it comes to technology.

I also like "the camera is the new pen". So true.

Source: http://ipad4schools.org/2014/05/28/analyzi...

BBC: Millions of historical images posted to Flickr

Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded 2.6 million pictures to Flickr, which are searchable thanks to tags that have been automatically added.

The photos and drawings are sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.

The Internet Archive is a wonderful resource (The Wayback Machine even more so), but I always felt it was hampered by counter-intuitive search. This is a great stride forward to make historical data more accessible.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28976...

The Power of Metaphor

Is the iPad Really the Best Device for Interactive Learning?

This Atlantic article on the Hillsborough Middle School in New Jersey asks the question:

Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning?

In a word, no, but isn't hunting for the elusive 'best device' searching for the wrong answer to the wrong question?

"During the 2012–2013 school year, the district executed a comparative pilot, giving iPads to 200 kids and Chromebook laptops to an almost equal number. As other schools rushed into programs they would later scrap, Hillsborough took a more cautious approach, hedging its bets and asking educators: How can we get this right?...
... While nobody hated the iPad, by any means, the iPad was edged out by some key feedback, said Joel Handler, Hillsborough’s director of technology. Students saw the iPad as a “fun” gaming environment, while the Chromebook was perceived as a place to “get to work.” And as much as students liked to annotate and read on the iPad, the Chromebook’s keyboard was a greater perk — especially since the new Common Core online testing will require a keyboard."

The lack of multiple user support (as of yet) renders iPads useless as 'class set' devices. Apple seemingly wants users to have ownership of the entire device, and have yet to offer any serious management tools for those who would wish otherwise. Yes, there's Apple Configurator, numerous third-party MDM solutions and enterprise-level management available in the upcoming iOS 8, but using these tools can be a bit of a dark art, even for the seasoned Mac IT professional.

With more device management responsibility being given to classroom teachers and technology integrators, Apple risks losing out to basic 'dumb terminal' devices like the Chromebook in environments where configuration resources aren't available. In a way, the iPad might potentially lose ground in the classroom because it's too powerful a device.

Both Chromebooks and iOS devices have distinct hardware and software advantages, however - all of which can be a benefit on the classroom.

Technology is a tool. You wouldn't use just a hammer, or just a screwdriver to undertake putting some shelves up -  so the bigger question remains: Why does the choice for technology in the classroom have to be either/or and not both?

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archi...

The Sad Decline of the London Trocadero

It's true, it's sadly all true.

It wasn't always this way. In the 1990s, the historic building was salvaged for the purpose of creating the biggest "leisure space" in London, packed with a Nickelodeon studios, Pepsi IMAX and its crowning glory, SegaWorld, which was essentially just loads of arcade games and a giant statue of Sonic. It was a feat of uniquely poor planning, and almost immediately developed a rust of crapness. By the Millennium the Trocadero dream was dead: Sega withdrew their sponsorship and SegaWorld was relegated to something called "Funland", the IMAX vanished, and the escalators stopped moving, never to be effectively repaired. As a final insult, the place was used as a location for the video of Madonna’s 2005 single, "Hung Up".

When a friend asked if I wanted to go to Funland before they closed it down a few months back, I declined. It would be like visiting a sad, dejected shadow of a close friend, who refused to acknowledge that the world had moved on. Gone were the days of the Pepsi Max Drop, Quasar laser tag, Segaworld, and the virtual reality arcade in the basement where we weekly blew through our allowances in a VR MechWarrior sim.

Funland was the last vestige of days long past, but, now in my 30s, I'd be damned if I was going to throw money into an old arcade cabinet - I'm sure I have most of those games that I would still want to play on an emulator somewhere anyway. You didn't go for the games though. You went to be with friends and have a shared experience - something that can't be done in a ghost town.

The last few times I visited the Trocadero was out of pure, reminiscent nostalgia if I happened to be in the West End.

I was always disappointed.

Source: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/the-sad-dec...

Five Secrets About Minecraft

Quib.ly has five things you may not have known about Minecraft, including Killer Bunnies:

There is however, one deadly exception. Whenever a rabbit is spawned by the game there is a small chance that what will appear is not the twitchy-nosed ball of cuteness you might expect, but a terrifying killer rabbit with glowing red eyes - a tribute to the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

/via Fire Tech Camp

Source: http://quib.ly/qu/five-secrets-about-five-...

The Dark Knight's Tumbler in LEGO

Take on the challenge of building The Tumbler, an amazingly cool LEGO® model of the iconic vehicle from the Batman™ The Dark Knight Trilogy. Construct this black armored vehicle highlighted with new color LEGO® elements and brand new LEGO front wheels. Check out the cool, detailed interior and adjustable top wings. Includes 2 new and exclusive minifigures: Batman™ and The Joker.

Worth it for the Heath Ledger "Joker" minifig alone, in my opinion. It might be a bit pricey, but it'll look awesome sitting between the Delorean and ECTO-1.

Plus - how happy does this guy look?

"It was built for the movie without thinking that someone would want to build it out of LEGO."

"It was built for the movie without thinking that someone would want to build it out of LEGO."