Category Archives: Geeks

Celebrate Comic Con + Black History Month with Legend of the Mantamaji

In honor of Black History Month and Hill Top’s annual Comic Con (this Saturday!), here’s a new addition to our comics and graphic novel collection by award-winning African- American television director and author, Eric Dean Seaton, called Legend of the Mantamaji: Book 1. This action-packed adventure series follows Elijah Alexander, an ambitious New York City Assistant District Attorney, who learns that he is the last of the Mantamaji, an ancient race of warrior-knights who protected humanity from evil. Sydney Spencer is a brilliant detective chasing a mysterious gang that nobody else believes exists. Naturally, their worlds collide as both are drawn into an epic war with the fate of the world in the balance. Just like our world, the world of comics is becoming increasingly diverse, with women and people of color taking leading roles – and that’s a good thing. In Seaton’s words, books like these prove that “Everyone can be a hero.” Check out the display in the Hill Top library for a selection of awesome contemporary comics as you get your Comic Con on.

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Fold Paper, Listen to Audiobooks, You Will

Today is Star Wars Day! So, grab a Star Wars themed book. We’ve got a bunch. The Shakespeare 20160504_092700editions. Novels of the movies. Jedi Academy. But I do love the Origami Yoda series (as evidenced by the poster in front of the circulation desk).

Want to make your own origami figures for Star Wars day? Then grab Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling. Learn to draw speedy versions of your favorite Star Wars characters (pre-The Force Awakens). Or make your own origami cast (although you may need the novels to get origami instructions for all the characters). If you make any, be sure to stop by and show us!

Another exciting thing about today…it’s Sync ’16 Eve! Sync is the program that offers free audiobook download all summer long. Two books each week based on a theme. Each yeaSYNCHEAD-150x150r they add more titles and start the program earlier. This year…it starts tomorrow. The first two books are The Great Tennessee Monkey Trail and Vivian Apple at the End of the World. Each Thursday two new books will go up on the site. Once downloaded, they’re yours to keep. So take advantage. There are some ah-maze-ing books this summer. You can see the whole list here. Or grab a flyer from the library or at Mrs. Neft’s desk.

The Hour of Code – in Books

This week, Hill Top is participating in The Hour of Code. I had a blast yesterday helping some angry birds crush some evil pigs and helping some zombies stomp some plants.

Of course, there are some great books with coding at their heart. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline is the first one that comes to mind. The story begins when the creator of OASIS, a virtual reality world where most people work and play, dies with no heirs. But, as a true child of the 80’s who was raised on Atari, he has left three easter eggs in OASIS. Whoever finds them first, will inherit his legacy. The battle is on between the gamers, who are pure in their quest, and the corporations who are seeking dominance in the OASIS. This is a great book with lots of really fun 80’s references, which I will be happy to explain to anyone.220px-Ready_Player_One_cover
Feed by M. T. Anderson has one of my favorite opening lines, “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” Imagine all the digital information you could want installed in a chip in your brain. Need to call someone? Just bring them up in your thoughts. Like that sweatshirt your friend is wearing? The feed can show you where to buy it and how much it will cost. But what happens if you have an inferior implant or if someone is able to upload a virus to your feed? (This book gets bonus points for sending kids to school to learn how to make their beds!)
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Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is an updated version of George Orwell’s 1984. When a group of gamers are caught on the streets of San Francisco during a terrorist attack, they’re taking to Alcatraz (aka Little Gitmo) and questioned by the government. Even after being released, they’re still being tracked and watched. In oreder to find out what happened to a friend who didn’t return from Alcatraz, Marcus (aka W1n5t0n) sets up the XNET, a subnetwork that is not monitored by the government that runs off XBox. Lots and lots of good gaming, coding, and hacking content in this story. Best of all, if you enjoy reading on an ereader, you can get a copy of the book for free from Doctorow’s website (you can actually download all of his books, including Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother).
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Finally, there’s James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds. Michael and his friends are known in the VirtNet for being serious gamers and hackers. Their skills are so well known that when another hacker starts kidnapping and killing people in “the sleep,” VirtNet Security recruits them to find the rogue hacker and stop him. Dashner is fantastic at telling a story and knows how to build tension really well. I’m in the middle of the audiobook right now and I’m totally hooked. The only downside is that this is the first book in a series, and the next book doesn’t come out until next year. Ugh.
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Arrrgggg…It’s Mrs. ARG’s favorite day!

My initials just happen to be ARG, so is it any wonder that I love International Talk Like a Pirate Day?

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I also happen to be a huge fangirl for author A. S. King. Just come to Children’s Book World when she’s there and see me go all agog.

So, today, two of my favorite things come together. A. S. King’s first book is The Dust of 100 Dogs, about a modern teenager who used to be a pirate. As a pirate, she was killed and cursed with the dust of 100 dogs, meaning she had to live out the lives of 100 dogs before she could be human again. Well, she’s human now and remembers where her treasure is. So all she needs is a way to get to Jamaica.

This has to be the absolute BEST book trailer I have come across, ever.

Teen Tech Week Reads

To start the week out, we’ve got John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. Colin’s a child prodigy, but when it comes to dating, he’s no smarter than a 5th grader. Colin has managed to be dumped by 18 girls, all named Katherine. He and his friend Hassan (who is not a terrorist) go on a roadtrip, and Colin decides to put his genius to work on developing a mathematical formula to help decide how long a relationship will last and who will dump whom. And it’s all complicated when he meets a girl named…Lindsey.

Teen Tech Week bonus…Colin has a mnemonic for remembering the first 99 digits of pi.

Today’s book is M.T. Anderson’s Feed, imagine your computer, phone, MP3 player, and ereader all on one chip, and that chip is embedded in your brain. Need to know the square root of pi? Just think about it and the calculator function gives you the answer. Like that sweatshirt your friend is wearing? You’ll have purchasing options right away. In this world, you don’t need to learn facts at school…you need to learn to make your bed (yeah, all the world’s info is on a chip in your brain, but beds still need to be made manually).

When all of this tech is in your head, what happens when someone releases a virus?

NASA’s Mission to Mars and Curiosity

So, this sort of relates to John Green’s letter. He talks about “landing a Mini Cooper on Mars.” And in particular, he calls out Adam Steltzner, the Lead Engineer for Entry Descent and Landing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (in other words…he’s responsible for Curiosity not crashing on the surface of Mars.)

Last week, Marty Moss-Cohane, who hosts the show Radio Times on WHYY interviewed Mr. Steltzner as well as Frank Hartman, who is the Curiosity driver (he controls the rover by remote). I picked this because 1) the whole Curiosity thing is just so stinkin’ cool; and 2) part way through the show, she asks them about education and what they were like as students. You’d think two guys who work at The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and have designed and are responsible for placing a rover on Mars would be top guys in their class and have degrees from fancy-schmancy colleges, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Steltzner talks about how he just wasn’t a good student in high school. And Hartman started out as an engineering student at Drexel, but dropped out to go to art school. His background…game design. The interview’s a little long, but download it, put it on your iPod and listen on the bus or in the car on your way to school one day. I promise, it’s really interesting.

NASA’s Mission to Mars and Curiosity.

Geeky Careers Continued

Tuesday we will have our 3rd Skype session on Geeky Careers. Mr. Bill Welcher, a naval architect, will join us at 11.45 to talk about what he does and how he ended up doing it. Not sure what a naval architect does? Check out this video from the Science Channel’s How It’s Made. The computer screens you see during the piece are actually Mr. Welcher’s computer!