This week is the Hour of Code. At some point you will all be meeting with Mrs. Falcone to try your hand at coding. If you want to try something before you meet with her, or if you find you really like coding and want a travel version, there’s Lightbot.
The Lightbot One Hour Coding is a free app available on both iOS and Android. The point is very simple. Use the commands to create a program that has a robot walk to and light up certain tiles. It’s easy. It’s fun. The robot is cute. And the game helps you where you make a mistake. The free version features 18 puzzle levels to work through.
If you really like it, you may want to try the full version of the app, which is $2.99 (iOs and Android). The object is still the same, but features 50 levels to work through.
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.
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!)
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).
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.