GeekDump #12: 29 Mar, 2011

Today's GeekDump examines the nerdy side of the net after the fold.

  • The Straight Dope is a website I wish I had learned about a long time ago. If you are a constant reader, then you've heard me extol the virtues of MythBusters more than once; to which Cecil Adams's website is similar (though with more researching and less blowing things up and shooting guns). I'd say it's probably a lot more similar to Snopes in that they focus more on common misconceptions than urban myths (though Snopes has lately seem to taken affection for viral videos and chain email letters). They say that good things come in threes, but I hope to be made aware of any other good rational skepticism sites/casual science sites that may be out there.
  • I remember as a kid having several of those handheld LCD games. Perhaps it was a symptom of being too poor to afford a Super Nintendo, or just because the parents and grandparents didn't think there was a difference, but I went through coin batteries like it was cool. Pica Pic has digital incarnations in Flash, though the selection is a tad odd. Aside from the dominant Tiger and Game & Watch platforms, there seem to be a lot of obscure ones as well, including a few that are in Russian (or something similarly Cyrillic).
  • I've mentioned QWOP before. Well, here's the big brother: GIRP. Instead of controlling individual leg muscles to run a race, you climb a rock wall by choosing handholds (it took me longer than I'd like to admit that they letters correspond to your keyboard keys) and a muscle button. While it does require some forethought and more hand-eye coordination that you'd expect, it's at least possible to solve without being lame.
  • Minecraft! We loves it! YAY!
  • More eloquently, I love the pure sandbox and creative release. I prefer to play the creative mode to focus on building rather than resource gathering, but I digress. this fellow uses Minecraft in the classroom, and should be given an award for it. His students seem to be of the 1st or 2nd grade level, and his computer lab seems to be an elective (much like music or gym, as opposed to being the primary teacher responsible for a class). But I think it's a marvelous thing, because it teaches students not only the lesson plan (such as arithmetic or history or whatever), but also builds their computing skills, demands teamwork, develops critical thinking and planning (what should I mine, what should I bring, who should I go with?)
  • I like Minecraft, and I like video game-themed cakes. This mother took a 9th birthday party to a whole new level. That kind of creative effort for your child is impressive as heck.
  • Worth1000 holds building competitions. I've never heard of the website before, but they sure do have impressive submissions. Granted, you can find just as many amazing builds with a Google or YouTube search, but they are organized here. My favorites? German Battleship Bismarck, the island from Myst (infinitely better than the one from Lost), an NES nostalgia diorama, and the Hallelujah Mountains from Avatar (did I mention that Avatar is one of my favorite movies ever?). However, I have to single out this room based on M.C. Escher's stairs; it's awesome, but there is still potential there! I challenge readers to make more Escher-esque designs in Minecraft!
That's it for today, minions. I highly encourage you to submit Escher designs, and if I get any, I'll post them. Game on!

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