The legendary Jeff Minter has released Gridrunner++, an updated version of his classic video game. Minter's games have always been very creative and fun; meeting him at CES (circa 1989) when he was showing off some of this creations at the Atari ST/TT display was a nice treat for me, way back when. I can't wait to fire up this new game -- for Mac and Windows, no less. It's like Christmas has come early!
I'm occasionally asked to recommend how an interested child can learn to become a magician. If you've started a youngster with a quality magic set, consider getting them a book to learn from. The cool props that come with a magic set are seductive to most any kid, but how much they enjoy a book on magic will tell you if they're likely to develop a lasting interest.
A good book to start with is Kids Make Magic by Ron Burgess. It's inexpensive, and appropriate for younger kids. In fact, a friend of mine uses it as the "textbook" for the magic classes he teaches for a park district during the summer.
If you know a boy or girl (especially a girl, the world needs more female magicians) that really shows some spark, then it's a good idea to pursue a magic class or personal instruction. Many local community education groups will offer magic classes during the summer, or check at your local magic shop (look in the phone book under "magician's supplies") for a referral.
If you'd like to get started with home automation, a great way to begin is to automatate your holiday lights. Read my article at the O'Reilly Network for more about what you'll need.
Mike Cassidy wrote a nice article about my automated home, for the San Jose Mercury News. It's a real treat to be able to spread the word about home automation, of course, but a nice side-effect has been all the old friends and colleagues who have reached out to say hello after seeing the article.
If you'd like to drop by and talk about Smart Home Hacks, come to Digital Guru, the excellent technical bookstore in Sunnyvale, California, on Wednesday, December 15th. I'll be there from 12:30PM to 1:30PM, and you'll be able to purchase a copy, if you're so kindly inclined, at 40% off the cover price. (And DigitalGuru is hosting a "stock up sale" until the end of the month, on O'Reilly and partner's titles, so it's a good time to load up on other techie books, too.)