Educational Games to Make Learning Fun

This is by far, the most popular and basic category of toys for young children. Small blocks made of soft material are ideal for an infant. They love to look at it, more so, if they are brightly colored. They like to hold and squeeze the blocks and this activity enhances the grip and strengthens the hand muscles. The advantages of building blocks as playthings are as follows:

Imaginative skills are sharpened:

For a preschooler, blocks provide ample opportunities to build towers, animals and houses, using imaginative skills.

Team spirit:

Building blocks played in a group are more enjoyable and the best means to teach the little one to share and co-operate with others. This also inculcates team spirit in children at a very young age.

Physical strength:

Carrying the wooden blocks and placing them in the appropriate place enhances physical strength. The toddler will lift the blocks and eventually learn to balance them.

Sharpens the creative bend of mind:

Building blocks and tiles help in constructing pillars, houses and castles. This is indeed a creative activity which boosts the artistic and inventive traits of a child.

Educational puzzles:

Educational puzzles make problem solving a fun to do activity. The simple ones teach numerical and alphabetical concepts while the complex puzzles teach various other educational concepts which are hard to comprehend.

The type of puzzle depends on the age of the child. Easy to solve and colorful puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, complex structure building are ideal for infants, preschoolers and elementary school kids respectively. Brainteasers are a much loved leisure activity for people of diverse age groups.

Computer games – an educational toy:

In today’s computer age, you cannot afford to be left behind with non computerized games for your little one. Moderate exposures to an array of video games that add value to the learning process are mandatory. Games that help them learn the alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes are ideal for a young child. Cartoon motion pictures or easy to score video games are apt for a preschooler. It provides an overview of the wide curriculum that is in store.

Children in the age group of 7-10 will find computer games that incorporate education concepts fascinating. It is an exemplary ‘learn as you play’ educational game. The very Indian Tata Sky is a good option for school going children in India, as they can avail the ‘Active Learning’ option and get smart. Fables and fairy tales are also featured in the gadget which makes learning fun.

Apart from the toys mentioned above; bead mazes, other building toys and art and music toys are fun to play with. Electronic toys with music option have an entertainment quotient attached. So get hold of the ideal toys for your little one, and let them learn as they play.

Take Away From Google I/O 2013 – All Androids Are Equal!

Introduction

Time was when Google developer conferences buzzed around Google Maps, Web tool kit and so on. But from the last conference onwards the limelight was on Android, and Chrome in that order. Perhaps the humongous opportunity resting in smartphones has sunk deep into Google. A fact acknowledged by Larry Page himself when he quipped that he would like to run the company via his smartphone.

Google has sought to integrate its other products with Android and update them in Android without having to update Android to match them in compatibility.

Updates

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Android aficionados do see a silver lining out of the limited Android updates. Blogs are rife with how features introduced from this edition onwards don’t necessarily need an update in the OS. It provides fodder for agreement as the basic premise for changing an OS’ version is to enable it to play all the applications, be it ancient or futuristic. The various versions and configurations (of individual mobile hardware companies like Samsung, HTC, Sony etc) of Android were creating considerable firewalls to updating even the proprietary Google apps; apps that provide the quintessential Android experience. Google via its feature update, effectively tackles the problem of fragmentation as Google+, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play, apps that are present in Android from versions Froyo onwards a well as Google Music All Access that are to be introduced now can all reside in versions Froyo onwards without need of an update. It seems the issue of fragmentation has been hopefully nailed.

Android Studio: this update does have the name android stamped on it! Meaning, it is Android specific. News is that Google plans to introduce Android Studio to replace the existing Eclipse developer environment for Android apps. Google collaborated with JetBrains to create the Android Studio. Of course this development has some loose ends to tie up, yet Google feels this IDE when launched would help Android developers increase their productivity. Here’s how it could help:

  • It combines capabilities of Maven and Ant to build flexible and variedly flavored solutions.
  • Excellent code editing capabilities including finding inline resources and Android specific customizations. It is boosted by advanced editor UI that enables drag-drop of widgets, simulate output view in different hardware configurations and even preview while editing in XML.
  • Provides deep analytical capability to identify all sorts of bugs
  • Provides wizards based on preset templates and also access to other Google services.
  • Provides for easy migration of projects from Eclipse (as export) or import into Studio (of existing Eclipse IDE projects).

Google has, like Android OS, made Android Studio free and open source which could be the sweetener.

Google Play: Android developers can use the Google Play services to procure the desired APIs to construct maps, games or social media (read Google+) on Android devices (mobiles or tablets).

Gaming: entertainment is moving to handheld devices by droves putting a premium on providing the same user experience as in computer/gaming console. Google has stepped up the user experience by introducing the following features:

  • Leaderboards: a maximum of 100 leaderboards, both public and social, is provided to enable developers engage users by letting them compare scores with other players. Leaderboards are created automatically for daily, weekly, monthly or customized versions.
  • Rewards system: developers can reward users for engaging in the game by providing standard or incremental achievements that can be viewed in a user interface. The can use the developer consoles to control the achievements.
  • Google provides the Cloud Saving APIs to save game status and settings on cloud.
  • Developers can allow users to invite other players to the game or play with random users with the maximum limit pegged at 4.

Google facilitates the development of location aware apps by providing the following APIs:

Geofencing APIs: this API is used to define geographical boundaries. It also provides the following options:

  • to create alert filters for customers exiting a particular area
  • alter updates of location in response to locomotion habit(like walking, riding or driving)of the customer (see Activity recognition API)
  • add or delete geographical boundaries

Fused location provider: this API uses underlying schema to provide the apt results to your query on locations, even complex level queries. It is quick, versatile and utilizes lesser battery power.

Activity recognition provider: this API uses power sensors to detect the customer’s current activity, for example, driving, walking, riding idling etc. This is used in tandem with the Geofencing API to provide the apt updates to the customer.

Single Sign-on via Google+: accounting for the fact that users change mobile devices often and that these devices may run different OS, Google provides the API to sign in via Google+ in any device. This obliterates the need to make services like Google Wallet, Games, Plus device specific. There are libraries for these services that respond to the auto sign request using their method.

Google Cloud Messaging: Google has made it possible to register apps using its Single Method. It also provides for messaging to 3rd party servers via its bi-directional messaging (XMPP) using Cloud Connection Server. Users can synchronize notifications across devices using Google’s APIs for user notification.

Google Play Developer Console: Google has been supporting its huge Android developer community and this year’s conference added the fillip to it.

App Translation Service: The localization support team from Google enables you to avail translation services for a nominal fee and post the strings to be translated in the language of your choice. If required it prompts the apt localization sting in the app graphics, APK or the About the product sections. This eventually helps developers reach out to a wider audience.

Analytics and Monetization: Keep a track on the performance of an app just become easier. Google Play and Google Analytics provide complementing services like app views and downloads and engagement metrics.

Google has introduced the order status API to let developers view the order status of an in-app from their servers. It has also decided not to charge test accounts for in-app test purchases.

Alpha and Beta testing and Staged Rollouts: Google has added the alpha-beta testing to let developers split their apps into two versions, alpha and beta, and get them tested by different user groups. If needed, testers for Google+ can also be added to test these versions.

Developers can henceforth roll-out updates only, to their apps to a batch of users to gauge their feedback. Developers can set the percentage of users who would be using the update.

Verdict

Perhaps for those expecting Android only chants at the Google I/O 2013, it might be a dampener. But for those familiar with the maverick that Google is will vouch the shrewd way it’s gone about indulging Android community. Updates to Google Play, its services, launch of the Android Studio, cloud messaging and ability to sign into Google services sans OS or hardware requirements are significant game changers. In short, it is about updating features sans the need to update OS.

Google’s I/O 2013 was an Android winner, in a hush hush way!

*Androider= a fan of Android who swears by it anytime, anywhere!

Why a PC is Better Than a Mac

Lately Apple has gained a lot of popularity everywhere. Many people are talking about switching from windows to mac; and I have been in countless arguments over which is better. (Note: I will write an article later about why Macs are better than PCs just to be fair).

7 Reasons a PC is Better than a Mac:

1. Customisability

PCs are infinitely more customisable than Macs. It is very simple to build your own computer, choosing the exact parts you need to suit your needs. There are infinite combinations and choice when it comes to making a PC. If you don’t want to make one, there are heaps of people who will make one for you to suit your own needs. Retailers such as Dell and HP also offer many options to customise a PC. Macs however are very limited. They often don’t use the latest hardware for about a year while PCs have already had them. You don’t see any Macs with Core i7’s inside them. Any extras you want to add on will cost you a fortune for example adding an extra 4GB of RAM will cost you around $800 but if you had a PC, a similar upgrade for 4GB of DDR3 will cost a maximum of $200 but can be had for $150. This makes a PC much more affordable. There is so much choice out there as to parts that you can make it look however you want. Apple only offers a few variations of their computers with little customisation options at a price set way too high. Not to mention the premium you pay for the Apple logo.

2. Hardware and Software Compatibility

Many people argue that Macs have enough software to keep them going. The fact is that if you have a PC, you have way more options. You have more choice when it comes to any software or hardware. Basically every piece of software compatible with Mac is compatible with PC (except for the software made by Apple). PC has way more choice when it comes to games and any game on a PC will run better if you have a newer computer as the newest Macs have outdated Hardware. Mac users will always have to always check if the hardware or software they are buying is compatible with Mac. Yes, you can run Windows on a Mac but what is the point. If you are going to use Windows for everything then you might as well just buy a PC. Not to mention all the Office software for Mac is incredibly hard to use and completely illogical. Some basic commands which can easily be found on the Windows version of Office are incredibly difficult to find on a Mac. Not to mention Mac users don’t get the slick new Ribbon interface of Office 2007.

3. Full Operating Systems

Apple charges its customers for minor updates to its Operating Systems (also known as Service Packs). Microsoft gives these out for free and only charges users for a completely new operating system. This will significantly add to the cost of your Mac if you plan to upgrade every time Apple releases a new version of OS X. The new features which are given in these updates are pretty insignificant and none have overhauled the OS. Is it really worth the price tag?

4. Windows Explorer is Way More Powerful

Windows Explorer offers a lot more features than finder. It offers cut and paste to easily move files around as well as offering window resizing from all corners or edges instead of just one. Not to mention it is much more easier to quit a program in Windows than Mac by simply pressing the X button instead of Command+Q. Apple’s maximise button doesn’t even work properly.

5. Support

There are many more PC users than Mac users. This makes it very easy for anyone with problems to find someone to help them. Many people know a lot about PCs however Apple’s community is limited and there are much fewer places where you can get help from. Apple support also has a history of denying a problem exists even if it clearly does. Not to mention warranty for Dells and HPs cost a lot less than Apple’s Applecare.

6. OEM

Microsoft offers the OEM version of their operating system for much cheaper than the retail pack. Apple does not sell OEMs. Vista Ultimate used to retail for $799 but at the same time, the OEM cost around $280. This gives system builders much lower costs when compared to Apple’s computers and when referring back to point one, much more customisable as well.

7. Deleting Shortcuts actually works

Apple has a very visual OS while Windows is more intuitive and logical. For example when you want to delete desktop shortcuts, you can just hit the delete key. When you want to do this on a Mac, you need to drag the icon to the trash can. It makes a cool effect but it is so irritating. The menu bar on the Mac is also really irritating. When you minimise a program, the menu bar stays there which also becomes annoying when trying access other things on for example Finder. This makes using a Mac a real pain to use.