18 December 2011

Last-minute gift ideas for clever 4-6 yr olds


I'll spare you the one-sentence descriptions. Ideas for holiday gifts for the just-past-little ones:

Toysmith 4M Tin Can Robot [amazon]
Quirkle [amazon]
Hardy Boys
Rory's Story Cubes [amazon]
Howtoons [amazon]
Alex My Art Spinner [amazon]
a bracelet-making kit
Milan art kits [Milan - click "products" etc]
a visit to Parts and Crafts [Somerville]
Praxinoscope kit [amazon]
Strobotop Lightphase Animator [amazon]
box of assorted, instruction-less Legos
chess board
a visit to a planetarium
Lincoln Logs [amazon]
Playmobil Large pirate ship [$! amazon]

...any other ideas?


08 December 2011

Google Street View Car up-close

Hey map-or-optics-lovers,

What's got 15 cameras, three laser scanners, and a very friendly driver? The Google Street View car, which took a little rest this afternoon near the offices of Optics for Hire (Arlington, MA).

This is Almina, who is in the midst of driving west from Boston in towards Arlington and beyond. Her co-worker's car's cameras bumped into something, so Almina is covering any missed areas. There are black non-slip treads on the car's roof because, every morning, Almina walks up onto the car and sets the system up. At night, she covers the optics and has to be careful about the weather. Sometimes, she is asked to drive under underpasses that are too low for the vehicle. Just to be safe, she drives certain routes in her own car before carefully re-driving the route in the Street View car. She said the overpass at the Esplanade is too too low for the car.

The car is sporting 15 or so cameras and what I think are three Class 1 laser-based depth scanners. Peering inside the window, I could see a few computers, a router, and other stuff. A wide bank of cables enters the passenger-side rear window through a couple of big connectors.

Her next mission? Wait for the snow, because Google wants her to drive around to show people "snowy New England."