Lego Master Builder Academy Trains Future Builders

You know Lego Master Builders — or at least you know their work. They are the geniuses who design the Lego sets you buy in the store. Now, Lego has cleverly turned the Master Builder designation into a series of lessons on Lego-building called the Master Builder Academy.

The Academy consists of a three-year run of models, delivered by subscription every two months. Individually, each kit is nothing really amazing — the first is a space ship model with a mere 178 parts. However, the instructions contain the true value of the product. In addition to the standard building step-by-steps, each booklet has tons of Lego building techniques, the sort of material most adult Master Builders had to learn on their own or by reading AFOL forums. For instance, one instruction includes the use of an L-shaped brick. A footnote mentions that this is to add structural support. Nearly every page of the instruction book has one or more of these tips. There’s even a dedicated MBA site with additional resources.

The Lego models that come in the MBA series are decent, small-scale models, not gigantic headliners but modestly challenging smaller kits. Intriguingly, each can be built into three different models, adding value to the product and encouraging kids to learn to use bricks in different ways.

Kit 1 is a trio of rocket ships, kit 2 teaches microbuilding, where you use as few bricks as possible to build your creation. Kit 3 builds three types of robot, kit 4 are airplane models as well as an exclusive MBA minifig! Kit 5 are animals and kit 6 are race cars.

The targeted audience of the Academy is kids 8 and up, and the skill level of the first set (the only one I’ve seen) seems spot on for this age group. Though honestly, what adult Lego fan wouldn’t want to become an official Master Builder?

Pricewise, the way it works is that you buy the first set for $29.99 and from there subscribe for the rest of the year for $69.99, giving you five more sets for a total of six. The total price of around $100 for nearly a thousand elements and over 400 pages of Lego lore sounds spot on.

Before And After of the Day

Before And After of the Day

Before And After of the Day: Missourian Aaron Fuhrman — a self-taught landscape photographer — has been traveling around Joplin, photographing heartrending panoramic shots of the devastation left in the aftermath of Sunday’s tornado.

Fuhrman lined up one of these panoramic photos with a Google Street View screencap of the same intersection to illustrate the comprehension-challenging extent of damage caused by the twister.

[buzzfeed.]

Tagged: Before And After, Joplin, Joplin Tornado

Comedian Turns Pledge-a-Picket Tactic on Westboro Baptist Church Protesters

Back in 2005, Levitt wrote about Planned Parenthood’s clever strategy in response to people picketing one of its clinics in Philadelphia. The tactic, known as Pledge-a-Picket, worked like this: for every protester that picketed the clinic, people pledged to donate a certain amount of money (minimum 10 cents). The event raised a reported $40,000, and is now a part of the clinic’s annual calendar.

At the time, Levitt predicted that abortion clinics around the country would soon adopt the approach. It turns out, so has comedian Lisa Lampenelli. The Daily What reports:

Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean Lisa Lampanelli made good on her promise to donate $1,000 to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis for every Westboro Baptist Church member who showed up to protest her recent stand-up show in Topeka, taking to Twitter after the show to say “Thanks to these a-holes, $44,000 will be donated to the GMHC!!!”

She later bumped it up by $6k, tweeting “WBC inbreds counted 48 protesters, so I won’t quibble. I’ll make it an even $50,000!!!”

Best part? The donation will be made in the hate group’s name. Thanks WBC!

Fox Cancels 'Human Target,' 'Lie to Me,' 'The Chicago Code' and More

Shared by Adam Fort

Once again FOX. Why do I even bother ever watching your network.

Filed under: ,

Fox logoIt’s that time of year again, the upfronts, when TV networks decide which shows live and which shows die. This year Fox has become the first network to announce which shows are being culled, and it’s bad news for Christian Slater. Again…

Fox announced that it’s cancelling five of its live action shows: 'Human Target,' Lie to Me,' 'The Chicago Code,' 'Traffic Light' and 'Breaking In.' It also dropped the ax on some of its drama pilots, including the much talked-about 'Locke & Key' and 'Exit Strategy.'

Angry fans turned to Twitter to vent as the news broke late Tuesday, with ‘Human Target’ fans being among the most vocal. In fact, according to THR, they tweeted so vociferously that the show became a Top 10 trending topic.

 

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Fox Cancels ‘Human Target,’ ‘Lie to Me,’ ‘The Chicago Code’ and More

Filed under: ,

Fox logoIt’s that time of year again, the upfronts, when TV networks decide which shows live and which shows die. This year Fox has become the first network to announce which shows are being culled, and it’s bad news for Christian Slater. Again…

Fox announced that it’s cancelling five of its live action shows: 'Human Target,' Lie to Me,' 'The Chicago Code,' 'Traffic Light' and 'Breaking In.' It also dropped the ax on some of its drama pilots, including the much talked-about 'Locke & Key' and 'Exit Strategy.'

Angry fans turned to Twitter to vent as the news broke late Tuesday, with ‘Human Target’ fans being among the most vocal. In fact, according to THR, they tweeted so vociferously that the show became a Top 10 trending topic.

 

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Databases hacked, your identity jacked!

Shared by Adam Fort

Mint, this is a really bad headline to post on your official blog. Note, some people only see the headlines either physically (by rss feed, Facebook, or other means) or mentally (idiot).

Photo: iStockphoto

It seems we can’t go more than a few weeks without our personal information being compromised by a massive data breach.  Last week it was the New York Yankees.  The week before it was the Sony PlayStation network.  And a few weeks before Sony it was Epsilon.  And just to make sure I don’t leave anyone out…now it looks like LastPass (online storage for your passwords) may have been the target of hackers. Each of these high profile data breaches has one thing in common…we had nothing to do with it.

If you believe the marketing ads we’re all just one step away from living in our parent’s basement, working at fast food restaurants, having our credit reports and scores trashed, and even being falsely arrested.  The FTC’s top consumer complaint in 2010 (for the 11th straight year) was identity theft.  The marketing push seems to be parallel to the statistics but really, other than buying a bunch of credit monitoring services what are we supposed to do?

We’ve all heard the tired advice from experts (including this one) about how to avoid being an identity theft victim.  Shred your sensitive documents instead of just throwing them away.  Check your credit reports several times each year.  And, beware of Phishing, Vishing, Spear Phising, Skimming, RFID Hacking, dumpster diving and mail theft. You need a separate dictionary just to understand all of the ways these dirt bags are trying to scam you.

Other than shredding sensitive documents, making sure your mail doesn’t sit in your box too long, checking your credit reports from time to time, making sure your passwords are complex, and using a little advanced common sense (No, you don’t have a friend stuck in the UK looking for $2,000 to come home) we should be pretty safe from identity thieves.  But what if mega-companies who are entrusted with our sensitive information are not good stewards of the data?  Seriously, what’s more likely to happen…someone stealing old checkbook registers from your garbage or Sony being hacked?

It’s a solution-less problem because you can’t remove yourself from “the system.”  Think about how many places maintain your sensitive information.  Frequent flyer accounts, your tax prep services, your CPA, hotel chains, retailers, banks, brokerage firms, newspapers, employers, credit card issuers, home owner’s associations, insurance companies, airline clubs, domain registrars, public utilities, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, mySpace, email service providers…our data is everywhere.  Look at the list of bookmarks in your browser.  How many of those places have your information?  Almost all of them, I bet?

We certainly can’t exit the system and we certainly can’t expect companies to be impenetrable.  What we can do is to be a little less lazy about our login credentials, for example.  We tend to use the same login credentials for multiple online accounts. That makes the Sony breach problematic because login credentials might have been stolen.

And it’s not just credit card numbers or login credentials that put us at risk.  Take the Epsilon breach for example.  You’ve probably never heard of Epsilon but they manage email campaigns for scores of companies to the tune of about 60 million email addresses.  And I’m not talking about John’s Garage.  I’m talking about Chase, TiVo, Best Buy, Disney, Marriott, Hilton, Citi, Ameriprise and dozens of other widely recognized companies.

The hackers now have email addresses for millions of consumers, which makes Spear Phising (email fraud perpetrated on a homogenous group) a possibility.  To make matters worse, the people who hacked the Epsilon database are criminals, but they’re not stupid criminals.  They know the heat is on and the value on the data black market is less than what it will be in 2 years when everyone has forgotten about Epsilon.

The bottom line is we’re vulnerable, both in the electronic and physical worlds.  And regardless of how much time we spend running documents through shredders there will always be exposure.  I’m afraid the best we can do is to make ourselves a little less attractive than our neighbors by being smarter and more careful than they are.

Gotta run, I just got an email from TiVo telling me my service is going to get cut off unless I confirm my credit card information at their site.  It’s a good thing they sent me a link in their email.  Now, where’s my wallet?

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of Mint.com or Intuit.

 

 

 

HTTP Status Codes: The Teen Years

I recently asked a web server for something and it responded like a teenager:

403 Forbidden: The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it.

I thought the description of this status code was a joke, but no, it’s right there in the HTTP specification. Here are some others that you won’t find there:

200 OK: Are you happy now?

202 Accepted: I’ll do it tomorrow.

206 Partial Content: I’ll do the rest of it tomorrow.

301 Moved Permanently: It’s not my job.

305 Use Proxy: I can’t remember, ask mom.

401 Unauthorized: You’re not the boss of me.

404 Not Found: Why does everybody always ask me for that?

410 Gone: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

417 Expectation Failed: I thought you were going to put gas in the car.

500 Internal Server Error: I’m not allowed to make a mistake?