My Consumer News

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Environmental Products

This past weekend I went to the PA Sustainability Fesitval and was exposed to vast amounts of knowledge about technology involving the Environmental community. There were numerous vendors for Solar Power, Corn stoves, recycled products, bio diesel, and many organic farms. To see a more detailed write up about the festival go to the festival site listed above or go to Earthinhandcornstoves Blog.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Enoun Directory

Just came across this relatively new directory Find a Person, Place or Thing! - Enoun provides local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events. The teacher in me just likes the use of the parts of speach use for the title. I will have to keep an eye on this site as it develops.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Lego Mindstorm | Robotic Toys

Early last week, my son asked me if he could take robotics as a 6th grade elective. I said that sounded like a good idea. However, there were two little problems. First, he had forgotten the sign up form at school, and second it cost a couple hundred bucks in supplies. As it turns out, the class was full, so he will have to wait for the next quarter.
Anyway, I began to do a little research on his schools robotics class, and as it turns out his school like many others is using the Lego Mindstorm for their Robotics class. These kits are going for around $250. A little further surfing, and I came to the Wired Magazine(Feb 2006)article"Geeks in Toyland and" which tells the story about how Lego developed the new Lego Mindstorm NXT with the aid of unpaid Mindstorm fans.
The orignal Mindstorm, according to the blog,, came out in 1998. Apparently, it was very complicated to use, and often times was abandoned due to frustration while trying to understand the programing code. An experienced Mindstorm 2.0(2001) enthusiast can build a robot in about an hour, the new Mindstorm NXT allows users to easily make a working robot in about 20 minutes. The new code is said to be a lot more user friendly.
For a detailed comparison of the 2.0 and NXT, see the article in Wired magazine entitled "Geeks in Toyland"
While comparison shopping for a kit for my son, I discovered some Mindstorm kits being sold on Ebay for as little as $180. With shipping it comes to over $200, but still less than $250. Of course it is on ebay, so when bidding, you must read closely. I would hate to win one, and find out it does not work and also discover it was an "as is" auction.
Next I came across a site,, that sells not only Mindstorm NXT, and other Lego products, but unlike ebay, Dreamalong has a 30 and 60 day return policy on all of its toys to include Lego products. This sounds like the perfect place to do my Christmas shopping for next year.