Category Archives: Technology

Trying out Connected Camps

Andy at ConnectedCamps
Photo-A-Day 2.0 #00668

We are working with Connected Camps on a review and so we have Andy in a 5 week course for creating Minecraft games. His course has been compensated and opinions of the program are our honest opinions.

About a month back I was working with the Dad 2.0 conference and there I learned about Connected Camps. I had wanted to find something for Andy as far as distance learning and he was fixated on Minecraft for the topic. Connected Camps has several different sessions all on Minecraft but not just on playing the game, rather how to learn to code or make video games or animate things with it. Andy is already a whiz at making structures on Minecraft and spends time watching how to videos on YouTube. I am very impressed with what he has made. He’s been asking for the XBox version of the game, which I have not gotten because the XBox is mine. So, instead he has the Nintendo Switch version, the Microsoft Windows 10 version and the Java version. He has the last one because that is the version that Connected Camps uses and he has the Windows 10 version because I did not fully read the Connected Camps directions. I just went and bought Minecraft for the PC. Had I thoroughly read the detailed instructions from Connected Camps first then I would not have made that mistake.

The Connected Camps programs are done through OutSchool which is something that we have used before. Eva has taken several courses through OutSchool and Andy has taken one. This has been a great resource during the pandemic and while Eva found some great stuff we didn’t find as much for Andy until I learned about Connected Camps.

Connected Camps offers a free online Minecraft server that is moderated by their expert online mentors. This is a safe environment where kids learn to work and play together online which is a great skill to have and is especially important for kids who are stuck at home and feeling isolated. I want Andy to be able to make new friends in a safe space.

The course that Andy is taking will get him building his own mini games in Minecraft. Today was his first class and I helped him get set up but once we connected with the online mentor for the class she guided him through everything else. I went back to sleep, or rather I tried to go back to sleep. I could hear Andy having a great time in the class. I am excited to see what he learns during this and look forward to him being able to pop in on the free server during the days and times when it is open. This past Halloween weekend they had the server up and running with all sorts of special events for the kids.

Connected Camps is not just Minecraft. They also work with Roblox, Fortnite, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros and more. There are courses on Astronomy, Engineering, YouTube video production and coding. You can see the overview of Connected Camps courses on their website. I hope that Andy continues to enjoy class and we can show you more of what he learns each week.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing

Photo-A-Day 2.0 #00561

A few weeks back our iMac died. This was a 2011 model that we had purchased soon after moving in. It served us quite well until the hard drive failed terribly. I spent time with the Apple folks on the phone and we determined that the drive was bad. I could have it fixed at a computer store that worked with older models like ours. I could not just go to an Apple Store and have them replace the hard drive because the model is one they no longer work on. Luckily everything except for one file was backed up. Unfortunately that was my Quicken file where I had a meticulous grasp on our finances through the software. Paying to have that one file recovered was out of the question.

Paying to have the computer fixed was also a bit out there for me. I looked out the model and hard drive replacement online and found a kit and a new hard drive for under $100. I figured that for $100, if it doesn’t work I’m not out too much money. If it does work then I don’t need to replace the family computer.

So, I took the computer apart. Andy watched because he wanted to see “the guts” of the computer. I think he was disappointed because he was expecting it to be more like guts, who knows. When I asked Eva to check it out she was way more excited about it. I put the computer back together after installing the new drive. Still wouldn’t work right, now I was unable to reinstall the OS. I figured I’d take it apart one more time and try something else which I did on Monday and that also did not work. I’m out of options. Did a lot of research and testing but hit a wall over and over.

So… Eva has a computer to tinker with and explore. She’s free to disassemble the entire thing any way she wants. Who knows, she may even find a way to get it working again. I may even bring up the MUCH older PC that is in the basement and see if she wants to take that apart as well. That one should still work.