Archive | November, 2013

Awesome Text Adventure Games

26 Nov

My dad was using my Raspberry Pi today doing all kinds of educational things with it . . . boooooring.  He played around in the Pi Store and downloaded educational manuals and stuff.  What a nerd!  But then I noticed a tab called “games”.  As we were scrolling through, there were modern games like facebook games and then one caught my eye.  It was a text-based game.


What would a 12-year old know about text-based games?  There was an episode of Big Bang Theory (my FAVORITE show) where Sheldon Cooper was trying to talk his friends into playing Zork on “Vintage Game Night.”  He explained that Zork was a text based game from way back that was incredibly fun.


Sheldon is one of my idols, so we downloaded the text adventure game and I’m playing it right now.  So, you type in simple commands like “Go North” or “Use Pitchfork” and the game tells you the results and then you choose what to do next.  But, you need to find food and water before you pass out from thirst and have to start over again.  In this game, you’re trying to find your grandson, Matthew.  There are stairs, rooms, cars, barns, a basement, each with items that you don’t know if you’re going to need or not.  And you’re only allowed to hold a certain number of items at a time.  If you come across an item that you think might be useful, you have to decide whether to drop something else to make room for it.


So far, I’ve played twice and I’ve passed out from thirst and I was attacked by rats in a dark tunnel.  Now, I’m drawing maps of all of my moves so that I can remember where the key and the locked door are.  This should help a lot.  I think that these text-based games are fun and I highly recommend that you try “The Abandoned Farmhouse Adventure.”


I also found a great website that lets you play the entire Zork trilogy through the internet, too.  Here’s the link:  


Here’s a YouTube video showing you how to install the Pi Store if you’re using an old version of Linux:

Minecraft Adventure Part 2- The Reinstallation

22 Nov

Today was tough, more long clock-ticking hours of trying to download minecraft on my raspberry pi. I am very determined to get minecraft on the pi, because I know I can, I know that it’s possible, I’ve done it before (see my blog here).  But then, it fell apart.  It stopped working.  I downloaded it again, installed it, played it for a few seconds, and it would crash the whole Pi.  When I would restart the Pi, Minecraft wasn’t even there!  So, I downloaded it again.  And it crashed again.  And it disappeared again.  And so the cycle continued for hours.  I had a feeling that I could just re-image the memory card and start over, but I HATE doing that.  It takes hours of typing in Linux commands.  So, I put my Raspberry Pi away for a couple of months and moved on to other things.

But, when I was in Washington D.C. (read about that adventure here),  Eben Upton told me that there is a new version of raspbian, and that it should fix all of the problems that I had explained to him and that he read about on my blog.  So, I decided that tonight is the night, I’ll reimage, reinstall, and play.  Good thing I blog about my Raspberry Pi adventures because I had to go through all of my old posts to remember how to image, how to connect to wifi, how to upgrade, how to update, and how to install Minecraft.  All of the problems that I had the first time in my blog, I had again.  It took 30 minutes to connect to wifi.  Minecraft didn’t work the first 6 times I downloaded it.  For me, adafruit’s instructions worked better using the wget command.  The instructions had me download the file and try to extract it.  Extracting never worked until I used wget instead of going to the download site in Midori.  Here’s the site that I now recommend:

But much worse than all of that . . . Minecraft just crashed on me.  But, I rebooted and I’m running it again.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  So far, so good.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!  It froze again . . . I’m going to break this keyboard in half.  Wait . . . it just came back kinda.  But there’s an error message that says, “DBus error org.gtk.Private.RemoteVolumeMonitor.NotFound: The given volume was not found”  I don’t know if these two are related at all, but I’m going to try to click OK and see what happens.

OK, when I read that message, I moved Minecraft to Desktop 2 and it disappeared again.  So, I ran it again.  This time, I tried to see if I could join a game running on my iPod.  That didn’t work.  So, I just started a regular game.  I’ve been playing now for about 10 minutes and it has frozen a couple of times but not permanently.  One time, the “w” key seemed to be stuck and I had to restart the game.  But it is letting me build and saving my progress.  It’s taking up most of the processing power on the little meter in the corner, so that might be why it keeps freezing.  I only overclocked it to the lowest level.  But I don’t know if overclocking makes it worse because it’s going faster and will fill up the processing meter.  Or if it will make it better because it’s going fast and the processing meter will never reach the top.  I guess I have to do some experiments.

I’ve now been playing for about 20 minutes without a crash!  Yes!  I just wish that there were creepers.  So, I think it’s stable now but it took me 3 hours to get to this point.

My 3-D Printer Experience

20 Nov

I made a dinosaur!  My dad is an assistant principal at a STEM Charter School called the Western Center Academy.  His school just purchased a 3-D printer.  On Saturday, I helped him print a T-Rex skull!  It’s not the same thing as having my own 3-D printer, but it’s the next best thing.  And that has been my dream for 2 years.

Here’s what it looked like:


His school has one of the world’s best middle school robotics teams (one of their teams last year made it all the way to the world championships).  We also printed this part for one of the robots.


It has been very, very difficult.  He has a whole bag full of failed prints.  Sometimes they don’t stick to the bed.  Other times, the extruder clogs up.  It took almost a week before he had his first successful print and still most of them are failing after two weeks.  There are two different types of plastic that work at different temperatures.  The gap between the extruder and the bed has to be perfect.  The bed has to be perfectly level.  You have to cover the whole bed with tape with absolutely no bubbles in it.  There can’t be any breezes in the room.  You have to print extra pieces on the corners so that it sticks better and doesn’t warp.  This isn’t like a regular printer where you just click, File and Print.

You have to create whatever you want to print in CAD software.  Then you have to use other software to slice it into layers that the printer can print.  Then you use different software to convert it into gcode that the printer can understand.  Then you save it on an SD Card and print it with another software.  You also have to know if there are any parts of the print that don’t have any support and add artificial support to it.  Wow, that’s a lot of hair pulling out (and he doesn’t have much).

One way to make it easier is to download things that other people have created in CAD and have already tested in their printer.  The best site that we’ve seen (and where we got the dinosaur skull) is  They have tons of great stuff.

Today, he tried to surprise me by printing a case for my Raspberry Pi . . . it failed . . . twice.  It’s the thought that counts, I guess.

That’s where we are now.  I can’t wait until I get my own 3-D printer!

His school has a MakerGear M2 printer, but Makerbot Replicator 2 is also very popular.