Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning Java with my 10 yr old Minecraft style

Being the better half of one of the best Java Evangelist out there, many times people had asked me how much Java I know and I have always joked that I am holding my data warehouse fort until recently when we started talking about Java being one of the must have skills for Hadoop and Big Data efforts in my organization @ Intel. I started brushing up my Java skills and things got interesting when my husband and 10 yr old son started planning for a kids workshop for teaching Java using Minecraft at the same time.

For those who don't know...Minecraft is a very popular game among gamers, is written in Java and has a trial version which can run as an applet in a browser or can be downloaded as a JAR file for the desktop. The interesting part is that it allows the players to create modifications (or mods as they are generally called) to alter the game as per their choice and have more control over the game. My son has been playing it for around a year and few months’ back he got interested in creating his own mods. He started discussing the game with his dad who in turn started teaching him basic programming concepts using Java. As they played around and made some mods themselves, they thought of sharing the knowledge with my son's Minecrafter friends. Trying to get a better hang of Minecraft, I got equally interested in their discussions. 

We invited 10 kids of age range 10-14 yrs old. Both kids and parents were equally excited and looking forward to attend the workshop. As we planned the material, the challenge was how to explain Java programming concepts using real life examples making it simple for kids to understand. We used cars, its features, capabilities & types, and car dealers to explain the concepts of a class, its properties, methods & instances, and packages. Fruits and different methods of peeling, eating, and planting were used to introduce the concept of Interface in Java and what can be done with the fruits was used to explain the concept of Exceptions in Java. The kids built and executed their first Hello World Java application using NetBeans.

We had a five hour session where the kids created an entire framework for making a mod. Minecraft consists of a client and a server. Multiple mods can run on the server at a time but there is no official API available to create these mods. There are many third-party vendor APIs like Bukkit that one can use to create their own mod. For the workshop, we used Maven archetype to create a template java project and avoided hand coding the complex code. The plugin (as called in Bukkit term) or mod (as known in Minecraft) allowed the attendees to create a new server-side command and printed a trivial message.  Kids could open this mod as any other java project in NetBeans and made further modifications to add more functionality to the mod.

Both kids and parent volunteers had total blast and they thoroughly enjoyed their first experience with programming. If you are interested or know someone who might be interested, all the instructions followed in the workshop are available at 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Turning 4 today

Happy 4th Birthday my dear blog!!
With each passing year, you reach more and more readers and continue to connect me with very talented jewelry makers and other crafty folks around the world. You have given expression to my thoughts and made me a better writer. You are a wonderful showcase of my handmade jewelry and help me tell the story behind each piece. You are a true companion and a great friend. Happy Birthday once again and wish you a fun year ahead!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

7th Bead Soup Blog Party - The Lost Soup

For my 7th BSBP partner Lena Adams, I very excitedly choose a bead soup with ingredients like Amethyst, Sandstone, freshwater pearls, her favorite Carnelian along with Pewter findings. 

As a BSBP bead soup should have a focal bead and a clasp which each participant has to use for sure, I choose a Silver pendant with Sandstone and a matching Silver clasp.

Packed and labeled everything and sent it to Lena, eagerly waiting to know how she likes it.

And all she received was the greeting card that I sent along with the soup :(
The packet was open and the bead soup was gone. Unfortunately someone took out the bead soup before it could reach Lena. Both me and Lena were really sad and disappointed. She told me that she will use her own beads as a soup for the BSBP but I decided to send her another soup. Its her first BSBP and I wanted her to have a great experience. I know how eagerly I wait for my partner to send a soup to me and make me explore options out of my regular style of jewelry making. Thinking on those lines, I sent Lena another soup and I am glad that she received it fine this time.

Stay tuned for another post on the second soup.

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