Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Get Firefox 1.5

The latest version of the open source Web browser is now out, offering interface tweaks, faster page loads, better updating and more.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Control Lego Mindstorms via MacNQC

LEGO's Mindstorms robots are a lot of fun to play with but out of the box they don't work and play well with Macs; the software that ships with them is Windows only. Fortunately there's MacNQC (the NQC stands for "Not Quite C", which is programming language that drives the bots) which lets you update the firmware on your LEGO brainbrick, write and upload new programs, and run diagnostics on its hardware.

The software doesn't have the ultra-easy to use "drag and drop" interface which lets Windows users program their bots without actually having to write code, so you'll actually have to write code in order to control the bot. However, as this article in MacWorld illustrates, it's not all that hard.

I spent last weekend playing around with my Mindstorms (when I wasn't cleaning the basement) and I've now got a little robot that scurries around the first floor, much to the delight of my 2-1/2 year old. The current version has treads; I quickly learned that wheels don't work well when you've got a mix of carpets, hardwood floors, and assorted toddler toys scattered about (though Jordan did love it when she saw one of the wheels come flying off after a particularly nasty bit of failed robotic navigation).