Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: Beautiful LEGO® 2 DARK...

Whether you are a fan of LEGO® building, or are fascinated by the "dark side" of creepy, the bizarre, the whimsical, the futuristic, or Steampunk; you will like Beautiful LEGO® 2 Dark edited by Mike Doyle (No Starch Press) 2014.
The models or should I say works of art are intriguing and mind-blowing; having one say, "OMG, how did they build that,? And that's Awesome!" 
On my tablet device I found myself enlarging the images to try & figure out what LEGO elements the builder/artist used. Their choice of elements is what makes the works so interesting & in some cases almost realistic - when looking at the book, hold it (or your tablet device if you have the eBook) at arms length, it's amazing. I also liked the use of light on the translucent elements, it creates quite an effect.

One of my favorites is Lukasz Wiktorowicz Midnight Training 2014,  I like the way Wiktorowicz used a mosaic background to go with the model.

I also like the Shadow Play art of David Alexander Smith.

Like the first book Beautiful LEGO (2013), Beautiful LEGO 2 Dark, edited by Mike Doyle (No Starch Press) is awe inspiring to look at & a testimony to what can be created with little, plastic, building elements.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: STEAMPUNK LEGO®...

I recently purchased STEAMPUNK LEGO® by  Guy Himber, (No Starch Press, 2014). It is a fascinating LEGO® & Steampunk book. Fans of Steampunk and/or LEGO® will really enjoy this book. Would make a great gift. too.

So what is Steampunk? For those who are not familiar with the term the author of the book describes it as: Steampunk is a creative genre that imagines an alternate history of 19th-century technology. Its devotees employ a fanciful blend of fantasy, science fiction, and historical adventure to tell their stories. Electricity has just started to enter the realm of the common inventor, but steam-powered machines are the tools of the day. Clockwork gears and mechanisms are often exposed for ease of service and ease of appreciation. Daring inventors float through the skies and roam the countryside in their fantastic contraptions. 
The creations in the book are amazing! I like the way the Guy Himber, author/editor, presented the models. It is written as if it is a Victorian age style journal with illustrations reflective of the period; with the look of old parchment paper, calligraphy writing, accents of that age, and a dash of LEGO® gear elements (not that LEGO was invented back then), but a nice touch. The fantasy journal talks about new inventions of the Industrial Revolution - trains, cycles, horseless carriages, ships & sea creatures, robots, airships (including those that will take us into space), beasties, armamentss, sundriess & cabinet of curiosities (for lack of a real category), and of course the SteamPunk world of floating rocks.
This book takes LEGO® building to another art form. 

I bought the book in hardcover printed form and No Starch Press gives you a free eBook of it - sweet. STEAMPUNK LEGO by Guy Himber, (No Starch Press, 2014) is a full coloured, beautiful & interesting tabletop book; as a wonderful gift & inspiration to the LEGO® builder. It reveals "infinite possibilities of little plastic bricks."

It inspired me to build The SteamPunky Buggy, this robotized SteamPunk vehicle pays tribute to the book and the LEGO® Mindstorms ®robotic systems; with at least one element from its Mindstorms kits from the RCX to the EV3, plus a bit of Technic, Bionicle, & classic bricks.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: Lego Mindstorms EV3 Essentials...

There are several new LEGO(R) Mindstorms(R) EV3 books out now. Most of them cover the kit’s parts, some programming, and instructions on building models. One, The Art of LEGO(R) Mindstorms(R) EV3 Programming, covers (and very nicely) mostly EV3 programming. Another book was recently released, Lego Mindstorms EV3 Essentials by Abid H. Mujtaba, Packt Publishing (2014). This  one includes using leJOS programming.

The first three chapters: Introducing the EV3, Sensors and Motors, EV3 Brick Programming I felt were understandable particularly for the novice to the EV3 system. I did find it curious though that he used a picture of the NXT Ultrasonic sensor to explain how the EV3 Ultrasonic (they do work the same way, the EV3 is an improvement over the NXT). The author did make a note that it was not the EV3 Ultrasonic, but if he had the Retail kit, he should have just ordered from LEGO(R) an EV3 Ultrasonic to show in the book.

However, the remaining chapters are not for the novice, but for someone who has experience with possibly the NXT and the EV3 programming, because the book explains how to program in leJOs, the Java platform for EV3. Here the author covers what he feels are the advantages of using leJOs, how to install it on the EV3 brick, configuring your computer and the EV3, and writing your first program - "Hello, World!"on the EV3 brick's LCD. Next, the author shows how to program the large motor and the touch sensor. Finally, there is an extensive explanation of programming the robot to follow a line with the color sensor.

The eBoo is in color and the softcover book is in gray-tone, which I guess doesn’t matter much because there are not many pictures in the book where color would be essential, gray-tone is ok.
In summation, if you are new the Mindstorms(R) system and its programming, this is not the book for you, just yet. If you are interested in learning leJOs for the EV3, then Lego Mindstorms EV3 Essentials by Abid H. Mujtaba, Packt Publishing might be a good start for you. 

It is apparent that Mujtaba is very knowledgeable in programming, but I get the feeling he is new to the LEGO(R) Mindstorms(R) systems, because the robot he presents in the book are extremely simple (or perhaps it is because the focus of the book is on programming); and then, any true LEGO(R) fan knows you do not spell it Lego!

By the way, Packt Publishing is having a sale $5 on all eBooks until Jan. 15, 2015, go to: