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Geocaching: Outdoorsy Family Fun & Exercise meets 21st Century Magic

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Ahhh, Spring. When a Nexed-er’s thoughts turn to—anything NOT covered in slowly melting piles of grey-black specked snow and ice.

As you can probably guess, we’re pretty big fans of the ol’ mobile devices around here, but we’re also fully into treks through the woods, birds birding and bees bee-ing…so here’s an awesome Vulcan mind meld of tech and trees- GEOCACHING!

The recipe? Take one part running around the woods all day as kids- back when spending the whole day outside (except for a quick baloney sandwich break at lunch) was just what ya did, and mix in our 21st century magic devices we have fully attached at our hips and all their GPS-y glory and what you get is something pretty wonderful.

Caches are hidden by players and tagged with their precise GPS location. Usually they are as simple as a weather proof container housing a logbook and some little trinkets for ‘trading’. Using the app you search for any of these that are nearby then hop on a bike or head out on foot and start looking! As you get closer to the cache the app guides you with a compass and hints to within a couple meters of where it’s stashed (often in an old tree stump, or lodged between a couple rocks). Once you’ve discovered it, you open it up, sign the logbook and trade for a trinket or two. Then, the cache is replaced for the next hunters to find.

Needless to say, the kids absolutely LOVE this! We’ve even stashed our own cache in the woods behind the house and we’ll get notified when it gets found by others. All in all, a full on Nexed-approved way to get out of the house and away from the various screens we find ourselves staring at a little too much sometimes these days—just don’t forget your phone ;)

Chris Hadfield + Mars = The Kind of place to Raise your Kids

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You know we’re all about intergalactic communication over here at NXHQ. Well, how’s this for a long distance call—careful now, roaming charges WILL apply!

Earthling (8 yrs old):‘When you get close to a star, what does it really look like? I’d like to know so I can draw them better.’

Commander of International Space Station (live via video link):

‘Stars come in all different sizes. The sun is just a little yellow star. There are red ones. Ones that look brownish. There are huge white ones, ones that look blue. It depends on what chemicals are in them and how strong they are. But from the space station, they look like perfect points of light. Like an absolutely perfect diamond of light. They don’t even twinkle. They’re just a brilliant, piercing point of light. There’s nothing in the way, between my eyes and the star, there’s nothing to stop the light. They’re perfect.’

Just in case you’ve been trapped under a moon rock for the past few months, that would be Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut extraordinaire, talking with a Grade 2 student from the public school in Milton that proudly bears his name. He’s taking social media into the stratosphere, and bringing our kids along with him!

Check out http://starstore.ca/products/renaissance-rocket-man – an awesome new e-read about what he’s been up to; and join the 500,000+ who follow him on Twitter @Cmdr_Hadfield for up to the minute-ers—

Who says ‘Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids’? ;)

Gamifying Laundry (try this at home!)

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minute to win itWeekends are usually chore time around our house. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to all the working Moms and Dads out there. Much like the inevitable whining and complaining from the kids that comes with getting them to pitch in and help out.

After finally corralling my 11-year old in front of a mound o’ laundry to fold, and he had succumbed to his fate, I was thinking it would be about 3 t-shirts before the litany of moans and groans began. But what came out of him next threw me for a loop—but I guess it shouldn’t have—

He started into a full blown ‘Minute to Win It’-style narrative giving himself a minute to fold a certain number of clothes, all the while commentating on his progress. When each minute’s challenge had been passed, he moved himself up a level, increasing the difficulty of his task, but also the ‘cash reward’ he was heading towards.

Now, of course, there was no $125K bonanza for him when he had put all his pj’s away in record time, but he did get though his folding with a smile on his face, AND he put a big smile on mine as well. He GAMIFIED his task, nothing that kids haven’t been doing with the banalities of life for donkey’s years, but a good reminder that what we’re cooking up over here at NXHQ is gonna be all that and a bag of chips!

three jars

So while we’re on the subject of chores, here’s a really cool allowance/spending money management app that we’re going to take for a spin with our in house guinea pigs. It’s called Three Jars. Sort of a 21st Century version of the dreaded ‘list on the fridge’ that would appear on Saturday mornings—;)

 

Introducing Programming Genius Patrick McKenna

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A while back we gave a big THANK YOU shout out to all the behind the scenes members of the Nexed team- all the fine folks who help us tend to the various pots we have a boilin’. Well, we’d like to bring one of them out to center stage and introduce you to him properly—.Patrick McKenna “ our software programmer and developer extraordinaire! (let’s hope he doesn’t get all shy and awkward-y).

We first met Patrick in the Fall of 2012 when we began working with Sheridan College in Oakville on adding specific game zones and further building upon various other elements of Answerables. He was the project lead and head programmer guiding a team of graduate students as they worked through their various tasks. We immediately picked up on Patrick’s programming skills and ability to lead the team through the various pitfalls and unknowns that pop up in a project with a scope such as ours. But as the months went on and we extended our collaboration with Sheridan into the new year, we began to realize that Patrick had become a crucial  member not only of the Sheridan project, but also of Nexed. In our last few days of sprint towards the release of Answerables v.1 to the beta testers and focus group-ers, Patrick put his head down and went above and beyond to help us get it done.

And it was then that we knew—this one’s a keeper!

So, Nexed-ers…proud to introduce you to Patrick McKenna.

 

3Doodlin’ and Google Glassin’

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google glass snakeWell, we were going to sing the praises of Google Glass. Which, in case you haven’t heard, is  Google’s new pair of glasses where the lens is equipped with a voice activated heads up display and the frame houses a camera and speaker.  It seems like they’re really looking to change the game—and for folks to buy in (at $1500 a pop) for a chance to be a ‘Glass Explorer’. It is well worth a looksee AND they’ll fit nicely in a stocking—hint, hint Santa ;)

3Doodler

But move on out of the spotlight for just a sec Google—ever heard of 3Doodler? Over here at NXHQ, we think you are going to be hearing about them soon in a BIG way! They’re currently getting all Kickstartered-up and ready to put out a pen that lets you draw in 3D! It’s all about liquid plastic and internal cooling fans, and the result is something pretty out of this world. And if they can price it right—that MAY be a stocking stuffer we can afford!

 

 

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