Set The Windows 10 Lock Screen Photo As Your Desktop Wallpaper

The digital world has gone visual. We have beautiful wallpapers when we open a browser like Bing. The Windows 10 Lock Screen wallpaper also makes for an eye-catching way to start the day. Here is a quick way to use the current lock screen image as your desktop wallpaper.

Lock Screen Reflection is a tiny Windows 10 tool which can do it automatically and enhance your desktop. The tiny freeware is another way to customize your Windows desktop wallpaper.

Unfortunately it doesn’t have a graphical interface, but at least it doesn’t run in the background and nibble away at the CPU. The minimum requirement is that you should have .NET Framework 2.0 or higher installed.

The way it works is very simple:

  1. Download the tiny portable software.
  2. Double-click the program (lsr.exe) when you need to use it.
  3. Your wallpaper is updated automatically and the program shuts down.

Lock Screen Wallpaper

By default, the program will stretch any images to fit your screen resolution.  But if it does not fit neatly with the real estate on your screen, you can use a few command line switches to set the wallpaper:

  • 0 for Tiled.
  • 1 for Centered.
  • 2 for Stretched.
  • 3 for Fit.
  • 4 for Fill.

What if you want to save the lock screen image for later instead of decorating your desktop with it?

The SAVEONLY switch enables you to bypass the automatic process right now. If you like to use the image as a wallpaper and set it as a wallpaper, you can also do that. Add SAVE to the command line and it’ll keep a copy of the current lock screen image as lsr_save.jpg in the same folder as lsr.exe.

Windows 10 stores the default desktop wallpapers and lock screen background images in a group of folders. Browse to the following location:

C:WindowsWeb

You will spot three folders here: Wallpaper (for the default wallpapers), 4K (some high-resolution Windows 10 wallpapers), and Screen (the lock screen wallpapers). You can use the images from here. Or use the tiny software to do the job automatically.

Lock Screen Reflection is a simple solution to a simple problem. It is no-frills right now.

Tell us if you have ever felt like using the Windows 10 lock screen image as a wallpaper? Are there any other solutions around?

Image Credit: Pavel Shelkovenko via Shutterstock.com

AttheBigRiver: Create Short Amazon URLs

If you have ever bought anything at Amazon ( chances are you have ), you would know that the product links at Amazon are unusually long and complex. Yes, you can shorten it using any URL shortener but Atthebigriver.com exists specifically to shorten Amazon links and in a way that makes sense, saves you time and hassle. As they mention, “just take the name of what you want to link to, change the spaces to hyphens and add “.atthebigriver.com”. Authors, bands, books, coffeemakers, whatever.”

See example in image below:

short amazon url

Hence it shortens amazon links quickly and intelligently and makes it easy to share them. It also works with your affiliate links. You just need to put your affiliate code at the end of the shortened url.

short amazon url links

Features:

  • Quick and intelligent amazon URL shortener.
  • Take the name of what you want to link to, change the spaces to hyphens and add “.atthebigriver.com”.
  • Option to add your amazon affiliate codes at the end of shortened URL.
  • Simple and time-saving process.

Check out AttheBigRiver.com@ www.atthebigriver.com

How To Fit Colorful Prints Into Your Everyday Outfit With Calaphya – YouQueen

Calaphya strikes a perfect blend of sophisticated chic, wearable fine art and literary inspiration create one of a kind bespoke wearable masterpieces. Check out a few of our favorite pieces.

One of the truly wonderful things about fashion is a designer’s ability to cross the line between art and life. There is perhaps no better example of this than with the new high-end fashion brand Calaphya.

Founded in 2012 and launched in 2013, Calaphya is a collective of artists and designers who focus on bringing fine art and design into everyday life by incorporating them into wearable works of art.

The California-based company based its namesake, logo, and much of its early inspiration on the 15th century chivalric romance novel “The Adventures of Esplandian.” The novel, penned by Garci Rodriquez de Montalvo, depicts the fictional island of California. In the novel, the island of California is inhabited only by a tribe of warrior women, and is ruled by a queen called Califa. The story has served as inspiration for the founders of Calaphya, and also originally inspired the name of the state of California, where Calaphya is currently headquartered.

What makes Calaphya so unique is the bespoke nature of their processes in creating these wearable works of art. Each and every accessory or piece of clothing produced by Calaphya represents the vision of the artist responsible for the original work of art on which it is based. Only the best materials are used in production, and each garment or accessory is hand-crafted one piece at a time by one of a number of Calaphya’s consigned artists, photographers, seamstresses, or tailors

One of the most interesting things about the Calaphya line is their aptitude for very illustrative and conceptual branding via their artwork. The company has extended the influence of Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo’s inspiration beyond their moniker and has created a mission statement of sorts on which they base their current design offerings.

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The concepts of nobility, luxury, exclusivity, and premium quality are what they claim to be their founding principals, and these core values do indeed resonate throughout their product line. This is particularly apparent in their current tee shirt designs.

The rich color and unique patterns of the prints used in their designs harken back to the 15th century writings of de Montalvo. Of particular interest is the strong feminine presence in all of the printed designs; it would seem that Calaphya is invoking the spirits of the female warriors of de Montalvo’s fictional island of California and bringing them to life in a modern day form.

The Calaphya tee shirt collection is a stunning example of this marriage of art, literature, and modern design. Within the collection, there are three design lines: Leonorina, La Reina, and Esplandian. Each of these lines has a unique conceptual thread, and although all three certainly boast a riot of colour and pattern, which is a feast for the eyes. They are all quite different from each other.

#1 Leonorina

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The Leonorina line is an excellent balance of imagery that manages to be both gothic and light-hearted at the same time. There are seven conceptual motifs in the line – all created to capture the spirit of freedom and rock.

At first glance, the artwork on the tees looks almost breezy on its light background set onto a white genuine Supima cotton tee. According to the company, the color story of the Leonorina line is meant to bring a bit of fantasy, youth, and energy to the women who wear it.

#2 La Reina

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The La Reina line of tees is a richly-hued collection of seven motifs designed to attract the romantic artist in all of us. Once again, there is a strong element of femininity that is balanced by the deep, bold hues of the collection. Created on a black background, the La Reina collection has a dark sophistication to it that is both compelling and elegant.

#3 Esplandian

The eye-popping Esplandian collection makes a bold statement with oriental florals mixed with baroque elements and neon accents superimposed on a black background. The Esplandian collection is intended for the self-assured woman and boasts the most saturated colors of all of the collections.

In addition to being stunningly beautiful, these unique Calaphya tees are also an incredible wardrobe extender. Worn under a blazer with a pair of skinny jeans and heels, they take on a sophisticated kind of French fashion editor vibe. Worn with a dressier skirt, you can wear them for cocktails or more formal occasions and be pretty much assured that you will be the only person in the room rocking your unique look.

The unique color stories and hypnotic prints that are inherent in the Calapya tee shirt also minimize the need for a lot of accessories, making them a perfect choice for packing for a journey when you are looking to travel with minimal fuss.

Because Calaphya guarantees their clothing by exclusive agreement with the artists with whom they work, many of these garments are produced in very limited editions – some are even numbered and registered.

Calaphya has big plans going forward, and you can read all about the artists and craftsmen that make it possible for you to have these gorgeous works of wearable art on the Calaphya blog.

Cover photo: www.calaphya.com

12 HTML5 Browser Games That Don’t Need Adobe Flash

You’re on your lunch break at work and think it would be great to pop open a fun game in your browser for the hour. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to install Adobe Flash on your computer. You figure there aren’t any good games that don’t require Flash, right? Wrong!

HTML5 games are available in any modern browser and work without special plug-ins or installations. You just open and play. Plus, these are just as enjoyable as Flash games, if not more. So, on your next break, play one of these awesome, free browser games and enjoy your lunch.

1. Smarty Bubbles

For a match-three bubble shooter, check out Smarty Bubbles. Your goal is to get the highest score possible by eliminating bubbles from the gameboard. Plan strategically by viewing the next bubble coming, use the handy arrow to help you aim, and ricochet off the walls to make those tough shots. How high can you score?

smarty bubbles html

2. Fruita Crush

Another great match-three game is the puzzler Fruita Crush. Drag to connect three or more fruits to remove them from the board and score. Each of the 100 levels has a different objective to meet within a certain number of moves. And, matching more than three fruits will give you special pieces like explosive bombs and handy line eliminators. These provide more points than standard pieces.

fruita crush html5

3. Jewelish

When you prefer fancy jewels over tasty fruits in your match-three game, Jewelish is the way to go. With two minutes on the clock, drag to connect three or more jewels to score. Like with Fruita Crush, connecting more than three will give you cool jewels that clear columns and rows or blow up surrounding pieces. When you want a quick game of scoring without playing through levels, Jewelish comes through.

jewelish html5

4. Jungle Run

If you enjoy endless running platform games, then grab some bananas and play Jungle Run. You can choose to play as Kiba or Kumba, both apes with great skills. Run and jump, collect stars and power-ups, and see if you can make it through the 30 challenging levels. And be sure to watch out for enemies because they will take you down in a hurry.

jungle run html5

5. Pool Billiard

When you can’t get to the pool parlor, play a quick game of Pool Billiard in your browser. Aim and shoot to pocket all colored pool balls before sinking the black 8-ball. You can get extra points by hitting the balls in their numbered order, but that is quite a challenge. If you are up to a test of your aiming and strategy skills on the pool table, chalk up your cue.

pool billiard html5

6. Sports Mahjong

Sports Mahjong is a take on the classic game with the twist of a sports theme. Gameplay is as normal where you match open tiles to clear the board. The game has upbeat music, a shuffle option, and hints if you get stuck. If you enjoy Mahjong and look for variations with unusual themes, Sport Mahjong is an excellent option.

sports mahjong html5

7. Time Connect

For a different type of matching game, Time Connect challenges you to connect tiles with a restriction. You must match two tiles that have a clear path between them with no more than two 90-degree angles. Your goals are to clear the board and move onto the next challenge while scoring as high as you can. The game has helpful hints, handy shuffles, and a cute timepiece theme.

time connect html5

8. Maya Pyramid Solitaire

Maya Pyramid Solitaire is an enjoyable card game that makes you think quickly. To succeed, you must make matches of two or more cards that equal 11 to clear the game board within the allotted time. You can combine the cards from the deck on the bottom as well as those on the board. Three jokers, which act as wildcards, can save you if you get stuck.

Pyramid Solitaire is a great next step if you’ve mastered Microsoft Solitaire.

maya pyramid solitaire html5

9. Badland

If you aren’t familiar with Badland, it’s a wonderful adventure available on mobile devices, Steam, and gaming consoles. This side-scrolling platformer takes you into a mysterious and eerie world. Your goal is to fly through the dark forest while watching out for enemy dwellers and dangerous traps. The HTML5 version of Badland has many challenging levels and missions, spooky sound effects, and fantastic imagery.

badland html5

10. Galaga Special Edition

Okay Galaga and space shooter fans, it’s your turn. Galaga Special Edition is a fun HTML5 version of the classic shooter with great visual and audio effects. You’ll feel like you are back at the arcade with a pocket full of quarters. Fly, blast, and maneuver through 25 unique stages. Earn bonuses, unlock achievements, score big, and, of course, prepare for the big boss battles.

If you prefer first-person shooters, you can enjoy FPS titles in your browser, too.

galaga special edition html5

11. Tentrix

It sounds like Tetris, looks like Tetris, but is completely different than Tetris. This game is called Tentrix and your goal is the use the differently-shaped pieces to eliminate rows and columns on the board. With each round, you receive three pieces to place and must fit each one in to continue. Once you fill the board and cannot make another move, the game is over. If you like free puzzle games, then Tentrix is the one for you.

tentrix html5

12. King of Thieves

King of Thieves is an addictive platform adventure created by the makers of Cut the Rope. In each of the tons of levels, you’ll need to plan and show some great clicking or tapping skills. You must maneuver around obstacles and enemies while bouncing off walls to make your way to the treasure chest. Crazy characters, dangerous cannons, and scary spikes are everywhere… so time your moves carefully.

king of thieves html5

Who Needs Flash for Awesome Games?

With awesome browser games like these, you can stop worrying about not having Adobe Flash. Plus, be sure to browse around on the sites for these games because they each have tons of other fun options. And, if you prefer not to download games to your mobile device, you can check out a terrific list of mobile browser games.

Are you ready to get your game on with HTML5 options? Do you already play HTML5 games and have some that you would like to recommend? If so, leave us a comment below!

These Secret Google Pixel Features Will Convince You To Buy It

Thinking about buying the Google Pixel smartphone? Beware that the Pixel conceals a secret: artificial intelligence (AI). While Google advertised a lot of ground-breaking features, it also stuffed in a few unadvertised secrets. So what lurks inside of the Pixel?

In short, you get pocket-AI, cloud storage, and more. But let’s start with what Google advertised in its first promotional video:

According to Google’s marketing department, the Pixel comes with the world’s best smartphone camera, a 3.5″ audio jack, and the mysterious Google Assistant.

Artificial Intelligence Comes to Smartphones

AI drives the Pixel’s uniqueness. Before 2016, AI and smartphones remained separate from one another. But thanks to Google’s acquisition of three AI firms and Motorola’s ATAP division, the road seems paved toward pocket AI. With the Pixel, civilization hurtles toward a future in which AI fits in your pocket. And that learning machine listens to everything you do.

Modern AI, such as that found in the Pixel, relies on a technology known as known as machine learning. Google’s machine learning techniques relate to their acquisition of the AI research firm, DeepMind. DeepMind developed AlphaGo — the AI that beat Go champion Lee Sedol. And that means a technology capable of outsmarting a human may now inhabit your pocket. But how has Google adapted AI to fit inside of the Pixel?

Google Assistant

The Pixel’s upgraded personal assistant, Google Assistant, is smart. Like AlphaGo, it learns from observing human behavior. Based on how you use the Pixel, the assistant recommends actions. For example, using telemetry data, it calculates when you leave for work, forecasting traffic and suggesting alternate routes. Other times, Assistant peeks at your photo roll and suggests stitching together bursts of pictures, creating a stabilized image. Sometimes it even automatically applies stylish filters to photos.

Here’s an example of an automatically applied filter:

cubby photograph pixel

Check out this automatically-created animated GIF:

google assistant automatically created animated gif

Assistant’s self-learning abilities include (at least) five categories. If enabled, Assistant displays related notifications (Google refers to these as Cards) whenever it senses that the user needs them. These kinds of cards include:

  1. Weather — Detects your region and forecasts weather for the day.
  2. Work Commute — Detects driving conditions, alternative routes, and determines an estimated time of arrival.
  3. Next Meeting — Assistant can also hook into your calendar and sense upcoming meetings.
  4. Reminders — If you ever set a reminder using Assistant, Google creates a virtual card, which displays itself at a specified time or place.
  5. News — Based on your particular news interests, such as sports or technology, Assistant pulls up relevant cards whenever it detects you need them.

google pixel assistant options

Ignore the marketing. Assistant will come to all Google products. The reasons range from the practical to the frightening. For the most part, Google wants Assistant to offer conversational capabilities. And training a neural net requires tremendous amounts of raw data and user telemetry.

It Knows What You’re Talking About

Another Google Assistant feature worth mentioning: contextual processing. Older personal assistants work great for asking a single question. But they’re terrible for continuing a dialog. Assistant closes the gap between a conversant AI and one-shot assistants by adding context to issues.

For example, if I ask Assistant for directions to the supermarket and then correct myself by saying “I meant to the nearest bank,” Assistant places that question within the context of the conversation. It then intuits that the user wants to issue a navigation correction. The process feels seamless and without the stutter of the previous generation of personal assistants.

To date, only a few Google products include Assistant. That’s the Pixel, Allo, and Google Home. A few other apps, such as the Photo app, include Assistant as a feature. However, it’s unclear as to the extent of its integration.

Free Cloud Storage and Smart Storage

Google furnishes the Pixel with free and unlimited cloud storage for photo backups. Combined with Smart Storage, you can take an unlimited number of photographs without running out of space. It works like this: based on how you’ve configured your Pixel, your phone might delete images every 30, 60, or 90 days — but only if your photos have been backed up. Plugging your phone into a power source triggers the backup process.

Configuring Smart Storage

To configure Smart Storage, navigate to Settings and the choose Storage. In the Storage menu, you can toggle both the backup frequency and whether or not a backup occurs. Unfortunately, Google does not integrate (nor does it permit integration) with a third-party cloud storage solution like OneDrive.

google pixel smart storage

Because Smart Storage links into Google Photos, that means you get unlimited photo backups. Unlike other smartphones, the Pixel comes with full resolution quality. The unlimited storage that comes with other services usually means the photos are compressed (what’s compression?) and of diminished quality.

Facial Recognition

One of the creepiest features in Google Pixel is its photo app. Once you snap a picture of friends, Google uploads your photos to the cloud, and its AI applies a facial recognition algorithm. Each and every person in your album can receive a tag (or name). You can search your database for all pictures of a specified individual.

google facial recognition pixel

But that also means Google keeps a catalog of not just your identity, but the identities of your friends (and random strangers who blundered into a shot). The potential consequences remain unknown — but the risk of abuse chills even the staunchest of technology advocates.

Concierge Service

If getting access to a machine assistant wasn’t enough, Google also borrowed a feature from the Amazon Fire Phone: direct access to a human assistant. If your Pixel ever malfunctions — or you just need some advice — a human operator can help with just the touch of a button.

google pixel support service

Hidden Pixel Features

In addition to AI, the Pixel throws in a few hidden features, which the users needs to enable or discover. These include gesture support, a red screen-tinting feature, and a hidden notification red-green-blue (RGB) LED light.

Night Mode (AKA Night Light)

The Lighting Research Center’s study on light exposure found that red light reduces insomnia. Fortunately, Android 7.0 added the ability to automatically redden display color at night. Unfortunately, Google chose to remove this feature in Android 7.1.1 — except for Pixel users. It’s silly that Google pulls useful features from Android, but it helps differentiate their product from their (now) competitors.

Keep in mind that Night Mode requires activation. Turning it on is a simple process.

First, go to Settings and select Display. Then go to Night Light and turn it on. You can also configure the hours in which the display tints amber. However, the default settings should match your body’s natural circadian rhythms.

google pixel night light

The Hidden RGB LED Light

Among its unadvertised features, the Pixel throws in a secret LED for notifications. Users can enable this feature, which saves on both battery life and screen lifespan. To permit it, the user must navigate to Settings > Notifications and click on the gear icon in the upper-right side of the screen. Then enable the Pulse notification light. From then on, whenever users receive a notification, the LED blinks.

pixel xl notifications led

I haven’t figured out any of the reasons why the light flashes different colors. It seems that redder light indicates important notifications.

Gesture or Motion Activated Features

Google co-opted motion and gesture controls from Motorola — they refer to it as Move. The gesture controls allow the user to launch certain apps or features by physically moving the phone. Move includes, as of 2016, five different actions: fingerprint scanner gestures, jump-to-camera, twist-for-selfie, lift-to-check-phone, and double-tap to wake.

Fingerprint Scanner Notifications Control

Another feature most users won’t know about hides inside of the fingerprint scanner: the scanner doubles as a notifications toggle. Sliding one’s finger down over the scanner displays the notifications tray. A single swipe up dismisses the tray.

Here’s a video of how to enable the feature:

Jump-to-Camera

LG’s flagship smartphones can launch its camera by double-clicking on its power button. The Pixel borrows this feature. This can help you quickly get to your camera app so that you never miss a shot.

Twist-for-Selfie

Like the Moto X, the Pixel can switch between cameras with ease. It works like this: after opening the Camera app, make a double-twist motion while holding the Pixel to launch the selfie camera. The Pixel then switches from the rear-facing camera to the front-facing camera.

Lift-to-Check-Phone and Double-Tap to Wake

Ambient Display turns the screen on temporarily to show notifications. On an AMOLED panel, this saves battery life and helps with screen burn-in.

Newer Android devices usually include Ambient Display by default. However, the Pixel adds two additional features. Lift-to-check-phone allows the Pixel to switch its screen on whenever it senses that someone has picked the phone up. Double-tap to wake spares the physical power button by waking the device by double-tapping on the screen.

Here’s a video demonstrating the new features:

Google Daydream View

Another interesting feature is its virtual reality (VR) platform: Daydream View. It’s a mostly-cloth headset with a remote that allows you to get lost in a virtual world using the Daydream View app. Here’s a breakdown and explanation of the Daydream View in action:

“Improved” Aesthetic Design

To distinguish between conventional Android devices and a Pixel, Google added some distinct visual flourishes.

Wallpaper Picker

The Pixel’s AI-driven software can choose wallpaper designs for its user, along with custom system sounds. Here’s a video demonstrating the wallpaper picker in action:

Color Theming

Early leaks indicated that the Pixel was finally adding a dark theme. Unfortunately, these rumors turned out to be bunk. What we got was ridiculously underwhelming. Google turned the System User Interface blue, instead of cyan. Here’s a comparison between what you get in stock Android and what you get in a Pixel:

google pixel vs android

Unfortunately, blue AMOLED subpixels degenerate at a faster rate than other colors. I don’t know why Google decided to use blue icons for the settings menu. Even so, the differences are minimal at best.

Why Did Google Put Special Features in the Pixel?

No one knows for sure. It seems that Google wants to move to where the real money lies: flagship smartphones. And no company makes more money per smartphone than Apple. Unfortunately, Apple’s model revolves around proprietary standards. Unlike Apple, Google doesn’t sell 19 dongles.

However, it has moved its Night Light technology out of Android’s open source ecosystem. Given this baby-step away from open standards, should you trust Google by putting its learning machine in your pocket?

Have you discovered any hidden features in the Pixel? If not, what exclusive features have you hooked? Please let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Oleg1969 via Shutterstock.com | Cryteria via Wikimedia Commons

10 Reasons To Install An Arch Linux-Based OS On Your PC

Arch Linux is one of the most popular Linux operating systems (also known as distributions) around, as are the easier-to-install distros that are based on Arch, such as Manjaro and Antergos.

Whether you’re thinking of installing each component manually or downloading a pre-built Arch-based desktop, here are ten reasons to embrace the Arch ecosystem.

Arch Linux, Linux Distro

1. You Are Free to Build Your Own PC

Arch Linux is unique among the more popular Linux distributions. Ubuntu and Fedora, like Windows and macOS, come ready to go. In stark contrast, Arch Linux challenges you to build your PC’s operating system yourself.

The installation process isn’t as simple as clicking through installer windows. You will need to know numerous terminal commands, and you have to choose your own components. What desktop environment would you like? Do you need Wi-Fi? Which sound server? The process can take quite a while.

The amount of knowledge required makes Arch more difficult to install than most distros. You have to do a bit of reading, but if you can follow a guide, you can get things up and running.

In the end, you’re left with a system that does exactly what you want. And even if you install an Arch-based distro that provides a default experience, you can still swap out the parts as you wish.

2. You Run Only What You Need

Since Arch lets you pick your own components, that means you aren’t saddled with a bunch of software you don’t expect. Ubuntu not only comes with a large number of desktop apps pre-installed, but there are also quite a few background services.

While the number is small compared to how much runs in the background on Windows, you likely still have no idea all that’s going on.

Not only are these services not running in Arch Linux by default, they’re not even installed. That means you aren’t wasting resources on extra system processes. You’re also saving internet bandwidth by not downloading updates to code that isn’t necessary.

3. Arch Is Unapologetically Technical

Arch Linux, Linux Distro

Many Linux distros present themselves as free and easy to use alternatives to Windows and macOS. They want to attract students, developers, and general users. As a result, they don’t highlight many of the nuts and bolts that make the system work. They don’t hide this information, necessarily, but you do have to know where to search and what to look for.

Arch isn’t trying to pitch itself as anything other than a collection of programs that you can put together to make a functional computer. Want to know what specific packages are receiving updates or are having problems? Arch puts this information on the home page of its website. Each link you click only sends you deeper into technical information.

4. Wait Until You Try Pacman

Pacman is what you use to install packages in Arch. It’s what APT is to Ubuntu and DNF is to Fedora. Except, unlike those distros, Arch doesn’t go out of its way to provide a graphical alternative to the command line.

One advantage of Pacman is that you don’t have to do as much typing. The command to install a specific package is:

pacman -S package-name

Want to download the latest updates for your entire system? Type:

pacman -Syu

Which package manager you prefer is ultimately a matter of personal taste. But you might find that pacman is the one for you.

5. The Arch User Repository Is the Bee’s Knees

Arch Linux, Linux Distro

The Arch User Repository is a collection of software from community members that Arch doesn’t yet provide itself. Instead of having to download an app’s source files yourself and try to figure out how to get things working, AUR does the heavy lifting. There’s a good chance that if there’s a Linux program you want to run that’s not in Arch’s repos, it’s in the AUR.

Using the AUR isn’t immediately intuitive, but there are ways to make the experience simpler. A tool like Yaourt can help you out in the command line, while Octopi provides a graphical interface that does the background work for you.

6. The Arch Wiki Is the Best Around

Arch Linux, Linux Distro

I’m currently using a distro born from Arch Linux, but even when I’m not, I still have plenty of reason to pay the Arch Wiki a visit. No matter which Linux distro you use, the Arch Wiki is a treasure trove of information.

Because Arch uses the same components as most other Linux distros, the guides and fixes contained on this site are relevant well outside of the Arch ecosystem. If you’re not sure which software to install on your computer, check out the descriptions presented here. Follow the guides, read the recommendations, and take note of the bugs.

There may be some differences in the way your distro and Arch package things, but the site may still point you in the right direction.

7. Bye-Bye System Upgrades

Arch Linux, Linux Distro

Most Linux distros see a major release on a semi-regular basis. Some come out twice a year. Others take more time. Arch does away with this approach entirely. You install Arch once and download updates indefinitely without having to think about upgrading to a new version. The same is true of most Arch-based distros.

This is called a rolling release model, and it’s a surefire way to keep up with the latest Linux software.

But this is also what some people consider Arch’s downside. If you’re not paying attention to the updates that are coming in, things could break. No one’s testing the exact configuration of software running on your computer. You have to take responsibility for your own experience.

8. Arch Has Less Corporate Influence

Many people use Linux because they don’t want a company determining what they can do on their computer. No matter which version of Linux you use, there will be less commercial influence on how your PC functions compared to Windows or macOS. But at the end of the day, distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE still have ties to a corporate sponsor.

If you use a distro based on Ubuntu, your desktop experience is still influenced by the decisions that Canonical makes. This is much less the case with Fedora and openSUSE. But if you want even more of a gap, you want a community-only distro like Arch.

9. Arch Makes for a Great Base

Arch Linux, Linux Distro

Don’t want to go through the hassle of installing Arch Linux? Consider Manjaro and Antergos. Both offer a more straightforward installation process and choose a default experience for you. At the same time, you get perks that make Arch great such as access to the AUR and rolling release updates.

Some distros based on Arch keep the same KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), no-nonsense approach. Chakra Linux is my favorite way to use KDE. It was originally based on Arch, and you still won’t find much non-technical information in its documentation.

10. You Now Know Linux Inside and Out

By the time you finish installing Arch, you have a good idea of what goes into making a Linux distro tick.Even if you go with an alternative Arch-based distro, you still may have to pay more attention to the updates you download. This is the nature of using a rolling release distro.

Yet the knowledge you gain from installation and managing updates is useful even if you move on from Arch to something else.

When there’s talk of transiting from one initialization system to another, you know what’s going on. You may find you now have strong opinions about display servers. And if things break, you have an idea precisely which software pages may be relevant.

Installing Arch is a great way to get a handle on Linux without having to take a single course.

Is Arch Linux Right for You?

That’s for you to decide. These are some of Arch’s many benefits. Why don’t you take the distro or an easier Arch-based alternative for a spin and let us know what you think? If you find that Arch Linux still doesn’t give you quite the degree of control you were looking for, you could always try Gentoo.

How To Create Your Own Extensions For Your IPhone & IPad

For years, iOS was so tightly locked down that apps couldn’t communicate with each other. Simple actions such as uploading a picture to Instagram or sharing it to WhatsApp were not possible from the Photos app. Thanks to iOS 8, those days are now gone.

You can now share content between apps with just two taps. The only problem? Developers have to create extensions and these aren’t always top priority for them. The aforementioned WhatsApp and Instagram still don’t have share extensions, which is a major inconvenience.

Fortunately there exists a new app that allows you to finally create your own extensions. Meet Workflow ($1.99), a productivity app that opens many of the platform’s previously closed doors.

What Does Workflow Do?

Workflow is an automation app that focuses on speeding up complex tasks on iOS. It lets you make GIF images, create PDF files, resize images and perform many other tasks quickly. Each of these tasks is called a workflow.

workflow_iOS_my_workflows

You can use the app to create normal workflows and action extensions. Normal workflows are almost like an app because you can pin them to the home screen for easy access. This is just like adding a webpage to the home screen of your iOS device.

On the other hand, action extensions can be accessed by tapping the Share button in other apps and then tapping Run Workflow. This reveals a list of action extensions available thanks to Workflow, allowing you to tap the one you need. It adds an extra tap to the process of accessing extensions, but it keeps Workflow from cluttering your share sheets across the entire operating system.

Creating iOS Extensions

Workflow features a long list of actions that you can link in order to create a workflow. To start, open the app and tap the big tile named Create Workflow. This will show you a blank workspace with two tabs at the top – Normal and Action Extension. Tap Normal to create ‘apps’ or Action Extensions to make your workflow accessible via share sheets (the more menu).

How To Create Your Own Extensions For Your iPhone & iPad workflow iOS create workflow

Creating a workflow is easy – first swipe left to see the list of actions Workflow supports. You’ll see things like Quick Look, Get Component of URL and so on. Tapping any of these actions will reveal what it does. When you’ve found the action you need, drag it to the workspace on the right. Drag all the actions you need and arrange them in the correct order. Now you can tap the Play icon at the top to see if your workflow works. If it does, tap Done to save this workflow.

It can be hard to picture this without an example. Let’s create a simple extension that allows us to post pictures to Instagram. These instructions will help you understand how to create a workflow.

How To Create Your Own Extensions For Your iPhone & iPad workflow iOS post to instagram

  1. Open Workflow and tap Create Workflow.
  2. Tap the tab labelled Action Extension at the top.
  3. Since we only want to post photos to Instagram using this workflow, it’s best to stop this workflow from showing up unless we’re sharing photos. To do this tap the text: “This workflow accepts and uncheck everything except Images. Tap Done.
  4. Tap the wand icon called Actions in the bottom left corner. This will take you to a list of actions sorted by type.
  5. In the search bar, type “Instagram”. This will bring up the Post to Instagram action.
  6. Drag Post to Instagram to the workspace on the right. You’ll notice that it has a field called Caption. Whatever you type here will automatically appear in the caption field in Instagram. If you regularly use the same hashtags, you can type them here to avoid keying them in each time you post a photo.
  7. Tap the tiny gear icon on the top right corner. This is where you can name your workflow and pick an icon for it. I named my workflow “Post Photos To Instagram” and picked a nice camera icon.
  8. Tap Done to finalise the name and icon for the workflow. Tap Done again in the workspace to finish making your first workflow.

Congratulations! You just created a simple, yet incredibly useful workflow. To run this workflow, open the Photos app, select any photo and tap the Share icon followed by Run Workflow. Select Post Photos To Instagram (or whatever you called the workflow) and your device will open the image on the filters screen in Instagram. On the next screen, you’ll find your pre-defined caption as well.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to check our guide to creating your own Instagram filters as well. More complex workflows allow you to convert five photos into a GIF or even cross-post photos across social networks.

Can’t Create Workflows? Download Them Instead

If you find creating workflows tedious you’ll be relieved to know you can opt to download them instead. All you need to do is open the app and tap the Gallery button at the top. This opens a curated list of the best workflows arranged in neat tiles under helpful sub-heads.

How To Create Your Own Extensions For Your iPhone & iPad workflow iOS gallery

To download any of these, select it and then tap Get Workflow. Earlier I linked to a couple of workflows – open these on any device that has Workflow installed and tap Download to start using them.

Select a workflow and hit the Share icon to share it with your friends, who will receive a link to the workflow that they can use to download it. This Share icon also lets you add workflows to the home screen, which turns them into mini-apps. I’ve used Workflow to create several speed dial shortcuts on my home screen and I’m sure you’ll find some workflows useful enough to add them to your home screen.

This ability to share and easily download workflows adds another dimension to the app. It ensures that those who don’t have the time to fiddle with the app’s exhaustive list of actions can hit the ground running.

Save Time & Taps

For an app with such emphasis on sharing, I’d have loved to have the ability to sync workflows across my iOS devices. If you own multiple devices linked to the same Apple ID, you’ll still have to manually add your favourite workflows to each device.

How To Create Your Own Extensions For Your iPhone & iPad workflow iOS file downloader

It’s hard to find another app that lets you do so much more with iOS without jailbreaking. Launch Center Pro is one of our favourite automation apps for iOS and its geofencing feature will let you get even more out of Workflow. You’ll be able to trigger certain workflows when you reach the office or when you leave home. Between these two apps, many iOS limitations seem fairly minor. You still can’t access certain system functions such as enabling or disabling Touch ID through these apps, but you can do things like change the device’s brightness level or send a custom notification.

If this sort of thing appeals, you should definitely bookmark the Workflow Subreddit. It is a great place to find new workflows, get help creating workflows or for posting a request for a specific workflow.

Mihir recently wondered whether the Internet is falling out of love with Apple. While his argument about a drop in Apple’s software quality is valid, the other side of the coin is that the Cupertino-based company has added several previously restricted features to iOS. Apps such as Workflow make the platform even more appealing to power users.

Download: Workflow ($4.99) for iPhone & iPad

Which are your favourite workflows?

Thinking Of Moving? Discover Your Ideal City Based On Work And Lifestyle

Moving to a new city is never as simple as packing up and buying a one-way ticket. If you want to move to the right place for you, then Teleport is one site you should bookmark right now.

It’s a web service that recommends cities based on your lifestyle and helps you select the best place to live and work. And you can spare yourself the heavy research to find the right city for you and your family.

The best thing about Teleport is that it’s global and not restricted to the U.S. alone. Right now the site covers 265 of the most creative locations in the world. Find the ideal location for your next move based on over 300 different metrics (e.g. cost of living, quality of education, tolerance towards minorities, environmental quality, cultural activities, job availability, labor regulations and economic growth).

Thinking of Moving? Discover Your Ideal City Based on Work and Lifestyle Teleport

If you already know where you want to go: This is the direct non-comparison route to find out about the city you plan to move to. Evaluate the city on standards like life quality scores, cost of living, job salary calculator, safety, education and more.

Use the city drop-down menu at the top to compare with the city you are in right now or any other location.

Thinking of Moving? Discover Your Ideal City Based on Work and Lifestyle Teleport Metric

If you aren’t sure where you want to go: Start exploring. Teleport gives you multiple tags to select and each selection will help fine tune the right location for you. For instance, you can select low living costs as one criterion and pair it against a location near a mountain. Throw in school quality as another preference.

Thinking of Moving? Discover Your Ideal City Based on Work and Lifestyle Teleport Steps

In the next few steps, tell a bit about yourself. Along with the life quality aspects, give some background information on your financial situation, such as your area of work and monthly rent budget.

Teleport Cities churns your preferences and displays list of cities with a breakdown of your match score (qualitative features of a city), and budget differences (the hard numbers) compared to your current city. You can always tweak the data points and arrive at other results to explore.

Once you have settled on a specific city, Teleport walks you through every quality of life aspect in that city that you could possibly imagine. Pay special attention to Local Reviews. There is also a small community section where you “Ask a Local”.

Is Moving to A New City Painful or Pleasant?

As someone who has moved around a lot, I can attest that it is a lot of both. The pain comes before the pleasure. The decision to move is the first big step. A site like Teleport with its 300+ comparison points helps you make an informed one.

Share your own experience of making a move. Which is the one critical factor you use to evaluate a new location?

Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway

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Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway wacomPen tablets are an awesome invention. I don’t mean those tiny pads you use to sign electronic documents at the bank (although those are nice too). I mean the serious, professional models that artists use to create mind-blowing paintings and conjure Photoshop magic. They are pressure-sensitive, sense the angle at which you’re holding the pen, and are generally a huge step up from the mouse or trackpad when trying to create artwork using a computer.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive a Wacom Intuos5 touch Small pen tablet. This is my second Wacom tablet, after an ancient model originally bought around 4-5 years ago. The advances in tablet technology are very noticeable, and the included software feels refined and intuitive. Simply speaking, this is a new generation of tablets, and you can read all about it below.

We will be giving away a brand-new Wacom Intuos5 touch Small tablet to a lucky winner, so if you’d like to have a chance at winning it, just join the giveaway after the review.

Introduction

wacom intuos5 review

The Wacom Intuos5 touch Small retails for $229 and has an active area of 157mm x 98mm (6.2” x 3.9”). It is one of three models in the Intuos5 series, the other two being the Medium ($349, 224mm x 140mm) and the Large ($469, 325mm x 203mm). All three Intuos5 models support an optional wireless accessory kit that allows them to be used without cables, but today I will be reviewing the base configuration without the wireless kit.

In terms of products from other companies, I must say there are not many viable alternatives to Wacom. Genius offers a number of pen tablets, such as the MousePen i608x retailing for $70 and aimed at occasional users, and the G-Pen M712X for $170, aimed at professional artists and designers (the same market the Intuos5 is targeting). The pro model G-Pen has a resolution of 4,000 LPI (lines per inch), significantly less than the 5,080 LPI offered by the Intuos5. It also offers only 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, while the Intuos5 supports 2048 levels of sensitivity. While specs often don’t tell the whole story, they do count for something – and the top-of-the-line model from Genius does not match the Intuos5 by the numbers. Then again, it also retails for $59 less than the Wacom and has a larger working area than the small Intuos5 model (304mm x 184mm).

What’s In The Box?

wacom intuos5 review

The Intuos5 ships with a touch-sensitive pen and a pen stand which opens to reveal ten replacement nibs:

wacom intuos5 review

Oh, and there’s also a USB cable: Mentioning it seems silly at first, but it’s actually very good: It is two meters long (meaning, super-long), and features a custom-made Mini USB connector on the tablet side. The cable exits the connector from the side, and the connector contains a little holder into which you can slot the cable, to reverse its direction. This image should make things clearer:

wacom intuos5 review

The included pen stand feels sturdy, and should look lovely on most desks. The pen fits into it vertically, and can also lie across it in a molded groove as shown above.

Design

wacom intuos5 tablet review

In a word, the Intuos5 is gorgeous. The first thing I noticed is that the Intuos5 is completely blank: There isn’t a single label on the tablet’s face. Not a single button is visually marked, and even the Wacom logo is embossed. The tiny dots of color are actually indication LEDs. I find that brilliant: Since you will be touching the tablet all the time, any ink markings might wear off. Not using any labels ensures the tablet always looks at its best.

There are markings though, as you can see above: These are tactile bumps on key buttons. Like the primary work surface, the buttons are pressure-sensitive: Rest your finger lightly on a button, and a semi-transparent on-screen legend pops up. Apply a bit more pressure, and the button will activate. The on-screen legend is brilliant, because you don’t have to take your eyes off the screen to find the button you are looking for.

wacom intuos5 tablet review

Operation and Customization

The very first thing you should know about working with the Intuos5 is that it supports both pen and touch input, and that it is actually multi-touch. So if you think Apple’s Magic Trackpad is cool, you should really look at what the Intuos5 can do. It’s like a huge Magic Trackpad on steroids, with state-of-the-art pen support. It’s all customizable, too:

wacom intuos5 tablet review

Pressing the Settings button on the tablet pops up a full-screen overlay showing all current settings at a glance, and allowing you to change anything you need. For example, to re-bind one of the action buttons, just move the mouse cursor over to it and tap (or click):

wacom intuos5 tablet review

This will pop open the Wacom Tablet Properties dialog, which has a more sedate interface. This is where all the action happens:

wacom intuos5 small tablet review

This powerful dialog lets you change every aspect of the tablet’s behavior. You can freely remap buttons, assigning them with tablet-related actions or arbitrary keystrokes as you see fit. Not only that, but you can tweak and change the tablet’s settings for each individual app you use. For example, one app may use Tab to hide all toolbars, while another may use Escape. With the Wacom Tablet Properties dialog, you can have the same physical tablet button send two different keystrokes, depending on the application you are currently using.

Being left handed, one of the most important settings for me is the left-handed mode: This makes a big difference, because it lets you turn the tablet around so that the buttons are on the right side (for pressing with you right hand), and the work area is on the left, making drawing natural and avoiding accidental button presses. Another important feature of per-app settings is that you can limit the active area:

wacom intuos5 small tablet review

If you have a large desktop work area, being able to constrain the pen to just one window or even one part of the window can help you draw more accurately. Then again, if the tablet itself is too large for you (unlikely on the Small model), you can limit its active surface area.

Wacom didn’t skimp on the multi-touch gestures, and they are numerous:

wacom intuos5 small tablet review

The Standard Gestures tab shows the default gestures, with an animated display that rotates between the different gestures, demonstrating them with simple animations. It’s all here: Rotating, zooming, scrolling, and swiping with multiple fingers. The four-finger swipe is interesting: It triggers Windows’ built-in Alt-Tab dialog, letting you swipe between all active windows. It is easy to use because you don’t have to keep your fingers down: You can let go of the tablet, then swipe again to switch to the next app, and so on.

Living With the Wacom Intuos5

wacom intuos5 small tablet review

The Intuos5 is a precision instrument. While theoretically portable, I wouldn’t just chuck it in a laptop bag with no protection. It doesn’t come with a case, but Wacom does offer a case for it at $25. Also, being a pen tablet, it makes some assumptions about the way you work: For example, you are really supposed to use it with a desk. If you work with a laptop on a bed, or have a custom workstation


How To Design Your Own Awesome Workstation




How To Design Your Own Awesome Workstation

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that doesn’t have a desk, you are not the user Wacom had in mind when they designed the tablet. I built a shelf just for the Intuos5, which you can see above. That makes it easy to store, but doesn’t help me when using it: I can use it by propping it on my lap, but when I need to work with my keyboard in parallel, things start getting awkward. Even the Small model has a sizable footprint, so expect to dedicate some desk space to the Intuos5.

Another thing to consider is the pen and holder combo: Both pen and holder are finely made, but are not military-grade robust. In other words, if you have cats (I have three), don’t expect to just leave the pen in its holder on your desk or shelf. A curious cat can easily overturn the holder, causing the pen to tumble out, perhaps to the floor. At $70 just for the pen, this is not an accessory you want to absent-mindedly run over with your chair.

At the end of the day, a pen tablet is just an accessory: It’s like a mouse, but much, much fancier. So, just like some applications work great with mice (Web browsers) and others don’t make such great use of them (word processors), the same is true for pen tablets: If you’re mainly creating vector graphics using CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator, you may not get so much mileage out of the Intuos5. But if you use something like Photoshop or Corel Painter to retouch photos, paint with natural media or do other raster work, a high-quality pen tablet makes a big difference even if you’re not a pro (and certainly when you are).

Should You Buy It?

If you have the money, my answer would be an unequivocal yes. I was very impressed with the Intuos5 as a device, in terms of hardware design, human engineering, and bundled customization software. That said, it will not make you an artist overnight, and you do need to set up your workspace so you can easily use it and make sure no harm comes to it. If you are serious about creating digital art, the Intuos5 can take you far.

How do I win the Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from our Facebook page, our Twitter stream and Google+ page.

Wacom Intuos5 touch Small Pen Tablet Review and Giveaway giveawaycodes

The giveaway is over. Congratulations, Andy Monroe!

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post!

Like it

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This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, June 15th. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Interested in sponsoring a giveaway? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via the form at the bottom of this page.

7 Best Coding Apps For Kids To Learn Programming

Young children learn languages better. While older brains may be more efficient, younger brains are increasingly malleable. Like spoken languages, it’s an excellent idea for kids to foray into programming languages. BBC’s micro:bit hardware teaches kids coding and the Kano is a DIY computer for kids to learn programming.

But just as old and young brains differ in retention, so too do learning methods. Coding apps offer ample opportunities to teach children programming. It’s a fun, controlled environment. Rather than send children to a coding boot camp, check out these five best coding apps for kids to learn programming.

1. Kodable (Free/Paid, Web/iOS)

Kodable-screenshot
Image Credit: iTunes

Kodable’s tagline reads “programming for kids, made with love.” Its easy lessons target kindergarten to fifth graders. While the K-3 curriculum is mostly foundational, fourth and fifth grade learning shifts to a focused set of topics. Kodable adheres to programming standards which teach JavaScript. Since JavaScript is an excellent language for beginners, the fundamentals Kodable enforces foster fantastic programming skills.

Plus, progression through lessons remains fun. Games arrive as a set of challenges like navigating a maze. But Kodable doesn’t keep programming concepts too simple. Rather, Kodable even includes notions including looping and branching. Largely Kodable presents if/then decisions to initially present the concept of programming. Moreover, Kodable makes learning JavaScript fun by using gamification. Overall, Kodable is a solid entry-level means for kids to learn programming.

Why it’s great: Kodable is free and web-based, and introduces basic programming concepts like looping and branching.

2. Daisy the Dinosaur (Free, iOS)

Fact: dinosaurs are awesome. As a kid, my favorite chicken nuggets were the dinosaur-shaped ones. Adding dinosaurs is a recipe for excellence. Further proving this point, Daisy the Dino is one of the best coding apps for kids. Mini-games teach children programming basics. For instance, a loop-deloop challenge encourages kids to use word commands to make Daisy perform various moves. But there’s a catch: you’re limited to using the spin command once. A hint suggests nesting the spin command inside the repeat five command.

Daisy the Dinosaur isn’t just one of the best coding apps for kids to learn programming because there’s a dinosaur. Although the dino protagonist certainly helps, it’s more the spectacular focus on coding and its challenges. Furthermore, Daisy the Dinosaur doesn’t seem tech-oriented. On the surface it’s a simple word and puzzle solving game. While Daisy the Dinosaur might be a bit short, it’s free and fundamentally sound.

Why it’s great: Daisy the Dinosaur is free, simple, and appeals to even non-techie kids.

3. Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar (Paid, iOS/Android)

Code-a-Pillar
Image Source: Amazon

The Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar by Fisher-Price offers a unique bonus: an app and an offline toy. While it’s an excellent idea to start kids off with hands-on tech and programming edification, too much screen time yields detrimental results. Therefore, the Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar app and its corresponding toy work in conjunction.

With the app, kids solve puzzles which present basic computer programming and coding concepts. It’s aimed at younger children, ages 3–6. While there is a Code-a-Pillar toy, the app is standalone. Some of the directions might be slightly challenging for the kiddos. Therefore it’s best if an adult supervises. Though the same can be said about a young age group deciphering the directions to “Candy Land.” Sound effects and the soundtrack may both be turned off. This remains a pleasant touch as it limits possible distractions.

Why it’s great: There’s a corresponding physical toy in addition to the standalone app. Plus, music and effects can be turned off for a distraction-free experience.

4. Gamestar Mechanic (Paid, Web)

Gamestar Mechanic is a web-based app that teaches kids to make their own videos games. Playing games is enticing, so the promise of game design is appealing to children, moreso than web development or app development. Thus, game design is an excellent foray with a huge payoff: getting to play a game. But since Gamestar Mechanic focuses on game design, it’s decidedly more advanced. Don’t expect simplistic matching games as seen in apps such as Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar.

For kids around 7–14, Gamestar Mechanic is perfect. The app boasts courses, game creation, and a play and learn feature with gamification. Quests build game design, and you gain items which you can use to make games. A robust community rounds out Gamestar Mechanic, making it a spectacular coding app for teens and pre-teens.

Why it’s great: Gamestar Mechanic aims at a slightly older age group. Game design is a promising and budding sector, so there’s a perfect segue into more advanced programming.

5. Minecraft (Paid)

Minecraft is a massively popular game. Its sandbox style makes it highly adaptable. While it’s not necessarily aimed at kids, Minecraft and its all-ages content prominently offers a safe environment for programming. Some mods specifically target children, such as the child-centric LearnToMod mod.

You might use Minecraft as an opportunity to teach your children about servers and set up a Linux game server.

However, Minecraft is not pre-configured for younger audiences. Adults may need perform a bit of initial set up. But once it’s created, LearnToMod offers a bevy of programming knowledge that’s digestible. There’s a thriving online community. As most of these apps go, Minecraft is pricier. Yet it holds loads of promise with its tutorials which foster real-world programming skills. Minecraft Pi is an awesome medium to get kids modding in Minecraft.

Why it’s great: Mods such as the LearnToMod mod teach kids actual coding skills with lessons and instructions.

6. Tynker (Free/Paid, Web)

Tynker is a solid app. Its name suggests tinkering, which connotes getting hands on. As such, Tynker teaches programming brilliantly. Like many apps for kids to learn programming, Tynker infuses coding with excitement. As a platform, it boasts a smattering of choices. Kids can code robots and drones, mod Minecraft, build apps and games, or explore STEM.

Children begin with code using visual blocks before starting with Python and JavaScript. But along the way, programming centers on projects so there’s an enticing value proposition for kids. Since Tynker starts with visual blocks before moving up to actual code, there’s a clear learning path. A comprehensive environment with levels of increasing advancement makes Tynker one of the best mediums for kids to learn programming. You may also consider the similarly-minded Scratch, which is backed by MIT.

Why it’s great: It’s free, and offers paid tiers. Tynker allows kids to make neat projects and grows as kids do.

7. Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues – Mystery Coding Game (Paid, iOS/Android)

If there was anything that motivated me to type, it was Mavis Beacon. However, had my mother allowed me a copy of Typing of the Dead, I would likely have preferred that. Perhaps a Coding of the Dead game is in order though maybe not for kids. Similarly, Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues – Mystery Coding Game presents learning with games. Moreover, the Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues game includes a subtle STEM theme with its protagonist.

The premise is simple yet effective. There’s a narrative about a tech fair and a mystery to solve. Along the way, kids drag and drop visual code blocks into their proper places. Certain mini-games involve selecting costumes. Goldieblox: Adventures in Coding – The Rocket Cupcake Co. is another stupendous entry-level coding app with a STEM concentration. Because of its balanced gameplay, Nancy Drew is one of the best coding apps for kids to learn programming.

Why it’s great: Intuitive, entertain gameplay and STEM themes.

The Best Coding Apps for Kids to Learn Programming

Although programming might sound incredibly advanced, it’s an excellent idea to get kids started early. These five best coding apps for kids provide a spectacular opportunity for kids to learn programming. Microsoft remains at the forefront of tech, and its Kodu GameLab stands as a solid foray into programming. As a child, I mostly played Oregon Trail II and Math Blaster.

As your kids grow older, you may even want to introduce them to these awesome coding games for learning programming. Once you’ve selected the best apps for your kids to learn programming, check out these indestructible and educational tablets for kids.

Image Credits: tuthelens/Shutterstock