Friday, July 9, 2010


When I was a wee child, I had an amazing toy. I don't know how much of a "toy" it really is, I have a pretty broad definition of the word. It's more like a series of activity books with a hands-on tool.

It was called "Think-it-through". Made by Discovery Toys in 1989. That's also my birth-year, so clearly this was something that was created specifically for me. I'd like to dedicate this post to properly thank Think-it-Through, and give it the credit it deserves.

I was just brain-storming like I usually do. Questioning what separated me from the rest of the world in terms of intelligence. Then I remembered the prevalence of the Think-it-through tiles in my childhood, and how much I loved them. I then began to wonder how much it really impacted my overall intelligence. I'm going to assume, a lot.

If I'm ever going to have offspring of my own, I want to make sure they are as smart and good as possible. My parents wanted the same thing. They succeeded. If Think-it-Through was one of the building blocks to my greater intelligence, I want the same for my potential children.

I called my mom to ask if she still had them somewhere and to explain my theory on my intelligence. She managed the find Think-it-Through and all the books that went with it. I was pretty happy about that.

It's an extremely simple device.

Each page has 12 question, with 12 answers. Just match the number with the letter and you're good to go.

To check your answers, you simply flip the thing over and open it.

and you get something like this! Or this...

On the bottom of every page, there's the answer picture. If your shapes and colors match the picture in the book, you win!

What did you win exactly? Knowledge. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

You'd have to look through these books to truly understand how much they're exactly what an aspiring smart person would want as a child. The variety of activities and range of difficulty spanning all these books is astounding.

In an attempt to share Think-it-Through's astounding teaching capabilities, here's more pictures taken to give me an excuse to use this new webcam.

Think-it-Through has some pretty simple problems.

Shape matching.

Pattern recognition.

Shape combination.

Then there's the math books with more involving problems. All colorful and generally fun to look at with it's stories and illustrations.

Learning multiplication with pizza orders

Division with animal feet.

and fractions with space-ship gauges.

There were several books with paragraphs of English problems. They looked more like something you'd see in a standardized test.

Then there were the more abstract problems.

Like matching a picture of a food item before it's processed into food, and what it'll look like on your dinner table.

Matching the dinosaurs with their skeletons.

Pretending you're a doctor, and matching the patients with the method of treatment you'd use to treat them.

Hell, it even tried to teach you how to identify people of different cultures.

It's things like the Think-it-Through that make me question the entire education system.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The devourer of time was unleashed.

I've done a terrible thing...

I found a working ROM for Puzzle Quest 2. What's worse is that I shared this knowledge with those I love and care about most.

Didn't we learn from the first time this happened?

The Nintendo DS's awoken from a long slumber. Ready to endure the punishment. The anguish and despair caused by that cursed game. It could drive a man mad.

The game hates you. It knows you have to play on it's terms. You're only able to do what the game allows you, where as the game can do whatever it wants. You'll match those gems, not because you want to, but because you have to. There are no other available moves. You need that color in order to survive. You need to make this move so the game can't make that move. While you're not entirely sure what move it is the game is going to make, you just know you don't want it to make it.

But none of that matters, it never matters, because you'll win eventually. Having no penalty for losing means there's no reason to not try again. So no matter how demoralizing or frequent your failures are, you can always fail again, and again, until the game decides it's your turn to win.

The worst part about all of it. Is that once you start playing, you'll keep playing. "Just one more puzzle" you'll tell yourself and others. You're lying. You'll finish that puzzle, but wait! There's a treasure chest for you to open! Puzzle for your rewards!

Hours will pass, and you won't know it. If you manage to turn the game off, it'll still be there... in your mind. You can feel the puzzles. Not as an experience itself, you don't picture the puzzles or re-live previous encounters or imagine and plan for the puzzles to be. Instead you just yearn for more puzzles. It's a feeling similar to hunger.

You'll be playing Puzzle Quest in the presence of others, it is a hand-held system after all. If you can play literally anywhere, why not do so?

Someone will ask you.

"Hey, how's Puzzle Quest treating you?"

You'll respond.


You're lying. You'll also realize that a significant amount of time has passed since you last checked, and that those were the only spoken words you've heard from anyone in recent memory.

Sometimes you'll be randomly surprised by the mere existence of those around you; sometimes your presence will be a surprise to those around you, even if you've been within proximity of each other the whole time. Puzzle Quest has its way of taking you to a different place without moving you.

Even right now, I'm beginning to think about how all the time spent writing this post could have been spent playing Puzzle Quest 2.

A problem that shall soon be corrected.