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  1. I'm from northern Indiana, and it put me in southern Wisconsin or northern Illinois, so pretty close.
  2. Books make good gifts (maybe I just find it easy to wrap them) "Hacker's Delight" is a really fun programming book that an intermediate-level hobbyist programmer would appreciate: http://www.hackersdelight.org/ Not heavily promoted through the usual channels but people really seem to like it. Most of what's in there are little tricks to make your program work a little faster, and they should work on all kinds of projects and devices.
  3. DS got stuck on some Beast Academy problems and we let him put the (much-erased) scrap paper and pencil aside, build the answer out of Legos, and then copy it to the paper. Legos don't work for all of the problems but where they did they were much faster and less stressful.
  4. When I was a magazine editor working on articles that people got paid to write, I did more changes of lab-report-style writing and corporate-style writing to informal than the other way around. But it's good to know how to write lab reports for when you do take a lab class. If I had a choice, though, I'd practice natural writing and let the editor "correct" it later if he or she really feels the need. (But don't listen to me. I use the Internet form of 'because" -- http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/11/english-has-a-new-preposition-because-internet/281601/-- and never learned to diagram a sentence, because snow day.)
  5. One that really stuck with me that I read at about that age was The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester. Journey of a Allied convoy across the North Atlantic, from the point of view of the US Navy captain in command of the escort ships.
  6. A tablet doesn't directly replace a book. You need some material to put on it. The terms for using a digital copy of a book are often different from using a printed copy. Does the e-book belong to the school, or is it a service that the school subscribes to? Librarians think about this kind of thing a lot. Some discussion: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/06/22/part-1-an-introduction-to-the-issues-surrounding-libraries-and-e-books/(Wishing OP's daughter much success on the assignment, just adding the link in case others are interested. Yes, I still put in library book requests for paper book only.)
  7. I think our kids are better able to see things from each other's points of view thanks to playing games. Probably some improvement to executive function as well, but it's hard to tell. When we play board games it's often an economic game like Settlers of Catan where you have to trade off things of value and work with or against the other players. They seem to think a lot about strategies, when it's good to trade, or when it's better strategy to lock out the other player -- who might retaliate. There's a lot of negotiating and planning going on. dd, age 7, won her first game of "Acquire" last week. (It's a much more businesslike business game than Monopoly, and helps explain a lot of the corporate news. But the main advantage is you don't know the winner until the very end. So no grinding last 2 hours of the game with everyone crying except 1 person)
  8. For the math or information science section: _Hacker's Delight_ is a computer book that will hold up (not like a lot of computer topics where new versions of something make it obsolete). http://www.hackersdelight.org/ It's sort of a weird combination of making your program work faster, solving little mathematical puzzles, and understanding how the computer works. It's not a first programming book, but anyone who has decent knowledge of some computer language could get a lot out of it, and some kids could really get into it, making graphics, games, secret codes, whatever, and learning some math. And you can always come back to it later and try more things.
  9. Our HP LaserJet 3055 B&W printer/copier/scanner/fax has been handling the family homeschool and my home office for years. We have used all its functions, and it works fine with Linux, Apple, and Microsoft Windows computers. The paper feeder for multi-page copying and scanning works really well for a relatively low-cost machine. Printing is reasonably fast, and they put a surprisingly large amount of toner in the cartridge, so they last a while. I don't think they make this model any more (I think most of the newer ones have less toner so they can sell you a cartridge more often) but they are available refurbished.
  10. Some great funny read-aloud books for little kids are Graham Oakley's "church mice" series. http://notjustforkids.blogspot.com/2007/08/lost-treasures-church-mice-books-by.html My brother and I read them when we were kids and they may have been what turned us on to British "humour" before we discovered Monty Python. The mice get into and out of various situations including a lunar expedition and being marooned on a tropical island. Somehow they seem to have research done on them a lot, but nobody gets hurt, even their friend the cat (who because he lives in a church has decided to believe in brotherly love toward the mice even when they get on his nerves.) The pictures are full of funny details too, which our kids liked searching for and picking out.
  11. "Daddy, do we have a tiny screwdriver shaped like a plus sign? I promise I'll be careful with it."

  12. Just finished reading one of his story collections, "Smoke and Mirrors" which I can recommend to Sandman fans. Some stories in that book were kid safe, some would probably induce nightmares in certain people around here (I'm not even allowed to mention selling extra children to the circus for some reason) and since ds is a voracious reader who keeps going once he gets started with something the story book is going to have to go back to the library very quietly.
  13. No, I haven't read anything by Ben Aaronovich. Will put "Rivers of London" on my list. If you like The Rook, you might want to check out the "Laundry" series by Stross. (Yes, I am married to idnib and we read some but not all of the same books). Supernatural spy fiction, mostly from the POV of a computer nerd/government agent who "levels up" in magic as the series progresses. Complex magic/supernatural system, well-done characters for speculative fiction. Some gory stuff. Stross also writes some mind-blowing Singularity/post-Singularity fiction that you will probably like if you like early Bruce Sterling. "Glasshouse" is the best of those books IMHO. The Laundry books are complicated enough that it's probably best to read them in order -- http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/01/laundry-reading-order.html.
  14. If she's into near-future biotech sci-fi , how about _Interface_ by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury? (Near-future when written, recent past now.) "Interface is a near-future thriller, set in 1996, in which a shadowy coalition bent on controlling the world economy attempts to manipulate a candidate for president of the United States through the use of a computer bio-chip implanted in his brain."
  15. Monopoly is always a stressful game around here. Takes hours and everyone except 1 person is crying for 3/4 of the game, because fairly early on you know who's going to win and they just have to finish putting everyone else out of their misery. Much better money game that has mostly replaced Monopoly at our house: Acquire. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5/acquire It has an element of chance and a real estate empire building theme like Monopoly, but you never have to give up money to another player during the game, and the winner is not clear until the very end. (Settlers of Catan is still our favorite, but someone already mentioned that.)
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