Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

An early birthday

Ben turns 12 in late September, but this weekend we surprised him with an early birthday weekend. We love September birthdays (mine is just four days after his), but fall is always very busy with the start of school and numerous extra-curricular activities. The real deciding factor, though, was his present this year - Lego Mindstorms!

For those of you who don't know, Lego Mindstorms is a Lego kit that allows you to build and program robots. The original version was released nearly 10 years ago. The new edition, NXT, is now a year old. You can read about its development in Wired Magazine.

Img_0005 What's funny about this is I have literally wanted to get this for Ben since he was 5 years old. Each year I would try to talk Lori into it, but it just never made sense. In reality, he wasn't ready it. First, he wasn't terribly interested in Legos — that only started in the last two years when his love for Star Wars made Legos ridiculously fun. Second, as much as I hoped Mindstorms would help him learn programming, he only recently became really curious about that.

In the past few months, as we watched him do more and more advanced things with Legos and on the computer, we knew it was finally time. But with four more weeks left of summer vacation, we just had to give it to him now, when he'll really have time to learn and explore.

We announced the birthday weekend on Friday afternoon and it's been awesome. Lots of movies (we're off to see Harry Potter this afternoon), special breakfasts, pizza, and Mindstorms on Saturday morning. It's safe to say it's been a hit. Within an hour he had installed the software, built his first robot, wrote a program, and downloaded it via Bluetooth! Since then, it's been non-stop robots, including ones that talk, attack, crawl, and generally make our cat very uncomfortable.

Now I know how important timing is in the perfect present. I'm glad we waited!