3 Fun and Healthy Recipes To Make With Your Kids

Kids love imitating what their parents do. Cooking isn’t an exception – if they see you prepare your daily meals in the kitchen, it’s natural for them to feel curious and want to try it out. Cooking would be a great parent-child activity. Nothing would make a child happier than to eat a meal that he himself helped prepare.

Try these fun and healthy recipes to make with your kids:

Easy Homemade Pizza

What you need:

Your choice of bread
Pizza sauce
Sausages (sliced)
Cheese, grated
White onions, sliced
Red and/or green bell peppers, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Pineapple slices
Olives, sliced

Slice or place your bread on a baking sheet. Spread the pizza sauce and add a layer of grated cheese on top of each bread. Give your child the freedom and creativity to layer and decorate the pizzas using the different toppings. When all toppings are used up, toast the pizzas in a pre-heated oven (375C) until the cheese has melted.

Baked Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

What you need:

1/4 kg. chicken breast, minced and cooked
1 egg
Spaghetti squash
Sauce of choice (red or white)
Cheese, grated
Basil leaves
Pepper Powder

Heat the spaghetti squash in the microwave until the skin begins to wither. Remove from heat and split the squash then drain and scrape it. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, cheese, basil leaves, oregano, pepper powder and salt. Stir in the squash. (You can let your little one do this step!)

Place the squash mixture in a oven-safe plate. Top with cooked chicken and grated cheese. Place the plate in a cookie sheet in a pre-heated oven (350C) and bake until cheese has melted.

Beans and Cheese Tacos

What you need:

8 taco shells
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 bunch Romaine lettuce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mild salsa

Place the pinto beans and 1/2 cup mild salsa in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Ask your child to help you tear the lettuce into small pieces.

Lay out the taco shells on a serving plate and divide the bean and salsa mixture among the shells. Let your little one top each with the lettuce, remaining salsa and cheese. Serve immediately.

Have a great time in the kitchen with your child – experience a great bonding moment with these fun and healthy recipes!

What Is a Game?

We probably all have a pretty good intuitive notion of what a game is. The general term “game” encompasses board games like chess and Monopoly, card games like poker and blackjack, casino games like roulette and slot machines, military war games, computer games, various kinds of play among children, and the list goes on. In academia we sometimes speak of game theory, in which multiple agents select strategies and tactics in order to maximize their gains within the framework of a well-defined set of game rules. When used in the context of console or computer-based entertainment, the word “game” usually conjures images of a three-dimensional virtual world featuring a humanoid, animal or vehicle as the main character under player control. (Or for the old geezers among us, perhaps it brings to mind images of two-dimensional classics like Pong, Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong.) In his excellent book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster defines a game to be an interactive experience that provides the player with an increasingly challenging sequence of patterns which he or she learns and eventually masters. Koster’s asser-tion is that the activities of learning and mastering are at the heart of what we call “fun,” just as a joke becomes funny at the moment we “get it” by recognizing the pattern.

Video Games as Soft Real-Time Simulations

Most two- and three-dimensional video games are examples of what computer scientists would call soft real-time interactive agent-based computer simulations. Let’s break this phrase down in order to better understand what it means. In most video games, some subset of the real world -or an imaginary world- is modeled mathematically so that it can be manipulated by a computer. The model is an approximation to and a simplification of reality (even if it’s an imaginary reality), because it is clearly impractical to include every detail down to the level of atoms or quarks. Hence, the mathematical model is a simulation of the real or imagined game world. Approximation and simplification are two of the game developer’s most powerful tools. When used skillfully, even a greatly simplified model can sometimes be almost indistinguishable from reality and a lot more fun.

An agent-based simulation is one in which a number of distinct entities known as “agents” interact. This fits the description of most three-dimensional computer games very well, where the agents are vehicles, characters, fireballs, power dots and so on. Given the agent-based nature of most games, it should come as no surprise that most games nowadays are implemented in an object-oriented, or at least loosely object-based, programming language.

All interactive video games are temporal simulations, meaning that the vir- tual game world model is dynamic-the state of the game world changes over time as the game’s events and story unfold. A video game must also respond to unpredictable inputs from its human player(s)-thus interactive temporal simulations. Finally, most video games present their stories and respond to player input in real time, making them interactive real-time simulations.

One notable exception is in the category of turn-based games like computerized chess or non-real-time strategy games. But even these types of games usually provide the user with some form of real-time graphical user interface.

What Is a Game Engine?

The term “game engine” arose in the mid-1990s in reference to first-person shooter (FPS) games like the insanely popular Doom by id Software. Doom was architected with a reasonably well-defined separation between its core software components (such as the three-dimensional graphics rendering system, the collision detection system or the audio system) and the art assets, game worlds and rules of play that comprised the player’s gaming experience. The value of this separation became evident as developers began licensing games and retooling them into new products by creating new art, world layouts, weapons, characters, vehicles and game rules with only minimal changes to the “engine” software. This marked the birth of the “mod community”-a group of individual gamers and small independent studios that built new games by modifying existing games, using free toolkits pro- vided by the original developers. Towards the end of the 1990s, some games like Quake III Arena and Unreal were designed with reuse and “modding” in mind. Engines were made highly customizable via scripting languages like id’s Quake C, and engine licensing began to be a viable secondary revenue stream for the developers who created them. Today, game developers can license a game engine and reuse significant portions of its key software components in order to build games. While this practice still involves considerable investment in custom software engineering, it can be much more economical than developing all of the core engine components in-house. The line between a game and its engine is often blurry.

Some engines make a reasonably clear distinction, while others make almost no attempt to separate the two. In one game, the rendering code might “know” specifi-cally how to draw an orc. In another game, the rendering engine might provide general-purpose material and shading facilities, and “orc-ness” might be defined entirely in data. No studio makes a perfectly clear separation between the game and the engine, which is understandable considering that the definitions of these two components often shift as the game’s design solidifies.

Arguably a data-driven architecture is what differentiates a game engine from a piece of software that is a game but not an engine. When a game contains hard-coded logic or game rules, or employs special-case code to render specific types of game objects, it becomes difficult or impossible to reuse that software to make a different game. We should probably reserve the term “game engine” for software that is extensible and can be used as the foundation for many different games without major modification.

Clearly this is not a black-and-white distinction. We can think of a gamut of reusability onto which every engine falls. One would think that a game engine could be something akin to Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Windows Media Player-a general-purpose piece of software capable of playing virtually any game content imaginable. However, this ideal has not yet been achieved (and may never be). Most game engines are carefully crafted and fine-tuned to run a particular game on a particular hardware platform. And even the most general-purpose multiplatform engines are really only suitable for building games in one particular genre, such as first-person shooters or racing games. It’s safe to say that the more general-purpose a game engine or middleware component is, the less optimal it is for running a particular game on a particular platform.

This phenomenon occurs because designing any efficient piece of software invariably entails making trade-offs, and those trade-offs are based on assumptions about how the software will be used and/or about the target hardware on which it will run. For example, a rendering engine that was designed to handle intimate indoor environments probably won’t be very good at rendering vast outdoor environments. The indoor engine might use a binary space partitioning (BSP) tree or portal system to ensure that no geometry is drawn that is being occluded by walls or objects that are closer to the camera. The outdoor engine, on the other hand, might use a less-exact occlusion mechanism, or none at all, but it probably makes aggressive use of level-of-detail (LOD) techniques to ensure that distant objects are rendered with a minimum number of triangles, while using high-resolution triangle meshes for geome-try that is close to the camera.

The advent of ever-faster computer hardware and specialized graphics cards, along with ever-more-efficient rendering algorithms and data structures, is beginning to soften the differences between the graphics engines of different genres. It is now possible to use a first-person shooter engine to build a real-time strategy game, for example. However, the trade-off between generality and optimality still exists. A game can always be made more impressive by fine-tuning the engine to the specific requirements and constraints of a particular game and/or hardware platform.

Work From Home Tips – Tip #1 – Set Up Your Work Space

Are you working at home already? Or is it something you’re considering doing in the near future?In my experience (and I’ve spent 20 years successfully working from home) the idea of working from home is one many aspire to, with the ideals that it brings a healthier quality of life, which it certainly can.But to make it work and for you to create a successful business working from home, you need to GET ORGANISED!Once you’re organised you can conquer the world, or at least stay happily on top of your own little corner of it.With this in mind, this is the first of a few articles relating to giving you some simple but key tips on how to successfully work from home…Tip #1 Set Up Your Work Space At HomeFirst, you need space. Somewhere that’s yours, even if it’s temporary! Thankfully, working from home means you can be creative and flexible. If your home doesn’t have a dedicated office or study, then think about where else could you find space? Are there a few square feet to spare in any of these?
Loft or Attic
Basement or cellar
Under stairs
Walk-in wardrobe
Corner of living room or bedroom (you can even use a simple privacy screen if necessary, to give you more of a private area)

Foyer or lobby
Hall or landing
Garden shed
Laundry room, utility room
Once you’ve decided where your home office will be, you need to be set up right with the correct equipment to get the job done.Essentials include:
Desk (or any flat surface ie kitchen table, where you can work)

Computer – desktop or laptop/notebook with Internet access, ideally broadband which provides much quicker internet access, and allows you to use the phone & internet at the same time.
Phone (using a digital cordless phone gives flexibility, in case you have to move to another space)

Answering machine
Filing system (cabinet, crate, box, concertina folder)

Comfortable (important!) chair
Good lighting (equally important if you’re planning on working late)

Basic office supplies (pens, highlighters, folders, stapler etc.)

But (and this is a very important “but”)… don’t go out and spend a fortune on ‘stuff’ straightaway. learn to start with what you have, add what you absolutely need. Once the money’s coming in you can spoil yourself with shiny new stuff but do that only when your business begins turning a profit and you can afford the extras.As you purchase things and create your workspace, keep in mind the need to be flexible and efficient. Your computer is crucial. Make sure your computer is ‘man enough’ to do what you’re asking of it – there’s nothing more frustrating then having to continually wait while your computer opens files, connects and/or reboots.Ensure your software up-to-date, and you’ve installed adequate anti-virus and firewall protection (something I’ve learned the painful way!). Create regular backups of your data. Your data is your business’s lifeline… protect it above all costs.Using a laptop or notebook computer and wireless Internet means you can work anywhere in your home, even outside in the garden! If you are a stay-at-home mum or dad and you have small children who can’t be left unsupervised, a wireless laptop is ideal. You can work wherever your kids are.A notebook with wireless also lets you work outside your home wherever there’s wireless Internet… in local restaurants, coffee shops, hotel foyers, airports, etc. Having the option to “go out and work” can make a tremendous difference to your quality of life and productivity.Another great tip to maximise your budget, space and time is to combine functionality. If you need a printer, look for a model that includes a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine… all-in-one – there are some great ones available at very reasonable prices.No matter how small your work space, enjoy creating one that is just for you, by making it personal to you. I love my work space – and you need to do the same, after all you’re going to be spending a fair bit of time in ‘your space’……so make it a ‘space’ you really enjoy being in – your work-from-home business will thank you for it!More ‘Work From Home’ Tips in future articles…