If you are a retro gamer that came of age in the 1990's, then you almost certainly are a fan of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES. This system, of course, was Nintendo's follow up to the original NES. Like the original NES, it was another runaway smash hit for Nintendo. Despite a strong challenge from Sega with the Genesis, Nintendo ended up winning the console war for a second consecutive generation with all time classics like Super Mario World, Mario Kart, and Castlevania IV.

Here's a blog post that tries to identify what the most popular SNES games are using data. What kinds of data, you might ask? Looking at the number of Google and YouTube search results you start to see how much content people are creating on the web about these old games. You can also look at Facebook data to see what people are sharing. Between these, you start to get a picture of what games people like. I’d encourage you to check it out. It’s very different from gaming on a graphing calculator, that’s for sure, but it includes an interactive javascript table that allows you to explore the data and see where your favorites rank.

 
Here we are again, another school year is upon us. Have you given any thought to what the best graphing calculator of 2016 is? In fact, there are many excellent choices. Casio, Texas Instruments, and HP all make great, graphing calculators. The biggest new feature of the last few years has been color. Basically, all the best graphing calculators have color displays at this point. One, the HP Prime, even has a touch screen. It's not easy to make these choices since it's a big investment for a high school student (or their parents). My advice would be to do your home work and make sure you understand what features these devices have so you can make a choice you feel good about. It will be an investment that can serve you through 4 years of math classes, or even into college.
 
It has been a really long time since I've posted on here. I've recently been looking at the data for the SAT test. There are some pretty interesting trends as far as which states take the SAT more and which don't take it very much. You'll also note that some states have much higher SAT scores than other states. Part of the reason for this is that in the states where fewer students take the test, they tend to be the better students taking it, so you end up with high SAT scores. It is helpful to look at a map of SAT results to help sort through these trends. I have linked to one here to make some of the results I have just mentioned clearer to understand.
 
I've written a new book. The huge title is TI-Nspire Tutorials Vol 1: The TI-Nspire for Beginners.If you are new to the TI-Nspire and could use a little extra support, you have to check this out. It's fully up to date with the latest TI-Nspire OS, version 3.2. This book can prepare you for everything you need to know to get started with the TI-Nspire with a variety of tutorials, focusing on graphing and calculation features. It'll work whether you are on the original TI-Nspire clickpad or the latest TI-Nspire CX. It's very affordable too. The book costs just $6.99 in Kindle format or $9.99 in paperback. The link above will take you to it on Amazon. Please check it out, and if you like it, give it a review or like. 
 
So in addition to graphing calculators, I'm going to start writing a bit about the other projects I'm working on. For one, I've been helping my dad, Mark Allen, with the website for his law firm, Culbertson and Allen, 306 Locust St., Delavan, IL 61734. Delavan is a really small town just south of Pekin, IL, so as you can imagine, it can be tough to find new customers in a rural setting like that. Dad's attorney website is one of the ways he's looking to branch out. I built the site on Headway, a premium Wordpress theme, and now we're trying to get listed in a variety of local listings as well. I'm pretty pleased with how the site is turning out. Dad's even got a blog going on the site with information about changes to the law.
 
So summer is here, which brings up visions of swimming pools and breaking out the grill, vacations and math. Wait, mathematics? Is that honestly a characteristic of summertime frivolity? Most likely it's not for the majority of kids, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be part of summer fun. Truly, couldn't it help if it was part of a child's summer? It's not a disputed fact that the long stretch of time that most American institutions of learning break for during the warmest time of the year is also the time when they forget what they've learned. It makes remembering those hard learned chapters of the rest of the year really tough. Instead of watching the knowledge melt from your child's brain like an ice cream cone on a June afternoon, why not think of a few ways to assist them to keep learning during that break. Here are a few ideas for starters.

First, why not go to a museum? There are many of science just about everywhere, and most of them are extremly child friendly. This kind of museum tends to have lots of interactive activities, many of fun attractions, and they don't really feel like a drag to kids. They may not even think of it as learning. What does this do for you? Most science museums will also have some math exhibits. You'll probably notice that the kind of thinking stimulated at a science museum is to the what any student of math needs.

Second, how about buying a math game for your child? There are numerous kinds of games on the market that make learning math loads of fun. Some are computer games that you can quickly and easily install. There are games for video game systems like the PSP. You can also find printable math games that will allow you the opportunity to try new games all the time or replay the favorites over and over. You can also go to just about any Barnes and Noble and walk out with workbooks full of mathematical games.

Lastly, consider the possibility of getting a graphing calculator for your child. You might be surprised when you learn how many neat calculators there are available to buy. They have capabilities now that make them very easy to use and don't require your child to learn a lot of calculator syntax (i.e. exponents finally look like exponents). The latest calculators are in color and can display photographs like the TI-Nspire CX. Kids approach math with more enthusiasum when they've got the right gear. As a "grown up", you can probably relate. Think about how much more fun it is to go to work when you're driving a new car.

Summing up, even though most students don't think about summer break as a time to learn math, it should be. It's not even necessary to hit the books as hard as you can just to keep the benefits of all the hard learning of the last school year.
 
If you haven't been keeping an eye on Wolfram, makers of Mathematica, you're making a mistake. They've been extremely active making math apps for iOS recently. First, there was the Wofram Alpha app. Fortunately, they cheapened that up quite a bit after their initial mistake of charging almost $50 for it (now costs only $2). Now they have out study guide apps to help with math and science courses, all the way up through college. Where are they headed next with this? Who knows, but it'll be fun to watch.
 
So the TI-Nspire CX was announced all the way back in February, with indications it would arrive sometime in early to mid-April, but so far, we haven't seen it. When will it arrive? That's anyone's guess, but it has started showing up for pre-order in at least one location, Office Max. This color graphing calculator is incredibly impressive, but so far, Casio's Prizm is still the only color graphing calculator on the market. While the wait continues to drag on, you'd have to think Texas Instruments is frantically working to get the CX on the market to avoid the Prizm gaining market share. Stay tuned.
 
I'm a little embarrassed to admit I didn't even realize Weebly offered a blog feature until now. I'm testing it out to see how it goes. If you've ever used it, please feel free to offer suggestions.