RIF Update

I dont know if this will get posted. Trying somethign new. Sending from my cell phone. cool. Comment from Jonathan says that rif has updated its website www.rifagent.com . Cant view it from myphone. Flash maybe? Argh. Flying to Texas. Signing off. Sorry about spelling. Hate to use small keys to backspace. Jim


Anonymous said…
Hi, Jim. Have a safe trip. I hope you don't mind but I'm pasting a commetn from a reader into this area that is about the RIF. Dan J. posted this in anothe r section. I hope he doesn't mind me copying and pasting.



I downloaded a few minutes ago. Not bad. Not bad at all.

There are a bunch of documents in the zip file. 4 pdfs, 1 word, and 1 txt.

1 pdf - build steps, full color, unique robot, I don't want to give away the surprise, obviously some time put into this document, about 100 pages

2 pdf - program steps, full color, some of it doesn't make sense but I'm not an expert (yet) at this program language, good comments, each step has one page color showing the block and the little area in lower left of screen where you tweak the settings, about 50 pages

3 pdf - the story, objectives, some pictures/images for flavor and realism, definitely some thought put into this doc, about 15 pages (plus a cool photo at the end of the location for this mission)

4 word document, form to fill out

5 text version of the form

6 readme file

My only complaint is it took me a few seconds to figure out how to get the download after paying. Check your email, they send you a code. Big zip file (7.5mb) so I think a warning should be given to those with dialup maybe.

For 6 dollars, I'm not disappointed. Looking through this has given me a little incentive to start building more. My son and I are going to have some fun this weekend doing this "mission".

I'll probably buy the next one just to encourage whoever these people are to keep doing them.

Dan J.
Anonymous said…
I want to add my thoughts. I'm a teacher (and a parent). I'm not the primary FLL coach but I have assisted with my school's two teams; my daughter participated last year and enjoyed it. We purchased the NXT for her last week.

I just purchased the mission 1 file and downloaded it for my daughter. I'd like to print the entire thing out but it's almost 200 pages and I think my ink jet will probably run out!

The assembly instructions come in one PDF file (95 pages). Each step is a color photograph. I was expecting the drawn steps like the Lego instruction manual but the photos are very easy to see and follow.

My daughter likes building robots but she's confused about creating the programs. Aren't we all! There is another PDF file (50 pages) that shows a program being created. The program seems to be fairly large. I've only lightly used the software so this will probably help me as much as it does my daughter. I hope!

I haven't gone over all the documents but I will praise the efforts put into this project. I'm not crazy about the spooky-eerie theme but my daughter sure is! If Lego is behind this, they've got some creative people working over there! Keep it up!

Anonymous said…
To download the file you must have cookies enabled.
Rick Rhodes said…
GREAT project for kids. Excellent photos and programming instructions.

Ditto on the difficulty in actually obtaining the file. (I had cookies enabled and it still didn't work. Had to have it emailed to me).

Somebody went to a LOT of work to make this project, and the quality shows.
Anonymous said…
I downloaded it for my kids who have now convinced me to participate. I'm not a big robot fanatic but I have to admit I'm looking forward to spending some time with my kids this weekend. Should make work today go quickly.

Anonymous said…
Hey, Tom.

I'm the same way. My son begged me to get him the kit and I've gotten hooked a little bit at a time. I'm not sure if I'll buy the file until I've heard some more feedback on the instructions from kids, not adults.
Tony Buser said…
oh Jeeze, if I knew this was all a marketing scheme... well I figured it was a marketing scheme, but not one where I'd have to pay money to participate.

Do they really expect people to register for a shady looking website like tradebit and then purchase something with little idea of what you're getting? All from a bizarre "organization" like rifagent.com?

Sure, 6 bucks isn't a lot and for all I know what you get may be very professionally produced, but come on...
Rick Rhodes said…

With all due respect, I'll have to differ with you.

If your goal is to use projects like these to have a fun and creative time with your kids, then I'm all for them.

The site says that later missions will be more complex, which should interest some of the programmers out there.
Anonymous said…

Our intention from the start has been to create fun scenarios for kids that promote creativity, encourage a bit of role-playing, and basically give NXT owners a reason to get out the kit and play.

Our focus is not on adults, but we recognize that many adults will probably participate. We are a small 2 person operation. We do not have a corporate building with servers and high-tech databases and e-commerce software. We are using what we can find that won't cost us a fortune.

We have never once said to ourselves "Let's make a million dollars."

We were told, however, by a good friend with e-commerce experience "The kids will have fun and the adults will take the fun out of it." We're hoping to prove him wrong.

So far, the limited feedback we've received from those that have purchased the file has been positive. And we thank those who have purchased the file and taken a look and provided feedback.

The small fee we are charging allows us to pay the web-hosting bill, the file-hosting fee, and cover some material costs that are incurred during the construction of a mission. We're not skipping and laughing all the way to the bank.

We're not in this for the money. We are both parents who enjoy encouraging our children to play. If we find that projects like this are simply not popular or hold no interest to the general public, we'll move on. But we feel that would be a shame. There are so few resources for the new NXT that focus on kids; most websites and books for the previous version of Mindstorms that we've found in our research seem to focus on adults, with hacking and modifications and more technical matters being the goal.

My partner in this project is not a professional web designer, but I feel he's done a nice job with the site and in finding a way to host the large files and make them available to anyone who wants them. Tradebit.com may not have the flash and glitz that you desire in a website, but a little digging will show they've been around and offer a reasonable service for a reasonable fee. We could have gone with an in-house shopping cart system and other bells and whistles, but our math showed we would have had to charge about $15.00 or more to recover our costs (based on a conservative estimate on how many people might purchase the file).

Our kids just want to play. And maybe some adults do, too. Give us some time to iron out the bugs and kinks. We're trying hard to create something that inspires and maybe brings some additional enjoyment to owning a kit.

Poe (off to work, now)
Rick Rhodes said…
Tony and Poe,

I'm glad that so many programmers are involved with the NXT.

But I'm ESPECIALLY glad to see efforts like "RIF" and Jim Kelly's new book, because they focus on kids.

Programmers, kids and parents can all work together to expand the user base of the NXT.
That will pay us back. Spending quality time "growing" our children is the best thing we can possibly do for our world!

Don't take my word for it though. Even if I've spent the last 8 years voluntarily moderating a forum full of kid MindStormers. I can show you a few results. Several "kids" that are a part of the LEGO MindStorms Forum community have grown to hold very important roles in Science and Technology. One example, "BenG" (I've know for at least 7 years) is now an intern at Microsoft in the Robotics division. Many more from all over the world have chosen to get involved in making our life better on this planet and beyond. Buy it or don't buy it...it is the future we build!

This is the payback!

Tony Buser said…
I have to appologize for being so negative. I had been following along a bit, enjoying a mystery, solving the puzzles that were on the front page, thinking this was just put together by some guy creating some quirky puzzles and having fun. Then when the first mission finally becomes available, getting redirected to someplace shady expecting me to pay. Nowhere prior to that was there any indication that payment would be required.

I guess the whole concept that this was a business venture to market something for kids and educators, was never communicated. And when I got to the tradebit site, scam alerts started going off in my head.

Good luck with it all.
Anonymous said…
Funny, a couple of weeks ago, I had noted that this was a great marketing scheme. Make people feel extra smart by offering solvable puzzles to them. My comment had been deleted, but it looks like this was a gimmick to make money after all.

Jim, you are doing some excellent work here, but please keep it open. I can understand, removing spam (actually all this RIF stuff is kinda spam), but to delete comments simply because you didn't like what they say is a disservice to your readers.

I apologize for saying you were all being duped by the RIF in my previous comment.
I deleted your comment because it said something to the extent of "The NXT STEP had been absorbed or taken over by RIF" - I'm as open-minded as anyone for good discussion, but the comment was insulting AND unsigned (anonymous).

And, quite honestly, I totally disagreed with your assertion - some of those puzzles were tricky...or maybe they weren't and I'm just not that smart. The puzzles were fun, either way. And I guess if you consider their target audience was the 10+ age group, what would be the purpose of posting puzzles that WEREN'T solvable???

I'm sorry to hear that the site has shutdown. Good ideas abound, but some are just ahead of their time, I guess.
Unknown said…
"register for a shady looking website like tradebit"

what is that supposed to mean? We are in the business for over 4 years now and I personally stand for my company AND we are not shady! I guess this refers to the old layout on tradebit, which was made by myself and I would agree if you find that ugly... but shady?

Ralf, CEO

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