Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unicorns and Rainbows

If you like them, you should type ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A on your keyboard. Keep clicking the image to make this blog even more sparkle-ee... This blog is so off course, I'm not sure it can turn around!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Danny MacAskill has Skills

I'm not usually a fan of bike stunt videos, but this guy is amazing. Plus it's shot around Edinburgh (Ed-in-buttah), which is one of the best cities on the planet. Right, Pete? Chances that I'm pulling some of these tricks on my way to work... not so much.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Using Wiimotes to Create Interactive Whiteboards

Over the last three years there's been a big trend to buy what are called active whiteboards. These boards are like a giant pen-tablet on steroids. I have one and I use it to do software demos by interacting with a pen on the surface of what looks like a standard whiteboard. I also do PowerPoint presentations and show interactive content via this technology. It gives you a method of engaging students versus just standing there and lecturing (also known in the teaching biz as, "Stand and Deliver"). There are several companies who make them, but our district buys from a company called Promethean. Core curriculum teachers use the software that comes with these boards to create really cool interactive lessons in History, English, Math, etc.

Today I was at a regional meeting of tech-focused teachers. One of the attendees did a very cool demo using a Wiimote with an LCD projector to create a cheap active whiteboard. Promethean ActivBoards are very expensive - I think we pay a little over $5,000 per unit. Based on what this resourceful teacher showed me you can make your own for no more than $50 bucks. I was psyched to learn that it was an idea from Johnny Chung Lee - a guy who I've admired for his work on interactivity while attending Carnegie Mellon. Anyways, the teacher did an impressive demo today. Here's Johnny Lee's video explaining the setup...

To get this to run you'll need to build an infrared pen and download the software that allows you to calibrate the pen. Pretty cool and very cost effective for today's schools.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

That was totally wicked!

Hank and Juliet have been riding bikes with me a lot lately. Juliet is a champ, but I've fallen down in my Dad-duties(tm) in teaching Hank to ride. He's been on the back of my trail-a-bike for a long time as my little secondary set of legs. Today I took the kids to a playground and he just got on and did it! Always a great day when a kid learns to ride. Wait for the payoff at the end...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SkillsUSA: "Champions at Work"

Hey, sorry for the silence. Spent the weekend with four whip-smart and talented high school students at the Oregon SkillsUSA competition - a proletariat, union-esque, red-jacketed celebration of all things American and work related. I dragged four students to beautiful Albany, Oregon to participate in the state advertising design competition. Over the course of a grueling four hour test they produced logos, advertisements, packaging, and the dreaded "mechanical" (my advertising brothers and sisters who have slaved over newspaper 1/4 page ROP ads know exactly what I'm talking about).

Lo and behold one talented sophomore student won the whole dang thing! But the fun does not stop there. We're headed to Kemper Arena in Kansas City to compete on a national level in late June. I'm actually really excited for my student to show off his skillz at a national level. It's quite an honor and I think he will do well. Perhaps I should live blog the action on the floor of Kemper Arena!?! Last year when I did a post about this event, I got a lot of cat calls to show a picture of me in "competition dress" (red SkillsUSA jacket, black pants and tie, white shirt, dress shoes, etc). Don't hold your breath, I'm still not showin'!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Neither Season

We're in between winter and spring here... alternating snow, rain, and hot sun. Plants are now growing and leaves are almost complete. Time for some music picks. I've decided to focus on the rash of indie bands that include animals in their band name. Trendy lot they are...

Deerhunter - Similar to the Decemberists, I'm repulsed and attracted to this band. Maybe that's a sign that they are good. They hail from Atlanta, GA. Here's a audio-only video of their song, "Nothing Ever Happened". Ignore the video and just listen.

Grizzly Bear - Good stuff, earnest and beautiful. Sorry for the cruddy video, but this live performance of "Deep Blue Sea" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music is too good to pass up.

Fleet Foxes - I love this band. Yes, they are a painfully hip throwback to a bygone era of rock. One of the cool things about getting older is watching bands re-invent musical trends from the past, and mix them up in a new way. +1 for their oh-so-serious use of goats in this clip! Here's "He Doesn't Know Why"...

Noah and the Whale - I always feel like I'm watching a Wes Anderson movie when I hear their music. Just read on Wikipedia that they are big fans, so this make sense. Doesn't this sound like something out of Rushmore? Can't embed the video, so you'll have to click on the link to hear, "5 Year's Time".

They say that there are gold ships, and silver ships, but no ships like friendships. Adieu mon ami!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ramblin' Around the Net

They say that the internet allows you to "surf" information to find what you need. Hence, here are some "findings" from this week. If you've watched a lot of indie movies, this little short is comedy gold. The Dirty Garage had its debut at the SXSW Film Festival, and was billed as, "The most independent movie ever made." I love the camera angles and angst. Wish I had a garage...

Onward to another random site - Idée Inc. develops advanced image recognition and visual search software. They have site called Idée Labs to demo some of their creations. Their Multicolr Search Lab allows you to choose colors from a palette and search for images on Flickr that feature these hues. Here's a set of images it found based on colors from my blog template:

Finally, for you Flash-o-philes out there I present interactive designer Paul Neave. He's got some interesting stuff on his site. Natch, I am drawn to his recreation of old skool games, but you might also enjoy his planetarium. Time to go mow the lawn for the first time this Spring... Later!