Thursday, February 11, 2016

ParrotRead - Book recommendations pulled from your Twitter feeds

parrot-read-web

I came across ParrotRead the other day -- I don't quite remember how -- but it has turned out to be a very useful, free, service.

ParrotRead scans your Twitter Timeline and automatically finds and reports on books that appear there with a weekly email.

I wasn't sure how useful this might be, but over the last several days I have found several books that interested me enough to request them from my local library. It's always nice to see a site that does something simple and well. I look forward to future recommendations from the site.

Link: ParrotRead: Weekly Book Recommendations from the People You Follow and Respect on Twitter

Monday, February 08, 2016

Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets: Simple Flying Things Anyone Can Make--Kites and Copters, Too! [Book]

Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets: Simple Flying Things Anyone Can Make--Kites and Copters, Too!
Rick Schertle and James Floyd Kelly

I wish I had found this book a few years ago when my son was younger. It would have greatly helped established my “Dad Credentials” when he came to me with his imaginative and fun project ideas. I am somewhat handy and can make some basic things, but having Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets around as a ready reference guide sure would have helped. That said, if you have kids who want to start “making”, this is a great, fun place to start.

Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets provides several projects from paper helicopters (with optional, but cool, LED lights), Rubber band airplanes, kites, foam air rockets and more. According to the book’s preface, this is the first in a series of books from Maker Media and sets a good example for the other books in the series. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more like this.


Each project provides some basic discussion starters about the scientific concepts involved in each project and then moves into a careful and well illustrated step-by-step guide for building and then flying the project. All the photos are clear and well-captioned. Templates are included when useful and a complete supplies list are provided for each project. Some projects can also be purchased from Make as complete kits, ready to be assembled.

Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets would be a great book for kids and adults to work through together, over the course of several weeks or months -- growing in skills with each project. Older kids could put together many of these projects on their own, if they were looking for a place to start their own maker adventures.

Of course, a book like this is could also be used in any educational environment to discuss a wide variety of engineering, aeronautical and scientific concepts. Hands-on activities are a great way of clarifying and solidifying new concepts by applying theories as soon as possible after they are learned.

If you’re looking to get away from your computer for a while and enjoy some time making things with your hands instead of just your mind, Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets is a great place to start.

Rick Schertle is a master at the craft of teaching middle school in San Jose and a novice maker at home. His diverse interests include backyard chickens, adventure travel, veggie oil-fueled cars and geocaching - all made more fun with the enthusiastic support of his wife and the crazy antics of his young son and daughter. 
James is a writer who lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two young sons. He has degrees in Industrial Engineering and English and enjoys making things, writing about those things, and training young makers. He has written over 25 books on a variety of subjects from LEGO robotics to Open Source software to building your own CNC machine and 3D printer.
Recommended

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

On My iPhone/Android: Layout from Instagram

 
 
 
I am not a big user of photo collages on my site, but I have some very specific use cases that gives Layout from Instagram a place on my iPhone and iPad. I often post collections of products I create with my photography and Layout allows me to easily assemble and post collages of product samples. Occasionally I will use it for more casual creations, too. It does what is does, quickly, capably and reliably, which is about the best that can be said of any app on your devices.
 
 
Some of my pictures created with Layout
 
  
 
From the iTunes App Store...

 Create fun, one-of-a-kind layouts by remixing your own photos and sharing them with your friends.

Choose photos from your camera roll—or use the built-in Photo Booth to take spur-of-the-moment shots—and instantly see them laid out in various combinations. Pick the layout you like best, then edit it to make it your own.

Layout's smooth, intuitive process gives you complete creative control. Tap to mirror, flip or replace images, hold and drag to swap them, pinch to zoom in or out, or pull the handles to resize. You're the editor, so get creative—tell a story, show off an outfit or just splice, dice and change the look of your regular photos to convey a mood or theme.

FEATURES

* Re-mix up to 9 of your photos at a time to create fun, personalized layouts.

* Use the Faces tab to quickly find photos with people in them.

* Capture the moment in Photo Booth mode with quick, spontaneous shots.

* Save your layouts to your camera roll and share them seamlessly to Instagram or other networks.

* Easily see the last 30 photos you've selected in the Recents tab.

* Pair your layouts with Instagram's filters and creative tools afterwards to make them stand out even more.

* Download and start creating immediately. No signup or account required—and no clutter breaking up your flow.

Previously in "On my iPhone/Android…":

"On my iPhone…" is a new series from TechnologyIQ, sharing real world examples of how I use my iPhone, interesting apps and more

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On My iPhone/Android: Tumblr

 
 
Tumblr has become a larger part of my social media world over the last year, and their iPhone app allows me to keep in touch with those I follow there as well as easily post my own content. Tumblr is unique and a bit quirky and I often find content there that I haven’t seen in any other of my social media accounts, so it makes sense to stay involved even when I am on the go.
 
 
 
From the iTunes App Store...

Discover and create the stuff you love. If you love stuff, stop reading this, get the app, and just start having fun. You’ll probably never be bored again. 

- Whatever you’re into, people are making and sharing stuff about it on their Tumblrs.

- They’re posting photos, GIFs, text, videos, audio, anything. Passion takes many forms on Tumblr.

- Follow artists, musicians, comedians, designers, thinkers, scientists, publications, architects, firemen—you know, interesting people. All the interesting people are here. 

- Plenty of ways to find the good stuff. Search for it, or just check out what's popular/interesting/weird/wonderful. 

- You get your own Tumblr, too, obviously. Post whatever you want, or reblog other people’s stuff. Add commentary if you like. Make it your own. Other people will do the same to your posts. That’s how you meet people here. 

- You can also just send private messages to the people you follow, if that’s more your thing. Tumblr is yours. Be how you wanna be. 

- Make your Tumblr look however you want. Custom header images, fonts, colors, all that. Use an animated GIF for you header image if you want. We can’t stop you. 

Tumblr is yours. Welcome to Tumblr.

Previously in "On my iPhone/Android…":
"On my iPhone…" is a new series from TechnologyIQ, sharing real world examples of how I use my iPhone, interesting apps and more

Discover and create the stuff you love. If you love stuff, stop reading this, get the app, and just start having fun. You’ll probably never be bored again. 
- Whatever you’re into, people are making and sharing stuff about it on their Tumblrs.- They’re posting photos, GIFs, text, videos, audio, anything. Passion takes many forms on Tumblr.- Follow artists, musicians, comedians, designers, thinkers, scientists, publications, architects, firemen—you know, interesting people. All the interesting people are here. - Plenty of ways to find the good stuff. Search for it, or just check out what's popular/interesting/weird/wonderful. - You get your own Tumblr, too, obviously. Post whatever you want, or reblog other people’s stuff. Add commentary if you like. Make it your own. Other people will do the same to your posts. That’s how you meet people here. - You can also just send private messages to the people you follow, if that’s more your thing. Tumblr is yours. Be how you wanna be. - Make your Tumblr look however you want. Custom header images, fonts, colors, all that. Use an animated GIF for you header image if you want. We can’t stop you. 
Tumblr is yours. Welcome to Tumblr.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Technology Project -- chime in on the topic!

Thinking on a new project for the New Year… 

 

What is your biggest problem/issue/success with technology?

What do you wish technology could help you accomplish?

How could technology make life easier for you and yours?

What small/large task would you like to see technology address?

I am keeping the questions very general for now to see where the conversation goes?

What are your thoughts? Add a comment!

Douglas

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Noted: This pot won't let you kill your houseplants


Read This pot won't let you kill your houseplants via The Verge

An interesting link found among my daily reading

Noted: uPeek – the pocket sized microscope for on the go discovery

Noted: Time Warner Cable Hacked, Change Your Passwords Now


Read Time Warner Cable Hacked, Change Your Passwords Now via Lifehacker

An interesting link found among my daily reading

Noted: NYPL puts 180,000 public domain images online


Read NYPL puts 180,000 public domain images online via kottke.org

An interesting link found among my daily reading

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Noted: Update those gaming consoles, tablets, phones BEFORE gifting this year!

What a great idea when gifting any technology device, wherever possible. Download all the system updates, software upgrades, apps, whatever so that your family and friends can use the device the moment it is unwrapped. An console that needs to spend hours updating itself before the first game can be played is like getting a new bicycle in the middle of an dark and cold Ohio Winter.

One Important Thing To Do Before Gifting A Game Console On Christma
If you’re thinking of giving someone an Xbox, PlayStation, Wii U, 3DS, Vita, or iPad this Christmas, there’s something you can do to sweeten the deal even more for the recipient: download every update for the console first. 
Yes, this will require you to open the gift, take the console out, and then repack it—which sucks if you bought the console brand-new. If you keep the receipt and are careful, though, downloading updates shouldn’t be a big deal. Let me explain. 
Read this entire article

Friday, August 07, 2015

Beautiful Laptop Sleeves in 75+ designs [Product] from Douglas E. Welch

RedBubble just added Laptop Sleeves to their available products and I think they look great.

Get one of my photos on your sleeve and take a little beauty everywhere you go.

Enjoy a little high-tech/high-touch in your life!

Sky garden sleeve

Just a few of the available designs. Click to see them all!

RedBubble laptop sleeves

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Keyboard Time - Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Essential Mechanical Gaming Keyboard



As time goes on there is a never ending need for newer and better hardware. I recently had to upgrade my hardware set with a new keyboard.


I started my search with a few key things in my mind. The keyboard had to be mechanical, it had to have anti-ghosting protection, and it had to be around 100 dollars at most. The blackwidow tournament edition filled all of those categories.


This keyboard has satisfied my needs and has exceeded my expectations. I knew i’d notice some difference between my old non-mechanical keyboard. I was shocked at how significant of a difference it made. I feel the keys responding to my actions better.


The keyboard has served its purpose and satisfied my needs in the gaming and typing world. I highly recommend this keyboard as a low budget gaming accessory.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Cool: Mechanical Wonder Mantel Clock from Dot & Bo

Another cool clock spotted over at Dot & Bo. It always seems that once you spot one interesting item, similar one’s suddenly catch your eye wherever you go.

Mechanical Wonder Mantel Clock from Dot & Bo

Spotted at Dot & Bo

 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Media Gear 24: KumbaCam 3 Axis SmartPhone Stabilizer mentioned in New Media Interchange Episode 14

Originally posted on Careers in New Media with Douglas E. Welch

New Media Gear 23: KumbaCam 3 Axis SmartPhone Stabilizer

Kumba cam

Mentioned in New Media Interchange Episode 14: Emmys, Apple Television Streaming and VR

  • 3-Axis Handheld Stabilizer for SmartPhones. (Works with iPhone 6+ and GoPro cameras)
  • 3 modes which can be changed as simply as tapping the mode button
  • Heading Follow Mode (Default) - Phone Pitch and Roll Angles remain constant, heading follows the handheld position.
  • Heading Mode (Tap Mode Once) - Keeps the phone pointed in the same direction
  • Locking Mode (Tap mode Twice) - Keeps the phone pointed in the forward direction from the Handle
 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Previously on New Media Gear:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Noted: How to pick your first programming language from Udacity

I discovered this infographic from Udacity via BoingBoing this morning and thought it might be useful to some of you who are looking to begin a career in programming. Click the infographic to see a full-sized version.

"4 Ways to Pick Your First Programming Language

If you haven’t picked your first programming language, the programming world is your oyster. Yet with evangelists for every language telling you their language is the best, choosing one to start with can be incredibly overwhelming. We’ve looked at the data for the top ten programming languages in the US (based on IEEE Spectrum data) to help you pick the best language to start with based on your priorities in lifestyle, location, and career potential."

Check out the entire infographic here

First prog lang

Thursday, July 09, 2015

3-D Printers -- New Tech, New Times

3-D printing, the next step in prototyping currently and the future of mass production.

3-D printers are being used for all kinds of tasks today. In our Hex-labs makerspace tour we saw their wall of printers working away at various projects. 3-D printing gives a physical prototype to something you only had to imagine and then plug into software on your computer. What used to take model builders hours and sometimes even days could now be roughly completed in a day at most for the average hobbyist. Even big corporations are finally taking the leap forward with 3-D printing being used to make the models for molds that would later be used for the mass production of toys or other such things.

Even the food industry is taking ideas from the 3-D printing world.There were several 3-D printers shown off at last years CES that were solely used for printing food. They could print in sugars and chocolates and were able to produce edible art that would never have been possible before. They even had an inkjet style printer for cakes.

 
You can find all sorts of information about makerbot here: https://www.youtube.com/user/makerbot and also on their website:

3-D printing is also not nearly as expensive as it used to be which allows small businesses to use it to make products or to give their possible investors a tangible idea of what they want to accomplish. Only a few years ago 3-D printers were at least a couple thousand dollars if not more. Now the cheapest starter version of the makerbot, one of the prime 3-D printing companies, is a mere $1,300 dollars alone and around $1,800 for a full starter kit including plenty of filament for printing.

Filament is also becoming readily available. You can walk in to a Frys electronics and choose from a wall of different plastic types and colors.

3-D printing is the future of our lifetime and beyond.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The New Face of TechnologyIQ

Welcome to the new TechnologyIQ.

My name is Joseph Welch and I am here to bring you news and reviews of the newest computer masterpieces.
I will be bringing new content to the TechnologyIQ blog and our new connected Youtube channel which will be launching next week. You can subscribe now so you are ready to receive automatic notice of our first videos.

I hope to be providing 3-4 videos a week within the coming months. I will also be posting here on this blog weekly and whenever major events occur to keep all of you up to date with the tech world.

Thanks for being part of the TechnologyIQ community and I hope you enjoy the next step on the TechnologyIQ journey.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Noted: Geekbus Moves to Educate Young Makers from Make Magazine

Make Magazine has a great story on the Geekbus (Geekbus Moves to Educate Young Makers) in San Antonio, Texas. It would be great to see something like all across the country and the world. Sure, permanent hacker/maker spaces are cool, but there is a special power in taking the technology right to the doorstep of those that want and need it most.
"Geekbus is the community outreach arm directed by Sastemic , a non-profit organization connecting professionals, educators, industry, and the community. The Geekbus project is designed to aid schools in promoting STEM studies, provide students with diverse learning experiences, and teach skills directly relevant to jobs in the tech industry. "

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Visit to Hexlab Makerspace, Tarzana, California



We made a quick trip over the Open House at Hexlab Makerspace today in Tarzana, California. A great, funky, and well-equipped membership-based makerspace. They have free introductory classes in 3-d printing and laser cuttings and full memberships available. 3-d printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, equipped tool bench, paint booth and more! Check them out at Hexlab Makerspace.

More photos from our visit

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Free Small, Yellow, Sunflower Computer and Smartphone Wallpapers for May 2015

Here is a selection of free wallpapers for your computer desktop or smartphone. Click to load full-sized image, then right-click and select Save Image As… to download them to your own computer. On your smartphone, click the image to see the full-sized image, tap and hold, then select Save to Camera Roll. You can then attach the wallpapers using your phone’s preferences.

Desktop

 

iPad | iPhone


Get this wallpaper on a variety of fun products

Small sunflower rb iphoneSmall sunflower rb printSmall sunflower rb travelSmall sunflower rb pouchSmall sunflower rb toteSmall sunflower rb mug

Check out my entire portfolio on RedBubble


Previous wallpapers:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review: Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know about Narrative Techniques by Evan Skolnick

Book Review: Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know about Narrative Techniques by Evan Skolnick


* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** This book may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

At first glance, an outsider to the world of video games might see little relation between a major motion picture and a video games. They seem to be different genres, different worlds, even when movies crossover to become games and games crossover and are developed into movies -- often badly. The action, the interactivity, the immersion of video games can make their stories seem unlike a standard narrative program. Surely, due to the player’s control of characters, video games can’t be written in the same way as a television script. While that might be true in some regards, when you go deeper into the creation of story that drives the final narrative, there are more similarities between writing for film and video games than you might imagine. These similarities also mean that many similar challenges exist for these writers regardless of their genre.

Writer Evan Skolnik is an international speaker and educator who conducts workshops on storytelling techniques and has worked on large scale video game projects such as Star Wars 1313, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 and Spiderman 3.

The first half of Video Game Storytelling would be familiar to anyone who has ever taken a film writing course. It discusses the “three act structure”, “The Hero’s Journey” and the Monomyth that are the basis for many of our most classic books and films like Star Wars and Alien. Skolnick uses these well-known films to illustrate various writing concepts but then expands his examples with examples from well-known video games and how they also use these same techniques. These games include the Bioshock series, Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid. Thankfully, just as with movies, many scenes and playthroughs of these games are easily available via YouTube. This allows the reader to familiarize themselves with games they may have never played and fully understand the lessons Skolnick references.

While there is a good deal of video game examples spread throughout this first half, I found myself wishing for even more examples of how the traditional writing and storytelling rules applied to video games.
The second half of Video Game Storytelling details the many disciplines involved in creating a video game and how each of these affects -- and is affected by -- the narrative tools he has illustrated in the first half. For incipient video game developers this is where they will find the “meat” of the book and the majority of the author’s expertise. The information found in the first half might be found in any good book on screenwriting, but the detailed breakdown of all the video game development disciplines, their challenges and their relationship to the narrative of any video game should probably be required reading for anyone considering a career in video game design and development.

In the “In the Trenches” section, Skolnik details the responsibilities of each important discipline including Game Character Development, Level and Mission Development, Environments, Audio and several others. He also details how a video game writer needs to work with each of these disciplines in order to create a well-balanced, successful, and most importantly playable video game.

Throughout Video Game Storytelling you will see and hear a complaint common to any collaborative writing and creative enterprise -- the lack of inclusion, if not outright respect, for the creator of the narrative of a game. There are several common mistakes in dealing with a writer, whether in traditional media such as television or film or the relative younger video game industry. Skolnick lays out the biggest mistakes creative teams can make with their narrative experts i.e. writers. These mistakes can range from not hiring a writer at all for your game to hiring a writer but then not giving them the power and support to defend the narrative from the competing demands of all the disciplines mentioned above. Too often writers are given all the responsibility for the narrative, but very little power to defend that narrative. This can often translate into taking much of the blame for a less-than-successful game, even when many of the narrative decisions were taken out of their control.

Skolnik’s best advice when hiring a video game writer can be summed up as -- hire as early as possible in the development process, integrate them fully and equally with all the other disciplines and teams, listen to their guidance about the narrative. A game developer is paying their writer for their experience, advice, and knowledge. They should then take it. Too often, though, that is not the case. The writer -- and the narrative -- get shunted aside by cool gaming mechanics, great explosions and intricate AI characters.

One of the main reasons I requested a review copy of the book from Blogging for Books is so I could better familiarize myself with game development and be able to discuss it more intelligently with my high school aged son, who is looking at a career somewhere in the game development industry. As I read the book, I found myself reading him some of the stories and ideas out loud and also encouraging him several times to read the book as soon as I had completed it. I think there is a great deal of knowledge to be gained from both sections of the book. The “Basic Training” section gives an excellent introduction into the world of the Three-Act Structure and the second half applies that knowledge in very concrete ways specific to video game development. It is a great starting point for learning about an industry -- video gaming -- that is rapidly becoming a huge entertainment industry on the level of traditional television or film.