Monday, November 26, 2007

Pixel Pattern Madness

I can't stop with the pixel patterns. This gallery of gifs is pure pleasure. Tile them on your desktop, protopage background, everywhere! Now to try making some--that's when you realize how artful these are. Actually, when you think of it, there must be some techniques to making them tile properly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One reflector and the if command

Look here for the reason for these Logo posts.

Setup: Connect a motor to port A. Connect a reflector to port 1. The reflector is the blue piece with a wire attached to it.

To activate the reflector, type this in the command center and hit enter:
display reflect1
If the reflector lights up, it's ready to go.

A reflector is like a switch. If it sees a light color, it's on. If it sees a dark color, it's off. Download this program and run it. To test it out, put a white piece of paper or a white Lego in front of the red light.
to start
loop [spin]

to spin
if reflect1
if not reflect1

Two switches and the if command

Look here for the reason for these Logo posts.

Setup: Connect one motor to port A and one lamp to port B. Connect one switch to port 1 and another switch to port 2. Download and run this program:

to start
loop [flash-and-spin]

to flash-and-spin
if switch1
if not switch1
if switch2
if not switch2

One switch and the ifelse command

Look here for the reason for these Logo posts.

Setup: Use one switch connected to port 1 and one motor connected to port A. Download this program:
to go
loop [reverse]

to reverse
ifelse switch1

One switch and the if command

Look here for the reason for these Logo posts.

Setup: Use one switch connected to port 1 and one motor connected to port A. Download this program:
to go
loop [spin]

to spin
if switch1
if not switch1

One switch and the waituntil command

Look here for the reason for these Logo posts.

Setup: Use one switch connected to port 1 and one motor connected to port A. Download this program:
to go
loop [start]

to start
waituntil [switch1]
waituntil [not switch1]

The waituntil command functions sequentially, just like other simple commands.

Programming an RCX with Logo Commands

I use MicroWorlds EX Robotics to teach 7th graders to program Lego RCX robots. It took me a lot of trial and error to find simple ways to control the input and output for these units; to find efficient programs that direct switches and reflectors to make the RCX do useful things. The accompanying help guide for MW EX provides overly complex examples for just learning the basics, so I figured it might be helpful to post the examples I'm using to get my students started on creating interactive robots.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Un-conference board

The NYCIST Un-Conference workshop sign up board is such an impressive sight. I came up here a day late a little apprehensive, worried that there would be chaos or general lack of inspiration. But I should have known...this is a group of people who know so much and have so much curiosity about everything. It couldn't help but be fruitful and productive.

Interaction Design

This is how to set up an un-conference. Grab a paper and put yourself in a spot. That's great interaction design.

Chris Lehmann, virtual keynote, NYCIST un-conference

--learning with your head, heart, and hands: can I do all three in each and every class? And let the kids know that I am?
How do we move away from schools + computers to simply innovative schools:
--facutly workshop, not staff meeting
--creating common meeting time
--move away from "How do we do this?" move toward "Why do we do this?"

Integrating Multimedia Projects

AGrill has a good idea. Distribute the task types to classes according to what the students focus on. For example, for an English podcast project have the students write scripts in their English class, research in Library class, then record, edit, and publish in tech class.


I have to learn Filemaker scripting.

Filemaker to Moodle connection

What a great idea, link Filemaker to the MYSQL backend of Moodle to create a course creation interface, since Moodle's is soooooo clunky. Once it's set up it would be so much easier than what I was doing with Excel and the PHP script last Sept. to upload courses.

Bus blogging 7

8:19 am
Soundtrack to this ride brought to you by Music of Bali: Gamelan and Kecak, in the Explorer Series. Excellent travel music. Arrival in New Paltz, T-minus 14 minutes, I hope.

Bus blogging 6

8:15 am
Head-in-the-clouds Mountain

Bus blogging 5

8:10 am
Toll booth operator, what a crappy job.

Bus blogging 4

8:09 am
Such a cross-section of people on teh bus, variety across economic, social, ethnic boundaries. Well, maybe not economic. Who would take a bus regularly if they could afford to drive (or be driven)? I guess I could afford it, or rather Hewitt could afford it for me, but I wanted to have the time for reading and writing. One thing you're bound to have on the bus, though is one pair of loud people. Luckily on this bus they are up in front, far away from me.

Video Games and Instructional Design 2

8:04 am
first person perspective allows learner to interact with content as an experiential object rather than abstract information which may afford a better conceptual understanding of the material.

Bus blogging 3

7:56 am
Fog and fall, pretty, camera batteries died, ugh

Video Games and Instructional Design 1

7:47 am
The author, Michele Dickey, argues that the trajectory of player POV from "God's eye" view in early video games to first-person in later either parallels or influenced instructional design theory as reflected in the development of problem-based learning and project-based learning approaches. In both, learneres are taking a first-person perspective within the learning environment rather than the ealier approach of simply mastery of a specifit set of skills and knowledge. I wonder is this is because instructional design theorists are big gamers.

Bus blogging 3

I'm trying to use this time to finish a reading for my class at NYU, Representation and Interaction Design for Eductional Environments. The current reading is about benefiits of video game design for developing instructional media. I'll drop some key points in here as I go through it.

Bus blogging 2

7:23 am
Eeeew, potty smell on every left turn...

Bus blogging

7:12 am
What, no wifi in Port Authority?!? Ah, taking the bus is the way to travel...sweet solitude as the world passes by. But wow Port Authority is so disgusting. Nuff said about that. Anytime I get on a Greyhound/Trailways bus it reminds me of my 18-hour rides between California and New Mexico, one parent to another, 30 years ago. Those trips always felt like journeys into undiscovered territory because buses take you through strange, unattractive parts of each destination. It's a feeling that persists now, even in Manhattan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vista and the user

I read this article, A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection, a week ago and I've been thinking about it a lot. It's long, but well worth the read. The main point is that Vista is a tool for Microsoft to corner the market on home entertainment.

Good Housekeeping gets my seal of approval

You know that magazine on the supermarket racks that you look at and think "Who actually reads that?" Well somehow--I actually don't know how--a copy of Good Housekeeping ended up in my house and I was surprised to read a couple of very good articles. One was about racism in the real estate business continuing to promote segregated neighborhoods. The other was about using Google to find fixes for common problems, like when your iPod crashes or when you need to clean a special fabric. I automatically turn to search engines to answer questions and I really agreed with the author of the article when they suggested taking a little time to find out how others have solved a problem you have by tweaking your keywords rather than throwing something away or spending a lot to have it repaired. Way to go, Good Housekeeping!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Diversity of Design

My 7th grade robotics class is working on making switch-controlled gates, modeled after the type of gate that lets you in and out of a parking lot. What has been really fun about this project is the diversity of engineering solutions my students are coming up with. This has to be a result of having my students all year instead of by trimesters like I did last year. The two following photos give an idea of different solutions they are coming up with for making gates. For these particular two projects the students had to learn about gearing down as well because in one case the arm was too heavy for the motor to lift it on its own and for the other the gate turned way too fast so the gearing down allowed it to go slower. What I loved about the student working on the latter is that I held just the gear in the position it would need to be and she immediately said, "Oh, I see how I need to attach it, I can take it from there." Obviously some excellent visual problem solving going on.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tutorial on Using The Book

I was laughing so hard at this this morning and I hadn't even had my coffee. A monk from the middle ages gets tech support as he upgrades from the scroll to the book.

Here's the link and what it says on YouTube. "This video makes fun of moderns newbie computer users by illustrating - in a way fully understandable to them - how silly some of their questions are by creating a similar problem 500 years ago.

It's from a show called Øystein & Meg (Øystein & I) produced by the Norwegian Broadcasting television channel (NRK) in 2001. The spoken language is Norwegian, the subs in Danish. It's written by Knut Nærum and performed by Øystein Bache and Rune Gokstad."

How to Use Wikipedia (Not)

There's a great post up on Andy Carvin's blog about using Wikipedia for college level research. There are so many misconceptions about Wikipedia out there that this post is wonderful for its clear-headed positions as put forth by Andy and the people he spoke to. Even representatives from Wikipedia itself agreed with the new policy at Middlebury College that says students can't cite the web site in their research. They said Wikipedia is good for getting an overview of a topic and finding references to other reputable websites but it shouldn't ever be considered the definitive authority on a topic. The valuable thing to remember here is that it's both inappropriate to rely on it as the sole authority or ban its use completely. It has great value as an introduction to almost any topic but you've got to take it from there.

The Best Photoshop Teacher

The internet is the best Photoshop teacher. My 8th graders are finishing up their issue-related advertisements in Photoshop and while some straggle, others need something to work on. They were clamoring for me to teach them how to "Photoshop" themselves, or change their own features the way we've been looking at how it's done in media. At first I felt alarmed, like they wanted to look like the models we were supposedly deconstructing, but then realized it was a way for them to feel empowered in the face of the manipulating images and messages around them; they can finally begin to control something for which they are just considered an audience. Anyway, rather than try to teach them techniques I barely know myself I found some tutorials on everything from changing hair color to making an object pop out of a frame. The students have been incredibly focused as they follow these tutorials step-by-step on images of their choosing. In fact the by-product of the activity has been much-needed practice of following difficult directions. Here is the list of tutorials:
Make a reflection of an image
Swap faces
Put cracks in a face
Separate a subject from its background
Create smooth skin
Make a grin look evil
Put a ghost in a picture
Stretch a mouth for cartoon effect
Make a photo look old
Replace a color with another color
Change hair color

Make a face wooden
Make something jump out of a frame
Make something jump out of a frame (another version)
Make line art from a photo
Make Warhol art from a photo

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Teaching Critical Consuming

I'm so proud of my 8th graders. We've begun an extended project in which we use an Elgg community, each student with her own blog, to share weekly observations about media. They are assigned to post any thoughts, observations, or discoveries they have during the week related to media, whether it's about advertising or production. Already I've seen two gems: One student student submitted a video clip from a food blog about subliminal advertising on the Food Network (seriously, a huge red "I'm lovin' it!" splashed across one single frame of the Iron Chef) and another noticed that the characters on the OC were all talking very conspicuously on their Verizon phones. I have 28 students. It's like one big Media Awareness Detective Agency gathering mountains of data.