Sunday, September 10, 2017

60 Degree Designs with SketchUp

This weekend I used SketchUp to design plans for a three sided, rotating stage scene device called a periaktos. The picture does not include the foam board panels that would be painted and cover the framing.

SketchUp is a great tool for detailed design work. It takes a little practice and non-linear thinking to piece it together. In fact, I prefer to draw the pieces as they would be cut, then convert them to components so they are less likely to become distorted.

This particular design required several "cuts" at 60 degrees so the protractor tool got quite the workout. I also imported two warehouse components, the 5 gal bucket, and the castors - no need to literally reinvent the wheel.

If anyone has experience building a periaktos, please let me know what challenges you faced. I believe this design meets all the requirements but I sometimes wonder what problems I have yet to discover. I have separate designs for lumber cuts and construction of each flat frame.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Change Your Outlook Challenge

Can you customize your Office email experience? Take the Change Your Outlook Challenge. #gamifyed

This week I made a deck of Outlook Challenge cards and challenged staff to compete against each other. The rules are simple:

Break into teams (pairs work best). Shuffle the deck and place it face down. One team takes a card off the top. If they can demonstrate how to perform the action, they keep the card. If they are not sure, they may challenge the other team to perform the task. Whichever team successfully completes the challenge keeps the card. The team with the most cards wins!

On the bottom of each card is the Microsoft Office Outlook support website where each of the card items was pulled from. Step by step instructions are included on the website for each card. I also pointed out that the correct instructions change based on the Outlook version used.

Feel free to make your own cards or download, print and cut apart my set.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Know and Protect Your Copyrights

My very bad drawing of a unicorn
recent article by the Washington Post drew a different type of attention to President Trump's latest cartoon tweet. While national TV news broadcasts focused on the inflammatory nature of the image, the Post explored the origins of the cartoon.

The original editorial cartoon was drawn by Indianapolis Star cartoonist Gary Varvel. Since Gary and I taught together several years ago, I recognized the drawing as his style. It seems several others recognized his work and wondered about his views on the President's commentary.

This incident provides educators a great opportunity to remind students that reworks, mashups and covers all need permission and attribution from original sources. Copyright infringement occurs frequently and without thinking. Fortunately the Indianapolis Star has some influence and resources to protect it's brand, though I doubt they will get far against the White House. Individual artists have little to no resources for addressing copyright infringement.

While the law can be difficult to understand, Copyright Kids provides a simple explanation with links and resources, including curriculum for teachers.

Note: The photo is a drawing of a unicorn I made at the request of a K5 class. No one has asked to reproduce it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Finding Audio to Supplement Lessons

Forget Spotify, the Internet Archive has thousands of digital copies of old 78 RPM vinyl records available for your listening pleasure.

They also have an extensive collection of presidential and World War II recordings. With a little research, you can find audio files to supplement almost any subject area.

Most files are available to download so you can listen to them while jogging or away from an Internet connection. I also enjoyed hearing all the little scratches and audio imperfections inherent in a vinyl recording.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Early Internet

The Internet was a much smaller place 25 years ago. We didn't even agree on what to call it!

In case you forgot how clunky web pages were, visit The Internet Archive Way Back Machine. This website stores snapshots of previous web page versions. You can scroll through a timeline and see what the website's main page looked like previously.

While this jaunt down memory lane may seem bizarre to anyone not old enough to remember a world without the "Information Superhighway", it can give a better picture of our digital evolution. Early sites were light on graphics and video was not even present. Content was king and visual appeal barely a consideration. And yet many of the familiar elements were present in an embryonic form.

Enjoy this NBC News clip from 1993...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tues Tech Tip: Careful Planning Never Changes

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. In our instant gratification world, the art of careful planning sometimes seems all but forgotten. A few moments planning before an activity or event allows for the best user experience (UX). The following is an excerpt from Educating the Twentieth-Century Youth by Anna Verona Dorris, reprinted in 1995 from an original article in the 1950s.
Educating the twentieth-century youth. What a colossal undertaking! ... We must recognize that this twentieth-century age with all its magical scientific achievements has revolutionized life and living. Change, change, everything has changed-is constantly changing the world over. Nothing is the same as "yesterday." A new civilization has dawned; new problems confront us; a new type of youth with different standards, with different ideals, and with different ambitions greets us here, there, and everywhere.
Yet as everything around us seems to be changing at a rampant pace, careful planning and organization are skills that benefit every one of us. Check out this training video from the 1950s and see how many of the tips are still useful when preparing to show a large group video.