Saturday, June 15. 2013
Back in 2007, I posted this little mention about Threadless and portrayed it as:
The site is still running strong and features lots of other items besides shirts - like iPhone cases - and they still have some great crowdsourced designs. Check it out at http://www.threadless.com
Tuesday, June 30. 2009
I was telling students last week to broaden their definition of video. People are taking the oft-maligned PowerPoint type of presentation, screencasts, and photo slideshows and saving them in video formats and putting together some good video content.
This video, "Built To Last," was the Winner of The Congress for New Urbanism CNU 17 video contest. The short film looks at the connection between New Urbanism and environmental issues. The film was created by independent filmmaker John Paget with First+Main Media.
Monday, February 23. 2009
The "third place" is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings that are not the first (home) or two (workplace).
In The Great Good Place, written by Ray Oldenburg, he argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing a sense of place.So, Third Places are informal meeting places that share certain qualities: they are free or inexpensive, welcoming and comfortable, may offer food and drink, are very accessible (walking distance?), have a group of people who regularly meet there.
Okay, so what third places for learning come to mind for you? Coffee shops, bookstore cafes, recreation centers, malls, the student center, dormitory lounges? Oldenburg's book's full title includes his own quick list: "Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community."How about the library?
Johnson passes on calling online game environments third places (me too) though there are those who disagree.
I also agree with him about libraries, especially if you consider new library design (perhaps more so in secondary schools). The idea of a "learning commons" is not brand new. Some schools call an area by that name, but it probably is not the same as the Third Place description, but closer to a traditional library with additional resources. Hanging out on the couches at a Starbucks might be closer. I am part of a group of irregulars who meet at a local Panera to talk poetry, drink coffee and eat snacks.
Johnson returns to a comment from a former student who said that the school library was his "home away from home."
I loved the children's section of my own public library and my fat, old leather chair in the corner walled with protective books. I will return to an earlier post of my own where I referenced a friend, poet BJ Ward's essay about his youthful home-away-from-home at his local library.
"During the internet-less, video-game-less, and seemingly endless summers of my childhood, I could ride my bike to the Washington Borough Public Library and within one minute be transported to the world of Dr.Doolittle; The Hardy Boys; and Babe Ruth, All-American Hero. Each book was a planet with a spine.The librarian was an organizing star, keeping all those spheres in their places for future explorers to discover. The library itself was a universe—a macrocosm between paint-chipped walls, below a roof paid for by bake sales, sandwiched between a tattoo parlor and halfway house. It was the most fecund place I knew—a greenhouse for my imagination, where fluorescence had to do with my mind’s branches spreading. O the joyful fire in the astronaut’s skull when divination led to apprehension."
Monday, January 5. 2009
Work smarter, not harder. It's a phrase I've heard over the years. I saw it on a site I came across called hackcollege.com which is a site that its describes itself this way:
Most of us think of "hacking" as as computer term and probably as something negative. ("They hacked into the computer system and launched the missiles!") There are actually lots of different hacks out there - many tech-oriented, but not all. (A hack is also a row of stacked green [unfired] bricks protected from the rain by a covering of straw, slates or special wooden hack covers, the sides protected by mats or planks. You learn something every time you read Serendipity35.)
The term life hack originally referred to productivity tricks that programmers devised to organize their data. Those life hacks were often quick and dirty (shell scripts and other command line utilities that filtered, munged and processed data streams like email and RSS feeds - things Tim cares about more than me).
The term spread as a meme and now anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way might be called a life hack.
Even though I have given up on new year resolutions, I thought I might just look online for where lifehacking is today. Hackcollege is for students but teachers and staff need help just as much as students.
There is, of course, a site called Lifehacker. I think it's odd that the lifehacker.com website is so busy looking that I had to read some haiku to clear my mind. Being that I'm still old school on many things, I started looking at Amazon.
So here are some lifehacking book recommendations.Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better by Gina Trapani, who is the editor and creator of Lifehacker and this is her second book about managing your digital life better. (see bottom)
Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day is the first book by Trapani and it has ways to keeps things simple and offers 88 hacks for your computer life.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferris. A major hack of your life.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. A "classic" He came up with "getting things done"(GTD) methodology which actually has had an impact on personal productivity.
If this is all just too overwhelming for you, start with this lifehack.org piece on "How To Procrastinate."
Thursday, October 16. 2008
I've come across many online image creation sites since the last time I wrote about a few, so I'm adding a few more to the mix.
There are good programs for image creation, but many of them take considerable time to master. So why use online sites? Like other cloud applications, they are completely web-based, so you can use them with any
A while back Adobe launched a free web version of Photoshop. Photoshop is the main image creation software tool, but it costs, and it's a lot to learn. With the online version, the company is going after those consumers who edit, store, and Still, Adobe is late to this game. Other companies and services like Shutterfly, Picnik, and Photobucket have been offering online editing, storage and sharing for years. But Adobe is a big, powerful player and clearly sees Photoshop Express as a marketing strategy to create interest in customers upgrading to Photoshop or the slimmed down Photoshop Elements, or to the subscription-based version of Express.
Still, Adobe is late to this game. Other companies and services like Shutterfly, Picnik, and Photobucket have been offering online editing, storage and sharing for years. But Adobe is a big, powerful player and clearly sees Photoshop Express as a marketing strategy to create interest in customers upgrading to Photoshop or the slimmed down Photoshop Elements, or to the subscription-based version of Express.
I came across a site called BigHugeLabs that allows you to make a lot of unique photo frames and edits. You can make your own ID card, press pass, name tag, Flickr badge, make a billboard of someone or something. You can make a custom blog header for your blog with your own photos. You choose or upload a photo, make some layout choices, the photo is edited online and then download your new graphic.
It's the kind of site you might use to create fun images to use for friends, but I have also used them to create images for presentations. Get creative.
I also came across an interesting mashup service from Japan that searches Amazon.com by a keyword and then returns the relevant data to you spelled out as a visual collage composed of the corresponding book covers of images pulled from the Amazon.com database.
The site is called amaztype. It's not strictly an "image creation" site, but if you create something based on a keyword, you can take a screenshot, and you have a unique image.
Try these links to get a look at some of these images being created: The Beatles, Shakespeare (in a title or as the author) or Shakespeare (just as the author) or Douglas Adams. It doesn't have to be book covers - here's one for actor/DVDs/Bogart.
Idée has a different approach to searching and viewing images. Flickr, the popular photo-sharing site, has many images available for browsing and you can search right on their site by user, tags, keywords. It's a lot tougher to search for images by a criteria like colors. Their Search Lab will find images based on up to 10 colors that you select.
Wednesday, August 20. 2008
From the Peking University entry
I was interested to see the results of the 2008 Model Your Campus Competition that Google sponsored. They had put out a call early this year for students to submit 3D models of their college campuses created with their Google SketchUp tool.
They, of course, received worldwide submissions, but I was surprised at the number from Mexico - thirteen different campuses submitted. After some searching on Google's blogs, I found that they also ran a related competition with ITESM (The Technology Institute of Monterrey in Mexico), offering a separate prize for the best models submitted by their students. ITESM participants designed 111 buildings, representing 22 ITESM campuses. The winners are two students from ITESM's Santa Fe Campus.
Having students use SketchUp to create models is an excellent classroom design project. There are many objects along with entries and other projects in the Google 3D Warehouse which contains downloadable models made by the SketchUp community.
Saturday, July 5. 2008
One reason web designers sometimes avoid developing a site in Flash is because the content they included was not indexable by search engines. They would probably have to do some extra work to present the content in another way that search engines could index. Remember, Flash is used for menus, button, banners and sometimes for entire sites.
Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files. Google recently announced that they have improved the performance of this Flash indexing algorithm by integrating Adobe's Flash Player technology. Now all you web designers can can expect improved visibility and search results for Flash content.
Of course, this does not necessarily address the problems that Flash can sometimes create for people with handicaps that cause accessibility issues. I'm not sure that this new algorithm would help, but I would guess that improved access to text in Flash Player might improve screen reader use. Please comment if you know more about this...
For more tech talk on this, check out the Google Webmaster Central blog about the Searchable SWF integration.
Thursday, June 26. 2008
I was working on updates for the graduate visual design course I teach at NJIT last night. As I was looking at some files on web usability, I was struck with an unexpected similarity. Here's the traditional process of creating a web site from a usability perspective: plan, analyze, design, test and refine.
Staring at that in a recursive cycle on the screen, it hit me. It's instructional design. Okay, no great revelation there, but do most educators or curriculum designers ever take into account some of the concerns of a usability specialist when they design lessons or a course?
Accessibility is a part of usability that some designers address and I actually heard this week at a virtual worlds workshop some concern for Section 508 compliance in using Second Life. (Hurrah for schools paying attention prior to a lawsuit!) The Usability First website has a good glossary of usability terms, and is good example of usability itself.
Usability really addresses the relationship between tools and their users and the effectiveness of a tool (LMS, course site, software, assignment, rubric...) means it must allow users to accomplish their tasks in the best way possible. What makes a website or piece of software usable? Let me take some basic topics and questions of usability and apply them to course (re)design.
The Web Communications Division (for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesâ€™ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs) works with many federal agencies, and offers a really good online guide for developing usable sites.
Friday, May 9. 2008
The eduStyle site is a good way to get a look at a lot of very well-designed college websites and features. Very useful if you're considering a redesign yourself.
We are in the category for "Best Sub-site" which covers those sites that colleges use for special promotions or to drive a special audience to the main site or a program. Ours is called "Passaic County Community College - 100 Reasons" and it has one hundred reasons from serious to rather whimsical to consider the college. It has a nice Flash banner that goes through a half dozen reasons at the top and then many other reasons - people, programs, activities - some with links to interest prospective students.
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