October 2011 Archives


Mason Jar-o-Lanterns. (Improvised when the grocery store was out of pumpkins.) Made with glass jars, votive candles, a leftover brown paper bag, scissors, and scotch tape.


After dark, the mason Jar-o-Lanterns look a little scarier.
...to the week ahead. Among other things to anticipate, the Kinect sensor I ordered is supposed to arrive on Monday or Tuesday.
I should remind myself that time with friends and time spent listening to music or watching a performance is time very well spent. This weekend is a lovely combination of busy-ness and quiet.
Looking forward to a weekend full of time with friends, down time, and some live music performances. 
Detail from a letter from Sol LeWitte to Eva Hesse.


Try to do some BAD work - the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell - you are not responsible for the world - you are only responsible for your work - so DO IT. And don't think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be...

But really - you want to go to Gwarlingo and read the whole post and letter.

The Royal Society has made its archives available, containing wonders like this, Ben Franklin's description of his kite-flying experiment. (via BoingBoing)
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I've installed the Kinect to Scratch software on a Windows 7 laptop at work, and I have the right setup for Kinect and Processing on my Mac laptop, so now all I need is the Kinect sensor, which I ordered yesterday...
After the full weekend, I'm tired at the end of today. I'm going to listen to my own cues and go to sleep a little earlier.
What a weekend - first Art && Code 3D on Saturday, and then today the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire. So many great conversations, so many brilliant and generous people, so many new ideas and possible projects. I'll try to write more about it when I'm in a reflective frame of mind. Right now I'm still stunned and slightly dizzy.
So after the workshops I took part in today at Art && Code 3D, it's clear I need to buy a Kinect controller.  Too much fun controlling a computer with my whole body moving.  I'll use it with Scratch on the Windows machines in the lab at school, and I'll use it with Processing on the Mac. Tomorrow is Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire, so more fun with ideas in the world of bits and the world of stuff.
Catching my breath before a busy weekend.  Art & Code tomorrow, then Mini Maker Faire on Sunday.
I got to attend our school's annual raku-style clay firing. Usually I take still images - tonight I decided to see if I could make and edit a short video, entirely on my phone, and  finish and upload it during the event. Now that I'm home, I can see places I'd tighten the editing, but for on-the-spot documentation, I'm really happy with what I was able to get with the iPhone 4S and the iPhone version of iMovie.

[This is medium resolution, loaded during the event. I had to wait until I got home to wifi to upload the HD - and that's still processing, so I'll link to that tomorrow. Here is the HD version.)

From the blog Teach Paperless comes a post about this video clip and a great set of questions - what might we ask our students about consensus and democracy in the context of history? in the classroom? in the way student groups work on projects together? 

Here are "13 Observations Made by Lemony Snicket while Watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance" as posted on the Occupy Writers site:

1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn't mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. "Fortune" is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child--rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

4. People who say money doesn't matter are like people who say cake doesn't matter--it's probably because they've already had a few slices.

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they've been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don't tell them they aren't. Sit with them and have a drink.

8. Don't ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else--a stranger in the street, for example.

9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.

11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.

12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you're the one tumbling down when it collapses.

13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

 (via gwarlingo)

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Found this example online of video shot entirely with the iPhone 4S - view full screen and be amazed at what's possible.  I'm so glad the camera has an AE/AF lock. 
iphoneleafretouched.jpg day2483.jpg

Two photos of last night's drawing, On the left is a picture taken with the phone - cropped and with minimal retouching in PhotoShop. On the right is a picture taken with my regular camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ-35. I've cropped it and adjusted levels.

This is the first photo from my new phone, taken outside the farmers' market this morning. I haven't retouched it at all, and if you click on it, you can view or download the full resolution image. I think I'm going to have fun with this camera.
By the time I got home from work and got my new phone set up and activated, it was dark - so I decided I'd wait until morning to see what I think of the camera.
Updating system software tonight, part of the updating, backing up, and syncing I'd put off. My new phone is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so this is all part of the preparation. Digital nesting, I guess.
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With another teacher, I'm hoping to speak at South by Southwest EDU this spring. We want to teach people how to use App Inventor to program Android phones, so that they can get their students programming with a minimum of fuss.

DescriptionWhat if students could learn to program cell phones as their introduction to the concepts and skills of computer science? What if the software to do it was free and intuitive? In one hour of hands-on exploration, we'll walk you through the creation of your first application for a mobile phone, using the App Inventor programming environment developed by Google. App Inventor combines drag-and-drop playful logic in the style of Scratch with the compelling excitement of developing robust programs and games for the smart phone in your pocket. Bring your Android phone if you have one, and bring a laptop where you have admin authority to install a driver and a free application. Elizabeth Perry and Brian Van Dyck are experienced classroom teachers who have used App Inventor with students at Google CAPE (Computing and Programming Experience) and Inspired by CAPE Programs, as well as with their own students.

  1. How can mobile devices inspire students to learn programming?
  2. How does App Inventor make it easy to program an Android phone?
  3. Can you teach with App Inventor if you have a "no cell phone" policy?
  4. What do playful exploration and design thinking bring to teaching and learning?
  5. What resources are available for teaching with this new software?

You can help make this workshop happen by clicking here, (going to http://panelpicker.sxswedu.com/ideas/view/14022 ) and giving us a thumbs up "LIKE" vote and a comment.  

Feel free to share the link on your social networks as well.

Thanks so much!
Spent the evening backing up my iPhone and updating software, to get ready for installing iOS 5 tomorrow.
I'm excited by what my students have made so far this year, using the App Inventor programming environment.
No posts for a couple of days, as I was mostly offline, spending the fall weekend with extended family. Now looking forward to the week ahead. Lots to do and think about, lots of reading to catch up on.

Paul Granjon helps re-imagine tech and art with his Oriel Factory.

"I actually think there's actually very little distinction between an artist and a scientist or engineer of the highest caliber...They've just been to me people who pursue different paths but basically kind of headed to the same goal, which is to express something of what they perceive to be the truth around them so that others can benefit by it."  

- Steve Jobs, 1995 interview with the Smithsonian.


I don't know that we have 1000 popsicle sticks in the house, but next snow holiday, I think we should try this. Here's a how-to on Instructables. (via This is Colossal)
I knit a hat for my daughter over the past two evenings. (She took it upstairs when she went to bed, so I'll have to post a picture later.) I had some chunky pale blue yarn, she'd seen a hat she liked at REI, and I offered to knit her one in the same style. More pointed than rounded,  ear flaps, strings with tassel ends - I knew I could improvise the pattern. The yarn was soft; the project was quick and satisfying. It delighted my daughter. It also made me realize how much of my life I spend working at the steepest part of the learning curve - wherever I can find it. And I do love that kind of hard work and challenging exploration - leaning into something new.

But I should remember that I also love doing the things I already know how to do.
Lots of great links and discussion of visual meeting notes from Beth Kanter.



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