Thursday, January 31, 2008

Career Guide for the Gaming Industry

So you want to get into the game industry?

The Game Career Guide website was founded by the CMP Game Group in August 2006 as a website resource specifically for students and educators in the game industry.

Some of the areas you will find within this website are: feature articles, 512 schools listed worldwide for game/game related programs, and featured careers to name a few. One of the featured articles for January is an insight into the programming tests that a game programmer might take as part of a job interview.

School Chat....
A great resource for students interested in this field, career councilors, and teachers. You soon realize that there are not only a lot of varied jobs in the game industry but a lot of high-end skilled career possibilities.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Own a Nokia appzs and updates

Just before Christmas I got a Nokia N95 mobile phone for work. Still miss the keyboard of my old Treo 750.....but there are a lot of cool features on this 3G mobile phone.

The only negative are the mobile covers that are available for the N95. Here in New Zealand you have a choice of the uncool, clunky black ITish leather cover that hooks to your belt....or a clear plastic cover for top and bottom so it can easily slide. I thought the clear plastic would be great as it doesn't add any bulk to the phone. Picked the clear plastic cover up at Vodafone and in no time the bottom left corner on the top and bottom piece had cracked. Bought another one....same crack in the corners. One of my colleagues got one and hers has cracked as well.

I popped into the Vodafone shop where I purchased it....they just smiled and said basically "oh well" when I told them all these cases are cracking. A person has to wonder what has happened to customer service? Especially for corporate clients? Do NOT buy the clear plastic cases.

If you have a Nokia mobile phone, you must check out the Nokia Beta Labs. Quite a few applications to test out....but be warned....these are in Beta which means they are still being "tweaked."

And of course, don't forget to check out the Nokia N95 blog for all the information, updates, appzs, etc on your N95.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PC World Best innovative of 2007

2007 was an interesting year in technology and innovation. PC World sums this up in an article "The 25 Most Innovative Products of the Year." Everything from a mobile phone to cloud computing....the PC, the web and mobile devices have evolved.

Some of the most innovative products that the staff at PC World selected are:

  • Google Gears
  • Apple iPhone
  • One Laptop per Child OX
  • Time Machine, in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)
  • Amazon Kindle
  • NetGear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000
  • HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC
  • AT&T Tilt
  • Facebook API
  • DeviceVM Splashtop
  • Toshiba Portege R500
  • Data Robotics Drob
  • Hybrid Hard Drives
  • Eye-Fi Card
  • Panasonic TH-42PZ700U
  • Yamaha Tenori-On
  • Zoho Notebook
  • 'In Rainbows' by Radiohead
  • IOGear Wireless USB Hub and Adapter
  • Microsoft Popfly
  • Sprint Airave
  • eXpresso
  • Kodak EasyShare All-In-One Printers
[ complete list with links ]

Classroom Chat....
A great discussion to have in your classes with your students. How have these technologies made an impact in how we learn, work, or play?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Do you think it is easy removing your digital foot print?

On-line Social Networking was embraced with a fury by all generations (sorry Gen Y....not exclusive to just you as you may think.) You know, the place where you could talk about whatever with your friends with no parents or adults around to monitor what you say or do. Previous generations called this a telephone, today it is called MySpace, Badoo, Facebook, Friendster, etc... One of the differences between the generations was that many "experienced" Internet users may have been a bit more cautious with putting pictures of their weekend adventures up on their social webpage. Many Gen Y used their social web accounts as an open diary for pictures and information on themselves and others. This has come back to haunt many of them as they have lost control of their digital information.

Many articles have been written over the last year on how social network sites have become a problem in users lives. I need to emphasize that in most cases the social network websites themselves are not the problem but the misuse or rather lack of understanding on how to use a social network site for something other than "dishing" the person that you saw at a previous party is the problem. In other words, the user is the problem.

Perfect example - an article on BBC News...."Social Websites Prove Hard to Leave". A final year university student decided it was "time to grow up and remove any job-threatening information from the internet." He started to panic when he realized his account wasn't deleting from a popular social network website. He finally went to the extreme to contact BBC and they in tern contacted the social network company directly. His account was deleted.

My thought is. If you had to go to those extremes to delete the content....was it maybe a bit too personal or extreme to be put up on a public worldwide venue to begin with?

School Chat.....
With students returning to school (in the Southern Hemisphere) the beginning of February....teachers this is a good time to discuss exactly what a personal digital foot print is? What are the pros and cons of having your image/name/information out in the worldwide domain?

Many university campuses are now posting information for students on how to protect themselves from on-line social networking, such as Arizona State University.

Creating on-line social networks is a skill that needs to be fostered and encouraged in a positive, engaging and safe environment for the 21st century learner. Whether for personal or business use, it is something that is already used daily and is an essential skill in a digital global economy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Free Music Downloads....coming from the most unusual innovator

The old saying..."if you can't beat em, join them" seems to fit with this new web service/concept.

Since Napster came on the web scene, people have been downloading and sharing media files...especially music files. Now a musician is taking the "downloads" into his own hands.

We7 (in beta) started in April of 2007 "by Rock legend Peter Gabriel, technology entrepreneur Steve Purdham and financial investor John Taysom to bring advertisers a new ad delivery mechanism."

The target audience for We7is ages 14-65, re-enforcing ad messaging through "multiple delivery methods including B2C (Business-to-Consumer), B2B (Business-to-Business) and community delivery."

January 15, 2008 was a milestone for We7 with the 1 millionth track downloaded on that day from the website. Who benefits from this service? We7believes everyone wins and apparently investors believe it is a winning combination with a 6 million dollar investment deal just closed on January 21, 2008.

School Chat....
Now before drama, dance, and other teachers that pay huge royalty fees for school performances start jumping up and down with the terms and conditions first (yes I know....who actually reads those....). The free downloads are for personal use only.

Hopefully the folks at We7 will look at an education community business model that schools will be able to access as well?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Open source projects built on Adobe Technology

RIAForge is an "online community site, built using our own products and targeted to support developers building open source projects for our products and platform."

Creating an account is free. Once registered you have access to the following services to use with your project:

  • Blog
  • Bug Tracker
  • Subversion
  • Forums
  • Download and View Stats
  • Ability to point to external resources (for those who already have an existing infrastructure).
Some of the categories have yet to be populated with any projects. Flash, for example, has quite a few projects to explore. The project categories are based on:
  • Air
  • ColdFusion
  • Director
  • Dreamweaver
  • Fireworks
  • Flash
  • Flex
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • LiveCycle
  • Miscellaneous
  • Photoshop

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Creative and engaging "Small World" developed with Adobe Flex application

One of our senior engineers has a colleague who is part of the Outsmart team, a company here in Auckland, New Zealand that develops unique Rich Internet Applications (RIA). He showed me a new web based 3D virtual world called SmallWorlds that Outsmart has developed.

Once I got my beta invite (and some time in the early morning to have a play) I was able to quickly build my avatar, shop to buy some furniture for my new home, play games, watch YouTube videos on my flat screen or sit and chill and admire my personally designed art work.

If you are interested in giving SmallWorlds a me at (it is a closed beta) and I will email you a beta invite (put in your subject header: "smallworlds beta invite".)

I was able to catch up with Darren Green, Technical Director for Outsmart, and ask him a few questions:

  1. How did your concept evolve for Smallworlds?

    SmallWorlds has evolved from several product ideas we have been considering over the past 18 months. We (Outsmart - the company behind SmallWorlds) have been designing and building products for numerous Web 2.0 start-ups, and through this process have been in an ideal position to get a feel for when the convergence points were forming for web applications and services.

    SmallWorlds evolved from several products we were considering to build:
    • collaboration
    • sharing and realtime communications applications (groupware)
    • game building and sharing platforms
    • and several ideas around social networking applications.

    While SmallWorlds is in essence a casual virtual world, it is in a broader sense a new way of sharing and consuming web content, media and other forms of digital entertainment. Our vision for SmallWorlds is for it to become a place for like-minded people to socialize, share, play and even create on the web.

  2. Who is the target market for Smallworlds?

    Being a convergence product, SmallWorlds has several target markets that we hope to cover. Our primary demographic would have to be users 15-30 years of age who like socializing on the net, but we intend to cover a broader range than this by including casual games and group collaboration capabilities.

  3. What will a user find when they come into Smallworlds?

    An easy to use, yet powerful avatar builder. A room builder where you can create your own perfect socializing and entertainment space. We have virtual shops full of items and widgets (such as Graffiti Canvases and YouTube TVs), and there are plenty of spaces to explore. We are in the early stages of a private beta presently so the options currently available are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is yet to come.

  4. Adobe®FlexBuilder 2 is now free for education institutions. Do you foresee that skills in this area is something students in senior/high school could/should focus on?

    We see Flex as being one of the most advanced and powerful application development platforms available today. Combine that with the ubiquity of the Adobe Flash player (the virtual machine that Flex applications run in), and the explosive nature of the Web 2.0 phenomenon, and you will see (as we do) that Flex Development will become one of the most highly demand skillsets for graduates in the coming years.

  5. What other skills could you suggest to students if they were looking to get into this field?

    Modern applications are bringing together both technical and graphic/visual design skills. Having some exposure to tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash is definitely an advantage.
Picture Gallery

Here is my avatar just hanging out listening to music in the public chat lounge.

Shopping for furniture (you start with 1500 tokens) for my new "digs."

Starting to setup my virtual home with the some of the furniture that was purchased from the Modern Living furniture shop.

School Chat....
Navigation and the user interface is very easy to use and get around in. I see a lot of education applications where SmallWorlds could apply....I look forward to further discussions with the developers to see how this can be implemented.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Using Social Networking to teach Gaming Concepts globally

Playing games over the years has moved out of the arcade around the corner and into the home or on a mobile device. Games are used for learning, recreating simulations, and just for fun.

Using the social network hook, is moving beyond the player and into users (youth 13 yrs and older) becoming game developers. is developed by World Wide Workshop, a "organization dedicated to conceptualizing and developing applications of Internet media technology to enhance learning, creativity and understanding among children and youth in developing communities around the world." has "100s of "educational activities, simulations and tutorials to play, learn, explore and contribute new ideas online."

Designed to help youth:

  1. Learn internet media technology and game-development skills;
  2. Hone professional and life skills;
  3. Experience positive virtual communication with other communities; and
  4. Foster social change
    (read more....)
School Chat....
The concept of learning through gaming, play, interactive medium is here to stay and evolving and changing as I type this post. It has woven its self into the corporate world and slowly into classrooms around the world. Working with students over the years in interactive media classrooms, I have seen first hand the power of learning when students are in the role of instructional designers and developers. When students are allowed to unpack and repackage information in a process and outcome that has come from them....time and time again it has been proven that through this process ALL types of learners are engaged and immersed in learning the content.

So next time you have a "project" for your students to do....let them create a learning artifact or module in an engaging and meaningful way. Either in the form of a game or some other interactive medium.

(First read from: BBC News)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wii used for trainee surgeons

An article on ScientistTech website writes about a group at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona that are testing Wii to be used with their surgical residents. They have found that "surgical residents performed better during simulated surgery after playing on the Wii console." The belief is....this is due to the console's "novel 'Wiimote' control system, which allows players to direct on-screen action using a wireless wand that detects acceleration in three dimensions."

Researchers found that "Wii-playing residents scored 48 per cent higher on tool control and performance than those without the Wii warm-up." They also found that some games were especially good "because players must use small, precise movements of the wand."

There is development now for game software that can be played on Wii that is specific for surgical procedures. The researchers believe that Wii has the "most potential of any console for trainee surgeons."

Read more....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Exporting Virtual Worlds into the Real World

Just came across a site that I found quite intriguing. We are always taking the world around us and digitizing it through photos, video and audio was a process that brought what we have created digitally into the "real world."

Export to World was designed Linda Kostowski and Sascha Pohflepp and they their aim with this project was to "copy objects from Second Life's walled economy of simulated things. We export those into the real world by transforming them into life-size papercraft models."

What will you need to create the virtual objects into the real world?

  • A 2nd Life Account
  • Michael Frumin's OGLE free software installed (it extracts the geometry and texture data from your graphics hardware). Cool piece of software that extracts the geometry from other web 3D sites as well such as Google Earth and World of Warcraft (view the "real life" paper models from these sites.)
  • Pepakura Designer (free software) installed (Japanese shareware unfolding-software)
  • Read step-by-step directions for creating your "life-size papercraft model."
School Chat....

I hope I am not the only one excited about this :) Working in 3D, I am going to try this on some of my own 3D models.....keep you posted on that one.

I think it opens up a whole new door for students to access and present research projects. Put this process in their hands and see what they come up will amaze you! Let me know if anyone uses this in their classroom....I would be interested to see how the students engage with this process.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Special Report from Scientific American on Global Change

A report on Climate Change was released at the end of 2007 and posted on Scientific American. It was written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is their 4th assessment of the "science of climate change, its impacts and possible solutions."

Other links to explore from this website:

  • State of the Science: Beyond the Worst Climate Change Scenario
  • Earth in Heat: 10 Views of a Warming World (PPT)
  • Climate Change Impacts (interactive map)
  • Clash: What Will Climate Change Cost Us? (Q&A)
  • 10 Solutions for Climate Change
  • Scientific American's Climate Change Coverage
Great resources for the classroom!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Free Physics Text Book - Motion Mountain

"How do objects and images move? How can animals move? What is motion?

How does a rainbow form? Is levitation possible? Do time machines exist? What does 'quantum' mean? What is the maximum force value found in nature? Is 'empty space' really empty? Is the universe a set? Which problems in physics are still unsolved?"

Motion Mountain tells the story of how it became possible, after 2500 years of exploration, to answer such questions. You can download this free pdf story that is written in 6 chapters. The chapters are:
  1. Fall, Flow and Head
  2. Relativity
  3. Lights, Charges and Brains
  4. Quantum Theory: The Smallest Change
  5. Pleasure, Technology and the Stars
  6. Motion without Motion - What are Space, Time and Particles?
On the 2st edition (as of December, 2007), the book is from a social science perspective that starts with "observations of everyday life."

Check out the wiki to see what news and updates is happening with the book.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How to park a smartcart in the city?

How do you park a smart car in the city? Well stack it of course. Researchers at MIT have come up with a prototype called the "City Car."

The City Car is a stack able smart car that seats 2 passengers. The City Car is NOT a replacement for personal transport but is a model that is similar to the grocery cart stack or luggage carts at the airport. The hope is that this vehicle will become more of a socially accepted model of transportation within a densely populated urban environment.

For example, people that live outside of an urban area but drive into work sometimes have an option to park outside the city limits and then take in mass transport to the city centre. the City Car would be able to replace the large city buses or trains that move mass transit into the city centre.

Would this have a positive impact and reduce the carbon footprint of a city? Interesting concept.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Belkin extends the recording capabilities of your iPod

Mobility and usability is what Belkin is bringing with a marriage of the iPod and a new product called TuneStudio. You can now easily create "high-quality digital recordings directly to your iPod."

"This mixer allows the input of up to four different instruments or audio sources, and records the audio onto your iPod for instant playback."

Musical instruments can be attached along with microphones. Whether it is jam sessions or recording assessments for the classroom....all the audio gets recorded directly to the attached iPod.

Creating a Podcast? TuneStudio can be used to record the Podcasts in a studio or on location (it is a very portable unit.)
Compatible with the following iPods:

A great tool to incorporate into the school community for use in the classroom.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Wearable Computers - the future is here

The Eurotech Group started out as an "idea factory" in Amaro, Italy. With offices now all around the world, Eurotech Group has become a leader in the "field of high technology for computer miniaturization."

A very unique product that Eurotech has developed which is ready for market is the Zypad, the "wearable computer." The Zypad WL 1000, and Zypad WL 1100

The idea of "wearable technology" or "wearable computers" has been around for awhile. Back in February, 2002 there was a posting that talked about Tokyo street fashion. It was titled "In Toyko, Street Fashion Goes High Tech".

We have seen wearable computers in film as part of a fictional possibility for years and now it is a reality.

School Chat....
So how could wearable computers work in a school setting? Imagine students working in collaborative groups. Future student workflow might look like this....

  • students no longer need to carry laptops around or be restricted to desktop computers around the school.

  • if students used a device similar to Zypad they would be able to work in a mobile collaborative environment.

  • input devices such as keyboards and a mouse....not to worry. The wearable computer could work with a virtual keyboard that projected onto any surface (such as the I-Tech's Virtual Laser Keyboard shown to the right.)

  • wearable computers have bluetooth and wireless capabilities and students can easily upload work to and from their personal learning digital storage area on the network.

  • leaving for a field trip.....lets say to the zoo? Students upload GPS data to their wearable computers that their biology teacher has set. They are required to view certain types of marine and land mammals that they are studying in class. The GPS directions will easily move them through the zoo to the points of interest that the teacher wants them to touch upon.

  • while at the zoo - each place the students stop to visit has a 3D interactive station that engages the students and tells the history of the animal they are looking at. Information can then be transferred through wireless connection from the interactive station to the students wearable computer.

  • students are able to record what they see through the microphone built into their wearable computer..... this is saved as an .mp3 file.

  • pictures can also be taken with the web camera that is built into the wearable computer.

  • on return to the classroom from the field trip....students work in collaborative teams easily sharing their data from the trip to create a presentation from what they had discovered from their field trip.

  • once presentations are complete they are uploaded to the class digital storage area and then presented to the rest of the class.

Just a small example of what could be done with the integration of wearable computers in the classroom.....but there are soooooooo many more exciting possibilities.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Web or Print Publishing is so easy for any budding Photographer or Graphic Designer

A colleague of mine at work (Richard Wong) will tell you his photography is only a hobby....but his passion, eye for detail and design sense tells quite another story. Very talented person! Check our his new web album it is constantly updating.

Richard created this web album using JAlbum (see below) and the BananAlbum skin.

BananAlbum can be used on its own and was developed by another photo enthusiast (Rudin Swagerman) for personal use....once other people saw the great potential of BananAlbum they wanted to use it as well. BananAlbum is free to use (although you can purchase a license for $30.00 USD....this will give you a "clean" BananAlbum. No intro, no icon on the bottom right hand corner, plus information on how to incorporate audioPlayer functionality. If you want a great way to add an easy album to your website - the $30.00 is a great deal! Note: when registering, you must give the domain (the URL) that BananAlbum will be hosted on.

BananAlbum can be used for any type of image - photography or original artwork (digital or other mediums).

Back in 2006 I had blogged about JAlbum, it has come a long way since then! BananAlbum is now bundled in JAlbum. "With JAlbum you have full control of the look of the generated album, not just color theme and basic layout, still making an album is just a matter of drag and drop + a button click if you prefer to use one of the many existing looks. JAlbum will process your images, make index pages and slide show pages and even upload the final album to the Internet for your friends to see. JAlbum runs on all platforms and speaks 30 languages."

But wait, there is more.....

You can take your images from JAlbum and publish a book in Blurb. Took some great photographs over the holidays, publish them in a book from Blurb. Prices are quite reasonable starting "at only $12.95 for a 40-page softcover, $22.95 for a 40-page hardcover with dust jacket. The bookmaking software is free." Click this link for further pricing guidelines.

The process is easy. Install Blurb BookSmart, choose the type of book you want to make, play around with the photos, stories, etc...and your book is done.What a great birthday, Christmas (next year), or special occasion gift! Work the cost into a school program. Students take their own photographs all year then publish them into a book at the end of the year....great keepsake. Companies want to tell their own story - to be original.

I am going to use Blurb to tell our story since we moved to New Zealand almost 3 years ago. Some of my family members will probably not ever travel from Canada to New Zealand so if I pull a book together for them with pictures of the people and places they have heard us talk about over the last couple of will bring our new home closer to them.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pushing Communicaton and Collaboration to a New Level: Create, Manage and Share Presentations on the Web

One of the many great perks of being a part of the Adobe Education Leadership (AEL) program is learning about new technologies, applications or services that are up and coming. Tech Wednesday (they are "Tech Thursday" for us in the Southern Hemisphere) are live Acrobat Connect presentations that Adobe hosts almost weekly. AELs and other Adobe user groups are invited to view/participate in the presentations. They are great and range from new product releases to 3rd party customers. I wasn't able to attend the presentation live this morning, but since the live presentation was recorded through Acrobat Connect, I was able to easily view it later by accessing a web link.

This morning Mitch Grasso - the co-founder of SlideRocket was the presenter. SlideRocket is an exciting new (you can sign up for a beta account on the website) web based application that has been designed using Adobe Flex and Adobe AIR.

SlideRocket is pushing presentation desktop products like PowerPoint and KeyNote by allowing users to "design, manage and share libraries of slides and assets, and to deliver presentations in person or remotely over the web." It has many of the features you have come to use in the desktop products plus more!!!

The cool thing about SlideRocket is that you (as the publisher of the presentation) can add users with different permissions and roles. Some of the other unique aspects of SlideRocket:

  • use existing or create your own themes.
  • you can pull data in from Google spreadsheets to create charts and tables.
  • images can be uploaded to SlideRocket, pulled from your computer or in from Flickr.
  • you can add Flash Videos (.flv) and Flash Movies (.swf) to your presentations.
  • availability of a "plug-in architecture" that can be adapted and extended then shared with the SlideRocket Community.
  • the folks from SlideRocket are presently working with to create some very unique work flows for the SlideRocket community.
I would encourage you to sign up for a beta account and give SlideRocket a try. I think it will be a very exciting tool that will help to introduce a unique work flow not only for corporate but for the education community as well.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Forecasts for 2008 and Beyond: Exploring personal and global futures....

The World Future Society (WFS) has been around since 1966. As a nonprofit educational and scientific organization based in Washington DC, WFS is "interested in how social and technological developments are shaping the future."

As a new year roles in...everyone always rattles off their new years resolutions....usually most of them don't last longer than the end of the first many of us joined the gym in a new year?

WFS discusses the "Top 10 Forecasts for 2008 and Beyond", here is an overview of the WFS editors forecasts:

  1. The world will have a billion millionaires by 2025.
  2. Fashion will go wired as technologies and tastes converge to revolutionize the textile industry.
  3. The threat of another cold war with China, Russia, or both could replace terrorism as the chief foreign-policy concern of the United States.
  4. Counterfeiting of currency will proliferate, driving the move toward a cashless society.
  5. The earth is on the verge of a significant extinction event.
  6. Water will be in the twenty-first century what oil was in the twentieth century.
  7. World population by 2050 may grow larger than previously expected, due in part to healthier, longer-living people.
  8. The number of Africans imperiled by floods will grow 70-fold by 2080.
  9. Rising prices for natural resources could lead to a full-scale rush to develop the Arctic.
  10. More decisions will be made by nonhuman entities.
    (further reading on each of the 10 forecasts....)
Classroom Chat....
Why study, discuss or look at the future?

A great quote from the WFS website explains why.....
"The world changes so quickly it's hard to keep up. New inventions and innovations alter the way we live. People's values, attitudes, and beliefs are changing. And the pace of change keeps accelerating, making it difficult to prepare for tomorrow. By studying the future, people can better anticipate what lies ahead. More importantly, they can actively decide how they will live in the future, by making choices today and realizing the consequences of their decisions.

The future doesn't just happen: People create it through their action -- or inaction -- today."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year from New Zealand

"Wishing Friends and Family a Safe, Happy and Prosperous 2008"

(Image Location)