Friday, December 30, 2011

The tablet in my life

A few weeks ago, woot was having a very good deal and I broke down and bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab.  Although i am a huge gadget whore, I had successfully resisted the tablet craze, unable to explain to myself what gap it would fill. I have a netbook. I have a laptop, an android phone and an ipod touch. A tablet felt like an indulgence that was inexcusable.

The siren call of a really good deal broke through that barrier, and it has revolutionized my approach to mobile and living room computing. My netbook has been shelved. On the netbook, browsing was a constant frustration of infinite scrolling and windows that did not scroll and locked up the browser. About 40% of all online forms have a layout that fails on my netbook. I have not had this problem once on the galaxy. The biggest problem on the galaxy is that i get routed to the "mobile" version of a website, when i would sometimes prefer the regular version. I can see a growing need for  the android os to not always be designated as "mobile".

I had serious reservations about the lack of a keyboard, I am 6 ft tall and do not have small fingers. Both my Htc Evo, which i love, and my ipod will give me sore arms and finger cramps if i use them for too long. The larger keyboard on the Galaxy pretty much resolves this problem and also significantly cuts back on typos. To switch it up, I also use a fat grip cosmonaut stylus, from a recent Kickstarter project.

The Galaxy is more than a sit and browse machine. With a bigger screen than my netbook, and Docs to Go installed, I recently used it during a work meeting to access some spreadsheets. I have used it for basic photo editing (I got an SD card adapter), and am in the middle of creating a christmas slideshow with the built in movie maker app. While it is not a workstation, I am finding it easier than ever to create web consumable content...and hey, it even broke me out of my not blogging rut!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Design for Economic Sustainability

It is time to stop and think about Design for Economic Sustainability.
Businesses have argued that built in obsolescence is a good thing- it means that people will continue to spend money, and businesses will continue to grow. To make this more appealing, they have created goods that are ever cheaper, ever more disposable.

Mass production in the 1920s brought goods into the hands of the middle class which they previously could not have afforded. And soon after, an entire ecosystem rose up around the manufactured parts. Manufactured Automobiles? You needed mechanics and auto repairmen to keep them running. Manufactured radios and Televisions? You needed radio and television repairmen. You needed another industry creating spare and replacement parts. Manufactured clothing? There were still women ( and men) at home sewing clothes from scratch, or doing repairs and fittings. Manufactured shoes? The show repairmen were there to help extend their life, replacing heels and soles. Manufactured did not always mean disposable. Goods that were manufactured were still expected to last nearly as long as those which were individually hand-crafted.

Gradually, over the last two decades or so, we have allowed companies to convince us that goods should be disposable. It is cheaper and easier for them to manufacture if repair is not a consideration. If you are never going to open up electronics to repair them, who cares if they cut costs and use glue instead of screws to seal something? If you are never going to repair a shoe, who cares if the pieces are glued together instead of sewn? We have allowed the life cycle of goods to become ever shorter in exchange for cheaper purchase prices. One of the consequences of this has been that in addition to de-valuing the items themselves, we end up de-valuing the work it takes to make them, and the workers who do those jobs. Which makes you more excited: working to build cars that people are going to have and care for and maintain for decades, or working to build cars that people are going to junk in a few years? 

I say it is a time for a different plan:

  • Support businesses that design products you can repair, that are meant to last. 
  • Go out of your way to extend the life of your products 
  • Look for new ways to rebirth old things into something new and exciting.
Creating a product/market ecosystem that we can sustain over time is at the roots of what attracts me to the Maker movement, to Hackerspaces and keeps me excited about the entrepreneurs I interact with.
"Design for Sustainability" has been a movement for decades now. If you search Google, you get thousands of hits. The wikipedia article on Sustainable Design links out to many other articles, movements and manifestos. Sustainable Design has even leaked over into technology.

"Sustainable technologies use less energy, fewer limited resources, do not deplete natural resources, do not directly or indirectly pollute the environment, and can be reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.[22] There is a significant overlap with appropriate technology, which emphasizes the suitability of technology to the context, in particular considering the needs of people in developing countries. However, the most appropriate technology may not be the most sustainable one; and a sustainable technology may have high cost or maintenance requirements that make it unsuitable as an "appropriate technology," as that term is commonly used."

Consideration of the environment in design is simply not enough. I am not arguing about the importance of considering our impact on Mother Earth. It is important, but not sufficient. We also need to consider if the new products we design, or the new processes we use to make them, create an economic ecosystem that can support the consumers.

Now is the time for us to stop and take action. Now is the time for you to stand up and shout with pride how long you have kept that backpack, how long you have maintained your car or how well you hand-built something. This is the new pride movement. It is time for you to stand up, be counted and let manufacturers see your beliefs through your purchasing practices.

This Christmas, we will be wishing folks "Maker Christmas". This means that presents will either be tools/aids for allowing people to become better makers, or items that someone else has made, upscaled or produced in a small business.  How will you make an impact?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to make Art a Reality....

The last few months, our lives have been possessed by a unique partnership and a 18' tall sculpture.

In case you have not seen the tweets, the facebook or G+ posts- or seen me with stain and paint embedded on my hands- we are now neck deep in The Infernal Device. This Art Prize entry is a unique partnership between three groups of artists- Todd Cahill, builder of the windmill, is based out of Massachusetts. Ogre and I are the builders/creators of the body of the Machine, and responsible for all of the structural, engineering bits. Myke Amend, Steampunk artist  extraordinare, is creating a 21 foot long mural on a 7 sided wooden "drum" that will rotate in the center of the sculpture. There are tons of pictures of the building of the machine/sculpture on the Infernal Device Facebook page.

After months of creative stretching and hard physical labor, we need your support. there are several things you can do to help make this an amazing success.

1. If you are in Grand Rapids, come out on Friday Sept 16 and help us move this pieces of the sculpture from the warehouse to the Gerald R Ford Museum, which will be our venue for the duration of Art Prize. We will need some extra hands both to load and to unload and do final assembly on site.  Drop me a note or comment if you are able and willing.

2. If you are within driving distance of Grand Rapids, come and vote for our entry. Ogre and I will be there in person Opening Weekend ( Sept 24- 25), but Myke Amend will be there every day. We are looking for volunteers to plan/organize some Steampunk parties or outings around the Device as well.  Votes that are entered between Sept 21- 28 will determine the Top 10 who are announced on Sept 29. We need as many votes as possible during that first week to continue in the contest.  You can register online to vote, but you must visit an Art Prize venue in person to vote. There is more information on the Art Prize Voting page.

3. If you want to support our entry and efforts, but are too far away to visit and vote, you can donate cash to help cover costs.  Between now and the end of ArtPrize, we will have 10 nights of Hotels ( many thanks to the Grand Rapids Radisson for an artist discount rate) , at least 3 rounds trips- some while hauling the trailer and  food enough for survival.  If we win, we will be able to recover material costs, but if we do not, we will have invested several thousands of dollars out of pocket on top of everything else. If you would like to see us continue to build cool art, consider dropping some cash in the hat. The best news is that we are sponsored by the Kokomo Art Association, so we are officially a 501(c)3 and all donations are tax deductible.
  •   We are set up on TweetDonate:  Just Tweet : “$XX TweetDonate to @roguepuppet"  and you will get an @ tweet to a donation link.  Be sure to put the amount in place of the XX. 
  •  Donate privately & securely via paypal.  (see the button above)
  • Send a check:   make it payable to Kokomo Art Association / in memo: for Infernal Device             
                       to: Infernal Device c/o Brauns 3385 Sycamore Lane, Kokomo IN 46901. 

Most importantly? Get out and enjoy some art- if you can not get to Art Prize, find your nearest gallery, museum or college exhibition. Take a few hours and let the art seep into your soul . 

Updated NOTE:  9/12 updated: working with some GR installers/distributors and the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association... all great folks, and hoepful that by eod tomorrow something will work out.  Will update with the names of our helpers when it is finalized.  [that our Solar Panel Sponsor is NOT going to come through. I will have to buy solar panels ASAP. This is either $600 we are looking to raise, or accepting loaners. If you are a solar panel company and want free PR, we will borrow and give back, with option to buy if we win.]

      Saturday, July 23, 2011

      The importance of business rule #1

      I work in IT.
      I am getting sick, watching our field grow a reputation slightly better than shifty used car salesmen. This is spreading like wildfire because people are forgetting business rule number one: Listen.

      Here is a recent great example.
      I got a call last night from my mom, who is about 700 miles away.
      She was frustrated, exasperated and nearly ready to cry.
      She was absolutely ready to throw her Roku box out the window.

      My parents  are NOT technologically savvy.  Since my Dad's vision is worse, he can not see wires and connectors to help.
      My mom is usually a little scared she is going to break something and less than confident when it comes to technology. If you have done any tech support, you know the type. If you have not done tech support, you probably have a Dad or an Aunt or a Cousin like this.  Just like not everyone is comfortable playing softball, not everyone is comfortable with technology.

      We got my parents a Roku two years ago because we loved it so much, and they have loved it too. 
      My dad is sight impaired, and they love that they can connect Flick.r and then my dad can see photos on the TV where they are large.  They do Netflix streaming ( at least for now) and a few other things on it. 

      So, what caused her to want to pitch the Roku they have loved? Tech Support who wanted to sell them things instead of solving a problem. And not just Roku Tech Support, Linksys and Verizon got in the game as well.

      They wanted to show a friend some pictures from a recent trip. When they went to open, they got an error message that the network settings were not correct and it could not connect.

      They called Roku support. Roku support ( who they could barely understand speaking), had them read them the error message and said- it must be your router call them.   They called the Linksys customer service people and Linksys customer support (who talked mostly jargon and tech terms, rather than simple english)  told them that they probably needed to reset a code in their Verizon DSL Router, when they got a storm it can cause problems. They tried to rest the code, but did not have access in the Verizon hardware. So, they called Verizon DSL, Verizon DSL told them it would cost 29.95 to have that code reset. At this point, my mother thought every time they got a storm, they were going to have to pay 29.95 to get a code rest to make their Roku work. The Verizon people assured her she could pay 59.99 and get 6 months of support instead.
      Luckily, she looked at my dad and said " we can buy a whole new Roku for only 79.99, I don't know what to do- let's eat dinner". Then called me , very upset.

      I LISTENED. Actually, when she got to "my Roku gets an error message trying to connect to the network", I knew what to ask next- but I let her vent the whole painful story to get it out.
      Then I asked " Have you tried to reconnect the Roku in the Roku settings?"
      She stopped in her tracks. They had had this working seamlessly for 2 years and had completely forgotten that there were any settings there.
      I booted up my Roku quickly, so I could look while I talked, walked her through the menu selections to get there ( about 3 clicks) and the built in wizard took over, found their router and connected.  Less than 3 minutes and her Roku was fixed, no expense.

      I have no problem with the fact that people need to make money.
      But this is the second instance in less than a week that we have crossed paths with tech support that was more anxious to collect cash for things other than a needed fix, instead of listening to the customer and fixing the problem and creating a happy customer who would come back for more sales in the long term.

      Granted,  my parent's Roku is out of warranty. But if Roku had asked them "have you tried reconnecting from the settings menu ?" instead of pawning them off on Linksys, it would have short circuited 90 minutes of frustration. I would have been OK if when she said " How do I do that?" they said, we are sorry you are out of warranty, that support costs. Then she would have called me and asked and we would have had it fixed.

      If Linksys had said " we do not support Roku, but let's check your router" and taken her through standard troubleshooting ( the fact that the other two computers attached to the Linksys router still talked to the Verizon DSL and got on the internet fine should have indicated that there was no communication problem between the Linksys and Verizon), then politely sent her away, rather than sending her into DSL reconfigurations would have been fine.

      Verizon had in their records that they had a tech at her house a couple of weeks ago, who adjusted their network. If they had said- we had a tech there recently disrupting your network, you might have to reconnect devices to make them work correctly. They do not have to be able to tell her how to do that, it is not their responsibility.  But immediately telling her the DSL could have issues in a storm and trying scare tactics to get subscription support pisses me off.

      It upsets me both because they jerked around my mom, but also because it makes IT look bad. Pretty soon, being in IT will be a little like being a lawyer. That is a horrible shame. We have the opportunity to make things that make people's lives fun, interesting, and even amazing.  Let's not lose this to make a few 29.95 fees that don't fix anything.

      Tuesday, July 19, 2011

      5 Tips for Businesses New to Social Media // In which, I step on my Social Media Assumptions and give Small Business owners a bit of advice...

      Every once in a while, I am reminded what an incredible geek I am.

      When you swim in the geek every day, it is so easy to forget that terms like QR Code, Foursquare, G+, Podcasting, mp3,twitter,square, facebook page creation, blogging and video conferencing ( to name just a few) are either complete greek or else sound frighteningly technically hard to do.

      I believe it is important for businesses to be involved in their neighborhood in ways that improve the neighborhood. Since part of what I do is IT and Social Media Consulting, my neighborhood is both digital and physical, so here is a little give back - 5 quick tips about using Social Media for Business.

      1) Social Media - all digital interactions that involve people to people communication and conversation. This happens in many places (or platforms) on the internet- Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa , Google+, Quora, Empire Avenue, Foursquare are just a few you might hear people talking about. In the digital world, this is the same as the beauty shop/barbershop chat, the back fence or front stoop chat, the "after church coffee" chat or a postcard from someone traveling that comes back home. The same sorts of things happen in both places- people share news, movie reviews, baby pictures,travel pictures, product and business recommendations,or insights and opinions on politics, economics, and philosophy ( to name just a few). Just like in real life, there are people you trust and love, people who gossip, people you respect, people who are blowhards and people you avoid. Remember- Social Media is conversation and engagement- it is the online way to spread word of mouth advertising.

      2) Facebook- one of the current leading platforms ( or places) for social media exchanges, although it is not always loved by the people who use it ( ask me why and I can post more). Most of you probably have a Facebook Account. If you have a lively Facebook community near your brick and mortar, or you sell online and ship product, your Business should have a Facebook page as well. This is frighteningly easy to do. Simply go to your home page, click on "pages" in the left menu and then click on the "create a page" button that shows up on the top of the page. Warning- just having a page is no good at all, unless you post to it, check on it, respond to people on it and make connections with it. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go to your page, then click on the "use facebook as page" option on the right. Now go forth in Facebook land. Like other pages that are strategic connections, comment on other people's things, be a lively and contributing presence and people will stumble across your page. [There is, obviously, tons more to be said about Facebook- you can contact me as a contractor if you want the full scoop or more hand holding]

      3) Twitter- another social media platform, where the things you share are limited to 140 characters, but can be links to other things ( like youtube videos, pictures, blog posts, etc..). The nice thing about Twitter for businesses is that it is very easy to search and find people interested in the things you do, to "follow" them ( see the things they post) and respond back to start conversations. Twitter is all about conversations. This is NOT the place to broadcast only links to your press releases, details about your latest specials or your latest product releases. Those things are fine to include in the things you share, but remember this is a conversation- no onne likes listening to someone who only talks about themselves.

      4) QR Codes. These are those funny looking square barcodes ( known as 2D or Matrix barcodes) that you are starting to see all around town. Big businesses and manufacturing have been using 2D barcodes for many years because they can hold more information than a regular barcode. Then someone got smart and turned them into a QR ( Quick Response)code that can used to show on the spot information. All phones that have a camera and run apps can get a free barcode scanner application ( most come already installed) that can be used to scan the QR Code and display the information. This information might be a link to a web page ( URL), some text( offer a discount or special sales promo), a link to other online services ( maps, Foursquare, youtube, yelp, etc..), contact information, a phone number, or to send an SMS (to your phone). If you have one of those phones, you can try this one and see what displays on your phone.    

      5) FourSquare. ( also known as 4Square). As a personal service, it has lovers and haters. Some people love to "check in" and broadcast all over the internet where they are and what they are doing and some people hate it.  But as long as there are lovers, becoming a place that people can check into makes good sense.  When users check in, they share that information with all their friends online. This means lots of other people are seeing them come to your business.  You also have the ability to offer specials through Fourquare, and when users check in anywhere, they see a list of all the specials nearby, potentially reminding them to come to your address as well.  You do not have to personally use the service, but you do have to have an account and log in at your business to make it a place. You  want to create an account and search to see if anyone has already added your place. If not, go to the store, log into foursquare and add the venue. Then go to your computer, find your new place and "claim this venue".  Foursquare requires verification, which can be done via phone or email and then does a lot of hand holding once you tell it you want to claim a venue and you are off and running.

      Hopefully those first 5 tips give you something to think about and act on and let you get started in Social Media for your business.

      Wednesday, July 13, 2011

      Infographics Made Simple:

      I am completely loving the new infographics site,

      Not only is it a gallery, where graphic artists can upload, share, critique, etc.. ( finally taking digital art networking seriously) it also includes an online toolset for everyday folks to create cool infographics.

      While the toolset is still limited (they say growth will happen quickly, )

      I was pleased with the results of the Twitterizer tool:

      is what it came up with for my personal Twitter account. I was most intrigued when it came up with a couple of my apparently "made up" words as frequent topics of interest. Other than that, it is not too far off base... pretty impressive for an under 5 minute process.

      How to Maintain a Tradition and still Innovate Art.

      This hexagonal structure is a furnace that gets rebuilt every couple of years.

      It is the furnace where they melt the ingredients for Kokomo Opalescent Glass.  We are incredibly lucky, here in the City of Firsts to have the oldest remaining factory in the US who still makes old fashioned Stained Glass sheet glass.  They have been making art glass on this site since 1888.  The glass comes in a multitude of colors/color mixes and textures that are "printed" into the glass when it is rolled into a sheet.
      This glass, that starts its life as what looks like a pile of sand, and gets carried by running men in giant metal ladles to go into the rollers, has ended up in many cathedrals around the world.

      The results of combining up to 5 colors of glass at a time and a multitude of textures is a series of rooms of gorgeous sheet glass- each one slightly unique in all the world.

      In addition to being shipped globally to repair old stained glass ( a series of batches went out to Japan this summer to assist with repair stained glass in cathedrals damaged in their recent catastrophes), this glass also ends up in new art, like that made locally by Little Town Glass and OgreWorkshop. Look Carefully at glass in the top cog- what do you see that was created by the mixing of the glass?

      The KOG factory does tours all week. The day we were there, there were stained glass lovers from three different states and some local folks as well. It made a great Geek Family Outing for three generations of our family that day. You can see more pictures, including shots of the glass blowing section of the factory, in this album:


      Friday, July 1, 2011

      The Mummies' Funky Jive Spiced up Kokomo

      Thursday evening rolled the opening of the 2011 Haynes Apperson Festival, and this year it all started a little Funky.

      A bit before 8PM, the crowds started gathering in front of the courthouse... and then the Mummies arrived.

      Although the ending of the show can get a little bit Racy ( in the most fun ways), families gathered to listen, dance and enjoy the funky beats.
       I wandered about the crowd... for a bit we even went over to the food and rides side of the Downtown Festival but the sounds of the Mummies' Jive could be heard clearly no matter where you were. Everyone got the treat of their

      As for the Mummies? They looked, and sounded good from every angle.

      Check out more shots in the album:

      Monday, June 27, 2011

      Reverse Robotics?

      During some discussion of Falling Skies on Twitter ( full disclaimer, I get incentive points to talk about it, but honestly, this is just me being excited about a show and an idea), a new thought suddenly occurred to me. It was way too long for 140 char, so here we are.

      In the new show Falling Skies, there are several types of alien creatures:

      Skidders/Skitters/Critters are a 6 legged, insectoid slimy faced creature that are often found hunting out free humans or guard/herding "harnessed" humans

      Harness: I  am including the harness that is found on alien captured humans as an alien ( although maybe just an alien construct) because it wiggled a bit when the free humans tried to remove one- it seems to be alive at some level. Amount of intelligence unknown, but it controls the human it is attached to in a puppet fashion.

      Mechs: These are large mech/robotic type beings. 2 legged, gun toting typical Sci Fi mechs

      Flyers: We have not seen a lot of these yet, and none with lots of detail, but we know they have heat sensors, appear when heat indicates a bunch of humans have gathered or built fires in the open and then obliterate them. The implication is that something is flying them.

      Control Towers/Mother: ( ok, this is my name. No one has named the structures looming over every major city, but they are certainly implied as a central system of some sort.

      In the Pilot, there is a comment made that it is thought provoking that the Skitters are 6 legged creatures, but have made 2 legged mechs. The character notes that usually creatures would make a mech to drive that matches their their mode of locomotion. I would agree this is true, if the creature is riding inside the mech.

      Now here is a thought to twist your brain around.

      What if this is more a case of skynet to extreme? What if the machines are intelligent and the biologicals are their creations/tools.

      As Sentient Bipedal Biologicals, we build tools that augment us or reach places/have capabilities that we do not. We build mechanical things- multilegged robots, robotic harnesses and exo-suits, etc. We even take highly intelligent AIs and "enslave them" to compute for us.

      What kinds of augmentation/tools would Sentient Mechanicals need? Seems like creating biological tools/robots/constructs would be the correct reverse robotics.

      My brain is enjoying this line of thought... I will be anxious for next week's show to see if my theory stands up.

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      The Gnomes Revolt: Cthuluhu

      In the time of the Dark Mysts, when the Elder Gods freely roamed the lands, they created the Gnomes for their entertainment. Simple, easy going, nature-loving folks, the Gnomes lived in the gardens, peacefully tending the flowers and plants, at one with nature. Occasionally, the Elder Gods would visit the garden, play amongst the Gnomes and Snack....

       The Gnomes, being simple, peaceful garden folk would occasionally notice one of their comrades was missing, but assumed that they merely wandered off to another garden- oblivious to the carnage in the dark.

      Many of the Gnomes would play or lounge in the gardens, not even noticing that Elder Gods were near.

       This co-existance continued on for many eons, until some of the other creatures in the garden grew bored and restless.
       There was a demon in another garden who was particularly bored, and plotted ways to amuse himself. When a Gnome happened to wander into his garden, he took advantage of the situation by giving the gnome a book. Once he had taught the gnome to read, trouble was sure to follow.

      When the gnome settled peacefully into his garden for a good read through his library, the Demon also endeavored to teach the Gnome magick. This was easier than you might imagine, as all things created by the Elder Gods have a small piece of the Gods within them, and thus a piece of their magick as welll. It became merely a matter of teaching the Gnome how to awaken his magick....

      The Magick Gnome cast a spell, removing the illusions from the eyes of the Gnomes and letting them see the Elder Gods clearly. 

      Soon Gods were startling the Gnomes everywhere they went. 

      Chopping down a tree would reveal Cthulhu in the brush.

      Exploring the garden alcoves, once a favorite pastime of the Gnomes, became fraught with fear. 

      One day, A young Gnome hit Cthulhu with his slingshot. It bounced off and the small Gnome approached to retrieve the rock. 

      Gnomes playing on a rope hanging from the Old Dogwood Tree were horrified to see the small Gnome sucked into the tentacles of the Godr. 

      Gnomes quickly gathered, horrified, unsure what to do to save their compatriot, (there is really nothing that can be done, once a God decides you are dinner).

      Frustrated and Distraught, one of the Gnomes made the ultimate symbol of displeasure. This so enraged Cthulhu that he continued snacking on Gnomes until none were left.  

      Alone in the garden, Cthulhu surveyed the land. Realizing that there were no longer any Gnomes in sight, even in nearby gardens to wander over, He knew the time had come to move on and find a new garden....

      Tomorrow morning, Cthulhu will be traveling to Origins in Ohio, looking for a new  home. Will he be able to find a garden of Gnomes and other tasty creatures ( chipmunks are quite tasty as well....)  in your yard?

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Innovators Connect

      The Inventrek Center is starting a monthly Entrepreneur/Innovator/Business StartUp Meet Up.
      This will be a great opportunity to connect with resources, get great information and connect with like minded folks. Be sure to stop by the Inventrek Center and put the monthly meetup on your calendar.

      The Agenda this month is:

      Wednesday, June 22 5:30-7:00 p.m.
      Inventrek Auditorium, 700 East Firmin St. Kokomo, IN 46902

      Discover the multitude of resources available to help you develop your product or service and/or help you start your business

      Tim Martin & Jeff Bell
      Lean practitioners and co-authors of the book New Horizons in Standardized Work: Techniques for Manufacturing and Business Process Improvement.

      Monty Henderson
      Business coach, Small Business Development Center (S.B.D.C.)

      Rich Meyer
      Business Growth Services Leader, Purdue University Technical Assistance Program (TAP)

      Don McCreary
      Director - Entrepreneurial Education, Inventrek 

      Open discussion/networking opportunities immediately 

      Contact Don McCreary 765-457-2000 ext 249 
      for questions/details. 

      Sodas and munchies provided. 
       See you there!

      Tuesday, May 17, 2011

      Once Upon a Time: When Fairytales and the real world collide, anything is possible

      Welcome to Storybrooke, where the evil queen has frozen time and stashed all the residents of the enchanted forest. The problem? They don't know they are fairytale characters- including Emma Swan, the lead character. When Emma's 10 year old son- who she gave up years ago- finds her, it shifts her world view. This is the premise of Once Upon a Time, one of the new shows ABC has lined up for next fall.

      Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost, Tron: Legacy) invite you to a bold new vision of the world where fairytales and the modern day are about to collide.

      Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) knows how to take care of herself. She's a 28-year old bail bonds collector who's been on her own ever since she was abandoned as a baby. Henry (Jared Gilmore) is 10 years old now and in desperate need of Anna's help. Henry believes that Emma actually comes from an alternate world... and is Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White's (Ginnifer Goodwin) missing daughter. According to his book of fairytales, they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen's (Lana Parilla) curse, which trapped the fairytale world forever, frozen in time. Of course Emma doesn't believe a word, but when she brings Henry back to Storybrooke, she finds herself drawn to this unusual boy and his strange New England town. Concerned for Henry, she decides to stay for a while, but she soon suspects that Storybrooke is more than it seems. It's a place where magic has been forgotten, but is still powerfully close... where fairytale characters are alive, even though they don't remember who they once were--including the Evil Queen who is now Henry's foster mother. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell.

      This is one of those times when I wish networks did not do promos so far in advance- this preview has me hooked and I want to see the whole show. Because, as Snow White says, "Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing". I choose to believe that this could be a happy ending for all the TV viewers.

      The show is now active on Facebook and Twitter, so plug them into your social graph.

      Robert Carlyle - Rumplestiltskin
      Josh Dallas - Prince Charming/John Doe
      James Dornan - Sheriff Graham
      Jared Gilmore - Henry
      Ginnifer Goodwin - Snow White/Sister Mary Margret Blanchard
      Jennifer Morrison - Emma Swan
      Lana Parilla - Evil Queen/Regina
      Raphael Sbarge - Archie/Jiminy Cricket

      Production Company - ABC Studios
      Executive Producer - Edward Kitsis
      Executive Producer - Adam Horowitz
      Executive Producer - Steve Pearlman
      Executive Producer/Director - Mark Mylod

      Charlie's Angels, Blast from the Past

      I must confess, as a preteen/young teen girl, I loved Charlie's Angels. When someone told me I looked like Sabrina, Kate Jackson's character, I was over the moon. Three brilliant, self sufficient women being tough and solving problems on their own? I was hooked. The fact that they were gorgeous? A huge bonus. Right or wrong, every teen girl has a drive to be attractive ( oh, fess up, we all still want to be hot - it is just that our definitions of HAWT shift over time). The other problem solving females I had as a role model back then were Daphne and Thelma of Scooby Doo Fame. The lesson there? If you are smart, you are dumpy. Here was a show shattering that reality for me- you could turn heads and still be the heroine!

      This Fall ABC will be bringing back Charlie's Angels. I had a bit of trepidaption about this, not all of the 70's/80's show refreshes have been even close to great. And then there is the fact that I have grown up... my view has changed too. Would I still love the Angels? This big, loud, fun take on the 1970's smash hit series introduces us to three new angels, all fearless operatives, head-turning beauties and close friends. There's Abby (Rachael Taylor) a Park Avenue Princess who became a world-class thief. Then there's Kate (Annie Ilonzeh), a Miami cop who fell from grace, losing both her career and her fiance. Finally there's Gloria, a disgraced army lieutenant who has a way with explosives. When one of the angels' missions ends in Gloria's tragic death, Charlie persuades them to partner with Gloria's childhood friend, Eve (Minka Kelly), a street racer with a mysterious past. They may not know each other yet, but one thing's for sure--Abby, Kate and Eve will always have each other's backs.
      Leonard Goldberg (the original Charlie's Angels) and Drew Barrymore (the Charlie's Angels movies) join forces with Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) to deliver the adrenaline rush of the season. Set in scorching-hot Miami, Charlie's Angels delivers nonstop big screen action. With the help of Bosley 2.0 (Ramon Rodriguez), their hot, young technical expert, and the guidance of their enigmatic boss Charlie (Robert Wagner), these angels are an unstoppable crime fighting force.

      If the series holds true to this preview look, I am in. It will be one of my "secret pleasure" shows - like Castle. Will it be intellectually stimulating? Probably not. But it looks to be a fun, wild ride and I will stay behind the show that taught me that you could solve the problems of the world, kick ass and still look good.

      As ABC says: "Everyone deserves a second chance. Even a thief, a street racer and a cop who got in a little too deep. After all, the three women who solve cases for their elusive boss Charlie Townsend are no saints - they're angels... Charlie's Angels". I will be giving the show a second chance as well.

      They are out on Facebook and Twitter, so plug them into your social graph to keep up on the latest news and info.

      Annie Ilonzeh - Kate Prince
      Minka Kelly - Eve
      Rachel Taylor - Abby Sampson
      Ramon Rodriguez - Bosley
      Robert Wagner - Voice of Charlie

      Production Company - Sony Pictures Television
      Executive Producer - Miles Millar
      Executive Producer - Alfred Gough
      Executive Producer - Nancy Juvonen
      Executive Producer - Leonard Goldberg
      Executive Producer - Drew Barrymore
      Director - Marcos Siega

      The Daily Dose: Episode 46

      The Daily Dose for Tuesday, May 17 is all about Data and Data visualization innovations.

      McKinsey releases a report on Big Data, Planetary give us a new data innterface,WPP and nPario partner for better analysis of all that data you are generating, PSN recovers from data leaks, and more.

      @Gever Tulley brings us Brightworks. A return to the roots of learning.

      I had the privilege of sharing lunch with Gever Tulley , the master of fooling around at TedXBloomington.
      Many people know Gever for his now famous TED talk about Tinkering School, or for his book " 50 Dangerous things you should let your children do". ( associate link). He also did a TED talk around this theme, listing 5 Dangerous things.

      He is in the process of starting a new school which will open this fall: Brightworks. His talk at TedXBloomington explained more about the philosophy of the new school.

      While listening to his talk, my first reaction was " I want to teach there". but moving to San Francisco is not a reality for us, so that quickly shifted to "I want to open the Midwest Branch of Brightworks here". Part of the reason for this gut reaction is that his theories resonate strongly with much of my education, so I know it works. I was not schooled in some odd charter school, but rather in the public schools of Maryland, back in in the 1970s (shhh) in the Cambrian Era of Education. I grew up in Open Spaced schools, with "unclassrooms". Then even with the move to High School, we were allowed to test out of the planned curriculum and then design our own research and investigation projects for a month or so at a time. This was in Science, Social Studies/History and English. We did not have the number of outside expert resources coming into our schools, but I grew up between Baltimore and Philadelphia, in an area rich with external resources. When my partner and I wanted to do more research on the Origins of Man for one project, the school system tracked down every Bus already going Down to Washington DC for a field trip, rerouted them to come by and pick us up in the morning, drop us off at the Museum of Natural History and then picked us up to go home at the end of the day. We did this every day for a week, then came back to the school and integrated what we learned with other resources to produce our project. This was not an isolated example, our teachers and the system wanted us to explore and learn and supported it every way they could.
      The biggest reason I believe that Brightworks will be a massive success is the student to teacher ratio. At Brightworks the student to teacher ratio will only be 6:1. Our student :teacher ratio was slightly higher than that, but much of the education I got was small group or individual so the interactions with teachers were personal. Starting my Sophmore year, we were designated the first graduating class of a brand new high school. We were the upper classmen, so teachers had far fewer students to track and manage. Regardless of teaching technique, lowering the student:teacher ratio is good for learning. It returns us to our roots of Apprenticeship programs where only small numbers of students learned from Masters. It gives teachers the luxury of time to get to really know and understand how each student learns best and to tailor the experience for them, rather than attempting to mass produce learners from a School Factory.

      I believe that what Brightworks is doing is the way that most teachers naturally want to teach, given time and freedom, and more importantly matches how all of us naturally learn. Think hard about how you learn new things, now that you are out of school- I doubt it matches the current modern classroom experience.

      They are taking some care to try to balance gender, etc. in the school- so if you are in the San Francisco area and have a girl between the ages of 6-9 check them out they still have about a half a dozen openings. With a policy to have half their students on scholarship, this will not be an experience that is limited to the privileged few.

      I am very excited about this experiment and hope the students end up sharing their expositions digitally as well, so we can follow along on their exciting journey of learning.

      Monday, May 16, 2011

      Big Mystery and the origins of everything- a mystery no more.

      I am a storytelling fan. I could listen to live story tellers for days on end.
      When my kids were little, we told bedtime stories.... but they were nothing like the genius of Arbutus Cunningham.  I am a newly converted fan  and have been so excited to find her work all over the web. She has stories on MySpace, Grooveshark, and there is an awesome 20 Questions interview with her over on BloomMag.  I am saddened that we do not get the radio station she appears on weekly, but am hoping maybe we can convince them ( or her) to make it into a podcast.  Enjoy.  

      All the World's a Stage: Improv and Autism Spectrum Disorder

      This past weekend at TedXBloomington, Steve Volan gave intimate glimpses into his perceptions of the world that were moving, inspiring and resulted in a standing ovation. I have long been a supporter and participant in Children's Theatre, but never imagined that learning improv techniques would be a key to learning social interaction skills for Autism.
      In talking about how interacting with others feels to him, Steve says:

      "stage fright is a natural feeling- now imagine that feeling every time you cross someone's path...."
      "every social interaction for me is like being on a stage..."
      "people on the autism spectrum has this rolling continuous case of stage fright..."

      Once stated that well, it seems obvious that all the skills we use to help kids overcome stage fright and learn stage skills would be helpful to kids with autism. Although there is no known research to show this helps, there are several programs and dramatherapy is a recognized threatment. There is even a summer theatre camp specifically for Asperger's kids, and a conference coming up in May in Chicago.

      Tricks of the trade that work for actors playing a role work for those at the Autism end of the spectrum.... reminding us all that we all play roles in life.

      Make sure you grab a tissue and click through on the link to view the video of his talk.

      Friday, May 13, 2011

      This week on The Daily Dose

      IndyGeek was dealing with a family death this week, so some of the shows got understandably posted oddly.
      I thought it might be a good idea to round them up and help you find them, since they probably came through oddly.

      Monday  May 9  Episode 40: Growing our Geeks and the Follow bit of interview on the Blogging area for TedXBloomington.

      Tuesday, May 10.Episode 41: Indiana Innovators, included an interview with Jeff Martin of True Dungeon.

      Wednesday, May 11 Episode 42: Homegrown Success Stories. Included an interview with Mira Award winner Kyle Lacy of Mindframe.

      Thursday, May12 Episode 43: 3Rs day. The Google I/O fest.

      Friday, May 13 Episode 44: TGIF: With a small bit of follow on about Livestreaming TedXBloomington.

      Heading to TED

      Looks like blogger is back up and maybe stable just in time for TEDxBloomington.
      We are.currently on the road dealing with Westfield construction traffic, but our brains are already in Wisdom of Play mode, as the CNC was running this am.
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