San Diego Comic Con: Day 2

Jewelbot Bracelets Teach Girls How to Code

Jewelbots logoFriendship bracelets have been a popular item for girls for decades. When I was a kid, I spent time carefully braiding embroidery floss so I could give the finished friendship bracelets to my BFFs.

Today’s girls can enjoy the modern version of the friendship bracelet. It’s called Jewelbots, and its Kickstarter campaign has 27 days to go.

Jewelbots do more than let the whole class know that you have a best friend. They can actually teach girls to code! Out of the box, the Jewelbots can flash or buzz when it detects that friends are nearby, and it can be used to send secret messages to those friends.

Girls that want more from their Jewelbot can make that happen by learning how to code. Jewelbots are open source and can do anything a girl imagines it doing – so long as she figures out how to code it.

The bracelets come in ten different colors. The Jewelbot fits onto a bracelet. It looks like a cute flower design. The Jewelbot needs to be paired with a phone via Bluetooth in order for it to work. That same app can be used to modify the behavior of their Jewelbot. The app is free and compatible for both Android and iOS.

To start with, a girl can choose to make her Jewelbot light up, vibrate, or do both. She can choose if the light should flash, pulse, or spiral. Once she figures that out, she can use what she learned to have her Jewelbot do more things. Some suggestions include: indicating when she has a like on Instagram, or a message on Facebook, to send SMS, to get a weather update, or even to notify her parents about something.

The coolest thing about Jewelbots is that it gets girls interested in basic engineering logic and lets her collaborate about it with her friends. These friendship bracelets can inspire girls to get into STEM fields (at an age when many girls start dropping out of STEM).

The Future of Mobile Computing

Mobile devices, specifically large screen smartphones, have made significant inroads into the computing spaces traditionally held by full-sized desktop and laptop computers. This incursion can best be measured by personal usage shifts.

In my own case, I find myself making much less use of my laptop and desktop machines, with my large screen smartphone making up the majority of my usage. At this point, if it were possible I would shift all of my computing usage to my smartphone, but unfortunately I find that the lack of quality software, and not the hardware, is preventing me from making the full shift.

The high end smartphone hardware of today compares quite favorably to traditional desktop and laptop hardware. If I could only run desktop class software applications on my smartphone, I could pretty ditch my traditional machines to an even greater degree than I already have.

The large screen high end smartphone hardware is closer than ever to hitting a peak, where performance improvements are incremental. From my point of view, the only way my phone could be made even more useful would be the addition of genuine desktop class software applications that would allow me to do real work and truly take advantage of the heavy duty hardware that is built in to a very compact package.

The software we’ve had to this point is at best dumbed-down and lacks capability. Apps such as Garage Band and iMovie on iOS and most of their counterparts on Andriod in the Google Play Store are toy apps aimed at seemingly air headed casual users. For example, where is the ability to import from and export to wider varieties of audio and video file types?

I want a real video editor that would allow me to attach my phone to a large screen monitor, keyboard and mouse and do intense video editing. Ditto with a real sound editor that would run on my phone that would be similar to the depth of an application such as Adobe Audition.

Who will develop these more capable smartphone applications? That remains to be seen. At this point the only real differentiators for hardware platforms lies in better software applications.

I personally am willing to pay for desktop class applications that will run on mobile computing platforms. Unfortunately so far they don’t seem to exist.

San Diego Comic Con – Day 1

GNC #1045 Only 21.5 Million

Todd disputes the 21.5 million number that OPM is quoting. Strap in for this show as Todd brings you a stack of hard hitting news. Todd also talk’s about the upcoming Podcast Hall of Fame induction and his trip to Fort Worth for Podcast Movement.

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Facebook Gives You More Control Over What You See

Facebook Newsfeed PreferencesFacebook has made some changes that will let you improve your News Feed experience. Surprisingly, it is going to let people select what they want to see first. Pick the friends who create posts that you actually want to see.

Product Manager Jacob Frantz wrote a post on Facebook Newsroom about this change. Part of it says:

We’re always working to improve and personalize your News Feed experience. We know that ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you and that is why we want to give you more ways to control what you see.

There is now an option to “Prioritize who to see first”. This gives you the opportunity to put the people, or pages, that are most important to you at the top of your News Feed. Who are you hoping to read posts from when you go on Facebook? Those are the people you should prioritize. No more scrolling through a bunch of stuff you don’t care about before finding what you came there to see.

The same post by Jacob Frantz mentions the Unfollow option. It is as though he is reminding users of that option (since it isn’t new). Use the Unfollow on that person who keeps posting political articles that you are tired of seeing. You can Follow them again later, after they calm down. To do that, just select them from your list of people you have Unfollowed.

The new ability to prioritize your Facebook feed is available on iOS and will be rolling out on Android and desktop over the coming weeks.

I find these changes interesting, even though I don’t use Facebook myself. I cannot help but wonder if the ability to pick what you want to see first, and to Unfollow people – without Unfriending them, or giving them any way to know that you have stopped Following them – is a form of triage.

Giving people more control over what they see could make a person’s Facebook experience more pleasant and less aggravating. It might be what prevents people from getting tired of, or frustrated with, Facebook and quitting it forever.

San Diego Comic Con – Preview Night

GNC #1044 The HackingTeam got Hacked

Solar Impulse has landed and I talk about the experience and the aircraft along with a very interesting story of a commercial HackingTeam who provides hacking software for governments that got hacked and now the whole world can see what they where up to. Watch my SolarImpule video minutes 3 and 8 are good starters.

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Leading Ladies 2 is the Current Humble Weekly Bundle

Leading Ladies 2 Humble BundleThe Humble Bundle provides people who love to play video games with an excellent offer. Pay what you want. Decide how much of the money you spend goes to the game developers and how much goes to a charity. The current Humble Weekly Bundle is called Leading Ladies 2. It features games that have prominent female characters in them. At the time I am writing this blog, this Humble Bundle has 4 days left.

Pay what you want to get the first three games in the Bundle. Triune 2: Complete Story is a game of action, puzzles, and platforming. One of the playable characters is Zoya the Thief.

Lumino City is sequel to Lume. It begins where the first game left off. Lumi needs to explore the city in order to find out more about her Grandad. The game involves exploring, and players must figure out puzzling mechanisms.

Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game that is about “hacking” (reprograming object properties, global variables, and creature behaviors in the game). The game is currently in early access.

Pay more than the average of $4.27 and you unlock two more games. A City Sleeps is an action game driven by an experimental hip hop / electronic soundtrack. The main character is a woman named Poe who uses ghost familiars to interact with the world.

The Marvellous Miss Take features Miss Sophia Take. Players must reclaim sculptures and paintings. The game involves stealth and distraction and combines a puzzle game with an action game.

Pay $12.00 or more, and you get two additional games. Gravity Ghost is a gravity hopper where players run, jump and orbit their way through a galaxy. There’s no killing, no dying, and no way to fail.

Sunset features the character Angela Burnes, and players discover her thoughts as they play the game. She is a US citizen at the end of the 1960’s who was inspired by the Black Power and civil rights movements. It is an adventure game.

As always, you get to choose how much of what you spend goes towards the developers and how much goes to a charity. This time, the charity is Girls Make Games. It is an educational company based in San Jose, California. They provide girls with access to knowledge thorough their games and programs, including their Girls Make Games summer camps and workshops.

GNC #1043 No More IPV4 Addresses

Solar Impulse is landing at approxiamentally 6am HST and I will be at the airport streaming live. I encourage you to watch both my coverage and that of SolarImpulse.com. Tonight show was recorded early to prepare the gear I will need for tomorrow mornings landing. It should be a huge press event and we will be leaving at 4am to cover it. Lots of tech tonight in a very very hot studio, it finally has happened their are no more IPV4 addresses.

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