I have to admit that my first introduction to AC/DC was the album Back In Black with Brian Johnson at the helm. It wasn't until many years later that I heard their older catalog with Bon Scott. Once I did I was quite blown away. There was something very visceral about Bon Scott's approach to the songs. I think Rock 'n Roll Singer was an autobiographical tune and really explained a lot about him. It is just too bad that his flame was extinguished so early.
I recently downloaded Bioshock for my Mac and I had forgotten how fun this game is. The game starts off very mysteriously and just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Even after playing this game several times it is still a bit disconcerting when confronted with the choice regarding the little sisters. Not to mention confronting the truth about your character about half-way through the game. The claustrophobic aspect of the game is also a bit chilling. You are constantly being confronted with the reality that you are in a city under water that is slowly falling apart.
The combat mechanics are very interesting. You can switch between traditional weapons and plasmids, or powers. The controls are very seamless and it is quite effortless to switch between the two combat aspects, especially for combinations.
The enemies are quite varied and somewhat horrific. They all seem to have gone way too far with plastic surgery and now are quite deformed and mad. Sometimes they come at you from all angles and make combat quite tricky. Thankfully there are various turrets and security cameras that you can hack so have some allies.
All in all this game is just as fun as when it was released in 2007. There aren't too many games where I could make that claim. If you haven't had the opportunity to play this one yet I highly recommend it.
I have to say this is a pretty fun game! There are a ton of characters to choose from, each with their own special abilities. With that said, I really don't have a clue what I am doing when playing it. I think there are ways to level up your character, but not sure how to do it. I spend most of my time just button mashing and losing to my 10 year old nephew!
I have been primarily using Dark Pitt and seem to do okay with him. Kirby is also fun to play, but I have not been too successful with him. I think I may need to spend some time looking for tips online, which is something I never expected to do with this game. It seemed deceptively easy until I started playing the nephew.
I was rearranging my apps on the iPad the other day, opened up the Apple videos app and stumbled upon this little gem. This is one of those movies that if it is on the TV I end up watching it. It was no different when I found it in my videos app. I do admit that I do like a fair amount of the Farrelly brothers movies, they are usually pretty funny and have a good message. Shallow Hal is no exception and it is by far my favorite Farrelly brothers movie.
Jack Black does an excellent job play Hal, an extremely shallow individual. The elevator scene where he describes to Tony Robbins his perfect woman which is a mixture of a bunch of different movie stars and supermodels. He is so shallow that not even a single supermodel has all of the perfect features that he desires.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays the smart, funny Rosemary Shanahan who captures Hal's hypnotized heart. She also delivers one of the best lines to Jason Alexander's Mauricio when he told her he was wearing a Member's Only jacket and she asked if he was the only member.
In all this is a wonderfully executed comedy that is well written and acted. It also contains a great message that internally beauty is attractive, but sometimes we need a little help to see it.
It was summer 1984 and I had just finished junior high and was entering the brave new world of high school in the fall. When Karate Kid hit the theaters I was quite anxious to see it and ready to give the theater my money. I have been a fan of martial arts movies for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching old kung fu movies and was a pretty big fan of Bruce Lee. In my teenage mind Karate Kid was the perfect movie! It had action, a great story and a very cute girl. I also thought it was pretty cool that the tournament in the movie took place on my birthday, December 19th. I can't say for sure how many times I have watched this film, but I will still stop and watch if I see it on TV.
In my high school days I was a major Anthrax fan. Their songs were pretty hard core thrash and many of them were inspired by great books, comics and movies. Anthrax's Among The Living is, in my opinion, their best work. There are many good tracks, but my favorite has to be A Skeleton In The Closet. It was this song that led me to explore Stephen King as it was based on his short story Apt Pupil from Different Seasons. I remember reading this crazy story about an all American kid who becomes infatuated with Nazis and discovers one in his home town. I was amazed by King's storytelling and started reading anything of his I could get my hands on. By the time I graduated high school I had read just about everything King had published at that time. Anthrax has a few songs that were inspired by King's works and each one introduced me to a great story.
Ever since I purchased my Playstation 4 I have been waiting for a good next-gen game that was developed specifically for this system. inFamous: Second Son is that game and more. The visuals are stunning and the gameplay is solid, though a bit repetitious at times. In the game you can choose to be a hero or a villain. I started off my first run through on the hero side of things on the normal difficulty setting. It was a blast! Some of the boss battles were a bit frustrating, but not overly so (boss battle video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152331049620692). I was able to complete the game at 100% and it was interesting leveraging the different powers to defeat different enemies. Now I am working on the villain side of things as there are different powers available.
In one of the recent updates to the game Sucker Punch added a feature called photo mode. This feature, once enabled, allows you to pause the game at any point, manipulate the camera in a variety of ways and take a picture. These pictures can be shared on Facebook and Twitter. You can see a sample from my "villain" game below.
You can manipulate the camera quite a bit in this mode, even the f-stop! One gamer site, NeoGAF, is running a photo contest for photos from the game and some of them are pretty spectacular: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=805887
So, if you have a Playstation 4 and are looking for a great game with some interesting extras you should check out inFamous: Second Son.
This is the first song on the album More Fun Than An Open Caske Funeral. I remember listening to this band as I was moving into my thrash metal phase, although they dubbed their music "splatter rock" back in the day. It is a great song to start off this album. You just can't go wrong with zombies! I remember listening to this on cassette so much that it started to get warped and my deck would eat it periodically which made me have to break out the pencil. If you want to check it out here is the iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/halo-of-flies/id579832031?i=579832080
I recently picked up the game Beyond: Two Souls for the Playstation 3. I am only a couple of hours into the game and it has been quite entertaining. There are some elements I haven't tested out yet, like the co-op play or the mobile app integration. The game controls are a quite a bit different than most other third-person perspective games and that has taken some time to get used to. I like that it is a very story-driven experience and the way it jumps around to critical parts of Jodie's, the protagonist, life where she deals with an entity that is connected to her. The game makes good use of the motion capabilities of the PS3 controller and provides a unique experience when controlling the entity. Currently the most challenging aspect of the game for me is avoiding obstacles as I try to elude an enemy. I can't even count the number of times that I have hit my head on a tree branch or tripped over a log. Character control issues aside this is one of the most visually stunning games I have seen on the PS3 console. The characters are very realistically rendered and the game play is extremely immersive.
Once I become coordinated I feel confident that I will have greater success in the game. I will post more information on the narrative and my ability to avoid obstacles as I progress further in the game.
Wow! This is one stunningly beautiful and incredibly huge game. I have only played for a few hours so far, but this is a pretty amazing addition to a great franchise. I have been able to unlock all three characters and the ability to switch between them is very cool! One thing I have noticed is that the gameplay is pretty challenging even if you have put a lot of hours in the previous installments. In the previous games if you were in a car you were pretty much invulnerable, but that is not the case in V. The driving and flying aspects are pretty challenging as well. I really like the fact that you can plan out your "heists" and choose the people (in some cases individuals you have found in side-missions) you want with you in your crew. There is an amazing level of detail in this game and it looks fantastic on my current gen Playstation 3. If you are a fan of this franchise you won't want to miss out on Grand Theft Auto V (and with 1.57 million copies sold on day one I can assume most of you aren't).
A few weeks ago I picked up the Disney Infinity starter set (and a few extras) for the Wii U. I have to say this is a pretty impressive game. Essentially you get multiple games in one package. Each of the figures in the starter pack have their own game world plus you have access to the Toy Box world.
The concept of the system is pretty interesting. You can place up to two figures on the game pad (included in the starter set and connects to your system via USB) and the game world piece. In addition you can add up to two power up discs under your figure and if you are just going to play around in the Toy Box you can add a disc there instead of using the game world piece. This gives you the ability to expand the game easily by purchasing additional figures or game expansions.
I have played all three game worlds (Monsters U, The Incredibles and Pirates of the Caribbean) and so far I like the Pirates world the best. It is quite fun to sail a pirate ship around the sea and attack other ships. I did also pick up the Cars expansion but haven't played that one much. For me the most interesting thing about the game worlds is trying to track down all the Toy Box pieces. Some of them require certain characters to access (so you gotta buy 'em all!).
The Toy Box aspect to the game is very interesting. Essentially you get to use all of the items you have found in the games to build your own world. You can spawn bad guys to fight, build racetracks and all kinds of mini games. You are mostly limited by your imagination! I haven't had a lot of time to explore the Toy Box area yet but will do so and post my thoughts (and screenshots)!
There have been a lot of posts out there stating that the Wii U is dead and that Nintendo is in trouble, so I won't talk about that here. This post will cover my interactions with the system. I only recently purchased the Wii U Deluxe system. There were a couple of reasons why I picked this system up; TVii and Pikmin 3.
I am very intrigued by the TVii application, but it still needs quite a bit of development work. I like the fact that I can use the Wii U Gamepad to control my TV and that I can interact with others via the TV Tag as I am watching TV shows. This is a great feature, but limited to live TV. It would be great of the TVii could interface with TiVo or some other DVR system and let you interact with recorded shows since there are a lot of people that are "time shifting" their TV watching. People are really starting to leverage the "second screen" during TV shows and TVii could be a real asset to the Wii U. The best part about TVii is that the Wii U doesn't necessarily become your media machine. You can still use your standard cable box and DVR. The Wii U then stands out from the Xbox One as it doesn't try to become your home media machine.
Now I have never played Pikmin 1 or 2 but when I read a review of this game I thought it sounded pretty interesting. I really like strategy games and this one had a different twist to strategy than most games.
The graphics on this game are superb. It is really fascinating to walk around Earth as a miniature creature, plucking Pikmin out of the ground and hurling them at enemies and barriers. This game is challenging from the beginning and makes you want to keep playing. I have been using the Gamepad to play this game and the controls take some getting used to. I have read that using the Wiimote and Nunchuck make the controls a bit easier so will have to give that a try.
On February 20th, Sony announced the new Playstation 4. The specs are much more advanced than the current Playstation 3, but nothing earth shattering. It looks like their focus will be on some interesting social sharing features of the system.
Here is a video showing the video capabilities of the system:
This video discusses the development process and some of the social sharing aspects of the system:
I am very interested in the social sharing aspect and can't wait to see the great content that gamers share with this system.
DIY UWhile at EDUCAUSE 2011 this year I attended a session by Anya Kamenetz called DIY U: Edupunks and the Transformation of Higher Education. It was a very interesting session that presented a couple depressing bits of information:
- Average student debt is $27,803
- 37% of 18-20 year olds are unemployed
I also learned about Baumol's Disease. It describes how some positions have seen a rise in wage without a rise in productivity. The classic example is how it still takes four people to play a Beethoven string quartet. The same number that was required in the 19th century, yet their overall wages have not remained constrained. Anya used this example to explain the rapid rise in tuition for higher education.
The session however did not just cover issues with higher education. Anya did discuss ways for students and higher education employees to help minimize the issues. Some of the suggestions covered were:
- Open Content - reducing the overall cost of higher education
- Open Accreditation - accrediting real world experience
- Professional Networks - leveraging networks for job advancement
Higher education institutions are stepping up to some of these challenges. Many institutions are using and/or creating open content for students to utilize in courses. Institutions like Western Governor's University are assessing student's real world experience and awarding credits for it. We still have a ways to go, but we will get there.
One of my responsibilities as eLearning Director at Tacoma Community College is to manage our student computer lab, the Information Commons. In this lab we have a fully staffed help desk for studnets and faculty. I have been trying to figure out a way to showcase a help desk staff member's expertise with applications to make it easier for students and faculty to find the help they need. We have a board in the Information Commons with everyone's picture and I thought maybe we could post little icons on the board, but realized we would soon run out of space. Then I started to hear about an open badge project with Mozilla and became very intrigued. I recently joined the Open Badges and Assessment group at P2PU and have been learning quite a bit about the Mozilla project.
A way I envision using this open badge system in the Information Commons is to develop assessments around competencies for the different applications/devices we support. When one of our staff complete an assessment they are awarded a badge that can be added to an Information Commons Help Desk Staff profile page. This profile page would make it easy for students and faculty to find someone that can help them with their particular issue. This would help expedite the resolution of a support issue which would make the student/faculty member happy. In addition, our support staff would have a way to document their skill level with various applications/devices which could be added to a resume or portfolio and help me determine areas of support where we need to build capacity.
A Learner's Story
Andy is working on a project for his chemistry class and needs to plot some data points in Excel, but he hasn't done anything like that before. He approaches the help desk to find someone that can help him with Excel. One of the help desk staff, Amy, follows Andy to his work station to give him a hand. Andy explains the issue he is having and Amy realizes that this issue is outside her area of expertise with Excel. Amy goes back to the help desk and asks her colleagues if anyone has the skill necessary to help Andy. She finds Bob who knows how to do this and brings him over to Andy. Bob is able to show Andy how to plot data in Excel and Andy is able to finish his project.
How Badges Can Help
With the implementation of badges in the help desk environment staff members can showcase their competencies with various applications. This will make it much easier for end users to determine who will be their best line of support with a given issue saving valuable time.
A Learner's Story with Badges
Andy is working on a project for his chemistry class and needs to plot some data points in Excel, but he hasn't done anything like that before. Andy opens up the help desk staff page on his computer in the lab to see who might be avialable to assist him with his project. He sorts the list by Excel and further by charts/graphs. He sees that Bob has sufficient experience and will be coming on duty in a few minutes. He sends Bob a quick email message letting him know what computer he is on. When Bob comes to work he checks his messages and notices a message from Andy stating he needs help with Excel and heads to the listed work station to provide support.
Earning virtual badges has become quite popular with apps like Foursquare (https://foursquare.com/) and GetGlue (http://getglue.com/home). Now they seem to be making their way to the web with Mozilla (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges) and Google (http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/shareable-google-news-badges-for-your.html).
For quite some time I have been toying with the idea of using some kind of badge system for my staff at the help desk as a visual indicator of the applications they are proficient in using. Once Mozilla and Google really start getting them out there and allow end users to customize them that idea may come to fruition. This kind of a visual indicator will make it easy for students to quickly identify who can give them the help they need in Excel or PowerPoint.
Imagine what this could mean for education. People like to earn badges. It could be a tool to help motivate learners. In some cases it may foster competition that results in a positive outcome, learning. Kind of like that professor in Indiana that gives experience points instead of grades (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/99224-Professor-Abandons-Grades-for-Experience-Points).
I was finally able to complete my miter saw station project! It took a lot longer than expected (mainly because I kept putting it off). I purchased the plan a while back from PlansNOW (http://www.plansnow.com/) and customized it a bit to fit the saw. I also picked up the Rockler (http://www.rockler.com/) aluminum T-track (double) from the Sumner Woodworker Store (http://www.sumnerwoodworkerstore.com/) instead of building it out of wood. It was a great purchase except for the tape measure inserts. For some reason they extruded a bulge on the bottom of the instert which makes it impossible to slide in the track with the screws, so will have to shave it down a bit.
Here are the pix:
Front View (Extended)
Front View (Collapsed)Side View (Collapsed)
When it comes to eLearning content creation I am a big SoftChalk fan. One of the great things about this tool is it will publish SCORM compliant packages for Learning Management Systems so an instructor's activities can post to the gradebook automatically. They have had this working for Blackboard, Angel and Moodle 1.x already. I was pleasantly surprised today to find out that they have created integration guides for Moodle 2.0! So if you are SoftChalk user and Moodle 2.0 user you should check these out:
In addition they have updated the SoftChalk Student Guide. You can find that here:
I have been exploring the Canvas LMS for a few months now and have been very impressed with the features that are available. Below are screenshots of some of these features: