Monday, December 4, 2017

Favorite Podcasts

I have only recently jumped into the podcast craze last summer (I know where have I been right? Thanks to Serial) so I thought I'd take a break from makerspaces and share my favorites so far..

99 % Invisible- Did you know that the CIA can come visit a studio set and shut down the operation if prop money used is too "realistic"?  Why aren't we on the metric system yet? These are just a few of the small things that make HUGE impacts. This is the podcast for unsung heroes and things you would never hear about otherwise.

Reply All- How easy is it to hack Trumps phone? Is Facebook really listening to us through our phones? a fascinating technology podcast for all people, minus the crazy jargon, that shapes our lives whether we know it or not.

Revisionist History- Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorite non-fiction authors, talks about the little things that make a big difference throughout history.  Who knew he hated golf courses so much?

Worst Best Sellers- these librarians are willing to take one for the team and read/discuss the worst offenders on the best seller list. This podcast is filled with lots of laughs.

S- Town- a fan of Serial constantly emails NPR for someone to come out and investigate a murder cover up in his rural town in Alabama. What one reporter discovers is so much deeper than that as he develops a bond with the fan and his friends. My favorite podcast of the year is an amazing sociological study that resonates so much with what is going on in the US today.

Tanis- Ok...for about 2 episodes I thought this was real and I went around telling everyone about this area in the Pacific Northwest that is like a black hole for bad juju (like the black lodge in Twin Peaks).

via GIPHY
I had no experience with the podcast's other popular fictional podcast The Black Tapes so I assumed this reporter who blends fiction with true historical events to explain a large government coverup of a mysterious moving place called Tanis was legit. I mean who really trusts the government anymore? The host Nic portrays himself as a podcast reporter involved with a hacker from the deep web as he regularly updates his real podcast boss on how it is going.  In my defense, I had been re watching alot of old X-Files episodes.  By episode 2 I realized that all the parts are played by 2 people.  This podcast does open up a whole new medium for those who want to present stories without writing a book or having to deal with being published.  I am also enjoying their newest addition about a historical game called Rabbits.

Switched on Pop- why was Justin Beiber's Despacito such a phenomenon? (come on admit it we were all singing along). Although I'm a big ukulele player, I had no musical background otherwise and these hosts are great at talking about fascinating music theory of the popular songs of today.

Crimetown- growing up in Fall River, MA and hearing personal stories my mom told me about how everyone loved criminal and ex-mayor of Providence, RI, Buddy Cianci, I could not resist a podcast all about him and the underground crime syndicate.

If you're going to add podcasting to your makerspace or digital media lab, I suggest listening to a wide variety of podcasts and take a look at what you enjoy about them.  For me, I love clever segments like Reply All's Yes Yes No where their boss from the baby boomer generation asks their Millennial hosts to explain a tweet that he has no idea about.  I also enjoy Worst Best Seller's The Rock vs Wolverine: Movie Adaptation Starring Roles and when the co-host's cat gives book reviews. These segments are endearing as you learn as much about the hosts as you do about the subject.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's Almost Time For Hour of Code



Hour of Code is coming December 4th-11 so be sure to take part in their online activities and let your local schools know how easy it is to join up. In addition this year I will be hosting a littleBits & Lego WeDo workshops after school for drop in activities.  One of my favorite robots, Dash will probably make an appearance as well (shhhh don't tell Cozmo).

littleBits has been doing a great job putting educators and technology business reps together for webinars so be sure to become a part of their email list. I recently attended:

How to Host An Epic Hour of Code

They are also adding lots of content to their library community blog like this post from one of their Global Chapters including Educators Guide with lesson plans to help kick start your littleBits programming.  One in particular is a curriculum using their coding kit. One thing I took away from the webinar that I didn't know was Scratch is also making lesson plans to guide educators in using their products and hosting meetup groups for in person collaboration all over the US. It makes sense!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

3D Printing Challenge: Stuff you see on the web!

Lately I see things on the internet and before I automatically hit the buy on Amazon button I say to myself, "Wait a minute...can I 3D print that?"

Today's venture was a one-handed page holder that I saw on this post of tiny but life changing inventions. I immediately got out my digital caliper and measured my thumb length and width. In less than 20 minutes, I made myself something similar using the cylinder shape, roof, and a user generated "mustache" shape.   See the tinkercad design. It took about 1.5 hours to print on the normal CURA settings with the Ultimaker 2. I left the raft and supports everywhere just in case.  It measures 89 mm x 30 mm x 25mm once grouped. Now I can hold my tea in one hand, and safely prop the book steadily in the other.






Friday, September 1, 2017

littleBits & Star Wars

So littleBits just announced on their website that they are releasing a build your own C3PO robot for $100.  I would be a little nervous about circulating it because it has many of the delicate wires that could easily be ripped out but it would be a perfect edition for Hour of Code activities in December or other in house robot programs.  Note: A tablet or phone is required to program the droid to complete missions.




On the note of delicate wires, I am so sick and tired of the regular littleBits makerspace kits we have coming back with broken battery chords. 
I have pretty much replaced them every 2 checkouts. I just broke down and bought the USB bit and the AC adapter.  All batteries, power bits and chords will be removed! Here's an old post about what to include in those littlebits checkout kits because be warned some of those bits do not survive the wear and tear of children's take home use.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

3D Printed Fidget Spinners Update

I have been avoiding doing fidget spinners since I figured they would be old hat by now but over the past month I have been doing Intro to Tinkercad classes and it is all the kids want to talk about and print. Of course since I don't have the ball bearings, I tried to explain it to them that it is better to have the bearing first then measure around it but they happily 3D printed ones that they could just spin using their fingers. They kinda reminded me of brass knuckles....

Coincidentally, I saw a post on Facbook highlighting how to build custom spinners. This blog has everything you will need and I am very appreciative. It took me a few tries to get the exact measurements so that the bearing would fit in snugly but not too loose as it would fall right out. My measurements for the 22mm bearing was using 2 cylinders in Tinkercad, one cylinder measures 27mm all around, 7mm high with an inner "hole" cylinder of 22.5mm all around, 7mm high. I highly recommend using Tinkercad BETA. It allows you to just type measurements in once you click on the white or black boxes.


My class structure will be as follows:
1.Search Tinkercad for something that they want to use as the design spinner....(In the above example Yoda). I'm assuming once they see mine they won't want to use any of the pre-made shapes on the right.  I will explain to them that whatever they chose has to be flat. Think cookie cutters.

2. Once we copy and tinker the specific object from another user, I am going to teach them how to duplicate CNTRL + D, as the keyboard shortcut. Then we are going to grab a pre-made cylinder and stretch it out for the outer circle 27mm all around, 7mm high then duplicate it and make it smaller for the inner circle 22.5mm all around, 7mm high, and make it a hole.

3. This is a great time to teach about the align tool as I want to make sure both cylinders are selected and they will be aligned in the center using the middle black buttons (one is showing red in the picture below). If they are already aligned, the button will fade out. I can't believe I haven't used this tool more often. It is a huge time saver.

4. Once the 2 cylinders are aligned, I will show them the group tool and then how to move it into the center and then use the duplicate tool to make 3 more Yodas and the align tool once again to put all the Yoda's at an equal distant apart.  Then group them all together and measure the final size.



Depending on the level of proficiency in the class since we only have an hour, I might print a bunch of the locking buttons for the spinners myself to save time or I might just skip it entirely!

I am also going to show them how many tries I actually did to get the ring correct. If you are having trouble getting the ball bearing in, my suggestion was to freeze the bearing so that the metal would contract enough to squeeze it in and it will probably never ever come out again. AH SCIENCE!



Other posts on this subject:

Newton Free Library is doing them!

Athens Library has a tutorial and sample STL files.

School Library Journal presents a few creative ways to make spinners besides 3D printing.

Adafruit, one of my favorite website for tutorials and science kit purchases, has a great video of assembling the middle bearing. You need to take out the rubber in the middle and possible using rubbing alcohol to make it spin faster.

 

UPDATE: Make sure the silhouettes (if you do the google image silhouette search and convert into svg version) actually has some sort of bottom base that connects all the parts...as we learned the hard way with Darth Vader....If you have no idea about converting to svg, see this tutorial about hand drawing prints (just skip the drawing part and google image search a .jpg to use)






Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I fought a Snorlax and other Pokemon Go updates


It has been a year since Pokemon Go first took the world by storm. The question...who is still playing? Well at level 34 and counting, I'm still all in.  I need over 1 million XP to get to level 35. It will take me MONTHS. I was pretty excited to see what the anniversary had in store. I was hoping for trading as I have promised many kids to come in. I was going to do raffles to unload some my Gyaradoses onto them. It takes 400 Magikarp candies to make one Gyarados so they are highly coveted. They are taking up my inventory but I worked so hard on them I don't want to just grind them up for candies!

Niantic focused on revamping the gym system, which are now Pokestops to spin as well. Gone are the days where I would find a few out of the way gyms, stay in it for WEEKS, and just collect poke coins. It actually isn't worth being in multiple gyms anymore. As long as your Pokemon stays in a gym for one hour per day, you earn a max of 50 Pokecoins (10 coins per minute) and even if any of the other Pokemon in different gyms are returned in the same day or stays in a gym all day, you won't collect any more coins. Pokemon in gyms will lose their CP (hit points) the longer they are left in the gym unfed and battled. Anyone from your color team can feed your Pokemon berries, pineapples or bananas, so it doesn't have to be you in person hanging out near the gym. They do get sick of eating just one thing so keep all varieties. You could be in the middle of battle and someone starts to feed them berries therby erasing all YOUR work.  Not to mention, if you put something 3000 CP or above, they lose their health quicker if not give raspberries.  So there are pros and cons. I feel like they were trying to get the players that haven't been as die hard as I am a chance to come back to the game without penalty.

Everyday you are entitled to one RAID pass as long as you are level 5 or above, which allows you to fight alone or in a team (any team), a rare Pokemon. The raids occur randomly throughout the gyms and you have an hour to battle once the Pokemon is revealed.   It looks like an egg with a countdown timer until it runs out. Once you log into an area with a raid battle, it will notify you in the top of your screen.

This means that people who have been waiting for their chance to get a Snorlax or Tyranitar are in luck especially if you can go somewhere like the Boston Common where there are multiple gyms within eyesight. The Pokemon that are available during raids will change but right now I've seen Muk, Flareon, Typhlosion, Electrabuzz, Magikarp (yes they might be a rare gold one), Tyranitar, Snorlax, and Magmar. I battled one Snorlax over by Simmons College with 8 other people.  It was a 4 rated monster battle, which you can see between the egg and the timer. There was no way I could have done it alone. Once you decide to battle, you have 120 seconds to see if anyone else wants to join you. At level 35, I can fight a 2 rated monster by myself with 6 Pokemon around 2500 CP each but you also have to consider the time limit. Your Pokemon might have high CP but you can't defeat a monster like that in 180 seconds.  Once you have defeated the Pokemon, you have a certain number of special Poke balls to catch it. The higher the monster rating, the harder it will be to catch so practice your EXCELLENT catches with the small red ring centers. One Snorlax was caught easily, one disappeared and I lost my one opportunity so far at a Tyranitar.  All the Pokemon caught are either strong or amazing Pokemon so they are well worth the effort with high CP and good move sets. In addition to getting a chance to catch the Pokemon, victorious battles give out rare candies (which can be exchanged to ANY regular candies for one Pokemon you have but never find like Chanseys), a TM or trainer's manual which allows you to change the move sets of your Pokemon, revives, and the coveted XP/Stardust so you can level your favorite battle Pokemon.  If you lose a raid, you have the option of going back in without another raid pass.  If you fail to catch the Pokemon after battle however, you do not get another chance until you find another raid.

I really haven't seen too many people playing lately but once you hit a raid spot, it is hard to miss. I love that all the teams can come together to battle. It isn't just a "Oh are you team red?" The gyms themselves still can only be taken by one color but it is a nice touch to cooperate on these big battles. 

For librarians who have gyms in their local area, it might be nice to post on Facebook or other social media when a raid is happening and what Pokemon it is. You have to have an account to log in periodically to check for a raid. You only have an hour to notify anyone so it couldn't be something to set up well in advance. There are also huge events going on in major cities. The first Pokefest is going on in Chicago. Rumor has it that they might reveal Legendary Pokemon which have not been released yet. Each team color has a special legendary Pokemon. They have only been glimpsed on their team insignia thus far.  It would be amazing for the library to have a presence there. Tickets  sold out in hours of the posting of the event but even if a library had a booth near the park you would see hundreds of new faces!

If you have an account and have off desk flexibility, advertise yourself as being able to help with raids.  For example, since I'm such a high level I could REALLY help out another player and I can reach the gym from our picture book area. And who wouldn't want to play Pokemon during work hours?It's creative customer service and a raid can be under 5 minutes long with battle wait time.




Thursday, June 29, 2017

3D Printing Signs for the Library Collection

Last weekend, I went to the annual Tee-Off mini golf event at the Brookline Public Library. As a first time visitor, I was mini-golfing with my phone at the ready. Special thanks to the AMAZING librarian rockstar Robin Brenner for so many great ideas. It truly is worth a visit just to see her teen room. Here are a few 3D printing/marketing ideas to takeaway:

Having a  3D printer filtration cart would be wonderful in our library. Look at the price if you dare. Right now I have to go downstairs to retrieve prints because we are concerned about the fumes and little hands touching anything while the printer is on.  I have a video camera set up downstairs using an iPad 2 and the free app called Presence for monitoring but sometimes I do forget to keep checking the presence website while I'm on the desk especially since it makes this annoying beeping sound to say, "Are you still watching?!"..As the sign reveals on the cart, the propensity to want to lean or jostle the cart is probably high. I'm curious how many times the prints have shifted or failed due to this.  Still, one can dream right?



My second takeaway was the push I needed to redo signage in the children's room. I was inspired by a post on Storytime Underground Facebook group about Medfield's new signage in their library but kept putting it off. The second I stepped into the Brookline teen room I squee'd out loud at the 3D printed directory signs. It was like the peanut butter to my jelly marketing sandwich.
 squee GIF
Here are my results so far:


I was going to use only 5 colors in our main room (using the color harmony theory) then reuse the same colors in our picture book room but I hate that the bottom turned into Christmas colors. I will change the colors to pink & teal so each section, regardless of the room, will have a separate color now.  Before I print it on vinyl, I attached it to a pillar to let it ruminate with us for a while.  I already think it needs to be much bigger size wise.  The current size is 16 x 24.  I made this in Canva but Publisher would work too. UPDATE: I already ended up taking it down because the arrows just aren't cutting it. We need something 3 dimensional so the arrows can point more accurately like Diagon Alley or perhaps the signage is enough?



Now onto the fun 3D printing part, letters are magnetized with magnetic adhesive strips and had to be printed in 3-4 letter groups due to the size of the letters vs my printing bed on the Ultimaker 2 Extended. I'm trying not to go into signage over load but you could print out numbers to correspond to the Dewey Decimal range of each isle in the non-fiction.  I ended up making numbered isles for the fiction section already. The color coding is a big hit so far. It is much easier than pointing. Now I can say it is in Isle 2, see that green 2, under KINNEY.  (Guess what's our most popular question). 



These are beginning chapter books like Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones etc. We spent alot of time last year taking them out of the general fiction collection. 



Here are the links to my tinkercad files. Isle numbersFICT  ION 

Note: if you are wondering about the BIOGRAPHIES sign that was made with our lovely silhouette machine. Adios Accucut!

Share some other user experience ideas in the comments. I would love to see them!

UPDATE: FINISHED & COLOR CODED!!! (View from my desk)



Friday, June 23, 2017

You can make fidget spinners with Perler Beads!

We are doing a series of Crafternoon programs this summer. In order to get some buzz going, we left this out on the children's desk and it has been a huge conversation starter.



Randomly, one kid asked, "Do you think you can make a fidget spinner with Perler beads?"

Answer, "YES"