Showing posts from July, 2012

Kewl Site Alert: Hides Facebook and Twitter Use via Spreadsheet Displays

Vacation Fun Day 2: So it's the summer which means that you are either on vacation, just back from vacation or counting down towards vacation. In the spirit of my vacation this week, all of this week's posts are going to focus on office supplies and time wasters to help you while away the hours.
[Disclaimer: This site does not endorse complacency and loafing in the workplace. This site will not be help responsible for any revenue or productivity lost as a result of informing you of these lovely, addicting distractions.]

So you and I both know that Twitter is an incredible resource for work: breaking news, a hive mind ready to answer your questions at a moment's notice, the latest memes...but your boss has this annoying habit of hovering and does not believe that people can be productive with social media open on their desktops. Enter a web app that can convert your Twitter and Facebook accounts into benign-looking spreadsheets!

The app has a keyboard shortcuts…

Cathartic Office Supplies To Manage Your Office Stress

Vacation Fun Day 1: So it's the summer which means that you are either on vacation, just back from vacation or counting down towards vacation. In the spirit of my vacation this week, all of this week's posts are going to focus on office supplies and time wasters to help you while away the hours.
[Disclaimer: This site does not endorse complacency and loafing in the workplace. This site will not be help responsible for any revenue or productivity lost as a result of informing you of these lovely, addicting distractions.]

If you're stuck in the office and dealing with a little bit of the old office frustration, there are office supplies that can help with that. Here's a collection of items that I found surfing the online store Perpetual Kid (isn't that a great name?).
How about a grenade stress ball?
Or a mummy rubber band holder?
A stabby little pen holder?
Or a stabby note pad?
And if all that rage gets to you, then you might want to consider this little Zen garden char…

Charge Card is Thinnest Possible Phone Charger (and yes, it's on Kickstarter)

If you want your Kickstarter to be ridiculously successful, solve a problem absolutely every single smartphone user has: the need for more juice.

The Charge Card phone charger is slightly thicker than a credit card and is meant to fit in your wallet. It features a flexible USB dongle that plugs into your computer or outlet jack and the other end plugs into your phone, allowing you to charge without having to carry a pesky cable with you everywhere you go.

Yes, it is currently only for iThings, but Android and Blackberry versions are coming soon. And frankly, although us Android users have to wait for our version to come out, let's face it: this is a Kickstarter, so even iThing users have to wait for theirs. The campaign has blown past their $50k goal and hit $90K with still a month to go. It will be interesting to see what kind of features or designs they add over the coming weeks to match the rabid demand.

Simple. Brilliant. And a great design.

Would you use it? I covet. Plain a…

Kewl Design Alert: Gorgeous Star Wars-Themed Gaming Keyboard

So if you are a gamer, you probably don't play Star Wars The Old Republic. Because, it would seem, SWTOR players have been dropping like flies. Enough that there are rumours the game will become free-play, with options to buy perks and the like from within. Good luck with that (granted, it worked for Farmville).

However, if you are a real gamer and are looking to buy yourself a purdy little gaming keyboard, you might want to take a look at the SWTOR-themed beauty up on ThinkGeek. It boasts a low profile (think Mac keyboard) and a built-in LCD panel that can be used to play or display elements of your game:
Ten dynamic adaptive tactile keys allow you to customize all your skills, macros, and hotkeys for faster accessibility. The multi-touch full-color LCD track-panel can be set to either respond to direct gesture input or display interactive information for an exciting new way to experience the game. (Or you can put your IMs on it so you don't have to tab out to chat!) It's…

Kewl Design Alert: Lego MindStorms 3D Milling Machine is A-MA-ZING

The stuff you geeks build with Lego MindStorms (aka Lego Robotics) amazes me. This 3D milling machine is no different.

Aurthur Sacek, the builder, inserts a piece of floral foam, programs the machine to cut out a profile and off it goes. Seems simple enough. Now, I implore you to watch the whole thing because it might not seem like it's doing much but when you see the final product, HOLY COW!!!!

Again, can I stress that this machine is made out of Lego? Amazing. Kudos to you, Mr. Sacek! (who incidentally claims to be a beginner programmer, according to this NXT Step article)

That's probably the thing I love most about MindStorms: you can be of any age and any skill level to do such amazing things with it. Take a look...


RoboCup: Autonomous Robot Soccer, Now With Bloopers!

If you've ever watched robots do anything and found them mesmerizing (and who hasn't watched their Roomba, holding their breath to see if it would misjudge the stairs this time?)... if that's you, then you would love RoboCup.

According to the official RoboCup website, RoboCup is an international scientific initiative with the goal to advance the state of the art of intelligent robots. When established in 1997, the original mission was to field a team of robots capable of winning against the human soccer World Cup champions by 2050.Frickin' robots playing soccer and beating humans by 2050! What a mission :)

They've since expanded their goals to also include emergency rescue, domestic use and junior components. But let's face it, watching autonomous robots play soccer is all kinds of kewl. I love seeing them trudge around the little soccer field as they figure out their next move. Their motions seem to be a combination of fluid and hesitant all at once. Which bri…

Social Media for Non-Profits: Doing It With Purpose (SoCapOtt presentation slides and script)

[Aside: Hat tip to @thornley for suggesting that I name my presentation: "Doing It With Purpose" in his tweets from my presentation.]

This past Saturday, I presented at Social Capital Ottawa (aka SoCapOtt) in the Non-profits stream. My presentation, entitled Social Media for Non-Profits was an end-to-end look at how a non-profit could create, manage and measure a social media campaign. I'd like to think that it was a bit of a 101 mixed in with some advanced knowledge, and hope that the folks who attended were each able to take away something new that they'd never heard before.
Why Should You Listen to Me? The content for this presentation was sourced from my experience with running social media campaigns for Movember Ottawa and Canada Day in Barrhaven, as well as some of the other pro bono communications work I've done over the last few years. And of course, I took a lot from my "real" job (I'm a public servant responsible for developing government-…

How Gamification Can Make Your Life Better (Maybe Even Extend It)

First of all, let's clear up a few things:
I am not a gamer. I like games but I don't play nearly enough to consider myself a gamer. Case in point: I would rather watch hubby play Skyrim than play myself.I am however a fan of gaming: not marathon losing-your-job-and-family gaming, but I do appreciate a well-made game and the benefits from playing in moderation.I am also a BIG fan of gamification, the process of applying gaming principles to other aspects of life: work, relationships, home. I use it on myself and I use it on my clients (or team) each time I bring toys or games into one of my meetings.I am also a fan of Jane McGonigal, the game developer who is pretty much the poster child for gamification. Which is why I was very interested to sit an watch Jane's TedTalk on The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Minutes of Life. I enjoyed watching the 20 minute video (below). And a week later I still find myself thinking about the message and the discussion in the YouTube and T…

Kewl Design Alert: This Never-Before-Seen Prius is Killer

Now, I love me some green design (hence the entire green section on this blog) and anything that will get people to reduce their carbon footprint (without being greenwashed) is a winner in my books.

Which is why I am really excited by the new Prius: it will reduce the driver's overall carbon footprint to ZERO!

As the Onion reports:
Toyota's new Prius Solution reduces its driver's carbon footprint to zero by impaling them through the lungs with spikes as soon as they get in the car.Bwahahaha.

Dawg, I love the Onion.

You absolutely must watch the faux news report below (& make sure you watch to the end — could he be more excited?). The Onion's production quality is supreme, and who knows how they can keep a straight face throughout the whole thing? Too. Much. Fun.


(Source: The Awesomer)

Kewl Site Alert: Razoo Facilitates Online Fundraising For Non-Profits

On Saturday, I'll be speaking at Social Capital Ottawa (or @SoCapOtt) about Social Media for Non-Profits (sneak preview here). I've been doing volunteer work pretty much my whole life (thanks, mom and dad :) and have done some non-profit pro bono work over the past few years as well. One particular organization I've worked with is a very small outfit that relies exclusively on a single fundraising event per year to raise funds, but that could benefit from a more year-round approach. Lack of resources has kept them from significantly investing in their online efforts including fundraising.

As a fan of Kiva, I think online fundraising (and other forms of slacktivism) are the most efficient ways to solicit help from the greater population. Which is why Razoo piqued my interest. Razoo is an online fundraising site for non-profits. It's so simple and makes so much sense (which is probably why they've raised $98M for non-profits during their lifetime). It's as easy …

Kewl Design Alert: Epic Movie Looks Like Animated Fun

We were surfing the Boxee this weekend and the Dude noticed a video pop up called "Epic (2013)". It turned out to be a pretty great preview for an animated film coming out next year.

I looked it up on IMDB and frankly, the description is rather boring:
A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group characters in order to save their world -- and ours. Surprising that the plot description would be so flat when you consider that the movie is based on the book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce, the man behind modern kid faves George Shrinks and Rolie Polie Olie.

The story has lots of great reviews online and if this preview is indicative of the final product, the movie should deliver as well: Think Arthur and the Invisibles meets Avatar.

The visuals are wonderful and there seems to be a good dose of fun and sarcasm (always a…

Sitting is Killing You (But not me, our elevator is out)

We all know that sitting is bad for us. No matter how many articles we read or news reports we watch (usually while sitting ;) we still spend most of our days sitting. And we have trouble breaking that habit. It's like our physical equivalent of crack cocaine.

Consider: I work on the 5th floor of a nice old building in downtown Ottawa. It's called Hope. As I like to say, "We HOPE the elevator works."

It's usually not that bad, but the past two weeks, the elevator has been regularly out of service. That means in this level-2-drought-causing-heat-wave, I've been getting to work and hiking up 5 flights of stairs. And every time I have a meeting (which is almost always in our other building), I get to hike down and back up those 5 flights of stairs.

Thankfully, my cardio is pretty good so it's more of a mental challenge than anything else. And each time I go up, I wonder if I should get in the habit of doing it regularly. But the minute the sign is off the el…

Happy Embrace Your Geekiness Day! (July 13)

As the rest of the world moans today's date (aka Friday the 13th), you my geeky little friend need to raise your (eye-glassed) head, puff out your (asthmatic) chest, don your best (mathematical) t-shirt and revel in the geeky awesomeness that is YOU.

Because today is your day.
It's a day to: watch every Star Wars movie (from the original trilogy), drink your Kopi Luwack from your caffeine molecule mug, use rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock to settle all debates, proclaim in every useless meeting that Schroedinger's cat is dead,explain the significance of the Higgs Boson discovery to the normals,integrate your favourite movie quotes into every day conversation, spend your day interfacing with the Internets instead of humanz,level up on your favourite MMORPG,mod something,verify how many things you've done on the Geek "Things You Must Do Before You Die" checklist, do at least one more. But under no circumstances will you agree to fix your family members' com…

Pop-Up Capital Reading Garden Sprouts This Weekend: Outdoors, Books and Wifi = #WIN

Pop quiz: what's quiet, colourful, outdoors and only available for a few stealthy days over the summer?

The Capital Reading Garden!
A What, Now? The Capital Reading Garden is the brainchild of Mary Beth Baker (aka @bethmaru) who first came up with the idea when she did a project on user design and public spaces in her studies a few years ago. This year, she submitted her idea to the Awesome Ottawa Foundation and received a $1,000 grant to pilot her idea.

So, naturally, I am now totally in love with Awesome Ottawa! According to its website, Awesome Ottawa:
distributes monthly $1,000 awards to projects and their creators. The money is pooled together from the pockets of individual “trustees” and given up front in cash, check, or gold doubloons.
The Foundation provides these awards with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. Awards are micro-genius grants for flashes of micro-brilliance. How kewl is that?? Until Mary Beth filled me in on her…

Nerd Alert! Rock, Paper Scissors Necklace is All Kinds of Kewl

Etsy is an amazing place to visit. You can find the most incredible things there: like a magical online wonderland of things you can buy. Or would have bought if that unique one of a kind item hadn't been snapped up before you came across it.

Like, for instance, this piece of brilliance. I present to you the rock, paper, scissors necklace.

Now when I first saw it, I thought: this seems like such a no-brainer: Why has no one thought of this before?

And my second thought was, is there a rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock version? Wouldn't that be epic? Sadly, it does not exist. For now. (Well there isthis one and this geekdorable charm bracelet version; they're not quite the same, but definitely kewl in their own right.)

[Aside: Incidentally, it would seem that I am not the only one who thinks this way: a commenter on This Is Why I'm Broke said the same thing :] 

Regardless, I still think that this is one of the kewlest designs you will see all week. Or at the very least on…

Sad But True Part 2: One Woman's Protest of Misogynistic Game Leads to Death Threat Tweets

Yesterday I wrote about a site called Fat, Ugly or Slutty which showcases misogynistic messages received by female gamers in the course of game play. And I wondered whether incidents of hate messages directed to female gamers was prevalent, assuming that it was... especially if it spawned a site about the subject.

Later in the day, @cegdell tweeted me a message:
@spydergrrl: re: your post on harassment, take a look at @Super_Cool_Guy's outrageous threats to @amirightfolks as a non-gaming example :(
— Chelsea Edgell (@Cedgell) July 9, 2012
Turns out, @amirightfolks has been on the receiving end of hate messages and even death threats via Twitter for protesting against a game. The game in question was designed to simulate the beating of an actual woman that the developer felt had duped Kickstarter funders out of a significant amount of money. Every time you click on a photo of the woman, she becomes more bruised and battered. In graphic detail.

[This early part of the story was real…

Sad but True: 'Fat, Ugly or Slutty' Aims to Raise Awareness of Gamer Misogyny

It would seem that if you are a chick who likes to game, you face a serious amount of scrutiny and downright misogyny if you reveal your gender during the course of your gaming experience. So much so, that there is a site dedicated to showcasing these messages received by female gamers, called Fat, Ugly or Slutty.

According to the site:
Some players like to send creepy, disturbing, insulting, degrading and/or just plain rude messages to other online players, usually women.

We think this is funny.

Why do they send them? There are a few theories. But instead of getting offended, we offer a method for people to share these messages and laugh together.

If having these messages posted online makes someone think twice about writing and sending a detailed description of their genitals, great!Sure, Fat, Ugly or Slutty claims that they are making the best of a bad situation and just curating this collection to highlight the ridiculousness of the ugly comments. And yes, the best way to deal with…

Car Stickers for Your Happy Little Star Wars Family

I loathe car stickers. You know the ones: the shining stick figure families on the backs of suburban minivans, with the mom and dad and kids and cat and dog and sometimes even the nanny. They are totally not my thing. Our thing, for that matter, because hubby hates them too.

So when I came across this Star Wars version, I giggled and thought: cute. But, no thanks.

Consider: To build a standard family unit, you need to incorporate characters from the prequels which really means you have zero self-respect and even less geek cred. (Would you be caught dead driving around with some combination of Anakin, Padme and/or Luke and Leia on your car? I thought not.)

And then I took a closer look and realized something: these are actually totally twisted!

You see, they also have all sorts of other characters to play with and the combinations can be downright bizarre:

Characters included:
Tall characters: Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, C3PO, Obi Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala, Sl…

Geek Pr0n: Watching the Space Invaders Game Take Shape From Scratch

Sometimes, it's fun to sit back and watch something take shape from nothing. Case in point, this video of YouTube user Irrationalistic coding a version of Space Invaders from scratch for a school project. It all starts with an empty notepad and PhotoShop, and from there you can see the entire game start to form.

If you're not a developer, there's something very behind-the-curtain about watching the process: the combination of graphics and hundreds of lines of code so that you can avoid the pile of work on your desk enjoy a few hours of fun.

The video is 4 minutes and it gets a little slow in the middle, but if you watch the first minute then jump ahead a few times, you'll get the idea. I promise, it's worth it if you've never had a chance to watch a developer code; it will give you an entirely new appreciation for the work behind every piece of software, app or interface you touch from now on.

(Source: Neatorama)

Join Me at SoCapOtt 2012 for a Workshop on Non-Profit Social Media

On July 21, I'll be spending the day at Social Capital Conference. This one-day conference provides Ottawa's social media community with the opportunity to learn, network and share. I'll be hanging out, presenting and leading a round-table discussion.
Presentation: Non-Profit Social Media My presentation, Non-Profit Social Media: Case Studies and Collaborative Workshop, will look at how social media can help non-profits promote themselves and their messages, to engage and ultimately solicit help from the community. I'm going to focus on two of my pet projects, local examples of non-profits that have used social media successfully:
Movember, the global movement, was supported by and spread mostly via social media. The Ottawa campaign was no different: it began as a small word-of-mouth community and now has massive participation across the National Capital Region. Last year, Canada was the highest fundraising country in Movember, and the NCR was a significant contributor…

YouTube Views: The Significance of 301 (video)

Did you ever notice YouTube videos with their views stuck at 301? Yeah, me neither. But apparently it's a thing. A very interesting thing, in fact: it's a mechanism to enable YouTube to verify the validity of the views if a video starts spiking.

Makes a lot of sense considering the YouTube's revenue model is based on advertising: in order to protect their interest and that of the advertisers, they need to ensure that videos are not being uploaded with the intent of gaming the system. Their reputation would tank if they allowed users to post videos, pretend to view them, and then rake in ad money. So they have this system, based on 301 views... I'll let the YouTubers tell you the rest.

And then you can feel better about your ads (or your revenue stream) being protected. By math. Oh, yeah. (Geeks, FTW)

(Source: The Awesomer via Hubby)

Be A Donor: A Special Message from @aLungStory

I hope you and your families spent a lovely Canada Day :) I was live tweeting Canada Day in Barrhaven, taking in the ridiculous Kids' Zone and incredibly fun performances from Wicklo, Eagleson and All Access. You can check out the pics for a look at the fun.

When the official part of the festivities began, we heard a special message from Hélène Campbell (aka @alungstory) who you might know as the double lung recipient from Barrhaven who has been campaigning for organ donation. She's even managed to solicit help from Justin Bieber and Ellen Degeneres.

Her message was to thank the Barrhaven community for their unending support of the Be A Donor organ donorship registration campaign.

She's such a phenomenal young lady! In fact she was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for her efforts.

Please take a moment to watch her message and if you haven't signed up to Be a Donor, why don't you head on over right now?