Showing posts from June, 2013

Google Reader Shuts Down Tomorrow! How To: Save Your Feeds and Categories

Earlier this year, Google betrayed us all announced that it was shutting down Google Reader. And that day is upon us, friends. On July 1st — yes, tomorrow — Google Reader shuts down forever.

Don't panic.
I got this.

I did a bunch of research trying to find a replacement and downloaded a bunch of apps to my tablet and smartphone, and I'll make this easy on you: there is only one that I liked.

For one simple reason: it keeps your Reader categories.

I have curated dozens and dozens of feeds over the years and have them sorted into 20 categories in Reader. And not a single other product I tried would import them. They kindly imported all of my feeds but left the categories behind. And I have zero interest resorting all of them; that's a lot of effort and a lot of time and I wanted a solution that would import them as-is.

Before you ask, "but did you try..." here are the apps I crossed off my list:
NewsRobPulseGoogle CurrentsFlipboardNewsBlurand a bunch more. In the e…

Captain Canuck Is Back! Animated Web Series Launches on Canada Day!

An animated web series will reboot the story of Captain Canuck that was funded through an IndieGogo campaign. A successful campaign that raised slightly more than the required $50,000 to get the project off the ground. (I'm sure the tag line helped a little: Save the Captain so he can save the world!)

Check out the fun campaign video (video 1 below) which includes a short (ok, lightning fast) glimpse of the animation at 2:50. (Don't worry, there's a better preview available in video 2.) Doode looks kick-awesome! (as we say in the Dude's presence)

I love the founders' goal of keeping the series true to its roots, keeping it real. You know, until one of the big studios buys it and adds old Cap to the Avengers... no, I think we're safe.

Be sure to head to the official Captain Canuck site for the web series launch on Monday!!! How patriotic :)

Video 1: IndieGogo Campaign

Video 2: Captain Canuck Web Series Trailer

(Source: CG Magazine)

Lego Steampunk Walking Ship Is Kewl. A Bit Creepy.

Did you ever see the movie Wild Wild West with Wil Smith and Kenneth Branagh? Do you remember Loveless' steampunk spider vehicle/ war machine? This:

That's what popped into mind when I saw the machine in the video below. Granted it moves a little more fluidly, and is reminiscent of a centipede with all those legs flying about. What's truly impressive is the engineering behind those many legs: the joints and motion are based on a series of kinetic sculptures by Theo Jansen, specifically the Strandbeest (2nd video below). See the explanation of the leg construction and movement starting at 1:45. Wow.

Incredible to think that these were build with Lego and powered by the motors from Lego Mindstorms. An amazing feat of engineering and steampunk design to boot!

Video 1: Lego Steampunk Walking Ship

Video 2: Strandbeest by Theo Jansen

(Source: The Awesomer)

A Geeky Wedding Bouquet? Yes If It's Made From Comics!

So here's something that never occured to me.

Let's say you started with a super geeky wedding proposal, like this epic Super Mario one.
And then you splurged on some super retro Pac-Man wedding cupcakes.
And rounded things out with epic wedding rings like say, these soundbyte rings depicting the imprints of your voices saying, "I do."
Maybe you steampunk your wedding dress and jewelry or don some kewl cosplay.

So then, what do you carry with you down the aisle?

Clearly, this.

That, my nerds, is a handmade wedding bouquet crafted from pages of comic books and sheet music.

Comic books. In your bouquet!

Doodes, there is no wedding accessory nerdier that this one. I guarantee it. And I told hubby that if we ever renew our vows, this is the kind of thing I would carry. Or you know, maybe it would make a killer permanent bouquet to keep on display in the house. Hmm, our 15th anniversary is next month... oh hubby, you have time to place an order... ;)

See more amazing pape…

Star Wars Death Star Trench Run Gets Lego and Minecraft Treatment

Oh, you geeks. I already love you so much and then you go and do stuff like this. And then I fall in love with you even MOAR.

First up: You might have caught the link I posted on my Facebook page Sunday to a photo of the Star Wars Death Star trench run completely recreated in Lego. There is very little information about this photo so I have no idea how many pieces were involved or where it was showcased, but OMG people this thing is incredible.

As I was searching though, I discovered an even bigger display of trench run nerdery: someone recreated the movie in Minecraft. Painstakingly rebuilt the trench and then recreated the scenes and then overlaid the audio... wow.

(Sources: Geeks Are Sexy and Technabob)

Reminder: Code For Kids Tickets Go on Sale TODAY!

I told you on Friday that Shopify is planning their next Code For Kids workshop for July 7th. And today is the day that the tickets go on sale.

As of this morning.
Like, in an hour.
(For those of you reading this later in the day, that would be as of 7am Eastern time.)

So after 7am, get your butt over to the Code For Kids website and buy your kid a ticket for some HTML5 and CSS3 fun! There are only 40 tickets ($55 apiece).

And if you do score one, don't forget to let me know, since I'll be there covering the event. :)

[Aside: Want to know more about Code For Kids? You really should go check out my interview with the organizers and my summary piece about the event.]

Psst! Code For Kids Is Back With HTML5 and CSS3: Tickets on Sale Monday!

You might remember that I covered the first workshop back in May, which taught a group of 25 kids to build games using Scratch on a Raspberry Pi computer. The event was really well run and the fantastic Shopify coders were great with the kids. I had a ton of fun - um, I mean, the Dude had a ton of fun!

[Aside: If you didn't catch the post, and you have kids who might be interested in the program, you really should go check out my interview with the organizers and my summary piece about the event.]

Well, if you missed it, here's a bit of good news: My friends over at Code For Kids dropped me a line to let me know that their next workshop is slated for July 7th! Next up, they'll cover HTML5 and CSS3. Here's the best part: there will be 2 workshops for 20 students apiece: one in the morning from 10-1, and the other in the afternoon from 1:30-4:30.
MOAR spaces!

And tickets go on sale MONDAY!

If you think your kids might be interested in coding, then you need to head …

How To: Monotask aka The Antithesis to Multitasking (The Question is... Can You?)

I am definitely a multitasker. And I can be incredibly effective at it: If you need proof, come sit with me one day when I am live tweeting an event. Between transcribing what people are saying, looking up things they reference, responding to comments on the hashtag... yes, I can multitask the crap out that.

But there are other circumstances like meetings and presentations where hold out as long as possible without multitasking, really trying to be in the moment but.... alas, I get bored. Especially if they are rehashing the same-old same-old. I fight with myself to stay present and to really listen to what's going on, but after about an hour...squirrel! When my attention is waning, my brain wanders and I think up all sorts of stuff. That's when I find it hardest to stay in the moment. I want to do something. Even if that's just checking in with the outside world, or updating some task list. That's me filling space, though. Trying to keep my active brain engaged or to…

LEGO Movie Coming in 2014 (But You Can See the Trailer Here First!)

Last night, my friend and yours, @gibbslamey dropped me a line to tell me about this.

And I physically had to restrain myself from running upstairs to wake the Dude and shout: "There's going to be a LEGO MOVIE!!!!!"
With Lego characters!
And apparently lots of jokes for us grown-ups who will most certainly be bringing our kids to see it!
And quite the cast: from Morgan Freeman to Elizabeth Banks (loved her in Scrubs), to Liam Neeson and Will Ferrell and even Will Arnett as Batman.

With that cast, this is going to be the most expensive fail or the best thing ever. (I'm banking on #2)

Here's the storyline:
An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together. According to the Lego Movie page on IMDB, it's slated to drop on February 7, 2014. If you want to stay up to date, you can Like the Lego Movie Facebook page and follow the updates, …

Kewl Design Alert: A Comic Book For The Blind

Here's something that never occurred to me: are there comic books for the blind?

Turns out that, no, there aren't.

Correction, there weren't. Until now.

A Danish interaction designer (my favourite kind of designer) has come up with an incredibly simple method to convey an equally simple story, and thereby introducing the comic book format to the blind and visually impaired. Sounds simple enough, right? Not at all. There's a lot to this.

The physical design, for instance: The comic is folded and can be read by turning pages or spreading the entire sheet out as a single page which would probably be easier to read. It even includes instructions on how to read it to allow for blind-since-birth readers who would have no concept of the visual-spatial design of a comic book. If you'd never seen one, how else would you learn about the grid format, the across-and-down layout, the speech bubbles? Even the story is very simplistic:

A single circle is born, grows up, meets a ma…

How To: Make Canada Day Barrhaven Amazing (Call for Volunteers)

If you follow my Twitter stream, you know that I'm not only a fan of Mattamy Homes Canada Day in Barrhaven, but I've also been helping with their web and social media over the past few years thanks to hubby being part of their organizing committee. (At home, we used to call that "Army Volunteer" since my Dad was in the Forces. I call it "Spousal Duty" ;)
But don't let that detract from the shameless plug that follows ;) I'll keep it short.

With only two weeks left before the big day, we are in dire need of volunteers. I hope you consider putting your name forward. Whether you are:
a long time resident or new to the community, a parent or a student with community volunteering hours to fill, an attendee of prior Canada Day events, and want to help make it incredible for the 20,000 or so people we expect over the course of the day. No matter if you can spare an hour or a full day, we would love to have you.

To get involved, contact us through one of the…

Friday Fun: The Science of Biodiversity Explained Using Microbreweries

So Minute Physics has a sister YouTube channel called MinuteEarth that recently posted a great little video that explains biodiversity using microbreweries to illustrate their point. And since it's Friday, and it's almost the weekend, and it's supposed to be patio weather for the next few days, I thought: yes, this is Friday Fun material.

The analogy is easy to follow and basically comes down to two points:
The big guys in the brewing industry (and in nature) capture and use the most valuable resources. They focus on the big hits.The little guys survive by specializing in little niches where the bigger guys don't find value. Just like ferns that grow using the small bits of light that fall through the canopy to the forest floor, light that is of little use to the huge trees that comprise the forest itself. Simple. Easy to understand. A minute long, and of course, illustrated with cartoons.

Oh, do check out the name of the fake beer brand. Let's be honest, I posted t…

Now THIS is How You Do Star Wars Cosplay! Kewlest Wheelchair in The Dark Side

Possibly the most epic cosplay I have ever seen. Oh sure, you might have seen something that lights up, transforms, resembles the character to a T but none of those even come close to this insanely creative Darth Vader Tie Fighter Wheelchair. Oh, yeah.

I came across the pic via Geeks Are Sexy but they got it from a Reddit post. Apparently this was taken at MCM Expo London Comic Con back in May, and it's a kid who was attending with his Dad (according to a Redditor who commented on the pic, and apparently had asked the Dad if he would be able to take a pic of the kid's costume). You should head over to the thread to check out the comments. Some of my faves:
That kid is more badass then I'll ever be. - via Nipag
I would have yelled "THATS FUCKING AWESOME" and just taken a pic w/o asking, probably pushing his dad out of the way in the process. Would that have been wrong? - via LisabadcatThat would be great if the wheelchair makes the same sound at the tie fighters in…

Kewl Site Alert: Fool Your Friends with FakeAWish Fake News Generator

Yesterday, a high school buddy posted a link on Facebook to an obscure news story and asked if we had heard anything about it. The headline was "Actor Tom Cruise Missing in Congo Rainforest". Interesting, I thought. And clicked the link.

[Aside: Now let me be clear about two things I did before I clicked the link: (1) I checked the URL to see if it was a scam; (2) I checked my Facebook feed to see if it was self-replicating among other people in my feed. My homework done, I was a more confident about my ability to click safely. If you're not willing to do the legwork, then I feel a don't try this at home disclaimer is warranted.]

Being a true nerd, I read the article and then read the fine print at the end of the page.
And I laughed.
It said:
FAKE... THIS STORY IS 100% FAKE! this is an entertainment website, and this is a totally fake article based on zero truth and is a complete work of fiction for entertainment purposes! this story was dynamically generated using a …

7 Geeky Gift Ideas for Father's Day

I've always thought that if aliens landed on Earth right before Mother's Day or Father's Day and turned on a TV, they would have a highly skewed perception of what makes men and women tick. Women being all jewelry, perfume and fashion; and men being BBQs, bacon and tools. I know stereotypes make marketing easy, but ugh.

Now if you feel the same and think you'd like to do something more original than getting Dad some bacon-grilling hardware this year, I've rounded up 7 pretty kewl gadgets that I've featured over the first half of the year, to get your creative shopping juices flowing.
Romo, the cute and interacive smartphone robotA remote controlled DragonflyA hand-cranked cel phone charger from EtonAn automated paper airplane launcherA 3D printerOr maybe you were thinking of a new tablet or laptop? Here's a handy guide to help you choose.And if you want something completely unique, check out these custom 3-D printed Stormtroopers that Disney is offering. Y…

Tell Lego We Need More Female Characters: Vote Now

I love Lego.

In fact, nothing is more relaxing than helping the Dude sort through a giant bucket of Lego pieces, looking for just. the. right. one. Seriously, try it. Ten minutes of that after a particularly stressful day and you'll be fully relaxed. It's like nerd meditation.

But I also like to build too (see pic on the right of this weekend's latest creation) which is why I have long noticed that female Lego characters are few and far between. Oh sure, some of the branded products have female characters. For example, Ninjago has one, Agent Chase has one, Star Wars has a couple, and... um... see? Hardly any female characters among the storylines, let alone the playsets. Which means that the vast majority of Lego minifigs come in the male gender, even the generic ones.

Prior Gender Fail: Lego Friends Now don't you even bring up the gender-based fiasco that was Lego Friends. I am of the opinion that Lego was always a gender-neutral, inclusive toy which afforded a commo…

How To: Get The New Gmail Right Now (And Then Fix It)

Let me make this easy for you. If you already know about the new Gmail and just haven't figured out how to turn it on yet, follow the instructions below. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go here.

Step 1: Turn on the New Gmail Inbox On Desktop Log into Gmail.

Click the Settings button

Select "Configure Inbox" from the menu.

A tab configuration window will appear. Choose which tabs you would like to display, and click Save.

Ta-da. New Gmail.

On Android If Gmail didn't update automatically, head to the Gmail app on the Google Play store and update manually.
On iOS Head to the App Store on iTunes to download the iOS Gmail update for your iThings.
Step 2: Fix the New Gmail Inbox Ok, good. Now that you have it, you'll need to fix it.
Why? Because Gmail thinks you prefer to Archive than Delete your content, so it hid the button for delete on the new mobile interface. (As fellow conspiracy theorist @mikelikesburgerposits, Google did this because if you archi…

Social Capital Conference 2013: Wrap-Up and Conference Notes

Were you able to make it to Social Capital Conference last weekend? If so, how did you find it? I was pleasantly surprised by the calibre of the presentations in this year's lineup. I have to (sheepishly) admit that based on the sessions I attended at last year's conference, I wrote off the conference as a great networking opportunity wrapped in a bunch of 101 content (i.e. for beginners). I had a wish list of 5 things I wanted to see at SoCap but my expectations were such that I figured if I came away having met a few people and learned a couple of things, the day would be a win.

Networking Win The networking part defintely met my expectations: I connected with a significant number of people that I've been chatting with on The Twitters for some time, some of whom I felt I've known forever. Like @suzemuse, who I've known online for about 4 years but we've never been in the same room at the same time before. (Hugs were exchanged) And there were a ton more, from…

Kewl Design Alert: Lego Venn Diagram Is Funny & Accurate

Stephen Wildish is a prolific creator of short, punchy infographics. And recently he made this one about Lego that made me laugh. Particularly the part about the nose. I think he could have added something about them being a b*tch to step on, too, though. Maybe next time :)

If you like this one, you should check out some of his other fun infographics, including his bacon venn diagram, superhero alphabet or 007 eyebrows.

(Source: Flowing Data)

Kewl Design Alert: Immersive Treadmill Concept Could Mean An End to Boring Runs

Every year, it seems that the good local races fill up earlier and earlier. In fact, September's Army Run Half Marathon filled up this weekend. Far earlier than any other year in its 6 year history. If you were planning to run it, you're out of luck and if you want to settle for the 5k, you need to hurry because it's at 90%.

I used to balk at long races in early Fall because I didn't like the idea of running long distances over the summer. Last year, though, I decided to try it out and found out that once July ends, August temperatures tend to be reasonable for long distances. And our treadmill is helpful to manage long runs when it's just too hot to head outside. Air conditioning and Netflix make for a training win.

But this. This would be incredible. An immersive treadmill I found on Yanko Design. The designers created a more immersive experience by adding an incredibly large screen that can be used to display a runner's favourite places to run. The streets o…

How To: Decide if You Should Buy a Tablet or a Laptop

A year and a half ago, I bought a tablet. More specifically, an ASUS Transformer Prime. I chose it for a number of reasons:
It runs on Android and I don't like iThings (and we won't even talk about Blackberry). Windows Mobile OS was still unproven in my mind and I'm just personally not a huge fan of BSOD on my mobile devices ;)It has an optional keyboard. Not a separate bluetooth keyboard. Not a keyboard case. An actual keyboard that it snaps into and then can close with like a clamshell, so many people mistake it for a netbook. The keyboard was the sexiest feature for me, since I wanted to use the tablet to replace my notebooks: at work, at home, and online.It's called the Transformer Prime. I like to joke that if I'm gonna own a piece of tech, it has to have the nerdiest possible name. ;P Just kidding on that last one. Sort of. You can actually see my full list of reasons in my post: More Than Meets The Eye.

Actually, I thought long and hard about my move to a ta…