Category Archives: software

Learn. Build. Create. SimCityEDU

Sim_High_School

Between SimCity for Schools, 3D printing and LEGO Robots, education today is pretty awesome!

Educators will be able to create and share digital SimCity-based lesson plans that will encourage students to think critically about the challenges facing modern cities. In the classroom, SimCity will be more than a game – it will be a way for the next generation of leaders to hone their skills through urban planning, environmental management and socio-economic development.

“For decades, SimCity has been embraced by the educational community as an engaging videogame that also provides a powerful learning experience, teaching problem solving skills through imaginative civic gameplay,” said Lucy Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA’s Maxis Label. “We want to up the ante of SimCity’s educational influence. Through our partnership with GlassLab, SimCity will become the foundation of a program to re-imagine learning in a way that will inspire today’s youth to get excited about STEM education and become the problem solvers of tomorrow.”

EA and GlassLab Announce SimCityEDU – Inspiring the Next Generation Through Play | Business Wire

via The Verge

Moving from Outlook to Mail / iCal

Yesterday I decided to move away from Outlook on something of a whim.  It’s been fine, as Mail is really a nice feeling app and after a day+ of usage I’m feeling really good about the decision.  Search, sorting and conversation threads are much better in Mail vs Outlook.  Search is quite poor actually in Outlook so any change is good there …

There are a few small details I’d love to resolve though in my new system:

  • There’s no way in iCal to NOT send a response when replying to a request.  Outlook gives you the option for staying semi-stealth if you like.
  • Mail seems to add colored backgrounds to text pasted in from certain sites … something I do rather frequently and there’s no obvious way to remove this formatting.  In Outlook, I could just change the background color to white and it would go away.
  • Some structured formats are a bit strange … Today I pasted in a bullet list from Word and it wrapped way left which made it a bit of a challenge to read.  I chose to compose this particular note back in Outlook so it would send properly as it was a client email.

Aside from these somewhat minor issues, I’m likely to stay with the new combo vs Outlook.    I’d still welcome solutions if anyone has thoughts …

 

Google Maps now with Google Earth

I’m not certain when this change went through but it’s pretty cool to see Google Earth inside Maps itself.  Now if you hover over the Satellite option over in the top right corner, a new square floats out to let you choose Earth.  You can see it here:

Google Maps with Google Earth

You do have to download and install the Google Earth plugin for this to work but given how infrequently I think to use Earth vs Maps, I could see starting to get a lot of use out of the additional detail available.  Google Earth is actually very cool yet I always think to go to Maps first.

Tapping the more link under webcams gives you more options for things like bicycle routes etc.

 

Content Shifting

I’ve had this post from Fred Wilson bookmarked since this morning and I’m finally getting back around to formalizing a few thoughts.  First the notion of content shifting is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  As someone who works on multiple devices (sometimes concurrently) keeping things (and myself actually) in sync is not so simple.  Beyond just the basics, the actual content consuption bits from my digital adventures are really the parts I’m interested in connecting as I move between locations and contexts.

While I don’t have everything sorted just yet, one thing I’ve been really keen on lately is Pinboard.  I discovered Pinboard during the del.icio.us is closing chaos and am really pleased I did because it is an incredibly powerful, yet also very simple tool.  It’s not perfect in replacing delicious sharing for me, but it’s making up for things with some new features considerably.  The best thing Pinboard does is capture all my shared links from Twitter, Google Reader, and Instapaper in addition to backing up my delicious bookmarks and of course saving any new ones.  This auto-collection process makes it dead simple for me to manage my reading and really has been awesome for making sure I know where all my links have gone.  I can call stuff up or save more from within Chrome via extension, on iPhone with Delibar or bookmarklet and on Android with PinDroid.  This is far more around my collection rather than consumption of content, though one additional feature Pindroid and instapaper manage is what’s been read vs unread.  I can’t say I use that much as I’m just happy to have a simple point of capture, but it’s worth noting …

On the media consumption side of things, Netflix is really the only service I’ve seen that enables stopping and resuming between devices on your account and this has been great for my family and our small army of iDevices.

I’ve yet to find a good music solution for resume … Rdio comes close with the browser player, but as best as I can tell, you can’t pick an album or playlist up where you left it.  Pandora definitely doesn’t work that way at all …

Kindle is pretty bulletproof for books and something I love, but there’s still a lot of room to improve across other content types.

It’s time for socially linked purchase accounts

Apples new approach to social is welcome but also shows just how lightly the social impact was thought to have in the broader ecosystem of iTunes.

In our home, my wife and I share an iTunes account so that our purchases can be easily distributed between systems.  Both of us have an @mac address though mine is the primary for purchases.  With the launch of Ping, the social stream presents itself within the Apple framework, yet is locked to a single user view.  In our personal world, it is impossible for both my wife and I to take advantage of the system without sharing a profile.  With Apple’s current focus on purchase forward activity, this might make some sense for how your actions represent you, but this is ridiculous if you participate within the social system.  We don’t share a facebook account and have different friends, Ping should respect that we well.

Prior to Ping, these issues existed around recommendations and in fairness, are not unique to Apple. We also share an Amazon account primarily for Prime, but also now as we both utilize the Kindle service making it easy to share books.  I’m used to seeing purchase recommendations for things my wife has bought on Amazon and while we don’t read the same things, I can file that info away for potential future gifting opportunities.  I’m certain that the Prime sharing is not unique nor is the sharing of purchase accounts … courtesy of DRM.

In today’s highly social world, we need a way to uniquely identify ourselves, yet also a way to properly (legally) purchase together as a household.  We have three children and already one with an iPod, yet at almost 7yrs old she’s not making purchases herself just yet.  As my kids get older, they’ll want to connect with their own friends and see recommendations based on their tastes – not those of their parents.  Thus far, there is no way to do that without creating individual purchase accounts, which means we can’t easily share the content between ourselves – which of course has always been possible with physical media.

If there was a method to link our accounts to a master purchase record, we should be able to purchase and share uniquely, yet maintain a single household record for DRM.  This would be ideal and frankly doesn’t even seem that hard to do.  I’m sure people would cheat something like this much in the same way people break DRM.  There’s no stopping the hacker types, but for those of us just looking for an easy and fair way to utilize the content we are legally purchasing … there’s got to be a better way.