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Just put one foot in front of another…

downloadToday, I spent my morning at the opening inservice for Skokie/Morton Grove District 69.   I’ve been to a few inservices over the last few years, but this is the first one that I’ve attended without working in…  well, it has probably been about ten years!   It was a distinct pleasure getting to start the day with the staff and hearing more about what the district is going to be keying in on in the coming year.

It got me thinking a bit about the commonalities between all these districts around the country, all kicking off around this time.   A welcome from the superintendent, a message from the Board, introductions of new staff, breaking bread together and then some sort of ‘keynote’ or opening presentation related to district priorities.   If you’ve been teaching for a while, you’ve been through your fair share of them.   Test scores don’t get raised that day.   The students aren’t in the building, and technically it’s that weird bridge between summer ‘ending’ and ‘work’ beginning.   But what I’ve found, more than anything, is that it’s the event that sets the stage for the year, that establishes what the vision is going to be and whether it’s a shared one or not.   It’s a time of re-alignment.   To re-evaluate old schemas and perhaps replace them with new ideas.  And to do it as a team, district-wide.

It most definitely got me thinking about my own journey.  Yesterday was my first day waking up and not traveling, going in to the office, or formally taking a vacation day.  I have to admit, I woke up and felt a bit… aimless.   Do I do chores?  Do I start trying to set up the LLC?   Do I move furniture around and try to start setting up a home office?   Do I start updating presentations?   Do I start revamping Teach42?   Honestly, it’s all exciting but it also feels very overwhelming.   And yet at the same time, you can’t eat a watermelon in one gulp.   All a marathon (or triathlon!) is, is putting one foot in front another… and then doing it a few more times.

I’m going to try to keep it simple.   Right now, I have four daily goals…   Read, Write, Play Music, and Be Healthy.

  • Read: I’ve spent far too little time reading blogs, articles and education books over the last several years than I’d like.   Every day I’m going to try to make it a point to set aside some time to do some reading, some research, or to catch up on videos of presentations that I’ve missed.  Today, I decided to start doing preliminary research on the PiZero.  I have one on the table but haven’t used it yet.   Not sure what I’m going to build first, but I have to admit the PIrate radio station has great appeal to me.  Yes, I loved Pump Up the Volume.
  • Write: What I’m doing right now!   Writing may also include updating presentations, updating the book or working on a new one, or writing articles.  But for now, it will mostly be this blog.
  • Play Music: I picked up the guitar a couple of years ago.   When I first got started, I played every day and it became one of the greatest joys I had.   The guitars have sat up on the wall most of the last year.   I could blame it on being busy, but the reality is I just didn’t make it a priority.   I want to get back to that.
  • Be Healthy: Originally, I was putting ‘exercise’ fourth.  But there will be days I don’t work out, and even on those days I need to work harder at making healthy decisions.   The plan is to actively try to eat better, and not just less calories.   More natural foods, less eating after the sun goes down, and getting a variety of exercise in.  I’ll keep running and biking, but I’m also going to start working cross-fit in (have a beginner’s class I’m going to join next week).

That’s not my to do list.  That’s not counting what I would consider ‘work’ or family time.   But I figure if I can go to sleep saying I did those four things, I feel like I’m going to be in a pretty good place.  There’s still a lot to do, but I’ll start with those four steps and see where they lead to.

I’d love to hear what your own goals are for the year?  And I don’t mean the big hairy audacious ones…  the simple and personal ones.   What are you going to make a priority this year?


Truth, Lies, and Pokeballs: The Sensation around Pokemon Go

oowqwpvxy784fsci1jyuIn case you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past few days, there’s a new craze that is sweeping the world and it’s called Pokemon Go.   It’s an Augmented Reality (AR) game put out by Niantec Labs, the same people who made the wildly popular and yet still underground Ingress.

Ingress was a genius level game in so many ways, but primarily for two reasons: 1) It incentivized people to document the world around them, taking pictures of landmarks, artwork and historical sites along with providing the company metadata about them and 2) it FORCED people to leave their homes to play.   Quite simply, without cheating in some way, there was no way to play the game while sitting on a sofa at home.  While I wouldn’t bill it as an ‘exercise game’ like the route the Wii wanted to go, it certainly required people to explore their world a little in order to advance.

Ingress was Niantec's first Augmented Reality game
Ingress was Niantec’s first Augmented Reality game

Personally, I played Ingress quite a bit for a while, primarily because while traveling it pointed out to me all sorts of local flavor that I would have missed otherwise.  It was like a gamified local tour guide and gave me something to do while waiting in lines.   But Niantec learned a lot from Ingress and really took it to the next level with Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go is based on the classic Pokemon card game and cartoon.  The premise is simple: There are tiny little monsters (POcKEt MONsters if you will) all around us, and as a trainer you need to find them and capture as many as you can.  In fact, the tag line is “Gotta catch em all.”   As you wander around, ‘wild’ Pokemon will jump out and then by strategically throwing pokeballs at them, you stand a chance to capture them.   There are a few other elements, such as joining one of three teams and trying to take over pokegyms from rival teams.  But at the heart of the game, you do two things: Wander around trying to capture Pokemon and finding landmarks (called pokestops) to check in at and grab more supplies.

The game itself is simple.   But what’s amazing is just how quickly it has gone viral in the mainstream.   Ingress was wildly popular for an AR game, but most definitely still relatively unknown.  Even geocaching, as popular and long-lived as it has been, hasn’t come close to the mainstream sensation that Pokemon Go is already.  According to some sources, it’s already bigger than Tinder and may have overtaken Twitter (at least briefly).

I’ve found the buzz around the game to be fascinating, particular with respects to how it is being subverted and attributed to so many unusual stories.   Take for instance, the story about the person who stopped their car in the middle of the highway to capture a Pokemon, causing a massive pilieup.   Sound crazy?   Of course.  Because the story was totally fake.  pokemon-go-stay-alert-copy-246x389.jpg.optimalOr the one about the robbers using Lures in the game to get people to come to dark alleys, only to be mugged.   This seems like it must be true, considering it was covered by The Guardian, USA Today, CNBCEngadget, and SO many other credible sources.   Of course, if you look it up on Snopes, you find out that the actual victim states, “I am the guy who was robbed at the Pokestop at Feise and K. In the interest of objective truth, everyone is reporting this wrong. There was never any lure. I was walking down a dark street towards a slightly out of the way pokestop and I got robbed by four kids in a black BMW. Everyone is reporting this as cunning teenagers use a lure to capture unsuspecting pokemon players, and that’s not quite correct.”  Not as sexy a story, but there is something to be said for the truth.   And then of course the story about the app having full permission on iOS to do everything from reading your emails to stealing your silverware.   Reeve, the man making the claims, later admitted “he had never built an application that uses Google account permissions, and had never tested the claims he makes in the post.”  HUGE security risk?  It sure looks that way… if you don’t understand the technology at all.   But in reality?  The app could “can only read biographical information like email address and phone number.”   That’s it.   Much ado about nothing.

I find it fascinating that everyone knows to question Nigerian princess that want to give them money, but will immediately jump on the bandwagon when it comes to stories a company infiltrating our lives and stealing all of our personal information through an augmented reality game.   Trust me, they’re more concerned with getting their servers to stay up than to read the emails you send to your grandmother.

Ruby PokemonBeyond all the distractions, I really do find the game fascinating.   When walking around in any major city, you can find people playing the game.   EVERYWHERE.   It’s not hard to see the players.  They’re the ones staring at their phone as they walk, barely aware of their surroundings.   As if they’re tourists using Google maps, but needing to stare at that map for an uncomfortably long time.  While it’s wonderful that the game requires you to get out of your seat and explore the world to play, I was more than a little concerned that it would just create an army of the walking dead, totally oblivious to the world around them as they hunt these little monsters.

However, what I’ve actually found is that while it does appear to be the case when you see somebody in a given moment, on the whole it has created an incredibly social experience.   I’ve seen dozens of posts on Facebook from parents who are all of a sudden going for evening walks with their kids.   I’ve seen people sharing that they’ve explore their cities more in the past week than in years prior.   And from my own personal experience, it has brought people together unlike any other game I’ve ever seen.

pokemon go in the parkAiden asked to go for an evening Pokewalk before bedtime.   Normally we’d walk around the block, but since he wanted to capture a water pokemon, we drove to a path along a creek.   It turns out some people had set out some Lures there, which means everybody in the area has a better chance of finding wild pokemon.   So a few people sat down to take advantage of it.   Then a few more joined them.   And before we knew it, there were about 25 of us, all hanging out and playing, but also talking about the game, talking about our town, and enjoying a shared experiences.   Ages 9-60, a group of people that would normally pass each other with barely a nod and gathered together spontaneously and made a connection. Powerful stuff.    As we walked around the park later, if we saw other people playing we’d give them a wink and say “Go Team Red” (our team), and maybe chat a bit.    It created an instant bond.

t2kzvsqvcbjlvlc7qmxgAnd the game is certainly getting people moving.   While there’s some wonderful satire about people ‘accidentally’ getting exercise while just trying to play a game, the game is rigged to force people to get out and move around.  In order to ‘hatch eggs’, people have to walk either 2km, 5km or 10km (depending on the specific egg).   Here in America, that has led to quite a few people wondering exactly how far a 5K is in miles.   Someone did a Google Trends search to check the frequency of the search “5km to miles” and as you can see from the image, there’s been a SLIGHT uptick in people searching that since the game was released.  Coincidence?  I think not.

fi40t9wIs it sustainable in the long run?  Will it jump the shark and eventually see the public rail against it?  It’s entirely possible.   But for right now, I’d say that it’s become as disruptive to society as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.   And given that it has only been out for barely a week?   I’d say the buzz around this game is just beginning.

If you haven’t gotten on board yet, I’d suggest you give it a try.   Because it’s most definitely a sign of things to come.


The Next Evolution of Sketchnotes

scan0003 (1)During our ISTE presentation, Fear the Sitting Dead, Adam and I took a brief detour down the road of sketchnotes.   While it isn’t necessarily a PD model, it can certainly serve as the type of minutes that someone would WANT to read.

While reading a blog post about the session (mad props for the diligent recap), I had a flash back to a version of sketchnotes from way way back in the day…  Allen’s brilliant comic sketches detailing an introduction to conic sections.   Allen was a student in Darren Kuropatwa‘s Pre-Cal 40s class in the Fall of 2006.  Math isn’t exactly my strong suit, but I’m pretty sure that’s right around ten years ago.  A solid 4 years before RSA Animate‘s visualization of a Sir Ken Robinson speech took the visual note taking world by storm.

Robert Pronovost’s Sketchnotes of our Gizmos and Gadgets session at #ISTE2016

Sketchnotes are typically done in the moment.   They’re as spontaneous as they are creative.   But they aren’t crafted with the benefit of hindsight.   I have nothing but admiration for people who create sketchnotes as it isn’t a medium that I personally gravitate to.  But looking back on Allen’s contribution to the Class Scribe Hall of Fame, I do wonder if there’s another step that would make sketchnotes fulfill some sort of unrealized potential.   Imagine if the initial sketchnotes were just an outline.   A literal sketch.   A rough draft.   And if the artist then returned to them and used that work as the impetus for a new work of art.  Knowing the full scope of the meeting/presentation/event, would they have visualized things differently?   Would there be a better way to work the information into a piece of art?  Or a graphic novel?  Or a digital story?

Sean Ziebarth’s sketchnotes move the needle more towards art than notes.

I think there’s still an upcoming evolution for the sketchnote movement.  Just like a blog post about a session is quite different than someone’s ‘on the fly’ notes, I wonder if we’ll start to see ‘final drafts’ of sketchotes in the near future.  The artwork of Sean Ziebarth and Amy Burvall are already paving the way and bridging that gap.  If you aren’t familiar with their work, it’s well worth exploring.

Who is going to be the first person to create an oil painting recapping a particularly moving conference session?  Or a sculpture depicting a keynote that?   Will it be you?



Closing the book on ISTE2016

13495323_10154917063245278_1345035572712417577_nThis was both the most frantic ISTE and the most relaxing ISTE I’ve ever attended.   Five presentations kept me busy enough, but I also had more meetings and interviews scheduled than ever before.   This caused two problems, that turned out not to actually be problems.  1) I had to keep a close eye on the clock at all times and 2) I didn’t attend any sessions.

That’s right.  Not one.  After doing an interview with Brian Lewis for the ISTE website, I walked through the poster area (mad props, posters sessions were AMAZING), but other than that I never made it into a session.  This was my first year not attending anything, or even making it in for any of the keynotes.  In fact, I didn’t even make it into the exhibit hall until the very last hour before I had to leave, and while there the only things I did was check out the VR in the Unity booth (props to Dennis Grice for the heads up on that), and visited Roger Wagner and David Thornburg in the Hyperduino booth.

My head tells me that I should feel guilty about that.   To be at a conference like this and NOT make time for my own personal learning/growth?   But this year things were a little different…   As I mentioned in my last post, after a decade at Discovery I’m moving on down the road.   So I spent the majority of my free time exploring possibilities.  With individuals, with companies, with organizations, with conferences…  this is the first time in my entire life when I can hand pick what comes next.  And exploring those possibilities was just as exhilarating as any keynote I’ve ever seen.

I didn’t go to any big parties or events outside of the Discovery birthday party (which was really wonderful reconnecting with so many people).  But the time I did spend with groups was smaller, more intimate and gave me a chance to really hang out with so many that I see for such small snippets.

So just a few notes and thanks before wrapping this up…

  • Thanks Adam for letting me share the stage with you again this year.  One of the best things about the conference is getting to spend hours on Hangout scheming. (Links to our presentations:  Gizmos and Gadgets and Fear the Sitting Dead)
  • A wrong turn on the way home put me in the path of Chris Lehmann, leading to a late night conversation that was truly one of the highlights of the week.
  • Had an incredible time at the ISTE LAN party, playing games and geeking out on a level that puts most of the other conference nerds to shame.   Met the founder of Pixel Press there, which means a review of Bloxels is coming soon!  Also got a preview of the upcoming AR game, Pokemon Go (yes, my son is incredibly jealous)
  • I will always treasure the time I spent with my partner in crime at Discovery, both on the stage and on the slabs.
  • While Kyle Schutt always pushes my thinking, a happy hour with him has really got the gears churning.  That is one talented man with some big ideas.
  • By far the most surreal night of the week was spent at Casa Bonita.   The only way I can describe it is Chuck E Cheese meets Disneyland meets Narnia.   And to spend it with a crew of over 20 edu-peeps made it feel less like dinner and more like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
  • Mark Smith and I found a quiet corner to chat about the upcoming year.   All I have to say is that man is a troublemaker in the best possible way and MACUL is lucky to have him.
  • I had the honor to host a Maker panel organized by The Nerdy Teacher, chock full of people that I would consider brilliant.   An hour was not nearly enough time to spend in the presence of that crew and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.
  • Adam and I had an absolute blast hosting our gadget session, and I have to throw out some props to IPEVO for the giveaways, Shane at QBall for making the 20 minutes leading up to the presentation much more interesting (and dangerous), and the Denver convention center for doing everything they could to make sure our demos were shared as well as possible.  True professionals there.
  • I spoke with organizers from a few conferences, but I won’t call out names until things are solidified.  I’ll just say, you know who you are and it was a distinct pleasure seeing you again and I look forward to having the chance to speak and share outside the states again!
  • I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the Bloggers Cafe, but the time I did spend was truly wonderful.   Thanks for all the hugs from too many to list.
  • It was a close call, but our Edu Justice League including Chris and Jaime managed to save the world by escaping the BreakoutEdu Bus with just seconds to spare.   You’re welcome, Earth.
  • Huge props to Erin and Shannon for their absolutely wonderful backyard gathering.   While it was a pleasure seeing so many people there, the highlight was definitely sitting on the stoop with Scott McLeod and Joyce Valenza.   I’ll be digesting that conversation for months to come.
  • Dennis, I’m finally starting to get feeling back in my arms.   Now I just need to get a GoFundMe going so i can buy one of those rigs!

That’s all off the top of my head.   If I missed a mention of a significant moment, my apologies.  It’s been a long week!  While I do lament not going to any sessions, sometimes you just play the hand that’s dealt you.  Next year, in San Antonio, I’ll make it more of a priority.   But for now, I’ll just bask in the knowledge that not a moment was wasted and I have no regrets.

Thank you ISTE for yet another wonderful conference.  You really do create an environment that is truly magical for educators.


A New Beginning

November 7th, 2005. The day I announced that I was leaving the kindergarten classroom and joining Discovery Education.

10 years, 7 months, 12 days ago.

As a member of team Discovery, I’ve traveled around the world (flying more than half a million miles), presented at more events than I can count, and worked with some of the greatest change agents in the world. I’ve hosted virtual conferences for tens of thousands of educators, managed hundreds of webinars, hangouts and livestreams, and worked the studio for dozens of virtual field trips. Throughout the last ten years with Discovery, I’ve seen the community host more than 60,000 PD events, reaching more than two million educators.

And after ten incredibly wonderful years, my path will veer off in a different direction than Discovery’s.

While my love for the company and the DEN community hasn’t changed, I’m ready to take on some new challenges. When I joined Discovery, I was fresh from the school system. I had presented once or twice locally but never done a keynote, and was best known for my podcast. Just to put it in perspective, this was still a full year before Twitter was even a blip on the radar. Jessica and I have spoken for years about the idea of me taking a leave from ‘the band’ and starting a solo career. It may seem silly, but we had always earmarked my 42nd year as symbolically a target for when to start fresh. Corny right? But somehow it just feels right.

I don’t know exactly where the next few years will take me, but I’m looking forward to getting back to basics. Blogging and podcasting like I used to (stop me if you’ve heard that one before), creating some new presentations, reconnecting with MANY old friends in new ways. I will most definitely stay active in the Discovery Education Community though. How could I not? I’ve invested a decade of my life working to cultivate the greatest community in the education space (#TrueStory). I’m not going anywhere, and without the ‘desk job’ I’m thinking you may see even more of me in the years to come.

I’m looking forward to working with school districts and conferences even more directly now, and really pushing at the boundaries. If you would like me to come out to your district or present at an event, let me know. I’ll still be at ISTE and DENSI as part of the DE team, but will be moving on shortly after that.

So this isn’t a farewell by any means, it’s like the title of this post says… It’s a new beginning, the first steps along the next leg of the journey. And I can’t wait to share it with all of you!




UTW: LIVE #3: Filter or FAIL

When Adam and I decided to write a book together, one thing we both agreed upon from the beginning was that we wanted the printed book itself to be the START of a conversation with people, not an end to itself. So with that in mind, we began a series of live Hangouts related to topics in the book.  This month, on January 29th, we’ll be hosting our third live show titled “Filter or FAIL”.  We’ll be discussing the firehose of information and apps available to educators, how we make sense of them all and strategies for doing so with educators.  One note, this isn’t just for how you do it yourself, but also how you teach other educators at your district to do so.

Anytime I mention the phrase “firehose of information”, the first person that comes to mind is Richard Byrne of Free Tech 4 Teachers.  He is going to be our featured guest for the show and will be discussing how he finds all the information he blogs about, what his own filters are, and his tips for managing it all.

It’s going to be a wonderful show and we hope that you can join us!

Register here to attend on January 29th.


20 Things You Can’t Do with Glass (but you really can)

If you’re going to pony up the cash for Google Glass, you have to love being an early adopter.  I’m not talking about just getting a product through Kickstarter, I mean love getting betas of software and helping developers make it better.  I mean being someone who will deliberately crash your own device a few dozen times to try to pin down where a bug could be.  You’ve got to be the kind of person who can take all the flaws in a system and come to peace with them, because you know that someday they’ll be fixed.  And you’ve got to LOVE all that.

The reason I bring that up, is because right now the apps available for Google Glass are really limited.  As of the time I typed this blog post, there are 32 apps.  That’s it.  Top to bottom. And really, that’s pushing it a bit.  I mean, Strava Bike and Strava Run are listed seperately.  One of the apps is  a Stopwatch.  One just allows you to upload videos to YouTube (finally).  Others are far more complex, and pretty darn impressive (Word Lens is in the lead for the ‘coolest app’ award), but the point is… your selection is limited.

Unless you’re willing to sideload.

Then it all changes.  And in my mind, that’s where the real excitement is for Google Glass right now. Sideloading refers to taking an app and loading it directly to Glass via USB.  These are apps that are not complete.  Most are not ready to be submitted to the app store and some, due to conflicts with Google’s policies, never will.  You have to put your ‘geek pants’ on to do it too, by installing the Android SDK and then adding/removing apps through the command line (instructions here).  It’s not always intuitive and it’s kind of a pain.  Some of the apps you’ll load will work flawlessly, and others will crash your Glass.  But if you’re willing to take a walk on the wild side, there’s some pretty incredible stuff available.

Some of these apps are being developed by big companies, and others are just individuals with a crazy idea.  I love that one day I’ll see a post on G+ saying, “Hey, do you think anybody would be interested in an app that does this?”  and the next day someone has created a prototype to download.  Sometimes things are literally moving that quickly.  So if you want to see where the cutting edge apps are for the cutting edge device…  read on.

Here are 20 things that you can’t do with Google Glass (but you really can).

1) Ok Glass, make this run a bit more interesting.
raceyourselfRace Yourself is an augmented reality excercise app for Glass.  Major gamification elements.  Would you run faster if zombies were approaching behind you?  Or a boulder was catching up to you, a la Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Or perhaps you just want some company for your daily run, like you’d have if you were running in an actual race.  The app will load virtual runners for you to run along with… or to try to beat.  Race Yourself  offers all of this and more.  Personally, I just love the idea of seeing a ‘ghost’ of myself running a familiar route, paced to my personal best.  Can you imagine how great that would be for maintaining pace, and trying to push yourself to break your own record?  Not available for download yet, but there website is well worth exploring.  It has a interesting interactive demo built into it, earning you points by racing against yourself in a click-based race.  Want to earn more points.  Read the fine print at the bottom of the page.  Not yet available, signup to be notified

2) Ok Glass, let’s go Duck Hunting.
la-fi-tn-duck-hunt-google-glass-20131216-001I wasn’t such a fan of Spellista, one of the first authorized Glass games.   But there’s a few sideloaded games that I’ve enjoyed goofing around on.  Technically, the game is called Glass Hunt, but the moment you load it up, you’re taken back to an age when blasting virtual ducks with an orange plastic gun was the height of video game technology.  It’s missing the iconic giggling dog, but the game itself is pretty true to the original.  The only difference is that you aim by moving your head around.  I don’t think I could play this one while waiting in line at the bank without looking like I’m having a seizure, but it is entertaining.  And most definitely a sign of things to come.  How do you create compelling gaming experiences without any physical controls?  This is an interesting first step.  Available now via sideload

3) Ok Glass, let’s do some squats.
lynxfitWhile some have expressed privacy concerns about using Glass in the gym (the camera in particuilar), there’s a huge amount of interest from the fitness industry at large.  One group that clearly has the lead is LynxFit, a fitness companion for Glass.  On the website, you select a workout regime (there are three available right now).  When you launch the app on Glass, you can load up the workout of the day and it’ll take you through it.  Let’s say the first excercise for the day is squats.  First it will show you a video of the proper way to do a squat, and then it’ll have you start doing them.  It clearly took a few lessons from the Wii, assessing your activity based on the accelerometer and gyroscope inside of it.  It’ll count off your reps as you do them, and then take you on to the next excercise.  I see huge potential for this one, particularly once you can enter in what equipment you have available to you and customize the routines based on that.  They’ve also figured out some way to screencast Glass to the Chromecast.  To my knowledge, they’re the first ones to figure that one out, which is also pretty darn exciting.  Available now via Sideload, register for the beta

4) Ok Glass, keep me awake.
drive safeWhile I do have to travel a lot, I try to avoid driving at night.  If I’m overly tired, I’m definitely at risk for nodding off and engaging in some ‘spontaneous lane changes.’  While some states are pushing to ban the use of Glass in the car, this is one of those apps that I think will help sway things the other way.  Drive Safe for Glass uses the sensors within the device to detect when you’re starting to nod off.  I don’t know if it just uses the gyroscope to detect your head tilting down, or whether the ‘wink’ sensor detects your eyes closing.  But if it thinks your starting to drift off, an audio alert goes off, waking you up.  It also gives you an option to use the GPS to direct you to the nearest rest area.  Would it work?  I hope to never find out.  But if it does, then it could be an incredible app for saving lives.  Available now via sideload

5) Ok Glass, are those pants orange or salmon?
23852-images-colorcardSnap a photo.  Share it with Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap.  Get a message back breaking down all the primary colors you see into coded color swatches.  That’s it.  Ridiculously simpe.  And while it certainly isn’t something that I would use on a regular basis, I think it’s a great example of the niche style apps that are the future of the device.  It’s not that you couldn’t do it via a smartphone, but there are times when it’s inconvenient to do so.  I’d imagine we’re just a few steps away from being able to see color code tags in real time, layered onto your display as you take a walk.  Would everybody want to do that?  Of course not.  But I know a few designers that would love it.  Available now, no sideload needed 

6) Ok Glass, where did I put my keys?
1084342_10201872757198563_1293465517_o1-300x169We all lose things.  This app helps you find them.  Whenever you put something down that you are prone to losing, just say “Ok Glass, remember where I put my marbles.”  The Where Did I Put app will take a picture of your marbles and store it in a database.  Later, when you need your marbles again, you can either say “Ok Glass, where did I put my marbles?” or pull up a list of all the objects currently logged.   The location data is even logged along with the item and the photo, but isn’t being used at this point in the beta.  Our son just had a birthday, and we put out the annual birthday banner.  Now we’re taking it down and stashing it away for a full year.  I immediately thought how handy this would be to find it a year from now.  It’s definitely rough around the edges, but a fantastic idea.  Beta available now via sideload. 

7) Ok Glass, keep the beat steady.
metronome4All this app does is create a steady click.  But that’s all it really needs to do!  Glass Metronome let’s you identify what Beats Per Minute you need, and it’ll tap out a steady 4/4.  What’s interesting about this app though, is since Glass has a bone conduction speaker, you should be able to hear it clearly without using any headphones.  Even if the rest of the band is jamming along with you!  It’s currently limited to 4/4, but I’d imagine other meters will be coming.  Available now via sideload.

8) Ok Glass, find me a burger.
burgersEventually, Yelp will have an official app.  But until then, Glass Eats is filling the void.  Select the type of food that you’re looking for, and Glass Eats will serve up five nearby resturants to choose from.  While it will display the rating if it from Yelp, right now you can’t get any more information about the eateries.  However, you can tap through to call them directly, or get directions.  It’s not as fancy as some augmented reality smartphone apps, but it’s a good start.  Available now, no sideload needed.

9) Ok Glass, can you find me a better bargain?
pricethisYou’re in a store.  You see something you want to buy.  You want to know if you’re getting a good deal or not.  Sound familiar?  This app will let you scan the barcode and let you know how it’s being priced online (new and used).  There are a couple of Glass apps that do this, but what I like about Price This is that it also shows a larger image of the item, as well as a full description of it.  It didn’t work on every bar code I tried, but I’d rate it at about 75%.  Some of the accuracy, I’m sure, is going to come down to lighting, reflection, and the shape of the package.  After all, this isn’t a laser.  It’s a camera that’s not designed for macro.  But at the same time, it does work and in a pinch could come in really handy.  Available now via sideload

10) Ok Glass, take me back to 2010.
20131101_155831_326_x-1024x576Augmented reality apps are going to be absolutely critical to the success of Glass in the long term.  A lot of companies are working on it, including Daqri, but AR For Glass has the best roundup of current iterations that you can load up right now.  Both Vuforia and NyARToolkit will allow you to download markers and align them to 3D models, even with some limited interaction.  But the one that I think is the most interesting is CityViewAR.   Christchuch in New Zealand was a city rocked by several large earthquakes which devestated the downtown area.  They’ve developed full scale 3D models of the way the city USED to look, and using CityViewAR on Glass, you can walk around and see it in real time.  Instead of keying in on codes or visual triggers, it uses GPS, compass and gyroscope to determine what to show you.  It’s location based AR that is simply brilliant.  Sort of like a Google Earth layer… for the real world.  Obviously this one will only work in Christchurch, so I haven’t had a chance to try it first hand, but check out the video for more detail.  All three available now via sideload.

11) Ok Glass, why did the frog cross the road?
googleglassfroggerAnother game for you.  This one is just a little different though.  I’m assuming that most of you remember Frogger, right?  This is a faithful recration of the classic arcade game with one small difference… you hop.  With GlassFrogger, you see the game itself in the Glass display, and when you want your frog to leap forward, you leap!  In a sense, this kinda falls into that Wii/Kinnect category, in that your body is the controller.  But when you add in the fact that the display is attached to your head, future games could actually work in 3D elements, like looking behind you to see if another frog is catching up to you. As it is, it’s crazy basic.  You just leap forward, not even side to side yet.  But once again, it’s about breaking ground and seeing where the potential is.    Available now, no sideload needed.

12) Ok Glass, teach me to play Louie Louie.
myapp_screenshotThe hands free nature of Glass makes it perfect for musicians.  Which is why I think Chords for Glass is so interesting.  Just name the chord that you’d like to play, and it will display the proper guitar fingerings, as well as play the chord itself in your ear.  Right now, it will only load up about 7 or 8 chords, and to be honest, it’s a little slow.  But what a brilliant idea!  Projecting out a bit, imagine being able to load up a song, have it grab sheet music from the net, and display the chords while you play along.  Hands free, screen right where you need it.  Available now via sideload.  

13) Ok Glass, lock it down.
only_pristine_appsThis is another one that I haven’t tried personally yet, but a few days ago I didn’t even think that this would be possible.  If you’re considering using any devices with students, one of the first questions teachers typically ask is, “How do I lock it down?”  For security, for classroom management, to avoid temptation… there are a slew of reasons to want to lock down a device, or limit its functionality somewhat.  The folks at Pristine have figured out a way to load up a modified version of the Glass OS and remove the funcitons they don’t need.  For example, if you’re going to be using Glass for surgery, you probably don’t need things like Directions, Video Calls, and Messaging clogging up the menus.  But in a classroom, there may be times when you want to disable the camera.  Or to remove  the ability to make phone calls.  I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure HOW educators would want to lock it down, but discovering that it’s even possible made me pause in a big way.  This one isn’t easy to do and definitely isn’t for the faint of heart.  But not only are you removing the options from the menu, it removes the voice command that goes along with it.  It’s definitely something educators are going to want to consider if they start using Glass with students beyond the “check it out, this is new and cool!” phase.  Availabe now via sideload.

14) Ok Glass, take us live
google-glass-robert-scobleOne of the iconic moments in the original Project Glass promo video was the person using Hangout to show his incredible view with a friend.  Of course, the follow up question inevitably is… how do I share that same view with more people?  Live POV broadcasting is definitely going to be a major use of Glass and there are several developers working on making it happen.  Hangouts on Air seems like an obvious choice, but as of right now there’s no way to start a HOA via Glass.  If someone else starts it and invites you, you can join one, but that isn’t exactly ideal.  One would imagine that the option will come with a future release, but until then there are a few other options.  The previously mentioned Pristine is working on EyeSight, specifically for use in the medical field.  But the group that looks to be getting there first is Hang W/.  At CES, they had Robert Scoble and the Monsters of Tech doing live broadcasts via Glass, and they’re currently seeking beta testers in various Glass Explorer communities.  Haven’t been able to try this one yet, but it looks like they’re on the verge of offering a public beta.  Now accepting signups for the beta.

15) Ok Glass, go to the next slide
slide2-yourshowOne of my favorite features in Powerpoint and Keynote is the presenter view, allowing you to see your own notes as well as the upcoming slide(s).  But in order to see those notes, you either have to have a seperate stage monitor, or walk back to your computer screen.  With Glass, the relationship between you and your presentation changes.  There are two apps that are far enough along to be worth checking out, and both have significantly different features.  Glassentation allows you to export your Powerpoint notes to Glass.  It bundles them together as a note card and sends it into your timeline.  Then, as you present, you can see your notes on the Glass display, without ever breaking eye contact with the audience.  YourShow takes a slightly different approach.  You connect Google Drive to your YourShow account, and then select a Google Presentation to present (if you have a Powerpoint you want to use, you have to upload and convert it to Google Presentations first).  It sends a copy of it to Glass.  On your computer, you load up that Google Presentation and go into full screen.  When you load up the card stack in Glass, you see both your notes and the slide itself.  Even better, you actually control the presentation via Glass.  Go to the next slide on Glass, and the computer goes along with you.  The connection with Google Drive gets a bit overwhelmed when you have a few hundred (thousand) docs in there, so give it some time to connect.  They’ve got big plans too, including the ability for Glass to listen to what you’re saying, compare it to the slide notes, and when you get to the end of a slide automagically going on to the next one.  #Geekbumps Glassentation and YourShow are available now, no sideload needed. 

16) Ok Glass, identify that bird
birdsWant to know what birds are in your area?  Birds-glass can fill you in.  Based on your current location, Glass will check to see what birds have been identified nearby and send you a card with their names, pictures, and the number of times they’ve been sighted.  It’s pretty limited right now, but the goal down the road is to allow you to snap a picture of a bird and submit it to the community to be identified.  I think it’s pretty interesting, but have turned off already given that I work in a concrete jungle and it’s winter time.  But I definitely plan to check back in on it when spring rolls around.  Available now, no sideload needed.

17) Ok Glass, turn on the lights
ss3Who doesn’t have dreams of having the ultimate ‘samrt house’?  Being able to just walk in the house, say “Let there be light” and having the house respond accordingly…  Well, we may not be there yet, but Glass may fit into the equation.  Belkin has a home automation line of switches and plugs called WeMo. It already ties in nicely to iOS and Android devices, and someone has figure out how to get Glass in on the game.  WeMoGlass scans your network for WeMo devices, and let’s you perform basic controls via voice.  It’s clunky, it’s limited, but it’s a first iteration.  If you use a different brand of home automation devices, some people have managed to get similar functionality by having text messages trigger IFTTT recipes.  Available now via sideload.

18) Ok Glass, solve for X
myapp_screenshotMost educators are well familiar with WolframAlpha, the premiere knowledge search engine.  GlassCompute gives you instant access to it, which instantly makes it a ‘must install’ for anyone using it in an educational setting.  It’s as simple as you’d imagine it to be.  Just say “Ok Glass, compute…  divisors of 4200” and it will display the results for you. If there are multiple possible responses, you can just scroll through them.   It’s pretty powerful stuff and a great supplement to the built in Google Search.  Available now via sideload.

19) Ok Glass, let’s make a memory
Google-Glass-CameraYou’re at a party.  You want to get pictures throughout the night, but you also don’t want to deal with constantly shoving a camera in people’s faces.  And while often the best pics are the candid ones, the moment you break out the camera, people stop what they’re doing and pose.  Moment Camera provides an alternative.  When you turn the app on, it starts ‘recording’.  It doesn’t actually record video, but the camera is on continuously.  It uses the sensors within Glass to determine when would be the best time to snap a picture and then starts grabbing.  If the lighting is good, the camera is still, and there’s minimal motion in the frame, it will snap a pic.  And then another and another and another.   It will keep doing this until the evening ends or the battery runs out, the latter being much more likely.  The next time you plug in Glass, it will upload all of your pics to Moment’s servers and you can review the event.  Discard any pics you don’t like and publish the ones you do.  It’s a fascinating concept, however there are definitely some issues.  I’d sure as heck make sure your guests know that you’re doing it.  There are already enough privacy concerns related to Glass, taking pictures of people without their knowledge isn’t going to sit well with many.  I’ve tried this out a few times with very mixed results.  When it works, it’s fantastic.  But you never quite know whether it did until after the event.  Most of my attempts at using it have resulted in it working great for a few minutes, and then just stopping for appearantly no reason.  But as with most, it’s a work in progress and not a final release.  Available now via sideload. 

20) Ok Glass, who am I talking to?
Google_Glass_Facial_RecognitionProbably the biggest controversy around Google Glass is facial recognition.  The idea that Glass could scan a person’s face and then serve up their name and personal information terrifies many privacy advocates.  Personally, as someone that suffers from issues related to visual memory, I see tremendous value in being able to have Glass identify people I’m interacting with and reminding me how I know them.  Google has issued an outright ban on facial recognition apps, but that hasn’t stopped developers from pushing the limits. Silica labs has avoided the issue by creating an app for people that use MeetUp.  Instead of true facial recognition, it simply provides attendees with cards displaying the name, picture, and survey responses of the people who RSVP’d to the event.  Not quite as magical as true facial recognition, but certainly useful for smaller events.  And since everyone attending has ‘opted in’, privacy concerns are minimal.    On the other end of the spectrum, Lambda Labs is set to release an app named FaceRec, which looks to log the faces of people you meet, and cross-check them against a database of pictures that you provide.  It won’t display personal information of strangers, and is only as good as the user makes it.  The app isn’t available yet, but if you want to see how it will work, you can test their Face Recognition API.  The app that’s furthest along currently is NameTag, causing quite a stir by releasing the first beta with real time facial recognition.  NameTag will scan a face, check it against their database of registered users and if it finds a match, serve up their social profile.  Currently, it will only match against their own registered users, so people do need to opt-in for it to serve up information about them.  But plans are in the works to have it also check against public databases such as the National Sex Offender Registry.  How far off is a hack to have it search against Twitter avatars or Facebook itself?  That line is getting pretty thin.  As I said, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities here, but don’t expect facial recognition apps to make their way into the true Glass App store anytime soon.  Meetup App is available now, no sideload needed. NameTag is available for signup, installable via sideload.  FaceRec has not been released.


21) Ok Glass, what homwork is due tomorrow?
IMG_0035Remember how I said there were new apps coming out all the time?  Was just putting the finishing touches on this post when I found this one posted to the Glass Explorers community on Google+.  “A few days ago I started working on my first extensive Glass project, an application that would connect to a database of my homework assignments and feed them to me through Glass. Four days and about 24 hours of development later here it is. My Homework for Glass!”  And that’s what’s so exciting to be in this space.  Everyday there’s something new for Glass that simply couldn’t be done yesterday.


One final note before you get exploring.  Installing all these apps can wind up making things a bit… messy.  Sideloaded apps don’t show up in your MyGlass directory, so normally you would need to uninstall them via the command line.  However, recent developments to ChromeADB allow you to connect to your Glass device, send commands, see what you have installed and even remove applications….  all via your browser.  It’s pretty awesome and well worth exploring.

Haave fun!  And if you think I missed something, leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.


One Second Every Day

Antique clock face with hands
Antique clock face with hands (Photo credit: MomMaven)

About 14 months ago, resident DEN princess Porter Palmer turned me on to a Kickstarter campaign called 1 Second Everyday.  General idea, you record a tiny little snipped of video every single day, and at the end of the year you have a 6 minute video with a memory from every day.  Neat idea, right?  Sort of like a 365 photo challenge, but with video.  Is one second of video really enough?  Well, after doing it for a full year, I can definitely say the answer is yes.  Sometimes it may even be too much 🙂

I started on January 1st, and tried to be diligent about it.  I’ll be honest, there were some days I missed.  There were some days that so many memorable things happened, that I split them over a couple of less notable days.  And there were some days when I really didn’t have anything all that interesting to share and just recorded something for the sake of recording it.  But the net result is something that I’ve found pretty darn interesting.

Yes, it’s a documentary of my life.  But I’m really not pictured in it all that often.  Most of the time you see my kids, my wife, my family, my friends…  You see snippets of presentations I’ve done, experiences I’ve had, significant events, and some that weren’t so significant.  I think you’ll enjoy the video.  But you won’t enjoy it nearly as much as the friends who are in it.  And those people won’t enjoy it nearly as much as my family.  And even my family won’t enjoy it nearly as much as I do.

It’s really a strong statement about point of view, and lenses of reality.  Everyone who watches it laughs at my buddy Zach teeing off in front of a group of cows on June 8th.  Or chuckles over seeing me getting a speeding ticket in Iowa City on May 25th.  Those are obvious.  But on May 14th, while most people will see a steak being cut, I’ll remember a fantastic conversation I had with David Jakes about how significant small moments are in educaiton.  Two second later, most of you will see Aiden making a basket.  But that’s the very first time he made a basket on a full sized hoop.  He had been trying to do that for weeks, and immediately after it went in, he ran across the court, screaming to his coach “I DID IT, I DID IT!!!”  And while August 25th may just look like a door closing, that was the final visit to my grandmother’s condo before it was sold, a home my sister and I slept over at throughout our childhood and I have so many fond memories of.  And I can tell you a story like that for every… single… second…  Click pause at any time, and I’ll tell you a tale about that day.  Powerful stuff.

The project was meaningful for me in so many ways, impressing the value in making every single day count, in discerning what’s really worth remembering (and making sure to do so).  I’ve spoken at conferences about the possibilities for doing this with students.  Imagine letting your students step back and reflect upon an entire year of learning, one second at a time…  And imagine being able to share that with parents and members of the community…  Being able to celebrate all the wonderful things that happen in our schools every day through the eyes of the people that are experiencing it first hand…  It’s a wonderful story to tell.

I hope you enjoy it.  And if you’ve done your own, please link to it in the comments!



Glasscast from Tuesday

Wearable technology for the wrist
Wearable technology for the wrist (Photo credit: IntelFreePress)

Did a quick GlassCast on Tuesday, after typing up the “Why Glass?” post.  So keep in mind, this was created prior to all the insightful comments people shared, and the debate that occurred on Facebook.

I think there’s so much intresting going on with respects to wearables right now, especially with all the announcements coming from CES.  During this walk and talk, i get into that a little bit, and ramble on a whole lot.  Gotta remember to upload these in a more timely manner!  Enjoy…


Why Glass?

DSC_0686.jpg (Photo credit: kwmr)

Ever since I bought Google Glass, I’ve gotten a ton of questions from people. Some are fascinated by it, some see it as a frivolous expense, and others just think it’s the latest technology fad and not even worth the time of day. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain why I chose to make the investment.

It’s actually far simpler than you probably think. In fact, it all boils down to this… I think it’s the future of computing. It’s a rough draft, sure. It’s wonky and clearly a beta. But I vividly remember when the World Wide Web was a goofy little ‘beta’. I remember arguing whether we’d ever have enough bandwidth to be able to handle full color images in a timely way, much less 3D video streaming. I remember when the iPhone was an interesting device, but for almost a full year the only apps available were the ones that came pre-loaded onto it. People seem to forget that part. They also forget all the arguments and rationale people posted for why the iPad will be an epic failure and that nobody would ever need a device ‘between’ your phone and your computer.  For months after I got my first iPad, I had to field questions along hte lines of, “sure it’s cool, but why would anyone really need it?”

And now I hear the same things about Google Glass.  It’s too big.  It’s annoying.  Too expensive.  Too limited.  No apps.  It’s intrusive.  People will be too out of touch because of it.  And it goes on and on and on.

And yet, whenever I hand them over to someone and they start using it…  people tend it get strangely quiet.  And reflective.  When I talk about using the GPS on my bike, or recording video of the kids while we sled down the hill, lightbulbs start going on.  When I talk about the Strava app, and being able to see your pace and splits while you’re running, they start nodding their heads.  And when I break out things like Word Lens, well that’s an experience in itself.

The point being, all the doubters are right.  It IS a too big right now.  It IS expensive.  It IS limited in what it does.  And that’s all just fine with me.  Because it’s just a beginning.  It’s like the iPhonein 2007, with a few big exceptions.

For example, every month Google releases major upgrades for it.  There’s no waiting for the yearly releases, every single month there are new features released by Google.  Developers are just now starting to hit their stride with apps, and some really interesting things are coming out for it.  And for those willing to sideload, that list is exponentially larger.  But the biggest difference is that Google embraced the fact that there are a large number of us that LOVE being part of the development process, especially for a groundbreaking new device.  So instead of beta testers, we’re explorers.  Yes, I know I paid a huge amount for a product that really isn’t finished.  I can live with that.  Because it really is awesome, and it’s getting better every day.

At the end of the day, there are a ridiculous number of reasons not to get Glass right now.  And I truly do understand why anyone would have that opinion.  But for people that can accept the limitations and are interested in pushing the boundries, in helping to re-write the way our society interacts with the digital space…  well, it really is a wonderful opportunity.