All posts by sensei

Blender Has Come a Long Way

I learned 3D on Lightwave which, in 2002, was a contender with Maya and 3D Studio Max. Because it was free, I downloaded Blender back then, took it for a spin and was a bit disappointed. Because it was open source and community driven I filed it in my brain alongside Ubuntu Linux as “wait and see”.  I had a look recently and have to say, I’m impressed. Check out this user contributed demo video:

Computer Science Field Guide

sys-uc-logoThe Computer Science Field Guide is an online interactive resource for high school students learning about computer science, developed at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and funded by Google.

We’ll be using this as a first point of reference as it was developed here in New Zealand specifically for the purpose of Digital Technology classes like ours.

The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists

This article from The Atlantic raises numerous questions about technology, privacy and ethics. Do developers have a responsibility towards society to not create systems that allow personal information to be disclosed to government bodies? With the privacy laws in New Zealand, how far away are we from a complete surveillance state?

Edward Joseph Snowden is a computer professional, former CIA employee, and former government contractor who copied classified information from the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and United Kingdom Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for public disclosure in 2013. The information revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and Five Eyes with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments. On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.
Edward Joseph Snowden: wanted by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.

“Computer scientists and cryptographers occupy some of the ivory tower’s highest floors. Among academics, their work is prestigious and celebrated. To the average observer, much of it is too technical to comprehend. The field’s problems can sometimes seem remote from reality.

But computer science has quite a bit to do with reality. Its practitioners devise the surveillance systems that watch over nearly every space, public or otherwise—and they design the tools that allow for privacy in the digital realm. Computer science is political, by its very nature.”

This article is well worth a look as many of our assessments require discussion of ethical considerations.

Object Oriented PHP for Beginners

php_elephant
I think the Idea with this elephant logo is that you’ll associate PHP with smiley “cartoony” things and approach it with optimism. While I’m certain you can learn PHP, I’m not so fond of such attempts to obfuscate the fact that PHP is a language that will require some dedication to get your head around. Or maybe they just like elephants?

Here’s an excellent tutorial that introduces the concept of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) in PHP. It is written lucidly but may be a little confusing if you don’t already have some basic familiarity with the PHP language.

Here’s another tutorial if you find that one a bit much.

Setting and Outputting a Class Property
<?php
 
class MyClass
{
  public $prop1 = "I'm a class property!";
}
 
$obj = new MyClass;
 
echo $obj->prop1; // Output the property
 
?>

The Codeworx Challenge

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.46.28 PMThe Codeworx Challenge is an annual competition here in New Zealand that rewards innovation and initiative. In groups of up to four people, students were tasked with solving a real world problem this year using a Raspberry Pi and code. The results were outstanding as you can see for yourself on their website.

Industry professionals were also impressed if this article from the New Zealand Herald is any indication.

Create Stylish Vector Portraits

vector illustration

digitalartsonline.co.uk have excellent tutorials. Here’s one that shows you how to make a vector illustration from a camera image. It uses both Photoshop and Illustrator and is a good way to experience the strengths of either.

In this tutorial, Eelco van den Berg lets you behind the curtain to see how he creates his incredible vector portraits by turning a photo into a ‘poppy’ vector illustration.

It says that it could take 3-4 hours so you may want to make a cuppa.

photoshopessentials.com

photoshopessentials.com has a lot of well developed tutorials. I find them easy to follow even though some of the tutorials are for different versions of Photoshop than the one I have a license for. Regardless, most of the features are the same as Adobe is one of those companies who release new versions often despite very little change (something I find annoying).

This tutorial on how to use the Free Transform tool is a great place to start.

Billy Blob

I’m very happy to introduce you to freelance animator and web designer Billy Blob. He’s been putting out interesting work for over 15 years and was one of my inspirations while I was at uni. HIs website is so different from all of these boring “themey” designs (like … ahem …  the one for this site). He’s an artist who adopted a digital medium, as opposed to a tech guy having a crack at being artsy.


Trapped and dying on a car windshield,
a bumblebee contemplates the meaning of his life with an optimistic butterfly.

Here’s another video that goes with it.

OOP and The Internet of Things

This article by author  brings up an important subject that will no doubt become more relevant as the public becomes more familiar with “The Internet of Things“. Matt points out that the conceptualization inherent with Object Oriented Programming is what makes IoT possible.

“It can safely be said that the object has been the driving force in the programming industry for a very long time and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. The evidence to support this statement is pretty compelling! Today, just about every major software development methodology is based on objects. As a result, virtually all programming languages, scripting languages and application designs are object-oriented or object-based.”

Read more here.