# Google Glass & Dynamic Textbooks

Google Glass, an upcoming glasses / camera / internet hybrid, is finally in the hands of developers.  There are a few videos of people walking around and doing ... normal things, but the one that really caught my attention was this go kart race by Google's Josh Armour. This video shows off the smooth, high definition video that can be captured at decent speeds.

My imagination runs wild in terms of STEM education.  Imagine bringing a group of kids to a carnival and having a fun day of go karting. How about using a video editor to mark two points and time the distance between them, to calculate velocity? How about measuring the change in velocity between points to calculate acceleration?  Now imagine this with trains ... or roller coasters ... or airplanes!

How about having kids throw the ball around, and thing bring it back to class and examine the parabolic motion of a ball? How about showing that you can reasonably calculate the horizontal and vertical position based on how hard it was thrown and the time? This could also be used to show how equations are for ideal situations and that variables such as wind, humidity, etc can affect measurement. You don't even have to mention the term "projectile motion" for the kids to get it. - because it would be their own physical actions!

Opportunities are everywhere to teach our children how physics is represented in the world around us. This can all be done with current technology, but having the ability to easily create videos from our vantage points puts the stamp of personality that resonates heavily with the "me" generation reared on YouTube. Essentially, it's a dynamic textbook where the examples are tuned specifically to the student - a far cry from the stale books that bore most students today.

If technologies such as Google Glass can get into educator's hands and avoid the \$1500 developer price, we all win.

This post also appears on This Week In Blackness.

# CES 2013 Wrap Up Video & Tweets

Last week, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Below is a video of some footage that I took on the floor. Unfortunately, my microphone adapter broke so I was not able to hold any interviews - gotta get that fixed for next year!

Also, I've embedded a list of Tweets that I shared if you weren't following the action last week. Check it out! If you can't see the tweets below, click here.

Just to be clear, tablets are not laptop replacements - they are somewhat "fun" accessories to your main computer. It's great for taking things on the go. And Google has hit the nail on the head in terms of size, power, and battery life.

The Nexus is a 7 inch tablet that offers great portability without significantly sacrificing visual detail. It feels like a book in your hands, which makes it easier to pull out while on a subway or late night reading in the bed. It makes the 10 inch iPad feel unwieldly in comparison.

Being smaller helps. The 7 inch form factor also offers a better gaming experience. Many games that I tend to like - such as side scrolling platformers like Sonic the Hedgehog or first person shooters like Modern Combat - have touch screen versions of control pads and buttons, and it's more comfortable to wrap your hands around a 7 inch device than a 10 inch one.

I enjoy being able to download any file from the internet, even if I can't open it on the Nexus. I can hook it up to a omputer and drag and drop files from the tablet to the computer and vice versa, instead of having to go through iTunes. I can install a video game emulator and play old Nintendo games with a Nintendo Wii controller, something not possible on an iPad. It really feels like connecting a huge flash drive to your computer.

The biggest issue I have with the Nexus 7 is preventing your tablet from slowing to a crawl because too many applications are open. You have to either visit the "Apps" section in settings which is like Task Manager in Windows, or you need to download a third party Task killer application. I went with the latter, and tasks restart after being killed. I found my tablet getting slower and slower, something that was easier to remedy on the iPad.

So the verdict? Power users with some money may still prefer the iPad, but the vast majority of folks should go Nexus 7. It's half the price and close enough in terms of power and available apps to make it the best deal. Just make sure to read up on how to properly close programs so your tablet doesn't slow to a crawl and you'll be good to go!

# Two Tablets Is Not As Insane As You May Think

I've been an iPad user from the beginning, but I'm always wary about remaining tied to one brand. I'm always look for new technology out there that gives the best bang for your buck. Because of that, I'm the proud owner of the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. Now, you may ask, what the hell do you need two tablets for? It turns out that if your work involves constantly flipping between different windows to refer to pieces of information, two tablets may make more sense than you may expect.

During a recent visit at a coffee shop, I needed to test some computer programs that I'm working on. Normally I would use a heavy programming book for reference, but I used my iPad, shown on the left, to display the eBook. I connected my keyboard to the Nexus 7 tablet and began typing away.  It worked very well and it was much easier to navigate than a laptop, since I had one device dedicated to reading and the other strictly for typing.

This can definitely be done with a laptop, but you don't have the benefit of two screens that can each be dedicated to a task. And you get the obvious benefits of dealing with touch and the speed of a mobile system that the tablet provides.

This is just one of the interesting intersection points between the Nexus 7 and iPad tablets - I'll have a longer post coming soon that delves into this more.

# Thank You, Internet

The internet has changed my life. I've been able to easily keep up with old friends, find new friends that share my interests, and keep myself educated on everything from history to electronics. And of course, this blog would be nothing more than a personal journal if I couldn't share it online.

The flag shown above was created by Google and is comprised of several quotes about what makes the internet awesome. Check out some of the quotes in detail in the video embedded below, and add your quote at Google's site.

# Keep Up With Tech Without Going Broke

So I blacked out and when I woke up I had a preorder for the new Google Nexus 7 tablet lined up and ready to go. I swear, it's not my fault! Ok, it is. The good news is that I didn't put myself in any financial trouble because I already had the money stashed away for emergency gadget buying.

I prioritize what's important by allocating a large part of my take home pay after bills, savings, and regular expenses to spend on whatever I want. As you can tell by this blog, I love tech and science. So I save this splurge money every paycheck until I find something I want that's tech and science related, so that I can get it with no worries.

This only works if you go cheap on things that you don't really care for. For me, a big chunk of that is for clothes. I wear clothes until they die and don't care much about what's the fashionable wear for this year or season. I also rarely go out and spend massive amounts on drinks or other expenses involving in clubbing. I spend minimally on this and other stuff so that I can splurge on what I love.

# Tech in the City: Public Transportation

I posted a question to my Google+ profile asking folks about the state of public transportation in their area.  I receieved a miriad of responses that pretty much criss-crossed the country.  Here are a fewbelow (link to the actual post is here)

Romeo Rosado - In Chicago riding a bus or train is a way of life for everyone. Especially in a city where on street parking is so expensive. \$80 gets you a monthly for the Cta (city bus and train) then there's Metra which runs from downtown to the various burbs all around the city. And its like in NYC, everybody rides. From the ceo, to the server at the country club.

Simeon Weinraub - I live in Los Angeles.  Where we have a bus with a (yes, I said a as in one)dedicated lane, people use it. The rest of our system is over-crowded buses, stuck in the same traffic as everybody else. They are building more light rail now, but the construction costs are astronomical, and the securing the right-of-way is a constant political struggle.

Meanwhile, simple and cheap solutions are ignored for prestige projects. We have two large streets that run parallel from the beach to downtown, that all studies show would reduce traffic if they were made one in opposite directions, but some how people have blocked that. We are spending billions widening the 405 freeway, but just to add a high occupancy vehicle lane (2 or more people), not a bus lane, nor light rail (we currently have two train lines that run on the existing right-of-way of a freeway, and those trains get used, they never get caught at crossings, they are never blocked by traffic, and nobody had to have their house knocked over to build them.)

I can say that the two newest rail lines are great! The Gold line runs from Pasadena to East LA in arc through Downtown LA, through all kinds of neighborhood, in a way that is actually useful. And the new Expo line that is opening this year will go from Downtown LA, to the beach in Santa Monica, in a paththat actually stops where people need to go.

Lark Fleming - In LA middle class people in general don't use public transit. It's becoming more common among people who are younger, but people in the 30ish range and older it is pretty rare. In LA pt is viewed as something gross. It's getting better in regards to perception, but it's still rare to be like me (have the money to buy a car and maintain a car) and to not own a car.

Also it's easier to take public transit's more desirable mode, the train, if you live in the more gentrified higher priced neighborhoods. In LA public transit is not exactly a choice, because the poorer neighborhoods and less desirable neighborhoods have very limited transit or very unfavorable transit. In LA if you''re a poor single mom you can't afford to take public transit. Many working class jobs in LA require you to own a car in order to apply.

Laya White - Baltimore's public transportation is somewhere in the middle - not as great as larger cities but not the worst either. The one subway line and the one Light Rail line are primarily for commuters traveling in and out of the city. We also have the Marc Train, which runs between Baltimore, DC, and WV. If you're traveling within the city it's primarily by bus, and the bus system has come a long way in the last 10 years.  Getting around the city is one thing but if you're trying to get to or around many of the suburbs and nearby communities, or to and from DC on the weekend, you are SOL.

darren keith - St. Louis fails to realize that in order to grow a city sometimes you have to spend money. St. Louis and labor has always wanted something for nothing when it comes to wages. This city fails to realize that we are all in the same boat. It just irks me that this country of ours has one of the worst public transportation in the world.

Erin McCargar - Nashville's system is pretty much bus only, with one commuter rail line from satellite city into town that stops in one suburb. While they finally created a decent bus depot downtown, the buses themselves are of highly varying quality, and from all reports are a pain to use, usually adding 4-5 hours to a trip of any real length.

Jasmine Lee - I live in Houston and public transportation here is a mess. The bus system has an okay route system in the city and limited routes outside the city limits. If you live in the suburbs there are park and ride stations here and there (so you still need a car to ride the bus if you live in the 'burbs). We finally got a train that goes from downtown to the medical center, but unless you work or live in that area, you still need a car. I would love to have the option to ride a train or bus to work.

Derek Arnold In Cleveland and Akron (where I was raised and where I currently live, respectively), as in a lot of the midwest, the "mass transit is for poor folks" mantra is often repeated. I spent the first 33 years in life without a car because of industrious use of transit (I could get most of where I wanted/needed to go but it put some jobs/opportunities out of touch without some help). I would certainly take mass transit to/from work but because I live in the core city (Akron) and work in a suburb of another core city (Solon, OH--suburb of Cleveland), it would take several hours a day to commute.
Raphaela Weissman - Seattle transportation consists entirely of semi-reliable buses. A lot of the goings-on in the city are catered to drivers (sample conversation at a new job: Employer: "Now, parking can be tricky..." Me: "I don't have a car." Employer: "Okay. Well, just so you know... [10 minute speech about parking].")

Every time I leave Google+ and duck back into the Twitterverse, I get frustrated at a few things:

1) Lack of stickiness. It is way too easy to miss posts. I have a bunch of Twitter lists that help, but I still end up doing a lot of scrolling. Messages that can fit in what G+ message are only broken up into dozens of tweets, filling my stream. This also has the opposite effect - if I tweet, I usually get all of the responses that I'm going to get within an hour or so. My G+ posts get responses, likes, and shares days after I post them.

2) Spammers. I'm sure G+ will get its fair share of spammers and bots, but I haven't seen any yet. I hate when i get an @ reply based on one of my posts matching some random bot algorithm.

3) Lack of visualization. Twitter's stream of text is beginning to look boring. I really, really love how visual G+ is, with pics and videos (yes, and animated Gifs) right in the browser.

These are issues that I learned to deal with before Google+, mainly because Twitter is so much better than alternatives like Facebook when it comes to having a conversation. But now, they stick out like a sore thumb.

# Google+ For iPhone: Needs a Bit More Time In The Oven

The Google+ app has replaced the Calculator on my home screeen

Google finally released an iPhone app for its Google+ social network. However, there are a few things that are missing - things that make it hard for me to depend on the app for my mobile social networking needs.

Photo Problems

The good news is that I can take a photo on the iPhone and upload it directly to Google+, which is great for random daily shots. However, the pics automatically go into its own album.  If I have an existing album that I want to add photos to, I can't.  Also, I can't create an entirely new album and add photos to it.  These are all things that I can do in the Facebook app, and really helps to keep track of photos taken during a trip.

Post Management

Tagging people in posts is totally borked. It brings up a list of random users that I may or may not be connected with, instead of prioritzing people that I've already added to circles like the desktop version of Google+ does.  This is especially inconvenient when commenting on posts whcih a large amount of existing comments.

When I'm Twitter, I'm a constant retweeter.  I believe in spreading info that people have already provided, which also gives them credit.  Unfortunately, I can't do that in the Google+ app. I can vote up (or +1) posts that I like, but I can't +1 individual comments.

Other Annoyances

Most icons within the app do not change at all when you press them.  If I press a button, I can't tell if the app has frozen, if the app didn't register my touch, or if the app is just taking its sweet time to load. It's incredibly annoying.