Action Items from Blogging While Brown 2014

The Blogging While Brown conference, now in its 7th year, is a great place for bloggers of color to convene, learn, and have fun.  I attended for the second time, and while it was fun to return home to the New York area, I wanted to leave with some action items to implement.  I'm going to make the list public so that I can be held accountable - feel free to call me out!

  1. Develop a writing schedule
    • Currently aim for weekly content, but I'd to do something more concrete.  I'm going to start writing 30 min on Mon, Wed, and Fri  - even if that means only one blog post goes out a week. The end goal is to have 2-3 posts a week.
  2. Investigate STEM freelancing opportunities
    • Begin pitching article ideas to publications that I'm already reading.  Even if I'm rejected several times, I'll still gain valuable pitch writing skills.
  3. Provide STEM services for local businesses
    • Starting with the local Chamber of Commerce, I'm going to create a list of small businesses that may benefit from someone with a STEM background.  Eventually I'm going to increase the range from Milwaukee to Chicago
  4. Increase Science / Math tutoring opportunities
    • Get list of existing tutoring opportunities in libraries, churches, community centers, etc that fit the hours of 6-8 on weekdays or anytime on the weekends.
    • Consider starting my own tutoring service
  5. Speak at a conference
    • Create a speaker link on the site, which will borrow content from the Press section. The section will include a list of topics I can speak on, and video / photography of me speaking.
    • After the section is created, I can refer to it when apply to science related conferences for speaking.



Space Living: Now and the Future

Astronauts are currently enjoying space living and travel via the International Space Station (ISS), but what about the future? If the answer is on a government owned site, we're all lost. Almost all government websites and social media accounts are offline due to the government shutdown here in the good old United States. Luckily, the inefficiency of Congress doesn't reach out to Earth orbit, because past and present astronaut bios are still online (probably hosted on a non-government server), and the astronauts in the ISS are still tweeting!  Check out this wonderful shot from astronaut Luca Parmitano (@Astro_Luca)

Luca and others are living that space life. Former astronaut Garret Reisman visited the Q&A website Quora to give us some insight on what it's like to transition into life in space. Via Quora:

At first it's just weird.  
All kinds of things are happening to your body.  Your vestibular system is all messed up - your inner ear isn't working at all and it's sending garbage signals to your brain.  Your heart, which is used to pumping against gravity to do its most important job, delivering oxygenated blood to your brain, is now pumping too much and your head gets all puffed-up.  (I woke up in the middle of my first night in orbit and wondered why I was standing on my head for a few seconds, until I realized, no - I was just in space.)  When you close your eyes to go to sleep, you see lightning flashes inside your eyeballs.
And you have a hard time just moving around.  The first day is filled with apologies as you inevitably kick or elbow your crewmates as you thrash around like a fish out of water.
But eventually you get the hang of it, and for those of us who were lucky enough to do long-duration missions, about a month into flight you finally really get used to it.  Then you wake up in the morning, float out of your sleeping bag, shoot across the space station like superman and turn a few somersaults on the way to the galley for breakfast. 
Now you are a real spaceman!

It's pretty amazing that it takes a month to get used to it.  It usually takes me a few days to get over something as simple as jetlag if I'm flying across the country.  Then again, I may be at home in space since here on Earth I'm already known for inevtiably kicking or elbowing people close to me due to my clumsiness.

Below are a few more interesting videos from the Quora thread. Former ISS Commander Sunita Williams gives us a walk through in Nov 2012 before she departs back to Earth.  On the second video, YouTube user VSauce speaks about how long it may take us to truly live amongst the stars. Check them out!

Reefcasting The Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast bite pic.jpg

If you want to watch Netflix and YouTube on your television, you have a few options -  video game console, Blu ray player, smart TV, Apple TV, or Roku Box. Google has developed an alternative that is both more affordable and easier to set up  The Google Chromecast lets any iOS or Android device, as well as any computer running the Google Chrome browser, control video streaming on your television. For $35, it's a steal. Check out my video review below!

Speedrun Through Your Favorite Sci-Fi Movies


If you love science, you probably also love science fiction (sci-fi) movies.  Sometimes you just don't have the time to watch the entire movie, but you need a quick fix. I found a great YouTube user account - 1A4Studio - who does beautiful hand drawn versions of sci-fi flicks that are only one minute long. They are very well done and hilarious - you'll definitely see your favorite scenes!  

40 seconds into Star Wars A New Hope is a marvelous reenactment of the Obi Wan - Darth Vader fight. 26 seconds into the Matrix you see Morpheus doing the STOP TRYING TO HIT ME AND HIT ME stance during the dojo fight. 40 seconds into Back to The Future shows George McFly knocking the stuffing out of Biff with a well-timed Mortal Kombat uppercut.

If you can't see the videos below, please click here.

This post also appears on TWIB.

Adafruit: Learning Electronics The Fun Way

Adafruit, the brainchild of Limor Fried for teaching electronics, has debuted a wonderful cartoon called Circuit Playground. Being an electrical engineer, I love seeing simplified attempts to describe the complexity behind the things that everyone uses - everyone plugs in a lamp!

The video below describes what current actually as - a flow of electrons. Most electronic devices have a suggested rating for amps (normally listed as A) in honor of scientist André-Marie Ampère. Amps is a measure of the amount of electrons that flows per second. Too little amps and the electronic device won't function.  Too many and it'll fry!

If you can't see the video below, click here.


  • Ladyada – Limor Fried
  • Andre-Marie Ampere – Collin Cunningham
  • ADABOT – Collin Cunningham & Phil Torrone, Puppet by Annie Fresh, design by Bruce Yan
  • Music: Tom White & Collin Cunningham
  • Intro animation – Bruce Yan
  • Written, filmed, edited, directed and produced by – Collin Cunningham, Limor Fried, Phil Torrone and the Adafruit team