Thursday, November 5, 2015

Climbing a virtual mountain, Cesium, and other big life moments

Much has happened since my last update, but I'll keep it simple. Last August, my lovely wife finished her awesome dissertation on the roots and development of toxic discourse in science fiction. With her PhD and job offer in hand, we left the University of Illinois for Oklahoma City (Urbana we will always love you).

Initially, I kept working remotely for the National Science Foundation grant, EnLiST, continuing the analysis of our teaching and learning network data and helping UIUC faculty plan for future grants. Eventually I did hit the job market, and became the instructional technologist for the Center for Learning and Teaching at Oklahoma City Community College.

What does that mean? Basically, it means making sure the college stays up-to-date with technological change. Some days this means helping faculty with changes in our learning management system (LMS). Other days, it means building 3D models, visualizations, and applications for learning (such as this digital mountain).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Here's a holiday gift guide to help you get started in drones

While drones have some great potential both as a tool and an educational hobby, it can be rather intimidating to get started.

There's just so many platforms and widgets to choose from, and it seems every day someone is launching a new type of drone. As I pointed out in a recent post on the sensor journalism Google group, I actually think the market might be bottoming out for creating drone hardware, so hopefully the selection process will be easier in the future.

Complicating the matter is that drones can crash or fly off if they lose a GPS lock, risks that are substantially higher when you're just starting off. Having a $1,000 drone fly off with a $300 camera is not a fun or rewarding introduction to drones and remotely piloted aircraft systems.

So, I've made a holiday gift guide for Make Magazine to show people options for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced drone operator.

If you've never flown a remote controlled aircraft before, I highly recommend something like the Walkera Ladybird. Myself, I've had a fair bit of luck with Quanum Nova, which has an attractive feature set and price for intermediate operators who don't need to loft heavy cameras or go beyond visual line of sight.

Whatever drone you end up choosing for yourself or a special someone, remember to drone responsibly. That means, among other things, picking up an AMA membership and the complimentary insurance that comes with it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A call for journalists and makers to join hands around IOT and evidence-based journalism

Writing for Al Jazeera English, D. Parvaz reported on a recent conference for atomic experts organized by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), where it was remarkably difficult to get answers from atomic experts.

The conference, titled “International Experts’ Meeting on Radiation Protection after the Fukushima Daiichi Accident – Promoting confidence and understanding,” was generally closed to the media. Journalists received presentations on USB drives, but were not given any opportunities for Q&A. The media handlers were pleasant, but not very helpful, Parvaz noted.

Great! I requested an interview with the IAEA Scientific Secretariat, Tony Colgan (no can do). Or a statement on why the conference was closed to the media (not so much). How about an IAEA expert on the effects of radiation on sea life? (Nope).

For a conference designed to “promote confidence and understanding” with the public, there was very little engagement with the public. Despite this, Parvaz did find one group of presenters who were very helpful and answered her questions.