Tag Archive 'collaboration'

Oct 20 2011

Play In Mines

Minecraft.

Creeper

The Face of Minecraft

I feel guilty posting about a game that costs money to purchase (though there is a free version), but the hours you put into playing it will make it feel like you got a deal. Also, this isn’t a typical video game, in that it doesn’t cost $300+ for the console and $60+ for the actual game.  If you are reading this post, you can play this game. It’s available in Pocket Edition, playable on your Android, for $6.99  as well as its original format on the PC for $21.99 (Windows, Mac & Linux).  If don’t mind missing out on the fancier features, you can always play it for free in your browser!

What makes Minecraft great? Well, while the game itself is fun and frankly addictive, the community that has sprung up around the game is fun and impressive.  Even the de facto official Wiki is run by volunteers.  There are also thriving forums all over the internet full of active members who create their own mods for the game and share them with others.  You can get everything from a mini-map to new skins for your world and yourself.

However, what I feel makes Minecraft truly fun is its multi-player aspect.  There are many open servers available to the public (though care must be taken to avoid griefers and unsuitable mining mates), though I’ve found it far more rewarding to play on a  private server with friends.  In fact, my favorite place to mine is on a server that a summer class put together.

Besides, who doesn’t get a sense of satisfaction out of building something like this:

Minecraft Creation: Falling Water

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

Or this:

NES Sprites

NES Sprites

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Sep 22 2011

Audio Resources on the Web

Published by under Audio Stuff,Media Stuff

Over the summer, I took a variety of interesting classes.  The most interesting was a Computer Science course called Digital Storytelling.  One week of assignments had to do with creating audio narratives.  I expected these projects to be challenging, not only because I don’t think strongly in terms of sound, but also because I didn’t know of many sites on the web that offered sound bites freely available for use (see: Creative Commons).  Thankfully, my professors had taken it upon themselves to solve this problem for us and compile a useful list of websites.

Ear buds

Sounds by Fey Ilyas on Flickr

If you’re not taking a music course or something like Digital Storytelling where the professor is directly asking you to for some kind of audio work, you might find that a bit of audio spruces up an otherwise visual-only presentation (think PowerPoint, or a video project).  You might be surprised!

Here are the resources:

Freesound.org — A site that aims to create a “huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps,” and is all available under the Creative Commons license.

Free Music Archive — The FMA is directed by the WFMU, “the most renowned freeform radio station in America,” and was created out of the belief that the radio has always been a venue to offer free public access to new music and should continue to do so.  However, this purpose is often undermined by licenses that were not made in (and could not predict) the digital era.  Here at FMA, you will find great mp3s you can feel good about downloading.

ccMixter — This is a self-described “community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses.” Here you’ll find the opportunity to be endlessly creative and mingle with fellow music lovers.

Internet Archive — The Internet Archive is a fascinating place that I have yet to really explore.  The IA is attempting to create an Internet library in an age and space where sites and sounds are ephemeral.  Content that appears on a site one day may be completely different the next.  This is a great stop for more than just audio.

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Feb 12 2010

You Are What You Annotate

Now that the semester is moving forward you are probably trying to focus on being a productive student. So you came here to find some help in, right? Of course right. If you spend a lot of time researching on the internet there is a site called Diigo that you should check out.

To put it briefly Diigo is a highlighting, bookmarking and site sharing tool.

One of the reasons I started using Diigo was, it gave me the ability to highlight and place sticky notes on webpages. When I have to read a long online text for class a tool like Diigo gives me the option to directly annotate (take notes) on those pieces. So instead of printing out a bunch of pages I just bring my laptop to class and read my (searchable) notes. Plus, I am saving the environment, right? The notations have different setting: private, public, or shared with group. So depending on your need there are different settings. A fun little bonus to using Diigo is if anyone else has it installed on their computer and they place a sticky note on a webpage and make it a public note then anyone else who also has diigo can see it too.

Another great feature of Diigo is the ability to archive webpages in html and image formats. This is more than just being able to bookmark a page for later use, it gives you the ability to capture a site at a moment in time. This can come in handy for websites that have an ever changing face, like Wikipedia. Once you have saved a page in this format through Diigo they become searchable within your personal archive. So, if you can’t remember what words you used to tag a bookmark (or didn’t tag at all, shame on you!) you can find the page by remembering words that appeared on the page itself.

Whether it is strictly for your own personal use or for building a list of resources in a community, Diigo is a powerful way to organize and annotate the content on the web.

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Aug 12 2009

Zotero-iffic Redux

As a dedicated Stuff for Starving Students reader I’m sure that you remember the post we did a few months ago on the Firefox add-on Zotero. So I am assuming you know the basics and have been using that add-on for many months now. If not, I would definitely take a look at the post then come right back here for the latest update to one of the sweetest Firefox add-ons.

When we first talked about Zotero it could only live on one computer but the upgrade that everyone has been waiting for has occurred. Now, Zotero allows you to access your library from any computer so you no longer have to worry about being at your computer to access your research information. Even better is you can now collaborate with other users through group libraries, so sharing the information you have come across in your research is even easier.

Zotero Groups Screenshot
cc licensed flickr photo shared by umwdtlt

Now with the access to your library anywhere and collaborative group libraries you have no reason not to use this add-on for your research. I know you are probably so used to doing things a certain way but, try it for at least one paper or project and I am sure you will see what all of us at Stuff for Starving Students love so much about Zotero. If you are not satisfied we have a money-back guarantee so what are you waiting for? 😉

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Aug 04 2009

ResearchGATE: Get Your Science 2.0 On

Attention all you budding young scientists (and you older ones too!), here is your chance to make some scholarly connections. If you’ve been around the internet you’ve probably noticed the plethora of social networking websites, tools for collaboration, discussion, and search engines. If you are a scientist and have been looking for a place that brings all the previously mentioned tools together (and more), pull out your microscope and take a closer look at ResearchGATE.

First of all ResearchGATE acts as a social networking site that allows you to create a profile that lists all your important information (your papers, interests, skills, etc). You can then add other researchers and scientists as contacts. This opens the door for possible research partners in the future. Like other social networking sites ResearchGATE allows the users to create groups around interests and topics. The significance of have such a feature for researchers has already been seen during the current swine flu crisis. At the end of April 2009, ResearchGATE blogged about a group that had formed to discuss influenza research. Within a short time the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) contacted ResearchGATE to offer their support for the activities of the research group.

A key feature of ResearchGATE is its ability to allow researchers to collaborate more effectively and efficiently over the web. It enables easy document sharing and participation so there is limited confusion on edits and saves time on e-mailing documents back and forth.

Lastly, ResearchGATE’s powerful search engine gives you the semantic advantage when searching. There is not only internal access to the documents other researchers put up on the site but, it also can search externally with access to over 30 million documents publication metadata. In addition, the Similar Abstract Search Engine (SASE) lets you submit an entire abstract and the intelligent design of the search algorithms will bring up relevant and related research, very cool. The search capabilities of the site allow you to easily discover other peoples work and keep track of the research you are most interested in.

Signup is free and most basic services come at no charge and as you know, we like free.

ResearchGATE brings many robust features together in one place and is encouraging more thoughtful and effective collaboration between researchers. We here at Stuff for Starving Students have to wonder are sites like this the next step in the evolution of research? If so, what are the implications of this paradigm shift in communication between researchers? Only time will tell but, it is exciting to see the glimmer of what the future might hold.

Image in post is cc licensed flickr photo shared by pheezy

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Jun 12 2009

Create & Collaborate

This latest cool stuff was pointed out to me by Patrick Murray-John who once again has found a rockin’ tool. Creately is an online tool that lets you create diagrams and designs and collaborate with others on said stuff. This is one of the best programs I have seen for diagram and design collaboration because not only is it intuitive but it also comes jam-packed with lots of useful features and lots of granular control.

Creately Screenshot

The objects are smart and have features that only appear when you need them to by clicking on them. The tool has hundreds of features but does not overwhelm you with a myriad of menus and buttons. The toolbar is simple and elegant too. Images can be stretched, skewed, and inverted. You can change colors, size, font and there is an infinite undo and redo button (yay!). The tool saves revisions so you can revert back (like wikipedia) if necessary. There are lots more features I could talk about but it is better if you go there and try it out for yourself. Creately is a powerful tool and most importantly (to this site at least) it is free!

Collaboration is made easy by clicking the share button in the upper-right hand corner and sending it off to your fellow collaborators. You can also leave comments to discuss the diagram/design and Creately allows you to intelligently point to a specific piece within the diagram/design so other people know exactly what you are talking about. There is little confusion when using this tool, it is really user friendly. Another great feature that is simple but important is the ability to export what you have created. There is the option of creating an image, PDF, XML, or to send it off in an e-mail. You’d be surprised how many tools that work great don’t have great options for exporting what you create, for this Creately gets extra bonus points.

As of today (6/12/09) it is in private beta but, I got an account easily enough and within half an hour I was playing around with Creately. So next time you have a group project that requires designing or diagramming I expect you will enlighten your group about this awesome tool. And go ahead and take the glory for making the group project much easier through your “discovery” of this cool tool, I won’t tell them where you heard about it.

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