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Festival Of The Photograph

Archive for January 2019

The secret to finding high quality educational iOS apps

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If you’re looking to spread your digital wings a bit, you probably want to find some of the highest quality educational iOS apps available. You probably head over to the official Apple App Store on your chosen iDevice and check out the ‘featured’ area and perhaps the ‘Top Sellers’ list. That’s great and a solid way to see what is being used on devices around the world. 

For the most part, though, all those top apps are either just big names or have had some recent promotion. As someone who once made an iPad app, I know what it’s like to try and get your app onto one of those promoted areas in the App Store. You would do just about anything because, as I found out, your sales and download numbers skyrocket as soon as you crack the top 100 apps in your category.

So how should you avoid the crazy featured and top sellers lists? By becoming familiar with the category filters, of course! It’ll look something like this on your computer:

See that small little link that says ‘Education Collections’ on the right below ‘iPhone Education’? That’s where you want to focus. It’s out of the way and most people don’t use it.

That’s the secret.

You want to use that link to filter down your app choices into what you actually want. That’s how you find the highest quality educational iOS apps that you wouldn’t normally see surfaced on the main App Store. For example, it’s a great way to find apps for elementary school students who need some STEM activities. Or perhaps it’s a great way to find an app for students in need of special education. Maybe just a handy to-do list for teachers gearing up for the new school year? It’s simple to find all this stuff and you don’t even need to search!

Archive for January 2019

Will Steam Powered Automobiles Make A Comeback?

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The man has used steam as a source of energy for numerous years now. It was used to fuel locomotives and ships across the world for decades. The next obvious step would be to attempt and develop a steam-powered automobile that could be utilized on an everyday basis.

A car that is fuelled and powered by a steam engine is not out of the question as some prototypes have already been produced. Steam-powered agricultural and haulage vehicles are in use now but are really heavy in weight. Steam vehicles were in fact developed and produced at a steady rate in the early 1900s as steam was the major source of energy for trains at the time and the information to run an engine was already in place.

That information truly gave the steam auto a benefit more than a conventional gas auto and in 1900 steam cars were deemed to be superior and held numerous speed records on land for automobiles. However, by the time 1920 rolled about, the gas-powered auto had taken more than in good quality and popularity.

1 of the significant troubles with steam vehicles is its boiler. The boiler makes up most of the full mass of the drive train of the car, and this adds significantly to the overall weight of the vehicle. Yet another boiler-related issue is the fact that the driver would somehow have to make confident it has a continuous supply of water to replenish the boiler. This indicates the water has to be carried or the auto would have to have a condenser built into it. But this would just add much more weight as properly as an inconvenience.

At the time, a steam automobile did have some advantages to it. The engine itself, without the boiler, was lighter and smaller than a gas engine. It was also much more suited to the torque and speed characteristics of the axle. This meant it did not demand a complex and heavy transmission program like the gas auto. Steam cars also ran quieter than gas models, even without having some form of muffler system.

The significant distinction between the two varieties of vehicles is that a steam engine utilizes an external combustion engine, exactly where fuel is combusted outwards from the motor. The gas vehicle uses the internal combustion engine, which means the fuel is truly combusted inside the engine. One of the advantages of an external engine is that it produces lower emissions of carbon monoxide, oxides, nitrogen, as well as unburned carbon. This makes it a lot better for the environment when it comes to less pollution.

However, steam vehicles had been harder to start and took a whilst to warm up. When the electric starter was introduced it essentially meant the end for external combustion engines when it came to vehicles. But the internal combustion engine was not truly superior when it came to fuel economy, range, and performance.

Steam vehicles have not completely fallen by the wayside and some projects have been worked on because of the 1970s. They are still made and driven, though primarily by hobbyists and steam car enthusiasts. In August of 1999, a steam automobile was able to reach an average speed of 148.308 mph. Whilst steam cars are still a possibility for future use, the feeling of most researchers is that the time of the vehicles has come and gone.

Archive for January 2019

Against “Gunman”

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Gary Marbut is the sanest, safest, most extreme gun advocate you’d ever want to meet, and I wanted to meet him. He lives in a geodesic dome he built himself on family land outside Missoula, MT, where he sells shooting range targets he makes himself and keeps a vast collection of guns that shoot ammo he loads himself. Gary is a gun nut, but he’s also a gun safety nut, responsible use of firearms nut, and not coincidentally, an excellent instructor in the safe use of firearms. He guided me from utter ignorance to shooting my way through a tactical course in a matter of hours. Despite the fact that he is always armed — always — I would say you’re safer running into Gary Marbut on a dark street corner than you would be in a minivan with a teenage driver.

My day with Gary was filmed for the documentary I’ve been making for PBS on the US Constitution, and when it’s broadcast in May you’ll be able to see Gary (and me) in action on the gun range, and hear his arguments for why the US Government shouldn’t be able to regulate the manufacture and sale of weapons within a state. But during our day together, and after, I engaged Gary in a conversation on gun control. Gary, unsurprisingly, is not in favor of legal restrictions on gun ownership. He believes, profoundly, that an armed society is a safer society, and in an email to me, talked about how important it is for all the “good guys” to have guns, and know h0w to use them properly and safely, in order to defend themselves and others from the “bad guys.”

That division, between the good and the bad among us, is what underlies most of our talk, and a lot of our legislation, about guns. We can’t pass restrictions on gun ownership, we are told, because “law-abiding gun owners” would suffer, while “criminals” would, of course, ignore the laws against gun ownership in the same way they ignore the laws against robbery, rape, and murder. I live in Chicago, where we have no shortage of “bad guys” with guns, and yes, it’s hard to imagine they’d be stopped by laws banning their ownership of guns. They haven’t been so far.

But I thought about this reading the New York Times‘ coverage of the shootings in Newtown. Time and again, they referred to the actions of the “gunman.” This is understandable. He is a man with a gun. And it would be horrifying if they were gone by standard New York Times style, and refer to a “Mr. Lanza” repeatedly as he murdered 20 children and six teachers.

But that term, “gunman,” is the first, mild term on a spectrum of alienation that leads down to “monster,” “coward,” “face of evil,” any and all of which might make us feel better as we loathe and scorn Adam Lanza, and reject him from human society, but it’s also is a way of reinforcing that “good guy/bad guy” dichotomy. You hear it now, from Rep. Louis Gohmert this morning on Fox News, and you will hear it more in coming days: we will have no choice but to arm the good guys because there’s no other way of stopping the bad guys.

As far as I know — and you should take everything in this post to be “as far as I know” — Adam Lanza had no criminal record, no record of hospitalization for mental illness, nothing that would have prevented him from legally owning all the weapons he used Friday. And since he didn’t actually own them — his mother did — let’s use other examples. Until the moment he grabbed his gun and killed his girlfriend, Jovan Belcher was a law abiding gun owner. Until the moment he shot Trayvon Martin, so was George Zimmerman. So was James Holmes until he opened fire at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. So was Jeffery Giuliano, the Connecticut retired cop who shot and killed his own son, thinking him to be an armed intruder. Actually, Mr. Giulano still is a law-abiding gun owner — no charges were filed.

I have no wisdom, and no prescription, and no advice as to what we as a country — who have decided, collectively, through our laws and our elected representatives to make access to guns ever and ever easier — can or should do now. I just make jokes on the radio about less important things. But I feel it’s important to remember: the villains, the bad guys, the ones we have to be afraid of an arm against, are, to a greater extent than we like to admit, ourselves.

Archive for January 2019

What Happened to Your €œWord€ Being Worth Something?

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I have been shopping through online classifieds looking for a generator to use with my camp trailer. Not an essential item, but something I want and I am willing to shop around for. I want to find a decent deal before making a purchase, but I have a specific model in mind I would like. This model is quiet, puts on the watts and amps I need and is unfortunately fairly expensive. Yesterday I found one available in the price range I was willing to spend recently posted on KSL Classifieds, one of the main sites I have been watching.

Typically good deals on these particular classifieds are sold fast. By fast I mean if you don’t jump on the chance you might as well not make the call. I jumped on this one and was happy to find the generator I wanted was in good shape, was hardly used, and most of all were available! I jumped. I committed to the purchase, said I would pay the full asking price and would make arrangements to pick it up that night. A deal was struck, at least in my mind.

The difficulty here is that the seller was located a solid hour and a half from where I live, so I needed to make the trek to pick it up. With a family, it is not always possible to jump in the car and leave. My wife was out and I was “parenting” (not called babysitting in our home), so I had to wait until my wife was back to see when it would work for me to take the 3 hours to pick it up.

My wife came home and we discussed going that evening to pick it up, only perhaps 4 hours later, but as quick as I could arrange it. I gave the seller a call back only to be told, “Sorry, I already sold it to someone else. I am meeting him right now.”

I was floored. Yes, he had already sold it, TO ME! Even more frustrating, he felt no responsibility to me whatsoever.

I suspect he was offered more money by the later buyer, but that is beside the point. We had an agreement to which he should have felt obligated. I gave my commitment to pay his price, and he agreed to sell it to me. We agreed that I would pick it up later that day. His word was obviously only as good as the next highest bidder.

It was just a stupid generator, and another deal will eventually come along. I am sure many of your reading is thinking “Get over it” but it was something that stuck with me because I let my ill feelings for this guy to fester. After a few opportunities to complain to some friends about it, though, I started to think about the meaning I could pull out of this event.

So how good is our word these days? Are we always on the lookout to slight out fellow man so that we can come ahead? When you make a commitment, do you follow through? I would never try to portray that I am perfect in any regard, but at least I feel an obligation to follow through when I make a commitment.

In the business world, especially an entrepreneurial one, your reputation is your biggest asset. Word of mouth advertising is based entirely on having earned the trust of an individual to the point that they will refer you to another business or individual. Much of my business experience has been based on this level of trust and method of marketing.

There is a place for legal documents, binding agreements, etc. There is also a place where written agreements should be unnecessary. In a simple person-to-person situation, you should be able to have a verbal agreement and have confidence that both sides will keep their site of the commitment.

Perhaps I am just old school, or better put naïve. I believe people when they tell me something, particularly commitments. This does make me the easy butt of jokes that rely on gullibility, but I’m ok with that. Days like yesterday make me question whether my rose colored glasses are getting more tarnished and if the cynic in me is going to become the dominant personality. I do have a strong cynical side, but I try hard to keep it in check.

But, today is a new day, and I woke up telling myself to the events of yesterday behind me and keep my trust in others. If there is anything good I can take from this is to remember to be good to my word. I know what it is like to be slighted, and the feeling is not a good one. Hopefully, this little life lesson can be one that pricks your consciousness as well, and you too can commit to your commitments. Little things like this can make the world a better place.

Archive for January 2019

Wanted: Translator Who Speaks Fluent Teenager

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Okay, …it has happened…I turned into my mother.

But worst than that somehow during my sleep I was picked up by an alien space ship and dropped on some unknown planet where the residents look like my teenage daughter. This creature has her face, voice and blond hair but the similarities stop there. I was sitting at my kitchen table (or at least the hologram image of my table) innocently sipping my Mocha- Java International Coffee and looked up to see this creature in my daughter’s skin oddly staring back at me. This is where I made my first mistake…I smiled back. Now not realizing I was no longer ON EARTH I wasn’t aware that a smile is the expression of pure hostility on this new planet. The “my daughter look-a-like” glared back at me and yelled, “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???”

Next mistake…I spoke back. Not knowing the sound of my voice would send this creature into a horrible frenzy of confusion and contempt. In 15 seconds I learned I had caused her break-out on her forehead, her hair is frizzy, her alarm clock waking her up late, someone breaking in overnight and stealing ALL her wearable clothes …leaving her NOTHING to wear and I think the Fall of Rome. The third mistake…trying to “reason” with the said creature in pink lip gloss. This is where the confusion of the languages came in. I being the kind of mom that offers advice came up with what I thought was a solution to the problems keeping this creature from functioning. I suggested applying some pimple cream to the third eye appearing on her forehead…this I found her ears to hear…WEAR A LARGE SIGN SAYING I AM A PIMPLE COVERED GEEK!

Moving onto the frizzy hair I suggested she use some of the smoothing gel I had searched 15 stores to find…but again her ears heard…WEAR A BAG OVER YOUR HEAD SO NO ONE WILL SEE YOU!

I thought I would be safe discussing the alarm clock…I mentioned how maybe she had hit the snooze button…but in the alien planet air that was heard as…SEE I KEEP TELLING ALL MY FRIENDS HOW LAZY YOU ARE!

Now I must admit by this point my sugar-free, fat-free Mocha-Java coffee was cold, I was worn out and this may not have been the time to try and “teach” the creature anything…so when I suggested her “nothing to wear” dilemma was maybe caused by her never getting her clothes into the hamper to be washed…I should have known this was declaring war in alien speak. As they say, …if looks could kill…well, let’s just say I’d be typing this from a cloud. The creature squealed a horrible high pitch wail…flipped it’s hair and stormed out of the room…I was certain to gather reinforcements from its fellow creatures and come back to eat me alive. So I decided to re-heat my coffee in the microwave as I would need all the strength I could muster. Now here is the part that just made my day…behind me the creature had been greeted by her father…my husband…and this is the exchange I overheard… “Good Morning sweetie.” “Hi, Daddy…I love you, have a good day.” “Love you too.”

And I realized at that moment that the 17 hours of labor pains I had were just hitting their peak now…15 years later.

Archive for January 2019

Trying Way Too Hard to be in Style

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So what is it about people that are so overly concerned with being a part of the latest style trends that they will wear things that look oh so ridiculous on them? Though you expect this to some degree with teenagers and college types, when you get a little “older” you just need to be a little more comfortable in having your own style.

This topic has come to mind for two reasons. First, we just had a guy visit our office wearing what I consider to be the most effeminate getup for a straight guy I have seen in recent memory. Second, I have a real beef with people who do not dress to their body type.

Trying Way Too Hard to be in Style

I have to be a little careful I guess because some of the people that read this blog will know who I am talking about. Oh well, throw a little caution to the wind, right? So on to my rant.

This guy that just came in the office, to remain unnamed, was wearing khaki caprices, a white t-shirt with a pink sweater vest and some weird small billed (almost beanie) kind of hat on backward. I am a pretty tolerant guy when it comes to fashion sense because I am no stylistic expert myself, but this getup frankly had the entire office snickering until he left; then it was a full on laugh fest once the door shut on his way out.

It was obvious he thought he was pretty hip with what he was wearing and had put a lot of thought into the ensemble. Perhaps he should think a little less and simplify his approach to his daily wear. I might have thought I was way off base with my thinking had I not see and heard the resounding affirmative chuckles. It wasn’t even the color that bothered me that much, it was the entire presentation that threw it over the top.

The style is subjective, I realize this, though within current styles there is a wide range of options that work for better for different people. Any normal person can look in the mirror and have a general sense if something works or not, at least one would think.

This takes me to my next part of the beef, dressing for your body type. For this one, my rant points squarely to teenage girls for the most part. I see this with some others of other ages and gender, but by far the majority of my observations have been with those angst-ridden young ladies. So many just can’t seem to realize that not all of the latest trends work for their body type.

Trying Way Too Hard to be in Style

First of all, this is not a personal shot at people that are overweight, particularly tall or short, etc. The simple reality is that we all are different and very few of us fit the advertised norm that so many styles are based on. So all PC out of the way, some of us are fatter than others and most of us poke out in places that the models don’t. Deal with it.

The other day I was out at lunch with co-workers and the girl in front of us was rather round, which for the last time I will express the necessary PC in saying weight is not the point here, so move on from any thoughts to rebut my callousness. What bothered me was the fact that she was trying to pull off the ultra-short jacket look over a longer undershirt. Rather than give structure to accentuate the fact that her top half was narrower than her bottom half, it looked like she had squeezed into her daughter’s jacket or caught in a sudden rainstorm that caused ultra-shrinkage of the fabric. She looked like she was about to bust a seam. The undershirt was then extra long and stretched to capacity over her more than ample backside. Short version, it highlighted all the wrong features in a big way.

I see kind of thing oh so often with those teenage girls, especially with the whole midriff bearing styles. Girls, if you have a pooch, or perhaps better-termed gut, don’t wear the hip hugger jeans with short shirts. A belly is only attractive to be seen sticking out, frankly if it doesn’t stick out. I don’t need the extra attention to your fat roll.

I won’t spend extra time trying to balance this article with examples for skinny people, tall people, etc. You get the point. Dress for your body type. This is not to say that all people with a few or more than a few extra pounds need to wear baggy clothes either. Wear what looks good on you and makes you look good. Simple concept. Pick a swimsuit that works. Tuck or don’t tuck shirts appropriately. Do or don’t wear those tighter clothes depending on what works. If you need help, take a friend when buying your clothes and give them carte blanch to tell you exactly what looks good and what doesn’t. It may hurt a little at the time, but you will be thankful later on.

Oh, and if you were wondering, I know what “structure” in clothing is because I’ve caught an episode or two of What Not To Wear on TLC with my wife. Perhaps a few episodes of this show should be standard viewing to kids to give them some basics.

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