Category Archives: Weird and Cool

Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Using Google Earth.

litrip1

by Heather Harris Brady

I could actually change this post to second grader, because second graders are tooling around Google Earth too! Regardless, one of the first assignments elementary ipad users receive is to find their house on Google Earth. Authors can use it to enrich their user experiences by mapping the travels of story characters.

In my lit trip, above, I have travel paths marked for my two main characters, as well as a ship that plays a key part in the story. On key destinations I have embedded photos of special items my characters encountered along the way:

paris1878

If you click on the pushpins you can see the images. You can download and view my entire lit trip here. You do need to have installed Google Earth first though.

If you’d like video tutorials on any of these IT posts please send me a request in the comments. I’m keeping them short on purpose, but I can always add more!

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Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Augmented reality.

augmentedreality

by Heather Harris Brady

If you took my hint earlier and downloaded the Layar app (Android, iphone/ipad), then you see this when you view my blog through the app. Hidden stuff! Pretty cool right? You can see a little slideshow with some little factoids about me, and a few other tidbits. (This is a photo I took of my ipad viewing my blog.)

Teachers have started using augmented reality in the classroom to embed richer information in graphics, posters, etc. Writers, of course, can use it as I have here – or you can use it to dress up your promotional posters, book covers, – pretty much anything! I’ve just done a simple demonstration here, but you can get crazy with videos that open up out of the page, etc.

The question becomes, how then, to make this magic happen. Well to do that you need two things:

  1. a creation site to allow you to build the hidden elements, and
  2. a viewer that will allow other people to see them through their phones, web cams and computer cams. Future web browsers will likely have this feature built in, but for now you have to download a viewer.

There are several easy, augmented reality options including Layar and Aurasma. Most work the same way:

  1. Choose a trigger image. For the example above I used my blog header.
  2. Add overlays/auras.
  3. Assign actions to each overlay through pictures, web links, mailto links, etc.

The scripting is done for you behind the scenes, and includes handy features like the slideshow I used above. The free versions of these products are fully functional but ad-supported.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Augmenting a writer’s reality.

by Heather Harris Brady

This year both of my children received school-issued ipads for the first time. Last night my sophomore son sat on the couch with his, combining atoms to make table salt, while my fifth-grade daughter logged into her Google drive account to finish a writing assignment. We all know writing’s a tough business. Most of us hold down at least one other job, and raise a family besides, so keeping up with technology seems like just another thing to keep us away from writing. However, I would argue that if we push it aside for “later” we’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Plus, we are deliberating removing ourselves from the real-world experiences of kids today.

My next few posts are going to focus on the technology showing up in classrooms today, and how it might work with a writer’s lifestyle. Can you find the technology hidden in this blog? You can if you have the free Layar app! (Apple, Android)

Genevieve Estelle Jones (Ohio), Scientific Illustrator

jones_nest_cuckoo

Even though technically it’s not Women’s History Month anymore I’m going to keep these posts going through the year – because these amazing women deserve more!

Ms. Jones, a self-taught scientific illustrator, is having a bit of a posthumous renaissance. There is a new book about her life and an article in a recent issue of Country Living.

Born in Ohio to a somewhat-wealthy, intellectual household, Ms. Jones visited the 1876 Exposition to mend a broken heart after her parents would not allow her to wed her choice of suitor. At the Exposition she saw illustrations from Audubon’s bird studies and decided to illustrate the nests herself. Her father encouraged her in this project, although he cautioned her to limit herself to the birds of Ohio.

Using the same materials as Audubon and nests her father collected, Ms. Jones only finished a small portion of the illustrations before dying of typhoid fever. On her deathbed she asked her family to finish the project for her. They did, although it nearly ruined them financially and several other family members succumbed to typhoid in the process.

In the late 1800’s illustrated large works were financed Kickstarter-style, by subscription. Owners preordered copies and paid in advance to fund the printing. Each plate was printed and then hand-colored. Very few original copies remain, but happily the entire volume is available online for you to enjoy.

During Ms. Jones’ lifetime women had precious few options outside of marriage. I very much admire her drive and determination to find an outlet for her formidable talents. ¬†Although she was not long for this world her work stands the test of time.

View the book

More information here and here

Roman Hairstyles

As a former student of latin and mythology, I have a geeky place in my heart for things Greek and Roman. But a hairdressing archaeologist, how cool is that?

Check out this video!

She has other historic hairstyles posted too, like The Aphrodite knot, perfect for Valentine’s Day!