Category Archives: Geek

I’m a geek and I love nerdy things. This is the category where I share things of general interest to geeks and nerds of all kinds!

Playing around with P2PU and Open Badges.

P2PU Logo from P2PU.org

Gamification and Badgifacation

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows I am very interested in games and how they can be used to influence behaviour. So much so in fact, that a BIG part of my Doctorate in Education work has focused around gamification. A very closely related field is badgification. I originally became interested in it when I noticed how I would continue to play an Xbox game I did not particularly enjoy JUST to continue gathering achievement points. I’m fascinated by the power badges and points hold to keep you engaged in a process that is marginally entertaining just to gather more badges. So, one of the things that has been on my mind for a while is this. I need to work on increasing my coding skills and what better way to do that than to experiment with badgification at the same time! By blogging, I have learned some HTML and CSS and I have studied JavaScript over at Code Academy. However, I stumbled onto P2PU and just HAD to play with their badge system. It looks so cool and it is fully integrated with the Mozilla Open Badge Program. As soon as I figure out how to share my Open Badge Backpack I’ll post a link here.

Anyways, I am now enrolled in the Webmaking 101 Challenge at P2PU. Part of this challenge will have me writing posts over here about things related to webcraft, coding, etc.  This work will then be peer review and eventually, I’ll be rewarded with some cool badges to show off my newly acquired skills. As I progress I’ll also share some of my thoughts about the program, its strengths and weaknesses, and how I feel it is preparing me to eventually create some of my own interactive media.

For Further Study

If you are curious about gamification and how it can be used at home, school, or the workplace I recommend you take a look at Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. Jane is passionate about gaming and human behaviour and has written what is easily my favourite book on the topic. It’s entertaining, interesting and informative. Click here to get a copy.

For Discussion

Have you had any experience with P2PU, Code Academy, or any similar sites? What was your experience?

The White House Denies Petition to Build a Death Star

Let me start by saying I am very active in my government… I write my congressmen and senators about key issues and I follow the news closely. I try hard to keep most of my political bias out of this blog, but I thought this was a GREAT way to make sure people knew about the We the People a petition site started by the White House where any citizen can start a petition on any topic and if it reaches the target number of signatures will receive an official response from the White House.  I think it’s worth visiting this site regularly and taking a few minutes to look over what other people think is important and also put your support behind a few worthy causes. Now this being the internet you know this had to get trolled  It is moderated, but somehow the request to the White House to build a Death Star as a job creation plan and defense initiative slipped through so I HAD to sign it! Well here we are several months later… and as a signer I and received a response that made me literally laugh out loud. I hope you enjoy this half as much as I did!

email_petition_header_650x100

This Is Not the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sizedInternational Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser— roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building aprobe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on buildingLuke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-everWhite House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

What’s likely to happen over the next 150 years? (infographic)

This is an interesting question and as a person who reads allot and is into sci-fi I find this topic very fascinating. In the following infographic shows  some predictions whats likely to happen and it’s odds over the next 150 years. Interesting topics in here about the singularity (possible in my lifetime!), space bases, genetic research, and cybernetic technology. Take a look and let me know in the comments what you think! I’m curious to see everyone’s thoughts!

A info-graphic covering what thinkers scientists and pundits think is likley to happen over the next 150 years!

Google Maps is now available for iPhone!

Google Maps for iOS 6I am an iPhone junkie! I love my iPhone and I love iOS. That being said I am not Such an Apple fan boy that I am unwilling to call them out when they screw up. I have very high expectations from Apple when it comes to quality, service, and user experience. When I launched the Apple Maps app for the first time I was stunned by how awesome it looked. Downtown Bellevue Washington was beautifully rendered and I thought “This is going to be awesome!” Then I used it… and let’s just be honest here… They sucked. Now for all you Android fans out there. I had an Android phone and I liked it. I REALLY liked the maps on Android. However, the Google Maps I had on my phone was NOT The same maps Android users were getting, and that was what Apple was trying to fix. With that in mind, for me if ONE good thing came out of the whole Apple iOS Maps debacle; it was that I now have turn by turn directions on my Google Maps iPhone app! YAY! so head on over to the app store and download it!

From Google:

People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.

via Google Maps is now available for iPhone | Official Google Blog.

Lego Galaxy Squad!

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows I LOVED the Lego Alien Conquest series and I was VERY sad to see it go. Luckily I got most of the cool sets before it was out of stores and even picked up a couple on clearance at deep discounts! What made me really sad about this particular discontinuation was that there was not good space series once Alien Conquest was gone (Besides the obvious Star Wars stuff I’m also in love with!) I know everyone says any piece is a space piece and I have done some cool things with Ninjago parts but I really like space Legos. It’s nostalgic for me because I grew up on Lego Classic Space.

The newest Lego space series is called Galaxy Squad, and I’m really excited about it! The creatures are cool because it’s a cool mix of insect looking aliens and more classic looking space ships similar to what you build in the Lego MBA set (That I have yet to finish due to some issues at work). I havent bought any of these sets yet, but I promise I will and as soon as I do there will be pictures!

So what do you think? Id Lego Galaxy Squad an epic win or epic fail?

Songs that get stuck in my head: The Ultimate Showdown!

I’ve been pretty deep all week long so I thought I’d lighten things up a bit today and share yet another of the songs that get stuck in my head: The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny!  This is an oldie but a goodie going all the way back to 2005! Here is the educational blurb from Wikipedia so you have a little background on the artist Lemon Demon:

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, often shortened to The Ultimate Showdown, is a comical song and video released on December 7, 2005. The song was written and performed by Neil Cicierega under the pseudonym “Lemon Demon”, with art and Flash animation by Shawn Vulliez.

I love this song because it’s catchy, but it also manages to use nearly every pop culture icon of the time into one video and somehow pull it off spectacularly! That and the twist at the end.

If you Would like to know more about this little gem you can get the complete lyrics at Albion Black Sheep.

Enjoy!

Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog? Why do I blog? Why does anyone blog?  Well they are both good questions, but I can only share with you the answer to the first question… The real answer to the next one is hard to nail down because everyone has their own reasons. What I can do is give you some insight into mine.

When I started blogging back in 2006 on my first WordPress.com blog it was because I wanted to share my thoughts on sales and management with the goal of networking with some like minded people, sorting out my thoughts, helping other people and maybe picking up the occasional consulting gig.  To be honest, it worked fabulously! I met some great people, secured several consulting jobs, and even launched a social network and podcast called Sales Management 2.0!

My next blog was a health and fitness blog called Running For 365 Days. On this blog I shared my experiences as a runner. When I started this blog I was just starting my doctoral program, so it fell apart after a few months because I was simply too busy to write as much as I wanted to (daily). At the same time I was also trying to launch an education blog to share my experience in my doctoral program, but again it was all just too much.

That brings us to this blog: Just My Life in Words or The Uber Geek! This is the place where I am pulling it all into one place. It lets me blog about all the things I care about, but if it takes a few weeks to come up with something on one topic it’s no biggie because I have probably written something on at least one of the 15 topics I am covering.

Now that tells you what I have blogged, but not really why… Well it sounds silly, but in part to change the world. I think about a lot of stuff and I am a pretty smart guy so I like the idea of using the internet to leverage my voice and spread ideas. I also do it to help and inspire others. I hope that people will read about my thoughts on leadership, sales, and sales management and learn that the industry is about helping people and not making a quick buck off someone. I also hope they will learn that you don’t have to be a pushy jerk to be successful as a sales manager. I hope people will see how I lost over 30 pounds so far eating paleo and running and give it a go! I’m a geek and I like to share cool things and share games I think are fun! I’m also in the dissertation phase of my doctorate of education where I am studying gamification so this lets me flush out thoughts and network with others interested in my topic. Finally I have 2 beautiful girls who I love very much and I hope long after I am gone they will be able to read my thoughts and take a little something from it that will help them out some day, or maybe gain some insight into who I am as a man and not just as their father.

As you can see I am just one person and I have a LOT of reasons why I blog and I can promise you this is not an exhaustive list. So the real question is why do YOU blog? If you don’t why SHOULD you blog? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to talk to you about it!

-Brad

PS: If your looking for a GREAT book on how to get started blogging I highly suggest you check out Pro Blogger by Darren Rowse! It’s truly fantastic and will help you with all aspects of blogging whether its as a career or hobby!

Can Tabletop RPG’s Make You More Confident And Successful?

When people think of tabletop RPG’s the first thing that most people think is “Wow… Huge nerd!”  I have for many years thought that there were countless uses for games as a tool for teaching children, developing skills, and developing quality real life relationships. So much in fact, that I have committed a lot of time and study to the idea, so it’s always nice to see that someone else agrees with you!

By the way he uses DnD as the example, but the case is just as true if you use Shadowrun, Traveller, World of Darkness, Mouse Guard, Eclipse Phase, or any other game you can think of. Honesty, I believe the more games you play the more this may be true, because it is teaching you to be flexible and uses different systems and tools to solve a similar issue.

Games teach imagination, problem solving, strategy, and social skills. They also encourage reading and develop strong long-lasting relationships with others. I honestly can not think of a single reason a parent would not want their kids to grow up gaming. I understand the argument about violence many people will make. To that I will say some of the best gaming sessions I have had have lasted 4-6 hours and not have a single combat. Fighting is not always the best way out of a problem and nearly every game has rules for negotiation and other alternative solutions many of wich are far more entertaining! That however is a topic for another post. 🙂

The question here is: What do YOU think? Can games make us better people?

Songs that get stuck in my head! Re: Your Brains!

I may have to start a new reoccurring category on my site called Songs That Get Stuck In My Head! This song came up on my random play list on Spotify 4 or 5 times yesterday and the situation I was dealing with made it SO appropriate! I LOVE Jonathan Coulton’s music! If you get a chance to see him in concert DO IT!

Have you ever felt like you were in this situation?

 

The Whole Foods Parking lot

I went shopping at Whole Foods yesterday to pick up a few things I wanted that were hard to get at the regular grocery store and some how this got stuck in my head:

I hate it when this happens because 24 hours later it’s still there so I’m just going to leave it here so it can get stuck in yours too!