PowerMate Bluetooth | Griffin Technology

Seriously, how cool is this thing?  Connected by Bluetooth, you can set up this little knob to control whatever you want on your computer.   You could use it for something predictable, like controlling the volume, or use that big, beautiful brain of yours to dream up a truly wild idea.

It clicks and it turns, and you can even program the little blue light at the bottom.  I could see this thing being used for all sorts of nonsense, like gently changing the hue of a color or quickly scrolling through a long list of titles.  Wouldn’t it be neat to hook it up to a little Raspberry Pi and let it control a stand-alone project?

Sadly, this little gadget only works with Mac OS X, so we’re out of luck for now.  But just as soon as they can make this little guy play nice with other systems, it’ll  be truly hacktastic.

PowerMate Bluetooth | Griffin Technology.

How wide should a website be?

I’ve been working on my personal website recently – an online resume of sorts – and quite quickly, I hit a roadblock: just how wide should a website be these days?

I haven’t been working with web design long enough to remember the days in which “800 x 600 was king,” but Justin’s post over at Newfangled Web Developers provides a great history and overview of the eternal question: how wide?  Justin did a quick survey of the big sites and found that most of them clock in at somewhere around 900-1000 pixels.

My website is pretty basic, but for more complicated layouts, Justin recommends 960 Grid System.  960 is a great basis for web design – it can be divided 26 different ways, making it a great basis for a column-based design.

So the verdict? 960 pixels.  Not too wide, not too narrow…just right for 2013.


I’m a huge advocate of teaching children to program…but I’m also a product of the education system of the 90s.  Back then, we got a crash course in typing from our old pal Mavis Beacon, and after that, we knew more about computers than our teachers.  They didn’t teach us to code…they asked us to fix the classroom printer!  So while I’ve got some HTML and CSS in my repertoire, I haven’t yet learned to “program” – write code that actually does something.

So I’ve decided to learn to program – now what?  To start out, I’m taking a course with Codecademy, a free, online set of learning modules that helps people learn to code.  I’m working my way through the JavaScript track, and I’ve already written a short and ridiculous choose-your-own-adventure game!  Codecademy keeps you motivated with badges, progress bars, and fun projects – and if you want to see how I’m doing, you can check out my profile.

Codecademy proclaimed 2012 “Code Year,” and encouraged everyone to learn to code.  This year, they want to take it even further and encourage people to use their coding skills to actually create something.  It’s 2013…what will you build?

Learn To Code, Code To Learn

I first encountered Mitchell Resnick’s work during my MLIS coursework, where we studied his approach towards learning and technology.  Head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, he “explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences.” 

Resnick’s group at MIT created Scratch: software that allows children to create animations, interactive stories, and games through a basic programming concepts.  Scratch is also an online community, a website where kids (and grown-ups alike!) can share and experience Scratch creations.

Learn To Code, Code To Learn

In this short TEDx talk, Mitch Resnick argues that the ability to code can actually help children learn.  Just as reading is to writing, familiarity with technology is to programming.  While today’s kids can navigate an iPad with ease, it’s not enough to declare them “digitally fluent.”  By teaching kids to code, they’ll learn abstract concepts like logic and design with the added bonus of learning to express themselves with technology.