Archive for the ‘Cool Stuff’ Category

Happy Pie Day!

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Happy Pie Day Everyone!! Midterms are over, Spring Break is right around the corner, and as many would agree, pie is delicious. It can be sweet and evoke memories of simpler times like an apple pie with a buttery flaky crust, just like the ones grandma would make. Or it can be hearty and savory, such as a chicken pot pie packed with flavor. There are fruit pies, meat pies, and many more varieties in between: coconut cream or ice cream pie anyone? Whatever your preferred pastry, one can’t help but wonder, where did this scrumptious dish come from and what were the first sorts of pies?

According to historians, pie-making can be traced back to ancient Greece, thought to have been the originators of the crust, who made it by combining water and flour. Meanwhile, the Romans would fill their pies with many different kinds of meats (even mussels and other types of seafood). Meat pies were often part of Roman dessert courses which they called secundae mensae. Fast forward to the first Thanksgiving here in the United States in 1621. Everyone knows that among the various dishes shared between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims, there was pumpkin pie right?

In reality there is no evidence showing that modern day pie, or even early versions of it, was served at the first Thanksgiving. Pilgrims brought a variety of English-style, meat-based recipes with them to the colonies. The first record of pumpkin pie here in the US was in a cookbook from 1675, originating from British spiced and boiled squash; it wasn’t popularized until the early 1800′s. We don’t know what dishes the Pilgrims served at the first Thanksgiving, but primary documents show they cooked with fowl and venison, and inevitably these ingredients found themselves stuffed in between sheets of dough.

The colonists cooked many pies not only because they were tasty, mind you, but because the crusty top would aid in the preservation of food. This would help to keep the filling fresh, particularly during winter months. Were these early American pies bland? Not exactly. Documents show that Pilgrims would use dried fruits, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg to season their meats. As the colonies began to expand, so did the reach of pie. The pie acted as an outlet to showcase local ingredients and, with this, the first American sweet pies began to appear.

A cookbook from 1796 listed a mere three types of sweet pies; one from the late 1800′s listed 8 varieties; and by 1947, the Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking listed 65 different kinds of sweet pies. So the saying goes, “There are few things as American as apple pie”, however, like much of America’s pie tradition, the original apple pie recipes hailed from England. These pre-Revolutionary creations were simple, unsweetened apples encased in an edible flour crust. Pies today are a treat eaten around the globe, made with everything from apples to avocados. Pies have come a long way since the heyday of venison and pepper, but whatever the case, there’s surely a pie out there for everyone.

As for me? Kahlua Cream Cheese pie is my favorite. Go out and grab your favorite everybody! Happy Pie Day!

Juan Rubio

Women, Kidneys, and Leprechauns

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Greetings everyone!

For those not aware of it, Sunday was International Women’s Day, celebrating the achievements of women throughout history. The day also serves to support and encourage women’s equality, and raise awareness of the various issues women face around the world; whether they’re economic, human rights related, or political. The Socialist Party of America designated February 28, 1909 as National Women’s Day. It was celebrated on this day until 1913 when it was moved to March 8th internationally.

One day I’m sure not many people are aware of is World Kidney Day, observed on the second Thursday of March every year. The day seeks to raise awareness of the importance of kidneys to our overall health, and to inform the world about ways to prevent kidney disease. This years theme is Kidney Health for All, appropriate given how important these organs are to our health. Kidneys remove toxic substances and excess water from our bloodstream, which in turn effects blood pressure and chemical balance of the body.

Last but not least is St. Patrick’s day on the 17th! Everyone knows the day means wearing green to avoid being pinched, green beer, parades, Shamrock Shakes, and good times with friends and family, but where did the day come from? St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, a priest and former slave who helped to convert the Irish to Christianity. He would use the three leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity to non-Christians, which is where the shamrock motif comes from on St. Patrick’s day. The day serves to honor and remember St. Patrick, as well as a day to celebrate Irish culture and heritage in general. Since its origins, Lenten restrictions on eating certain food’s and drinking alcohol were lifted, which is where the practice of social drinking came from.

Please don’t forget to give thanks and appreciate the women in your life and all that they do, wear plenty of green on St. Patrick’s day and celebrate responsibly! Your liver and kidneys will thank you.  Have fun everybody!

Juan Rubio

Project Anywhere

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Image from designboom.com

A student at ETH Zurich, Constantinos Miltiadis, has been working on a kit which challenges the limits of human physical presence within a space. Code-named Project Anywhere, it works by combining augmented reality and virtual reality to achieve communication and interaction through virtual space.

The project is controlled by a smart phone app that functions like a decentralized network. It communicates through the use of a cloud-based software and offers real-time regulation. Accompanying the app are 3D printed gloves with a special rubber-like filament cleverly titled, “Inteligloves.” They allow the user to interact fluidly within the virtual environment of the app. The gloves are also able to track palm orientation, in addition to finger movement, via six bend sensor sockets. What makes these gloves truly awesome is that you can print the main components of them with a 3D printer. Aside from a 3D printer, in order to assemble the gloves, you will also need an Arduino Mini Pro, Xbee radio module, inertia measuring unit, six bend sensor sockets, and a LiPo battery.

Even though the project is in it’s early stages, it shows much promise and importance to many fields including gaming, business and medicine.

See the project in action at the following link: https://vimeo.com/113398928

Blue Sky presentation at San Jose State

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Image from fashions.toprate10.com

The Shrunkenheadman Animation Club at San Jose State is a pretty remarkable group. Many people at Cogswell might not be aware that Jeff Jackson, Cogswell’s storyboarding and drawing animation teacher, actually came from San Jose State and started the Shrunkenheadman club. Being a particularly large club, comprised of both illustration and animation departments, there is a very strong sense of community and kinship. They have a track record of hosting some impressive speakers/presenters, and last Thursday was no exception. Blue Sky representatives came to SJSU to give a presentation about their studio, including Matt Munn, Lead Animator.

Munn showed work from his early days as an animator (which visibly proved EVERYONE has a starting point) and gave some helpful advice. What stood out the most for me was the advice to “follow your heart.” As a previous nursing major, this really resonated with me. I’d left everything to go to art school because, in my heart, I felt passionate about animation and creating things. As graduation approaches and I reflect back, I don’t regret my decision; I’m glad I made the dive into animation.

I feel that both Cogswell and the animation department of San Jose State could learn from each other, and I hope to encourage networking and connections between the two. After all, we have the potential to be future co-workers so why not create professional relationships now!

Sierra Gaston

Cogswell College Students Develop and Create 3D Animatable Rigs for 12 Unique Digital Characters

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

This article was originally featured on the Creative Planet Network website, it was published on 2-23-2015, and is credited to Cogswell College.

Sunnyvale, CA, February 23, 2015 ­­

Cogswell College, a leading educational institution offering a unique curriculum fusing Digital Art, Engineering and Entrepreneurship, has announced that students within its Digital Art & Animation program have developed and created 3D animatable rigs depicting 12 original digital characters, through the program’s in-house character project: “Avatarah.”

To download these 3D rigs, visit: http://www.cogswell.edu/modeling-rigs/project-avatarah-free rigs.php

ALSO: For “Avatarah” support, requests and comments, please
Email: avatarah.cogswell@gmail.com

The first character from “Avatarah,” “Cogswell the Dragon,” has just been released via open source data to the general public. A few of the additional 11 original characters will be
exclusively for usage by Cogswell College students, but the school does plan to release a
number of additional character 3D rigs in the near future, in efforts to draw the general public back to the Cogswell College website for download. Students around the world regularly seek interesting rigs to download, so that they can use them within their own portfolios as they animate original content based on these rigs.

The new 3D animatable rigs from Cogswell College are of the highest quality, and are
expected to stand out in the middle of the vast world of “freebie” rigs available online. In
addition to the first character, “Cogswell the Dragon,” additional characters from Cogswell will include “Toothy” the Saber toothed tiger, “Snowy” the dog and “Thunder” the horse, “Chippy” the squirrel, “Chubby” the rabbit, “Flappy” the bird, and several others.

Jonali Bhattacharyya, Assistant Professor with Cogswell College’s Digital Art & Animation
program, and formerly with noted game companies Secret Level and Factor5, spearheads the Cogswell student­ developed 3D animatable rigs project in concert with game industry
professional Sergio Sykes. Sykes, currently with EMOTIV and formerly with Massive Black, is involved with the Cogswell program as an industry rigging artist and Adjunct Faculty Member. Regarding this program, Bhattacharyya said, “For the past year or so, there has been a constant demand for exciting new 3D animation rigs that can be accessed online. Our goal with project ‘Avatarah’ is to have Cogswell students create an identity of their own within the rapidly exploding world of animation. Our initial 12 characters have all been designed, modeled, textured and rigged by Cogswell College students. This is a huge platform by which our students can really start to get their names out there!”

ABOUT COGSWELL COLLEGE:

Designed as a “fiercely collaborative, living laboratory,” Cogswell College is located in the heart of the legendary Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California. The school is a WASC accredited, four ­year institution of higher education with a specialized curriculum that fuses digital arts, audio technology, game design, engineering and entrepreneurship.

Numerous alumni of Cogswell College have secured prominent positions within the entertainment, video game, technology, computer, animation, and motion graphics industries throughout California and beyond. Several of these alumni have established careers with such high profile companies as Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Microsoft Game Studio. Many other alumni have launched their own creative ventures.

Recent Cogswell alumni were members of the Academy Award-­winning production teams which worked on the blockbuster films “Frozen” and “Life of Pi.” Some of the other well­ known consumer projects to which Cogswell alumni have contributed include the feature films “The Boxtrolls” and “The Avengers,” and the popular video games “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Halo 4″ and “Battlefield Hardline.”

Additionally, animated short films conceived and produced by Cogswell students have gone
on to win prestigious awards, including those presented by the California International
Animation Festival, the Colorado Film Festival, the Oregon Film Festival, the Miami Film
Festival, the Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival, the San Jose Short Film Festival, and
Canada’s International Film Festival.

Cogswell College is located at 1175 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, California, 94089. For more information, please call 1-­800­-264-­7955 or visit: http://www.cogswell.edu/

Congratulations to everyone who worked on the project, I look forward to seeing what Cogswell’s students can pull off with these original rigs. Well Done!

Juan Rubio

Tour at Zynga

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Image source: www.adweek.com

There were dogs everywhere. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise to me after seeing the huge dog logo on the massive building, but it still caught me off guard in a pleasant way. Zynga also gave off this sense of happiness—just walking in, I could tell that the people employed by Zynga were pretty content with their environment. For those of you who don’t know, Zynga happens to be one of the largest and best-known mobile and social gaming companies in the bay area– you’ve probably also seen a few games of theirs on Facebook.

A group of four people and myself from Cogswell got the chance to visit Zynga from Women in Games International, a group formed for the purpose of providing women with support and opportunities in the game industry. While there, we got a tour of the studio, which included the exercise room, bar (yes, there’s a full bar) the candy room, and the Farmville rooms!

After the tour, we got to enjoy some h’ordeuvres and listen to a panel given by women leaders at Zynga. Some of them had been in the industry for quite some time, and a few originally hadn’t had any intention of going into games. Yet another one actually played WOW as a side hobby. (Yes!)

It was amazing to see Zynga up close. It was clear to see the passion that they had for their work. We also got to do a lot of great networking, and meet people working in the heart of the mobile game industry. It was an amazing opportunity!

Sierra Gaston

The Year of the Sheep

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Happy New Year!!!

Today mark’s the first day of the Chinese New Year! 2015 is the year of the Sheep, Goat, or Ram depending on which region you’re from. And with today being the first day, the festivities begin!

Many celebrate the New Year with 15 days of festivities, even here in the United States, with each day having a different significance and traditions. Under traditional practices, on the first day, the deities of the earth and the heavens are welcomed. It’s also the day where one honors their elder’s and families, with many choosing to visit grandparents and family on this day. It’s traditional to light fireworks and firecrackers today as well, and some families invite a Lion Dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to ward off evil spirits.

The second day is when married daughters visit their birth parents, relatives, and close friends. Traditionally, married daughters wouldn’t have many opportunities to visit so the second day held special significance for them. Every day has its own customs and practices, with certain foods being eaten only on certain days, and special celebrations occurring only at that specific point of the year.

On the 15th day the Lantern Festival is held. The traditional food eaten this day is a sweet, sticky rice ball brewed in a soup, and lanterns are lit outside to guide wayward spirits home. Families walk the street carrying paper lanterns as well. In China, Malaysia and Singapore, the 15th its also a sort of Valentines Day, where single people seek out partners. Normally, single women would write their number or contact information on a mandarin orange (the most abundant fruit in China during the new year) and toss it into a river or lake where single men would pick them up and eat them. A sweet orange would mean a good fate, the relationship would be good and work well. A sour or bitter taste would mean a bad fate, no good.

Another practice most people know about are the red envelopes. Typically, red envelopes filled with money are given to children during the new year for good fortune. Its also typical to give gifts to friends, often assortments of candies and other such items.

In the United States, the San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the oldest celebration of its kind outside of Asia. During the 1850′s gold rush era, Chinese immigrants were eager to share their culture and traditions with those unfamiliar or hostile towards it. In San Francisco, where one of the largest Chinese communities in the US existed and still exists, people showcase their culture using a tradition already loved by the American public: a parade. Today, the parade is attended by over 500,000 people annually, and its televised to over 3 million homes as well. If you have a chance, I recommend it checking it out. I have wonderful memories of great friends and food shared in past years.

Happy Chinese New Year everybody! And to anybody who happens to be a goat, sheep, or ram on the Chinese zodiac, go celebrate! It’s your year, have fun with it.

P.S. If anyone happens to go to San Francisco, please me bring back some Dim Sum. I love that stuff.

Juan Rubio

Monolith, the future of 3D

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Image sourced from: http://www.3ders.org/images2014/new-voxel-modelling-software-monolith-6.jpg


In an industry where the standard is influenced by the goliath Autodesk, Two Developers hope to impress with their creation. Panagiotis Michalatos and Andrew Payne have coded a modeling engine that offers “A new paradigm where objects are defined as a dense representation of material properties throughout a 3D volume.” They call their creation, Monolith. Most 3D applications are ineffective when handling different spatial variations in material properties. This is because they are mostly built to deal with a surface modeling template which represents a solid object that is enclosed by a set of edges.

However, this software was created with the new type of 3D printers in mind, which are capable of multiple print heads that can deposit different types of resin within a single build. What makes Monolith truly remarkable is the way it handles voxel channels (3D Pixels). Through this program, voxel channels act as controls for lines, points, curves or even filters like gaussian blur. Overall, this will allow for an easier and more intuitive time creating 3D models as well as 3D Printing. This is definitely a program to keep an eye on in the upcoming months!

Check out videos of the software in action at: http://vimeo.com/113743660

Peter Gazallo

Jodediah Holmes and GXDev Award Winning Game Patchwork

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015


Q:Tell me about you. What’s your name? What school do you go to? What is your degree program? Frosh/Soph/Jr./Sr.? Are you a part of any clubs?

A:Hello! I am Jodediah Holems. You may recognize me from my personal brands: pajama pants and hubcap backpack. I am the Game Development Club president at Cogswell College, where I organize teams, give lectures, hold workshops, and kindle the growth of my fellow game friends. I am aspiring to become a professional weirdo, but at the moment I am only part-time. At Cogswell I’m under the Digital Media Management degree, and I’m a junior.

Q: What was the competition that you entered? How many participants were there (if you know)?

A: I recently participated in GXDev: Everyone Create’s Games, a 24 hour game jam put on by the GaymerX organizers. I’d say there were around 30 developers in attendance, figured from the ~10 games made by teams of less than 5 (there were two solo teams, I was one). The goal was to make a game in 24 hours from the theme “the stories that aren’t told.”

Q: What did you win???

A: I won in 2 categories: Strangest Game and Judge’s Pick. I got two lovely glass bricks, a DVD, and some other nifty digital gifts as a reward! I also got to feel very excited for a whole week. I still can’t handle it.

Q:Tell me about your game. What is it called? How does it play? What is the goal? How long did it take you to make? Did you create it by yourself or with friends?

A: My game is called PATCHWORK, and it’s a bit of a game soup. The official genre is “Tetris-Jenga-word-search-diary-entry-collect-a-thon”, and it is played with two people, two devices that can run an .html file, and ten painted pieces. One player builds a balancing building, searches for words, and enters found words into their device to read a selection of secret stories. The other player is in control of certain parts of the process, answering questions and assisting the player in such a way as to bend the outcome of the game to their will. Nobody knows how many secret stories there actually are, but it doesn’t matter. Some people choose to stop playing after the stories make them cry or laugh or feel.

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the game? Is it based on anything?

A: My local art gallery was putting on a project where members of the community could buy oddly shaped wooden blocks, paint them, and bring them back to form one giant puzzle mural. I noticed that they were Tetris shapes and remembered that I was going to a game jam, so I asked if I could have a whole bunch. I walked out with ten. These pieces whispered “Hey, I really want to be in a game,” so I planned to fulfill their dreams. This merged with a couple of other ideas I had, those being:

  1. I really want to make a game that is played a little bit in a Gamemaker file, a little bit in a Twine file, a little bit in physical space, and maybe also over email or something.
  2. Oh yeah, this is a queer game jam! I should write the letters S, E, I, A, L, B, and N all over the backs of the tetris tiles. Someone may unwittingly spell LESBIANS. That would be humor.
    Those ideas all came together in a gallon pot for 45 minutes on medium-high heat, and emerged as PATCHWORK. They were all inspired by certain Big Ideas I’ve observed across games and games academia, but otherwise there were no direct inspirations.

Q: What programming did you do for the game? What languages did you use?

A: I do not know programming. I made the digital portion of this game in Twine, a program for making text-based choose your own adventure-type games. It is very easy to learn, I’d recommend you check out out! http://twinery.org

Q: What advice would you give to another student trying to enter a gaming, or game creation competition?

A: Do it. Participate in as many events as possible. Meet people. Run through every door.

Q: There’s something really intoxicating about games that have physical and virtual elements. Do you think there’s particular power in combining elements of both?

A: All digital games have physical elements, which is something I don’t think a lot of people think about. Your hands are always going to be interacting with a mouse, keyboard, controller, or other contraption. A really easy way to make a game that genuinely surprises people is to have that in mind, intentionally forming a physical something that isn’t a mouse, keyboard, or typical controller. It’s so easy to make something unlike anything your audience has ever seen, and that’s incredibly powerful!

Q: Here’s where I get super arty on you — do you think our lives are more physical or virtual? Or is the difference unimportant?

A: Ahhh, that’s a great question! When I hear “are our lives more physical or virtual,” I immediately connect physical to body and virtual to mind. There have definitely been times where I think “bodies are handcuffing my spirit to the earth. I’d be so much happier if I wasn’t weighed down with needing to sleep, eat, exercise, and perform for people. I just want to be a brain.” There are also times when I’m upset with my brain and feel the opposite feelings, but that happens less often.

The internet, as it exists on phones and computers and wires in our homes, very much fuels the idea of bodies as inconveniences. Chairs, mice, keyboards, controllers, and screens don’t respect our bodies. What is the point of the rest of me when I can lead a happy connected existence as a brain, a couple of fingers, and a pair of eyes? That’s why I think games with designed physical components are so powerful. Even if they still only require your brain, fingers, and eyes, doing it in a way that is new and interesting lets you know that someone out there respects your fingers. Someone out there understands the terrible sameness your fingers have to deal with every day. Someone out there wants you to experience your body in a world designed for your mind.

Q: What are your aspirations for the future?

A: I would very much like to ascend to the next mortal plane, but in the meantime I will make games and art and friends. Dismantle capitalism!

Watch a short clip of Patchwork on Vine at: Patchwork

Cogswell Alumni Mixer

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

On Saturday, April 11th, something pretty exciting will be happening here at Cogswell.

In an effort to create stronger connections between alumni, students and the school, Cogswell will be hosting a mixer event honoring our past students and future graduates. So what can we expect to see at this event?

In addition to having the opportunity to connect with alumni working in the industry from all degree concentrations, students can attend a panel at which graduates will speak about their experiences since leaving the school. All attendees will also have the option to showcase their portfolios and demo reels during the event. (Since this is also this last semester we’ll be in the old building, we will have a pretty fun activity that might involving writing all over the walls—more details on that later!)

Students, be sure to polish those portfolios up pretty well—we will have alumni attending this event who might be interested in hiring!

Sierra Gaston