Archive for the ‘Cool Stuff’ Category

Interesting Interactive Audio Project

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

As a species, people are a curious lot. We like to play with stuff and the first thing many of us do when confronted with something to touch or knobs to turn is – well, touch and try to figure out what those knobs do.

Stephanie McCarty and Andrew Siu created this intriguing interactive audio gadget. They put it together using Arduino Boards, Wave Shields, IR Sensors and Servo Motors.

Watch the video and let us know what you think?

Animation for Game Class Video

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Animation for Game class worked hard all summer – producing 30+ assignments over the course of the summer.

Near the end of the summer, they held an Open House to show off their work. Faculty member, Jonali Bhattacharyya who teaches the class, said she was really pleased with the quantity and quality of work the students produced. “I wanted them to learn how to work under the pressure of a real work situation,” said Jonali.

Here are a few video clips taken during the Open House as faculty, staff and students tested out the video games. Clip one. Clip two. Clip three.

Cogswell Faculty, Bret Sweet, Announces Publication of First Book

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

If you are looking for a fantastic read that will transport you to another time and place, grab you by the lapels and keep you enthralled from beginning to end, then Cogswell faculty, Bret Sweet’s, first work of fiction completes your quest. “Among the Veils,” the first book in the Paper Thrones series, was released in paperback on August 19th and Kindle version on September 4th.

Bret conceived the book during a difficult period in his life. His father suffered from dementia and eventually spent time going from assisted living to emergency rooms for extended periods. A musician friend told Bret that he wrote songs in his head when he was worried. Bret took the suggestion to heart, though he didn’t want to write music, he challenged himself to write a book in his head during the many long hours devoted to making sure his father would not be alone and received the best care.

“The story just sort of came to me,” said Sweet. “I started feeling isolated because caregivers I met at groups seemed to have more resources than I did. I began feeling like maybe the odds were against me. The book was how I stayed on point.”

“Among the Veils” plot follows Clay Durward who works with young people in San Francisco. When he is called to a crime scene and asked to protect a small old boy, he learns the child carries the spirit of a ten thousand year old energy locked in his subconscious. In trying to help his ward, Clay finds himself embroiled in a civil war between two factions of Ancient Egyptian deities fighting out their rivalry among the darkest streets in America’s crumbling cities.

“The conception process took about 3 months,” said Sweet, “and about another 3 months to get it down on paper. The hardest part was the editing and getting it ready for print. About the 4,000th time I had to read through the book, it was really hard to concentrate.”

Bret said he wrote the book for people who are taking care of their parents or other loved one suffering from some kind of neurological disease. He understands that these people are burning the midnight oil as they try to take care of the people they love. He hopes they will feel less alone, that they will feel validated. He wants them to know that they are his heroes.

The book embraces the culture of today with an effective use of modern technology through the use of a sound track, illustrations and wiki. The goal was to create an interactive experience for the reader and really involve them in every aspect of the story. Bret calls his unique genre, ‘urban sci-fi’ or ‘street sword and sorcery.’  His wife calls the style, ‘Harry Potter meets The Wire.’

“Brilliant is an overused word, but appropriate for this story. Bret is an exceptionally talented writer and clever speaker. I’m sure he relates to Clay’s character because Bret is also connected to the minds of the youth and has an unwavering passion for helping them….even if it means putting himself at risk among the darkest streets of America.”
— Enitan Bereola II, Author ‘Bereolaesque’

You can purchase a copy of “Among the Veils” at CreateSpace or Amazon.

About Bret Sweet

Mr. Sweet is the director of Digital Media Management at Cogswell, following his work in launching the College’s Entrepreneurship initiative in 2010. He continues to develop Cogswell’s entrepreneurship curriculum and teaches a variety of “business for artists” courses. He is certified by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), and has taught business building strategies to thousands of Bay Area low-income youths and their families. From 2003-2007, Mr. Sweet was the lead entrepreneurship instructor at BUILD, which provides entrepreneurship education to high school students in low-income areas boasts an excellent college acceptance rate for its seniors. His activities have garnered him a host of accolades, including the NFTE’s prestigious Teacher of the Year Award in 2004 and a speaking engagement at the 2012 NAACP National Convention. Mr. Sweet’s background is as an entrepreneurial musician, music promoter and restaurateur. He received a B.A. in Television and Radio Production from San Francisco State University and a dual-MBA from the University of San Francisco.

A Celebration of Workers

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

From the old workplace . . .

To the modern workplace . . .

In the United States we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September each year but have you ever wondered what it’s all about?

According to the Department of Labor, it’s dedicated to celebrating the achievements of the American worker. The first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City and in 1884 it became an official holiday.

Back them the celebration included a street parade to demonstrate “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” speeches by prominent civic leaders and picnics or other amusements. Things have changed since the first holidays and now most of us think of Labor Day as a time to take that last out-of-town trip, BBQ or just relax.

We hope you all enjoy Labor Day and remember the contributions of the men and women who keep our economy going.

Envisioning Disney Characters in Real Life

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

If Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” was a real person, what would she look like? Or Jasmine from “Aladdin?”

Here’s is one artist’s concept of what the model of the animation might have looked like.

Do you think the artist, Jirka Väätäinen, whose images are posted on Behance, has captured the essence of the characters?

Special Effects Before the Computer

Friday, July 12th, 2013

We’ve all been amazed at the special effects created for films over the past decade. Each generation of movies seem to be bigger and more fantastical than the last.

But effects are not new to the film industry. Movie studios were inserting things, actions and creatures they either couldn’t find in nature or couldn’t realistically do as early as 1895. According to Film Site, the film “The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots” was the first in-camera special effect used.

Here’s a compilation of 12 films that Buzz Feed thinks represent the best of pre-cgi effects. Let us know if you agree.

What’s Your Favorite National Park?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Yosemite National Park

Since most of the blog posts this week focus on the 4th of July and the activities that go along with the holiday, we thought it would be nice to highlight another piece of our national heritage. With a 4-day weekend, lots of folks take to the roads – and what better place to visit than one of our amazing National Parks – as we celebrate our freedom and the wonderful place we live.

This breathtaking collection of images from National Geographic is sure to inspire and possibly plant the travel bug in your soul. Here’s another collection of shots submitted by readers to the SF Gate for a National Park photo contest.

Do you have a favorite National Park? Let us know which one.

Test Your Knowledge About Independence Day

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Did you know what day the Declaration of Independence was actually signed? Most historians believe that the document was actually signed on August 2, 1776. So why do we celebrate on July 4?

What two signers of the Declaration of Independence both died on July 4, 1826?

Curious? Check out this website and take the 11 question trivia quiz to test your knowledge.

Let us know which answer surprised you the most.

What’s in Your Picnic Basket?

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

According to “What’s Cooking America,” the most popular foods to eat on July 4 are: Hamburgers, Fried Chicken, Potato Salad, Corn on the Cob, Baked Beans and any type of pie. We’re not sure why they left hot dogs, watermelon, ice cream and strawberry shortcake off their list – but those items are also usually among the top 10 items people bring to picnics.

What’s your favorite food item to contribute to the party?

Following are a few rules to make sure the food you bring arrives in good shape and stays that way.

Prep less than 1 day from picnic so food tastes fresh.

Transport on ice. Except for the baked beans, all of the recipes should be chilled and packed in a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep them cold while they travel.

Heat just before taking. Baked beans can be cooked the day before. Reheat just before heading out; wrap the hot container in a towel, and tote carefully to the picnic.

Serve—then stow. Once folks have gone through the line and served themselves, put chilled dishes back in the cooler to keep them cold. Anyone who wants seconds can dig back into the cooler.

Use the two-hour/one-hour rule. Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours (or one hour if it’s a hot day over 90 degrees).

Toss the leftovers. The food will have been handled a lot, and possibly will have been sitting out for a while. Prep less than 1 day from picnic so food tastes fresh.

Want to Watch a Fireworks Show on July 4?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Here is a list of places in the Bay Area hosting firework displays:

Berkeley Marina

Las Positas College, Livermore

Milpitas Sports Complex

Pier 39, San Francisco

San Jose Municipal Stadium

Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View

USS Hornet Museum, Alameda, CA

USS Potomac, Oakland

Happy 4th of July!