everest marathon

I tend not to dwell on the past, but I have some sketches laying about that I’m posting up because I have nothing better to do with them. :-)

The Everest Marathon was 2 years ago, but it was a powerful enough experience that it will sit with me for some time to come.

Google Glass – tape mod

google glass detachedI’m not a fan of the unibrow universal head band that comes with Glass. Making something that fits all head shapes and sizes and looks good at the same time is a near impossible task. Google did a decent job, but I’m afraid it was too hard of a task. Which leads me and many others to try to hack something that doesn’t look too bad, or at least is more discreet.

google glass detach

I started by detaching the main unit from the head band, one Torx T-5 screw holds it all together. The unit slips easily off the head band.


Some of the unit now looks open and exposed, but it’s just the rail that the head band slides onto.


I tried attaching the unit with zip ties as some have had success with, but there was too much slipping. It may be the frames I have are too rounded and slippery, but the Glass prism would just start drooping pretty quickly.

I had more success with electrical tape. Attaching it to my frames in two spots it’s attached firmly enough to last a few hours. And that’s it, a few hours later and it starts drooping again, and the display sags out of view.

So, currently no real solution. Pretty sure Velcro won’t work either. So I’m left with some custom carved plastic that will affix Glass to my frames. I’ve seen some people make 3D printed attachments, but they would be custom for they’re frames.

Now, if I only had access to a 3D printer…

google glass – camera quality

I picked up my Explorer Edition Glass this past week in New York. I’ve not had much time to play with the unit yet, but enough to make a quick post about the photo quality from Glass. It’s surprisingly good for a lens this small. Google is doing some nifty behind the scenes processing to bump the dynamic range up.

This comparison is with a Lumix GF1 – 13 mega pixel, f1.7 pancake lens

Glass has a 5 mega pixel sensor, and a tiny lens, not a fair comparison of course

google glass photo

Google Glass image taken from Chelsea market in New York

lumix gf1 image

same shot with a Lumix GF-1

Right off you can tell that Google is doing some post process manipulation of the photo, saturation, dynamic range, contrast, all are enhanced. At this size the Glass version is more appealing. It’s got a wider angle view and looks just a little more lively. The clouds look slightly more dramatic. Nothing that can’t be replicated with the other photo in Photoshop. With the heavy influence of super saturated HDR photography the last decade and the onset of Instagram filters, this seems an obvious thing to do. I personally don’t like placing the control of my photographs in the hands of Google or anyone else, but understand they are meeting the aesthetic demands of the public by doing this. The enhanced image is more likely to be noticed and shared.

closeup comparison, Glass on the left

closeup comparison, Glass on the left

google glass photo comparison

Google Glass on the left, GF-1 on the right

As expected Glass does not perform as well when cropping into the finer details. The digital artifacting is particularly noticeable in high contrast areas.

That’s it for now, some more updates on image quality and other things to come.


gamification with Coursera

gamification coursera

I wrapped up a Coursera course in Gamification a couple of months ago, just now getting around to writing about the experience. There were two reasons for taking the course, both related to my job at innovative learning solutions. The subject matter of game theory and more recently gamification, is relevant to my job. I also wanted to see how Coursera structured this free online class.

Gamification is the application of game mechanics to non game related activities. It uses game like elements such as points, badges and leader boards to motivate people to perform certain tasks in the real world. The Nike+ dashboard is one example, where points and badges are accrued through the physical activity of running. You can track your progress and compare yourself to others. This can be a powerful motivator.

So it differs from Serious Games, which are games that try to teach. These are usually full fledged games that mesh with learning elements, usually with dubious results. It also differs from Learning Simulations, which are intensive, immersive experiences, usually involving complicated topics. Gamification is more like a layer added on top of real world activities.

What the course offered:

The 6 week long course was comprised of 1-2 hours of lecture videos a week, weekly quizes, three written assignments that were peer reviewed and one final multiple choice exam. All in all I spent 2-4 hours a week getting through the videos, reading extra materials, and finishing all the assignments. There were thousands of students enrolled, most of which dropped out. MOOCs are known for the high dropout rate. There’s little incentive to stay plugged into a class that’s free of charge. But although a 10% completion rate sounds bad, it’s still a few thousand people learning something for free. These services provide the platform and knowledge, the motivation to learn has to come from the students.

I also signed up for the Signature track, which costs a few dollars and provides a certificate of completion. Not sure how useful it is, but the price was reasonable enough. There is a push for more accreditation and certification with these services, so perhaps they could be useful down the road.

Some random thoughts:

Overall a good experience, well structured class. I didn’t have much more time to put into it than what I did. There were some useful forum discussions, but again, I was pressed for time.

Could have had less proposal writing, was hoping for more of a prototype assignment. It’s one thing to write a proposal to convince someone of the merits of Gamification, it’s another to build something that can be tested out.

There were some elements that are useful to keep in mind with regards to simulations. I was wondering if gamifying a simulation would be possible, or if adding these elements on top would become too much of a distraction.

All in all, when structuring a learning environment with game mechanics, it’s a balancing act. Meshing fun and learning into one system can be tricky.

life logging with Memoto

memoto lifelogging

I just pre ordered Memoto‘s life logging camera. This thing takes a snapshot every 30 seconds and stores it on their cloud servers. The software “intelligently” categorizes the photos into events for you. I’ve been interested in the automatic capture of memories, or lifelogging, for some time. I’ve hesitated jumping in before because of the time it takes to hack something like this on your own. The technical hurdles aren’t that great, but still takes time. With this product they seem to have made the experience as painless as possible, just a matter of clipping on the camera.

I can’t wait to test it out, wondering how many of the photos are going to be junk. Probably most of them. But for keeping a record for the future this seems like a good product. Now all I have to do is make sure I live an interesting life so I don’t look back in a few years at thousands of photos of me staring at the ceiling.