The Mac Lab

Archive for September, 2009

Learning to Fly (Week 4)

by on Sep.28, 2009, under Blog

christian_l_01_wip_smCome to the edge.
No, we will fall.

Come to the edge.
No, we will fall.

They came to the edge.
He pushed them, and they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire

Christian L is a senior and a Mac Lab veteran. (He took 3D last year.) But before you judge his work in progress, you should know that he never had to complete (or even attempt) a self portrait last year. This is his first try. Interesting, isn’t it, that he’s taken a somewhat more ambitious approach than most first-timers? Why is that?

Not everyone “gets” the Mac Lab. It’s not so much a place as it is a frame of mind. It’s where students learn to stretch their creative wings and discover that they can, in fact, soar to previously unimagined artistic heights. Christian seems to get it. I wonder how high and far he’ll go this year. I wonder the same thing about you as well. That’s right. I know there’s an artist within every single one of you. I promise to do my part to free that creative spirit. Question is, will you do yours?

Trust is time to ask yourself, to find the strength to ask
Questions free the answering, unbinding them our task
Faith is time spent wondering, what we’re meant to find
Imagine it’s your purpose, adventure by design
Belief is time to listen, but who has time for that?
Especially when the answers, knock expectations flat
— Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

My guess is that Christian found the time to listen. My hope is that you do too.

Today’s Assignment: Before you do anything else, watch this movie and try to answer the question. Did you get it? If not, did you really try? Click and click for the answers. Now it’s time to set up your personal account on the computer. Watch this first (and please help one another) then follow these instructions (and please remember the name and password you use).

0929: I’ll be asking all of you to change seats shortly after the period starts so we can all learn to work across the network together. Meanwhile, begin watching this video.

0930: Continue Working. I’ll post more tonight from Photoshop World. If you’re stuck, ask one another for help!

1001: Rather than blog I had to answer piles of email last night. Sorry ’bout that. Here’s a peek behind the scenes. Here’s a Skocko D’oh! moment. And here’s your assignment for today. What are you waiting for? Get those beautiful self portraits up on your screens! Note: Put the maze up if that’s where you are. Everyone puts something up. Help each other, but if you’re helping, DON’T DO IT FOR THEM and never, ever move someone’s mouse. Talk them through it. Finally, a word to the wise.

1002: Good tidings arrived from the other side of the world. It’s Friday and I planned to throw in a report about yesterday’s Photoshop World adventures, and something really special… but it might be better for all if we just focus on the assignment for Monday (see yesterday’s post). Have you finished the assignment? (Trick question. You’re NEVER finished in the Mac Lab!) Improve upon what you have. Still looking at the default purplish desktop? Git-R-Done! (DO NOT explore that link in the Mac Lab. Click it. Get it. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along. Move along.)

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Here’s Looking at You, Kid (Week 3)

by on Sep.21, 2009, under Blog

fadi_eye_wip_smTo see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
William Blake

You may or may not be ready to begin the self portrait. I’ll let you be the judge of that. But before you begin, I’d like to ask you to remember the demonstration I gave on Friday. Remember how juggling is like the Pen Tool? Master the fundamentals and the rest will follow. Please watch this video for today’s instructions.

International Update: Montenegro marks the 121st country to visit the blog.

0922: All students, watch this video. If you’re just starting or have already started the self portrait, watch this video. If you’re still learning the Pen Tool, keep at it and watch that prior video when you get to the self portrait.

0923: Last night the Rotary Club of El Cajon generously awarded the Mac Lab a $3,750 grant towards the purchase of new computers. I honestly had no idea that the Rotary Club was the world’s first service club organization with 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs around the world. And I certainly didn’t know about the Four-Way Test. In their own words, Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self. Every time I hear a story about what’s wrong in the world, I’m going to remind myself that there are individuals like the men and women I met last night who walk the talk and make the world a better place. Thank you, Rotarians, for all you do!

I want to challenge my students to examine the first question of the Four-Way Test: Is it the TRUTH? Have you been following the guidelines for success in the Mac Lab? The words and videos I’ve had you read and follow aren’t busy work or a waste of time. I’m trying to set you up to succeed but you have to do your part. I know some of you are already cutting corners. It’s not too late to go back and begin again. Launch PhotoBooth, look yourself in the eye, and ask yourself if you’ve passed this first test.* Have you done all I’ve asked? Is your answer the TRUTH? You already know if it is or not. What you do from this point forward… Well, that’s going to determine your future, isn’t it? You have a choice. Your future’s not pre-determined. Why not make it a good one?

*It has been brought to my attention that it’s impossible to look one’s self in the eye using PhotoBooth (since the camera is positioned above the screen). Johnny and James, you’re both right. How ’bout we change that to a metaphorical exercise? Or I could go all Professor Trelawney on you and ask you to look within for the answer. Your aura is pulsing! Are you in the beyond? I think you are! (Just answer the question honestly.)

0924: Back to School Night was a rousing success in the Mac Lab (or so it seemed to me). Thanks to all the parents who took the time to visit. Again, if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to see the Mac Lab in action, my door is always open and you’re always welcome.

All Students: Continue working but keep yesterday’s message in mind. Quality counts. Honesty counts more. Take pride in doing the job as best you can. Push yourself to try harder. Replay the video tutorials when necessary. If you’re confused about any aspect of the class, please let me know. Watch this video about the Twitter widget.

International Update: Someone from the Isle of Man spent almost 40 minutes exploring 31 pages of the blog yesterday. I wonder what held his/her interest. If you return, mysterious visitor, share your story in an email or better yet, add a comment (scroll to the bottom of the page) so the students can read your story. Believe it or not, your presence makes the class more exciting! Your visit brings our world-wide tally to 122 countries.

0925: What a start to the 0910 school year! Watch this video, listen to the message, and follow the instructions. Long live vector graphics!

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Gallery 020 — 0910 Self Portraits

by on Sep.21, 2009, under Galleries

johnny_d_01_smThe self portraits are beginning to come to fruition. Johnny earned the right to lead the way (considering he served as Critique Boy for this video). Watch that as well as the videos on this page (yes, again) if you’re having trouble. Remember: You don’t draw with your hand, you draw with your eye!

There’s no limit to the number of examples in this gallery. The first three entrants include one, um, extreme self portrait. (I imagine it’ll stand out even when there’s 50 or 100 images in the gallery.) There’s a lot of exciting creations nearing the initial completion stage that I can’t wait to upload. Give the artists’ positive feedback (praise and/or constructive criticism) if you’d like. Hover over the images (or click them) for the file names.

Prolific artists may be featured more than once and may also submit portraits of alternate subjects. The goal is Pen Tool Mastery!

0910 Self Portrait Gallery

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Unusual Circumstances (Week 2)

by on Sep.13, 2009, under Blog

dinobot_roarEvery start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
Albert Schweitzer

Once we choose seats today, ALL STUDENTS go to the 2.0 Tutorials and follow the Accounts and Networking instructions before proceeding. I’ll be adding more of these Mac Lab Basic Tuts in the days and weeks ahead. I’m going to help you to establish good work habits this year. Please follow along. NOTE: It will be obvious if you’re not so why not spare us both the pain?

This is the second week of our journey. If you’ve completed all the requirements from last week, read on. If you’re new to the class or have yet to finish, please complete the first week’s assignments before proceeding. If you don’t follow these instructions, I’m going to react like this (Claire R). Listen to what Claire has to say, play by the rules, and we’ll all have fun.

Before I get to the projects, a nod to whomever visited from The Maldives (118th country) and to our 100,000th page view on Friday.

Completed All Tasks? Watch this video and follow the links.

0915: Libya and the Oriental Republic of Uruguay make 120 countries. When I checked the blog at 3:00 this morn, it was down (and remained so until a few minutes ago) so I couldn’t add what I’d planned. For today, follow what’s written on the board. Your tasks (in order):

1. Finish setting up the local account you signed onto yesterday.
2. Complete these tasks including watching ALL videos on Student page.
3. Watch this video.
4. Master the Pen Tool.
5. Begin your self portrait. Examples of successful projects. See Projects for details and links.

SECOND WARNING: Fail to follow instructions and I’ll react like this (Claire R)*

*Several Mac Lab veterans have started their self-portraits without following ALL of the instructions. Rest assured that these students will be repeating this project… probably several times. [shakes head] Tortoise and the Hare. How many times have I already said it this year? Tortoise and the Hare.

0916: All Pen Tool tutorials have been re-recorded. Watch this video for details and a reminder of your responsibilities.

0917: I’ve been busy creating a number of new pages you may or may not encounter today (but you will soon). Please watch this video so we can ensure that everyone understands how to translate these pages if necessary.

0918 Demonstration: How Juggling is like the Pen Tool. Don’t miss it! 😉

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Going Up? (Week 1)

by on Sep.09, 2009, under Blog

ahlgrenc_tower_smOur past is not our potential.
Marilyn Ferguson

Welcome, 0910 students, to the Mac Lab Blog. Most of you are reading this today, 090909, the second day of school; others will be joining us later and beginning right here as well over the next few weeks during the annual student schedule shuffle (three weeks of headaches for the good folks in Guidance who try to accommodate all of you). Regardless, all students are required to read the blog from this point forward each day. Because we’re all referencing the same information, we’ll eventually be in sync, probably somewhere around the sixth week. A word of advice if you want to get the most out of the Mac Lab: Don’t underestimate the value of the blog. Yes, you have to read, but isn’t that better than listening to me blab for 10 minutes every day? And if you’re absent or distracted or added the class on the first day of the fourth week (the last day to add), you can always look to see what you’ve missed. One certainty is that there’s no way to succeed in this class if you won’t read what’s written each day so you might as well either learn to love it or find another class because there’s no way around the blog.

Blog posts are typically full of links. Don’t click any links until you get to THE ANSWERS (below). For instance, there’s no way I’d have passed up an opportunity to drop an 050555 next to that 090909 in the first paragraph (but I didn’t want to distract you). So, should you click the 050555 link? And what about the Marilyn Ferguson link after the quote at the top of the page? And what’s the quote and the rest of this got to do with Digital Arts or 3D? Here are THE ANSWERS. << Put on your headphones and click that link. A few things I forgot to mention.

Ready to begin your ascent (Corey A) in the Mac Lab? For the remainder of the period, here’s what I want you to do. Quick last word.

0910: I’ve got to admit, I’m proud of the way most of you have followed the assignments so far. Practically everyone has been enthused and engaged, or so it seems to me. (Hang in there, Mac Lab veterans. Everyone on the team goes through training camp. Just as the NFL season is about to start, so are the projects in here.) I’m hoping that you’ll all find that the blog, with all its links to specific information and custom video tutorials, is an easy and exciting way to learn. I’m trying to give you the means to learn at your own pace so no one’s waiting for others to catch up or getting lost because the pace is too fast.

We’ve also talked a bit about the blog’s unexpectedly wide reach. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at what Google Analytics reveals: Worldwide Overview | City Stats | California | Visitor Loyalty | Comments About Comments | Today’s Assignment

For all those people who’ve written in the past couple of days, I’m not ignoring you. Our district email went down (yet again!) yesterday afternoon and still isn’t up this morning. I’ll get back to you ASAP. Later: Meeting after school then straight to Back to School Night. Been at it for 17 hours straight. Maybe tomorrow for that ASAP…

0911: Student feedback is one of the very cool features of our Web 2.0 presence. I’d estimate that a little more than a quarter of our students made at least one comment on the blog or forum (don’t head to the forum right now). Today we’re going to shake things up a bit as I’m going to show you two short videos at the beginning of the period and ask you to comment on one of them (or both if you want). Watch this video then this video and do what they say. This has been a good first week. Let’s end it on a strong note.

On an unrelated note, our email’s down again. Time to replace the squirrels powering the server. I’m going to volunteer to kick-start the machine when necessary. Hope someone approves this as it’s an intolerable situation!

Videos you’ll be commenting on: Brain Blender | Did You Know 3.0 |

When you’ve completed all assignments on this page, proceed to this post.

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Learn it all.