The Mac Lab

Archive for November, 2010

Setting It Aside (Week 12)

by on Nov.29, 2010, under Blog

collin_m_logo_01_smA teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.
Thomas Carruthers

You wouldn’t believe how many people rave about the work Mac Lab students produce. Almost every one of them follows the: Your students do such amazing work comment with: You must be a fantastic teacher! My response is always along the lines of: I just know when to get out of the way.

The problem is, many people think I’m resorting to false modesty; only my best students understand that I’m actually telling the truth.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll freely admit to building what is probably the largest collection of teacher-generated resources on the planet. I pour my heart and soul into the blog—writing posts, recording videos, collecting resources—trying to reach every one of my students. It’s a monumental effort but it’s truly a labor of love.

The problem is, I know that some of my students choose to ignore the blog, thinking it a waste of time, thinking it unnecessary, thinking it has nothing to do with them.

How can I reach them? How do I help those students understand that the blog has everything to do with them?

Of all the lessons in the Mac Lab, the most important have nothing to do with media arts. The most consistent, persistent lessons I teach revolve around personal responsibility and doing the right thing. (Remember, my favorite quote is Richard Bach’s: You teach best what you most need to learn.) I make no secret of the fact that I was a surly, arrogant, know-it-all (or at least I thought I did) or that I made foolish choices in high school. Above all else, I try to teach the kids to be responsible, reliable, moral, ethical, honest, dedicated, hard-working individuals. I encourage them to dream, to choose wisely, to learn from their mistakes, and to just do something! Above all, I try to persuade them to look within, to search for what it is they want to do in life, to find their bliss and work to make it a part of their individual lives.
Summer 2009 Post

Once a kid starts to understand that, then I can feel good about becoming progressively unnecessary in his or her life.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

IMPORTANT: You won’t have time to do all this today. Refer back to this list all week long.

Tip of the Day: Check the TOTD archive and you’ll see that you have a whole bunch of new tutorials to tap into (including today’s).

6 Hours of Fun: Progress Reports are due this weekend so I’ve scheduled another Mac Lab Saturday School™ to help you secure another A. (You did get an A last time, didn’t you?) 6:15 to 12:00

Timesheets: Check your balance! I’ve already added the one hour bonus for NOT using the restroom pass. You cannot earn an A if you owe time.

Speaking of Grades: Please use the rubric to determine your grade and write your grade on the clipboard by this Friday (or Saturday if you’re coming to the MLSS™). There’s a column named GRADES waiting just for you to write your grade on the clipboard. Did I mention that you must use the rubric to determine your grade?

Full Sailing: The concepts of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and Connectivism will be embraced in the Mac Lab from this point forward. Please watch this video and then this one. Get your PLE started this week.

Prezi’s are Coming: You’ll be building your portfolios soon and Prezi is a great way to begin. Veterans who built a Prezi last year may try more sophisticated options. Prezi and Photoshop help here.

Kudos: Thanks to Collin M for the perfect image for this week’s post.

1130: Today’s Tip of the Day is especially helpful (if I do say so myself). Check it out! (Starter File)

Reminder: Don’t forget to check the original post for your to do list this week. Stay in the pink! (Hint, hint.)

1201: Happy December! How’d we get here so quickly? Anyway, today’s Tip of the Day doubles-down with Photoshop and Illustrator skills you need to make your own. See it here. Thanks to Andrew G for teaching me something new about Illustrator.

Raise Your Voice: December’s survey is now online. Please answer honestly.

Reminder: Have I told you not to forget to check the original post for your to do list this week yet? What about staying in the pink? Truly sad for those who ignore this one.

1202: Survey Results are in. Please watch this video. Warning: Groundhog Day if you don’t.

Printing in the Mac Lab: Today’s Tip of the Day will help you print smarter. Images | Webpages or Documents | Starter File.

What’s with the Pink? Oh, I don’t know. Just trying to help students succeed.

1203: Holy contrast, Batman! Today’s Tip of the Day will lead to fantastic logos! >> Starter File

Upset Stomach? Looks like some students will need Pepto Abysmal when they see their grades.

6 Hours of Fun: Progress Reports are due this weekend so I’ve scheduled another Mac Lab Saturday School™ to help you secure another A. (You did get an A last time, didn’t you?) 6:15 to 12:00

Reruns, Skocko? You noticed, eh? Yes, I copied and pasted the 6 Hours of Fun from the original post because students were supposed to read the original post more than once so they wouldn’t get upset next week.

1204: Today’s Tip of the Day is logo-centric + a bonus tip.

Network 101: Watch this Video.

Hey! Our Blog is in the Running: Had no idea this was going on.

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Making Time (Week 11+)

by on Nov.15, 2010, under Blog

philip_b_fall_concert_smEvery creative act… involves a new innocence of perception liberated from the cataract of accepted belief.
Arthur Koestler

You know how it is. Each of us faces our own collection of daily deadlines. For the past two months I’ve simply accepted the fact that there just wasn’t enough time in the day to record all the new tutorials I wanted to make for my students. The online Masters course I’m taking from Full Sail University eats at least 20 hours per week. After school meetings aren’t helping either. This week it’s: Tech Council, Monday (off campus, 3:30-5:30), ROP/CTE, Tuesday (off campus, 3:30-5:30), and Team Leaders, Thursday (on campus, 3:00-5:00). Add a little family time and the obligatory household chores and there’s not much left over unless I cut back even more on sleep. (And that’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster.)

So, what to do?

Surrender is so boring. Instead of accepting the “fact” that there wasn’t enough time, I decided to try something new. Last Monday I told you that I’d be making a Mac Lab Tip of the Day every day. On that same day I posted this on Adobe’ Education Exchange (an educator-only community):

Full Sail University is eating all my time (I’m getting my Masters) and I need a kick in the pants to get moving again on the video tutorial front. I figure the best way to fix the problem is to commit to something crazy, like declaring to my students and the AEE community that I’ll be uploading at least one new video tutorial every day for the foreseeable future.

Posting it on the blog was a serious step. Declaring the same to Adobe and my peers on the Exchange raised the stakes considerably. It reminded me of a quote from The Hunt for Red October:

When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result his men were well motivated.

Yeah, you might say that I’m well motivated too. Nothing like putting one’s reputation on the line. I’m also seriously thrilled at the prospect of how this will help all of you the rest of the year. I don’t have time to make dozens of tutorials every weekend any more but one a day will add up quickly… so long as I don’t relent.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

What “facts” are holding you back? Re-examine Koestler’s quote at the top of the page. What cataract of accepted belief are you suffering from? Instead of surrendering, why not try something crazy too? Engage in your own creative act.

Turn impossible into I’m possible.

They can because they think they can.
Publius Vergilius Maro

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

This Week: Need a break from the self portrait? There’s a number of typographic tutorials in the Tip of the Day archive. Work through the videos in order: Creating a Logotype | Cycling Through Typefaces | Typography Shortcuts | OpenType Options | Customizing Type and Logo Motions. Starter files may be found on the TOTD archive and the individual video pages. When it comes time to design your own identity, check out last year’s gallery and the year before that. Spend some time looking at logos on the Inspiration Page: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 (and watch the video there).

Kudos: Thanks to Philip Behnam for this week’s image featuring some typographic excellence.

1116: I’m curious. Have any of you considered initiating your own creative act? And because I’m not sure you all understood what I meant yesterday, please read this one more time:

What “facts” are holding you back? Re-examine Koestler’s quote at the top of the page. What cataract of accepted belief are you suffering from? Instead of surrendering, why not try something crazy too? Engage in your own creative act.

Turn impossible into I’m possible.

They can because they think they can.
Publius Vergilius Maro

You don’t have to reveal your creative act but leave a comment if you’ve decided to be daring enough to try to liberate yourself from one of your own of accepted beliefs.

Working on Your Logotype? Here’s a page with instructions. Also linked off the To Do Page.

Alignment Strategies: I’d be willing to bet that today’s Tip of the Day contains something useful that you didn’t know.

1117: Typography Tips from FontShop. Scroll down and look for the link that says: Download all Educational materials. (Thanks Judy!)

Mac Lab Fail: Tried twice so far in trying to communicate the following:

What “facts” are holding you back? Re-examine Koestler’s quote at the top of the page. What cataract of accepted belief are you suffering from? Instead of surrendering, why not try something crazy too? Engage in your own creative act.

Turn impossible into I’m possible.

They can because they think they can.
Publius Vergilius Maro

Note: As it says right here, engaging in a creative act — as outlined in this post — is far different than doing something creative in class. I’m still interested in hearing from any of you who are daring enough to try to liberate yourself from one of your own of accepted beliefs. Are you a daring and imaginative individual? Let us know. Leave a comment.

Stroke a Dope: Yes, today’s Tip of the Day will help you claim typographic victory. (Starter File)

1118: Still looking to add your self portrait to the gallery.

Twist and Shout: That’s what I’ll do if you misuse and abuse these special effects in today’s Tip of the Day. (File)

1119: Last chance (before the Turkey Break) to add your self-portrait to the gallery.

Saved by Symbols: Today’s Tip of the Day empowers you flex your symbolic muscles. (Starter File)

An Adobe Shout Out: Kind words from an Adobe Senior Solutions Engineer.

Good Tidings: Have a safe and happy holiday. Be good to one another. If you get lonely for the Mac Lab, don’t fret. I’ll be blogging and adding to The Mac Lab Video Tip of the Day each and every day!

1120: As promised.

1121: And now for something completely different.

1122: Get your head in the game.

1123: A funny thing happened on the way to this week’s post. I had (have) the idea and the image ready to go but yesterday… well, let’s just say the day was rather eventful. On top of that, guess what my first assignment for this month’s Masters class is? Before I tell you, I have to tell you…

Don’t Follow of Comment: We had to start a blog (due tomorrow). Look, I know you can find it on your own so I’ll share the link but I need you to understand that some of the others in the program might not like the idea of students wandering about. But heck, it’s on the Internet so it’s all public information as far as I’m concerned. Just to be polite and to maintain the illusion of privacy for the others, please do NOT follow or comment on my Blogger blog. Okay? Okay. Oh, and the first post had to be titled: BP1_Welcome to My Blog (the other 18 posts this month have similarly thrilling, oh-so-engaging, required titles). Click.

The New Plan: I’ll just use this post for the rest of this week.

Raster to Vector: Today’s Tip of the Day is just a click away.

1124 Whitening Warning: Don’t overdo this Tip of the Day or you’ll howl at the moon.

1125 Prezi Project: Today’s Happy Thanksgiving Tip of the Day is built around Photoshop workflow and leads to a separate project page with additional videos.

1126: Today’s Tip of the Day features navigating about a large PSD plus a preview of tips to come. Fonts | File

1127: Make a Photoshop Resolution for today’s Tip of the Day.

Speaking of Printers: Our old all in one printer finally kicked the bucket so we needed to order a new one. If you’re in the market for one check the Epson WorkForce 610 All-in-One Printer on Epson’s site. Only $60 with $140 instant rebate. After tax and shipping the cost was only $76. Amazing price for a nice piece of technology!

1128: The unthinkable. Skocko shows you how to upsample in today’s Tip of the Day. Starter file.

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Landmarks and Breakthroughs (Week 10)

by on Nov.08, 2010, under Blog

mark_l_self_portrait_01_smAt some stage in the process of creation, the creative product—whether painting, poem, or scientific theory—takes on a life of its own and transmits its own needs to its creator. It stands apart from him and summons material from his subconscious. The creator, then, must know when to cease directing his work and when to allow it to direct him. He must know, in short, when his work is likely to be wiser than he.
—George Kneller / The Art and Science of Creativity

The Mac Lab is currently undergoing a bit of re-creation as we modify the policies, procedures, and expectations to make the experience more rewarding for all of us. I’m well aware of how circumstances seem to mysteriously align sometimes to allow for yet another piece of the puzzle to slide into place. I’m also cognizant of my own place in the process and I try to behave as proactively as possible to facilitate positive results—to take advantage of what Cyril Connolly wrote in Previous Convictions:

It is impossible to undertake any kind of research without being perpetually made aware that the truth is plying us with suggestions, the past prodding us with hints, and if no benefits result from such assistance, it is not the fault of our heavenly helpers but of our all too human obtuseness.

So? What does this have to do with you?

When you’re working on your own projects, please don’t forget your own place in the process. Embrace and utilize what’s written above as well as the quotes from last week. As artists, you need to be aware of the ebb and flow of circumstances in order to ride the crest of your own creative wave. The 5 Stages are your ally in this endeavor. Everyone is capable of tapping into their own unique flavor of creative energy. Like all good things, it takes a bit of effort though. Those who refuse to try are simply cheating themselves.

The Mac Lab Tip of the Day: Moving the page to right here. Bookmark ’em, Danno. Here’s the first tip. Count on a new one every day.

Monday’s Good News: Paint the World with Light is the cover story for the December issue of School Arts Magazine (educator-only). Here’s the article: Page 1 and pages 2 and 3. Did you notice that the article mentions F L O A T? Time to get to work capturing your own submissions for this world-wide collaborative project.

Tuesday’s Even Better News: Wait until you see the splash the Video/Photography Team is about to make! All will be revealed tomorrow.

Kudos: Mac Lab Rookie, Mark L, scores with his first self portrait. Notice anything familiar about his pose? Look at the background over Mark’s shoulder. Check the Wall of Fame. Yep, he based his pose on big brother Christian’s winner from last year.

1109: Philip Behnam has extended an offer to mentor current students in the art of poster design. He’s available from 6:30 to 8:20, nutrition break, lunch, and 7th period. Interested? See his offer here.

The Ad that Launched a Thousand Sales: The wait is over. What are Zipbuds? See the ad. An Epic Win for Steven, Christopher, Kyle, Philip, Christian, Danny, Fadi, Evan, and Collin’s jacket. 😛

Tip of the Day: You are a Desktop Picture (Wallpaper)

Scholarship Opportunity: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are now accepting submissions. There are 14 categories to enter and many scholarships to be won. The deadline for entries is December 17, 2010 for Art and January 28, 2011 for Video Games. Categories. FAQ. Click to register.

1110: I want your finished self portraits. Well, I want those good enough to feature in the gallery. Not sure? Check out last year’s gallery or the year before that. When you’re sure, rename your Illustrator file (using your own first name and last initial): and put it in my Drop Box. Don’t know how? You must not have watched this Tip of the Day. What? You have more than one great self portrait? Great! Name the second one: and drop it in too.

Tip of the Day: The Missing Toolbar Video.

Coming Up Next Week: Your own logo/identity designs. Here’s last year’s gallery and the year before that. Want to get ideas over the next four days? Logos on the Inspiration Page: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 (and watch the video there)

1111: Today’s Tip of the Day features instructions on how to create your first logotype.

1112: Today’s Tip of the Day features instructions on how to cycle through typefaces.

1113: Today’s Tip of the Day features a tour through the Character Panel.

1114: Today’s Tip of the Day features some OpenType Secrets.

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Ask Seek Find Believe (Week 9)

by on Nov.01, 2010, under Blog

kyle_shoots_philip_smThe function of thinking is not just solving an actual problem but discovering, envisaging, going into deeper questions. Often in great discoveries the most important thing is that a question is found. Envisaging, putting the productive question is often more important, often a greater achievement than solution of a set question.
Max Wertheimer / Productive Thinking

Do you remember the Albert Einstein’s opinion about the importance of formulating questions? Do you believe he’s right? What about E. E. Cummings profound observation? Consider the questions I’ve posed here. What’s your take? (You do realize that it’s kind of hard to answer those questions honestly without first checking the links.)

I’ve offered you a free pass to your ZIM! The question is: Do you know what to do with it?

Innocence, sometimes leaps to correct conclusions
when knowledge makes one resist with all one’s might.
David Brin & Gregory Benford / Heart of the Comet

What questions are you asking? What is it you’re most interested in?

Pay attention to the whispers of your soul.
Trust them as you would a map, because that’s what they are.
— Andrew Heller

Remember all the options you have to choose from?

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

If you don’t believe in the answers you find, who will?

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Vote: Now I have a few specific questions for you. Please fill out this survey.

Capturing the Moment of Capturing a Moment: Kyle Wheaton nailed this shot of Philip Behnam concentrating on capturing his own photograph.

1102: Today is election day and I’ll be casting my ballot after school. While the country must wait until tonight to see who won or lost, the final results from the First Great Mac Lab Survey™ are already in. Watch this short video to see how you can get your hands on the results.

The following is an excerpt from a much longer letter I was privileged to receive in June of 2009 (after graduation). The comments [in brackets] were edited to eliminate the [profanity]. Please take a moment to read this prior to our class discussion today.

Reason number five to thank you.
The Blog and your pre-class speeches. Ooooooh the Blog. The 3 minutes of reading every day before every class for the second semester. What a stupid idea I thought every day. Reading about someone I don’t care about or about one of your memories or about some stupid movie. Whatever big whoop. No. I know that’s what I thought in the beginning but I refuse to remember that that’s how it was. The Blog HELPS. Tell your new students who think it’s stupid that the kid who made those three cars on the Wall of Fame said that. Because it really is a resource that EVERYONE should grasp onto. It’s an important part of my day now Skocko, every day. And your speeches which always seemed like an eternity but were only 5 minutes. I apologize for all the times you had to mark me down for not paying attention. But I was so eager to work in all honesty. I really do take in every word you say and It always means a lot to me. You have taught me so much…

Alex is currently attending the Art Institute. His work is featured on three of our Walls of Fame™ and on one of equipment cabinets. He truly was a pain in the [something] sometimes and he’ll make one heck of a digital artist, 3D modeler, game designer, (insert any other artistic career) if he sticks with it.

1103: Today’s update won’t happen until just before 2nd period. Don’t want the early birds catching a bit of the worm too soon. 😉

Must See TV: You may NOT work until you answer all three questions…

  • What’s playing RIGHT now on our favorite channel?
  • What’s listed RIGHT below it?

Rules: Do NOT shout out the answers. Come up to me, one at a time, and whisper them.

A Little Bitly Hint: The answers are RIGHT in front of your eyes (and pouring into your ears).

What? You still don’t see it? (Or hear it?) Lyall Watson said that would happen:

The paradox has been apparent for some time,
but it seems to be one of those things that looms so large
and are so blatantly obvious that they are difficult to see.

Don’t be a Bird Brain: The answer’s RIGHT over there. What? You still need another hint? Okay…

  • What’s Inspiring and Informative?

Early Bird Treat: Check this out. Don’t watch this during class (it’s 20 minutes long). It is worth checking out at home though. An Epic Win!

End of Day: Answers: One | Two | Three | Here’s a screenshot of what the kids were looking for. And here’s the song that played on endless loop. It really was a fun day. 😛

1104: Thanks to all for playing yesterday. Hope it was fun AND informative.

Guest Speaker: Professor McGonigal makes a visit to the Mac Lab today. No, not this McGonagall, this one. I’ll be playing her TED talk on the big screen each period. This is an optional activity: You may work. You may watch. You may do a bit of both. The name of the talk? Gaming can make a better world. From the Institute for the Future.

Speaking of Games: Did you check the Answers I added yesterday? Easy, eh? (And I didn’t even point out all of the RIGHT and Twitter references.)

Question: Did any of you even think about Watson’s quote?

The paradox has been apparent for some time,
but it seems to be one of those things that looms so large
and are so blatantly obvious that they are difficult to see.

Don’t you wonder what he’s talking about? What else might be hiding right in front of us?

1105: Two short kinetic typography videos today to keep you thinking of how you might show that you know the Elements and Principles (01 | 02) and Color Theory (01 | 02).

Six Hours of Fun: The only Mac Lab Saturday School™ of November is tomorrow from 6:15 to 12:00. Don’t despair, be there!

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Gallery 032 — 1011 Self Portraits

by on Nov.01, 2010, under Galleries

max_m_sp_02_smThe 2001/11 Self Portrait Gallery is now live. Submit your entries and join the party!

1011 Self Portrait Gallery

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Learn it all.