Google Photos

I love Google Photos.

I go through smart phones pretty quickly (every 6 months or so) and in the past have been horrible about backing up my pictures. The net effect being I’ve lost several years worth of pictures. Google Photos has solved this problem for me.  It automatically backs up my pictures to the cloud. And with a couple of settings tweaks it backs them up to my Google Drive.

Even more awesome Google Photos will soon do automatic document scanning…  along the lines of this:

 

Capturing Keystrokes and Mouse Clicks – TinyTask

I found myself repeating the same set of actions multiple times. One of the things computers are supposed to be good at is repetitive tasks so I decided to find a way to automate this process. I tried several programs but the majority of them had issues that I didn’t want to deal with either being overly complicated or trialware or buggy.

Then I stumbled across a program called TinyTask. It did everything I wanted and nothing that I didn’t. It was also simple to use.

I decided to host a version of the software here for a couple of reasons: I don’t trust download sites and I might want this program at school but most download sites are blocked there while my website is not.

tinytask.tar

Introducing Coding to a Six Year Old

I’ve wanted to look at Scratch for a while but haven’t really had a need. And without a need it’s hard to justify the time. However, Jennifer and I decided Brady’s present from Santa this year is going to be the new Lego Boost set.  I think he’s ready for it, but the coding aspect of it makes me a little hesitant.

Today I thought I would see if Brady was interested in coding.  I know he’s naturally curious but I’m scared of overwhelming him. So I decided to go at this in very small steps.

The first thing I asked him to do was to draw me a picture using crayons. He decided upon a couple of flowers. Once he was done with the picture I asked if he thought he could recreate it on the computer.

At first we tried the built in editor in Scratch but he didn’t have the dexterity for that so I installed Tuxpaint. This worked perfectly.  I saved the background image and then asked him if there were any animals which liked flowers.  He said that bee’s love flowers. I asked if he was interested in trying to draw a bee.  He was. And did. I saved this bee as a separate image.

I had to spend a couple of minutes getting the image sizes right and adding a transparency to the bee but once that was done I asked him if he could help me write our first program. He decided that he wanted to be able to make the bee fly around the screen. A couple of minutes later we had come up with the following:

Scratch code for Brady's Bee
Scratch code for Brady’s Bee

The end result:

His face lit up when he figured out how to control his bee. (This requires Flash.)

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