Scratch: learn visual programming

July 14, 2010

Scratch is a great way to introduce kids (or anyone) to how programming works. There is a stage in which you put characters (“sprites”) and a box off to the side where you can drag and drop “blocks” of code that fit together and run in a sequence. Scratch is fairly simple, but if you need help, check out Download Scratch here.

This may sound like a childish waste of time, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. For educators specifically, Scratch helps foster problem solving and also some collaboration. Recently, Google released a service called App Inventor. App Inventor is a site where you can make Android apps without having prior experience in coding. Similar to Scratch, it uses blocks of code along with a visual box to show how your code will work when activated. App Inventor has the potential to become a very successful platform.

Don’t ever dismiss Scratch as a kid’s toy. It’s an educational resource. Now only if Apple would make one…



4 ways to use your iPhone/iPod Touch as a flash drive

July 1, 2010

The concept of the iPhone/iPod Touch is to create the ultimate all-in-one device. One big part that is missing: a flash drive (yes, I know, it can’t make coffee or toast either.) The following are three ways you can use your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad as a flash drive. The first 3 work on Macs and PCs and the fourth is Mac-only.

1. iPhone Explorer – free download that can browse media folder of device without jailbreaking, can view root directory if you jailbreak

2. Use a wifi flash drive app for iphone- There are many of these to be found on the app store. Open the app, then your computer’s web browser, and go to the address it tells you to transfer files. DOES NOT transfer pics, etc. manually like iPhone explorer, and has slow upload speeds. I use Files Lite- it is limited to 200mb so that some users will upgrade to the paid version, but there are many similar apps out there that may be a better deal

3. Use an app and service like Dropbox– Dropbox stores your files in a cloud and can access them from any web browser on any computer. They have an iPhone app to make this easy to manage.

4. PhoneDisk – PhoneDisk is free for a limited time. It does largely the same thing as iPhone explorer does, but the main difference is that when it detects an iPhone, it mounts it as a native disk. For mac only.


Get a discount on Apple MobileMe

June 30, 2010

Whether you have it or not, you can’t be a loyal Apple fan without knowing what MobileMe is. You knew you wanted it, but maybe the $99/yr price tag was too steep. Even if that isn’t too much for you, this could still save you some cash.

First, if you are a new customer, take advantage of their 60-day free trial @ before you pay.

Then, go to eBay and search for “mobileme” or “mobileme family”- whichever best suits your needs. You can easily get the box for $69, or so- you could probably get it for less if you’re into the bidding. All that the box contains is a special online activation code- if you don’t want to wait/bother on shipping,

many sellers will gladly open the box and email the code to you.

MobileMe code I found on eBay

You can buy a new code every year this same way to keep your account running, according to what I’ve read.

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Curb for Mac: Empty an individual disk’s trash

June 2, 2010

Curb Main window beside Curb preferences

Have you ever been annoyed at how difficult it is to delete the trash off of your flash drive? On a Mac, it shows all disks’ trash in one spot rather than each individual disk seperately. On Windows, it deletes your files immediately. For Macs, there is an easy solution: download Curb. To use curb, just drag a disk onto its window and it empties the trash for just that device. Done. It can also transfer the disk’s trash to the local trash and off the flash drive, if you wish.

On Windows, it is just a little more difficult. You can just create a regular folder on the device and put unwanted files in it (unfortunately, you won’t be able to use the delete key to move items there). Then, when your device runs out of space or you just want more space, go into that folder and permanently delete the files like you normally would. Not too hard.