Calvin Barnes – Bots4Tots
 

Author: Calvin Barnes

Prepare Yourself for Class

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When preparing for class, make sure you buy everything you know you will need. Don´t buy any books until after the first class though, because a class might be canceled or the list of literature can change. Arrive early for class since it might be difficult to hear if you sit too far back in a large classroom.

By preparing before class, you will make a good impression on your teacher, as well as feeling more at ease. There are many different ways you can prepare for class. The first thing that will help you to prepare for class is to buy the books you will need for  the class. Don´t do this before the first lecture though, as classes can be canceled or the list of literature can be changed.

You should bring enough materials for it to be sufficient for pop quizes or essays that your teacher hasn´t announced. Also be sure that you have finished all the reading at least the day before it´s due. Check your syllabus and manage your time. Make sure that before classes start, you should have bought everything you might need. This includes pens and pencils in different colors, rulers, different types of papers and post-its. It could also be helpful to have one folder or binder for each class to keep your papers apart.

Before class prepare any questions you might have so that you can ask your teacher about them. An alternative is to form a study group where you can prepare for class together.

It is important to also prepare yourself mentally. This will help you stay focused and make sure that you´re able to actively participate in the discussions that are bound to take place. While in class it is very important to pay attention, and therefore you should come to class well rested. Another way to prepare mentally is to tell yourself why you´re taking the class. If you do well, the chances are greater that your teacher will remember you after you graduate. Contacts like that will be valuable for when you´re looking for a job after graduation.

It is good to arrive early, and to sit somewhere in the front as it can be difficult to hear what´s being said in large classrooms. Sitting in the front is also a good way to let your professor know that you´re paying attention. Try, as much as possible, to sign up for classes that suit you as a person. If you´re a night owl, it might be a good idea to not sign up for classes that start early in the morning.

Phone Interview Tips: How to be Successful at Telephone Interviews

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1) Match your style to the interviewers: If the interviewer uses lots of technical terms and industry jargon so should you, if you know what they mean! If it becomes clear that your interviewer is a general recruiter– you will need to convey your broader skills set to them- they are not so interested in the technical aspects of the role, but will you fit into the company and your general personality traits.

2) Never interrupt- be a conversationalist: count to two or three seconds after the interviewer stops talking before you start. Do not be afraid of short silences- the interviewer will expect you to take some time to gather you thoughts. Listen properly- acknowledge them with the occasional supportive noise… use their name correctly- never use first names unless they suggest it… drop in the company’s name occasionally.

3) Avoid negative words: be positive, confident. Show that you are a problem solver not a problem maker.

4) Consider your voice, posture, appearance and body language:

DO

Answer the phone professionally- Hello, this is Jane or Hello, Ashik speaking.

Wear suitable clothes- as if they could see you. It helps you get into the role

Speak while standing up or walking around- it makes a difference to the projection and quality of your voice

DO NOT

Smoke, chew gum, eat or drink while on the phone- but do have water handy

10) Ask questions: remember to ask your questions that you have prepared beforehand.

At the end of the interview:

Be ready to recap your fit for the job- have a 30 second summary of why you are right for this role.

Clarify the next steps:

  • When can you expect to hear from them?
  • Do you have permission to contact them if you have not heard from them in an agreed time?
  • Make sure you have all their exact contact details

Remember: your goal is to get a face-to-face interview

Keep Your Website Simple

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Just about everyone these days uses the net at some point.

It goes without saying that the net is incredibly useful – it should be the very definition of helpful! Anything you might ever possibly need to know is only a few clicks away from you. There truly is every service you could ever need, from speaking with people around the world to playing online games, enjoying shows and playing new music. Just what do you do if you believe there is a website that’s not there and you wish to assemble it? How does one go about including your own personal small place onto the internet for those who have an enterprise or a rock band that you would like to supply on-line info for? On the subject of your own spot upon the online world you have a few choices. Free web-site constructing sites are around and these are adequate for a lot of things. For full power over your internet site, and to have an email address that matches your URL you’re going to have to start over completely from scratch and have a web designer to get it done to suit your needs.

Choosing a website to ask a question can be tricky because there are so many out there, but at this time let me suggest Behance because I know they do fantastic work. Of course, if you know someone in the business you’ll probably choose them! When you have found\located a web design service you’ll start the development portion. At this stage, a web-based designer is going to inquire what you need on there, and this is the best time to move back and think carefully. You will most probably need to do something really elaborate – the majority of people do. Nonetheless, this is certainly never a wise decision. Above all, internet sites must do a task. This is certainly their primary attribute. A web site is largely to keep information and facts in a manner that is readily found and site visitors should certainly do that without any hassle or hassles.

Web users will just click away from your web-site if they really don’t find what they want right away simply because some of them have very small attention spans. Overlooking any styling choices which you go for, the menus need to be clear and simple to follow along with.

Selection tools should be obviously visible on each and every webpage, as well as the homepage, ought to provide an indication of what the complete site holds. Keep web page loading times down and don’t have way too many fancy Flash animated graphics or animated GIFs – things that were once well-liked have finally started to look outdated and amateurish.

The largest and most prestigious organizations in the world have internet sites that are frequently very simple and easy to use. These kinds of big corporations know that to help keep clients they need to provide a good consumer experience, and a website that is easy to use is that in a nutshell.

TMNT: Turtles in Time HD Remix on for $4.99 for PS3

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Recently, I’ve been jonesing for some retro-game action, but with the multitude of games awesome I’ve experienced over the years, I had no idea where I should start. I went to Twitter and was directed at Paperboy and Sonic 2 by @liloart, Punch Out by @SuzieWarCry, Pitfall and Space Invaders by @40Tech, and reminded myself of Zaxxon and Bubsy and a few other greats from the 80’s and early 90’s. I couldn’t choose and, as I was just about to settle in and just some Dragon Age: Origins on PS3, the Playstation Store nabbed me with an ad for the High Definition remaster of TMNT: Turtles in Time one of the greatest, action-packed, beat-the-crap-out-of-the-bad-guys side-scrollers since Double Dragon – and it was on sale for $4.99.

I have to say, I’m normally not into Playstation Store games, but who can complain about a fully realized 3D version of some original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Not me! Not much anyway. I mean, it would have been cool if the characters were cell-shaded so they looked more cartoony, but aside from that, TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is just as fun as (if not more than) the original SNES (Super Nintendo)  and Arcade classic.

The game was released for Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network back in August of 2009, and was hit hard by the critics – but mostly because it was grossly overpriced at $9.99 on PSN and 800 Points for Xbox Live. I remember it back then and I, too, laughed at that price. TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is on sale now, though, for PS3, at the much more reasonable price of $4.99(sorry Xbox 360 peoples, it’s still 800 points for you, which is around $11-$12). This is a “limited time offer”, though, so jump on it while you can!

Features:

  • New graphics and sound
  • Attack in full 3D – eight directions
  • Play Online with up to 4 Players in Co-Op Mode
  • Survival Mode and QuickPlay Mode
  • Multiple Difficulty levels
  • Achievement/Trophy support for you trophy hounds
  • Awesome smart-ass vocals re-recorded by the original cast of the 2003 cartoon!

A Couple of Misses:

For you folks looking to relive the SNES version of TMNT (IV): Turtles in TIme, this game is based off of the original arcade version and so is missing the extra stages and enemy characters you might be used to.

As mentioned earlier, the new graphics are cool and fun, but a little cell shading would have gone a long way to keep the original cartoon feel.

If you’re looking for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fun, to scratch that nostalgia itch, some low-cost action on your Playstation 3, or all of the above, I highly recommend this game!

Heavy Rain: Dark, Gloomy Immersive

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Heavy Rain is awesome.

Created by the same folk as the equally moody Indigo Prophecy (aka Fahrenheit to the unedited world outside of North America), Heavy Rain is a deeply granular and immersive dramatic thriller surrounding the mystery of the Origami Killer; a serial murderer who uses bouts of exceedingly heavy rainfall to drown his victims. This game draws you in deep, with a  story that plays out like a movie – but a movie in which your choices and your skill are in control, leading you seamlessly to one of 22 possible endings.

Twitter Friend @liloart says: It’s soooooo good! the music, loading screens, and the 22 different possible endings are some of my personal highlights.

Story

You play four characters in the story:

Ethan Mars: A father who is trying to save his son from being the next victim

Madison Paige: Investigative journalist

Norman Jayden: FBI Profiler

Scott Shelby: A Private Detective hired to track down clues to the Origami Killers identity

The characters are well rounded people, each with their own difficult choices to make, but it’s the story and their place in it that will keep you coming back for more. Not to mention the story’s flow. It is dark and engaging and truly interactive main characters can die, man! And everything just rolls out as if it were all a part of the grand scheme of the story. The 22 different endings are, once again, completely dependent on the choices you make and how well you play the game – but you don’t need to play through every possible combination to get the full effect. It definitely makes for a bit of long term replayability, though, if you’re into it.

Gameplay

The controls for Heavy rain are, thankfully, much better than Indigo Prophecy. The predecessor of Heavy Rain was often so frustrating that you could lose sense of the story or will to play, but the folk at Quantic Dream made terrific use of the Playstation 3 control scheme. The game tells you what control combinations you need to enter in order to accomplish objectives from climbing, to fighting, to conversing, to using your asthma inhaler before you die (that’s what I meant by granular), but they don’t generally detract from the mood or flow of the story. In fact, even if you fail at something or pick the wrong conversation element by accident, the story branches off so seamlessly into new direction that you may think it was supposed to happen that way.

It should be noted though, for the more impatient gamers out there, that while the granular nature of the character control is pretty cool, there are times when you would probably rather that the game would just move on (as opposed to making you do special combinations just to walk up a flight of stairs or something).

Who is the King of Silent Comedy?

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During the era of silent films, comedy was the quintessential genre. Comedians, such as Roscoe “Fatty Arbuckle, and the hilarious duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy brought both laughs and giggles from audiences across the country. Even though there were numerous silent comedians that were hilarious in their heyday, the debate of who is the best silent comedian of all time often centers around three men: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. I recently came across an article that compared and contrasted the characteristics, styles, performances, and films of each comedian.

This particular article gives a general overview of the movies and “umpteenth internet debate to determine who’s the best comic artist of the silent era,” but it also links to specific articles that give reasons as to why one of the three should be considered the king of silent comedy. Each of the three brings a different aspect to the silent comedy genre: Chaplin’s elegant and refined comedic antics, Keaton’s strong, physical and athletic gags, and Lloyd’s mixture of the two. As people often say, this is one of the hardest debates when it comes to film.

If the final decision was up to me, I would have to declare Buster Keaton as my favorite of the silent film comedians with Harold Lloyd in second and Charlie Chaplin coming in at third.

I would almost always choose to watch a Keaton film over other silent films, including many of Chaplin’s and Lloyd’s. I have never enjoyed the antics of Chaplin and Lloyd as much as I have Keaton’s. Keaton, often referred to as “The Great Stone Face,” blew many people away, including me, with his hilarious and seemingly impossible gags and stunts.

I completely respect Chaplin and Lloyd and enjoy many of their films, but I don’t believe that their films can even compare to the hilarity and expertise of a Buster Keaton picture. This may be a running debate for many years to come, but in my opinion, it is over. Let me know in the comment section who you believe is the best silent film era comedian.

Back From SabBOTical

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A pardon we beg from all of our bot-tastic readers and Twitter-followers for such a prolonged absence! Our two week adventure turned into four times that, packed full of traveling, family and investigations into prospective opportunities for future Bots 4 Tots development. To be certain, though, our minds were never far from the world of robotics!
One of our adventures took Don and I to Science World at TELUS World of Science in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, we were delighted by the robotic band in the Our World exhibit; we brought it to life for our enjoyment purely by alternate energy sources FTW! Also, we visited Science World’s Omnimax Theatre where we viewed the very well-executed and touching film, Roving Mars. Robots in space get me every time.
But wait, there’s more! Our good friends at Luscious Layers, who have kindly provided cupcakes for our participating Bots 4 Tots youngsters in the past, have asked for our help in roboticizing (I just made that word up. Take that Merriam-Webster.) cakes. Yes, you read correctly. Robot cakes. Boosh. We started where most burgeoning hobby electronics projects start: we lit an LED. In our first cooperative project, we effected a very impressive cake that included lit LEDs as part of the sky-motif decoration. It is a rather extraordinary design because all you need to do is insert the LEDs into the cake and they will light up, and furthermore you can cut a slice including an LED out of it and the slice will come out cleanly and the LED will turn off as the slice separates from the rest of the cake. Can you guess how we did it? Hint: we did not electrify the cake.
And then there was Halloween, quite possibly our favorite day of the year. It turns out that this is also true for our friends at Luscious Layers; they decided that this “All Hallows Even” was the perfect opportunity to take our epicurean madness to the next level. Behold: the Arduino-animated, palatable-yet-programmable, raucously-raspberry-filled-red-velvet Zombie Cake from Beyond the Grrrraaavvve! Where will we go from here? Only time will tell.
Last but not least, we have also been spending a good deal of these past two months discussing the future of Bots 4 Tots. Don and I have decided to make some exciting site and program changes, which I will post more on in the very near future! We are also in the midst of planning our upcoming Winter 2009 auction (featuring the always awesome Bunk Bots), the specifics of our planned Winter 2009/2010 workshop sessions, and lots of other good stuff to ensure that kids will be building robots well into the new year. Thanks to all of you who have helped and are helping to make Bots 4 Tots a successful program!

 

Robots to Star in Opera

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Fans worldwide wonder if it will be sung entirely in C#.

“Death and the Powers” is the first Robotic Opera ever produced, and is currently in development as a collaborative project by the MIT Media Lab and the American Repertory Theater. It is scheduled to open Fall of next year (2010), premiering internationally at locations including the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in Massachusetts as well as the Chicago Opera Theater. Read on! You really want to hear the rest of this, it’s good!
What do Yo-Yo Ma, Prince and Guitar Hero have in common? Tod Machover, that’s what!
Composed by Tod Machover of MIT’s Media Lab, this opera will prove to be one of the freshest additions not only to the world of opera, but to the music world itself! See the video below to get the whole scoop directly from Mr. Machover himself. He speaks of the opera from minute 7:33 to 10:15, but I highly suggest watching the whole thing to get a better understanding of what this man does, and how he may have already changed the way humans understand and interact with music!

If you don’t have the 20 minutes it takes to watch the above video, or even the three minutes it takes to watch the segment I referred to, read this:
“It is a one-act, full evening work that tells the story of Simon Powers, a successful and powerful businessman and inventor, who wants to go beyond the bounds of humanity. Reaching the end of his life, Powers faces the question of his legacy: ‘When I die, what remains? What will I leave behind? What can I control? What can I perpetuate?’ He is now conducting the last experiment of his life, passing from one form of existence to another in an effort to project himself into the future. Whether or not he is actually alive is a question. Simon Powers is himself now a System. His family, friends and associates must decide what this means, how it affects them, and whether to follow.
New performance technologies for Death and the Powers are being developed at the MIT Media Lab, including a new technique of Disembodied Performance to translate Simon’s offstage performance into an expressively animated stage. Other novel ‘instruments’ include a Musical Chandelier and a chorus of robots.” source
Oh, and that little snippet didn’t mention the fact that the chandelier gobbles up the main character, the chorus of robots will interact, dance and perform autonomously, and that there are also living bookcases devoted to expressing the attitude of the disembodied librettist.
I have a feeling you’ve just found the time to go back and watch that clip.

Bots.Gov

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Senate views latest in Cyber-Physical Systems.

Last month, the National Science Foundation hosted a luncheon at the Hart Senate Office building in Washington, D.C., in order to familiarize U.S. Senate members with the most recent advances being made in the field of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS, for short). This meeting stressed the importance of the research being done, and illustrated the importance of CPS in such varied applications as surgery, clinical trials, and traffic control as well as many other such useful or life-saving scenarios.
“The event brought together more than 50 researchers and students who are conducting CPS research across the country, giving them the opportunity to inform policymakers on Capitol Hill about how that research may impact many of the challenges the federal government is grappling with, including making health care more efficient and effective, revitalizing the auto industry and revamping the U.S. economy.
… Experts believe that CPS technologies will increasingly affect our wellbeing, security, and competitiveness, in a variety of areas including aerospace, automobiles, civil infrastructure, energy, finance, healthcare and manufacturing.” source
The National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency created in 1950, provides about twenty percent of all federally funded basic research conducted by colleges and universities in America. In other words, they are the best people there are to tell our government’s representatives: “Hey, robots are way cool!”.

Robotics Summer Camp

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Robot Extravaganza… way better than lanyards.

The San Jacinto College of Pasadena, TX, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation, is hosting a series of week-long summer camps called Robot Extravaganza. In these camps, eight and ninth graders are participating in problem solving, field trips and projects that focus on the fascinating world of robotics! This is Robot Extravagnaza’s second year, and this year they are offering three levels of difficulty in their courses. We applaud the teachers, students and parents involved in the planning and participation of this camp! The Bots4Tots teams sends a resounding “holla at ‘cha”!

The Robot Extravaganza planners and partners, such as the N.S.F., want not only to introduce today’s young American student to the fascinating world of technology, but moreover to engage and educate him/her in that world. The goal is to prepare the coming generation of professional minds in such a way that, as their hobbies perhaps evolve into careers, they can make an impact on and improve the technology of our world.

“This program is interested in addressing such questions as:  What does it take to effectively interest and prepare students to participate in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce of the future?  What are the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students need in order to participate productively in the changing STEM workforce and be innovators, particularly in STEM-related networked computing and information and communication technology (ICT) areas?” 

The students are using the Lego System Mindstorm’s NXT kits; they are making robotic arms, anthropomorphic robots, canimorphic robots (that’s “robot doggies” in layman’s), and they are even designing and creating their own robots as well!

“And, it can even get a little competitive: after building their own robots, campers are told to build a difficult maze. ‘The first task is can they themselves go through their own maze, and the second is can they go through their opponents’ maze,’ [camp director Johnny] Moya said.”

Also, Meet ROBOT DON, a fun college essay checker.

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