Art Exploration

I took a bunch of photos of my kids today with our digital camera.  I really wanted to catch photos of them doing “real life” things, which was a challenge.  I captured quite a few shots that I am happy with and downloaded them onto our computer.  Now I have to check out the different photo editing programs on our computer and see what I can do with the photos.  I want to create an interesting collage with my favorites.

I have been playing around with the We Feel Fine website today and showing it to my family.  It has been interesting to see what people are saying on the weblogs.  We narrowed it down just for Corvallis, which was fun.  My son is learning how to create animation with Java, so he really appreciated the self-organizing particle system.  My favorite was the Mounds page because it was fun to roll the mouse over each mound and jiggle it around!

Art Project Ideas

I have been brainstorming for the past few days to come up with ideas for my art project.  I really want to do something on the computer because I am truly appreciating all the new computer skills I have learned for this class.  My husband does fun things on the computer with photos and video, but I never have.  I am thinking that I want to take digital photos of my kids and see what I can create with them using the programs on our home computer.  It will be fun checking out the different programs we have and figuring out what I can create!

Research

I have been figuring out what information I need to complete my Financial Analysis report.  My financial situation is made more complicated by the fact that I own a business.  My personal finances are very connected to my business.

I have been researching the cost of used diesel powered cars in the area, as well as hybrid vehicles.  I need to analyze our current vehicle situation and think about which vehicles (home and business) we really need to keep.  I have also researched the Kelley Blue Book value of our current vehicles so that I can determine which, if any, I should sell.  My husband and I had a conversation about what our ultimate goal should be – to eliminate all car payments (which will mean that we can only afford a fairly used car) or if we would be OK still having a small car payment so that we can purchase a newer car.  We didn’t come to a decision, but we are open to exploring all options.  I am going to use Excel to create a spreadsheet showing a few different financial scenarios.

Brainstorming

I have been thinking this week about what I want to do for my Financial Analysis project.  There are a number of things that came to mind – buying a horse, purchasing an investment rental property, buying and installing a solar water heater for our house.  In the end, I think I have decided on purchasing a used diesel powered small car that we can convert and run with biodiesel.  My husband and I have been talking for a while about getting a smaller car now that our children are older and we are usually just running one or two  of them around at a time.  We have also been wanting to reduce our family’s dependence on fossil fuels in general and my husband, a chemical engineer, really wants to make his own biodiesel.  Last weekend I drove to Portland  (by myself) to pick up my sister at the airport in our minivan.  I was thinking on the way up there that it was such a waste to take a big car that seats 7 passengers when I only had 2.  This project will require me to analyze the vehicles we currently have, both personally and for our catering business.  I am excited to be using this for my class project because my husband and I want to get this car sometime soon, so I want to find a way to make it financially possible.

Photo challenges

My biggest challenge this week has been trying to find a way to take photos of my cell phone display screen.  I really wanted to put those photos into my teaching module to show people what screen they would see each time they pressed a button.  However, I have been unable to produce clear photos.  If the flash goes off it just makes the screen look like a glare.  If I don’t use the flash, the photos are blurry and you can’t really see the screen.  I looked online for screen shots, but couldn’t find any.  I was able to get some nice photos of the phone itself to put into my report and teaching module, so that will have to be good enough.  I also made my instructions really detailed (maybe too much so!) in hopes that they will be easy to follow without being able to see each display screen.

Learning to program my cell phone

I have spent time this week figuring out my cell phone.  First, I looked online to see if there was already a teaching module for what I am trying to do.  I found a couple that show you how to do other things with the RAZR phone, but not one that shows you how to add a photo and personalized ringtone for each caller in your contact list.  I am planning to add my teaching module to one of the instructable sites online so others can use what I have learned.  I figured out how to add a photo for the people in my phone book and had fun trying it out at my childrens’ birthday party.  It was the perfect opportunity to get a bunch of different people’s photos.  Now, I am going to learn how to give my callers a personalized ringtone.  I have to say, I am feeling really pleased with myself!  Not that it has been difficult to figure out how to use my cell phone more fully, but just that I am catching up with the times.  This project has inspired me to see what else my cell phone can do!

Topic idea

I have spent a lot of time this past week thinking of ideas for my teaching project.  I want to learn about and teach a form of technology that is truly interesting and useful to me.   After running through a number of ideas, I have decided to learn how to program my cell phone.  I only use my phone to make and answer calls and I want to learn how to do more with it.  One function that I think is fun is to have a unique ring tone and photo display for each caller.  I couldn’t do this for all of the people in my address book, but I would like to do it for the people who I talk to the most.  So, I am going to learn how to set-up these caller features in my Motorola Razor phone.

WordPress craziness

I have found a few glitches with WordPress, which are a bit frustrating.  For my images, I have typed in a description on each photos Insert/edit Image screen.  When you roll over the photos with a cursor, most of them display this description.  However, there are a couple that display the photo’s URL rather than its description.  I checked carefully and there is a description for each photo, so I’m not sure why this is happening.  I have written to WordPress to see if they can help.

There have been a few other funky things that have happened along the way as I have created my Culture Site.  Once, my entire intro page was deleted without my having highlighted the entire page and hitting delete (or deleting the page in my manage screen). There was no way to undo the delete, so I had to copy everything back in.  I guess every form of technology has its moments!

Image optimizing update

Well, after much trial and error I figured out how to optimize my photos.  I found that I did have Photoshop on my computer, so I was able to use the instructions to make the file size on all of the photos smaller.  What a relief!  Sure enough, every time I get to the end of my rope and write to Ms. Van Londen asking for her help I figure it out for myself a short while later.

Image optimizing frustration

I have been trying to optimize the images that I uploaded for my Culture Site project, but I have been having a hard time.  I am not using any of the programs listed in the instructions for how to optimize the images, so those instructions aren’t helpful to me.  I tried using one of the online optimizing services, but it makes my photos into a thumbnail.  I tried putting the thumbnails into my site, but they are just too small and don’t look good.  You can’t make the thumbnails any bigger because the image gets distorted.  I am just exhausted by this whole process because I have spent at least 3 hours working with the photos and I can’t seem to get them optimized and a decent size.  Aaaargh!!!

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