Editorial

Upgrading to a MacBook Air

This year I decided to swap my 2017 MacBook Pro for a 2019 MacBook Air and over the last couple of days I have been setting it up.

So far I am loving the change, it really is a great size device. Those 15″ and now 16″ MacBook Pro’s are “large” and “heavy” in comparison. It’s great to just pick up the Air and notice the difference. Performance wise I have not seen any issues, but I haven’t really done anything to stress the CPU (other than sync my photos).

On the migration, I decided to follow the same process that I have done in the past, basically I just login to iCloud and let everything sync from the cloud. I then open the App Store and install my previous purchases. The only really change this time was to transfer my Backblaze account so I still can see all the files from my old Pro. It’s a great opportunity for a clean up. I’m not sure if I needed anything from Xcode, but I have my backup for that.

It’s phenomenal how much data is stored in the cloud now and it makes this process super easy. I just need to wait for everything to sync.

My only annoyance so far is having both USB-C ports on the left side means plugging into projectors or even power not as flexible. One port on each side would be awesome.

Back to work 2020 edition

So I’m back to work tomorrow after a great Christmas break. This year I’m looking for to teaching some of the same classes and some new ones.

This is what’s on:

  • i3 – Our innovative year 10 programme asking the question “Can girls solve real world problems” 😉. We have the same 4 class teachers this year and I’m really excited by the changes we have planned
  • Mechatronics – my hands class with robots, raspberry pi’s, 3D printing etc. Really fun class.
  • Creating Apps Year 9 – this year I will introduce SwiftUI for app development and I am really excited to see how we go. I’m looking forward to sharing what we get up to.
  • Teach Drawing Year 9 – this one is new to me and I’m finally going to learn SketchUp. We are going to use the online education version which is free to Office365 schools now. I loved this subject when I went to high school so it should also be fun

Out of the classroom, I have plans to keep going with 15min PD’s and will look to start an Apple Teacher and Microsoft Innovative Educator programme for staff. I am also keen to see how we can get some everyone can can create stuff happening.

I’m also planning an esports club and I’m hoping the girls will get really involved.

Some other thing I’m looking forward to is Year 9 camp and Cross Country. Probably lots more too.

Good luck to all the other teachers returning in the next couple of weeks, hopefully you are as excited as I am.

Current Watch Faces

At the moment I switch between 3 faces depending on what I’m doing.
My Watch Faces
The first face is using Infograph Modular and has pretty much every complication that I need or want through the day. When I use this face I rarely need to access other apps or open the dock.
The second face is Numerals Duo and gives me a distraction free clock that I can see from about a mile away, it’s great while doing most things and I just need the time.
The last face is using Modular and I use it when I sleep. Having the red text helps my retinas not explode during a quick check of the time while in bed.
These faces work great for me, especially as I find digital clocks much quicker to read and more accurate.

Dark Mode and Text Size

Recently, while listening to episode 273 (I think) of The Talk Show podcast, John spoke about having eye problems and that he had switched to full time dark mode and moved the text size slider one notch up on his iPhone. As I am always happy to try new things, I thought I’d give it a go and I have to say that I love it.

If you are not sure of the process I have some screen shots below of the process, first switching to full time dark mode (iOS 13 required).

Switching to Dark Mode

The next is increasing the text size, which could be increased more if you like.

Changing Text Size

I also added the text size quick adjust to the Control Centre screen just incase I want to switch back.

Adding Text Size to Control Centre

Lastly, as an added bonus, another trick I employed last year was turning off Night Shift, which reduces the blue light at certain times of the day. I am now just using the True Tone feature that newer Apple devices have. This allows the screen to adjust colour temperature to match the surrounding environments. This means that at night when I’m using on my “yellow” bedside light the screen also adjust. I highly recommend this change too.

Switching off Night Shift

Live AR Pictures App Part 2

Now for the second part in a series of movies explaining how to make your own AR app using Live Photo’s. By the end of this guide you will have an app that will detect the photo and start playing the animated movie over the top. Don’t forget to grab your resources from the first guide and also print your photos.

Augmented Reality App Development

At the end of last year I spent some time learning how to create an iOS app using the Augmented Reality tools available in Xcode. Below is a tweet I posted at the time to refresh your memory (well, for those who follow me)
[tweet https://twitter.com/superdavey/status/1072320267756568576]
What I have learned from this experience is that AR development is really not too complicated in iOS, many of the intelligent work is done behind the scenes. So to just place an object into an AR scene you really just need to know where in the space around you want to add it and then drop it in. The default template for an iOS AR app already has a “Jet Plane” object and without changing a line of code you get a working app. Here is what it looks like:
Default AR App Template in Xcode
From this point all you need to do is define points in 3D space and add text, images and movies.
The example from the Tweet I made follows a process where the app “looks” for objects that match the size of an A4 page with the same contents of one of the images. It then attaches a node of the same dimensions over the top and then plays a movie which matches the photo inside the node. I later added text that sits above the object and moves with it.
Once I made the basic app I saw the possibilities to me of how this could be used at school. I believe this a great template for a AR tour of a school. Meeting the requirements of being a real world problem and solving a problem that affects the community, students could easily come up with their own version of using the app.
Mathematically speaking I also appreciate the complexities in understanding how to place the objects inside the AR space. The technology understands distances and angles perfectly so it become a great activity in reinforcing these concepts.
So over the coming week or so I will be releasing 5 movies that explain the process of creating the App. The best part is that the app works well after covering 2 of them, so it is quick at getting some buy in. The final 3 movies go through the process of adding some polish.
I look forward to seeing other educators and students having a go and seeing what they come up with.

Podcasting Microphones Extras

So since my last post where I discussed my recommendations for a good podcasting microphone I have received a couple of orders from Amazon.
First is a shock mount which is designed to remove some of the vibrations that may occur from moving the microphone to bumping the desk.
This is the one I grabbed:
Shock mount
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C86FA0E/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The only problem was that I didn’t check the sizes so I needed to 3D print a part so that the microphone sat comfortably.
Mic Enlarger
I also purchased a foam microphone wind protector to help soften the noise of the microphone.
This is the one I grabbed:
Foam Cover
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EMUQ08O/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Together they all look pretty cool:
Mic with Foam Cover and Shock Mount

Podcasting Microphones

For all intensive purposes do not record audio through the microphone of your laptop, these microphones pick up far to much background noise and never provide any kind of reasonable quality.
A starting point is to just use the microphone attached to Apple AirPods – which will provide a clearer recording just by the fact that it will sit closer to your mouth. It also works well while on the move.
In my experience the “feel” of a podcast changes dramatically based upon the quality of the recorded audio. Some of the clear “low quality” sounding podcast generally arise when the presenters are located in the same location sharing one microphone.
So how do you choose a good microphone that has a reasonable price? Well you could head to this blog post by Marco Arment of Tumblr, Instapaper and Overcast fame.
Podcasting Microphones Mega-Review
tl;dr – get yourself an Audio Technica ATR2100-USB.

An amazing value for the money: it sounds great for the price, and pretty decent at any price, as long as you speak up very closely to it. With USB and XLR outputs and a built-in headphone jack for USB mode, I don’t know of a cheaper or simpler all-in-one solution to recommend. Compared to other inexpensive USB mics aimed at beginners, which are usually large-diaphragm condensers, the dynamic ATR-2100 picks up far less room echo and background noise. But you have to speak up closely to it — get more than about two inches from it, and it gets very bad, very quickly.

AT2100-USB
This microphone is fantastic and provides great value for money. Tracking one of these down in Australia is its biggest down sides. I managed to grab one from my local PLE computers for $99.

So why this microphone – other than price?

Inputs and Outputs

USB

Connecting to a laptop or even iPad could not be easier.

XLR outputs

Flexible enough to connect to any professional audio equipment and cabling.

2.5mm Headphone Jack

Plugging your headphones directly into the microphone enables the ability to listen to exactly what the microphone is picking up. This actually makes a huge difference while recording.

A small stand

Easy table top setup.

Example Recordings

Like what Marco did in his review, below I have included some example recordings I made using the internal microphones from an iPad Pro 12.9 and a MacBook Pro with also recordings made on both devices with the AT2100-USB Microphone.
MacBook Pro Internal Microphone

MacBook Pro with AT2100-USB Microphone

iPad Internal Microphone

iPad with AT2100-USB Microphone

iPad Setup

iPad Connection

Podcasting Series

One of the many ways I like to pass time while running or driving is by listening to Podcasts. They cover so many topics, themes and styles that really there is an endless amount of content available. I like to listen to podcasts covering technology, education, science and tv shows. At the end of this post I’ll link to some of my favourites that I could not live without.
Over some of the next few posts I will go through the setup that I have been putting together to record, edit and publish a podcast so that people can subscribe and listen. I will try to cover my experiences and choices that I have made – like keeping costs to a minimum.
I would like to point out a couple of resources that I recommend – and that I have used to help in my decisions.
Six Colors – Podcast Posts
Casey Liss – How I Make Podcasts

Podcast Recommendations

Accidental Tech Podcast
Connected
Hello Internet
Future Tense