Author: duganb (Page 1 of 3)

ToneMatrix Is The Best Thing Ever

ToneMatrixFor those of you who are like me and didn’t realize the greatest thing to ever happen to the internet was already out, I give you a link to the most addictive piece of music making technology that exists. No need for knowledge of theory or any practice with any musical instruments, all you need to be able to do is click on little light-up squares on a grid. Check this incredible audiotool out and screens or vids of the best combos you come up with. Winner will get their own blog shoutout!


Video Games & Teaching: Why they’re for Smart People

I thought I’d do a quick write up on a few of my favorite games that we have, Mass Effect 3 and Dishonored. Two articles that we have been posted on the media center blog suggest that most individuals may view gaming as simply “doing what you like” or “wasting time playing games”. There seems to be an inability to appreciate video games as an interactive medium which lets a user actively engage themselves in content where decision making, strategy, character development, and high end intellectual and literary themes are all present. The argument that learning done in an enjoyable way isn’t learning strikes me as one of the most baseless and idiotic arguments ever conceived, if anything, it’s a more evolved and high-powered form of learning that we should all strive for. There was once a time film was not a respected form of artistic expression, now it is viewed as one of the most. In the exact same way, video games can artfully and brilliantly present us with stories that move us to sympathy, compel us towards action, or force us into a state of bitter resentment. They have the added benefit, however, of allowing the designers to weave the elements together in a world that the user engages in, rather that just merely sitting and admiring. A good game presents challenges, and these challenges are overcome by the player identifying elements of the game they’re most proficient at, and then capitalizing by creating strategy that puts these elements in the forefront. Someone can call it senseless fun all they like, this is an advanced method of utilzing various cognitive schemas to problem solve.  When you add an entirely new dynamic such as multiple languages that a game can be played in, the power of games as a learning tool increases tenfold. In a game such as Super Mario, this may essentially be a moot point, as the game itself contains barely any dialogue. But throw in a game like Mass Effect or Dishonored and everything changes.


The power of games like Mass Effect or Dishonored lies in the depth the games have, both in terms of meaningful options offered, and the intensive story that’s created through rich dialogue and highly interactive storytelling devices. Take Mass Effect for example, you are given combat situations where you must defeat certain enemy AIs that attempt to adjust to strategies you use. To begin, you have an arsenal of customizable weapons, powers, and armor – each one offering certain advantages and disadvantages. Then you can customize your character by choosing different classes, each also with distinct advantages and disadvantages. This sort of customization leads players to evaluate what will create both the strongest setup in general, and the setup that most effectively lends itself to their playstyle. The same sort of in depth strategy is in place in Dishonored, where the player must constantly choose between stealth and combat. Certain traps that would prove fatal can be wholly circumvented if the player simply elects to craftily construct a strategy which employs the various stealth-based powers and methods the game allows Korvo, the protagonist, to use. This alone would present a basis for educators to promote video games as an educational tool, but throw in the rich storyline with dialogue in a foreign language and you have an entirely new kind of teaching device. Not only do games like Mass Effect and Dishonored have characters and plot elements which teach about things like existentlist ideals, religious zealotry, sacrifice, privileged birth, discrimination, racism/xenophobia, etc. but they are also filled with a rich, dialogue heavy script that in certain cases is completely interactive. Translate this script into another language, and suddenly you have a sort of immersive language teaching device. The ability of a game to draw a player in and keep them interested through the interactive elements gives games a distinctive advantage as a language teaching tool since other methods don’t always compel the learner to stay engaged for more than a short time. Not only are games enjoyable, but they force the learner to really engage in the dialogue in a natural sort of way, since failure to do so will lead to potential struggles with the game play, while making it forgiving enough and fluid enough to feel like a dialogue rather than a series of note cards with translated vocabulary words on the other side. This is the power that games like Mass Effect and Dishonored have, and it’s a power that sadly seems lost on a myriad of brilliant minds simply because pre-conceived biases about the nature of these powerful educational aids have clouded peoples’ ability to accurately judge the merits video games really possess. Hopefully people can immerse themselves in a world of decision making and storytelling, realize the value of some of these games, and incorporate them as a secondary tool in educational curriculum to give learners who prefer non-traditional approaches a different way to enlighten themselves regarding languages, plot structures, critical thinking, and much much more.



Ever needed to capture a rapidly moving shot while trying to keep your camera level and steady? Your solution is here. The glidecam allows you to put a SDHC, 3MOS, etc. on top of the mount and use it to keep a steady shot while you move. This is invaluable for shots where you need to move in patterns a dolly won’t allow while keeping a similar quality of shot.

Vello Wireless Remote (DSLR Accessory)


Ever wanted to photograph a known hotspot for wildlife but were having trouble getting shots without scaring everything off as you approached to get your shot? Or perhaps just wanted to do an easy self portrait with a DSLR? The new Vello Wireless Remote makes these exact kinds of tasks possible. Not only does it allow you to take a shake-free shot that blurs certain close-ups, macro shots, or long exposure shots, but it also allows you to get shots that normally would be impossible (i.e. getting certain “genuine” shots in street/people photography that would be tainted with “live” photography as they inevitably altered their facial expression with a photographer in front of them).

Headphone Amplifier


Need to add a kick to your headphones? We have the solution. With the new Fiio headphone amps, you can get that boost while you listen. Just plug the headphones into the amp and you’re set to go. They’re fresh on our shelves so come down and give them a try.

GoPro Camera Accessories


The GoPro camera alone is a powerful little device and can still record awesome video, but its true genius lies in its ability to serve as an action camera used in-field to film some of the coolest videos there are. From mountain biking to wingsuit basejumping, this baby can get it done. To accomodate various filming goals different students and faculty may have, we have a wide variety of features including:
– Head mount
– Bike mount
– Rail mount
– Chest mount
– Case
– Waterproof plate
– Regular plate
– Variable length mount plates & screws
– Remote
– Batteries

Come by and grab a GoPro today and make your own “heroic” video as they advertise, and grab the accessories you need to make it right.

Media Center Gaming: 2013-2014

One thing that we like to continually stress down at the Media Center is that while professors may assign those podcast projects that make you feel like your head will explode, we’re more than just a place for work. One of the areas Todd Bryant has helped us tread forward in is gaming. Todd thought that one way students interested in learning another language could immerse themselves in an enjoyable way would be to play story heavy games where the dialogue would be rich enough to enhance a speaker’s vocabulary, reading, and comprehension of a language while they kicked back and enjoyed their time. To make this idea become a reality, the Media Center got some of the latest and most critically reviewed titles ranging from Skyrim, Bioshock, Dishonored, Uncharted (1-3) and more. We have a PS3, a Wii, and an Xbox, so if you’re interested in doing some aerobics, we do have WiiSports, WiiFit, and Xbox Kinect Adventures to get the blood pumping. Of course most titles also come equipped with English settings if the dialogue stumps you or you just want to kick back for a little and enjoy life without being reminded of your dreaded 8:30 A.M. Spanish class. Either way, we have the games for you; come by the Equipment Room and ask the student worker to get you set up with whatever it is you’d like to play!

Special thanks to Dickinson student Sam Kelly for the letting us use one of his techno pieces in this video (The 2nd song).

Media Center Rube Goldberg Machine!

Sometimes the week is slow and no pressing projects need attention. When that happens, students come up with some wild ideas. One such idea was the construction of a Rube Goldberg machine, an elaborate device with the aim of accomplishing a simple task. For our machine, we wanted to pull a data projector back a dolly track so that it would focus a video of some of our PS3 & Xbox360 games into focus. The following video showcases the machine in action with quick notes trying to point out some of (although not all) of the equipment showcased in the video. In the coming days we’ll try to compile some footage of the “making of” process as well as still-frame links to the actual equipment pages themselves so if you see something in the video you didn’t know about you can check it out in more detail.


Plan X: A Strange Fusion of Cyberwarfare & Gaming

Hearing that the pentagon is teaming up with DARPA to develop a cyber weapons platform that creates a well defined and polished cyber-warfare platform may not be surprising, but the idea that they’re comparing the graphical interface for this platform to World of Warcraft or Angry Birds should at the very least throw you for a loop. But that’s exactly what the new Plan X that DARPA is working on intends to do, it will blend Cyberwarfare and easy to use gaming interfaces to create a platform a non tech-savvy general could still use to carry out an advanced cyberattack. Underneath the GUI is a complex and well-coded system that should more efficiently enable the U.S. to map and deal out cyber-attacks when they deem appropriate against the networks of  hostile groups, but the actual interface that the commanding officer will use may remind you more of a Starcraft II interface than some complex Matrix-looking code screen. For more details check out this article or Google Plan X to get some of the details on this whacky new project.

Movies About Computers?

This blog post has a bit of a silly title for the intents and purposes of what I’m actually talking about, but it’s close enough and straight to the point. Every once in a rare while we will see a movie come out about some interesting element of technological history; the most prominent example someone can probably think of in recent history would be “The Social Network” with Jesse Eisenberg starring as Mark Zuckerburg. This isn’t the only sort of example of a movie telling the story of some piece of technological history in regards to computer, media, etc. however, there are other older examples such as “Pirates of Silicon Valley” which tells the story of Apple and Microsoft as well as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Steve Wozniack’s personal sides that also received favorable critical acclaim. So my question on this blog post is what movies can YOU think of that are related to technology and more specifically probably computer/software/etc. side of technology that were worth a watch? Leave a comment on our Facebook page and chime in!

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