I discovered from one of my various feeds yesterday about the new ‘Helicopter View’ option in Google Maps. So I tweeted it out yesterday:
Today I have had a play with the feature, it is great especially when combined with Jing, so that you can capture the video of the virtual journey. I would have uploaded an exmple, but the screen shot will have to suffice, the journey I captured with Jing was 916mb in size… To activate the Helicopter view is very simple. All you have to do is to put in a start location and a destination point in the get directions option of Google Maps, once the route has been calculated, a small “3-D” graphic appears to the right of the first direction, simply click on that and the animation plays. Depending on your internet connection it may take some time for the information to load, but it is worth the wait.
This is a great feature from Google and I can see so many practical uses for it on websites, in the classroom etc.
Continuing the Open Source software theme. I have been attending a course on 3D animation for the last 10 weeks, it came to an end this week. I attended primarily to bring my Blender skills up a notch or two. I am self taught and am well aware that while this method can work well it is also a recipie for engendering bad habits!
The course was at the Freelance Animation School here in Auckland and their program of choice is Max 3DS. As is usual at the end of these things we had to complete an evaluation. I thanked Mark our tutor for teaching me more about Blender in the previous weeks that I had learnt in a long time. He was confused as we had not even looked at Blender! It got me thinking and we discussed how using Open Source 3D animation would be a good choice for adult evening classes. At this point his boss walked in and we had a discussion about why Open Source software should be offered as a short course option. I believe that offering short courses in Inkscape and Blender for example to secondary school teachers would be able to provide foundation courses in these programmes in school which would teach the pupils the basic principles of the programmes that in courses such as the ones offered at Freelance, students would arrive with a better grounding and with a skill set that could be easily transferred to the commercial variants that the work with at Freelance.
Mark’s boss seemed very impressed by this notion. We are currently investigating how I could put together a programme of lessons for their tutors, alumni and existing students in such open source programmes as Blender, Inkscape, The Gimp etc and have me deliver them. I have already drafted out a series of lessons and skills, I will be meeting the school again in a week or so to continue the planning.
I have been approached by an author in the US who is writing a book on bartering, the book title is The ABCs of Barter and Trade Exchanges by Trish A. Truitt. The book is due for publication at the end of July at the earliest. They will also have a web site which is due to go live soon the link is: http://www.ABCsOfBarter.com The reason for the contact is that she wants to reference one of my tutorials on You Tube in her publication, I have of course said yes. The tutorial that she is interested in is my Open Office tutorial, which is just an introduction to the program. I figured that a tutorial was not really necessary as most users of the Internet would already be familiar with a myriad of word processing programmes. However Trish thought that the style was clear and conscise enough to warrant a mention in her book.
We have been chatting for a while now and it was clear that she did not want to reference a You Tube link in her book. I suggested that I create a wiki and embed the video there. The result is that I have now created an open source wiki for all of my Open Source software tutorials. It is a repository of tutorials organised by application and will continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead. Indeed today I will be sitting down and re-creating the ‘addons’ tutorial that I have already created and will also create a series of Calc tutorials for inclusion on this specific Open Source wiki.
The address is: http://opensourcesource.wikispaces.com