Foiling Foreign Foliage: Invasive Plant Atlas

Invasive Plant Atlas

The invaders are here. Actually, they’ve been here. Not only that, they’ve put down roots. The University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (a collaborative project with the Plant Conservation Alliance‘s Alien Plant Working Group, the folks behind Weeds Gone Wild) maintains a database of information about the perniciously pesky plants that invade natural areas in the U.S. The database, known as the Invasive Plant Atlas, contains a wealth of useful information for students interested in ecology and the effects of organisms that end up where they shouldn’t be.

Picozu: Flashy Without Flash

I just started tinkering with Picozu. It’s a drawing and photo retouching application that’s built on Javascript, HTML 5 and CSS3. Since Picozu doesn’t run on any Flash or ActionScript, I’m predicting that mobile phone developers will enjoy playing around with it. As for me, I want to see how well it works on a Google Chromebook and an iPad as well as an old laptop where I’ve installed Wubi.

Up until now, I’ve been steering my students to Aviary and its rich assortment of tools. I am eager to see what they make of Picozu. I’m always on the lookout for tools and resources that don’t lock my learners into one way of doing things. Today’s students shouldn’t be dependent on vendor-specific plugins (like Flash) or tied to a particular machine.

Picozu

Making Virtual Reality More Realistic

Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is developing a number of impressive virtual reality environments. From the looks of the lab’s work, some pretty realistic experiences are being created. I wish this kind of technology could be used to develop immersive learning experiences for students outside of the university setting. Imagine elementary, middle, and high school age learners experiencing a virtual visit to ancient Çatalhöyük, Egypt, Greece, and Rome or making a microscopic journey through the circulatory system.

A side note: As host Sumi Das toured the lab in the SmartPlanet video shown below, I noticed that an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor was part of the equipment that Prof. Bailenson and his crew are using. This makes wonder of if, after a number of iterations, this kind of technology can be made more accessible to others by way of off-the-shelf components.

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To the Letter: Graphemica

Graphemica

Thanks to bleakgadfly over at Hacker News, I’ve discovered the pleasures of William Melody‘s delightful Graphemica. If you want to know more about letters, numbers…heck, all kinds of graphic characters, you’ll love this resource. If you sign up at the site, you get to show some love for your favorite characters. Just click on the little heart and that character becomes part of a list you can revisit later. This is particularly helpful if you need the Unicode code point for a character.

Click on the heart to make this a favorite character

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