Computer-aided design (CAD) programs have been used since the 1980s for industrial design, automotive and ship building, movie special effects, and architectural design. The rapid evolution in home computers has brought about a rise in simple, hobbyist CAD programs. Today we will look at four free, fun, and simple to use programs. Be sure to check out the tutorial videos listed on each website to help you get started.
Trimble SketchUp Originally as a plugin to Google Earth, SketchUp has evolved into a full-range 3D modeling program created for simplicity.
Autodesk's 123D This desktop hobbyist CAD program is similar to SketchUp, but with more bells and whistles.
123D Sculpt Available on iPad, Sculpt allows you to sculpt digital clay into a 3D model.
123D Catch Available on desktop or iPad, this photo-based CAD program makes 3D models based on photos that you take of an object. You can easily export photos of your model from any angle. The image that you see above was created using iPad photos of the George D. Prentice sculpture located at the Main Library.
[ 183 comments ] ( 596 views )
This week's topic is an extremely useful tool that can take your research assignment to the next level. Trend analysis is a form of critical thinking that investigates the connections between patterns occurring simultaneously. For example, it would be interesting to see the correlation between life expectancy and income per person for different nations over time. Seeing correlations like this can lead you develop new and interesting topics for research papers. To do this, I list links for three different, but very powerful online applications.
Gapminder World Owned by Google, Gapminder World graphically presents a large amount of historical data for the development of countries around the world. Topics include population, economy, society, environment, health and more. Change the variables on the x- and y-axes to view a new data set. Click the play button below the graph to watch changes over time. Be sure to check out the Graph Menu for preset graphs.
EarthPulse National Geographic's vital statistic program allows you to compare side-by-side gradient maps of various topics including population density, consumer demand and natural resources. Be sure to check out the essay section.
Global Conservation Maps Powered by Google Fusion Tables, the Nature Conservancy's natural resource maps allows you to compare conservation maps around the globe. Check out the Maps link in the ribbon for featured maps.
This week's topic is meant to be a little more challenging. Check back with us next week for a bit of fun.
[ 198 comments ] ( 4885 views )
Images can say quite a bit and can really help to deliver the message on a presentation. It is important to realize that not every image that you find on the web is freely available. Most images are protected under copyright, and the use of these images without permission is illegal. This includes images that you may find on Google Images, Flikr, tumblr., etc.
There are dozens of websites dedicated to freely accessible images and other media that are perfectly legal. Below, I have included a short list, and each site allows browsing and searching for images. Often times, images from these sites are at a higher resolution than ones that you may copy-paste from online.
Life Magazine Images Archive from Google
Library of Congress Digital Image Archive
Wikipedia Here you will find a full list of other public domain image repositories.
[ 192 comments ] ( 2592 views )
To celebrate this past Saturday's Fall Equinox, we are checking in on this year's fall foliage forecast with Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, plant eco-physiologist at Appalachian State University and leading fall foliage expert. His Fall Color Guy blog is predicting a vibrant autumn, especially compared to last year's disappointing display.
This week we look at two free mobile apps that can help us enjoy this year's visual offerings.
Foliage Leaf Peepr gives you a map of where leaves are beginning to turn and tells you the current stage of the leaves.
Oh, Ranger! lets you search for parks near you and gives you a report on activities at each park.
[ 206 comments ] ( 4060 views )
Welcome back for another weekly tip. Last week we looked at some keyboard shortcuts to save time. This week's tip is designed to speed up your keyboard prowess by increasing your typing speed and accuracy.
To do that, we have three links:
Barracuda for speed
Nimblefingers for accuracy
Typing Test similar to professional typing exams.
Check back with us next week.
[ 42 comments ] ( 747 views )