Crash Course on Creativity

An email floated around at my work a few weeks ago about some free online courses offered by Stanford University. Coincidentally, I recently read the Wired magazine article about a free online class experiment initiated by Stanford professor, Sebastian Thrun. Thrun has since started a company to continue offering courses taught by top professors. It looks like the experiment has gained some traction at Stanford. The Venture Lab began offering a course this past spring and it attracted over 40,000 students around the world.

Five courses are offered this fall. I opted to take A Crash Course on Creativity. The first lecture consisted of some reading and a video. The first assignment was about getting to know our teammates and find out what we all have in common. The assignment had to be submitted as a team. There wasn’t much info on the format of the submissions. My team started communicating by email and a Google Docs spreadsheet to list our interests, hobbies, etc. When one person asked how we would present our submission, a Venn diagram came to me right away. I started a Google Docs drawing and invited the rest of the team to join in. We finalized the drawing at a Google+ hangout (my first!) and I volunteered to turn in the assignment.

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My first BarCamp

I went to BarCamp Portland last weekend. It’s my first BarCamp. Even though I read about the definition and checked out some videos about BarCamp beforehand, it was still hard to expect what it would be like. BarCamp was started by the tech community and in the non-tech setting, I guess they call it the Open Space Technology.

Part of my day job involves event planning. I mentioned the idea of BarCamp / unconference at work. The response is “it’s interesting” but the higher power that be would not go for it. I helped organize numerous highly ordered conferences with set schedule of sessions and I am starting to get tired of this old format. After I read about a real life experience in a non-tech setting, I am completely sold on the BarCamp idea. Still, I didn’t know how it works. This is the main reason why I went to BarCamp Portland. Continue reading “My first BarCamp”

I ditched Google Presentations

I used Google Docs to put together presentations that I showed at workshops in conferences the last two years.  I thought that passing out a link to the presentation to my audience is a great way to give people access to the presentation.  No hassle of collecting email addresses and sending big PowerPoint files.  Unfortunately, I’ve been unhappy with Google Presentations right from the start.  What bugs me the most is how text appears in different sizes on different operating systems.  My presentations were first built on my Mac in Firefox 2 at home.  Since the majority of the world uses Windows, I would review the presentation through the PC (also in Firefox 2) at work.  All the time and energy I spent to make the presentation looking awesome seemed to be lost on the PC. And I am not alone.  Someone else complained about the same OS-dependent problem.

Slide shown on the Mac

Slide shown on the Mac

Slide shown on the PC

Slide shown on the PC

Continue reading “I ditched Google Presentations”

Sharing media on a new level

A while back, I wrote about starting to use “23” to share photos online. Soon I learned photo sharing is not the big hype after all. When I started making videos, I began searching for a site that would allow me to share photos and videos.  Several photo sharing sites added video sharing to their services but it is not enough for me.  I also want to be able to share PDF files, PowerPoint presentations, etc all in one place.  Google Docs has become somewhat limited to me in terms of storage and sharing.  I looked into online storage but free accounts have limits on storage space and file size.  I have an external hard drive to back up my computer already so I don’t really need what some online storage services offer in that arena. Continue reading “Sharing media on a new level”

Joining the photo sharing crowd

Photo sharing is probably one of the most popular Web 2.0 activities. I haven’t joined in on the action all this time because I am looking for the right service/tool. A lot of people use Flickr but its limitations (read this and this) deter me. A few days ago, I stumbled into 23 and their FAQ explains quite well about their free account which seems to me only have a limitation on uploading 30 photos a month and nothing else. No limit on tags, contacts, albums, and storage – all these are issues of a free Flickr account. So, I jumped in today and had a pretty good time with it. Continue reading “Joining the photo sharing crowd”