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Wonder workshop cue and learn to code with Blockly January 11, 2018

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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Here is a little neat thing I picked up via this year’s CES.

Apparently there is a huge movement (which I’ve kind-of missed) which tries to make coding more accessible. That is a great idea. AI and robotics is everywhere and the skills we need to learn is how to make these technologies work and how to code for our new robot friends and so on.

So two things I read about yesterday: A neat toy which seems really great and really good for teaching kids how to code and a framework or kind-of graphical language which makes it easy to learn and understanding what a programming language is and how to make simple software.

Wonder Workshop cue

cue is the toy robot your kids may want. It is a neat little gadget which you can customize physically and via elaborate software. It can talk to you with several different personalities and you can play games with it as well as teach it new things to do. All the demos I’ve seen looked amazing.

I hope eventually toys like this – triggering coding skills – will become the new ‘Lego’ of our time. Allowing kids to experiment, get closer to coding skills and enabling them to build cool stuff.


Google Blockly

What is Blockly: in my own words – it is a Google project (open source) which gives you a framework for using visual blocks as a kind-of programming language. In other words it is an easy to learn and purely visual thing which let’s you code or understand code more easily. It is not easy to explain :-) but I would really encourage you to try out some Blockly things.

I started with Googles Blockly Games. A set of playful missions which you need to solve using Blockly “code”. It’s fun and really teaches you how ot use the Blockly blocks.



Add-on: Video Conferencing Services January 10, 2018

Posted by Steven in In-Media, Innovation.
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Here comes a quick add-on:

A while ago I wrote about appear.in a free video conferencing and screen sharing service. I do have strong sympathetic feelings for these kind of startup stories. But when I actually used appear.in in my line of work (some month ago) I believe we conferenced more than 4 people together. Now when I read the details again it occurred to me that the free version of appear.in only supports up to 4 participants in a call. 4 people is not much. So I wanted to share some ideas on alternatives.

The best solution I found at quick glance:  Jitsi (an open source platform for video calling and conferencing solutions).

Specifically I’ve liked their product Jitsi Meet.

It’s not as easy to set up and use as appear.in but if you install the free iOS or Android app then it’s a great and similar user experience.

OwnCloud and External Storage via Dropbox.com September 29, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media, Innovation.
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I know I am late to the game. But just recently I discovered “OwnCloud“. In my view OwnCloud is mainly a well designed server software which can be used and installed freely. The suite also includes some client-side Apps and some extensions – some of these additional tools require a purchase. When you install your own cloud server you essentially get a nifty cloud file storage solution with easy ways to upload through a browser, manage files and documents, share stuff and keep track of versions and basic collaboration features. You can check out all the details on their official site:


As I said I am fairly new to that game. And I just recently installed an OwnCloud server on a backup webspace that I maintain since Uni. It works really well and it is a good extension to my regular drobobox and onedrive accounts. Over the weeks I casually looked through the features and discovered nice ways to extend an OwnCloud installation. You can access it through many clients and out of the box it supports the WebDav protocol. Also I would like to mention: The mobile and desktop web client is also really really good.

One nice way to expand is to add your external storage providers. I’ve done that with my Dropbox account and I was quite happy with having everything in a nice view through the lean web interface of OwnCloud.

However since one or two days or so this solution stopped working. I.e. there were error messages in OwnCloud and I could not open my Dropbox folder via OwnCloud.

It turns out that this OwnCloud external storage solution seems to use the OAuth 1.0 protocol as part of the Dropbox API v1. I feel that OwnCloud is already a fairly complex product and many enthusiasts work on the code and tirelessly want to improve the core and key features. The external Dropbox  solution seems to be a lower priority and it seems it was left untouched as Dropbox API v1 continued to work in parallel to the new Dropbox API v2. But just now on 28-September-2017 Dropbox really switched  off API v1.   :-(   for me this means – the just discovered option to use  Dropbox from within OwnCloud does no longer work.


I believe work will continue on that piece but I may need to stay patient. So OAuth 2.0 and consequently the new Dropbox API v2 needs to be incorporated in OwnCloud. People are already talking about this challenge and work has started:


Excellent (German) Blog with LED lighting knowledge May 26, 2014

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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Everyone needs to safe energy. I recently decided to exchange my ancient conventional light bulbs with conventional LED retrofit lamps.

Well to cut a long story short: It’s not so easy. I got nice super efficient Zenaro retrofit lamps but for me they are extraordinary heavy and the light temperature is very cold (although I got warm white versions).

I should have consulted the wonderful blog of Mr. Messer first. Tons of useful information rg. LED lighting.




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