Getting Started With Animation

There are so many different ways that you could get started with animation, what I am going to try to do here is give you multiple options to choose from. The intention behind this post isn’t for you to start making cartoons, it’s for you to be able to make an animation which could eventually lead to you creating cartoons in the future.

  • Wideo is an online animated video creation tool that allows you to create, edit, and share videos online for free. You can select their or upload your own images, backgrounds, and music that you want to use in order to create your own online video. Wideo was originally billed as a way to make animated commercials for your company.  

  • Flash is the most widely used animation software and there are several tutorials available so you can quickly learn and begin animating. It costs $19.99 a month for Flash Professional CC or $49.99 a month for the complete Creative Cloud.

  • Photoshop is an extremely useful tool for creating far more than just animations, but that’s what we will focus on here. It costs $9.99 a month for Flash Professional CC or $49.99 a month for the complete Creative Cloud.

I have given two actual options to begin animating with, as well as provided where you can download them. Neither Flash nor Photoshop require the most state of the art computer to run so you most likely can begin today. If you aren’t sure about paying for either product than you can get a one month free trial to see for yourself. Wideo is included as an option because there are plenty of people that just want to play around with animation and all you have to do is visit their site to do so. I plan on beginning animation as a regular occurrence on this site as an additional post and one day hope to be able to create my own cartoons for here.

E-Learning: Video Game Style

Neil Degrasse Tyson recently told Time magazine “I try to learn something new every day or else the day is wasted”.  I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment which is why I started this blog in the first place, technology is only going to become a larger part of our lives and it’s best to equip yourself with at least a working knowledge of technology basics. Here we will look at multiple outlets that give you a variety of topics that you can learn from which also incorporate a video game style achievement and point system. All of these sites offer free e-learning and allow you to sign in using existing accounts so you don’t have to sign up for them.  

  •  Microsoft Virtual Academy offers “Free Microsoft Training Delivered by Experts.” You can search courses by topics or by products and add them to customize your learning plan. MVA has leaderboards that track your progress and award you points for completing modules as well as bonus points for completing a course, you can see how you stack up against others on the site and in your country. In addition to the courses offered MVA also offers live events, the next of which will be from June 17th-19th on Windows 8.1 Update for Enterprise Jump Start.
  • Khan Academy features much more than technology training, including multiple levels of math, science and economics. You can learn more about computer science and computer programming, and as a follow up to yesterday’s post regarding Getting Started With Animation, Khan Academy currently offers a course on Introduction to Java Script: Drawing & Animation. The site even states “We’re full of game mechanics. As soon as you log in, you’ll start earning badges and points for learning. The more you challenge yourself, the more bragging rights you’ll get.”
  • Duolingo is a language learning website that is also supported by an easy to use mobile application. An English speaker currently has five different languages that they can choose from including Spanish, French and Portuguese with another seven language courses currently in development including Turkish, Dutch(Netherlands) and Irish. Bilingual speakers can also offer their services in contributing towards making new language courses available. 
     

     

Getting Started With Game Collecting

I got started game collecting years back and though I do not keep up with it as much as I used to, I still managed to obtain a decent collection and I am capable of adding to it whenever I feel inclined. Game collecting can also be a source of extra income where you find great deals and then turn around to sell them for profit, I would label myself both a collector and a seller. The main thing that I would recommend for a person looking to get involved in any form of collecting is to know what you are collecting, specifically are you focusing on a particular franchise, genre, platform, etc. I am going to list a variety of places that you can use to buy/acquire games, I will only discuss methods that I myself have used so understand that there are always more options at your disposal.

  • Large Retailers(Target, Walmart…): The Pikachu 3DS XL is one of my favorite items in my collection and I picked it up at a Target store when it was on sale for $160, including tax I paid a total of $176. I never opened my copy and just a couple of days ago one sold on Ebay for a total of $400 including shipping.
  • Ebay: Not only is Ebay the best idea of what a game is actually worth, you could also come across a great deal. Some people that list on Ebay do not know what they are listing and can miss out big time, that particular game Earthbound will sell for over $130 all day.
  • Pawn Shops: I have scored great finds more frequently at pawn shops than anywhere else, they tend tend carry current releases as well as older games but if you do not know what you should be paying for a game you could easily overpay. I have managed to pick up older consoles and games complete in the box and rare gems that I would have had to pay 10x more had I gotten them anywhere else.
  • Yard Sales: Second to only pawn shops as far as where I have gotten the best deals, you may need to get there early but you can always negotiate(what would be the total price if I bought all of the games?) and you may have to ask specifically if they have games for sale, some people look at those old things and tell themselves that nobody would want to buy them.
  • Thrift Stores(Salvation Army/Goodwill): Recently I have been having the most luck here, you can find all sorts of unique items and I recently picked up a brand new in box NES “dogbone” controller for a couple of dollars.
  • Friends/Coworkers/Neighbors…: There are probably more people than you realize that are currently sitting on a bunch of old games collecting dust. Given that these are people that you personally know, you should offer to buy the games, especially if your intent is to turn around and sell them.

I want to stress that no matter what any game collecting website may say, your item is worth exactly what a person is willing to pay for it and nothing more. If a website tells you that your copy of BMX XXX is worth $10 but I can readily pick one up on Ebay for $2, your copy is actually worth $2. If you do intend on selling on Ebay it’s best to have an existing history of buying/selling there and make sure you have positive feedback but I will get more into selling successfully on Ebay at another time.

Renowned Immunologist Dr Ellen Vitetta Discusses The Importance Of Vaccinations

I am a supporter of vaccinations and though I try to remain impartial on most topics I cannot on this one. There was a single report that linked autism to vaccinations, that report has been completely disproved and its authors have admitted they were wrong, yet people still remain anti-vaccination. I was fortunate enough to correspond with Dr Ellen Vitetta, the director of the Cancer Immunobiology Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and also one of the top 100 most cited biomedical scientists in the world.

What is your opinion of those individuals that are anti-vaccination, are they unknowingly contributing to the recent influx of superbugs? I typically link Penn and Teller’s Bullshit regarding vaccines if somebody tells me they are anti-vaccine.

Knowingly or unknowingly, they are obviously doing harm to many innocent people. This is leading to the return of preventable (but untreatable) diseases such as whooping cough, measles, polio etc. and perhaps the emergence of superbugs. The morbidity and mortality of these diseases is huge to me, the fallout of failing to get vaccinated is as bad as driving while intoxicated.

What would this mass vaccination movement need to be able to progress (public awareness, fundraising, other support)?

All of the above. I would take it a step further and make it a criminal offense…the same as drunk driving. It would be illegal not to vaccinate your children or get vaccinated yourself since you put many other people in danger. In many parts of the US we require vaccination for kids to enter school. This is good but not good enough.

How could somebody that supports this get involved?

Contact your local and federal representatives to make the laws/rules about vaccination more stringent. Participate in public awareness campaigns in the meanwhile. Refer doubters to good articles an ask them to read them!

How do you feel vaccines are currently viewed, do you find a lot of resistance from the anti-vaccine movement?

Most people actually approve of and follow the vaccine guidelines and support the development of vaccines. It’s the vocal minority that we hear from. The problem is that it only takes a few noncompliant people to put the entire population of very young kids (and the elderly) at risk.

The published article which started the recent anti-vaccine movement, if I am accurate, has all but been debunked so why do people still support its widespread inaccuracies? What can be done to further spread awareness that vaccines are necessary?

Yes it has been debunked in many articles and the original study has been retracted. unfortunately people become “believers” and like to oppose conventional wisdom. It is really no different from taking useless supplements, carrying around lucky pennies, or for that matter believing in god and insisting that others do to[sic]. Supplements do damage, religious fanatics do damage and so do anti-vaxxers. Sadly, faith and science are very different!

This probably should have been the first question, if someone were to know nothing about vaccines or your companies approach to vaccines, how would you explain the necessity of vaccination?

I would say that vaccines have saved more lives and money than any other medical discovery  in history. If you look at the ENTERMIM.COM website, you will see how life expectancy has been extended since vaccines became common medical practice. This is because infectious diseases have been the biggest killers on the planet, and in many countries, still are.

GetLenses Saved My Friend $100+

My friend is historically a very honest person, to the point that when we were growing up he was the last person you wanted talking to a parent or teacher if we had done something wrong. The other day he called me outright enraged due to his recent exchange with a Lenscrafters store and given his history of being too honest I have to take his side of the story at face value. Roughly 18 months ago he went in for a complete eye exam including contacts, he got a year supply of contacts as well as an expensive set of glasses(over $500 including transition lenses) even paying for optional insurance. I was not with him when he went in for his exam but as he tells me when he asked how long his prescription was good for, they told him specifically “it’s good for two years”. Fast forward to this past week, before the very long phone conversation he and I had. He recently moved to a different state but given the fact that there are Lenscrafters nationwide he was told that they would be able to get his prescription from the other store and order his contacts for him. Not long after hanging up the phone, the new store called him back and told him his prescription was expired, in the subsequent exchange they told him contacts are only good for a year whereas glasses are good for two. My friend explained that he was specifically told that his prescription was good for two years but the only response he was given was “You were told wrong.”

Now, with no options at his disposal other than dropping over $100 for the complete eye exam plus contacts and then the $50-$100 for the contact lenses on top of that, he asked me if I knew what he could do. I did what I usually do when I don’t know something off of the top of my head, I turned to the internet. I searched several online retailers, all of which would not do it without a current prescription and every time they would contact the eye doctor they were told it was expired. Some people online recommended that he should wait until a holiday such as the 4th of July when the doctors office would be closed so that way when the online retailers attempted to verify the prescription nobody would be available and the contacts would be shipped after a couple of days. My friend did not have another month of waiting in him so I looked for another option, that is when I was told about international online contact lens retailers. He decided to go with GetLenses who did not require his prescription which he got the information from his now empty box of contacts. Within a week his contacts arrived from England and they even came shipped with a pack of Haribo gummies. He has every intention of going to a completely new doctor when his current prescription is expired and doesn’t plan on having to go this route again, however, he feels good knowing that it is still an option at his disposal given that his eye prescription has not changed in five years.

It is a United States law that contact prescriptions are good for only a year whereas glasses prescriptions are good for two years. My friend would have purchased two years worth of contact lenses from Lenscrafters had they been honest and let him know that his two separate prescriptions each had their own expiration date.