Worldwide Telescope

Worldwide Telescope by Microsoft Research is a fun little program will allow you to view the stars, the constellations and galaxies of our universe.

Even for someone who knows nothing about astronomy this is a great and free program to play around with. You can even view surface images of other planets in our solar system. Capable of syncing up with your physical telescope at home, this program can help you navigate the stars and find specific constellations such as Orion’s Belt, Scorpius, Aquarius and a host of others.

Manga Studio

Containing elements of both drawing and page layout applications, Manga Studio is a software product that allows users to layout, draw, and finish comic/manga stories.

The program, which was developed in Japan where it is know as Comic Studio, is a mature product that is used by many professional comic and manga artists. It supports many comic specific features such as multilayer drawing and inking, panel layout, and word balloon management. It also allows the user to more easily do a number of standard comic effects such as toning, speed lines, and type effects. The balloon management feature allows the user to create and edit dialog balloons, narration boxes, thought balloons, and other comic related typographic tricks. Drawings can either be scanned in, or drawn directly with mouse or tablet. Resolution is user selectable and there is limited support for vector artwork. You can also import some types of 3D models directly into a layer to use as an under drawing or as a piece of finished art. The program comes in both a limited function Debut version ($49) and a fully featured professional EX version ($299).

EBlaster Child Monitor

EBlaster activity reports from Spectorsoft has put my mind at ease!

As the parent of two teenagers and a preteen, all of whom are computer savvy, I had three additional computers or laptops in my home running and I did not know what they were doing on line. The purchase of EBlaster was an investment in my peace of mind! The EBlaster is simply loaded onto the computer your child uses most often and in turn it sends hourly reports to YOUR email address. It sends a complete report as well as specifics about “chats”, “myspace activity” and email your child both sends and receives. In the world wide web world, with so much available at the push of a button, I can feel secure being informed about what my children are doing on line, who they are talking too and what information they are getting and giving out. If there is a problem, I can be on top of it. MY children don’t know this program is on their computer as it can be placed into a stealth mode. This allows them to feel free on line and not feel as if I do not trust them. In fact, I do trust my children, it is the internet I worry about. EBlaster, lets me breathe easier while my children are on line!

Design Patterns – The Strategy Pattern

Even though design patterns exist to make the life of a software developer/programmer easier, they present a learning curve for those not practiced in this area.

The problem with patterns is that there exist so many of them. Speak to any talented software developer and ask him/her about design patterns and they’ll probably quote the “Singleton,” “Model View Controller,” “Command,” or “Observer” patterns because these are most common, but many more patterns exist. Microsoft has reams of online documentation dedicated to patterns, and the Java SDK is built atop of a series of the best used patterns. So it is no surprise that software developers not practiced in the area shy away from design patterns and stick to traditional ad-hoc methods of software architecture and implementation. The Strategy Pattern defines a family of algorithms, encapsulates each one, and makes them interchangeable. In English – this pattern describes a way to abstract out most commonly changing code from code that never changes and encapsulate this commonly changing code so that it can be used or interchanged with other similar code to provide behavior like functionality.

TOR Review

Have you got a secret to keep?

Sometimes, everyone wants to remain anonymous. Perhaps you are researching a medical condition or using the internet for some other sensitive reason for which you require privacy. Normal internet use does not allow this – your activity and IP address is often logged by numerous groups such as your ISP and any server or service that your computer connects to. TOR is a piece of software that allows you to increase your privacy on the web through encryption and complex data routing paths. TOR allows you to browse anonymously, use instant messaging, IRC, SSH or other TCP/IP based applications in complete privacy. TOR can be downloaded from http://tor.eff.org/ for Windows, Mac, Linux or BSD.

Canvastic

Canvastic is the latest offering for this innovative desktop publishing solution for education.

It combines bitmap and vector graphics with text and presentation capabilities making it a choice that teachers and school technology leaders will want to evaluate for publishing projects of all kinds. Think of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign but designed for students from Kindergarten to 8th grade. It scales itself for the user with a feature called “Grows with the user.” When activated, the student chooses from a list of preferences on launch and the program presents a customized set of tools, functions and screen arrangement. The preference sets can be tweaked to a large degree. A five year old gets a paint brush and a canvas but an eighth grader gets a full set of paint and vector tools and an un-locked interface. Schools can pilot the program for two months.