Are you interested in winning part of a prize package worth about $1300? In celebration of it’s 4th birthday, PhotoNetCast is running a couple of competitions. One is a photo contest which will be judged by the show’s hosts (including me) and the other is a social media. “spread the word” contest where you earn entries by tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, iTunes-ing or Google Plusing about the podcast. For full details on how to enter both competitions, see here.
I’ve spent too much time bragging about myself recently so now it’s time to brag about one of my kids. This week, Drew learned that he got an “Award of Excellence” in the state-wide Texas PTA Reflections competition in the musical composition category. This is, apparently, equivalent to second place which, given that this was the very first song he’s ever written, strikes me as a pretty significant result. Way to go, Drew!
He wrote and composed his song, “Everybody’s Different”, then performed it complete with ukulele accompaniment. The song is great but I bet the judges were swayed by the Elvis-style flourish at the very end 🙂
Here’s something fun and different. During my visit to Chicago recently for the FIRST Robotics Competition Midwest Regional, I took along the Canon Powershot G9 and my shiny new Gorillapod Focus. The G9 can shoot timelapse video so I would attach it to various railings in the stadium and shoot the competition or crowd or pits or whatever. I’ve cut together some of this video now and you can see the result below.
I first tried this a couple of years ago at the San Diego Regional and you can find that video here. That one is encoded as an interlaced MPEG-1 file, though, so it doesn’t look as good as the new video which is 480p instead.
I’ve just uploaded my photos from the FIRST Robotics Competition New York City Regional. You can find them on SmugMug here. The images are set up for at-cost printing and 1 cent downloads (since SmugMug requires me to set some price before enabling the service). These are free for personal use and for activities promoting FIRST (school newspapers, posters, team publicity, TV, etc). No commercial use is permitted.
I think it’s pretty fair to assume that most readers of this blog can list a line of relatives, teachers, mentors, pastors, coaches and others who guided and inspired us, ultimately leading us into our careers as engineers, scientists, technologists, administrators, salespeople, marketers, designers, artists and any number of other jobs.
As a child growing up in the 70s and going through college in the 80s, I remember being in awe of the engineers and astronauts at NASA during the final years of the Apollo program and throughout the development and launch of the Space Shuttle. As a Brit, though, with little prospect of working for the US space agency, local technologists soon joined the list – Sir Clive Sinclair and the engineers at Sinclair Research who developed home computers that I could actually afford and later the team at Acorn Micro who laid the foundations of the company that is a household name today and whose microprocessors are at the heart of every TI Stellaris MCU – ARM. Closer to home, my High School science and mathematics teachers showed me the beauty and, despite society’s attempts to suggest otherwise, fun of physics, chemistry, geometry, trigonometry and calculus.
So why a post about inspiration today? I’ve just returned from a trip to the FIRST Robotics Competition New York City Regional where I was supporting TI’s Jaguar motor speed controllers. This event pitted teams from as far afield as Hawaii, Brazil and the UK against one another in a competition to design and build a robot intended to collect and place various inflatable game pieces. You can read more about this year’s game here but the most important thing to realize about FRC and the FIRST organization in general is that robots are merely a catalyst. The real name of the game is inspiration – getting the next generation passionate about science and technology and steering them towards the careers which will develop tomorrow’s technologies and drive tomorrow’s economy.
Each team requires many skills to complete the game challenge. In addition to the obvious hardware and software tasks, experts in sales, marketing and design are needed for publicity and fundraising, and administration skills are in great demand when trying to arrange transport and accommodation for teams of up to 40 people who may have to travel across the state, across the country or even across the ocean to attend their chosen FRC event. For each of these activities, the team relies on an army of mentors to advise and assist. Teachers, parents and professionals give up a significant portion of their free time to help team members come to grips with the new skills required and, at the same time, teach them a real-world lesson in how to break down and handle a complex task in a team setting. This is the kind of experience that schools are, frankly, just not set up to provide and it’s also exactly the kind of experience that gives kids who take part in FIRST programs an advantage in the job market.
As professionals ourselves, FIRST and programs like it offer us outstanding opportunities to give back to the community, inspiring tomorrow’s professionals and helping prepare them to follow in our footsteps. Remember, too, that inspiration goes both ways – the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of the kids on the team definitely revitalizes the mentors too. If you have some time on your hands and a desire to get involved in something that really makes a difference in the lives of young people, take a look at FIRST and see how you can fit in to help a truly inspirational organization.
I have a picture in the running for the Grand Prize in Unified Color’s HDR photo contest. If you are so inclined, I would be delighted if you gave it your vote. The image is a monochrome HDR of the Chevron Tower in Houston and you can find the voting page here. Voting requires that you register on the site and you can vote once per email address registered.
Each week, several hundred photobloggers enter a competition on the “Photo Friday” site. A theme is announced and anyone who is interested can submit the URL of one photo on that theme. The following week, voting is opened up to the entrants and the week after the winners are announced.
I’ve entered half a dozen times or so when the theme seemed to fit an image I have somewhere on the photoblog but the competition always has some truly superb images and several hundred entries so I never expected to appear in the winning list. This morning, though, I was surprised to see a spike in blog traffic from PhotoFriday and even more surprised to see that this picture won the last challenge on the theme “Damaged”.
Given the other pictures in the challenge and some of the folks who entered (my picture beat one by David Nightingale, a truly outstanding photographer!) this leaves me feeling very honoured indeed.
Sorry to spend yet another blog post blowing my own trumpet but this one really caught me off guard and has definitely made my photographic week.
Just for the record, I would have scored at least 3 of the other top 5 pictures, including David’s, higher than mine.
Thanks to the 181 people who voted for my picture in the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk People’s Choice Awards. It came in 7th out of 900+ city winners who, in turn, were narrowed down from a pool of 35000+ or so entries. Although I didn’t win a prize, I’m extremely proud to have a picture in the top 10 of one of the competitions, especially since it was voted higher than any of the main competition winners and runners up.
Voting is open until Tuesday for the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk 2009 People’s Choice Award. My winning picture from the Austin walk is one of those in the running so, if you like HDRs of tire sculptures, your vote would be greatly appreciated. You can find the picture 4th down on the left on this page. To vote, click the rating you think the photo deserves, from 1 to 5 stars.