[EVENTS] NET/WORK Baltimore job fair: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Photo from Philadelphia

Reserve your free tickets now for NET/WORK Baltimore on Thursday, February 20th. If their last event ( Philadelphia, shown here) is any indication, it looks like it’ll be a great event for job-seekers!

Local tech news hub Baltimore is hosting a jobs fair on Thursday, February 20th at the Emerging Technology Center on 101 N. Haven St. in Highlandtown. With over 16 technology-related firms attending (and planning on hiring people now), this event is a must-attend for anyone looking for a job in web design and development, information systems, cybersecurity, game design and development, technology consulting, programming, mobile app development, marketing/advertising, or e-commerce. A number of Baltimore-based non-profit technology community groups will be in attendance, too including Accelerate Baltimore, Betamore, Digital Harbor Foundation, and Girl Develop It Baltimore.

Tickets are usually $5, but students with a valid ID get in for free. Check out the event site to learn more and reserve your ticket before the event sells out.

Some of the firms planning on recruiting at NET/WORK Baltimore include:



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[DESIGN] Gorgeous (and smart) infographic shows where people are going (and fleeing from) in the US

Animated GIF of infographic


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[ROBOTICS] Giant Sloth robot made from Legos

Warning: video runs at sloth-like speed

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[EDUCATION] 7 Great ways to learn how to code

Chart showing the difference between a dreamer, a coder, and a hacker

Image courtesy of Paul Downey via Flickr

One of the most common pitches endured by freelance programmers comes from the enthusiastic, wanna-be entrepreneur who thinks that he or she has come up with the greatest idea for a web site (or app or technology) that the world’s ever seen. There’s just one problem: they don’t have the skills to create even a working prototype. So what do they do? They reach out to any coders who will listen to them for more than 5 seconds or who made the mistake of responding to their emails. And the pitch is always the same:


Budding Entrepreneur: “Hey! Listen! I’ve got this idea that’s gonna be the next Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google! All I need is for someone to do the code! I don’t have any funding right now so I can’t pay you (though confidentially I’ve been working on a few angel investors and might have some funding coming through soon), but I’m willing to offer you an equity stake in my new company if you’ll do the coding for me! It’s the chance of a lifetime!”
Freelance Coder: “Uh…no.”

The problem is that everyone’s got ideas… but few people have the skills (or are willing to learn the skills) necessary to turn their ideas into something tangible enough to convince other people just how great their idea is. Those who have these skills — coders, designers, engineers, architects, Makers, etc.– acquired them with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. The real key to success  having the creativity to innovate combined with the skills to create what you dream.

That being said, most people can learn how to code. Granted, you might not be cranking out new operating systems or single-handedly writing console games after a few months of practice, but you’d be surprised at what you can do once you know the basics and apply a little creativity. Better yet, these days there are a number of fabulous and free (or very low cost) ways to learn how to code online.

Interested? Check out 7 best ways to learn how to code on VentureBeat.

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[EVENTS] Unravel the Code: An international exhibition that uses art & design to examine digital technology and social media

Image of students learning Processing language

Students in class work to Unravel the Code

When: December 11th, 2013  4pm-7pm

Where: Gallery Q, Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus


Unravel the Code is an international exhibition that deciphers digital technology and social media through textiles, interactive experiences and graphic design. Navigating through new landscapes of tweets, posts and pings, the work examines the realities and fictions of our identities, online and beyond. Unravel the Code is a collaboration between students from MICA in Baltimore and the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with special assistance by Kendal Ackerman, JHU Whiting School of Engineering.

More Information: See the official web site for more details about the exhibition and the collaboration that inspired it.

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[DESIGN] Play with free Google fonts for free

screen cap of interfaceYes, everyone knows that having access to too many fonts can be dangerous in the wrong hands. You don’t want to be churning out papers that look like ransom notes, do you? On the other hand, being able to choose just the right font when you need it can make a huge difference in how people perceive your work.

Unfortunately finding that right font can be tough. And finding the right font that you can use for free…well, that’s even tougher.

Luckily there’s a new (and super-handy) answer.

Monotype has teamed up with Google to offer a “lite” version of Typecast that allows anyone to test-drive dozens upon dozens of free Google fonts using a beautifully designed interface. You don’t even need an account and you don’t have to provide them with any personal info to test it out…just hop on in and start playing with fonts until you find the one you need. You can even download the type you set with the app as HTML or as a PNG file or get the CSS code you need to use your type in your web pages.

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[SOCIAL MEDIA] “Realface Glamoflauge” T-shirts designed to foil Facebook autotagging

Image of facial-recognition-busting T-shirt

Realface Glamoflauge T-shirts seek to disrupt Facebook facial recognition tagging

If you’ve been annoyed that Facebook plans to use facial recognition software to “autotag” images by finding faces of users in the pictures, you might want to try sportin’ a Realface Glamoflauge T-shirt, a shirt designed specifically to spoil Facebook’s attempt at linking everyone in the world together. Featuring multiple, distorted faces of celebrities, these shirts supposedly will bamboozle Facebook into tagging a picture of the lucky person wearing it with multiple links to the celebrity’s Facebook page.

The shirts bill themselves as “facial recognition dazzle” and were inspired by “the ugly T-shirt,” a concept first floated by cyberpunk author William Gibson. According to Wired, the shirts, designed by Amsterdam-based designer Simone C. Niquille, the shirts serve as a

 “facial recognition dazzle,” referring to a unique brand of camouflage employed by ships in World War I. Pioneered by artist Norman Wilksinson, dazzle camouflage involved covering warships in conflicting geometric patterns to throw off an enemy combatant’s ability to gauge their speed, range, size and heading. “The shirts attempt a similar strategy. They won’t keep your face from being recognized, but they will offer distraction,” he explains. 

Will they work? Only time will tell, though according to the aforementioned Wired article, Facebook recently acquired an Israeli-based facial recognition software company for around $60 million bucks. Even as rich as they may be, if Facebook is spending that kind of cash on facial recognition, they’re probably going to deploy it sometime soon.

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[NEWS] Sustainable Web Design

sustainability logo

graphic courtesy of photolouge_ap

Sustainable Web Design?

It’s always been a joke among web designers that their sites are constructed from “100% recycled electrons.” OK…a kind of lame joke. But it always made sense: digital media doesn’t use the kinds of resources that print does such as paper (trees, pollution) and ink (more pollution), and it doesn’t have to be transported using gas-guzzling trucks, ships, or planes (CO2 emissions, use of fossil fuels). Digital media are the most “sustainable” media, right?

Not according to James Christie. In today’s article published on A List Apart, he runs the numbers and postulates that “a site the size of Tumblr, with 183 million pagesviews per day and approximately 10 percent of those from mobile, has the potential to be responsible for a staggering 2,600 tons of CO2 daily.” That’s equivalent to driving a car about 7 million miles (using the 2012 average MPG of 23.2 miles per gallon)!

So how does one design web sites to be more sustainable? The answer, according to Christie, is reducing “page bloat” through smaller images and more efficient design techniques:

As we continue these shifts toward an increasingly online economy, though, we’ll also soon be welcoming five billion new users to the internet. As the internet’s overall share of world climate pollution continues to grow, so does the climate responsibility of those who architect it. But by building lean and clean, we can reduce the damage—and make happier customers and profitable businesses to boot.

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[TOOLS] The Peachy Printer – The First $100 3D Printer and Scanner!

Picture of Peachy Printer

The world’s first $100 3D printer

$100 for a 3D printer? Sure…if it’s The Peachy Printer!

Annihilating its Kickstarter fundraising goal of $50,000 by almost 7 times (as of this writing the campaign had raised $349,121), inventors Rinnovated Design of Saskatchewan, Canada have stunned many by announcing the first $100 3D printer. Oh, and it doubles as a 3D scanner, too (though you have to use your own camera).

The printer uses an ingenious method that combines sound-driven mirrors and a laser to print in the X and Y axes with an innovative saline drip system that controlls the Z axis. Rather than utilizing the more conventional extrusion method where plastic is forced through a hot nozzle to build up models layer by layer, the Peachy Printer uses a laser to harden ultraviolet light sensitive resin in a method called photolithography. While this method is a little messier than extrusion 3D printing (models have to be washed off when they come out of the resin), it also theoretically allows for a much higher resolution print. And higher resolution means smoother models and finer details than other “pro-sumer” grade  3D printers such as the Makerbot Replicator.

Besides its insanely low price, one of the coolest aspects of The Peachy Printer is how it interfaces with your computer. Rather than the traditional send-the-data-to-the-printer-using-a-USB-cable method, the Peachy Printer employs custom software that interfaces with the Open Source (and free) 3D powerhouse Blender program to turn 3D models into sound waves that are sent to the Peachy via a sound cable plugged into your computer’s sound card, traveling directly to the laser print head to control the X and Y axes. Another cable attached to the printer “listens” to the saline drip, sending sound back to your PC via a microphone cable in order to tell the print driver where the printer is in the Z axis (that’s the vertical axis to you 3D newbies).

Of course, non of this matters if it doesn’t print. Considering that it’s still on Kickstarter there’s not a lot of independent verification of Peachy’s print quality out there, but the models seen in the video look pretty nifty. Besides, even if it’s not exactly going to let you print out a jumbo jet, it’s kinda hard to go wrong with a 3D printer that costs less than a grocery shopping trip to your favorite organic foods supermarket. If nothing else, hopefully the very fact that there’s a 3D printer out there at this price point will spur other innovators to keep driving costs down. It may not be long before 3D printers are just as common as desktop printers…hopefully without the overpriced cartridges we all know and hate.

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[NEWS] Print’s not dead!

prints_not_deadArtists Christian Patterson and Paul Schiek talk about why they make books and why print’s still an important and viable art form in a time when DIY bookmaking and print on demand technologies are changing how artists make books.

From the interview:

The book form offers a sequential and often highly narrative, immersive, intimate and tactile experience. Books are portable, in every sense of the word: They physically and emotional convey and transport. When you open a book, you open the door to another world, and that world within the book can be re-read, re-experienced and reactivated at any time.

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