Silk Interactive Art Generator

What is Silk?

Since I can’t draw anything besides stick figures, I’m always excited about tools that help me create interesting and beautiful things. Silk is a very colorful and simple click-and-create artwork generator. The resulting artwork is pleasantly geeky, with a colorful, computer-generated sort of beauty. I love it!

How to use Silk

Silk controls

Silk controls

To start using the tool, simple click and drag your cursor over the blank screen. Silk will create an interesting pattern for you, which looks something like a Spirograph pattern, but more intricate and complicated.

Click on the color palette to change your ink, or click and drag between two colors to create a custom blend.

Change the way your lines are drawn by choosing different levels of rotational symmetry, mirroring, and spiral effects.

Artwork created with Silk

I had a great time playing with Silk, and I saved a few of my colorful creations. Give it a try (weavesilk.com) and let me know what you think! I’d love to see what you make.

Silk is also available for iPhone and iPad.

Silk artwork #3

Silk artwork #3

Silk artwork #2

Silk artwork #2

Silk artwork #3

Silk artwork #3

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Memorial Day Thoughts – 7 photos

Memorial Day is an annual holiday in the USA, observed on the last Monday in May. It’s designated as the day we remember those men and women who died while serving in the military.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sometimes, we forget the original purpose of Memorial Day. I’ve put together a little collection of images from our war memorials, with thoughtful inscriptions and quotations. I found these meaningful and poignant, and wanted to share them with my kids to help them understand the value of service, the price of freedom, and to help us feel more gratitude for the good things we enjoy.

Enjoy your holiday, and take a moment to remember…

From the World War 2 Memorial:

“THEY FOUGHT TOGETHER AS
BROTHERS-IN-ARMS. THEY DIED
TOGETHER AND NOW THEY
SLEEP SIDE BY SIDE. TO THEM
WE HAVE A SOLEMN OBLIGATION.”
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

(photo by William Hartz)

from the World War 2 Memorial

“WOMEN WHO STEPPED UP
WERE MEASURED AS CITIZENS
OF THE NATION, NOT AS WOMEN…
THIS WAS A PEOPLE’S WAR,
AND EVERYONE WAS IN IT.”

Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby

"WOMEN WHO STEPPED UP WERE MEASURED AS CITIZENS OF THE NATION,  NOT AS WOMEN…THIS WAS A PEOPLE’S WAR, AND EVERYONE WAS IN IT." Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby

“WOMEN WHO STEPPED UP WERE MEASURED AS CITIZENS OF THE NATION,
NOT AS WOMEN…THIS WAS A PEOPLE’S WAR, AND EVERYONE WAS IN IT.”
Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
(photo by William Hartz)

From the Korean War Memorial:

“OUR NATION HONORS
HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS
WHO ANSWERED THE CALL
TO DEFEND A COUNTRY
THEY NEVER KNEW
AND A PEOPLE
THEY NEVER MET.”

"OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET

“OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET”

“FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.”

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

“FREEDOM IS NOT FREE”
(photo by William Hartz)

From the Vietnam Memorial:

IT IS OUR DUTY TO REMEMBER…
THE GALLANT AMERICANS WHOSE NAMES
GRACE THIS MEMORIAL WALL SACRIFICED
THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF OUR
COUNTRY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR
1964-1975…

IT IS OUR DUTY TO REMEMBER... THE GALLANT AMERICANS WHOSE NAMES GRACE THIS MEMORIAL WALL SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR 1964-1975...

“IT IS OUR DUTY TO REMEMBER… THE GALLANT AMERICANS WHOSE NAMES GRACE THIS MEMORIAL WALL SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR 1964-1975…”
(photo by concep007)

From the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier:

“FREEDOM IS A LIGHT
FOR WHICH MANY MEN HAVE DIED IN DARKNESS.”

(photo by Matt McGee)

(photo by Matt McGee)

How to unsend a message in Gmail

If you’re a Gmail user, here’s a tip that could be useful. Have you ever sent an e-mail that you wish you could recall? There’s a way to do that in Gmail.

Undo Send in Gmail

Undo Send in Gmail

You can enable the feature that gives you a few seconds to unsend a message by:

  1. Clicking on the gear,
  2. then Settings
  3. then the Labs tab
  4. and scroll down to enable Undo Send.
  5. Save the changes, and you’re done!

For a 30 second how-to, watch this video.

Is this useful? Share it!

Free Phone Case Giveaway for Mother’s Day

Tech21 iPhone 6 case

My Tech21 iPhone 6 case

Geek Mom’s Review

Looking for an affordable accessory for Mother’s Day? I have three new Tech21 gadget cases to give away! I’ve just slipped a new Tech21 FlexShock™ case onto my iPhone 6, and here are my first impressions:

  1. It’s hard, but flexible. Easy to slip onto the phone, because it bends a little bit.
  2. Shiny and colorful. Reminds me a bit of those plastic “jelly shoes” from the 80s. Or a phone-shaped gummy candy. Very pretty!
  3. Interesting looking texture. I can see through the case to the Apple on the back, but there is a nice polka-dot texture overlay.
  4. Excellent fit on the phone. Fits like a plastic glove.
  5. Screen protector not included. The case covers the back, sides, and buttons, but leaves the screen and ports open.

So far, I’m enjoying my free phone case. I’m tempted to taste it, because it looks like candy! It’s shiny, but not slippery. It’s hard, but not rigid.

How to Win a Free Tech21 Case

Want one for yourself? Or to give to the woman who brought you into the world? Leave a comment to enter, and three people will win a free case (for any major mobile device), provided by Tech21.

Thanks to Tech21 for sponsoring this giveaway! Tech21 is the leader in impact protection for smartphones, tablets and laptops. Tech21 has a suite of protective cases featuring Tech21’s scientifically proven material, FlexShock, and are backed by a lifetime warranty. The new Tech21 EVO range featuring FlexShock delivers thinner (by nearly 30%), lighter and more stylish impact protection than ever before. Learn more at Tech21 or follow @Tech21_UK on Twitter.

Winners will be randomly selected, and will be contacted via e-mail, so be sure to use a functioning address when you submit your comment. Winner’s choice of case will be shipped directly from the sponsor.

Create Mandala Art with Your Words

Create your own mandala-style word art

I’m a big fan of words, letters, and interesting patterns, so I was excited to find this cool mandala word art generator! You can type in some letters, use the sliders to adjust the size and overlap of the characters, and view, share, or save your creation in seconds!

Mandala-style "Todd"

Mandala-style “Todd”

I tried a few different words and decided I like shorter words better, because I can still kind of see what letters are in the finished product. If you want to use a longer message and create something very mysterious, that would also be cool. You could hide a secret mantra or message in your mandala, and nobody would ever know what it means, besides you.

Go try it at Mandific and let me know what you come up with! I’d love to see your creations, whether they are big and clear, or cryptic and complicated.

Mandala-style "sunshine"

Mandala-style “sunshine”

FIRST Robotics Competition 2015

Sport for the Mind™

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) 2015 world robotics competition was held April 22-25 in St. Louis, where more than 17,000 students from around the globe competed in the in world’s largest robotics celebration. The exciting conclusion had a crowd of more than 40,000 fans cheering the winning teams from League City, Texas, and Davis, Clovis, and Palmdale, California.

FIRST Robotics Championship 2015

FIRST Robotics Championship 2015

What is FIRST?

The FIRST championship is the culmination of a season of robotics engineering, building, and competitions for kids (ages 6 – 18) from more than 30 countries. Boys and girls around the world work with mentors and professional engineers to build customized robots and test them in regional team competitions.

Inspiring Kids in STEM

FIRST teams have spirit!

FIRST teams have spirit!

FIRST founder, Dean Kamen:

Our mission is to show students of every age that science, technology, and problem-solving are not only fun and rewarding, but are proven paths to successful careers and a bright future for us all.

When you see the FIRST teams collaborating, solving problems, and cheering together, you can’t dispute the value of this program in the lives of these kids. Besides giving them opportunities to learn and apply scientific principles, they also gain experience in teamwork, public presentation, and sportsmanship. No matter what professional field they end up choosing, those skills are invaluable.

Helping Bridge the Gender Gap in STEM

Not only are girls getting involved in co-ed robotics teams, they are leading their teams, encouraging their friends to get involved, and even comprising all-girl teams.

Learn More about FIRST

Visit US First
Follow FIRST on Facebook or Twitter
Learn how to become a FIRST volunteer/mentor

Bedtime Math 3 – Add some math fun to your bedtime stories!

Bedtime Math 3

Bedtime Math 3

My family has enjoyed the first two volumes of Bedtime Math, by Laura Overdeck. When I was offered a chance to review Bedtime Math 3: The Truth Comes Out, we were very excited!

If you aren’t familiar with the Bedtime Math series, here’s a quick introduction.

Author Laura Overdeck says, “We want kids to feel about math the way they feel about dessert after dinner.”

Our mission: to make math a fun part of kids’ everyday lives. When is the last time you gave your child a math problem just for fun? Yesterday? Last year? Maybe never? We all know it’s wonderful to read bedtime stories to kids, but the question remains–what about doing math? Math has a negative association in our culture and many Americans are uncomfortable and even fearful of math and numbers. But Bedtime Math is here to change all that.

Bedtime Math stories feature different difficulty levels, so kids of varying ages — and parents — can participate in the math fun.

Getting kids to enjoy math as much as dessert may seem impossible, but wait until you try Bedtime Math with your kids. Give it a try and give math a chance! You might be pleasantly surprised at their reactions!

Why learn math? (Fox Trot comic)

Why learn math? (Fox Trot comic)

R2D2 Finds Love

This short film is adorable! It’s a story about our favorite little droid, R2-D2, looking for love in San Francisco and Berkeley. He falls hard for a quiet mailbox and tries to woo her… Watch to find out how the story ends.

If you’re curious about how “Artoo In Love” was made, check out the official project site: http://www.artooinlove.com/. Writer/Director Evan Atherton.

International Tabletop Day is April 11

Do you need a reason to play more games? Break out your favorite tabletop games and celebrate on April 11, 2015! It’s International Tabletop Day!

International Tabletop Day was created three years ago, as a way to celebrate and encourage tabletop (board games, card games, etc.) gaming with friends and family. It’s a perfect opportunity to break out an old favorite game, or discover a new one. Get the kids involved, and show them how to have fun without a screen!

Tabletop Day poster

Tabletop Day poster

If you want to meet up with some new tabletop friends, try the event finder feature at TabletopDay.com: http://tabletopday.com/find-event. Nothing happening in your area? Start your own Tabletop Day event! http://eventbritepages.com/tabletopday.

For more information on International Tabletop Day, visit http://tabletopday.com/.

My family enjoys the classic UNO, Munchkin, and Apples to Apples. Do you have suggestions for some fun tabletop games? Let us know!

World Water Day Giveaway

The UN first designated March 22 as World Water Day in 1993, and fifteen years later, it’s still important to spread the word about clean water access! To help share World Water Day, leave a comment on this post and you’ll have a chance to win a beautiful scarf and umbrella from World Vision!

First, watch this video! Matt Damon (co-founder of Water.org) explains some important stuff about water and toilets.

Why worry about clean water? Have some facts!

  • Water is essential to life. The human body is 50-65% water. A newborn baby is 78% water.
  • The World Health Organization recommends at least 7.5 liters of water per person per day, and that minimum doesn’t include water for hygiene and sanitation.
  • Each American uses about 7500 liters of water per day.
  • In developing nations, women and girls spend 25% of each day gathering water for their families.
  • Handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs and prevent illness and disease. (Up to one trillion germs can live in one gram of poop.)
  • Every minute, a child dies from a water-related disease.

(facts from World Water Day site)

Water (World Vision)

Water (World Vision)

How you can help with World Water Day

One of the World Water Day partners is World Vision, and they have a great list of things to do for World Water Day. Of course, you can come up with your own ways to spread clean water awareness, and help with local water conservation efforts, too. This year’s specific World Water Day theme is “Water and Sustainable Development,” so you can also learn and talk about #water #sustainability #wateris and #waternow.

  • Start with a tweet: 22 March is #WorldWaterDay. Use #WaterIs to share messages about #Water & #Sustainability @UN-Water
  • Organize an event, such as a walk or run. One middle school is hosting a 1 mile barefoot walk to raise money and awareness of how hard it is for some people to find and gather water every day.
  • Comment for a chance to win!

    Comment for a chance to win scarf!

  • Give clean water by donating money. You could try water.org or worldvision, or find a local organization that you can help by volunteering.
  • Take shorter showers. It may not seem important, but the average 5 minute American shower uses more water than an average person in a developing country gets all day.
  • Print and share some World Water Day posters from UN Water. There are several to choose from here.

Whatever you decide to do, even if it’s just talking about the need for clean water, do something. Water is life! World Water Day is March 22.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win this beautiful scarf (normally $95) and an umbrella! (Scarf and umbrella will be provided and shipped by World Vision.)