Bits & Bytes
from Information Technology Services

Welcome to the Future…Google Glass

The title says it all. Google Glass is the future!

What is Google Glass?

According to http://www.techradar.com, “Google Glass is an attempt to free data from desktop computers and portable devices like phones and tablets, and place it right in front of your eyes.” It’s a camera, display, touch pad, battery and microphone built into spectacle frames so that you can perch a display in your field of vision, film, take pictures, search and translate on the go.

What can Google Glass do?

Google Glass has it all! Google went above and beyond with the features that Google Glass offers. Here are just a few of those features:

  • You can use the Google hangout software to video conference with your friends and show them where you’re looking.
  • You’ll also be able to use Google Maps to get directions, although with GPS absent from the spec list, you’ll need to tether Glass to your phone. To do that, Google offers the MyGlass app. This pairs your headset with an Android phone. As well as sharing GPS data, this means messages can be received, viewed on the display and answered using the microphone and Google’s voice-to-text functionality.
  • Google Glass gives you another reason not to miss your flight. Glass will include and air carrier’s suggestion that you could have flight details beamed to you while you are waiting at the airport. Basically, the sky’s the limit.

So, When is the Google Glass release date?

A final release date has not been announced, but sources say that the original suggestion of 2014 was actually overly pessimistic and we could see Google Glass arrive in time for the end of 2013. Make sure Google Glass is on your wish list for Santa.

Finally, the moment for which you’ve all been waiting.

How much will Google Glass cost?

The Google Glass Explorer (the developer version being sent out now) costs $1,500. The consumer versions, which are expected to arrive by the end of 2013, are expected to be a little cheaper, although any actual prices remain speculative. They are unlikely to be super-cheap- but Google’s success with the Nexus 7 tablet may prompt the company to subsidize some of the cost.

It’s amazing that technology has come as far as it has. Good job to the boys and girls at Google! I’m pretty sure they have hit the mother load.

I can’t wait to own my pair!

google_glass_grab-580-90

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Computer Graphics and Programming Degree (CGP)

So, you want to learn to create video games? Within the Computer Graphics and Programming (CGP)–Game Development emphasis Associates of Applied Science degree you have the opportunity to use several really awesome programs. For example we learn to use Autodesk®’s 3DS Max® to model and animate anything you could ever imagine. In addition, we learn to use Adobe® Photoshop® to create realistic looking textures that are applied to the models.

In the CGP Game Development degree one of the hardest things for people to understand or realize is that we don’t just play games. We joke about that being our research! There is a lot more to making a good game than just writing a few lines of code and a creating good model. Sometimes creating the model that sells well or satisfies your employer takes hours to create and you may even have to restart several times. For example, it takes patience when learning to unwrap 3D models so that the texture we created fits it perfectly. When it comes to the unwrapping process it may seem like you are not getting anywhere but if you spend the time in this stage you can come up with a really great looking product.

Creating the assets, the 3D models and textures, is just part of the fun! Bringing the assets into the Unity3D® game engine is awesome and where the fun really begins. I have spent a little over two years learning to use it and it is the most flexible engine I have ever used. You can quickly and easily create folders to organize your work with a few click of the mouse; design your own particle effects for fire, smoke, stars and much more. The game engine allows you to import Filmbox® (FBX) format models easily and then dynamically drag items around the scene to position them in your game scene with ease.

One of the strengths of the Unity3D® game engine is the asset store where you can buy or sell models. The asset store contains all sorts of models, coding and extensions imaginable. FireBallGameStudio.com, a small independent game studio my dad and I created, has started to sell assets on the asset store and we are doing quite well so far. It even helps pay our gas bill for our 100-mile commute to and from college!

With the CGP degree you learn what you need to know to be able to start your own studio or go out and find a job in the industry. The game market is always changing so there is always a need to take what you have learned and expand upon it. The teachers cannot teach you all you will ever need to know. As new technology comes out games evolve in their detail and capabilities. I have spent countless hours outside class researching new programs and easier ways of doing what I have learned. I have also done a lot of exploring of new technology that has come out recently and find the change exciting! So while playing games does help you get ideas of what to put in your games, the CGP degree is far from just playing games!

Posted in Applications, Technology | Comments Off on Computer Graphics and Programming Degree (CGP)

Position-Based Fluids

Realistic liquid simulation has always been the hardest part for a computer graphics producer and game developer.

Introducing the new Position-Based Fluids technology.

Position-Based Fluids is a way of simulating liquids using Position-Based Dynamics (PBD), the same framework that is utilized for cloth and deformables simulation in PhysX SDK (software development kit).

Because PBD uses an iterative solver which is different from the traditional SPH (Smoothed-particle hydrodynamics) fluid solvers, it can maintain incompressibility more efficiently. It also has an artificial pressure term which improves particle distribution and creates nice surface tension-like effects (note the filaments in the splashes). Finally, vorticity confinement is used to allow the user to inject energy back to the fluid.

Click for more information on this technology.

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How to invest in ‘Smartstocks’

Ever wanted to invest in stocks, but didn’t know which stocks to choose? Which stocks were good? Which ones were bad? There is a handy-dandy site to help you figure all that out before investing in something that could potentially “Lose it all” for you.

Smartstocks.com provides a live stock game using real stock quotes. Learn how to trade online and invest in the stock market without risking your hard-earned money. Test your new investment strategy before trying it out for real. Track the return of multiple online accounts in one place. Best of all, Smartstocks.com‘s fantasy stock market game is absolutely free. You will receive $1 million of virtual money to invest as you see fit and you may trade any of the more than 75,000 stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) AND mutual funds listed in our database. So stop wasting your hard-earned money and start living the “easy (virtual) life.”

smartstocks

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My class is full – can I get on a waitlist?

Have you ever wanted to register for a class only to find that it is full already?

Missouri State University-West Plains has a new service that may help you solve this problem.  We now allow waitlisting for closed courses. This means that when you go to My Grizzly Den to register and find that your class is closed, you can add yourself to a waitlist for that course. If a seat opens up in that course, you will be in line to take that seat. There is a limit of five (5) people per waitlist.

If you get on the waitlist, when (or if) a seat opens up an automatic email will be sent to your Missouri State email account. You will have 24 hours to go into My Grizzly Den and change your schedule around so that you can register yourself for the class you waitlisted. If you don’t do anything to your schedule, after the 24 hour waiting period, the next person on the waitlist will be notified and you will be removed from the waitlist.

You can also register for a section of a course and put yourself on the waitlist for another section of the same course. For example: You need ENG 110: the 10:00 AM section is full – the 8:00 AM section is open. You can register for the 8:00 AM section and put yourself on the waitlist for the 10:00 AM section. If you are notified that a seat is open in the 10:00 AM section, you will need to drop the 8:00 am section first and then register for the 10:00 AM section. The system will not allow you to be actually registered in a duplicate course.

So, how does it work?

Go to the Add Classes page and enter the CRN of the course. You will see a message that the course is closed but a waitlist exists and you can add yourself to the waitlist. The drop-down box under the Action header shows Waitlist as your option. Choose this option and click Submit.  Now, your registration will show the classes for which you are registered and the courses for which you are waitlisted.

Screenshot of My Grizzly Den displaying the waitlist screen

If you want to check your waitlist status (see where you are on the waitlist) then go to the Schedule Detail page and check your position and also when your notification expires.

Screenshot of My Grizzly Den displaying the waitlist details

That’s all there is to it. You can be in control of your own schedule. No need to call the office of registration and records or your instructor – they see exactly what you see, so they won’t have any new or different information on your position on the waitlist.

Remember to check your email often if you are on a waitlist. If you miss the 24 hour notification period, you are dropped from the waitlist.

Remember the staff here at Missouri State University-West Plains is always willing to help you through the steps if you get stuck!

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Use the Grizzly Den to Grant Registration Overrides

When a student comes to you and asks for special permission to register for your class, there is no longer any need for emails or paper forms.  If you follow the instructions outlined here the process is complete and the student can seemlessly register for your class.

You can grant permission for the following conditions:

  • Student Attribute Required
  • Capacity of course
  • Duplicate course entered
  • Instructor Permission required
  • Prerequisite
  • Repeat limit or repeat hours
  • Time conflicts

Here’s how to do it!

1.  Log into the Grizzly Den and click on the My Teaching/Advising tab.

2.  Click on Registration Overrides on the right hand side of the screen.

3. Select the Term for which you are granting the override.

4. Enter either the student’s ID number (M#) for his/her name and click the Submit button.

5. The system will display the student’s name and ask you to verify that this is the student you asked for.  Click the Submit button once more.

6. Under the Override column, click the down arrow to get the list of choices for whatever particular override you are working on. For example “Prerequisite”.

 

Override Screen 1

7.  Then under the Courses column, click the down arrow to get a list of courses for which you are the primary instructor. Choose the course for which you need to grant permission for the

override and click the Submit button.

8. You are then returned to this screen where you can see that your override has been successfully saved. (Note: you can see any activity from previous instructors and override conditions for

this student.

Override Screen 3

9. You may now click Exit if you are finished granting overrides or you may use the Return to Menu link to return to the screen to choose another student.

 

That’s all there is to it!  Once you have completed this process, your student is able to register for the class, either in person or via the web, without any further intervention from you or the

Records and Registration office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virtual Desktop Workspaces For Windows Users

If you guys don’t know what virtual desktop workspaces are, virtual desktop workspaces are supplemental workspaces that allow you to have more than one desktop on your computer.

That way you can organize your applications the way you want them.

View the demo video by Dexpot.

There are a lot Windows-based virtual desktop clients available.

Why I chose Dexpot? There are few reasons

  • Easy to use
  • Highly customizable
  • And the most important one, it is free

Can’t wait to get it?

Then download the application and Quick Start Guide

Not a Windows User? Linux and Mac already have this feature built into their systems.

Posted in Applications, Productivity | Comments Off on Virtual Desktop Workspaces For Windows Users

Title IV Authorizations FAQ

What is Title IV?

Title IV financial aid is federally funded aid such as the Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Why do I need to answer these questions?

According to federal regulations, federal student aid will be applied directly to your outstanding University charges (tuition, fees, room, board, and other eligible charges on the student’s account) and in some cases you may be eligible to receive a credit balance (refund). A credit balance is created when the total federal student aid credited to your account is more than the total amount of tuition, fees, room, board and other eligible charges. By answering the questions in My Grizzly Den, you will or will not authorize Missouri State University-West Plains to manage the federal student aid on your student account.

You can use the refund to pay prior term charges up to $100 (fall, spring, etc.) You can use the refund to pay current term non-institutional charges, such as books, library or parking fines. You can have Missouri State University-West Plains hold the refund to pay for a future term within the academic year (fall, spring, summer). The hold will expire in late spring and any remaining credit balance will be mailed to you or deposited into your bank account. If you do not authorize Missouri State University-West Plains to hold the credit balance, the University must refund the credit balance within 14 days from the disbursement date.

Do I have to answer these questions every semester?

Unless you authorize the question allowing the hold of the refund, you will only have to answer these questions once. If you do authorize the hold, that question must be answered once per academic year.

What if I want to change my answer?

If you want to change the way you answered the questions, you will need to come to the business office and sign a form authorizing them to change how you want your account managed.

What do the questions say?

Question 1: Do you want to use excess financial aid to transfer funds to pay charges in addition to tuition, fees, room and board? Such charges may include books and library or parking fines. (If you have charged at the bookstore or think you might ever utilize that option with your financial aid credit, then you must pick Authorize on this question. Otherwise the University cannot allow you to charge books at the bookstore.)

Question 2: If you have any excess financial aid, do you authorize the University to hold up to $100 for a previous semester balance within the academic year? (This will only be done if you have been allowed to register for a future term and still owe up to $100 on a previous term. If applicable, this would allow the University to settle your prior semester out of any excess financial aid (up to $100 only). If you are agreeable to these terms, please choose Authorize).

Question 3: Do you authorize the University to hold any excess financial aid for future term charges? (i.e., if you want to receive all of your refund back as soon as it is available choose Do Not Authorize).

Where do I find these questions?

Go to My Grizzly Den on the My Enrollment tab and choose Financial Aid Awards.

Screenshot of My Grizzly Den screen displaying the financial aid awards channel

Next, choose the Resources/Additional Information tab. There you will see the information about the Title IV Authorizations and the Questions.

Screenshot of My Grizzly Den displaying financial aid authorization information

Screenshot of My Grizzly Den displaying the Title IV authorization choices

Once you have answered these questions, you do not have to do anything else. The business office will either apply the payment to your account or process your refund.

As always, if you have other questions or need additional help, you can contact the business office in Cass Hall.

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Windows 8 and Windows RT

Windows 8 is now available to the general public. The Windows 8 user interface is quite different than what we’re used to, so here’s a few links to help you make sense of it all.

Windows 8 Beginner’s Guide video

Windows 8 or Windows RT selector

Review by PCWorld

Faculty and staff can upgrade to Windows 8 for Work at Home from the Get Software – Software for Home link on the Missouri State University Help Desk web page (login required). Students should inquire at the Drago College Store.

Windows 8 will be available for office computers in the Spring 2013 semester. Contact your user support person for details.

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Stop. Think. Connect.

Posted from http://www.stopthinkconnect.org

When you cross the street, you look both ways to make sure it’s safe. Staying safe on the Internet is similar. It takes some common sense steps.

STOP: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.

THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family’s.

CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

Learn more safety tips for mobile devices here.

Stay safe online!

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