Kids & Coding

25th March 2014

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Two weeks ago, we held a lecture at our local library to teach adults how to use a program called Scratch, to help teach children (and grown-ups, because it’s a lot of fun) about computer programming.

Scratch
Scratch is a brilliant flash application, where you can create what you want and let your imagination go wild. Instead of “writing” computer code, you piece it together like Lego, but it uses the same logic and way of thinking as more traditional computer code. You can create animations, applications, games, presentations and even some fancy art! Scratch is a great way to teach children coding and is a brilliant stepping-stone in teaching the importance of computer programming to children.

Why is it so important to teach children computer programming?
“Kids are tech wiz’s” we often hear, but that’s rarely the case. They know how to start the engine and drive the car, but do not understand how the engine works. When they are asked how to fix something on the computer that they have not done before, they find it difficult and can get easily distracted by social media (the easy way out).

Most people these days will take their car to the car mechanic if it breaks down, but it didn’t used to be that way. Up to a couple of decades ago, the majority of people who owned a car, most likely knew how to fix it. As cars developed, they became easier to drive, more comfortable to use, but also more advanced and intricate in their technology. When you open a car bonnet these days, you don’t see the engine any more, you see a fancy plastic surface, and a little label saying “Oil” with an arrow.

The same is happening with computers. As we progress onto using a tablet/computer, we are learning how to push buttons without understanding the underlying technology. Even for a computer-literate parent, we often repair and fix the problem for them, instead of letting them figure it out themselves. In essence, computer literacy is having the ability to tackle problems that you’ve never encountered before.

We are creating a generation of people who know how to use a computer, but don’t have a clue about how they work. Software is becoming more locked down, and when you open the “car bonnet” you only see a label saying “Oil”.

The future
There is one major difference between software and cars and that is the Internet, which offers all of the tools and knowledge you would need to build or understand programs! Understanding how software is made gives one a deeper understanding of the computer’s method of thinking, and will allow you to tackle common computer problems in a new way.

References:
Kids Can’t Use Computers…
Code.org


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Spring around the corner

10th March 2014

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Spring is just around the corner and we are very much looking forward to the greenery coming back. It might be a little bit too early to be expecting a spring in Norway, but let’s be a little optimistic :D We will start going back to our regular routine of regular hiking trips into the forest of Horten, to explore the beautiful scenery with the camera and the two little dogs. With all the snow we’ve had the last 3 months, it will be nice to see the forest come back to life again, even if the photo above is from last year. One of our friends in Norway has spotted the true spring appearing in Norway (http://instagram.com/p/lUHY9TiZJo/)

With more forest walks in Spring, we find it helps a lot when it comes to our inspiration and creativity and we are planning to start a little photography series, here on the blog, all about Nature and Wildlife.

What do you do when your looking for inspiration? Go for walks, run or read? :)


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Speed up your workflow using Photoshop Generator

3rd March 2014

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When designing for games or web, you often spend a lot of time exporting files. Slicing your document, saving out different layers and resolutions, is taking your beautiful design apart just to save it!

Basically “Generator” is a Node.js platform which was introduced in Photoshop CC in the September 2013 release. It can run many plugins, as well as write your own,¬†but so far Photoshop CC only comes with one plugin pre-installed called¬†“Image Assets”.

By using “Image Assets”, all you need to do is give a layer or group a file name and it will automatically save it out in the file format you specified.

Here is how:

  1. Have one of your lovely files open, or create a new one.
  2. Go to “File ➝ Generate ➝ Image Assets”. This will only activate the plugin.
  3. Name one of your layers or a group “myLayerName.jpg”.
  4. Now you will find a folder called “myDocumentName-assets” next to your PSD file (or on your desktop if you have not saved your document yet). In there, you will find your layer or group exported as a .jpg!

Note: This plugin will be active on the file until you disable it (repeat step 2).
Tip: All exports are trimmed based on transparent pixels. To avoid this you can create an empty mask on the layer/group and the export will be the size of your mask instead.

But wait, there is more! You can resize, set the quality and do multiple exports, all at once, by following the naming convention below:

[Size] [MyFileName].[FileType&Quality], (repeat)

  1. Size can be written like 200% or 100×200 for pixel accuracy
  2. File types are .png, .jpg and .gif (and .svg in beta)
  3. The file type and quality is written like this:

.png (no quality set, will default to .png32)
.png8
.png24 (Same as PNG-24 in Save for Web, no transparency)
.png32 (Same as PNG-24 in Save for Web, with transparency checked)
.jpg (no quality set, will default to .jpg9)
.jpg7 (number between 1 to 10)
.jpg70% (number between 1-100%)
.gif (no options)
.svg (In beta)

Examples:

Background.jpg10
↳ Will result in a full quality jpeg.

600x200 banner.png
↳ Will resize and stretch to fit “banner.png”.

Logo@2.png24, 50% Logo Logo.png24
↳ Will result in a 24 bit png “Logo@2.png” file and another one called “Logo.png” at half the size.

Should I still use “Save for web”?
While the Save for web feature is not obsolete, as it has more features, the “Image Assets” plugin most certainly will save everyone a lot of time. We have been doing a bit of testing with the “Image Assets” plugin vs “Save for Web”. It seems that the “Image Assets” plugin is great for prototyping, but “Save for web” will give you full control of which scaling algorithm is used and file options. From our test, the “Image Assets” plugin using the file name .png32 gives the same file sizes as PNG-24 with “Transparency” checked and “Metadata” set to None in “Save for Web”.

Source:
http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotcom/2013/09/introducing-adobe-generator-for-photoshop-cc.html


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Drift Bloom Update: Attack of the large paint drops!

27th February 2014

It’s been a while since we worked on Drift Bloom, but after conquering a major obstacle, we finally made some progress, and also faced an attack of the large paint drops! :O It’s nice when a bug paints the entire world in beautiful colours, but that makes it too easy :P

So as you may have noticed, we worked a bit on the power ups and improving them a bit. We’ve been working on optimising the level pack and integrating the important events in the game, especially focusing on making the system work efficiently and nicely.


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Snuti Productivity: Chinese tea

24th February 2014

chinesetea

We thought we would start sharing a bit of our productivity tips and we wanted to start with Chinese tea, our recent discovery that fuels our freelancing & game development day.

Tea is our productivity drink, but since we moved to Norway, our tea selection was a bit limited in comparison to the grand tea sections in all shops in Britain. That was until we tasted Chinese tea leaves, and ever since, we’ve been converted. We have four different types of tea leaves: Jasmine White tea, Green Tea, Lapsang Souchong & Golden Monkey black tea. We always start the day with some Black tea (Lapsang Souchong or Golden Monkey) and end the day with some White tea or Green tea, which helps us calm down before bedtime. Ever since we started drinking Chinese tea, we’ve felt not only more productive but it’s boosted our health and energy so much, with the added bonus of being rather tasty :)

And as we are on the subject of productivity, what is your favourite productivity drink? Coffee? Tea? Or a delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows? :D


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