Wednesday, August 31, 2016

21st Century Multimedia: Extreme Video Edition! What to watch Fall 2016?

21st Century Multimedia: 
Extreme Video Edition! 
What to watch Fall 2016?

UPDATE (9/30/2016):
This is an update of an old post about watching genre TV on your phone or tablet using apps! The original post is listed below after the update for your information. Enjoy!

Summer 2015 saw the end of 2 mainstays: Falling Skies (TNT) and Defiance (SyFy). Falling Skies, by Noah Wyle, was always top notch. I'm gonna miss it! Librarians ain't gonna cut it. BTW, Falling Skies started the "After Show" tradition that Walking Dead is so famous for now. Will Wheaton hosted the Falling Skies After Show for 2 seasons and then it fizzled out IDK why. I like Chris Hardwick's After Show for Walking Dead, but I miss Will Wheaton! Also, Defiance started putting Comic Book stories on TV way before Walking Dead did. 

So, when Summer 2016 rolled around, I was wondering if it was gonna be a flop. Well, enter The Last Ship (TNT) and Dark Matter (SyFy). Both of these series started in prior Summers but escaped my notice. So, it was time for binge watching to catch up. All I have to say is: SyFy finally has some SciFi back on air! Oh, The Last Ship isn't quite a genre show (SciFi-Fantasy-Horror) but it's top notch! Eric Dane is great as the commander of the Nathan James and he's a great Producer too. He, like Noah Wyle, also started out on a prime time medical soap opera. Noah started out on ER and Eric started out on Grey's Anatomy. Both are fine shows and both are fine actors, producers, writers and directors!

So, what am I watching now during the Fall 2016 season? Here you go:

Sundays Walking Dead AMC

Mondays Timeless NBC

Tuesdays Marvel Agents of Shield ABC

Tuesdays Aftermath SyFy

Wednesdays Frequency theCW

Thursdays Big Bang Theory CBS

Thursdays Supernatural theCW
Fridays (waiting for Reign theCW)

Fridays (waiting for Vikings History)

Fridays (waiting for Last Kingdom BBCA)

Saturdays Star Wars Rebels DisneyXD

I enjoyed all these shows last year except for some new comers: Timeless, Aftermath, Star Wars Rebels, Frequency. Unfortunately, Timeless is a bit too predicatbale. However, Aftermath is good SciFi on SyFy again! Thank you SyFy channel. I missed good SciFi on SyFy ever since Babylon5, Star Gate (SG1 and Atlantis) and BattleStar Gallactica ended! Star Wars Rebels I discovered and binged on last Summer. It's very much like the original Star Wars movies. It has great characters and writers. I recommend it, even though it's animated. Maybe since it's animated, it has some great graphics! I wanted to catch up to this season, as one of my fave SciFi writers of all time, Timothy Zahn, is joining the writing team and contributing his Grand Admiral Thrawn for good measure! Frequency is a new take on the 2000 movie classic. You have to see it to appreciate it. Here's a cool podcast about it. So, enough said! 

BTW, Reign, Vikings and The Last Kingdom aren't really genre shows, but I highly recommend them if you are into historical fiction. In fact, get all the Bernard Cornwell novels you can, and read up on The Last Kingdom yourself!

ORIGINAL POST (9/30/2014):
OK, I have to admit it, I've probably been a massive media maven since birth! I probably had the first VCR on the block! I remember recording every episode of ST:TNG starting with the very first episode September 1987! You couldn't do that with The Original Series in the 1960s. You had to watch everything live back then, they hadn't even invented reruns yet.

I've used them all: VCRs, DVRs and even a DVDR for recording directly to DVD instead of VHS tape. DVDRs are great for converting VHS tapes to DVDs too. I even use my DVDR to make mp4s for YouTube of old VHS video.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be an update to this postThat was back in July of 2012. My arguement then was that the best way to watch your fave SciFi TV shows (old and new) was via online streaming to you PC, tablet of cellphone ie: not on TV! You could use NetFlix, Hulu or Amazon Prime with your device of choice. I used my WiFi Kindle Fire HD 7" with Amazon Prime. 

Don't forget your fave webseries! Many of mine a Star Trek related like ST:ContinuesST:Phase2 and ST:Renegades. BTW, ST:Axanar is a new series that looks really promising! Webseries such as these are great to watch on your tablet or cellphone using an App called YouTube Downloader (not to be confused with the FireFox add-on) whereby you can download the next episode of your fave webseries from YouTube when you are near a WiFi Hot Spot and watch it whenever and wherever you want. Other webseries on YouTube you may want to look for are: HISHETEDIgniteViHartKahn AcademyGeek & SundryTable TopNerdist

BTW, it's such a shame that the SyFy Channel is no longer the SiFi Channel! Now we get to watch WWF on SyFy, TNG on BBCA and FireFly on History Channel?

So, here's what's new. Now, most TV channels have an App. So, download the App for the channel that runs your fave series and watch it on the road! You're no longer relegated to just the YouTube Downloader app. So, you have a lot more choices for content. You do need WiFi or 4G. BTW, in a pinch, you could always setup a WiFi hot spot on your cellphone! I'm using my WiFi Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" now. 

FYI: I refuse to get a tablet with 4G. Why pay extra for such hardware when WiFi Hot Spots are so prevalent now? Remember the early days of the iPhone and iPad? That's Steve Job's legacy. You had to get 2 devices each with it's own data plan. So, you pay Apple twice as much as should be necessary. That was the business model that made Jobs rich! Ever hear of a phablet? It's a large cellphone with apps or a small tablet with cellphone capability. Let's cut to the chase: I want a large tablet (like this) with cell access! That's one device with one data plan, done!

Note, TV seasons used to be Fall-Spring with repeats in the Summer. Some series went Winter-Summer. Maybe they'd break for XMas or Easter. Maybe you'd get a Halloween or Thanksgiving special and that was it! Now you get 1/2 season shows in the Fall and Spring with 12-13 episodes per calendar season like Supernatural. Some shows are only one calendar season like Vikings, Defiance, Falling Skies and Last Ship!

So, what follows are my genre related picks for 2014 to give you examples of this new way of keeping up with your fave shows:

WINTER 2014:
SHOW: Downton

SPRING 2014:
APP: History
SHOW: Vikings

SUMMER 2014:
SHOW: Falling Skies

SHOW: Last Ship

SHOW: Legends

APP: SyFy (not for streaming - extra content)
SHOW: Defiance

APP: SyFy (not for streaming - extra content)
SHOW: Dominion

FALL 2014:
SHOW: Walking Dead

SHOW: Big Bang Theory

SHOW: Marvel

SHOW: Forever

SHOW: Supernatural

SHOW: Flash

SHOW: Reign

APP: BBCA (no app, sorry)
SHOW: Dr. Who

I was really looking forward to Sean Bean in Legends but I was disappointed. His is the only good character. They don't really flesh out the other characters and the other actors don't have much to do. But you gotta love Sean in LOTR and an old BBC series called Sharpe based on the Bernard Cornwell novels!

Dominion was another diappointment! I love Anthony Head from Buffy and BBCA's Merlin. However, the plot was slow and Head was not the main character. He couldn't carry the whole show on his shoulders all by himself, I'm afraid.

By contrast, I'm really liking Ioan Gruffudd in Forever! All the characters are nicely fleshed out and work well together. I remember the first season of ST:TNG. The actors were so stiff and fake! I'm a big fan of Ioan since the film Titanic and an old BBC series called HornBlower based on the C.S. Forrester novels. BTW, in a similar vein, I also love what they did with the Patrick O'Brien novels in the movie Master and Commander!

Now go enjoy some of your own Extreme Video Streaming adventures!

Generally Speaking,

Well, that's all folks,
A. Jorge Garcia
Applied Math, Physics and CS
2017 NYS Secondary Math PAEMST Nominee

Sage Ebay

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Let's Dump Those Good Old GCs!

Let's Dump Those Good Old GCs!
(excerpt from recent thread on AP Calc Forum)
I love teaching AP Computer Science, but that's not what I'm talking about here. Our Honors Math students, at the very least, should be exposed to computing as it's used in upper level mathematics and science majors or professions. 

This area of study is commonly referred to as Computing Science or Scientific Computing. Many of my students go on to some of the Big Tech or Ivy League schools for a major in Engineering or the Sciences. In said fields students and professionals will be programming computers to solve their problems. These professionals may use a programming language such as Python, C++ or Java. More likely, they will use a mathematical programming environment such as MATLAB, Mathematica or SPSS. Alternatively, I try to expose my students to FLOSS (Free Linux Open Source Software) versions: Octave, SAGE or R respectively (we use Linux a lot).

These past couple of years I thought I'd replace the TI83/84 in my preCalculus classes. Since preCalculus is mostly a terminal course for Seniors (not Honors) in High School whereby a Graphing Calculator is not required (no Regents or AP), I thought this would be a great place to experiment. The classes took to this approach very well. These students even felt special and accomplished when they told their peers in other classes that they were coders! I did keep the coding to a minimum, however, using predefined functions in SAGE

Early in the year (Sept), I did use pure Python coding for Sequences and Series as the List Data Structure, List Comprehensions and For Loops are very easy to introduce here. Later on (June), we were able to build on Sequence and Series when we got to Reimann Sums. Here's a playlist from that course.

Many schools nowadays have a 1-to-1 program where every student and teacher use some sort of compatible device provided by the school. Some schools, like mine, give out Graphing Calculators to everyone at the beginning of the year like a textbook. This way, everyone can use the same technology in class and at home. Some schools give out Tablets, unlike mine, whether it be an iPad or an Android, and use an app like Desmos or Geogrbra or even a TI Emulator. Don't forget, there's always a "App for that" or that "Droid does!"

Why not leverage the devices we already have? Most students and teachers have a Cell Phone or Tablet capable of coding with an online IDE, an app or a computing environment such as SAGE! As you can see from recent posts to this blog, the amount of python coding needed isn't much or hard to learn: 

Python, Sage or GC!

Of course, you could get a little carried away and teach a lot more (see the side panels of my blog for SAGE samples from all of the topics in preCalc and AB Calc).

I let my preCalculus students use SAGECELL in class and at home without a problem. I also let students use their own TI83/84 if they have one and prefer to use a Graphing Calculator at times as a mater of taste. I do not expose my AP Calculus students to any of this until after the AP Exam as they need to use a Graphing Calculator on the exam. Take a look at any playlist on my YouTube channel labeled "LAC" (Life After Calculus) for examples of what we do after the exam. 

Using Python in SAGECELL or REPL or VPython in GlowScript very easy to use and teach. These environments are to python as Processing and OpenProcessing are to Java. So, I may use Java in Math class too!

I was one of the first to promote the use of Graphing Calculators back in the early 1990s. Everyone was resistant to change back then. If a particular technology were not required on a particular exam, I think more people would be receptive to change now. Why saddle our kids with outdated tech that costs about $100 per calculator when they already have a ton of tech in their pocket or backpack?


Well, that's all folks,
A. Jorge Garcia
Applied Math, Physics and CS
2015 NYS Secondary Math PAEMST Nominee

Teaching with Technology, 
PasteBin SlideShare 
Sage Ebay