🌱 The Free-Range Technologist #24 🙋
🎯Guide: Teach Scrum with Minecraft🚧
In my pre-pandemic Project Management classes, I often used a “Lego City” activity to teach the basics of Scrum (an agile framework). This worked well, but when we had to go online, I adapted this exercise (with lots and lots of help from my students) to use Minecraft instead. It has worked so well that I continue to use Minecraft to teach Scrum even though we are back in the classroom. Here is my guide and checklist for anyone who wants to use this exercise with their students!! Let me know how it works for you or if you have ideas for improvement. (Creative Commons, use and modify as you like). I will be making a video version of this guide soon and posting it on my Youtube Channel.
🍿Must Watch: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) 🤴🏾
An amazing feat of cinematography, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is one of the first full-length animated films ever produced (it is the only surviving one, two others were lost). Produced using a silhouette animation technique, this film took three years to film, each frame an individual shot (24 frames per second). By tinting the film, a color background is created to dramatic effect. It reminded me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Herminy retells the “Tale of the Three Brothers.” However, from what I can find that was not the same technique🙁. We watched this on Kanopy, a streaming app that allows for viewing movies for free from our local library. Here is a trailer for the restored version that will give you a taste.
🎙️ Featured Talks and Articles 🗞️
I had the opportunity to be on some brilliant podcasts and programs recently, including:
A neat new podcast, Big Theory Science, where we geeked out about AI and Deepfakes.
I also had the opportunity to chat with about 200 of Mizzou’s finest students about Deepfakes. Deepfake content will play a major role in public trust and the way we operate in the online world. We explored the pros and cons of this new technology, how can we identify deepfakes, and what can we do to protect ourselves from deceptive deepfakes. A recorded and edited version can be viewed here:
🙋 Ask Us Anything
I have been working with the Columbia Entrepreneurial Alliance for the past couple of years to assist new business owners and get them connected to the local "entrepreneurial ecosystem." After several successful "Jumpstart" events, we decided to try something different: A virtual event that allows new or prospective business owners the ability to ask questions and get them answered by Columbia's top experts.
Participate in Ask Us Anything, your place to get the answers you need about how to get started and thrive as an entrepreneur. Ask any business-related question, for free, and have your question answered by our community’s top entrepreneurs and experts.
The deadline to ask a question is March 15.
📚 Book Review: Termination Shock 🥵
by Neal Stephenson
Many people are currently discovering Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, a novel from 20 years ago in which he described the metaverse. Stephenson has an uncanny ability to see where technology is going in his books and often predicts the future with great accuracy. For example, ransomware attacks were core to the storyline of Reamde, as were the economics of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG). Reamde came out well before most people had heard of ransomware or loot boxes.
In Termination Shock, Stephenson turns to the subject of climate change and geoengineering the planet. Stephenson provides historical and technical details on all places, technologies, and players in the story, so expect to learn a lot and go through several hundred pages of detailed descriptions of how the Dutch monarchy works, the biology of feral pigs, and many more topics.
Termination Shock is an informative imagining of the near future focusing on the geopolitics of climate change. I was most interested in his description of Drone Swarms, a topic of increasing concern for our military. Recommend.
🎧 Audio Book Review: The Chancellor 🇩🇪
The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel by Kati Marton
This book tells the fantastic story of Angela Merkel as told by her official biographer. It covers her family history (growing up in East Germany), her rise to political power, and her years as Germany’s Chancellor; many of those years spent as the de facto leader of Europe and the free world.
The biographer Marton describes many of Merkels’ great successes and her flaws and stumbles. This book is well-written, and the only criticism I would offer is how the book is organized; at times, it is confusing when there are flashbacks that seem to overlap with parts of the story that has already been told.
One of the things that I found fascinating about Merkel was how her isolation in East Germany gave her a fresh and insightful perspective on the politics of the western world when the wall fell. She was not encumbered with the baggage of a western education about the history of Europe, and that allowed her to understand European political relationships more clearly.
Indeed, Merkel was not perfect. The way she explained her handling the refugee crisis led to the rise of the AFD, and her preference for austerity instead of punishing reckless bankers and politicians during the Greek and Eurozone emergencies caused much misery for innocent citizens in southern Europe. Yet, she is a remarkable leader, and her influence will last for decades, if not centuries.
🔗 Links of the Week
My colleague at SUMY university in Ukraine, Okasan Z., was featured on a local TV station in Columbia.
Purple: America, We Need to Talk. “In a time of immense division, PURPLE tells the story of everyday Americans with opposing viewpoints confronting their disagreements head-on and discovering the humanity and concerns that lie behind each other’s positions.” From a newfound colleague Helen K.
An interesting explanation of Quantum computing in the context of the History of Computing.
A funny take on the awaking of an AI (forwarded from friend Tom O).
As always, be sure to hit reply and tell me what you have been up to, what you are reading, and what neat stuff you have discovered lately! I always look forward to getting responses from you all, hearing about what you have been creating recently, and the resources/lifehacks you are using!! And thanks to the 1100+ colleagues and friends who read my little emails!