New Site Design has been due for a redesign for a long time, and now it’s finally happened!  The new site is inspired by Microsoft’s Modern UI design, specifically the Windows 8 Start Screen and Windows Phone 8.  In fact, my motivation to redesign the site was a result of publishing a Windows Phone 8 app (look for another post on that soon).  I feel the site is now cleaner but still represents who I am.  Fun fact:  I used Microsoft PowerPoint to help me visualize the design before coding it, which is a process that I highly recommend.

With the more professional design also comes more professional content.  I’m choosing to retain my older posts (despite the fact that some are embarrassing at this point), but you can expect my future posts to be focused more on my career and academics.  I hope it will become a true tech blog containing programming tips and tutorials from my real-life experience.

I would love to hear what you think of the new design.  Feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me with your feedback.

Echo Smartpen by Livescribe

When my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year I wasn’t sure how to answer. Of course clothes are always an option (especially at this age), but it’s nice for both parties if you can think of something unique. The internet is always a good resource for me to find the latest gadgets, so I began shopping around. Eventually I came across a product called a smartpen. I can’t say the idea of a smartpen was anything new to me; I remember reading about a device that would digitize what you wrote on paper and thinking it sounded pretty cool. However, at the time I didn’t really see it becoming something that I would use often enough to make it worth the money. Desperate for gift ideas, I decided I would give the smartpen idea another chance. I did some research and in a short time realized that the smartpen had made great technological strides since they were first introduced. Specifically, a company called Livescribe had created a very nice smartpen that did much more than just digitize handwritten notes.

The Echo Smartpen by Livescribe is essentially every college student’s dream. Simply remember to tap the record button with the pen at the start of any lecture in order to end the period with a lot more than just the fading memories of what the professor said. The smartpen will provide a physical copy of any notes, a very clear digital copy of the same notes, and an audio recording of the lecture that is synchronized with what was written. It is the perfect solution to confusing course material or those “off days” that everyone experiences one in a while (or perhaps more frequently for some people). Thanks to the synchronized audio recording, reliving the lecture is as simple as tapping the pen on any part of the notes. Suddenly the audio that was recorded during the time those notes were taken will begin to play from the pen’s speaker. It is truly amazing! Plug the pen into the computer for even more options, a few of which include backing up, organizing, and sharing the notes and recordings. Plus I haven’t even mentioned the variety of smartpen applications being written every day, turning your smartpen into anything from a ruler to a calculator to a piano. The possibilities are endless!

It should be noted that this smartpen requires special paper in order to record what is written, but that’s not as much of a drawback as one may initially think. I was able to purchase four 100-sheet 8″ x 10″ notebooks (200 digital pages when both sides are used) for $20. Other sizes are also available, but $5 per notebook isn’t outrageously expensive in my opinion. It is also possible to print Livescribe notebook pages from the computer, but usually that requires a laser printer. I have also read that the ink cartridges run out more quickly than one would expect, but five refills only cost $5.

Overall I highly recommend the Echo Smartpen. It’s well-designed, feature packed, and invaluably useful. Used to its potential, I think this pen could easily make grades in any class higher. Even if grades aren’t a concern this pen will still making studying and reviewing easier and more comprehensive than ever.

Do you have a smartpen from Livescribe? What about a smartpen from another manufacturer? If so, please leave a comment below and let me know how you like it. Interested in buying a smartpen now? Feel free to ask me questions in a comment as well.

MATH 230 - 13.1

A sample of my digitized notes from my MATH 230 lecture.


Today I attended an event at Penn State called TEDxPSU. For those of you who don’t know, TEDx is an independently organized TED event, which is basically a program of speakers communicating “Ideas Worth Spreading.” When I first found out about this event I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. I did some research on their website and watched quite a few videos from past TED events and came to the conclusion that it was something that I would really enjoy.
The event took place on 10/10/10 from 10:10 AM – 5:10 PM in Schwab Auditorium at Penn State. It consisted of twelve live speakers, seven prerecorded speakers from other TED events, and two musical performances. In short, every single one of these speakers and performances was spectacular and well worth listening to. It’s amazing how enlightening a person can be when speaking about something they truly have a passion for. As for the topics at TEDx, I cannot really group them into a general category besides “great thoughts and ideas.” I got to hear about topics like technological advancements, economic solutions, education strategies, personal betterment, and so much more. All in all, I loved every second of it.

TEDxPSU is an event that I will certainly take a lot away from. I took notes on every speaker and from each of them I managed to pull at least one great idea. I would like to share these ideas with all of you here, both to benefit myself by reflecting and to attempt to pass my realizations on to you. Not all of these little snippets will make sense out of context, but I would imagine they are still meaningful with a little thought. Sure, it may lead to a different conclusion then I came to in the context of the speech, but I don’t see anything wrong with that. As always, if you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to leave a comment below.

  • Mobility is the next big revolution.
  • Delaying self-gratitude is the key to success.
  • Listen in order to create a space for possibility.
  • Disregard no person.
  • Loop pedals are awesome.
  • Humans generate bias based on unusual versus common, unknown versus familiar, personified versus anonymous, and control versus participation.
  • The best security tradeoffs are made when feeling equals reality.
  • With any idea, the opposite may also be true.
  • The world would be a better place if we all lived in our right brain.
  • Boys and girls are different.
  • Get the basics right first.
  • Don’t share your goals with others because then you are less likely to accomplish them.
  • Just do it until someone stops you.
  • There is no difference between disabilities and super abilities.
  • If children have interest than education will occur.
  • Compliment
  • “While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”
  • Be an alien. Don’t take everything at face value—make it your own to fuel your own success.

Finally, here are the websites of some amazing artists that I discovered at TEDxPSU: