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19 Mar

"Make a game of it" used to be a tried-and-true approach to improving productivity, whether on the job or in the classroom. With the overall world of gaming recently having taken a quantum leap, does the old adage make sense for today's digitally minded kids?

Beth Blecherman, a mother of three boys who is also the founder of Techmamas.com, decided to explore whether "gamification" -- using game thinking or mechanics in non-game situations -- really works.

In a guest post for Mashable, Blecherman begins by looking at how game play contributes to strategic thinking. Citing one son's use of the game Minecraft to better understand Newton's Law of Physics, Blecherman suggests, using a boilerplate quote from an expert, that "the option for creativity made [the assignment] more fun and engaging."

18 Mar

How does a business cut the typical lead time for 3D printing, currently at between 2 and 4 weeks, to practically no time at all? By placing the service directly in a vending machine, that's how.

Taking a page from the food and beverage industry's book, a trio of University of California, Berkeley alums have created Dreambox, a machine that promises the following:

  • Ease of use
  • Same-day printing
  • 24/7 on-site pickup
  • Safe and secure storage
  • Hassle-free maintenance

The system jumps into gear when a customer uploads a design online or via USB stick at the actual machine. The 3D print is then placed in a queue. If customers don't already have their own 3D models, they can choose one from an existing catalog or use any of several applications that enable customized models. When the order is complete, the company sends the customer a text, with an unlock code, that the item is ready to be retrieved from the Dreambox site's private storage area.

16 Mar

Touchscreen technology will move from small screens to big screens, integrating with every part of our daily lives, Microsoft announced in a recent video. The video illustrated how technology will move into the home and workplace in the next decade, filling entire walls and helping us become more productive and better connected to each other.

CNET compared the large walls displayed in the video to the large interactive "Magic Wall" used by CNN. On this wall, CNN is able to move data around to make it more easily readable to viewers. Using similar technology, Microsoft plans to allow businesses to more easily conduct work presentations, video chat with faraway family members, and access cooking lessons while making dinner. Large screens will interact with smaller screens, letting users sync content with the big screen through voice commands and touching the two devices together. The application possibilities are endless.

15 Mar

Other than sheer convenience, mobile computing devices such as smartphones and tablets have at least one other advantage over laptops and desktops: They don't require anti-virus software. At least, not yet.

But with security companies monitoring more attempts by hackers to breach the security of mobile devices, it's only a matter of time before malware messages start popping up on ever-smaller screens.

It isn't so much that hackers are having trouble finding ways to compromise mobile systems. The challenge lies in figuring out how to make those criminal enterprises pay off.

14 Mar

Life's about to get a little easier for Windows 8 users. Microsoft recently announced that Adobe Flash is now integrated into Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8, which means users will have built-in software to allow them to view pages that use the technology. First, a little explanation.

Flash has long been an Internet Explorer add-on. As the company prepared to roll out Windows 8, however, the company left the add-on off, unsure how the software would integrate with Windows 8's touchscreen features. The original IE 10 browser for Windows 8 used HTML-5, with a goal of being as add-on-free as possible. Initially, experts speculated Microsoft was planning an Apple-like move in eliminating Flash from its operating system experience as possible. However, with the latest announcement that Flash is back as an Internet Explorer add-on, it appears Microsoft was interested in testing Flash a little longer to ensure it works before rolling it out.

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