Friday, April 22, 2022

Pickles, Popcorn, and More Food Science

Like many four-year-old children, one of my daughters is a picky eater. Cucumbers are one of the only vegetables that she'll eat these days. She'll also eat pickles. In fact, she loves pickles! That's why I was happy to see SciShow Kids release a new video all about pickles.  

What Are Pickles? is the latest food science video produced by SciShow Kids. They've previously released others about the science of popcorn, the science of cake, and where bananas come from. They also have a compilation video called You Are What You Eat.

What Are Pickles? explains the process of creating pickles with cucumbers and what happens to the cucumber as a result of the pickling process. 

Like all SciShow Kids videos, the videos about food science are great for introducing a new topic to elementary school students in a way that they can understand. I like to read the transcript of the video and ask students some of the questions before playing the video for them. If you're not sure how to get a transcript of a YouTube video, here's a short demonstration of the process.

An Update to Unraveling an Email Scam

About a month ago I published a video and blog post in which I explained the process that I used to unravel an email scam in which someone claimed to be an intellectual property attorney pursuing a case against me. That blog post turned out to be one the most popular things that I've published this year so I thought that I would provide an update on what has happened since then. 

I replied to the email with an explanation of why the claim was bogus and that they could get lost. I never heard back after that. But since the website was still saved my Chrome profile and predicted whenever I entered URLs beginning with the letter A, I kept an eye on the site. Yesterday morning the site went dead. 

Other People Who Exposed the Scam

After seeing that the site had gone offline my curiosity got the best of me and I went down a rabbit hole of looking to see if there are other people like me who got the same scam email and decided to eviscerate the scammers. I did a search on Twitter and quickly found a few others who came to the same conclusion that I did. 

Shawna Newman was the recipient of the same scam email back in February. Apparently, when she called them out on it they changed the address on their website from New York to Boston. Here's her Tweet about it

Ray Alexander got the same scam email and took the approach that I did. He wrote a lengthy blog post detailing how he unraveled the scam. Here's his Tweet and here's his blog post

Ben Dickson also received the email and decided to publish an unraveling of the scam. Here's his Twitter thread on the topic

Lessons for Everyone

1. Don't be a lame SEO backlink scammer.
2. If you do get an email from someone claiming to be an attorney (or similarly tries to appear authoritative) and it doesn't seem right, look at all of the context clues. In this case there were a lot of context clues that made it fairly obvious that there was a scam at play. The first of those clues being that the email was addressed to "owner of website" and not to any particular person.
3. Don't click on links in emails that you weren't expecting.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

How to Create an Online Yearbook

Earlier this week a reader sent me an email asking for suggestions for free tools that she can use to create an online yearbook. I had two suggestions for her. The first was to use Book Creator. The second was to use one of Canva's yearbook templates then export the finished product to Heyzine to add page turning effects. 

In this short video I demonstrate how you can use Canva to create a yearbook and then import it into Heyzine to add page turning effects to the online display of your yearbook. 

Reasonable Colors - Get Help Picking Accessible Color Schemes

Reasonable Colors is a new open-source project developed by Matthew Howell. The purpose of the project is to help developers and others choose high-contrast, accessible color schemes for their projects. 

Reasonable Colors is easy to use to find an accessible color scheme. To use Reasonable Colors all you need to do is select the main color (red, blue, green, etc.) for your project and then a list of complementary and contrasting colors is provided. The hex codes for those colors is provided by Reasonable Colors. 

If you're not sure what hex codes are or why you should care about them, here's what you should know. Hex codes are hexadecimal codes that indicate the specific color that should appear on a page. Entering a hex code into color selector tool like that in Canva's design tools is a more accurate way to choose a color than clicking on a sliding color selector. See my screenshot below to see where the hex code appears in Canva's color selection tool. 

Applications for Education
Reasonable Colors could be a good resource to keep bookmarked for reference whenever you're trying to select a color scheme for any resources that you plan to share with your students. Using Reasonable Colors could help you find the best color scheme to ensure that all of your students can access the resources that you create.

H/T to Product Hunt

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Best Adobe Spark Alternative

In the last two weeks I've had a handful of people email me to ask for alternatives to Adobe Spark for creating videos. I'm taking that as a sign that Adobe didn't go a great job communicating that they simply rebranded Adobe Spark as Adobe Creative Cloud Express. It has all of the same tools that you used for creating videos in Adobe Spark. You can even use the same log-in credentials for it. 

If you haven't tried Adobe Creative Cloud Express to create a video, watch this tutorial video to see how easy it is to use it. 

Applications for Education
Some of the things that make Adobe Creative Cloud Express a good video creation tool for students are the built-in image search tools, the ease with which you can change color schemes, and the ability for students to remotely collaborate on the creation of a video.

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