FoxDrop Media Websites, video, SketchUp, and all-around IT Tue, 01 Jan 2013 22:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spaceteam Tue, 04 Dec 2012 23:04:54 +0000 Brent Fox

Spaceteam just came out a few days ago, but I only needed a few seconds to know this is something I had to checkout. Here is the gist of it: In spaceteam, you cooperate with a team of 2-4 on iPads, iPhones, or iPod touches to pilot a a space vehicle to prolong death. Well, you aren’t piloting so much as performing tasks that slow down you inevitable demise.

Each team member receives a random control panel with various labels, buttons, nobs, switches, and sliders. Across the top of the screen races your space ship, and just below that commands are issues that must be relayed to your team. Odds are these commands are meant for a team member so you must yell it to the group. The problem is they each have their own directive they also need to relay. The balance between listening and telling is difficult to begin with. Add the chaos an exploding star, the ship falling apart, asteroids, green goo, and more and you have Space team.

My first thought when I saw this game was of Mission Ocean. Purdue University’s educational program where students collaborate to drive a simulated submarine. I love Mission Ocean, but one thing it lacks is a sense of urgency and of the need to properly communicate. Therefore, some students will be overwhelmed by the requirement of M.O. relay orders back and forth to their team. I thought Space Team was the perfect training ground to improve communication and met with HAST’s 6th grade teacher to try it out in some of her classes.

Students had a blast! Ask them and all they say is that stuff was blowing up and next time they’ll make it to sector 6. Ask a teacher and we saw students who between levels were trying to coordinate their approach to communication. They were adapting strategies and trying to organize this increasingly more chaotic game.

Add this to this list of great games to try in a school setting. Make no mistake, it is loud! But if you need an excuse to improve communication or break the ice with shyer students, Spaceteam works great!

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Acobot Sat, 29 Sep 2012 23:06:55 +0000 Brent Fox My Tech Support students wanted to offer online support to the other students at our school. The main problem with this is that they are in other classes most of the day, so they cannot offer live support at anytime. We looked into live support chat plugins but that presents the same problem – they can’t watch a live chat feed all day when they have class. Also, I was frustrated by the pricing structures of all the live chat plugins. Enter Acobot.

Acobot is a robot agent that you train to answer question they way you would. At first the robot can only really have small talk, but through training of specific answers, Acobot becomes much smarter. Now all my students have to do is check recent chats and help Acoobot with answers that could have been better.

I also like the linking feature, if a question calls for it, you can provide a link that Acobot sends to the user. If its on your site, its a seamless transition as if someone was pointing you to information.

Its not perfect, but Acobot is definitely impressive, especially at the price of free for non-profits.

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Mark of the Ninja Mon, 17 Sep 2012 02:06:46 +0000 Brent Fox

Mark of the Ninja caught my ear before my eye. I heard it described briefly on a GiantBombcast and knew I had to check it out for myself. 2 minutes into the trial was all I need to secure a reason for purchase. Mark of the Ninja is a Stealth game. Having an affinity for titles such as Splinter Cell or Thief isn’t required, but it will sure help. For me, I have grown tired of the Splinter Cell franchise with each successive iteration that separates itself from stealth and focuses more on ease and action. Ninja does what Chaos Theory did well years ago, and in many ways surpasses it.

The Premise

In Mark of the Ninja you play a selected Ninja who is a assigned the difficult task of regaining a clans honor by assassinating an attacker. Cutscenes are stylized like Shank. I am not a big fan of this art style, but I can give it a pass because the scenes are short and to the point. The story itself is light, but surprisingly interesting. Levels are divided by buildings that you travel to as you complete your missions. Once you are there, choice to the name of the game.


Every encounter in Mark of the Ninja is a choice. You can attack head on, use a variety of items, or stealth around, above, below, or behind for the silent kill. I love to work as silently as possible, but my kills often take completely different forms and I am sure you would complete rooms differently that I did. The levels are immense but each room feels like a puzzle to be solved as efficiently as possible. This is partly due to the 2D design of the game that is different from SC or Thief. It is so much easier to plan out attacks or evade enemies when everything is laid out in front of you.

Lighting plays a big role in the gameplay of Ninja. When you climb the outside of a building, you can only see what is in front of you. Not until you peer over the ledge above you can you see the guard standing within reach. Dispatch him quickly and leap onto the rooftop, but avoid the light as your black silhouette will turn to color signifying your visibility. Visibility in Mark of the Ninja is binary. You either are or are not visible with no shades of gray. I really like the lighting systems implemented into this game. Often, you will see mostly black on your screen with outlines of yourself, guards, their previous locations, or noisy footsteps. This makes color that much more vibrant and impactful.


This is a 2D sidescrolling game that looks great, but it never flexes power as much as style. Character animations are slick and quick. The aforementioned lighting makes the environment feel claustrophobic, yet accessible. Levels are hugely detailed, often allowing you to choose between multiple branching paths. Its truly fun to have the option to attack from the interior, or to scale the outside of the building to avoid a conflict all together.

Closing Comments

What I love about Mark of the Ninja is that it can make me feel like a skilled ninja and a vulnerable human at the same time. One minute I will be playing cat and mouse, skillfully toying with my foes. A quick slipup later and I’ll be dead. This is rarely frustrating as the mistake was obviously my fault and checkpoints are pretty forgiving. New Game Plus adds extra difficulty and make visibility even more realistic/hard. My suggestion is to check out the trial, you will know right away if Mark of the Ninja is for you.


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WP Plugin: Timely Sat, 15 Sep 2012 21:30:15 +0000 Brent Fox

Google calendar has been my favorite way of organizing my life for a long, long time. But Timely, takes events and spins them out in a radical new way. I can sync with any calendar that has a .ics format (yes that includes Google Cal) or I can make my own events.

Creating events in Timely is where the strength of the plugin really shows, I can add extra text and pictures which will display beautifully in the Posterboard view Timely has designed. Of course the regular event details are there as well.

Timely has multiple different viewing features that I appreciate. The Month view takes the full width of the WordPress page which Google Calendar embedding cannot. The Posterboard view (my favorite) staggers events out and shows extra details that have been added. Agenda works as expected, but is also offered as a widget so you can display it on the sidebar.

Categories and Tagging allow you to add coloring and filtering to the calendar. Users can filter out specific categories or tags to view just what they need. Finally, users can subscribe to the whole calendar, events, or filtered calendars. They can add what they like to their favorite calendar program.

Timely is growing quickly and adding new features (did I mention I love the Posterboard view?) all the time. Check it out for yourself!



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Experiences with Webhosts Sat, 08 Sep 2012 19:43:44 +0000 Brent Fox Finding a  great webhost is a hassel. They all say they are great, but how do you really determine what you need for your site? For me, the most important feature has been speed and efficiency with WordPress as that is the tool I have used to build the last few of my sites. I have found that WordPress, which uses a MySQL database doesn’t play nice with all the webhosts. This ends up hurting the speed of your site. There is nothing more frustrating than having a finished website not load because of the webhost.

The first webhost I experienced was GoDaddy. This is probably true of many people because the market their product so heavily. GoDaddy was used by Munster Church when I took over the web administration. I didn’t have any issues running an HTML site or a Google Site through GoDaddy, but when I switched to WordPress, I noticed immediately that sites began to load too slowly. I have seen load times cross over 20 seconds for a simple page. No visitor will wait that long for the page to load.

When I decided to build my first site, I shopped for a webhost with little knowledge of what I wanted (other than cheap of course!). I chose Fatcow for its price and popularity. I again noticed that load times for HTML Dreamweaver sites and Flash sites ran fine, but WordPress lagged longer than was acceptable. Fatcow ran better than GoDaddy, but not much. At this point, I began to wonder if the problem was with WordPress and not with the host.

Through my research, I found that many people use Caching programs to simplify the process of displaying WordPress sites. I setup a number of Caching programs on different sites and can report back that they work, but not well and not easily. Caching seems like a bandaid for a wound that shouldn’t exist.

Fortunately, my school was looking for a new webhost and asked me to shop for one. They were currently with BlueHost which worked well for our basic Dreamweaver HTML site, but we wanted something much easier to update. For more on that check out this post. I have heard good things about BlueHost, but they couldn’t help us transition from a vendor who held our domain to our own account with the domain without downtime. Instead I found Inmotion Hosting. My shopping strategy this time was very deliberately focused on WordPress. I spoke with there support and asked about WordPress speeds and if caching was necessary. They said “great” and “no”. was then transferred over to Inmotion. For the last few months things have been going great. Ping and download times are fast and smooth. The true test will come next week when over 500 students start using the site several times a day. For now, I can say that inmotion hosting is the best choice for me because it handles WordPress sites the best of any host I have used so far, their prices are decent, and their customer support has been superb!

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Final Letterhead Wed, 28 Sep 2011 03:17:03 +0000 Brent Fox I spoke last month about the letterhead Munster Church wanted to print as part of their branding process. Incorporating the logo and a fresh logo was the main goal. We did make some changes to the proof I proposed, and I wanted to post the final versions here. Also, Munster DEW decided they wanted letterhead printed as well.

Take a look!

]]> 0 More Branding Sun, 14 Aug 2011 02:23:26 +0000 Brent Fox Munster Church has asked me to draw up a few designs to their upcoming sign, letterhead, T-shirts, bookmarks, and more. Of course I happy to work with logo some more because it gives me more experience making a brand versatile. The original logo is very ‘boxy’, so making it fit various different shapes, sizes, and layouts is challenging and fun.

Attached is a picture of the proposed new letterhead for Munster Church. I have already submitted a design for their new sign, and will next be working on envelope designs. It has also been fun working with the video production crew to get the logo branded into PowerPoint presentations during church services in an interesting and effective way.

I also received video footage from the Youth Group leader and will be putting together a video montage of their trip to Colorado. I will post that when it is finished.

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Foxdrop Productions Intro Mon, 25 Jul 2011 14:25:38 +0000 Brent Fox I have been interested in video editing for more years than I can remember. My first real editing software was Magix Video Deluxe. Even that was just a $50 purchase, but you would be amazed at how far I could push it. I will be posting some of my work. Keep in mind, I rarely did the camera work, just the editing.

After many different small time productions, I decided to make an opening logo. I came up with the name FoxDrop and quickly came up with the vision that you will see in reality below. This was made using Magix Video Deluxe, Photoshop, and Bryce for the background.

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Math in Context Digital Sat, 23 Jul 2011 16:44:46 +0000 Brent Fox I have been working with Encyclopedia Britannica for the past few months. They are the developers of Math in Context, one of my favorite Math textbook series. They asked me to help with the editing of their new digital versions. These are really exciting as they take already great material and convert them to a digital tool, making the word “paperless” actually sound feasible in the classroom.

While I am not writing the math problems or coding the digital interactives, this is a great way to endorse good inquiry mathematics and technology at the same time. I couldn’t be happier about it. Keep your eyes open for MiC digital books coming soon.

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Hammond Academy of Science and Technology 2 Mon, 11 Jul 2011 21:25:18 +0000 Brent Fox

After completing the year at HAST, I decided I was ready to update the Hammond Academy website. I still liked the simple, but effective approach, but wanted to clean up the appearance and make it easier to update. I turned to WordPress. I have a couple of projects in the works using WordPress and I have found it easy to use and flexible enough to make my designs come to life. This site is still in the works, but it is on track to replace the old site sometime this summer.

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Hammond Academy of Science and Technology Mon, 11 Jul 2011 21:20:59 +0000 Brent Fox

HAST (Hammond Academy of Science and Technology) is a charter school located in Hammond, IN. I taught there in their opening year from 2010-2011. They required an updated website with function links and portals for students, teachers, and parents to access other important websites or pages. I designed this webpage using dreamweaver. This was a great opportunity to practice basic web development skills that I had let grow stale over the past few years such as button design, templates, and CSS. I would consider the site simple, yet effective, which is just what the school needed.

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Munster Church Mon, 11 Jul 2011 21:15:51 +0000 Brent Fox

This site was built using Google Sites. I started with a basic theme and converted it to a professional looking church website. The site is now used for community outreach through podcasts, prayer request forms, and calendar of events that can be updated by the individual group leaders, and pages for all the main groups and ministries. I still update this site frequently including podcasts, graphics, and announcements.



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