Saturday, May 27, 2017

Innovative CamStar UAV Drone Video Company Based in Summerton, SC

There I was privately lamenting to a friend that there was a dearth of new, innovative technology companies in our area. He snapped his fingers and said he had recently heard of a new such company in the area called CamStar UAV run by Ms. Christina Darby. He said one of the services they offered was shooting videos using drones, also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

As soon as I got home, I looked up Christina Darby on the Internet and found links to her company’s Facebook page and web site. From there I went and viewed some of her drone video footage posted on Vimeo of a Sunset over Lake Marion and local churches in historic Summerton, SC. They were great – and I highly recommend you check them out for yourself.

A quick review of the CamStar UAV web site stated that the company was an innovative local advertising and marketing firm providing high quality drone videography, photography, virtual tours, and related 3-D imaging services to both individuals and organizations. Examples of some of their businesses customers include realty agencies, construction companies, insurance adjusters, golf courses, public safety, and other local government and non-government organizations.

Every organization in Summerton and the surrounding Santee Cooper LakeCountry ought to be thinking about adding a video to their Facebook and web pages. To see examples of some of their work, be sure to visit their web site at

Contact Information
Christina Darby
CamStar UAV Drone & Photography
1443 Tom Charles Road Summerton SC 29148 USA
Telephone:  (803) 410-1067

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lake Marion Artisan's and 'Open' Art Technology

When you visit the new Lake Marion Artisan’s web site, take a look at the selected links to Open’ Art Tools & Technology posted on the site. These are some of the best free and open source software (FOSS) tools currently available to artists.

In addition to visiting the web site, if you happen to be traveling through Santee Cooper Lake Country don’t forget to swing by the Lake Marion Artisans art gallery in downtown Summerton and view some of the many art works produced by our local artisans.

The following are links to selected free and 'open source' software & tools for use in the Creative Arts:
  • Art of Illusion - A free and open source 3D modelling and rendering studio.
  • Avidemux - Free and open source software designed for multi-purpose video editing that can be used with most computer operating systems.
  • Blender - A free and open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems.
  • Calligra Flow - An easy to use free & open source diagramming and flowcharting application.
  • DarkTable - An open source photography workflow application and RAW developer. A virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers.
  • GIMP(GNU Image Manipulation Program) - A multi-platform photo & image manipulation tool.  It is an open source alternative to Photoshop.
  • GNOME Projects - Hundreds of free and open source GNOME applications are available a vast range of activities, including playing media and editing photos
  • Kaltura - A community developed free and open source video management platform and applications.
  • Krita - A full-featured, open source sketching and painting application for digital artists.
  • Libre Office - A comprehensive open source software suite of office applications (e.g. word processing, spreadsheet) similar to MS Office.
  • MyPaint - An open source graphics application for digital painters.
  • Open Movie Editor - A free and open source video editing program, designed for basic movie making capabilities.
  • PhotoPrint - A free utility designed to assist in the process of printing digital photographs and posters.
  • Scribus - An open source desktop publishing system with and extensive graphics tools.
  • Sculptris and ZBrush - Sculptris is a free 3D modeling application for artists. ZBrush is a more advanced commercial product.
  • Shape Collage - An open source tool that allows you to create picture collages in any imaginable shape or form.
  • Synfig Studio - Free and open-source 2D animation software solution for creating film-quality animation using vector and bitmap artwork.
  • TuxPaint - A free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12.

* Also, check out Mobile 'Art' Apps for your Smartphone from Google.

For more detailed information on free and open source software (FOSS) for artisans and art enthusiasts, go to the COSI ‘Open’ Art Tools & Technology web site.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lake Marion Artisan's and Art Education & Training Resources

When you visit the new Lake Marion Artisan’s web site, take a look at the following selected links to Education & Training events, organizations, and resources for those interested in the Creative Arts. Further, in addition to providing links to a range of free and open source Art software tools, the web site also provides information on the Lake Marion Artisans art gallery in downtown Summerton, its artists, and many of their works.

Lake Marion Artisans - Art Education & Training Classes
  • Art education and training sessions are held every month at the art gallery in downtown Summerton, taught by local artisans.For more detail go to Lake Marion Artisans web site.

South Carolina Education & Training Resources

Other Art Education & Training Resources
  • Academic Earth - Founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education.
  • Art Education Partnership - A national organization dedicated to advancing the arts in education through research, policy, and practice.
  • College Open Arts Textbooks - Providing free and 'open' textbooks to more than 2000 community colleges.
  • COSI Open Solutions & the Creative Arts - Information and links to free and open source solutions (FOSS) for the creative arts.
  • edX Online Courses - Major universities partnering to provide free high-quality education for everyone, everywhere.
  • Europeana - Providing open access to digital resources of Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections.
  • Khan Academy - Free, online Art History education & training courses and videos.
  • National Art Education Association - The leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators in the U.S.

* Also, don’t forget to check out some of the many free, online art courses now available on YouTube.

  • Students who study Art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
  • Federal funding for the Arts & Humanities rolls in around $250 million a year, while the National Science Foundation receives around the $5 billion. President Trump plans to cut the Arts even further.

Come visit the Lake Marion Artisan’s art gallery when next you visit Summerton, S.C.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three State Titles for Clarendon County Schools This Week

Clarendon County SC - Local Sports News Summary: It was a great week for Clarendon County schools as they clinched three 2017 state titles this week.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) and Tools for Churches and Their Members

It's the 21st century and their are many new ways to use technology to help share your faith and beliefs in the emerging 'Information Age'. The following are a collection of links to selected web sites offering free & open source software (FOSS) and tools for religious organizations and individuals. Check them out and share with others.
  • Bible App for Kids - A popular free and open source app for kids.
  • Bible Time - A free and open source Bible study program.
  • BibleGateway - A web site offering access to an online Bible search engine and other useful research tools and information resources.
  • Christian Clip Art - Links to free Christian clip art provided by the Atlantic Fish web site. 
  • ChurchBiz Online - Offering a variety of free solutions for churches, e.g. software, eBooks, music, and much more.ChurchInfo - A  free, open source database driven program to help churches track members, families, groups, pledges and payments.
  • CrossWire Bible Software - A variety of open source religious software products for use on Laptops, Desktops, and PDAs.
  • CyberSpace Ministries - A web site offering free software, Bible games, and other products and services.
  • GearDownload - A web site providing a list of numerous open source or shareware religious software.
  • Lectionary / Sermon Writer - A web site with free and low cost software, preaching and teaching tools for pastors, chaplains, and other clergy.
  • OpenLP -An open source lyrics/media projection application developed specifically for churches
  • OpenSong - A a free, open-source software application created to manage lyrics, chords, lead sheets, overheads, computer projection, and more.
  • SWORD Project - A Bible software development project that has created a range of related cross-platform open source tools.
  • TechMission Christian Software - A collection of freeware and open source software aimed at Christian organizations and individuals. They include church management software, ministry software, Bible study software, and more.
  • Ubuntu: Christian Edition - a free, open source operating system geared towards Christians. It is based on the popular Ubuntu Linux.
  • Xiphos - A popular open source Bible study software application.

There are many other links to available information and tools that have been posted on the COSI'Open' Religious Technology & Tools web site.

If you know of other free and 'open source' tools, send us the links so we can share them with our readers.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Lake Marion Artisans Gallery Hosts Local Author Book Signing

The Lake Marion Artisans hosted a book signing and reception for local author Vicki Wilkerson at their art gallery in the town of Summerton on Saturday, May 6,, 2017. The event was well attended by local as well as regional guests and patrons. Ms. Wilkerson signed copies of Sweet Tea and Time and Bikers and Pearls, two of the books in her Summerbrook Series.

The Summerbrook Novels are wholesome, inspirational stories about a group of girlfriends who navigate the changing landscape of life, love and family in Summerbrook, a fictitious small town in the South. Wilkerson says, “I was born in the Lowcountry and have always been enamored with stories that convey the Southern experience. I hope my novels paint verbal pictures of the South and engender the same love I have of this region to readers.”

After moving to Summerton three years ago, Vicki Wilkerson says she found new inspiration in the beautiful landscapes, the history of the area and the people. She says, “Summerton provides the same small town quiet atmosphere I try to create in my novels, so it’s the perfect place to write.” 

Wilkerson is also a painter, and her art and books will be featured in the gallery for the entire month of May. Signed copies of her novels are available at the gallery. As one of the Reception guests put it, “I just love reading Vicki’s books. She always has a great story. And the books are so wholesome and sweet that I can leave them lying around when my grandchildren visit.” 

Two more books in Wilkerson’s Summerbrook Series, Swamps and Soirees (June 2017) and Fireflies and Lies (November 2017), will be published later this year. Wilkerson says, “The Lake Marion Artisans Gallery is a lovely venue to host local artists and authors and to display their work, and the members are some of the most kind and gracious people I’ve met.” Wilkerson’s novels are also available on Amazon, and the Gallery will carry her new releases when published.

Author Vicki Wilkerson

- Article written by Nancy Foster

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Open Source Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Solutions

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robots, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will help solve some of the major challenges the world is currently facing in healthcare, transportation, finance, defense, manufacturing. However, there are also some major issues and risks that come with these technologies.

This article attempts to provide a quick, high level overview of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies and their potential to massively impact and disrupt civilization as we know it today. Let’s start with a definition of these two new, related technologies.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Refers to intelligence exhibited by machines. In computer science, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics cognitive functions generally associated with human minds, such as ‘learning’ and ‘problem solving’.
  • Machine Learning (ML) - Machine learning is considered a subset of the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It generally refers to ‘smart’ machines that have the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed by humans.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest areas of technology research and development. Major corporations like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon are investing heavily in this area and are buying up startups that have made progress in areas like machine learning and neural networks. - Datamation

Open Source’ AI & ML Solutions

The ‘Open Sourcesoftware development methodology and business model is at the heart of the rapid evolution and innovation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies and solutions.

Based on a review of recent articles on software, the following are brief profiles on some of the best of the currently available ‘open source’ AI and ML solutions that we all ought to know a little more about as they begin to flow into industry, e.g. manufacturing, finance, healthcare, defense.
  • TensorFlow - An open source software library for ‘machine intelligence’ originally developed by researchers and engineers working on the Google Brain Team within Google's Machine Intelligence R&D organization.

  • Accord.NET is a .NET machine learning (ML) framework combined with audio and image processing libraries completely written in C#. It is a complete framework for building usable production-grade applications.
  • Amazon Machine Learning (AML) provides visualization tools and wizards that guide you through the process of creating machine learning (ML) models without having to learn complex ML algorithms and technology.
  • Apache Check out some of the more notable Apache AI & ML Projects, such as Mahout, Prediction, Spark MLlib, and Singa.
  • Caffe was the brainchild of Yangqing Jia who is now the lead engineer for the Facebook AI platform. Caffe is the first mainstream industry-grade ‘deep learning’ toolkit. The Facebook team is now working on Caffe 2.
  • CNTK is Microsoft’s open source ‘deep learning’ cognitive toolkit that is available on GitHub.
  • H2O is the world’s leading open source ‘deep learning’ AI platform. H2O is used by over 80,000 data scientists and more than 9,000 organizations around the world.
  • OpenAI is a non-profit AI research organization associated with business magnate Elon Musk. The organization strives to ‘freely collaborate’ with other institutions and researchers by making its AI and ML patents and research ‘open’ to the public.
  • Shogun is a collaborative free and open source ‘machine learning’ toolbox written in C++.
  • Torch is a scientific computing framework offering wide support for machine learning algorithms that puts GPUs first. It is easy to use and efficient, thanks to an easy and fast scripting language called LuaJIT.

Key Issues

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
and Machine Learning (ML) technologies are already being deployed in many industries, e.g. finance, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, defense. However, some of the key issues that need to be more fully addressed over the coming decade before these systems are widely deployed include:

  • Ethics - The moral behavior being programmed by humans into robots and other 'smart' AI systems, e.g. Roboethics.
  • Privacy & SecurityWhen AI systems are turned loose to monitor your personal information, who it is being shared with and how they are using it must be better addressed and understood.
  • Legal Issues – What is the legal standing of intelligent machines of the future and who is responsible for the actions they may take that could harm you.

The Bank of England has predicted that intelligent machines might take over 80 million US and 15 million British jobs, respectively over the next 10 to 20 years. Think of what this means for you and your livelihood.

If you are concerned and want to learn more about AI and ML technologies and their potential to ‘rock your world’, you might want to check out the following items:

Conclusion & Next Steps

As you begin to delve deeper into the key issues raised above, many other questions begin to arise that actually touch on the future of mankind as we know it. Many of these issues and questions have not yet begun to be discussed and addressed by many of our leaders in the public and private sector. That should be of concern to us all. Fortunately, the collaborative ‘open source’ approach being used to develop these new technologies has brought tens of thousands of our best minds to bear on these issues.

WARNING: Stephen Hawking has said the development of full Artificial Intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race – and Elton Musk agreed.

Have you begun to think about Artificial Intelligence and ‘Smart’ Machines? How do you think they will impact you and the lives of your children? Share your constructive thoughts with our readers.

Selected Links