Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why Twitter? Of course!

I tried Twitter a few months ago and did not "get it" and I stopped using it. I picked it back up this weekend, and today I had that "a-ha" moment and realized why I will continue to use it.

I discovered a neat techno-trick today. I had a 118 MB, 84 slide PowerPoint presentation that I to move into someone else's template and it was not going well. So, I simply saved the presentation as JPEGs, created a photo album in PowerPoint with the organization's template as the background and imported the JPEGs of the slides, and just resized the JPEGs on the slides so their logo showed. Imagine my surprise, after saving this new presentation, to realize that the 188 MB PowerPoint presentation was now only 5.6 MB! I don't know why, but, in case you are interested, here are the steps again.

  1. Save your large presentation as JPEGs which creates a folder with each slide as its own JPEG.
  2. Open a new presentation and choose to create a photo album in PowerPoint, choose the folder of JPEGs as your "photos" and then save that photo alubum.
  3. Miraculously, the slide show is much smaller than the orginal!

So, usually when I have a techno-discovery I go charging out of my office to share the news with someone-- a teacher, secretary, or even a 6th grader if they will listen. No one is usually very interested. However, today I went right to Twitter to share my discovery with people who ARE interested!

I have figured out the power of Twitter (for me) is the ability to share my ideas and thoughts with like-minded individuals who DO get excited about geeky techno-discoveries and enjoy sharing their own, too!

w00t and thanks to my Twitter buddies!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thoughts on FETC08

I attended FETC08 in Orlando last week and learned so much from everyone I came in contact with! The DEN Preconference, the concurrent sessions, and all of the collegial collaboration that I engaged in, really revved me up for taking some new steps.

I have signed back on to Twitter to see if I can handle it, and, thus far (the last 24 hours) it is manageable. I only have a few people's tweets come through to IM, but read the rest of the feeds from the Twitter page. I have just added it to my daily routine-- work on the Schrockguide, read my Bloglines feeds, and now check the "tweets". I have even used to feed my blog entries to Twitter. We will see how that works out.

I could not locate anyone with an XO at FETC, although I did get to show it off to a lot of educators at the conference. (And the TSA at the airport security checks!) It is a bit heavy to carry two laptops (although the other was the Fujitsu P1510D tiny tablet and by the time NECC comes will be the Macbook Air), but I think I will make the effort again for NECC. I want to try out the mesh networking option with other teachers.

I will be sending out some of the sites I discovered at FETC08 as my Sites of the School Week over the next few weeks, so, if you are interested, you can subscribe to the weekly email here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

YouTube is cool!

Okay, so everyone knows the things you can find on YouTube are amazing! One item that I searched for after I read about on a blog, was a video using Dean Friedman's song "McDonald's Girl". Dean Friedman is a folk singer/storyteller who I have been following since I first saw him perform at Rutgers in 1978. He still does some US tours, but he does a lot of work in England.

In any case, I found the following YouTube video from a high school pep rally in 2006. This video struck my fancy, and I always laugh aloud when watching it. For those of you, like me, who have attended pep rallies every year, and have seen some "not so stellar" performances, I felt this one was great!

I decided to look at the others that came up on the search, too, and have linked to some of them below. Imagine students contrasting and comparing the way the song is presented in the various videos. (Another shameless plug for unblocking YouTube in the many districts in the name of visual literacy!)


Kids from England (my second favorite!)
Yale Group
Harvard Group
Conn-Men from the University of CT

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vocabulary lesson: UMPC vs. MID

As you know, I am a gadget geek! I have been seeing the term "MID" (Mobile Internet Device) bandied about lately and have heard devices such as the Asus EeePC called an UltraMobile PC (UMPC), which I knew it was not.

Today there is an entry on Engadget describing the differences.

So, let's see where my own secondary devices land based on this description.

Apple iPod touch : MID
Asus EeePC: MID
OPLC XO laptop: MID

Fujitsu P1510D: came out before the UMPC, so it really is a laptop, but it can pass for an UMPC with its passive matrix screen...

Hum, it seems the lines are blurring and perhaps the definition provided may not be as definitive as it could be. For example, the Asus EeePC (MID) does media well, also has an office suite, and it runs Linux. It could actually pass for an UMPC if it had a touch screen.

The original specifications for the UMPC included multiple input methods, Microsoft Windows Tablet OS, and that it was smaller and lighter than a laptop.

I am looking to get a device of some type in as many students' hands as possible. Since many applications are moving to the Web, and there seems to be wireless Internet access in many places in our schools and communities, I am looking at the low-cost devices such as the Asus EeePC and the upcoming Everex Cloudbook. (Update 1/12/08: The OLPC program will be expanded to the United States in 2008. More details to follow from the OLPC America branch of the OLPC Foundation.)

I need a device somewhere between a MID and a UMPC to take advantage of low cost, but with the inclusion of some power on the machine locally. I will continue the search!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

XO Laptop from OLPC arrives!

This post is coming to you from my XO laptop which arrived last evening! It is an interesting little device. The learning curve, for me, was steep since it does not act like a "regular" computer. I could not figure out how to open it, the terminology used is different, and it seems to have a personality of its own! It takes more time to start applications and attach to access points, but, then again, I am spoiled by other new technologies. It is also rather heavy for its size but seems very rugged.

However, for its intended purpuse to educate students, it includes an amazing array of quality software and the collaborative functionality to allow students to work together from other XO's is available throughout the operating system.

The speakers are loud and clear, and this comes in handy with the applications that rely on audio-- both a beginner and more advanced music composition applications, and an acoustic-circuit (and electrical-circuit) construction application. The really good camera can be used for talking photos and video. There are drawing applications, a data collection tool which graphs sounds via the included microphone and one that measures the distance between XO's via sound, a memory game, computer programming via Python, and a multimedia authoring program. Of course, it includes a browser and simple word processor and several other applications, including an RSS newsreader.

I will probably bring this along to FETC to find someone else with one so I can try the mesh network and also to collaborate with someone else from within the applications to take advantage of the intended strengths of the device.

To read more about the device and its applications, you can visit the Getting Started Guide here: