Monday, August 30, 2010

The Kindle 3 is kool!

Kindle 3 shots
My first impression of the Kindle 3 is wow! As an early adopter and heavy user of both the Kindle 1 and 2, I am really impressed with the updates!

The device is smaller (7.5" x 4 7/8"). The device is light (weighed it on my postal scale: 8.3 oz.) The page turns are as quick as lightning! The screen is more readable.

You can highlight a passage from anything you are reading and share it via Twitter or Facebook.

In the collage above you will see (click on it to make it larger)...
  1. A photo of the iPad and the Kindle together to demonstrate size.
  2. The new Kindle cover with a built-in light. It weighs almost as much as the Kindle itself (7.8 oz.) which brings the total weight of the Kindle and this case to a tad over 1 pound.
  3. The new case with the built-in light is very well-done, though! You hook the Kindle in the case via two small metal hooks that go into small slots (that must create the circuit) on the left side of the Kindle. Then you simply pull up the upper right-hand corner of the case and a rigid plastic strip with a bright light comes out, and turns on to light up the Kindle screen. The light gets its power from the Kindle, so I will have to do some testing to see what the battery drain is like when using the light. But it works great in the dark!
  4. The experimental Web browser now shows Web pages in their native form.  This is the shot of my Web page when typing in the URL.
  5. The pop-up menu for the experimental browser allows you to zoom in on the page to make it readable, bookmark the page, or access your previously bookmarked pages.
  6. This pop-up menu even has an "article mode" which reformats the Web page for easy reading as seen in the last image.
The changes are all good on the new Kindle, and, if you have been holding off, I think this is the time to get one! Of course, you should compare all the other models on the market, too, but I am partial to the Kindle because of the large digital library of choices and the fact that the electronic ink and non-backlit screen allows me to read for a long time without tiring out my eyes!

Anybody else get the new model? Please leave your comments below and share your thoughts!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's up with the door pics?

I get lots of email asking why I am taking (and posting) a picture of a door every day. This phenomenon started in 2004 and has morphed into an international project entitled Project365. The original goal was to document each day of a year of your life in photos for reflection on the passing time. I am not sure where the actual official Project365 page is located, but this may be it!

There are many different flavors of this project. Some people participate in Project365 groups that assign them a type of photo to take each day ("Take something yellow." "Take something that contains an equilateral triangle." "Take something that makes you feel happy.")

Others of these Project365 groups concentrate on teaching the participants to be more effective photographers by providing photography instruction and methodology in the day's assignment.

Other people, like me, pick a theme and carry it out in photos throughout the year; hence my door project, which you can view below. (For a much better experience, link to the full MobileMe gallery here.)

Here are some links to places you can find postings of Project365 photos. (BTW, I am not responsible for any content that you see that might be inappropriate!)

Anyone else participating in a Project365 group? Feel free to share your URL in a comment!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Point 2 View Document Camera Review

Good things come in small (low-cost) packages! With so many of us trying to demo our smartphones, iPads, or other devices to an audience of educators, the IPEVO Point 2 View ($69) is something to consider for your toolbox! It easily connects to a computer to project to a large group using an LCD projector for real-time viewing of the screens of the electronic devices we are trying to show. Of course, you can project anything flat or 3-dimensional, too, when teaching other content areas. Typical examples include documents for whole-class discussion and mark-up, coins for teaching money for the elementary grades, or tiny bugs and shells in science class.

The iPhone screen projected on the laptop via the Point 2 View
The Point 2 View is a USB document camera. You simply install the software (Win or Mac) on your laptop, plug the camera into an available USB port, and you are good to go! The software allows you to change the zoom on the camera, change the exposure if you are in a light or dark situation, set a timer to take a photo, mirror the item you are looking at, and change the camera resolution from 1600x1200 all the way down to 320x240. The camera itself can auto-focus on your object or also lets you focus manually.

Entire iPad screen projected with the Point 2 View

The Point 2 View is used by attaching it to the included weighted, adjustable base. (It also comes with a laptop/LCD screen clip in case you want to use it as a Web cam.) It is 9"x5"x3" and weighs 1.5 pounds (with most of the weight in the base of the holder). Because of this weighted base, however, you can telescope it way out from the base to show an item if you need to. It stays very sturdy and does not shake.

Locating my house in Google Earth using the camera's zoom function.

The Point 2 View can also be used "in the field" since it is powered by the USB port. Students working outside with a laptop or netbook could use it to view items as close as 2" away and take photographs to share with the rest of the class. In addition, it even works as a long distance camera, as you can see by the shot below!

An interior shot in lower light in my house.

The feature I like best is the ease of zooming in on the object being presented using the zoom functionality in the software. I have just included a couple of sample shots below, but imagine the possibilities! Please share some ideas you have for use of the Point 2 View in the comments section!
Using the 1x zoom setting on the Point 2 View

Using the 2.5x zoom setting on the Point 2 View

Follow up (10/27/10): One person asked in the comments if one could capture moving objects with the Point2View. I did not have any amoeba swimming in a Petri dish at home, so I used Adobe Premiere Elements 9 for the Mac to record a video playing on my iPhone using the Point2 View as the capture source. The unedited result follows:

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Apple's Magic Trackpad Review

Magic Trackpad
I received my Apple Magic Trackpad yesterday and have been putting it through its paces.

For the past 5 years, I have most often used a trackball on my desktops at home and at school. The ergonomic aspect of keeping my hand in one place seemed to protect me from the stress and strain oftentimes brought on by mouse use. The Magic Trackpad provides that same "hand and arm in one place" option.

I am also a unibody MacBook Pro user and have never used a mouse with any laptop I have owned.

I still continue to watch some teachers struggle with the use of a trackpad and do realize it is an acquired skill that takes a lot of practice. However, I feel it is well worth the time it takes to perfect it! (How else can you use a laptop on your lap?)

The Apple Magic Trackpad includes all of the cool functionality of the trackpads on the Apple laptops. Features can be customized, and include:
  • Point
  • Click
  • Double-click
  • Right-click
  • Click and drag
  • Two-finger scroll
  • Rotate
  • Pinch/Zoon
  • Page back and forward
  • Switch applications
Installation of the trackpad required a software update, which did not seem to show up until I had paired the device with the desktop. You will probably need to keep your current pointing device available during the set-up process, as I did.

I have found, as with the trackpad on the laptop, your hands have to be rather dry in order to use it smoothly. Use in areas of high humidity, with damper hands, may cause a bit of a problem.

I tweeted about the device yesterday, and received some inquiries as to the suitability of the Magic Trackpad over the use of the mouse for the youngest students. I think the device is a viable option for easy navigation by the PreK to 1 set, who often find the use of a mouse difficult. (A regular trackball works well for this group, too!) Once students realize they can simply tap to place and double-tap to open, I feel the input device will no longer be a barrier for the younger students. Clicking and dragging may take some getting used to, and you should experiment with drag lock for these students. I would also suggest that most of the other functions of the Magic Trackpad be turned off because of the possibility of swiping and zooming by accident.

I tried the Magic Trackpad on the Windows side of Bootcamp, and it connected with no problem. I have not yet installed the Windows drivers (64-bit available, too) Apple offers, but the comparison chart here shows the functionality on the Mac and three flavors of Windows.

All in all, I am really impressed with the Magic Trackpad as an alternative input device!