December 20, 2008
November 20, 2008
November 18, 2008
October 24, 2008
October 13, 2008
October 11, 2008
The other day, someone on Twitter described their newest pet peeve--watching someone present about 21st century skills using 20th century techniques. That is annoying---and it's something I've been doing myself. In fact, that's been bugging me lately.
Traditional PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentations just aren't good enough these days to engage an audience, especially one comprised of 20 somethings or younger. Yes, people can be creative and spice up their presentations using PowerPoint and strategies to foster discussion, etc. Interactive whiteboards and even something like Inspiration software could be used creatively as a presentation tool. But, I still want that cool board that Chuck and John keep rubbing in my face on TV.
Not long ago, Microsoft unveiled Surface, their new interactive, touchscreen, multi-gesture, eye candy of a display board (actually, it's what Chuck Todd uses on MSNBC). It looked amazing to me, but I was really skeptical that we'd see it in schools anytime soon. Well, I'm starting to reconsider that assumption.
I think we may see the software that drives the interactive whiteboards and displays being used in classrooms integrate more use of gestures as part of their user interface. Since the iPhone, we've already seen an increase in the number of portable electronics that have a touchscreen capable of using gestures such as swipe or pinch. Check out the T850 from BenQ, for example. Very cool!
How great would it be to add these features to PowerPoint or keynote? Or better yet, give us a new Web 2.0 tool for creating interactive nonlinear presentations right in our browser!
Well, I'm really excited about a promising new solution I discovered this morning--ZuiPrezi (Hungarian?). I requested to help be a beta tester, and I'm super excited about the possibility of trying to use it for one of my upcoming presentations. It looks intuitive, extremely capable, and best of all--mesmerizing! Check it out for yourself--tryout their interactive demo or view some of the examples.
October 9, 2008
I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.
Whether or not I agree with John McCain, he is of presidential timber. But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless.
Click here to read the full article.
October 8, 2008
October 6, 2008
get used to the keyboard, thankfully, and also to compile the
following list of missing features. Now, I'm hoping that some of these
"missing" features are just hidden features that I've yet to discover.
If that's the case, please post a comment to correct me & point me in
the right direction. BTW, overall I'm extremely pleased with my iPhone
& even the AT&T service. I'm composing this blog entry on my iPhone
from a waiting room, in fact.
- Is Bluetooth crippled??? I can't send photo, contacts, etc, via
- No search, especially in iCal, Notes?
- No copy/paste?
- Where are my todo items from iCal?
- No select? Why can't I double-click or click n drag to highlight text?
- I should be able to send a URL from Safari to Mail or other apps.
- Maps: I'd like to rotate screen for horizontal view like safari &
- External keyboard support would be nice--bluetooth keyboard or something to use during meetings.
- Inline spellcheck (auto complete/correct is good a start).
- Camera is good, but no flash?
- No option to record video? What's up with that?
October 2, 2008
Google is also a units-of-measurement and currency converter. Type “teaspoons in 1.3 gallons,” for example, or “euros in 17 dollars.” Click Search to see the answer.
September 28, 2008
September 27, 2008
"The agreement shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”
September 22, 2008
September 17, 2008
September 14, 2008
August 31, 2008
Streaming live video by Ustream
Sites like Ustream, blipTV, Mogulus, Kyte, and Justin.tv provide a remarkable opportunity for anyone to broadcast live events with little more than their computer and webcam (which is becoming a ubiquitous integrated option with laptops). This new platform empowers individuals and organizations to broadcast their message to a global audience--for free. For example, I saw dozens of churches broadcasting their Sunday morning services live on Ustream this morning. The Obama campaign has been simulcasting live campaign events on Ustream for months, and I've seen people like Bernie Dodge share conference presentations in real time along with an integrated chat that creates a powerful backchannel to engage people both locally and at a distance. Now, Qik.com even makes it possible to stream such live video from many cell phones!
This is a truly an amazing new platform which has emerged over the past couple of years--one that many will embrace and some will find quite threatening or intimidating. Personally, I can't wait to see who starts using it next and how it transforms the way we communicate with each other.
August 30, 2008
August 24, 2008
Firefox web browser
Safari browser (really is fast and attractive interface)
Thunderbird email client
iTunes (of course, especially for podcasts, free single of the week, and iTunes U)
Free RSS Reader
Free alternative to MS Office
Skype instant messaging and video conferencing
Second Life virtual world
Picnik (no software to download here, just a great web service for easy and capable image editing)
Free anti-virus security software
Free theft recovery
Free (& less annoying) alternative to Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files
Cute PDF (free app to print almost any document to a PDF file)
Real Alternative - Free (& less annoying) alternative to Real Player
Free alternative to Zip compression and uncompression
Core FTP Lite (free FTP and Secure-FTP or SFTP client)
Kompozer (free HTML editor with capable CSS editor built-in)
MPEG Streamclip (video converter, can download YouTube videos too)
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and very functional Photoshop alternative
August 20, 2008
As reported by local media back in March, the project is funded with Linn County SILO funds and also includes the purchase of mobile wireless labs (carts with 20 laptops each) for each Elementary grade (K-5).
August 11, 2008
August 8, 2008
August 4, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 7, 2008
June 30, 2008
Adium - IM client, works with multiple services
CamTwist: broadcast your desktop as a video source in skype, etc (though not iChat)
CocoThumbX: Great utility for creating thumbnail images of files including BMP, TIFF, GIF, PNG, JPG, PICT, PDF, EPS, DOC, RTF, RTFD, HTML, CSS, TXT and QuickTime supported Movies.
Cyberduck: FTP and SFTP client
EasyFind: Even faster than Spotlight
Flock browser: The social browser
Flip4Mac: Play WMA and WMV files in QuickTime Player--no need for Windows Media Player!
iSquint: Convert video files for iPod or other handhelds
Jing: Free screen capture (still image and video) for Mac & PC
Joost: Internet TV
KompoZer: A more recent spin-off of Netscape Composer, then Mozilla Composer, then Nvu, now KompoZer--very good built-in CSS editor for newbies
MacTracker: Know everything about your Macs (and all others)
MeBeam: No software to download, just enter a room name to video conference with multiple people for free!
Miro: Internet TV (and video podcasts, torrents, etc.)
Mousepose: OK, this one ain't free, but it's worth the price for highlighting areas of your screen for demos and screencasts!
NeoOffice: OpenOffice for Mac (free alternative to MS Office)
Paparazzi: Easily create screen captures of full web pages
SecondLife: Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE)
Skype: VoIP and video conferencing solution
ThumbsUp: Another great thumbnail maker for files
Thunderbird: Great alternative to OS Mail, a Mozilla project
Transmission: BitTorrent client
Jiggler: Jiggle the mouse at specified intervals to keep your Mac from sleeping
Onyx: Enable hidden features of OS X or run maintenance scripts.
SuperDuper: Backup utility software, create a bootable clone of your startup disk.
Vienna: Free RSS/Atom newsreader
VLC: Video player, plays multiple video formats
Web Minimalist: Great simple and free HTML editor with built-in preview--excellent for teaching HTML and web design
YemuZip: Great Zip compression utility, create Zip files in native PC or Mac formats
June 29, 2008
The Washington Post reports on the attempts of Dr. Danielle Allen, a political theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study, to trace the origin(s) of these email chains. Interestingly, some of her first clues emerged as the result of simply Googling some of the more unusual phrases contained in the various emails. The changing terminology and addition or subtraction of certain claims in the malicious email messages seemed synchronized with certain individuals' contributions to the FreeRepublic website. Dr. Allen's investigative journey highlights both the ease and complexity involved with spreading misinformation via the internet. The article also quotes the man who credits himself as the first to label Obama a Muslim back in 2004, Andy Martin, a former Illinois political opponent of Obama.
This smear campaign isn't new, of course. Such nefarious emails followed Obama throughout the primary process, coincidentally surging in states with upcoming primaries or caucuses. One would think that such an obvious attempt to Swiftboat the candidate would by now have run its course. However, as the Washington Post article reports, polls suggest the number of voters who believe Obama is a Muslim is actually increasing (from 8 percent of voters in November of 2007 to 13 percent in March, 2008). So, expect to see more of these deplorable rumors and insinuations to arrive in your inbox during the general election.
Democrats should fight back. Direct people to websites like FightTheSmears.com and isbarackobamaamuslim.com, but don't stop there! Perhaps we should start publishing the email addresses of the people who send us such emails. We could use our blogs, YouTube, social networks, Flickr, wikis, and numerous other Web 2.0 tools to expose the persons who are actively spreading these baseless rumors and misinformation. Let them receive a barrage of replies to provide clarity of the facts--and their own morality.
June 25, 2008
June 19, 2008
> Subject: Flooding in Iowa/Illinois
> "I have been reading about and seeing the devastation of the floods in
> Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. It is terrible. I have heard it compared to
> the devastation of Katrina. One thing I haven't noticed. I have not
> noticed anyone blaming President Bush. I have not noted any looting. I
> have not noted anyone spending any money vouchers on Tattoos, Body
> Piercings, Drugs, or Parties. I have noticed people helping each other and
> working together. Not just sitting around and waiting for some Government
> Agency to bail them out and give them a bunch of freebies, and then
> complaining that what they are given is not enough. Perhaps the Press has
> just missed that. Can anyone explain this?"
This is a hillbilly comparison--and, frankly, racist. There's a big difference between A) abandoning thousands of people for days without water, shelter or adequate security while the incompetent cronies that President Bush hired to run federal agencies debated what they could or should do and B) responding immediately to provide shelters, FEMA trailers, the national guard, and other agencies to make sure that people in the midwest have been safeguarded during (even before) the floods.
I'm proud of the way Iowans have responded to our local disasters, but that does not change the fact the local, state and federal governments failed miserably to serve the victims of Katrina. Even President Bush himself has acknowledged that our government did not respond appropriately to that disaster.
June 16, 2008
May 16, 2008
If you know us very well, then you know that Magda is much better about taking and organizing our family photos. Bookmark the albums page of Magda's website, because that's where you're gonna find the best pictures of Lucy, etc. For example, check-out the Spring collection.
April 12, 2008
Flock is a spin-off of the Firefox browser described by its creators as "the social web browser". Available as a free download for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux platforms, Flock is unique among a sea of browser options, because it cleverly integrates an impressive number of social networking tools. While it might be handy for the occasional Facebook or MySpace user, it's incredibly useful for people who use many social networking tools and web-based services. Flock gives us easy access to them all simultaneously. Sign-in to your favorite services and networks like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Picasa, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger, WordPress, Xanga, del.icio.us, etc., and Flock will offer to remember these accounts and integrate them into the sidebar and media browser thereafter. That means you can follow your Twitter updates and Facebook friends right in the sidebar--no need to visit those sites to get the latest information and media. You can view media streams from Facebook, Picasa, Flickr and YouTube, compose new Gmail or blog posts, and follow RSS feeds from virtually any source all while using other websites in the main browser.
As you can see in the screen capture above, I'm using Flock's blog editor now to compose this post, and it works great! I just dragged in the picture from my Picasa media browser. As I write this, I see there are some updates in my Twitter feed and new Facebook activity displaced in the sidebar. Everything seems to work well and feels much more responsive than using Blogger's editor. I think this is going to be habit forming.
If you haven't tried it yet, I encourage you to download Flock or at least read more about its features. Version 1.1. is already very impressive and way ahead of other browsers in terms of networking and media features. That being said, I hope they'll soon add even more integration features with other services I use, including Ning, Picnik, and Google Docs or Zoho.
April 1, 2008
March 29, 2008
Google turned out the lights on their home page today to encourage people to participate in Earth Hour from 8:00 - 9:00 in their local time zone. Says their page...
On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone. On this day, cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Chicago, Melbourne, Dubai, and Tel Aviv, will hold events to acknowledge their commitment to energy conservation.
It's an easy idea--turn out your lights for an hour tonight (a good time to watch a movie in the dark, I guess) to help conserve energy. The Climate Savers Computing Initiative website provides directions for using the energy saving features of your computer. Many people don't realize how much energy computers actually conserve or that many power adapters for rechargeable electronics consume energy when plugged in even when not connected to the device they charge. Judging by the load times of the CSCI website, it seems a lot of people are following the link from the Google home page today.
What's odd, though, is that while Google describes this as a global awareness initiative, Google's international home pages don't seem to be participating. Here are pictures of the Polish (www.google.pl), French (www.google.fr), and Japanese (www.google.jp) versions of the Google home page today.
March 14, 2008
March 11, 2008
Judging by the comments at YouTube, there remains a lot of confusion and misconceptions about what Twitter is and why people use it. While it is described as a social networking tool, I think Twitter is actually a pretty great professional development and networking tool. I've discovered many interesting resources, ideas, and events by following peoples' twitter updates. I've seen questions and calls for help met by a mass of followers (and their followers) and resolved in mere seconds or minutes. That's much more efficient and productive than possible using email or web forums. It's also just fascinating and informative to "shadow" people to see what they're thinking and what they're doing. Imagine the benefits to students, educators or other professionals who can receive professional development in their pocket simply by following the updates of people they admire in the field.
Because Twitter updates can be sent and received via mobile phones, web browsers, instant messaging clients or other 3rd party apps, people can communicate with each other in ways previously unimagined. For example, Twitter has become a popular way to communicate during professional conferences-it allows organizers to immediately distribute information to everyone's mobile phone and participants to discuss events or arrange their own ad-hoc meet ups. Protesters too realize these advantages to communicate with groups of people anywhere, anytime. Even established organizations such as NPR and the BBC are beginning to discover the advantages of using Twitter, and several of the presidential candidates this season used twitter to communicate with and listen to their supporters (and detractors).
So, what people need to realize is that innovative technologies like Twitter are really what you make them to be. Imaginative people will always be able to use simple tools to accomplish great things.
March 8, 2008
Last October, David Pogue delivered a very funny keynote address in which he highlighted several examples of how the internet now mingles with our cell phones and land lines. One of those, PopularityDialer, was shut down by the FCC. Another, GrandCentral, was since acquired by Google who is now providing it free for their Blogger users.
This is great news, because GrandCentral provides amazing functionality! They give you a new single phone number (you choose the area code) that when called can ring any of your existing phones (home, work, mobile, the other mobile, Skype-In number, whatever). It will call any of those phones individually or even simultaneously (wrap your head around that!), allowing you to decide where or if you want to take the call. The service is very customizable too, so you can screen calls, send them to voicemail, listen in, block the caller, or even ring different phones depending on the caller ID. Plus, they give you buttons like the one above to display on your blog or web page to make it easy for people to reach you!
Your GrandCentral number serves as a proxy for all your other numbers, so you can limit the number of people who know your "real" phone numbers. Visual voicemail (made popular by the iPhone) means you can login to the GrandCentral website to see a list of all your calls complete with details, a sound recording of each message, and a link to return the call (which actually calls your phone and connects you automatically). Here's a demo of the visual voicemail so you can see how it works. There's even a mobile version of their site (m.grandcentral.com), so visual voicemail is easy to use from your cell phone's web browser.
Two other handy tools that blur the line between phones and the internet are Jott and Wakerupper. Register your phone with Jott, then call their toll-free number to leave yourself voice memos and reminders which are then sent to your email inbox as audio recordings. Wakerupper takes the opposite approach. Tell it when to call you and enter a text message. Wakerupper waits patiently until the moment you've asked it to call you, then it delivers your message as an audio recording (using text-to-speech which works surprising well). Vote for these and other apps (or search for intriguing Web 2.0 applications) at the Webware 100 Awards of 2008 website.
March 1, 2008
iAno is a new piano application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. As you can see in this video, it's incredible! Unfortunately, it requires Jailbreaking (hacking) your iPhone to work, so that might dissuade some users. But if this is a taste of iPhone apps to come, I'm psyched!
Piano not your thing? Check out PocketGuitar.
Music not your thing? Just want to keep your plants alive? Twitter can help. Just rig up a Botanicalls system to your plants and let them send Twitter updates when they need water.
February 24, 2008
Have you heard about Woot yet? It's a web site that sells just one thing a day (at a great price). New deals are announced a midnight. For example, today Woot is selling an Acer desktop computer for $249.99 (2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160GB 7200rpm SATA HD, DL DVD burner, Gigabit Ethernet, Flash memory card reader, and Windows Vista Home Basic). That's a pretty good deal!
A great way to keep up with Woot deals is to subscribe to their Twitter and/or RSS feeds. They even have a podcast! To see a list of past Woot deals, look at their Twitter updates page.
February 23, 2008
Like many Web 2.0 tools, Yugma requires a login, but registration is free and simple (one only need provide a name and valid email address). With an account, a user can either begin a new screen sharing session or join an existing session from the Yugma home page. Sessions can involve up to 10 users for the free service (up to 500 for a premium account). Inviting someone to join a session is as easy as sending an email (which the web site helps you do, of course), and joining a session only involves logging into the service and entering a 9-digit session ID number. By the way, Yugma works with Macintosh, Windows and Linux PCs, so it's cross-platform. It does, however, require a recent version of Java software be installed.
Once participants have joined a session, they can view each other's screen (not just PowerPoint--anything on the screen), share control of a screen, draw on it, text chat, and even dial a phone number to conference call (it's not a toll-free number, but cell phones and Skype work great for this). If you combine a Skype video chat with a Yugma session, then you've got two-way video and audio as well as screen sharing.
Basically, Yugma--a free solution--provides all of the functionality used in all of the webinars that I've recently attended. It's really quite easy to use and I'm impressed with the clarity of shared screens. This is fantastic for tech support, web conferences, distance education, and many other situations. I think Yugma just edged out Jing as my favorite tech tool of the week.
February 16, 2008
February 14, 2008
Here's a little movie I made to illustrate how to view file name extensions in Windows XP.
February 10, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 6, 2008
February 5, 2008
February 2, 2008
Innovative technologies like micro-blogging and virtual spaces can be a fun and effective way for students to build a sense of community, collaborate with each other, and reflect upon what they're learning. The academHacK blog recently posted a list of 13 ways to use Twitter in academia. One of my favorites is assigning students to follow a professional. What an innovative way to job shadow someone who you might otherwise never have a chance to meet! Seek out their Twitter feed and follow it to get an idea of what they're doing and thinking.
February 1, 2008
January 25, 2008
January 4, 2008
I think the Iowa Democratic caucus system is outdated, because its format combined with bad campaign financing rules and celebrity media coverage basically ensures that 2nd tier candidates can't survive the first test in the nation. Republicans don't have that problem. I mean, does anybody think Ron Paul would have actually received 10 percent in Iowa if he had to reach a 15 percent viability threshold in every precinct? Would Dodd or Biden have dropped out of the race already if they had emerged with 10 or 14 percent? I doubt it. Yet, these candidates with much more relevant experience but not enough money to purchase celebrity from the mainstream media walked away with nothing. They were disproportionately disadvantaged by the democratic party's caucus rules in Iowa which requires that at least 15 percent of the caucus goes in every district support a candidate. If not, then their supporters must pick a different candidate, which is exactly what happened in most precincts on Jan 3. Over 10 percent of the caucus goes in my precinct would have supported Joe Biden for president last night, but we were just a few people short of the 15 percent threshold needed for our support of him to be counted. Instead, we had to splinter off to Obama, Clinton or Edwards as a second choice.
Imagine this possible scenario... Biden, Richardson, and Dodd each get 14 percent (14x3 equals 42 percent combined). That leaves just 58 percent of support to split between Obama, Edwards and Clinton (just 19 percent each). Now, instead of the media's favorite candidates walking away with what looks like 30 percent leads, they actually emerge with just single-digit leads. I didn't even figure Kucinich into those figures. Do so and you could have people "winning" the Iowa caucuses by only a few percentage points (or theoretically you could have a statistical tie). Think that would influence supporters and change future fund raising efforts?
Come on, Iowa Democrats. What's the rush to wipe out ALL of our 2nd tier candidates??? That's what happened this year. As the first in the nation test, it should be a test of initial support among registered democrats in the midwest before campaigns move on to other states. The democratic caucuses should not serve as a mechanism to weed out as many people as possible, leaving only those with overwhelming amounts of cash, celebrity and media coverage. Unfortunately, that seems to be the current situation for democrats, and I think it may ultimately cause Iowa to lose it's first in the nation status and the huge economic impact that it has on our state.
Something just seems outdated or wrong with this system in the current climate of media consolidation and out-of-control campaign financing. Perhaps the 15 percent threshold should be lowered to something that could still weed out candidates that aren't even getting 1 or 2 percent of their voters to turn out. Or perhaps we should throw it out and do like republicans. Whatever the case, I think something needs to change. The presidential election in this country is beginning to feel more like American Idol than a serious deliberation of key issues and pragmatic solutions.
January 3, 2008
Senator Biden has my support in the Iowa caucuses tonight. I think there are some strong democrats running for president, but none more qualified or competent to lead our country out of the hole dug by 6 years of dishonest, immoral, fear-mongering republican control and into a future where America is again respected and admired throughout the world.
Senator Biden understands (as President Clinton described last night) that the U.S. can't solve most problems alone, yet there exists great opportunities to regain our status as a world leader on major issues. I believe Biden has an in-depth understanding of important issues, highly relevant experiences, and a strong track record of wisdom and judgment that will make him a great president ready to hit the ground running. I've heard him speak several times on many issues, and I am convinced that he is the best candidate for positive change based on successful experience (not just generic change based on vague experience).
January 2, 2008
Magda and I are watching President Clinton campaign for Hillary in Waterloo tonight. He's a rock star. The guy just connects with his audience! I had already heard most of this speech on C-SPAN, yet his delivery is so good that I'm captivated.
Tomorrow is caucus day. I hope everyone will get out to participate. It's an exciting election! Find your caucus site: Democrats click here, Republicans figure it out for yourself. No, seriously... click here. Alright, just kidding-- here is the republican site.
January 1, 2008
Happy New Year! Szczesliwego Nowego Roku! We celebrated twice this year… first, via Skype with Magda's father in Poland this afternoon (7 hours difference), then again here at home. Lucy went to bed at 8pm, but we snuck up to her room to take a picture of her first moments in 2008. She seems happy. :-)