Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On the eve of Techspo....

It is about 11:20 on Wednesday. I am sitting in my room at the Days Inn in Atlantic City taking full advantage of the free wireless. (I am still reeling from the shock that my 1 week old Mac is able to connect while the PC is having unusual IP issues)

Tomorrow I will be attending the Techspo Educational Technology Conference for the 4th time. I look forward to this conference every year as it is the one professional experience I can count on to actually yield results that I can use. I discovered the SmartBoard and my Personal Response Remote system here and I am looking forward to seeing what is new for 2008.

This is also a landmark year as I will be making a presentation on Friday. I will be talking about the Moodle software package that I use to manage my online classroom.

More on Techspo soon! Stay tuned...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sidestep content filters and download Youtube videos with Miro Media Player...

How many times have you found something great on Youtube that would be great to show in the classroom, knowing in your heart that they will never see the inside of your school due to restrictive filters?

In the past I have posted about sites such as that allow you to download Flash Video (flv) files directly from Youtube. While these sites are still nice to keep in your emergency repertoire, I have recently moved to a much more effective solution: the Open Source Media Player Miro.

This nifty little program allows you to search Youtube, Google Video, and several other popular video streaming sites. If you find a video you can use, you can download the flv file to your computer with a single click.

From there you can easily drop the flv onto a memory stick to bring to school to show your students.

Very nice!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Me.....a Mac?

I said for a long time that it would never happen. I didn't want a Mac. I didn't need a Mac. I would never buy one. And now here I am typing on one.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was crazy to not know anything about Macs. So I did a little research, read some reviews, hit the blogs, and then made my way over to the Mac Store.

So now here I sit with a Mac to my right and my PC to my left. The whole OS family is actually represented at the moment. If you check the picture, you will see the new Mac to the far right, my PC in the middle, my work PC to the far left, and way in the background is our desktop running a Live CD of PC Linux OS.

I am still finding my way around the new Mac. The one mouse button is still new and the Command keys will take me a little while to get used to.

More on my journey into the Cult of Mac as it develops.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I have gone Completely Mobile!

My lifelong dream of owning a true wireless Internet-connected device has finally come true. I have had many devices in the past that came close. I owned a Palm Pilot that would let you choose pages to download from your PC to read later when you were on the go. Nice feature, but doesn't do you much good when you want to download something on the go. The next attempt came when I sold the Palm Pilot an dupgraded to a Dell Axim handheld. The Dell had a CompactFlash drive that would accomodate a wireless card to allow you to connect to wireless networks. This was definitely a step up. It was perfect for checking email without being tethered to a desktop. However, the internet browser left much to be desired. The pages it loaded were always distorted with all of the links and images stacked vertically. Yet another disappointment.

My latest foray into the portable computer realm has been much more satisfying. The Nokia N800 (pictured above) is such a great unit! I picked it up from Amazon for about $200, which still seems like a steal, considering what this bad boy can do.

Here are the features that I have made the most use of so far:

  • Wireless internet- it found my home network and connected immediately with no issues.
  • Mozilla browser with Flash! - the built in browser works much like Firefox and I finally have a portable that can handle web pages with Flash animations. Also the pages look the way they were meant to look, without rearranging all page components to fit on the screen.
  • Built in webcam -- There is a little camera that pops out of the side. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out how to have video chats, but it is cool for snapshots on the go.
  • Bluetooth - with the built in Bluetooth you can connect to other devices like phones or the slick portable keyboard I also found on Amazon.
More on this device as I get more time to experiment with it. But my first impressions are totally positive!