Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Life for Old Books

BookMooch.com is a website that has arrived in what I think is a very timely matter. When I think of all the books that I had to either give or throw away when I moved across the world it made me very sad. If you are like me and have taught a variety of subjects over the years and have a variety of interests...then you will have a lot of books. Now you have an option other than the corner used book store.

BookMooch is an online community for exchanging used books. There is a point system for members....every time you give a book away you get a point. You can also receive points by donating your books to charities. Your only cost is the mailing of the book...which from New Zealand can be sometimes pricier than the book (although you do get more points if you send your book to a different country).

The founder (John Buckman) stated he was was" frustrated by the vast number of books that were printed in just one country but not any other, or only after several years."

Where there's a will there is a way.....let's find those previously loved books a new home!

Happy Halloween

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween

A holiday event I used to love as a kid is Halloween. October 31st could also bring the first big snow fall in the Canadian Prairies. You were never quite sure if you had to bundle up under your costume before you left for the evening...which sometimes had a devastating effect on the Pirate costume....Pirates don't wear mittens. Grabbing an old pillowcase...off you went with your friends to retrieve enough candy to make dentists every where very excited. Here are some fun sites with a variety of projects for Halloween.

Make Magazine http://www.makezine.com/ - various "make-it" projects in their blog section.

Horrorfind categories http://www.horrorfind.com/index.html has links to all kinds of scary things....global customs, horror games, tv shows, etc...

Scary Terry's Halloween Page http://www.scary-terry.com/ has some fun "technical" halloween props and gadgets to make.

CIO online magazine http://www.cio.com/specialreports/infotechhorror/misc.html listed their Halloween goody bag of IT mishaps.

Discover http://www.discover.com/issues/oct-06/rd/aztec-jaguar-filed-teeth/ writes that "researchers say 4,500 years ago, some Mexicans hacked off their own teeth to the gum line and plugged in jaguar dentures." Now that is a Halloween costume.

Have a safe and fun Halloween tomorrow.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Slept in today....

Sorry....slept in today :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Opps...iPods Sent With Windows Virus

Seems video iPods were shipped from China (available for purchase after September 12, 2006) carrying the Windows RavMonE.exe virus. A manufacturing mishap had a quick response from Apple on their website slapping Microsoft on the hand. "As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it."

CNet News reported Apple stating less than "fewer than 25 reports of the problem" have shown up. The virus only affects Windows machines and does not damage Macs or the iPod itself.

Apple aplogized and stressed that everyone should have anti-virus protection software program on their machines and it should be updated!

Apple had just introduced the new generation iPod Nano in September. Bono (from U2) and Oprah releasing the Red Nano with $10 going towards the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa. Promotion of the video iPod with Apple working hard to secure rights to download TV shows and Movies....the news of this virus was not the kind of press Apple would be looking for.

With the Christmas season upon us and new iPods on Santas Wish Lists....be sure to include an anti-virus software program on that list as well......or at least be sure the elves have your present one updated!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cropper...Free Windows Tool

All Mac users know that they just need to activate shift+apple+4 and they get a cropping crosshair built into their operating system. Windows users need a bit more help....Cropper to the rescue!

Cropper is a screen capture utility written in C# on the Microsoft .Net platform. It makes it fast and easy to grab parts of your screen. Use it to easily crop out sections of vector graphic files such as Fireworks without having to flatten the files or open in a new editor.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hotel Chain Explores Virtual Market Research

Starwood Hotels which includes chains such as the Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis....to name a few, has gone virtual. The ALoft Hotel (a vision of W Hotels) is a new hip hotel that will be built for the IT savvy and open in 2008. The rooms will be designed in a loft-like setting and feature well designed work-spaces, over sized showers, flat panel TVs, cordless phones, plug&play access for mobility devices, and hotel-wide wireless access...are just a few of the amenities.

ALoft Hotel opened their virtual test market hotel in SecondLife. (Note: SecondLife is a 3D online digital world that is imagined, created & owned by its residents. Last posting showed there were 1,097,243 residents, 474,480 US$ spent in the last 24 hours and there were 452,861 residents logged in last 60 days.)

This has taken market research to a new level. Online SecondLife'ers' will be able to explore the new hotel before it has been built. They are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions to the developers. They are able to explore most of the hotel. No one can book rooms through SecondLife as no one sleeps in the virtual world.

ALoft Hotel (virtual) has been built and will continue to evolve online, by a 3D company using the actual blueprints and specs that will be used for the real-world hotel. ALoft Hotel has published a weblog where you can follow along with the development from virtual to real-world hotel. Read more about the virtual-to-real world hotel concept at 4Hoteliers.com

Thoughts: Is this the direction of our future schools? Will teachers be waking up in the morning...shuffle to their computer with coffee in hand and housecoat still on...turn on their computer and greet their virtual classroom through their virtual self? Some universities already have campuses in SecondLife. Check out the price of real estate in SecondLife....it's not cheap (although there is educational pricing). Maybe one should jump into the real estate market now...remember location, location, location.


It is a rainy, rainy long-weekend Monday and I am catching up on "cleaning" out my storage space on my computers. I normally reformat my computers about 2x per year as they tend to get very cluttered with left over files and trial software. Nothing like a good spring cleaning for your computers.

I was going through my freeware folder and came across Audiograbber which is truly a little gem! It is a freeware application that grabs digital audio from a CD and converts them to a .mp3 file. I have used it for a quite awhile and it never fails to perform.

Tip: If you don't want to type in your own track names, artist and album name - click on the dancing penguins and they retrieve the album information from CDDB (Compact Disc Database) which has information about almost every CD every produced.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Even Google Tries Anonymity Cloak

A new search engine on the web has Google behind it as its developer. Searchmash.com is the new creation for Google, although you wouldn't know it by looking at the site. If you click on the "terms of service" it reveals that it is a site run by Goggle. Why the secrecy? An article written in ITBusinessEdge.com states that it is an unmarked search engine "aimed at test-driving features among users who don't know they are using a Google product."

Take a walk through the search engine...it has some different features. One that I think is interesting is when you get your search results you also automatically get 3 images to match those results on the right hand side.

Some of these features may or may not appear on the main Google site in the future. Take Searchmash.com for a spin.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


We have all talked about "road rage" or "roid rage" (someone that gets violent because of using steroids.) A search on Google comes up with over 12,000,000 hits for web-rage.

Lawyers have now brought technology into the court room....the courts are now hearing web-rage as a defence for violence.

Answers.com defines web-rage as:

A user's frustration and anger when surfing the Web. Web rage is caused by such things as slow dial-up connections, busy servers, missing links, excessive results when doing a search, and very often, poorly designed Web sites that make you go through hoops to find what you want.

An article on BBC News from 2002 addresses this issue. People hitting their computer equipment, smashing other things around them, etc... BUT, it now has gone beyond just hitting equipment.

A BBC News article (Oct 2006) entitled Internet user admits web-rage is about two men that had a disagreement in a chat room that over flowed to real life. One of the men tracked the other man down from his personal information in the chat room and attacked him at his home.

There are really 2 issues here protecting your identity and harrassment. It is very important to protect ones identity when you are participating in any communication online with other people you don't know.

Teenagers quite often reveal too much personal information about themselves online. Several years ago in Canada we had a 32 year old man show up at a school looking for one of our 15 year old students from the information she had given him over a chat room. She was terrified and didn't realize that he would actually show up.

Violence online has become a common intimidation tool for a lot of students. Text bullying and threatening emails can often escalate to a physical attack. Our students live in an instant communication world. Quite often they do not think about the consequences before they press that send button.

Parents need to be aware of where their children are going on the Internet. Children should never have a computer in their bedroom - it should be located in a public family area such as the family room. Talk to your kids...find out what is happening in their "online world" - you'd be surprised.

How can a teacher deal with these issues in the classroom? Role playing in the classroom...have students situated in different roles...the aggressor and the recepient. Be sure to follow-up with a good discussion...this is one way to start students to look at this issue.

Talk to your student services/guidance department. They will be able to assist and there are also many outside agencies that can come in and talk to a school staff or students.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Plagiarism Defined

Wikipedia defines plagiarism as: "Plagiarism is the practice of (dishonestly) claiming or implying original authorship of material which one has not actually created, such as when a person incorporates material from someone else's work into his own work without attributing it."

How does plagiarism add up in the digital age? Websites come and go....students copy and paste....and voila they have a body of work. You just have to do a search for plagiarism in google and up pops hundreds of companies that now offer their services to help catch those students that choose to "copy and paste" without references. But do the students really understand what plagiarism is? I did a quick survey of a year 10 ICT class and most of them did not. What was interesting was that most of them did not think that putting an image in an assignment they had saved off the Internet without referencing, really was plagiarism. Most felt it was really to do with the text they copied out of books.

Turnitin.com is a company that offers schools an educational suite that consists of plagiarism prevention, grade mark, peer review and gradebook. All of these tools are paperless and done online. Most of the plagiarism companies work in the same manner. Instructors upload digital versions of student work and it is checked against thousands of pieces of work in Turnitin database. Then voila...a report is generated letting the instructor know if the work submitted is "clean of plagiarism."

The American Psychological Association a.k.a. APA Format and the Modern Language Association a.k.a. MLA Style are the two main citation styles used in higher education. A university or college will usually support one or the other. Students at a high school/college level should already be familiar with both formats and use them regularly.

A google search can quickly find online resources for written and digital format styles for both APA and MLA. Many universities and colleges and resources and guides online from their libraries.

In this digital age of "copy and paste" I think it is important that students start referencing images, text, music....anything that they can retrieve off of the Internet and use for their work.

Further Reading on Plagiarism and the Digital Age:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Online Anonymity....Does it Really Exist?

Reading the paper over Sunday brunch in Wellington this weekend I came across an article of a young 14 year old student from California that had her 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately it was with the US Secret Service.

Apparently upset with the president over the war in Iraq, Julia Wilson posted a picture of President Bush to her MySpace.com web page. The paper reported "she posted a picture of the president, scrawled "Kill Bush" across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page on the social networking site after learning in her eighth grade history class that such threats are a federal offense."

Too late.

Two secret service first appeared at her home looking for the 14 year old then got her at school. Pulled her out of class and spoke with her for about 15 minutes. The young lady was very upset and her parents were as well as they stated they should have been there during the interview. Read the article further on sacbee.com.

So many young people have online accounts where they post and discuss pretty much whatever they want. They feel they covered with an anonymity cloak....Julia Wilson found out otherwise. Parents and teachers we need to talk to our students about online social consciousness, etiquette and the legal ramifications of online interactions.

Did the Secret Service over react? What do you think?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Virtual Worlds

I apologize for this Monday's late post but I was exploring my "virtual world" in SecondLife. SecondLife is an online role-playing game...a virtual world that has come to replicate the real world. There are stores, libraries, real estate to buy and sell. Now there is even a "real live" reporter from London that has been assigned to cover what happens in the virtual world (did you follow all that?) Adam Reuters (a.k. Adam Pasick) is setting up Reuters first virtual news bureau inside the online role-playing game SecondLife. Like any good reporter, Adam Reuters will use his Web 2.0 Google Calendar to post his office Reuter hours.

Maybe when the Eccky's have grown and left home...they will be able to go find an apartment in SecondLife?

SecondLife has become a "real world" for many people around the world. The SecondLife currency is a Linden, $1 US dollar buys $274.7 Lindens, this was the last report at the close of the SecondLife stock market. User to user transactions have totalled about 7.1 million.

This is not a virtual world you would take your students into for a classroom adventure...it is every much an adult world. It is definitely an interesting model to talk about...in business studies classes, ICT classes, social issues and law. There have already been reports of avatar divorces and business legal battles.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Virtual Parenting Skills

Game simulations have not only become more and more popular with our students but also with adults. Remember NeoPets, The Sims, and Tamagotchi....the latest craze that may be coming to a computer lab near you.....is Eccky.

Eccky is a game in which players create and raise a virtual baby. Eccky combines DNA profiles of Eccky parents to create a unique Eccky each time....is this now how children will think "babies are made?" Health and PE classes are going to have their job cut out for them explaining this one.

The programming behind Eccky uses automated chat technology and cell phone text-messaging to communicate between the "parents" and baby. For example, by the time an Eccky matures (within six days), it can talk on 4,000 different subjects and respond with 60,000 unique answers via IM or mobile text messaging.Parents can even get a babysitter for their Eccky baby.

Eccky grows and ages three years for every one day of gameplay. And in six days, Eccky develops from a cooing baby into an eighteen-year-old young adult with its own character. Every Eccky is unique at birth, and the way in which the user parents raise their Eccky further individualizes Eccky’s demeanor and characteristics. On the sixth day, or upon turning 18, Eccky leaves the house to venture off into the wide world, and the game ends. At that moment your Eccky’s happiness rating is displayed in an end score that is included in the rankings on the website.

NeoPets (now owned by MTV) has over 25 million pet owners online. This time next year will we have over 25 million Eccky babies running around virtually left abandoned by their virtual parents?

The game is only available in Dutch at the moment...but with Microsoft's MSN to the rescue...you can be sure to see students everywhere online creating and raising their babies.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Yahoo Time Capsule

An interactive moving orb made up of images and categories greets you on the home page. Move your mouse over any of the images or categories (which change dynamically) and explore the images, photos, poetry, stories, etc...that people have uploaded.

Yahoo Time Capsule is encouraging people from around the globe to contribute personal photos, stories, thoughts, ideas, poems, home movies -- a snapshot of every day life, in other words -- to its site. The point, as with all time capsules, is to illustrate life in 2006.

Submissions can be made on such topics as love, anger, fun, sorrow, faith, beauty, past, now, hope and "you." Yahoo will then weave the contributed multimedia content into a single piece of digital art online. At the end of the project, the content will be saved in a digital archive and sealed, to be opened at Yahoo corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., on the company's 25th anniversary in 2020. It will also provide copies of the content to the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archives in Washington, D.C.

The contribution page has all of the statistics of the capsule: contributions made by country, male vs female and age.

What are your impressions of 2006? What a great adaptation of a time capsule in a bottle. Great idea for a school website or school digital magazine.

Don't forget to get signed parental/guardian permission forms if you are having students post to this site.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

K-12 Online Conference

The first annual “K12 Online 2006″ convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme “Unleashing the Potential.” The K12 Online 2006 blog has just gone live.

Information .pdf flyer available.

On the conference blog you will also find the web form we will be using for the submission of proposals. Everyone is encouraged to submit a proposal. More details are on the conference blog: www.k12onlineconference.org. The blog will be updated regularly with everything you need to know about the conference.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Skyline Globe.....it's your world

SkylineGlobe.com is a realistic 3D model of the earth online where you can explore, collaborate and interact with people, objects and the world around you. It lets you freely navigate with street level detail, fully textured 3D cities, information layers and much more. You can choose from a long list of tools to personalize the functionality and information you want.

Maps available of the United States only at present time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WIN23 Solar Powered Headphones With Radio

The headphones draw its power from the almighty Sun and is also outfitted with a radio. Thus you can enjoy your favorite tunes on the go and free yourself from the shackles of wires. One hour of sunlight provides 1-3 hours of listening time and the headset carries a warranty of 3 years!

As this has a built-in radio all you would need is your iTrip attached to your iPod to have the full "wireless and solar" headset experience! Just tune your radio to a station of static and your iTrip will pick it up and send your iPod music over the headset.

I found the headsets for sale online at a few sites....this one is from the UK - Paramountzone.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Are Youth Reaching an IT Saturation Point?

Are educators running the IT knowledge race after the race is already finished? Some believe that the youth have now hit their "saturation" point and starting to be very selective with their IT choices...has the "wired" novelty worn off?

This article further goes on to say that students have been dealing with online bullies and privacy issues.

Great article to discuss with your students in the classroom.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Portable Printer by Epsom

Epsom Japan has just released a portable coloured printer. Some of the features this little printer has are the ability to run on batteries with a mini display screen (2 or 2.5), bluetooth upgrade, IR port to print from portable devices among other features.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Preparing Students for 'all workplaces?'

After reading this article: "Working out of a 'third place', I couldn't help thinking about the classrooms and educational programs that are presently being taught around the world.

An interesting article that has to ask the question...."are we preparing our students for the jobs of the future?" This blogger thinks maybe not. A colleague and I were having this discussion the other day and she brought up the point that we are educating students for jobs that don't even exist yet. So WHY then are so many programmes still "boxing" learning into the same format as 20 years or so ago?

Would you feel comfortable teaching your class over the Internet from the coffee shop?

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Google Literacy

Google has asked literacy groups around the world to upload video segments explaining and demonstrating their successful teaching programs.

Among the first few hundred to be posted is a same-language subtitle project from India that uses Bollywood films to teach reading. The service also uses Google's mapping technology to help literacy organizations find each other, and provides links to reading resources.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Sakai is an online Collaboration and Learning Environment. Many users of Sakai deploy it to support teaching and learning, ad hoc group collaboration, support for portfolios and research collaboration.

A set of generic collaboration tools forms the core of Sakai:
AnnouncementsDrop, BoxEmail, ArchiveResourcesChat RoomForums, Threaded Discussion, Message Center, Message Of The Day, News/RSS, Preferences,
Presentation, Profile/Roster, Repository Search, Schedule, Search, Web Content, WebDAV, Wiki, Site Setup.

The core tools can be augmented with tools designed for a particular application of Sakai.
Teaching Tools:
Assignments, Grade book, Module Editor, QTI Authoring, QTI Assessment, Section Management, Syllabus
Portfolio Tools:
Forms, Evaluations, Glossary, Matrices, Layouts, Templates, Reports, Wizards.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Academic Commons

This great website is sponsored by Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College in the United States.

Academic Commons mission: With Academic Commons, we seek to form a community of faculty, academic technologists, librarians, administrators, and other academic professionals who will help create a comprehensive web resource focused on liberal arts education. Academic Commons aims to share knowledge, develop collaborations, and evaluate and disseminate digital tools and innovative practices for teaching and learning with technology. If successful, this site will advance opportunities for collaborative design, open development, and rigorous peer critique of such resources.

The site is packed full of information and academic papers on teaching and technology.