Category Archives: Education

G-cal

Advertisements

Add a website (Infinite Campus) to your Dock

Dragging any url or a website’s address to the Dock will create an icon you can simply click to gain access to that website.  This is particularly useful for adding a link to Infinite Campus to access it with one click.

Laptops coming to high schools?

As you may have heard in Gov. Baldacci’s speech, there looks to be a chance of the laptop program being extended to 7-12. 

http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineHeadlineNews/tabid/968/ctl/ViewItem/mid/2905/ItemId/9652/Default.aspx

Regardless of our feelings on the program and its validity, if this becomes a reality we should be as ready as we can be for this new opportunity. Very little is known at this point and I debated if it was too soon to open it up to discussion. I decided to throw caution to the wind.

I welcome discussions about whether or not the laptop program (MLTI) is a good idea or how it should be changed. For what it is worth, I personally don’t think this is an economically appropriate time to expand the program. However, IF laptops do come to the high school next year IT WILL CHANGE HOW WE TEACH.

I hope to get people thinking now about how this change might impact our school if/when it does happen. To this end, I have posted this message on my blog: https://bstafford.wordpress.com/. If you have a thought, comment or question please post it to the blog. If enough people post comments it may encourage greater discussion on the topic.

Hopes, dreams, fears and nightmares are all welcomed in this discussion. The great potential and potential pitfalls of the laptops must be fleshed out as much as possible if we are to make the best of the situation or at least survive it.

If you’ve read this far, seek professional help. 

 

Mazel Tov!

Darn the Cables! Full Speed Ahead!

Even with the lagging economy some of us will find ourselves in the situation of getting a new TV during the next year.  My wife and I were really quite happy with are old 27 inch tube TV that we had received about 8 years ago as a wedding gift.  I really wanted a new flat screen TV but I could not justify the cost when the one we had worked fine.  Well one day it stopped working fine and we “had” to get a new one.  This  post is not about which TV to get.  It is about the cables that WON’T come with the TV.

The new TV (LCD  or Plasma) come with the standard RCA type inputs but they will also have two other kinds of ports you might not be familiar with.

First is Component…NOT Composite.  Component will have ports that are  blue, green and read.  These are video only.  The standard red, yellow and white ports are video and sound.

The other new port is called HDMI.  This is a single connector that carries video (HD) and sound.  The newer game consoles use these ports.

The bugaboo in all this is the cables are WAY over priced at most big box stores.  Walmart is kind of reasonable but store like Best Buy are practically robbing you.  DON’T BUY THESE CABLES FROM BEST BUY!  They litterally charge $100 for a cable that will cost between $10 and $20 dollars at places like cablesforless.com

If anyone tells you that they $100 cables are worth it because they make the picture look better run away.  Countless researchers have shown the high end cables do no better than the run of the mill affordable ones.

Netbooks…Their Size Matters

Like all things electronic, the size of components continues to shrink.  But at what point can things get too small?  Laptops can suffer from this trend of diminishing returns.  While users want portability they also want power. 

There is a new trend in portable computing.  It is called the Netbook.  So named as its uses are related mostly to Internet related tasks.  This new breed of laptops are very portable and compact.  Computer chip technology has allowed for this machines to have useful power in a small relatively inexpensive package.  While most laptops have screens from 13 inches to 17 inches, Netbooks are in the 7-10 inch range.  This size is not conducive to long term computing tasks but works reasonably well for less intensive tasks.

I was fortunate enough to be given a Netbook to demo and test.  I thought I would give my impressions thus far.

The Netbook I have at this moment is the Acer Aspire One. acer-aspire-one-laptop1 The only specs I’ll give here is that it has an 8.9 inch screen, 160 GB hard drive and 1 GB of ram.  It has 3 USB ports, Ethernet and a VGA port for hooking up with a monitor/projector.  This machine is no speed demon.  But it is not meant to be that.  Most people have more computer in front of them then they need any way.  Really, how much power do you need to to type a letter, surf the web and get email?  This Acer Netbook has enough power to get most jobs done.

My Macbook is really not that big.  At least I thought so until my Acer arrived.  This thing is

Lilly w computer

 seriously portable.  It is the size of a moderate length hardcover book.  It weighs less than 3 pounds and the battery life is in the 5-6 hour range with moderate use.  

My only real complaint is that it runs Windows.  This is not really a concern at all just a preference issue.  Since so much is done through the Web, the operating system a computer uses really should be an after thought.

This computer and others like it have generated a lot of buzz among tech people in the state.  These Netbooks are beginning to look like a viable option for a 1 to 1 program for schools.  At a retail price of about  $380 the prospect of going to a 1 to 1 computing plan even in tough economic times is not too far out of reach.

Anyone wishing to try out the Acer for themselves are welcome to do so.

This may still be the Internet’s best kept secret.  It is Hulu.com.  To explain what Hulu is I’ll explain this problem I had and how Hulu fixed it.  

 

jack-bauerI’m a fan of the TV Series 24.  I got hooked during season 4 and caught up by getting Seasons 1-3 on DVD.  Starting with Season 5 my son was having trouble going to bed and so I would miss the first half of each episode.  That year iTunes helped me out but it cost me $.99 for each episode I missed.   Now there are shall we say less honest ways to find a TV show on the web but not always so easy to do so.  Now that 24 is back after more than a year off (thank you TV writers’ strike) I need to a way to see the episodes, legal and cheap.

 

 

 

picture-6Hulu is a website that offered TV shows, movies, news special events both current and vintage.  There is just too much to list here so it is best to head over there and check it out.

iCal, Mail and Google…The circle of life!

Here is my situation.  I get mails all the time about future dates of events.  I try to be good and add them to my calendar but alas I sometimes fall short.  When I do add events to iCal I then needed to share this through Google Calendars (gCal).  Transferring to gCal was a pain at times.  I tried going from gCal TO iCal but that was just as much a pain.  Yes I know there is software to do this but up until now cost $$$ and I am cheap!  There were some free alternatives but too geeky at times for me.

First big thing.  Updating from Apple Mail.  If you get an email with a date for an event you can simply click on it to add it to iCal.  It can even guess the event title from the subject of the email.

picture-111So two clicks and it is now in your iCal.  But how to get it to your gCal?  Enter Calaboration.  This FREE utility pushes your iCal to Google and from there it can be shared or subscribed to.  For this you need only a free Google Account.