Super Simple Timelines

I’m just getting around to writing about this, and I’m probably late to the party as far as this product is concerned, but I’ve discovered a very simple, very effect way to create timelines for websites.

Back in the 1990s Tom Snyder Productions made some of the coolest EdTech software around. One of my favorites was Timeliner. Users could input dates and events, then print out long timelines on fan-fold printer paper with a dot-matrix printer. Along with Print Shop, it was one of my go-to tools for classroom printing.

Timeliner is still around, and has been updated to take advantage of modern technology. I haven’t played with it in ages, so I don’t know what the new version has, and, quite frankly, I no longer need to. I’ve found a much, much better (and free!) product in Northwestern University’s Knight Lab’s Timeline JS. Continue reading “Super Simple Timelines”

Google Image Search

Sometime over the summer, and apparently without enough fanfare for it to ping my sonar, Google announced a new “search by image” service. The idea is that you can either upload an image file, or post a link to an online image, an Google will go out and search either for matches to that image, images that are “visually similar”, or if the image can be identified, links to information about that image. I finally got a few spare minutes to take a look, so I decided to try a few experiments.

Only recently did this new service come to my attention. My fellow Flickr photographer Eric Morris, aka The Rested Traveler, had posted a link on his Facebook page to a blog post where the writer used the image search to see if his images had been used without his permission. Having been the victim of photo theft before, I thought this was a good starting point. Continue reading “Google Image Search”

Google Books Explored

books_logo_lg.png by RndConnections on Aviary

Yesterday Google rocked the eBook world by announcing its entry into the market. Their approach is to host everything in the cloud, and all access would be remote. The upside would be that your books are available on any device. The downside would be that you would have to be constantly connected to read them. There’s supposed to be a download option, but I haven’t read up enough on it. In fact, I’m not going to talk about the new service at all (apart from that brief introductory statement.) I’ll let the rest of the blogosphere do that, and perhaps follow up later. Instead, today I’d like to focus on what Google’s been doing all along with it’s Google Books service.

For whatever reason, I really hadn’t paid much attention to everything that was available in Google Books. It was something I knew about and had used on rare occasion. Lately I’ve been exploring it in depth, and I’m really impressed by all the tools available for research and reading. I’ve hinted at this in the last couple of posts, but this time I’ll take one book and put it through its paces. Continue reading “Google Books Explored”

Bring Your Own Bandwidth

Tethered Android Phone

While in Washington State last week I didn’t have good Internet access. Laura’s mom still uses AOL dial-up. Neighbor Duff offered access to his WiFi, but we were just out of range. So this was the perfect chance to try tethering my laptop to my HTC Android phone. It worked brilliantly!

I had explored several options for phone tethering. The current crop of broadband modems just seemed like an additional expense for something with limited capabilities. I had almost bought the Palm Pre, which can set itself as a WiFi hub, before settling on my HTC Incredible.

I knew I didn’t want to do anything crazy that involved root access to the phone. I needed something fairly simple, so I first tried PDANet. I’d had some success using the free version connecting to my netbook. However, it was very buggy and kept wanting to crash when I tried connecting it to my larger laptop.

I finally settled on EasyTether, and it worked like a charm. The phone connected to the laptop with no problem, and I was even able to access the drive space on the phone over the USB cable – something that I couldn’t do with PDANet. I wound up purchasing the full version of the program for under $10, which gave me access to https and secure sites. With that I was able to check GMail and remotely log into my district’s network to do some simple maintenance.

I’ve read that 3G speeds are nowhere near as fast as cable or DSL speeds. However, the speeds I got over my phone were pretty darn fast. I didn’t try watching lots of video, but I did see a couple of clips, and they played just fine. I also uploaded lots of high resolution images to Flickr, and those went without a hitch fairly quickly. As far as I could see, there was nothing I couldn’t access that I would normally access from my home Internet connection. Continue reading “Bring Your Own Bandwidth”

Google Squared

Google has released two cool new products this week. First, there is a major update to the user interface for Street View.  The transitions between scenes are much smoother, and it reminds me of Microsoft’s Photosynth technology.  One gets the feeling of looking around corners, and actually being immersed in the environment.  For a good example, take a look at Times Square in New York.

As cool as this is, I’m even more excited about the public release of Google Squared, a new search product that creates tables for search results.   I had mourned the demise of Google Notebook, and haven’t really played around with Search Wiki, which is supposed to replace it. This new product is an excellent tool for research and comparison. Continue reading “Google Squared”

Google Web Elements

Google has made it easy to add cool stuff to your website with the release of Web Elements.  Each of these elements have been available for some time now, most with embed codes or API’s readily available.  Web Elements is a collection of eight tools in one easy-to-find place, each with a simple interface and … Continue reading Google Web Elements

Twitter Hits the Mainstream

Twitter certainly has been getting A LOT of press this past week. On Monday, the Daily Show did a segment on it, John Cleese released something on his video blog about it, Daniel Schorr and Scott Simon discussed it on NPR’s Weekend Edition, and there have been at least three articles about it in the editorial pages of the Greenville News. I think the catalyst was when various politicians were spotted Tweeting during President Obama’s recent Congressional address. If Congresscritters could do it, then it must be (A) easy and (B) the thing to do.

As you might imagine, these stories have run the gamut from those who think it’s the absolutely best thing, and everyone MUST start Twittering (Tweeting?) to those that think it’s a complete waste of time. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. Continue reading “Twitter Hits the Mainstream”

21st Century Skills and Employment Reality

Often I’ve written here about my internal conflicts when it comes to use of Internet filters. While I’d love to open up YouTube, the cost in bandwidth and disciplinary problems makes it hard to justify. I may tend to be more liberal than my counterparts in allowing access to the Web, but I also know that filters, however flawed, are necessary, and censorship isn’t the only driving reason for blocking a site.

Recent conversations have shot holes in one argument which presents itself on a regular basis. I have teachers and media specialists tell me that the kids need more access to the web because they need to learn skills for the 21st Century workplace. I would argue that if we REALLY wanted to give them a taste of workplace policies, we’d tighten things down even further.

I’ve spoken to two friends in two different industries – one in research and development and another in a medical-related field. Both said that their Internet access is very tightly controlled. They have NO access to anything that might be construed as non-work-related. Continue reading “21st Century Skills and Employment Reality”

Reflections on Twitter and The Death of Conversation

A synopsis/compilation of recent conversations…

Me: Yesterday several of my friends and I went for a hike in the…

Sibling/Friend: …yeah, I read that in your blog.

Me: For our anniversary we went to Disney and…

Sibling/Friend: …I saw your posts and pictures online.

Me: Um, is there anything new I can tell you?

Sibling/Friend: [silence]

I began to wonder if blogging and social media had, in fact, killed conversation, rather than enhancing it. Continue reading “Reflections on Twitter and The Death of Conversation”