Life Long Learning in Action

Friday, August 31, 2007

iScrybe, Google/Yahoo Tools, and Web Filters

A few days back I received an email invite to join the beta testing for the website iScrybe. I signed up late this spring for the announcement of release. Since I had not heard back from them I moved on and started playing with Google Calendar and Yahoo Calendar. A great feature for any of the new web calendars is the ability to export the calendar file, which I quickly imported to Scrybe. The Scrybe interface is slick, the thoughtpad is a neat feature that reminds me a lot of clipmarks/del.icio.us/yahoo gobbler, and the ability to work offline is much easier, and faster, than using Google Gears.

Here is the promo video from Oct. 2006



I really enjoy viewing, editing, and scrolling through the calendar in flash. I had it running on my laptop, offline, as I was adding events for the first week back. When I got home I logged in via wireless and it automatically sync'd all my work from the day. Simply awesome! I look forward to when we start seeing this functionality in more web services.

Note of frustration. Today I went to download my "beginning of the year" files from Google Docs and the web blocker popped up. I knew I had the files backed up at Yahoo Briefcase, only to find that blocked as well. Last but not least, I found my thumb drive with my last back up. In between the decorating, labeling, and crayon sorting, I was hoping to use Google Docs to put together a collection of creative commons flickr images that I plan on using for a bulletin board near my classroom library. Luckily Zoho Writer worked for creating a web based document containing the photos. Flickr Storm + Zoho Writer + Color Printer = Success. Now I have some nice scenic, global pictures to hang on my connections board!

Related links...(I think I will keep doing this related link sharing!)

Creative Commons Video- Wanna Work Together
Creative Commons Comic Book- Check out the Flash Animation Version!
Yahoo Creative Commons Search
Flickr Postcard Viewer
Zoho

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  • Question for everyone--pass the word, please comment!
Does anyone know of a place where I can host SWF files? I have a screencast I made, using Jing Project, for the Yahoo Gobbler. I have it hosted at Screencast.com on one of their free accounts, which has limited bandwidth. I am afraid that once 20 people watch it I will no longer have access to it for the month. I have already used up a quarter of the bandwidth showing it to my colleagues.

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bloglines Beta vs. Google Reader

I feel like such a hypocrite.

Why...because this summer I sang the praises of Bloglines to many of my fellow teachers during one of the professional development courses that I attended. With a little pressure I even helped them set up an account (This I was hesitant about because learning about RSS and Feeds could be a whole day workshop, as compare to a 20 minute set-up). The difficult thing with RSS, Bloglines, or any news aggregator, is that many people have never heard of the nouns contained within this sentence. This is perfectly fine, I too was in their shoes, and now I seek daily to find resources to educate myself on these "web tools" as well as seek ways to better utilize them for gaining knowledge and sharing information.

Back to the hypocrite portion. The day after I shared with everyone how much I loved Bloglines for organizing and collecting incoming blog and news posts, I jumped ship to experiment with Google Reader. I fell in love with Google Reader. What I liked was having the ability to "tag" posts, "share" posts, and "star" posts. When I say posts, I mean new blog and news entries. Overtime I have developed a pretty expansive list of feeds that I follow. Some have posts that I star, in order to find later, some I share (via a neat Google Reader page, and even on the side of this blog) or some I just skim right over. Needless to say, Google Reader became my feed reader of choice.

(Bloglines Mobile dominates Google Reader's Mobile version however. This I shared with Derek Baird at the Yahoo Teachers Workshop, and with John Pederson on his blog.)

A new component to my RSS adventure has arisen. News broke a few days ago spreading the message about Bloglines Beta.

Photo from ReadWrite Web


Then I read this...

There are more features to come, as Beta Bloglines has iterated on - including new options for saving, sending and sharing posts, as well as building link blogs, managing blog rolls, etc. Also coming soon is upgraded developer APIs. One of the more exciting future features from my point of view will be Personalization Preferences, allowing users to edit a feed or settings.

So it seems as if Bloglines is innovating in order to catch up to the competition. Will it gain back my favor? Read/Write Web provides a nice piece on the history of Bloglines...
Then Bloglines got acquired by Ask.com in February 2005 and the innovation ground to a halt. Bloglines did add some search elements in March 2005 and the service showed no signs of slowing its user growth - in May 2005 Bloglines dominated the RSS Reader market. But despite that, the rot had begun to set in. In October 2005 I lamented that Bloglines was no longer innovating. Fletcher left Ask.com in June 2006 and for many more months Bloglines languished, with seemingly little interest within Ask.com to improve the service - despite the regular protests by loyal users such as myself. So many of its early adopter users moved onto something else - in my case Google Reader, which was innovating in a big way during 2006.
My experimentations are fresh since Bloglines Beta has just come out. My opinion so far is..."WOW". Pretty lame description, for which I apologize. Only a few of the features promised are built into the current release. This comes from the Beta information page.

"Bloglines Beta is opening now with basic functionality and we will add features regularly over time until it reaches full functionality. Upcoming releases will be grouped along the following key activities.

  • Mobile – Bloglines on the cell phone.
  • Actions and activities involving a post – Save, Send, Share.
  • Personalization Preferences – Edit a Feed or Settings.
  • Creation of Disposable Email Addresses.
  • Upgraded Developer APIs.
  • Creation of a Link-Blog."
Once these are integrated I should be able to provide a better review. So far I love how it pulls in a lot of the AJAX (the super cool ability to drag and drop content around a webpage) functionality that I like about Netvibes, Pageflakes, Protopage, and the Yahoo Gobbler. With news of Bloglines releasing a new Beta service, and Yahoo Mail dropping its Beta label, I have had a super tech week.

Here are some links which help describe some of the tech. things mentioned in this blog entry.

Google Reader Introduction Screencast

100 Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators
RSS in Plain English
Bloglines Beta Video
How to get started with Google Reader
Using RSS Feeds Video from Teachertube
New Tools or the 21st Century from Jakesonline.org

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Zoho Writer using Google Gears!

This morning Zoho announced that their writer service will start providing users the ability to access their online writer files offline! I have used Google Gears for viewing my Google Reader feeds offline, and I am very excited about Zoho moving towards using Google Gears with the rest of their applications.

"We are taking our first steps towards offering Zoho Writer offline. With this update, you’ll now be able to access all your documents offline (Mac or PC) in read-only mode. We will offer offline editing capabilities in the coming weeks."- Zoho Blog

The ironic part of this story is how Zoho, a competitor/threat to the Google Documents service, is using Google open source technology to power their newest feature. I am pleased by Zoho's recognition of Google's efforts towards providing offline content. The question is now, how long till Google uses Google Gears with their Documents service?




Since the video is so tiny, you can view the screencast here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Social Bookmarking in Plain English

I posted a few days back a video produced by the same team that describes RSS. Enjoy this new one on social bookmarking!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Evolution of the Smartboard

Could something like this come into our classrooms in 20 years? 10 years? What do you think?