Life Long Learning in Action

Friday, November 30, 2007

Blogs in Plain English- Common Craft's New Video

Common Craft just put up a new short 3 minute video on blogging. I love their simplistic and friendly approach. Something like this video, as well as other productions from the crew, are fantastic for sharing with fellow staff members who are curious what a "wiki" is, what "RSS" is, or what "social bookmarking" is. Great stuff!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Instructify- a new fave of mine.

I found a great blog a few weeks back called Instructify. A nice stop for an elementary teacher like myself looking for internet resources.




I enjoy the new suggested resources and their take on sharing them. Here is a snippet from their "About" page.

The Instructify philosophy–Teach smarter, not harder.

Instructify is where teachers can stock their toolboxes with practical, time-saving classroom ideas and cutting edge methods of instruction. It’s where to find useful, free technology to utilize in the classroom. And it’s a fun place to spend your planning period.

Instructify is also a verb. To Instructify means to find new ways to present the same old content. Or MacGyvering anything from software to Post-it notes into something you can teach with. It also works great as a command. As in, “Don’t just teach, Instructify!

Through Instructify I have found many great resources. Just the other day I was able to use some of the ideas from EEK: Environmental Education for Kids with my third graders.



Leopard Update + Little Necessities for Mac Switchers



Leopard finally arrived after I sent my "Up-to-Date" form in 3 weeks ago. The Up To Date program is Apple's way of letting the people who purchased their Macs, a few weeks before the Leopard release, receive a copy for only the cost of shipping.

I really should not complain about the time for shipping considering it only cost me 9 bucks.

Regardless I made my purchase specifically before the release because I wanted to make sure that if anything went fishy with Leopard that I would at least still have a copy of Tiger. 2 weeks later...and many positive reports (the negatives seeming to come from people running Leopard on older machines or complaining about silly appearance issues) I decided to take the plunge and install last night.

I was scared.

There were plenty of clunking noises, periods of time when nothing happened, but magically after an hour and a half the machine was restarting and I was officially in the land of Leopard. I immediately started clicking around on all of my applications anticipating problems only to find that everything worked. I switched over to cover flow in the finder and zipped through picture files and pdf's and with the click of the space bar I was able to see larger versions. This is much better than having to start the application in order to see the file. The videos and audio files played nicely as well. All in all I know that I am not sharing anything earth shattering, but it worked for me and that is something I can not say about Vista on our other laptop.

Overall Impression= Quite pleased.

As far as the "switcher" tip. From what I understand the term switcher refers to those who make a switch from one OS to another OS. One feature I was extremely use to using on a PC is ye olde right click. Now I know that a regular mouse with right click works on the Mac, and I know that when you hold down Cmd and hit the trackpad bar that works too. With a little digging I discovered the need to go into the the System Preferences windows and play with the settings. Posted below is an image of my little discovery (something I am sure all Mac users will giggle at me for, but I was pretty darn happy when I found it).



Now with a little double touch (two finger tip tap) of the track pad I have myself the the right click functionality I was so use to on the PC. Let me just say that I am officially full of glee. Little discoveries like these make my day and little frustrations like these can certainly turn someone off to something that they are not familiar with. I hope my tip helps mac "newbs" like myself.

One little thing I like about Leopard that not many people are talking about....

The Apple at the top. It is a new sleek black.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I have been bit...by a Mac

Well after a two month hiatus from blogging I would like to get back into the swing of things. Sometimes it is hard to not just sit back and absorb the ideas and ponderings of other bloggers and writers. Certainly over the summer I was much better able to keep up with all my RSS reading, but so far this school year I have been slacking. The new house, a rambunctious son, plus doing all I can to support my wife while she chisels away on her thesis has really kept me away from posting more.

Excuses aside. No room for those!

So as I put in the title, we bought our first Mac 2 weeks ago.

The past few months have been brutal with Vista and the more I read about Macs, and all the cool programs, the more we were influenced to take the plunge.

So here are my top 5 favorite Mac apps so far....

1) Quicksilver- it is a free download but is an essential for me for navigating and finding things quickly with only a few keystrokes.


2) Garageband- it just rocks. I plan on producing some podcasts with my students. Already we made an intro. song for some sort of soon to be planned production.



3) NeoOffice- I do not like the Word program for Mac and I am not willing to spend 150 bucks for it. NeoOffice is basically Open Office for Mac. It works beautifully and does everything I need it to do.



4) iWork 08- Keynote has some spiffy features and is a fresh alternative to the drab features of Power Point. Now I just need to find the time to actually create a useful presentation!



5) Skitch- Thanks to John Pederson for the invite. I use this program every single day, regardless if I am publishing to the web. Very easy, quick, and free!



I am still waiting for my copy of Leopard to arrive and I am unsure if I will go ahead with an install right away. I had heard that some programs were not ready for it yet. I am impressed with what I see though!

Two links that certainly helped me find some tools for the Mac, as well as guidance into what freeware was out there....

http://wesley.jot.com/WikiHome/macapps


and

http://web.mac.com/simon_elliott/simon_elliott%40mac.com/Software.html



Also I am slowly building eledtech.com using iWeb, FTP'ing the site folder with Cyberduck to my own web host. I have a Moodle installed on it but I need the time to play around... I wish the day was 36 hours.

How about a picture from the new place, using Skitch.