Life Long Learning in Action

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope: "Google Earth" reversed!

I have used tools such as Celestia and Stellarium before but this one truly looks like I can slide these two to the side. Excitement aside, we will just have to wait and see how it works once it is released and how it can be integrated into a learning environment.

When you visit the TEDTalks website there is a little button on the bottom for downloading the video as a Mp4. I have already popped it into iTunes so I can show some teachers at school today!

TED | Talks | Roy Gould: WorldWide Telescope

"Science educator Roy Gould gives an astonishing sneak preview of Microsoft's new WorldWide Telescope -- a technology that combines feds from satellites and telescopes all over the world and the heavens, and builds a comprehensive view of our universe. (Yes, it's the technology that made Robert Scoble cry.)"

(Via TED Talks.)

So what do you think?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Attention: Moving El/Ed/Tech!

I shall be moving to


Not much of a change in URL but it is a change in RSS. I have been quite partial to Wordpress for a while now and decided over the weekend to do my own Wordpress install on my hosted server. It went great and I would love to start posting exclusively over there.

So for my RSS subscribers please subscribe to the new feed. For the meanwhile I will be cross posting in both locations.

Thank You!

Very Neat Plugin from Flickr for your Wordpress Blog!

I saw this new plugin mentioned by Tim, so I decided to test it out from within my Wordpress account. The installation of the plugin went smooth and once I migrate everything over from Blogger to there I am looking forward to utilizing it! I really love the way it automatically places in the citation. At first I did not like how it only showed 5 pictures at a time, so within the options pane I found that you can increase the number of photos shown as well as change the selection to display the "most interesting" photos first.

All the instructions for using the plugin can be found here.

Wordpress + Flickr + Creative Commons = Awesome New Plugin for Bloggers

"Adding photos to your blog is one of the best ways to enhance your content and attract attention to your writings. The only problem is that finding quality photos to use can be difficult. Bloggers end up going with one of three options: stealing, buying, or using Creative Commons licensed photos. Now, that third option just got easier with the introduction of the Photo Dropper Wordpress plugin. This new plugin searches flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos for you to add to your Wordpress blog.

There are millions of Creative Commons photos in flickr's database, but finding the right one can take time. The new Photo Dropper plugin simplifies the process by adding a panel to the 'Write Post' screen that allows you to search flickr's database for Creative Commons photos.

After entering in your keyword and clicking 'search,' the plugin will return photos from flickr matching your search terms. Underneath each photo are four links. Three links, 'S', 'M', and 'L', allow you to post that size photo into your blog. The fourth link will open the flickr page in a new window, so you can double-check the licensing requirements if necessary.

The photo which is placed into your blog automatically has text appended underneath it that says 'photo credit' and links to the user who is licensing the photo. The small Creative Commons logo precedes the text as well.

Photo Dropper also offers an option for commercial users. In the Options section, they can check the 'commercial' check box to exclude photos whose license contains a non-commercial limitation.

You can download Photo Dropper for free from here."

(Via ReadWriteWeb.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lunar Eclipse This Wednesday!

Image via NASA

I know I will be outside for this. Hopefully it is a clear night!

Full Lunar Eclipse for the Americas on Wednesday
"'It will be the last lunar eclipse until December 2010, and it should be spectacular. Shades of turquoise and red will pour over the moon's surface as it moves into the Earth's shadow around 8:43pm EST. As NASA reports: 'Transiting the shadow's core takes about an hour. The first hints of red appear around 10 pm EST (7 pm PST), heralding a profusion of coppery hues that roll across the Moon's surface enveloping every crater, mountain and moon rock, only to fade away again after 11 pm EST (8 pm PST). No special filter or telescope is required to see this spectacular event. It is a bright and leisurely display visible from cities and countryside alike. While you're watching, be alert for another color: turquoise. Observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise bracketing the red of totality ... The source of the turquoise is ozone.' So, all of you amateur astronomers need to get out there and take pictures. It might be worthwhile sharing them on sites like SpaceWeather or Flickr so that our Asian, European, African, and Australian brethren can witness the sight as well."

(Via Slashdot.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Textbook of the future?

Came across this story today in my RSS feeds. What does this mean for the traditional publishing companies? For right now I do not think they need to worry.

CK-12: Remix and Share Your Own Text Books as FlexBooks

"CK-12 wants to bring open data to school textbooks under the name of FlexBooks. Through the tools on their site they'll let schools, teachers, parents and students can pull articles from different sources . The books will be available to others via the site. The demo that they showed this morning at TOC really wowed the publisher-heavy audience. The non-profit, currently in limited beta, will be launching in August."

"The UI for book creation is simple and attractive (the Engineering Book above was made during the demo). You can search content from CK12, Wikipedia, Wikibooks, and WikiUniversity. The results are articles that can be previewed. Once an article is selected for inclusion in the book it can simply be dragged over to the Table of Contents. At any point in the process the book can be downloaded, viewed as a PDF or saved to CK-12. The internal storage format is DocBook, a format used by book publishers (like us; in fact the tool is very similar in concept to our own Safari U -- just different source materials and pricing)."

(Via O'Reilly Radar.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Great PDF Document Viewer for the Mac: Skim

A trend that I am beginning to see more and more of in the graduate classes that I am taking is the lack of textbook purchases that I am having to make. I think that this is wonderful. There were plenty of textbooks from my undergraduate years that cost a ton, yet were rarely used. In the place of textbooks the professors select journal articles or specific chapters from books that the library scans in using an electronic reserve system. The journal articles are typically accessible through the university library subscription service database (ProQuest, EBSCO, JSTOR, etc.) In the past I would go straight to the campus computer lab and print 20-25 page articles out, one at a time.

Such a waste of paper!

Instead of this I have been doing the best I can to utilize Adobe Reader as a way to read the PDF's and take notes on paper or with a word processor. The new Adobe Reader 8 has some nice highlighting and note taking features. However, with any free software released by a major corporation, it is expected that the consumer pay for more functionality (Adobe Acrobat).

I found a really nice, open source, PDF/Note taker application called Skim.


For a free application there is plenty of functionality. Below is an image I snapped along with some text pointing out the key components of the user interface.

101 Resources.pdf (page 4 of 20).jpg

Even when switching to full screen mode the user still has the ability to use all of the markup tools for commenting and taking notes on the content of the document. There are a few easy to remember keyboard shortcuts which helps the user accomplish the task much smoother. Using it today in full screen mode I had a new discovery when I moved my cursor toward the edge of the screen. The notes window pane and the thumbnail window pane would appear, alternating based upon the side of the screen that I moved the cursor towards. I was pleasantly surprised and I feel that this is great for jumping from page to page, or note to note without ever leaving the fullscreen mode.

Overall I am quite pleased with the application, and it serves my educational reading needs! For the Mac user I would suggest it over using Preview or Adobe.

Oh dear: Logo Mash-ups galore!

Microsoft and Yahoo? Part Deux. Mash-up Imagery.

The Daily Poll_ Should Yahoo Accept Microsoft’s Offer?.jpg
(Via Mashable)

Microhoo? | The Boy Genius Report.jpg
(Via The Boy Genius Report)

Poll_ What do you call a combined Yahoo! and Microsoft? - Engadget.jpg
(Via Engadget)

and this...

You Know, the AOL-Time Warner Merger Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time, Too | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD.jpg

(Via All Things Digital)

Microsoft and Yahoo? An Educator's Perspective.

Flickr Photo Download_ Yahoo! purple Ford Fairlane 500.jpg

Creative Commons Photo Courtesy of

I must say that I was quite surprised this morning to read the news regarding Microsoft's announcement of their 44 Billion dollar bid for Yahoo!. In today's search engine race it is obvious that Google is continuing to climb in the market and clearly is the dominant player. It seems reasonable for Microsoft, who has the cash on hand, to put forth an effort to salvage their own

In many ways the easiest and most habitual action is to reach out to Google for the tools and services that they provide. Google Earth, Google Docs, and GMail are all extremely popular services utilized by educators around the country and the world. I use all of these tools but there are some aspects of, specifically that I really like. The bird's eye view is by far my favorite.

Live Search Maps.jpg

I have utilized the bird's eye view in my classroom during lessons involving locations around our community. Something about the aerial view/hybrid view just does not cut it. In my opinion seeing a side angle of a building or a local landmark is preferable to pixelated views of roofs and tree tops. That opinion can certainly be debated, but based on the response of my third graders they tend to recognize the location much more once I switch over to

I believe this news is a good thing for both Yahoo! and Microsoft as they seek to hold ground, and users, in the web search industry. If anything, I believe that it will create more competition (I hope) which in the end leads to better products for the end users (you and I). Better applications, that are intuitive and stable, can lead to more confidence for the reluctant teacher. Variety can be healthy. Even if in 3-5 years it is Google vs. Microsoft Yahoo! Ask Search.

Now I wonder, if this all goes through...will Yahoo! become Yahoo! Live?
Will Yahoo! drop the "!"?
Simply puzzling...