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Showing posts from February, 2007

Stikkit

I've been playing with Stikkit recently.  It's a free on-line organiser.  I like the fact that it is smart about interpreting what you type.  If you write " -meet with paul next Tuesday 10am" then it automatically recognises it as a meeting, adds it to the calendar and links it to your contact called "paul".  Neat.

Help! MediaWiki CSS woes!

The scotedublogs.org.uk site now has a wiki incorporated into it. It uses MediaWiki, which was an easy install, but unfortunately I'm having a hard time trying to adapt the look of the Wiki to blend in with the rest of the site. I've got it looking fine in Firefox, Konqueror, Opera and Safari and IE7. IE6 refuses to play ball though. The existing CSS already has a separate IE6 hack file, and I can't work out how to make it fix my new layout (8000px centered) the way it fixed the old one (full screen).

If anyone thinks they might be able to help, please let me know :)

Pre-installed Linux is what Dell customers want

Dell have apparently always claimed that there is "no customer demand" for Linux to be pre-installed on their machines.

It'll be hard for them to claim that now:

http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/19/2212213 

Productivity vs Consumption in Web2.0

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In the bright new world of Web2.0, we are all both consumers and producers. I've been thinking today about how the two relate to each other. Time for a graph:



I'd like to spend all my time on-line in the "head down" and "I'm on fire!" zones - reading blogs, writing posts, posting comments, sending emails, coding cool applications, doing school preparation...

Unfortunately, I seem to spend much more time in the "Web1.0" zone - mindlessly trawling around blogs, my feed reader, checking email, being vaguely inspired but not actually producing anything... and I guess I'm not alone in this.

How do we get the balance right? Without consuming the Web I wouldn't be producing many of the interestingthings that I'm involved with now, but there are times when I feel like I might have produced a whole lot more if I'd just left the computer switched off!

Do you feel like you've got the balance right?

The Web let me down

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We came across this vintage bit of electronics today, whilst doing some early spring cleaning:




This handy intercom works perfectly, and has a cable about 10m long. It's an awesome retro toy, ideal for re-enacting Moneypenny scenes from Bond, or Reggie Perrin moments!

I thought I'd try to find out something about it on the Web, but have drawn a complete blank. I can't even find any reference to "Eagle Products" as purveyors of quality electronic office goods. Most disappointing :(

Blowing the dust off the vinyl

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This afternoon my son convinced me to put together something upon which to play the huge pile of vinyl lurking at the back of the garage. This proved to be a bit trickier than I thought.

First, I took the old Ariston Q Deck record player out of a cupboard, only to find that its power supply was missing. Some more digging produced this ancient power adapter, which did the trick:





Next I needed to deal with the fact that the only amplifier in the house capable of taking input from a record deck was knackered! It only puts out sound to the left speaker. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the headphone socket was still working OK. So I realised that I could take the output from the headphone socket and put it into my travel speakers.



Except that the headphone socket is "big jack" and the cable from the speackers is "mini-jack"! More hunting around by my son came up with the right adaptor, and we were sorted!



Highlights of the afternoon's listening incl…

Praise Junkies?

Tom Hoffman's Google Reader shared items brought me to this NYTimes article. It's important stuff. I'd like to think that we are a bit more cautious about dishing out praise on this side of the pond, but we still seem to spend a lot of time praising achievement rather than effort. This is what the article condemns. Read it, then tell me what you think :)

Fun at the Lecht

On Tuesday Monday we went to the Lecht. The snow was pretty slushy, but we had a laugh building a tiny kicker. Craig and Samantha had a go at snowboarding too - both naturals!

[googlevideo]-1547974743757018687[/googlevideo]

[googlevideo]6014152039544831568[/googlevideo]

[googlevideo]9020457827828116719[/googlevideo]

Aviemore

My son and I are sitting in Cafe Bleu enjoying the free hotspot and waiting for Ellis Brigham to open so we can get some essentials for our day's boarding.  The weather is a bit grey but the road to the Lecht is open!  Can't wait!

What Happened to the FreeMIS Demo?

The account hosting the FreeMIS demo site got hacked just after Christmas, and I stripped out all the sites I was hosting on that account until I worked out where the vulnerability was.  It turned out that the vulnerability was in a old Joomla extension, but I have not yet got around to switching the FreeMIS demo site back on. It's on my list of things to do this weekend :)

Yahoo Pipes

A while ago, I blogged about Dapper - a web tool to create structured, machine readable data from Web sites.  Yahoo have just announced the arrival of Pipes, which allows Joe Average to create new web services by joining together existing feeds, search engine queries etc.  It's very cool, hard to explain in words but easy to see - check out this example, which searches a bunch of different places for stuff about Shrewsbury Council

5 Things I Stopped Believing Long Ago

Please read the title again before proceeding :)This is a list of 5 beliefs I no longer hold. Some of them just turned out not to be true - others I've changed my mind about. Some I'm glad to have shed, others I kind of miss.

Academic achievement is an important measure of a person.

When you do well in exams it's easy to get sucked into this one.

Music would be changed foreverby the release of "To here knows when" by My Bloody Valentine.

I still think it should have been! Here's the video for you to enjoy:
[youtube]EqVa-y4yfX8[/youtube]

Belief in God is irrational - one of my teenage certainties!

Gathering in clubs to dance to repetitive electronic beats would be a passing fad.

Hah! What did I know back in 1990?

The News. Alas.

Any other takers willing to 'fess up?

Google Video and YouTube maths videos

These videos sites have some interesting educational stuff in amongst the copyright clips and shots of people hurting themselves. The first 6 minutes of this clip from Google video would be useful as revision for my S3 credit class:

[googlevideo]-5998167237148731644[/googlevideo]

and this one from YouTube (not viewable in East Lothian schools I'm afraid) is good revision for an S4 general class:

[youtube]AQLGJV6pjRk[/youtube]

There are hundreds if not thousands of these videos.  You could probably put together a complete set of revision clips for every Scottish maths course if you so desired :)

Glow mentors session

Here's the fruits of our labour so far....

<span style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 9px; display: block"> <a style="font-size: 100%" mce_href="http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/118795.cd7b24ca216" xhref="http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/118795.cd7b24ca216">This album</a> is powered by <a style="font-size: 100%" mce_href="http://www.bubbleshare.com" xhref="http://www.bubbleshare.com">BubbleShare</a> - <a style="font-size: 100%" mce_href="http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/118795.cd7b24ca216/share#add_to_blog" xhref="http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/118795.cd7b24ca216/share#add_to_blog">Add to my blog</a> </span></span>

What the DFES report on interactive whiteboards really says

There have been several headlines over the last few days along the lines of "£50 million wasted on iwbs", based on this study from the DFES.

So what does it really say? Unsurprisingly, it does not say that iwbs are a waste of money:
Overall, the statistical analysis failed to find evidence of any impact of the increase in IWB acquisition in London schools on attainment in the three core subjects in the academic year 2004/5. However, given the variation in use documented in the case studies, this is in line with what we would predict at this stage in the policy cycle.
The study is worth reading in its entirety, but if you want my spin on it, I picked up on a couple of key points:

A theme running through the report is that this technology itself will not change what happens in classrooms.
....the introduction of an IWB does not in and of itself transform existing pedagogies. The capacity of IWBs to support, extend or transform existing pedagogies depends upon the teacher's inte…