Showing posts from February, 2008

Glow Mentor Training

Today I had my first day of training as a Glow mentor.  I've seen the portal before, but things have progressed over the last few months and it was useful to see what is possible now. RSS feeds and widgets can now be inserted easily into pages, which is very cool. My job over the next wee while will be to educate other teachers (and pupils?) about Glow, and to lead by example in putting it to effective use in the learning and teaching process.  Whilst this is a daunting prospect, I'm looking forward to taking on such a positive role - it's all too easy to slip into the usual teacherly pass-time of moaning and criticising!

Function Fun

I started the functions topic with my S4 credit class on Friday (crazy that we leave it 'til now to formally introduce the notion of a function) and I came across this web comic today.  Kismet. I wonder if any of the class will be able to follow the explanation?

The Irresistible Allure of Print

I was in Sounds Instrumental this afternoon, which is always a pleasure.  I was ostensibly there to buy a tuner for my mandolin, but took the opportunity to try out a Bouzouki (need longer fingers!) and browse through the music books. This collection of Scottish tunes caught my eye: There is really no need for me to buy this book.  One website alone - - has more tunes than I could ever learn, and probably has many of the tunes in this book, but that doesn't stop me wanting it!  It feels great, and the pages of musical score look fabulous.  I didn't buy it, but as I type this I'm beginning to regret it. (I have hotlinked to the image on the Highland Music Trust site, which is in general a bad thing to do, but I'm guessing they'll forgive me since I'm giving their beautiful book a free plug). 

Another Tune

I wasn't really meaning to write a new tune, and you might argue that it stretches the imagination to describe this as "new", but here's a wee ditty that came to me today. I can just picture the Morris dancers clashing sticks to this :) maypole midi

My first hornpipe

As promised long ago, here are the midi file and score for a wee hornpipe I wrote before christmas.  To be honest, I'm not sure if it sounds better as a hornpipe or played straight like a reel.  Either way, hope you enjoy it :) My first hornpipe midi file

Running Windows Software on Eee PC using Wine

If you really need to run a bit of windows software, then sometimes a nifty project called WINE can come to the rescue.  WINE allows Windows software to run on a Linux operating system.  It doesn't always work, and obviously space is limited on the Eee PC's memory, but it can be done.  Here's a screenshot of Graph (GPL Software, in case the IT boys were wondering) running using WINE:

The Beauty of Linux

I've been using Linux since 2002, and am absolutely convinced of the enormous potential of Linux and open source software to provide high quality, low cost, easily maintained solutions for education. But when I talk to people, I often find that they have very little knowledge about Linux, beyond the fact that it's free! To put that right, here's a 2 minute guide to Linux. It's woefully incomplete and overly simplified, but will hopefully help you understand why I'm so enthusiastic. The Gnu Public License Linux, and most of the software running on Linux are distributed under the GPL . This license guarantees: the freedom to use the software for any purpose, the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors, the freedom to change the software to suit your needs, and the freedom to share the changes you make. In effect this means that Linux is free as in "free beer", and free as in "free speech" (the French would say it is

Doings maths on an Eee PC

My feeling is that the Eee PC needs a touch screen to be the perfect 1-1 device. The chat online is that this is coming soon, for very little extra money, so I've been exploring how we migh use it, with the help of my wee Volito graphics tablet. I installed the excellent open source xournal and plugged in the tablet. The Eee recognised the tablet immediately, and I rattled off a quick quadratic equation. Xournal can export to pdf, so you can see that here or just look at the screenshot (click on the screenshot for full size image):

Time for a new FreeMIS release?

I was rather shocked this evening when I realised that the last official release of FreeMIS was in June 2006!  This release has been downloaded over 3000 times, but I have done quite a bit of work on the application since then, so I really ought to put together a  more up-to-date package. It's now officially on my to-do list!  Anyone impatient for the latest code can always download it from the subversion repository :)

Iterative Schemes and Quake 3

Whilst taking a break from a bit of lesson planning (yes, I do plan!) for iterative schemes with my advanced higher maths class, I clicked on SumbleUpon and up came Quake 3’s Fast Inverse Square Root Function .  Most serendipitous!

Tuning the Eee PC for maths

I've been adding some useful maths programs to the Eee PC, and adding icons for them to the Maths/ Learn tab. The scientific calculator is jscicalc, which works exactly like the calculators that pupils use. Maxima and Geogebra should be familiar to you from previous posts of mine.

Time to prepare for 1-1

Playing with the Eee pc has brought home to me the fact that 1-1 (one device per pupil) is coming soon. I don't have to do anything to make it happen. It is inevitable. I have therefore decided to focus my energies on preparing for 1-1. In other words, I am going to be working on lesson plans that assume 1-1 in my classroom, starting with the topics that I'll be teaching on Monday (iterative schemes for Advanced Higher, surds for credit etc). Some time soon, someone is going to ask "where should we start the roll-out of 1-1?" and I want to be so ready that they couldn't possibly choose anywhere else :-) I'll put my work online, cc wiki, but I'll hold off publishing the url until I've got at least a couple of ideas written down. image by venkylinux

Eee PC - credit where credit is due

The Eee PC is a fantastic wee device. Add a touch screen (which is apparently coming soon) and you have a viable means of delivering 1-1. What makes all the difference to the cost point of the device is the fact that you don't have to pay for a copy of Windows xp. That would add something like 20-30% onto the cost. You don't have to pay for Windows because the Eee pc uses Linux. The Eee pc does not shout about its Linux operating system - it just uses it. So I'd like to shout about the hundreds of thousands of hours of work given freely by thousands of developers to create the Linux operating system and the vast range of free software that runs on it. These people have given of their own time without any financial reward simply because they wanted to help to make something useful to humanity, or maybe because it was just an interesting problem to solve. Whatever their motivation, I am immensely grateful to them. Without them we would still be stuck with the duopoly