education, technology, and everything else


Posted by Miranda on May 16, 2009

Interesting take on the search engine: spezify still in beta.
Searching for nile monitor +florida (after reading this fascinating article in the New Yorker (print version)


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The new breed of netbooks

Posted by Miranda on April 3, 2009

In today’s NY Times an article on the new netbooks caught my eye. Netbooks of course have become the newest cool tool. However they are still a couple hundred bucks. These, using cellphone chips, are much cheaper than that.

The cellphone-chip makers argue that the ARM-Linux combination is just fine for a computer meant to handle e-mail, Facebook, streaming video from sites like YouTube and Hulu, and Web-based documents.

Freescale, for example, gave free netbooks to a group of 14- to 20-year-olds and watched what happened. “They would use it for Internet access when eating breakfast or on the couch, or bring it to class for taking notes,” said Glen Burchers, the director of consumer products marketing at Freescale.

A lot of people I know are spending a lot of money on laptops when they never use them for anything more than email and Facebook, such overkill.

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Teacher’s Domain

Posted by Miranda on March 25, 2009

I seem to be on the mailing list for eSchool News, which in a idle moment led me to Teacher’s Domain “Digital Media for the Classroom and Professional Development”.

Teachers’ Domain, a library of free digital resources and fee-based professional development courses developed by Boston public television station WGBH, has added a new section called “Inspiring Middle School Literacy: Reading and Writing in Science and History.”

Some good stuff in here, in the environmental section for instance I found Alaska Native Pilots a video on how pilots use native knowledge to predict the weather. Looks like all sorts of good stuff free to download and share with registration.

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caught my eye this morning

Posted by Miranda on March 15, 2009

What caught my eye this morning was this Guide to Most Useful Bookmarklets for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. from the Digital Inspiration Technology Blog.
Readability of course is in there, but also things like :

PrintWhatYouLike – A brilliant bookmarklet that helps you format web pages for printing. You can save changes locally as a PDF file (more ways to reduce printing costs).


Short URL – This is too obvious but still a must-have bookmarklet. It lets you create short URLs for any site using, a service that is far better than TinyURL as it offers real-time click statistics.

Many of these bookmarklets look like things I’ll be using daily

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GoView : screencasting tool

Posted by Miranda on March 11, 2009

Now here’s a tool I’ll be looking at further : GoView. One of our courses is being reorganized for next year and the instructors plan to have a lot of materials online. (That was one of the thoughts behind KUAPress, although really I just wanted to see if I could get it going. I wanted to play!)
This might come in useful for them though. One of the science teachers is using Jing but that only saves in swf, a real drawback.

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Posted by Miranda on March 11, 2009

Adds a Reload button to the footer so you can get links back and adds to the effectiveness, now works on over 90% of pages (they say)

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WordPress MU

Posted by Miranda on March 10, 2009

After attending a WordCamp back in February with a young colleague we both became pretty excited about the idea of setting up our own multi-user WordPress blog site here on campus. (same as Harvard uses, whoop-t-doo!) Or fo that matter.
As of a couple of days ago I finally have it working, although it wasn’t what you’d call exactly “plug and play”. For one thing we can’t spend any money on it and for another we weren’t setting it up on a UNIX box.

I used VMServer (free) to set up a 30 GB virtual server. Installed windows XP Pro SP3 and Symantec Antivirus corporate edition.
Installed Instant Rails to this virtual server. Installation is pretty simple just extract the zipped file to a directory at the root of your server. Start the Instant Rails manager. Mod rewrite was already enabled in Apache but we did have to change the directive and configure the VirtualHost section (Items 2 and 3 in the WordPress MU ReadMe file)
I set up a database using Configure > Database(viaPHPMyAdmin) in the Instant Rails Manager
I then extracted the WordPressMU files to a directory inside the www directory that Instant Rails had set up. I ran the install.php file as directed and all went well until I tried to log in as admin to my shiny new install.
I just kept getting redirected back to the login after entering the password. See:
Too frustrating!
Finally this post:
pointed me in the right direction. I added a line to my Apache configuration, put an entry in the hosts file of the virtual server – for windows XP that is c:\\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts and added two alias entries to my dns server, one for and the other for * (so that new blogs would work on a subdomain)
Then I edited wp-config.php to define the server:
and changed the path of the directory for content (also in wp-config) so that I could store the data on our SAN. Now we are cooking with gas and I hope that students and faculty will soon be using our install and setting up sites to their hearts content. I’d like to see digital portfolios where students could showcase their work for colleges, class sites, discussions using the CommentPress theme, autobiographical sites , newsletters…. How about it? Do you have any ideas how we could use this?


A big Thank You! to Will Norris

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mud season

Posted by Miranda on March 9, 2009

Mud season has arrived overnight – or over day is more like it. We went down the valley to see a matinee on Sunday and by the time we got back home the ruts in my dirt road were axel deep.
My friend and I went out for dinner in my Forester with the high undercarriage and by the time we got back from that it was obvious that his little Subaru wagon wasn’t going to make it out through the morass that was my road. He spent the night on the couch. Below freezing temps overnight firmed the mud up enough that he was able to power out in the early morning.
Mud season is our fifth season here in New England. Fewer and fewer experience it, as the roads get paved. But if you live on a dirt road when the frost comes out of the ground you learn the driving technique rather quickly:
Don’t slow down!

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Google Privacy Blunder Shares Your Docs Without Permission

Posted by Miranda on March 7, 2009

Google Privacy Blunder Shares Your Docs Without Permission.

and this is another reason why I feel iffy about moving to Google for our school email, aside from the hit to our bandwidth sending everyone outside for their email. GMail is quite bandwidth intensive, if the response over my dial-up home connection is any indication (totally frustratingly impossible).

Regardless of what a site’s posted rules and policies are, a technical glitch is all it takes to expose your sensitive data.


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Posted by Miranda on March 7, 2009

The Revenge Of The Readers
This intriguing title in my Netvibes reader yesterday, alerted me to what has got to be one of the best web tools ever: Readability. This is ” a simple tool that makes reading on the web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you are reading”. It’s simple to install you just choose your settings – I’ve chosen e-book (which gives a slightly off-white background and sans-serif font) , medium size and medium margin. You can watch the changes in real-time on the first page of Metamorphasis. Once you’ve chosen your settings drag the bookmarklet to your browser toolbar and this:

becomes this:


Now you’ll notice, in the first screenshot that I already block Flash and advertising and animations – this is because I use Camino which allows you to block all that stuff. But if I’m trying to read a long document, this little bookmarklet will come in awful handy.

I haven’t done extensive testing on browsers and platforms but a PC using friend to whom I sent the link yesterday had this to say:

When I tried to drag it to the short cuts in IE7 it did not work. When I did the same in Firefox, I have a script blocker that got in the way, but I think I have fixed that. Took some fiddling to figure out that I needed to get the settings I wanted and THEN put the shortcut on the toolbar.

What a treat for my ancient eyes!

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