Never Miss a Formula 1 Race Again


Lately, there’s only been one Formula 1 race in the Eastern Time Zone.  The bulk of the races are in Europe and there is a growing number of races in Asia and then, of course, there’s Australia.

Other than viewing the programming guide, I’ll head over to the Formula 1 website and click on the “Convert To My Local Time” to get the actual starting time of the races.  Confession – I’ll add it to my electronic calendar with a heads-up warning and it works very nicely to make sure that I don’t miss a race live.  Of course, there’s replays but that’s really not the same.

Today, I ran into another wonderful time converter.  We all know (I hope) that you can use Google to convert times in different time zones for you but it’s much more fun to use something else.

If you’re one of them, check out Time Zen.

As with all time zone converters, the actual place you’re looking for may not be available so you have to be close.  In this case, Silverstone isn’t there but Northampton is.  Use the Add/Remove buttons to get the places you need!  The little slider allows you to adjust the times forward and backwards to get just what you want!

Of course, there is an educational use other than the mechanics of Formula 1 racing which is worthwhile in itself.  Suppose you’re doing a real time chat with a classroom from another time zone.  Time Zen has you covered!

That’s probably a better rationale for most people but I am watching qualifying from Silverstone as I write this!

 

OTR Links 06/30/2013


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Hoot Reading


Like many people I suspect, I’m on the search for a good replacement to the Google Reader when it stops operating on Canada Day.  For so long, Google Reader has been my go-to for news reading and I will really miss it.  But it is what it is and we’ll have to change.  I’ve installed Feedly on my computer and I’m actually go to go with that but I got sidetracked.

In my web browser, I have Hootsuite open all the time in a tab.  It may not necessarily be the open tab but it’s there should I have the need to take a look at what’s happening on Twitter.  When I discovered that Hootsuite had made RSS reading available, I had to give it a shot.  My first reaction is very positive.  Rather than having a separate application open for RSS reading, incorporating it into my existing social reading routine makes so much sense.

Here’s how I did it.

First, I had to get my Google Reader data.  It’s a step that everyone should do – you get it by going to Google Takeout and downloading your content.  The nice thing about this is it also lets you take control of your information.  The content comes down as a .zip file which you need to expand.  Inside, you’ll find a few files but the important one for this process is subscriptions.xml.  Got it!

Now, the standard Hootsuite installation doesn’t do the trick.  You need to download the Hootsuite Syndicator.  It’s part of the Hootsuite Hootlet for Google Chrome.  (Try saying that five times)

It installs itself into Hootsuite as an application.  (I already had the Evernote application installed)

Launching the Syndicator for the first time gives you the opportunity to import your subscriptions from your Google Reader.

Or, you could start from scratch/add even more.

Next step is to work with the Subscription Manager to look at your existing subscriptions.

Each blog that you’re monitoring or potentially monitoring has to be selected.  If you have them in groups, add a group or add the individual feeds.  I actually liked this process.  It reminded me of how much I have chosen.  (I did decide to not activate a couple)

And you’re off!  Refresh the column or let Hootsuite do it based upon whatever time interval you have set and the reading resumes…right in your social media browser!

You’ll undoubtedly want to play around with the configuration options to make the installation your own.  What is particularly nice is the age of sharing pops up when you cursor over a story.

Favourite it, share it (Yeah!), mark as read, or mark it to read later.

Clicking an individual story opens a reader…

Story

 

With a hot link to go to the original story in a new tab.  I like this feature.  I don’t tend to sit down and read stories one by one.  I tend to read the title, consider the source, read the snippet and then open the story in a new tab if I want more.  Once I have a bunch of tabs open, only then will I do the complete article reads.

The implementation is quite nice.  There will be critics, I’m sure, that will indicate that it doesn’t have the full set of features previously found in the full blown Google Reader.  Individual users will have to make their own decision but, for me, the fact that it’s just another column in one of my most used applications is really appealing.

OTR Links 06/29/2013


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Yesterday in Ontario MicroBlogging


Normally, on Fridays, I share some of the wonderful Ontario Blogging efforts from the previous week.  I thought I would take a slightly different tact this week.  There have been a lot of “last day(s)” thoughts shared on Twitter on Thursday.  Here’s some of what caught my eye in case you missed them.

I’ve created a Storify of some of them.  I could have kept going and going but I’ll leave that up to you if you wish.

You can follow all of the Ontario Educators on my lists here and here.  It’s so good to see the professionalism of the discussion at the end of a very long and eventful school year.

If you want to be added yourself, visit here and complete the form!

Check out the complete Storify here.

(I think this is a record for the number of heres in a post!)

Storify

 

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Just to finish with a couple of blog references.

 

OTR Links 06/28/2013


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

If I Had A Billion Dollars


I must admit that I was completely intrigued to figure out what a piece of software worth $1B looked like.  So, I downloaded the Waze application to my iPad to check it out.

Simply put, Waze is a mapping, turn by turn travelling, crowd-sourced traffic reporting, geographic discovery utility.  By monitoring crowd reports, the driving public in theory can become smarter about travel, avoiding heavy traffic, bypassing accidents, find local businesses, and so much more.

The concept of layers on maps is one that I think we all have come to take for granted these days.  It almost makes looking at a plain map kind of “blah”.  We want more information to add context to the map.  Unlike a tourist map, Waze applies its layers real time.  The idea of all of these social layers (see below) is very interesting and provides a really engaging look at your drive.

So, I fired it up to check it out.  From my comfy chair here in dougpete labs, where would you expect to find traffic congestion?  Of course, Huron Church Road in Windsor on the way to the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit, Michigan.  After all, the Detroit River International Crossing and the ongoing construction has made travel interesting as of late!

Let’s see what Huron Church looks like during rush hour — you can see that Waze has overlaid the basic map to show a slow traffic of 31mph.  Hmmm.  I need to change the defaults to metric if I’m keeping this!

And, unsurprisingly, it gets slower as you get onto the bridge and head over the Detroit River.

I did find the graphic representation addictive.  Moving around Windsor, that was the only reported slow area at the time that I did some screen captures.  Across the river, in Detroit, things were completely different.  Particularly in the downtown area, things were not moving terribly well!

I then turned my interest to the other layers that were available with Waze.

Things that get in the road of a smooth drive can be crowd sourced – police speed traps, traffic, accidents, etc.  It’s just a matter of selecting which one to check it out.  There was nothing from the police on this side of the border but just north of us…

In addition to the visual layer of traffic slowdowns, they’re also itemized on the traffic screen.  Presumably the passenger could be following this and giving directions to help find an alternative route.  Of course, nobody would use your portable device while driving.

The objects appear on the map to provide information for the route seeker.  If you’ve ever used a standard GPS system, you’ll be well versed with how it’s going to work.  The addition of the wisdom of the crowd adds the value to the product.

The acquistion isn’t going unnoticed.

Crosstown Traffic: Why Google’s $1B Waze Deal Faces U.S. Antitrust Scrutiny

In the meantime, I’m having fun playing around with the product.  Those who are concerned about privacy will need to pay attention to how the data is gathered.  For the classroom, it’s a great place to talk about the collection of big data and what can be done with it.

And, finally, you get a chance to see what a $1B piece of software looks like!

OTR Links 06/27/2013


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Don’t Let The Good Stuff Go Away


This is another “Post From The Past” that is very appropriate given that we’re approaching the end of the school year here in Ontario.  You and/or your students have been blogging all year.  Will you just abandon your efforts?  Or, will you make a copy of it to save, use as an example, email to parents, give to students to keep, or use for any other of a myriad of purposes?

BlogBooker is an awesome service.  It will take the entire contents of your blog (with a little work) and create a PDF file that you can tuck away or otherwise repurpose so that you don’t lose the effort that went into it’s creation.  Here from August 22, 2010 is my post “To do more with your blog“.

Hey, you might even want to turn it into “A Flipping Blog“!

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Yesterday, George Couros asked for a little input through a Twitter message.

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My first reaction what that this might be a step backward in the goal of integrating technology for students.  After all, if you have a blog, why would you want to revert to a newsletter format?  In its simplest format, it could be a paper document that’s sent home to parents.

But then, I started thinking.  There are a lot of reasons why it might be desirable to have a blog in newsletter format.  Some that immediately come to mind are:

  1. Not every parent has internet at home for any of a wide variety of reasons;
  2. The blog might be private with only student access for privacy concerns;
  3. Access to blogs might be blocked at school but the teacher blogs from home;
  4. The principal of the school wishes to have paper generated for whatever reason;
  5. The blog might be part of a project where a culminating document detailing everything is desired;
  6. The blog is reset for a new year or new unit or
  7. You just want a copy of your blog in another format …

Yes, upon further review, I can see where there may be reasons for a blog to be in a different format for a specific use.

I think that the other thing about a solution would be that it needs to be easily re-purposed by a teacher to the differing format.  Typically, blogs have considerable effort in their creation and who has the time for yet another creation?

I then thought about BlogBooker.  I had blogged about its use in the past here.  At that point, I was thinking about using it as a way to create a backup for a blog or a permanent record of thoughts.  I’ve actually used it to create a couple of backups of my entire blog.  It works very easily when I want a book of everything (including the graphics and pictures that I embed in posts) but would it do the trick on a more flexible basis?

The procedure is pretty easy.

  1. Export your blog content from your blog  (it’s in XML format but most people wouldn’t care or need to care about the format);
  2. Upload the content to Blogbooker;
  3. Wait a minute of two;
  4. Download your book in PDF format.

Conceivably that PDF could be filed away for posterity or printed if it absolutely had to be.

But, what about content of a shorter duration?  I never really paid close enough attention when I did the steps above to see if it was customizable.  So, I went through the process and actually paid attention this time.

Now, I use WordPress as my host and so went to my dashboard and the export tool.

image

Well, I’ll be.  There are configuration options!  I can set a start and end date.  In terms of the content, I could choose just the posts or all content.  I’m thinking that just the posts would suit my needs best.  Click on the “Download Export File” button and it’s on my hard drive.  That was easy.  The only limitation that I could see was that the export was done month by month.  Probably not a big issue as the newsletter might well be a monthly one.

Now, it’s over to BlogBooker.

Step one is to let BlogBooker know what type of Blog this comes from.  It supports WordPress, Blogger, and LiveJournal.  That’s a good selection.  Then comes the WOW moment.  There are a huge collection of formatting options for the output.  The preferences are customizable for any purpose.  I elected NOT to use “Footnoted Links” because my blog entries have a great deal of links in them.  If the ultimate goal is to send it to a printer, then you’re not going to want each entry on a separate page, I hope.

image

Give BlogBooker a few moments and voila!  There’s the nicely formatted book in PDF format that you can download or view right in your browser.  I really like the fact that I could customize further the start/finish dates of the publication and the images are intact.  I really like the concept and it was so simple to do.  Plus, the headers and footers put a nice finishing touch on the whole product.

It even includes pumpkin shirts!

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Thanks, George, for the question and the opportunity for me to revisit this very powerful application.  Thanks, also to Aviva and Peter for keeping the conversation going.

 

OTR Links 06/26/2013


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.