Getting Ready for April 1

On the heels on Easter Eggs, we have an April Fools’ Day this week.

Wired posts some computer pranks for Nerds at:

What to do, What to do.

Looking for the perfect prank.

Any ideas?

Just be careful not to take anything you read on the internet too seriously on April 1.

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A Self Documenting Society

When I reflect upon some of the major events and achievements in my own life, they really are remembered fondly. The large majority of them are just really good memories. The really major ones are captured on camera and filed away in photo albums on shelves in the family room. Some are even easy to find because they have year labels on the album spine. If you pull some of the pictures from the album and turn them over, there’s even some descriptions about the event and the people written on it. However, the majority of life experiences are filed away in grey matter and I’m sure that some of the monumental events are a tad over exaggerated but that’s OK, it’s just my mind.

I was reading the Globe and Mail about the incident between the Quebec Remparts and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and the punishments that were handed out to the participants. Of course, the family Roy with father and son involvement makes for great news material. Watching QMJHL hockey isn’t something that I do regularly. In fact, I don’t recall ever watching QMJHL. Being bored, my mind says “Hey, I’ll bet someone posted the incident to YouTube.” A quick search and I find a capture of a Sportsnet broadcast where the incident is recorded. Not only do I find that video, but a number of others. While at the YouTube site, I figure I might as well check out the 197 foot goal scored against the Maple Leafs. (I’m a Canadiens fan so this is really entertaining…) Both videos were very easy to find with a few search terms. No spine labels to wade my way through.

In my mind, it was the television show COPS that really brought to the forefront the notion that we have the ability and the technology to capture life as it happens. Unstaged, poorly lit, bouncing video, but documenting events nonetheless. You don’t need a stage, lighting, perfect sound and video reproduction. It’s the event that was important.

For a few dollars, with a telephone or a camera, anyone can document events or your own history. Because it’s digital and unlike the printed photographs of the old SLR camera, the only limitation to creating these documented events is the storage capacity of your device. I think back to opportunities lost for documenting my own history. I remember dressing up as a horse to pull a wagon for charity, square dancing in physical education class, getting success with writing a payroll program in Fortran and getting it to work, falling through while ice fishing, and so on. Had I had cheap and easily accessible technology, I could have recorded it and shared it with you in this post. Sadly, I can’t.

Today’s student can. Kid friendly digital cameras are now cheaper than the costs of processing a roll of film in the good ol’ days. Posting and sharing images and video is so easy when you’re connected, and we know and sometimes fear just how connected our students are.

Unlike the family photo album, this is history on demand. It’s an easy vision to see a student or group of students working on a project, posting it and submitting only a URL to fulfill a curriculum requirement. In many cases, this can’t be done. As we move from the real world to the classroom setting, we have barriers to stop this sort of creativity and sharing. We block and protect our internal networks from the evils outside. We can’t minimize these evils. They are real and have no place in the classroom. Right now, just as I could bring in my photo album, students can bring in a memory key or a CD-ROM when confronted with this wall.

The challenge to education is to support and educate students as they grow up in this self-documenting society. The technology savvy student isn’t going to have a bookshelf of memory keys to document their personal history. They know that they can post it and share it and keep it forever.

They will have life recorded with colour and audio and others commenting on their work. Participants will be tagged; activities will be annotated.  Not necessarily on the backs either!  Digitally, they don’t have to weed out media for storage reasons. When they graduate school, they could have years of projects and accurate memories to go along with them.

I have my mind.

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When you don’t see the value of Twitter…

I had a conversation with a friend tonight who asked what I saw in Twitter.  Where’s the value?  What do you get from it? 

I’ve got a Twitter account and a couple of friends but don’t get it.”

You’ve got to drop back and take a look at what you’re doing.  Yes, you can find out what your friends and kids are up to.  But, that’s just a superficial use of it.  You need to view Twitter as your own Personal Learning Network.  Imagine a world where you have the ability to read and listen to the best in the field, in a variety of fields.  Only then does it come into focus. 

Surround yourself with a Personal Learning Network of those you acknowledge as experts in the field.  Surround yourself with some great speakers, some news feeds, some weather feeds, and even some folks to give you the latest updates from Formula 1.  Where else would I learn so quickly that Google is up to this:

If you’re bored or don’t see the value, you’re not following enough.

If you’re overwhelmed or reading dupes, you’re following too many.

It’s your Personal Learning Network.  Make it what you need it to be.

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A Day Late

But still fun all the same.

Just when you thought that it was safe to use your computer, delve into the world of Easter Eggs.

Easter Eggs aren’t new.  They’ve been around since programmers thought that it would be cool to throw in a little extra added value to the original software.  A collection of those that are known appears here:

It’s kind of cute when the egg opens a new level or changes the character in a game application.  Cheat codes are very similar.

I think it’s a different thing, though, when an Easter Egg is hidden in a productivity program.  Wouldn’t it be nicer if the same effort went into making the program error free?

When you visit, check out the background about why Easter Eggs are included in software.  Interesting reading.

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