I installed two new extensions today.

The first was for Firefox.  CoolPreviews is an extension from the folks at Cooliris.  I’ve been using Cooliris for photos for a while and trusted the source.  You see, I was trying to solve a productivity issue.

Here’s the sticker for me.  I use Hootsuite as my Twitter browser and I follow some absolutely awesome people.  As I’m reading their contributions to my learning so often there will be a link to check out.  I’ve gotten into the following habit to optimize my browsing.  I’ll simply hold down the Command Key and click on the link.  That opens the link in a new tab.  I don’t go to it right away.  Instead, I’ll cue up a bunch of tabs and then attack them all for reading later on.  The problem I’ve run into is that I might waste some time reading a resource or page that I have no real interest in.  Now, time wasted on one page isn’t a big deal but over a period of time, it does add up.

That’s where I was excited when I read about CoolPreviews.  Instead of opening a tab and then loading the page, CoolPreviews works by just hovering your mouse over the link.  A window, ala picture in picture on a television, pops up so that you can preview the page before actually opening the tab and loading it.  It seems like a big jump in productivity for me.  Lifehacker and Cnet seemed to think so with their comments on the CoolPreviews page.  "Best extension ever?  Quite Possibly."  Sounds like an order to me.

I figure that if it’s that good on Firefox, it will be good on Google Chrome as well.  Unfortunately, it’s only a Firefox extension at this time.  No problem – I’ll go to the Chrome Store and see if I can find something similar.

It turns out that has a Chrome extension with a similar name – Cool Previews.  I add it, very pleased with myself.  I’m thinking about how much more productive I’m going to be.  I try them on my own blog (see the image above) and they work as promised.  I’m really excited.

On to Hootsuite. 

Cool Previews on Chrome didn’t want to work.  While it worked with regular webpages, the links in Hootsuite didn’t respond.  I was sad!  I flip over to Firefox.  CoolPreviews works as advertised there.  As I look, I notice that it offers an increase in speed by pinning the preview window for me instead of opening it new each time.  That looks like a nice idea.  I’ll probably check it out.

So, with this little experiment, I’m 1 for 2.  Unless I’m missing something with Cool Previews.  If I am, I’d really appreciate someone setting me on the right direction with it.

Powered by Qumana

OTR Links 02/28/2013

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

The Wisdom of @knolinfos

Yesterday, I read about Quozio.  It’s a free online utility that lets you take a quotation and put it into an attractive display.  That display is in .jpg format which makes it perfect for downloading and using in any of the million places that you would use a quote.

Website, wiki, email, profile, presentation, Facebook update, you name it – anywhere you would post a quote, you could post it attractively with Quozio.

I tried a few Dougisms and that just wasn’t cutting it but I got the sense of what the program was capable of doing and how simple it is to do it.

I was skimming my timeline on Twitter and @knolinfos shared a really nice quote.  I though, “Aha!”  Here’s something worth sharing to show how simple Quozio is to use.

Off I went.  The interface is dead simple.


Filling the form was as simple as entering the two boxes above.  Thanks again to whoever taught me how to copy and paste.

The toughest thing is to choose the background for your quote.


Make your choice – I’ve always liked rippling water – and you’re good to go.


I’ll bookmark this resource for later use.  You can always use a way to spice up quotations.

And, thanks, Gust for the quote.  Quozio displays it nicely.


OTR Links 02/27/2013

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

Registration and Housing Now Open for CSTA’s Annual Conference

July 15 & 16, 2013 Boston Marriott Quincy, Quincy, Massachusetts

July 15: Hands-on Workshops
July 16: Keynotes and Breakouts

You are cordially invited to attend the 2013 CSTA Annual Conference (formerly known as the Computer Science & Information Technology (CS&IT) Conference). This year’s conference will be held at the Boston Marriott Quincy, just outside of Boston in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The CSTA annual conference is a professional development opportunity for computer science and information technology teachers who need practical, classroom-focused information to help them prepare their students for the future.

Learning and Networking Opportunities:
Take advantage of this opportunity for relevant professional development!
· Explore issues and trends relating directly to your classroom
· Network with top professionals from across the country and around the world
· Interact with other teachers to gain new perspectives on shared challenges

Some of this year’s session topics include:
· AP Computer Science
· CSTA’s K-12 Computer Science Standards
· Equity & Diversity
· Mobile Applications
· Robotics

Act now to register for the 2013 CSTA Annual Conference at:

Pre-registration is required and will be accepted for the first 300 teachers. The registration deadline is June 16, 2013. Also, please note that you must complete the payment portion of the online form in order to be fully registered for the conference!

Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, the registration fee of $60 (+$60 per workshop) includes lunches, resource materials, and closing session raffle.

Please note that all workshops are “bring your own laptop” and that registration is limited to 30-40 participants, so be sure to register early to get your workshop choice. Workshop registrations are non-transferable and it will not be possible to change workshops onsite. Registration and workshop fees are non-refundable.

The 2013 CSTA Annual Conference is made possible by the generous support of Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Oracle, and the Anita Borg Institute.

Please join us for this exciting event!

Dave Reed
CSTA Annual Conference Program Chair

Powered by Qumana

Write Your Own eTextbook…

…in fact, you may already be doing most of this.

Recently, I had a conversation with a computer science teacher who was bemoaning the fact that there just wasn’t a perfect textbook for her course.  I don’t think that’s unusual.

I never found a computer science textbook that I wanted to use.  The examples in the ones that I looked at were different from the ones that I would use and the exercises often were too simple to reinforce the concepts that I wanted.  Plus, it’s also nice to have a bank of extra problems to pull out as needed – for review, extra practice, ideas for students, and so much more.

Any computer science teacher that I’ve ever met is the ultimate curator.  Filing cabinets just chock full of problems gathered from here and there; I was always a sucker for online programming competitions.  They are always a wonderful source of problems for class solution or for student problems.  Most are now available on the web and moving to a digital storage is only a click away.

Back to my discussion.  She was proud to indicate two things…first, the students were allowed to bring their own devices to classroom which had changed the way that she used computers – no more waiting for the “master image” to have the language and editors that she wanted.  Secondly, she had moved all of her notes and examples to a WordPress blog.  It was a private self-hosted blog and was just perfect for her purposes.  The students could access the current lesson or problem by visiting the blog.  She had learned quickly enough to have a few lessons published in advance so that there always was something ready.  She was using the comments to a post section as a way for students to ask questions or get clarification when students weren’t in class.

It seemed like a perfect scenario with just one gotcha that was looming for a couple of students.  They didn’t have internet access at home.  It was not a huge problem provided the student remember to go to the blog and grab the topic while at school.  She was considering moving her resources to any of the eBook editing programs that are available but was shuddering to think of the work involved.

As we talked, I remembered BlogBooker.  I’ve written about it a few times on this blog.  Do a search or just read this one post.

Long story short, BlogBooker takes your blog and makes it into a PDF file.  That file, then, can be repurposed for any use that you might have for it including distributing copies to your students.  Why not turn your blog into an eTextbook?  BlogBooker has a great selection of options for formatting…

It sounds just like the sort of thing that any editing process would include.  Since the resulting document is a PDF file, images are embedded nicely, and links you make reference to are live!  If you’d been allowing Comments with one class, you could include them or go ahead an exclude them so the textbook is all you!  There’s nothing more universally assessible by devices than PDF.  And, if you need to revise the text book for subsequent years, you already have all your blogging experience at hand to make the changes.

BookBlogger is the perfect tool for saving a year’s worth of blog posts … those posts could your next best textbook!

Powered by Qumana

OTR Links 02/26/2013

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