AI fun for the classroom

We read so much about how AI is the future. At times, the things that pop into the news seem so far fetched that it’s easy to write off as the sort of thing that only the truly geeky can appreciate.

Then, something comes along that brings things down to our level – you know the sort of thing that you can experiment with on your own personal computer and get some interesting results. This makes you think that maybe there’s something about this for the future after all!

My preoccupation for the last while has been the Teachable Machine.

The tutorial talks about a three step process – Gather, Train, Export.

Gather is kind of fun sitting here in my computer area all by myself. I’m not sure that I’m ready to do this in front of the family.

Train is at the heart of it all. Once you have gathered enough information, you get the opportunity to see how your model recognizes new things.

Export lets you take the results of your hard work (or seemingly hard work since I was learning more than just working the tutorial) for purposes beyond the tutorials.

I’m not sure that I can claim to be all that more of an expert in this as a result but I sure learned a great deal about this Teachable Machine. The site isn’t one to leave you to fend for yourself. There are tutorials to help along each step.

Not surprisingly, since it’s a “withgoogle” project, there is a great deal of YouTube video to support you. Above and beyond the actual work, there are articles that will let you do some more in depth reading. In particular, the Ethics article was interesting.

If you’re looking for a product to dabble with in your classroom, you need to check this one out.

OTR Links 11/20/2019

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

New .new stuff

I mentioned last week about attending the session delivered by Nicole Batte and Leslie Boerkamp dealing with extensions for Google Chrome. In particular, one extension was of interest to me – Google Docs Quick Create.

It seems like a very powerful extension and I did explore it a bit. The reviews are mixed though. But, the internet can be kind of troll-ish and besides, things are constantly changing and issues will undoubtedly be addressed. The author offers you to fork his code on GitHub so that could help the cause as well.

I didn’t keep the extension though. I’m cognisant of the performance hits that can be taken on your computer and browser with too many extensions or, even worse, too many tabs open.

Besides, I already had that functionality.

I can’t believe that it was over a year ago when I first started playing around with Google’s .new site and functionality. I remember specifically because I was doing a presentation about Hyperdocs. At one point, I had demonstrated to the group how to repurpose a Webquest into a Hyperdoc and I had used the command to create and open a new Google document for that purpose. The crowd gasped.

At least in my mind.

There was actually a pause in the presentation while I had to explain what I had done. Of course, a Google Document wasn’t the only thing that could be created. Sheets and Slides were there as well.

Each could easily be invoked by typing the URL in the address bar. It’s not limited to Google Chrome; it works in any browser since it’s just an address. So, it’s equally as functional in Firefox. Ever in search of something more productive, these things work nicely as a bookmark! So, I had created the three of them and then put them together into a folder on my bookmark bar in all my browsers.

As often happens, I forgot about it until the presentation. Those in attendance were impressed with how easy students could create new documents. It definitely would work for that.

After the presentation, I forgot again until this past weekend when I read this blog post on the Google site.

10 shortcuts made possible by .new

It’s just not the three shortcuts that I’d previously been using. In fact, there are a few more. I took a look through the list. If there’s something that I do repeatedly, it only makes sense to add them to my bookmarks. And I did. My list now looks like…

If you read the article, Google is letting people apply for new .new domains. The good news is that there may be more productivity shortcuts on the way. This is a good thing.

How about a .new to create a WordPress post?

OTR Links 11/19/2019

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

And then the trolls came

Last week’s event with Don Cherry was big news in Canada. Coverage and opinions were everywhere.

I first read about it in a “breaking news” article from the Toronto Star and shared it to Twitter. I was hoping that my connections would respond with more details. I had searched and couldn’t find anything at the time. Details became very clear later in the day.

In the meantime, a principal that I had formerly worked with gave her opinion and used the word “diverse” in the reply. I saw it and it seemed to be consistent with about half of those who were talking about it. The topic was now trending on Twitter.

By this time, I was out doing some work and my phone/watch kept sending me notifications. I didn’t recognize any of them and so just basically ignored them, figuring that I would get caught up later on.

And I did.

It turns out that the trolls had zeroed in on the principal’s message. They were replying to her and because I sent the original message, me. For the most part, the comments were not nice. Actually, they were venomous. Their ire was directed at her use of that one word.

I think we’ve all cutely talked about not posting things that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read. If that was the metric used here, I wouldn’t want to meet their grandmothers.

Upon further investigation, I’m pretty sure that these repliers weren’t legitimate people accounts. I started looking at biographies and noticed what I would have expected. There was very limited detail; the username often included a bunch of random numbers, and a quick peek at their other Twitter messages showed that the messages were not reserved for the two of us.

Bizarrely, none of them claimed to be Canadian. They claimed to be from Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, … The topics weren’t productively talking about hockey or television but rather about racist things. I’m convinced we hadn’t run into a hot nest of Hockey Night in Canada and Coach’s Corner fans.

I started blocking them but I realized that it was probably fruitless. If they wanted to continue with this nonsense, they could easily create another numbered account.

I closed my computer for the evening. (The topic was still trending)

When I awoke the next day, dreading what I might find, there was nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

As quickly as the flurry of messages had arrived, they had stopped. I guess they weren’t really vested in their opinions or a squirrel had run by and they had lost attention.

As we know, the whole thing played out during the week maybe culminating with Ron MacLean last night. It definitely was a hot topic and trending all the same.

Fortunately, I had moved out of the trolls’ gunsights.

OTR Links 11/18/2019

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

My Week Ending 2019-11-17

Here’s a summary of some of the things I learned and published this week.


You can follow my daily readings as they happen here.  Below are a selected few, with commentary, from the past week.

  • I would agree with this completely. The only question I would have is how much overtime is OK and at what point does it become damaging?
  • I like reading stories like this to see where things stack up. The ultimate answer though lies in what your employer or company uses.
  • This big Canadian story this past week was about Don Cherry’s firing from Sportsnet. I read a lot; this was the first story.
  • This is a big case of bad news for Apple. OK, women, you need to stop supporting this company until it gets it right.
  • I feel badly that we didn’t learn the whole story about Alan Turing. Hey, we didn’t even teach the whole story. Probably because we didn’t know the whole story and the version that made textbooks was incomplete.
  • This should make sense to everyone. I can’t believe that it needs to be stated but if it saves a few people who use “1234567890” as their password, I guess it’s worthwhile.
  • This is great news if you’re looking for something new to listen to. Maybe something you haven’t listened to for a while?
  • At Phoenix last year, I shared one of these with a table of people I was having a drink with. They liked the feel, the details that went into design, trying to tear it, and then had to listen to my proud Canadian story.
  • I think we’ve all used the excuse that “when I close my classroom door” to indicate freedom. But, are we really free and left to solely use professional judgement?
  • Following the lead of Firefox, the Opera browser now gives you details about how you’re being tracked.
  • Another way that Google will make itself richer. I wonder how popular these bank accounts will actually be. I like my current bank.
  • I had to smile because I saw myself in all of the parking scenarios. How much longer before it becomes moot with Amazon home delivery?
  • So, here comes the first job action. They’ll be inside though; I won’t have to buy donuts to distribute on my morning dog walk … yet.
  • I’d be willing to bet that the general public has no idea. This article should be presented to everyone. And, maybe local newspapers and television could do some investigative reporting to find out what’s happening locally?

Blog Posts on doug … off the record

My daily contributions to this blog.

#FollowFriday – November 15, 2019

voicEd Radio

My on demand radio page can be found here.  

This week’s show –

Intro song:

Blog posts this week came from:

  • @dr_weston_Phd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @ColleenKR
  • @mme_aston
  • @callmemrmorris

Technology Troubleshooting

Somehow, my iPod had a trip through the new washing machine.

It came out looking pretty clean so I’m happy about that. It wouldn’t turn on which really didn’t come as a surprise. I was going to pitch it but then decided to try to charge it. That didn’t start out well and I probably would have normally unplugged it and threw it away.

But, I got distracted doing something else and came back to the computer about an hour later and the screen said that it was charging. Could this be true? I left it for a while until it said it was fully charged and then unplugged it. Pffft! It went dead.

And yet, if I leave it attached, I can still play music.

So, all is not lost.

Video of the Week

Tucker Carlson had no idea.

Photo of the Week

Every year about this time, we get a full moon that is nicely framed when looking east on Murray Street in Amherstburg. I should have moved a little further to the right.

If you look carefully, you’ll see my walking partner was not impressed with the view.

Thanks for reading. Please join me daily for something new and, hopefully, interesting.


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