You Can Get There But Where Is There?


I had a lunch date with a beautiful young lady who works at the University of Windsor.  I was told to pick her up at the roundabout at 12:00.

No problem, I thought, I’ll be there.

Then I started to think … there’s no roundabout at the University.

No problem.  I’m tech savvy.  I’ll just look it up on Google Maps.

I looked in and around and confirmed that there was nothing circular looking. 

So, I asked my wife about it? 

Oh yes, it’s on Sunset. 

Me – Didn’t the city close it to traffic?  (The University of Windsor is embedded in the city with no real room to grow.  Driving Sunset is like an obstacle course with foot traffic everywhere so I could see the desire to close it off)

Her – Well, they closed most of it and made a roundabout just off University Avenue. 

I looked again.  It’s just straight street.

Well, maybe Google hasn’t updated things.  Fortunately, I’m not a one map wonder.  I know other sources.  I’ll check Bing Maps.  If I find it there, I know Alfred will call the Google/Microsoft wars over.

Nope.  But Bing apparently knows the importance of coffee to higher education with its landmarks.

Now, I’m on a mission.

Yahoo Maps?

OpenStreetMaps?

MapQuest?  You’re the original.  Surely, you won’t fail me.

Now, I’m desperate.  University of Windsor – surely you have an updated map.

Naw, but they’re using Google Maps to power it.

Anyway, on faith, I drove to the location at University and Sunset and, sure enough, there is a drive in to a roundabout.  I guess partial access to Sunset is needed for access to one of the parking lots.

To be fair to all these services, this is a relatively new addition to the campus and I’m sure will be available once they’re updated.

For me, it’s just a reminder that we can’t rely totally on things digital.  Sometimes, you just have to stop and ask for directions.

Happily Browsing


I had a coffee with a friend a couple of weeks ago and he threw out a one-liner that I hadn’t heard for quite a while – “Internet Explorer is the browser that you use to download all other browsers”.  Well, if you’re running Windows, that is…

I think that we all know that it’s not a safe world out there and keeping everything up to date is so important.  Depending upon the type of computer and operating system that you use, updates may be pushed to you automatically and installed.  Or, at the very least, you’ll get a notification when your browser is out of date and that you should update it.  Or, if you’re using Ubuntu, you can have notifications any time anything on your computer needs an update.  (I’m composing this in the Firefox browser and just got a notification that Opera needs to be updated.  Love it.)

If you’re in an environment where your browser is only updated annually or less, you might want to consider doing anything that requires disclosing credit card or other personal information on your own, regularly updated, computer.

How do you know the latest and greatest version of your browser?

Head over to the Browse Happy website.

It’s a portal to good things for web browsing.

If you want to use whatever you’re using to download a new browser, quick links and updated version numbers are there.  It might be a good opportunity to check the “About ….” option of your current browser so see if you are indeed getting all the updates you should.  If not, the prudent computer user will update immediately.  You’ll be safer and you just might find that your browsing experience gets a great deal better.

The five listed are a pretty conservative list of contemporary, popular web browsers.

But, they’re not all there.  Just looking at this computer, I also have Chromium and Vivaldi installed.

Now that Spartan is out as part of the Windows 10 preview, and people are kicking the tires, we’ll have that to add to the list as well later this year.

If you get into a discussion with anyone about web browsers, there are some passionate users for lesser known software.

To fully participate, commit the List of Web Browsers to memory and you’ll be the life of the party.

But, computer savvy person that you are, you will keep your own completely up to date.

One Less Add-on


I really like things that simply life for me and a recent addition to Firefox has done it for me.  And…maybe it make the browser run just a bit faster in the process.

One of the first things that I add to any browser is an add-on to share the story in the current window. 

With the addition, there’s now one less thing to do.  The magic is behind this little button.

Behind the scenes, it hooks into a number of places where you might want to share the current page…

And, of course, down the list to…

…where I already have a number of things in place with each Twitter message.

Once configured, the use of the sharing button is immediate.  Just visit a web resource to be shared and click the button.

Choose your destination and away it goes.

The clickable link, as opposed to the screen capture above is here:  http://www.wired.com/2015/03/gifs-show-constellations-transforming-150000-years/

It’s a small thing, but if it makes things a little quicker and smoother for me, I’m all in!

Pacman Comes to Windsor


Or a town near your browser…

You can always count on Google for a good gag for April Fool’s Day.

Just in time for this year’s big day, swing on over to Google Maps and look for the new button in the bottom left of the screen.

If you’re located in a place with a lot of streets, you’re ready to go.

Or, move the map to somewhere where there are a lot of streets or you just might feel lucky.

Ready … Set … Go!

And you’re off!  Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate the streets and keep them clean of the ghosts!

Just Drumming–At Various Levels


The drummer in my first band used cardboard boxes.  He didn’t have a great deal of money to buy the good stuff but he did have a nice set of drum sticks.  By using cardboard boxes of varying sizes, he was able to put together a nice collection of drums for various sounds.  The others of us in the band had legitimate guitars and we would practice whenever we could.  The nice thing about the boxes was that you could also work on the band’s logo with magic markers.  If you made a mistake, just get another box.

But, we were doomed for failure – what with no jobs, boxes for drums, and going to school for Grade 4 at the time – we really didn’t stand a chance.

Kids today have it so much easier.  With their devices, they don’t have to learn to drum on boxes – they could use the HTML5Drum Machine.

Fire it up and you’ll see how electronics, programming, recording, downloading, music styles all converge into one neat little tool.

drum

It was fun to mess around with and take it for a musical spin.  Plug in a good set of headphones for a better enjoyable experience.

But it gets even better.  In the category of “How did they do that?”, I decided to poke around.  I had the drum machine loaded into Firefox so I right clicked to View Page Source.  Here’s where being able to understand HTML pays off.

The code that’s behind this is actually embedded in a frameset with the real code coming from jamtom.com.

source

My next stop was to head over to that site and, indeed, there was the drum machine. Checking out the page source there gives the story behind the story.  This isn’t for your typical Grade 4 student but it’s interesting reading the code behind genius that makes for such an interesting front end.  It’s certainly far removed from editing out header tags but there’s that secondary school student that will really dig in to just how it works.  Maybe they’ll be inspired to write one of their own?

If only we’d had this technology when we were in Grade 4.  We coulda been somebody.

ZooKazam


This is a “must explore” if you’re interested in animals.  But, it goes further than that.

This application is one of the most amazing applications of Artificial Intelligence on a portable device that I think I’ve seen.  Watch this review.

The application is ZooKazam and available for both Android and iOS.  I think that you know you’re in for something special just visiting their website.  By itself, it takes the concept of the web to the next level.

They call it “magical animals” and the name is so true.  You have to experience it to fully understand.  Words just don’t do justice for a good description of the experience you’re about to enjoy.  Download the app and get started just by pointing your camera at a number of the targets provided on their website.  Then, dig in and you won’t be putting it down any time soon.

Experiences can be recorded and shared.

YouTube is a terrific repository of compositions shared.  Of course, the sharing continues on Twitter.

The application is free to download and the Mammals category is free.  That’s plenty to get your virtual zoo started.

It’s not just the virtual reality, either.  You just know that there will be a hook into education.

IMG_1389

I’m posting this on the weekend so you’ll have lots of time to explore and play!

And, lest you think it’s a Macintosh thing since all the captures seem to be done on that platform, here’s my zebra.

IMG_1388

Hello, there…


In the beginning, there was Skype.  It was great for face to face and audio conversations with others anywhere they could be connected.  Problems evolved over time; it wasn’t available on this platform or incompatible with that platform and every time I would use it, there was the inevitable update.

Then, there were the commercial products.  When I was on the OSAPAC Committee, we evaluated a few (having a whack of fun doing so) and eventually licensing Adobe Connect for the province.  This was really upping the ante since you had so many features that you’d find in formal meetings.  The problem with it was that it did require that you have access to someone who had a licensed version of the software if you wanted a conversation or meeting.  I kind of became the laughing stock of our committee when we moved to online meetings.  At the time, it required a great deal of bandwidth in order to work and send video.  With my incredibly slow internet here, the committee was robbed of my image…

For two years of planning the Bring IT, Together Conference with my co-chair Cyndie, we seemed to live on Google Hangouts.  There was so much planning and so many details that we seemed to be meeting at least once a day to go over details.  Hangouts were a great way of handling things.  There came a time with a browser update (I can’t remember which browser now) that the button needed to give permissions to use the camera and microphone were hidden under another menu bar in the browser.  It was bizarre and no matter where I clicked (or how hard I clicked – Doug has issues…), I couldn’t give the appropriate permission and so was effectively locked out of using Hangouts on that browser.  Fortunately, Google Chrome still worked and so I was good.  Recently, Google has broken Hangouts into its own separate application.  It feels a little kludgey at this point but still works nicely.

Then, with an update to Mozilla Firefox comes conversations right in the browser again!

It’s called Hello and it just works so smoothly as shown in this tutorial on the Mozilla website.

It’s a button that sits up there with your other extensions.  Click it to get started.

Then you need get a unique link to the person you’ll communicate with.  You can see that there are a couple of options for doing this in blue.

Send the invite and wait for them to join the conversation.

So, here in the labs, I’m talking to myself again.  I’m in the host window, lower right, and I’m talking to the wall behind me.

The whole process was very slick and easy.  No software to install and, according to Mozilla, it’s not restricted to Firefox – just any browser that supports WebRTC.

The list needs to be updated – it seems to work well with Vivaldi as well.

But not Internet Explorer…

IESo, why would you be interested in this over the other offerings?  The really nice part is that you don’t need to have a login on a particular service to access the conversation.  Just a working browser and an invitation to a conversation.

Hello!
Join me for a video conversation using Firefox Hello:
You don’t have to download or install anything. Just copy and paste this URL into your browser:
https: //hello.firefox.com/XXXXXXXX
If you want, you can also learn more about Firefox Hello at https://www.firefox.com/hello/
Talk to you soon!

You’ll note that, in the screen capture above, Mozilla has it marked as Beta.  There are some features that others in this class that aren’t there.  Document sharing, back channelling, private conversations come to mind.

For what’s there now, it’s the easiest way to start a conversation without the hoops that other tools have.  This is one to watch.

And, I got some homework for myself.  I spent some time reading and trying to get my head around just what WebRTC is and its potential.  There’s lots on the horizon.