This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday – Work Day, PD Day, Re-organization Day – wherever you fit!


CELEBRATING 100 EPISODES – E100

One hundred of anything is a pretty amazing milestone.

The EduGals (Rachel Johnson and Katie Attwell) were approaching their own milestone and want to do something different from their regular technology themed podcasts. They reached out to Stephen Hurley and me to interview them and we jumped at the chance to be on their 100th podcast.

What sort of things would someone ask? If you listened to their podcast, you’d know what we decided. If you missed the podcast, you can always listen to it now from their website. Or, if you want a readable summary of things, check out this post.

And, to send them off on a successful second one hundred, what better than Beverley Mahood and Radio 101.


What To Do If Our Classrooms Aren’t Safe

I thought that this post from Marie was particularly timely. Driving by schools these days, you see both students and teachers running maskless. As Marie campaigns, she’s asked what’s a parent to do?

It’s a good question – she takes it and runs with it.

Her background in education comes through loudly and clearly. Definitely, you should start any of this with a conversation with the classroom teachers and the leaders within the school.

There are times when this may not work and Marie provides a series of suggestions that escalate if you’re not getting support.

It really is sad that we’re not officially reporting numbers across the province and Marie has done some of her own research that will make you wonder why more isn’t being done.


Crooked Paths are the Ones that Lead to Enlightenment

So many of us were educated in a different time. So many that are recommending the path to enlightenment come from that different time.

Read Tim’s post and you’ll be thinking that we’re living in a time when it’s not necessarily business as usual.

Ours was a time when there was a clearly defined flow from elementary to secondary to college/university and you just had to follow it to enjoy success.

We’ve long since started talking about the world of work and the value that it has as a destination. We’ve talked about taking a year between secondary school and post-secondary education. In the post, Tim talks about an individual who gives an opinion about that “gap” year.

Tim shares his own path and some of his challenges to get where he is today. I suspect that many of us didn’t follow that fluid path.

Post-secondary education also didn’t require giving up your first borne to be able to afford things like rent, tuition, etc.

It’s a different world out there.


Sick

Talk to any teacher and they’ll tell you that they’ll drag themselves into work rather than go through the process of writing lesson plans for someone else to follow. More often than not, the good intentions don’t come through.

Aviva shares with us a most recent situation of her being sick and still making herself available for an interview. There was no more information about the interview and Stephen and I made an assumption about it.

It turns out that we were wrong and Aviva clued us in via private message afterwards.

It’s an exciting message and I won’t let the cat out of the bag – Aviva will undoubtedly blog about it when she sees fit to talk about it in public.

The bigger question still remains about what to do if you’re sick.


Who Am I?

This was a much different post than usual from Matthew.

He pulls back the curtain and shares some of his personal faith and superstitious activity as a youth who would have loved to have been accepted into a Division 1 school with a football program. I had no idea there were 363 schools!

Given our closeness to the Detroit Media, we get bombarded by University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Notre Dame, and Ohio University media all the time. Matthew had his eye on a couple other Big 10 schools.

Obviously, it’s very personal but also highlights the challenges that a Canadian athlete has being recognized south of the border. I know one of my best friends felt that his path was to shine at Laurier and let that open a path for him.

The big winner in all this is the Ontario Educational system which ended up with a great teacher in Matthew.


Old Fellas New Music Episode 31 Notes

They’re back!

The Old Fellas are back sharing some new music with us via podcast and this post. There’s a nice list of new music to listen to and I’m always appreciative of it. There were some familiar names here.

The list they’re sharing this time is:

  • The Beths – Knees Deep
  • Orville Peck, Shania Twain – Legends Never Die
  • Glorious Sons – Pink Motel
  • Blue Stones – Shakin’ Off the Dust
  • Blue Rodeo – When You Were Wild
  • Crystal Eyes – 2000 years
  • Rosie Tucker – Barbara Ann
  • Sudan Archives – Selfish Soul
  • Cheap Trick – So it Goes

My favourite from the list is this one from Blue Rodeo and it’s kind of cheating because I’ve always been a fan of Blue Rodeo.


We need to deal with data privacy in our classrooms

Writing for University Affairs, I found this so interesting.

When I was on the OSAPAC group, we had the Ministry’s lawyers available to analyse the legal terms and agreements that would come with the licensing of any software title. If we had their approval, it moved the licensing process along.

Today’s classrooms – elementary, secondary, post-secondary – mostly deal with anything but software that’s licensed and installed on their computers. Instead, many great resources are available in a browser and online. As Bonnie notes, and I’m as bad as anyone, not clicking on terms and conditions agreement. I just want to get to the site I’m accessing. I may have just agreed to anything.

These days, I do it on my own computer and I do use an advertising blocker and a cookie auto-delete utility to get a feeling of safety but I’m not naive enough to think that I’m 100% protected.

Data privacy is such an important issue these days and it’s not just in your classroom; it’s everyone’s classroom. Heck, even using your district’s computer system means agreeing to their terms and conditions.

Do we even read that? I hope that she follows this post with more research and recommendations about how this could be addressed province-wide. It’s no small task.


And there we go – another great collection of blog posts. Please take the time to read them all and drop off a comment if you’re so inclined.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • EduGals – @Edugals
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Bonnie Stewart – @bonstewart

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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Standalone applications


I had to smile as I wrote the post about Microsoft Works in the “Whatever happened to …” post.

At the time, it was very powerful and just about everything that I needed in a productivity suite. And, despite it running on MS-DOS and a really slow processor and minimum memory, it was fast. Really fast.

I started to think of other DOS-based applications that were so powerful and added Doom and the Canadian Encyclopedia to the list.

What do they all have in common – yes, they were running on DOS but they were standalone applications.

These days, I have a much more powerful computer, far more RAM than I ever thought that I’d need. I’ve bought into the concept that everything can and should be done in the browser. So, no I wonder. My pinned tabs look like this.

That would be OneTab, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, Google Docs, Instagram and, of course, WordPress.

Not only are they convenient by sitting there just a click away, they’re all protected by extensions that I have here – notably uBlock Origin, Cookie AutoDelete, MalwareBytes, my password manager and a few others.

As I typically do, I’m starting to wonder if I would get better performance if I forego the browser and run these as applications. I already do so for Slack since this browser (Microsoft Edge) doesn’t like Slack. I’ve done my reading and even the most power computers with lots and lots of memory will end up choking a browser.

Periodically, I do use OneTab to collapse all the applications so that they have to reload and, in theory, starting fresher.

I know that dropping the web browser would open me up to a whole lot of alt-tabbing but if it results in better performance it may be worth the experiment.

I may just give it a shot.

A sharing tool


I warn anyone who wants to follow me on social media that I can be a little noisy in the morning from 5:00-6:00. It’s my private time to do some reading. When I read an article that I think might be of interest to others, I’ll do some sharing.

In the beginning, I would go looking for a share tool on the site. There is no standard for doing this sort of thing so it might be at the top, or the bottom, or along one of the sides. Sometimes, finding the link can take almost as long as reading the original article.

A couple of years ago, I found an extension that did the trick nicely. Recently, though, there have been a couple of issues – sometimes it would post the image from a previous article with the current link and other times, it wouldn’t work on Twitter. But the biggest thing and regular readers know that I bounce between browsers was that there was no Firefox version. At the time, I had done some looking around and used AddToAny on Firefox. It works well.

I was thinking this week that it was kind of dumb to have two different utilities to bounce back and forth with and decided to switch to AddToAny on all my browsers. My needs are pretty humble; I share to Twitter, Facebook, and my Flipboard account. That’s a small use compared to all that it supports.

I have it activated on the context menu of the browser so a right click or double-tap brings up the menu and I select and share away.

When your time online is budgeted, finding a tool or a technique to expedite things can be a gold mine. At this point in time, AddToAny is my goto utility for sharing. I like the fact that I’m in total control and no longer have to go looking around for a link on the site I’m visiting.

Could this be the best browser for Macintosh?


I still have a MacBook Pro. According to the “About This Mac”, it’s mid-2012 which makes it about 10 years old. I bought it thinking it might be the last Macintosh I ever owned. So, it came with 8GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive. At one point, I took out that hard drive with all its moving parts and put in a 500GB SSD and it has been running ever since.

Putting the screws back in was a challenge and one kept falling out so there’s a piece of duct tape over each of them. (I couldn’t do just one as it looked bad and who knows if one of the others wants to fall out)

I started web browsing with Safari and hated it. It seemed slow and Apple, in their take on security, isn’t extension friendly. As a result, I installed a bunch of others – Firefox, Opera, Brave, Chrome, Vivaldi and they’ve all done a better job with my workflow.

On one particularly hot day this summer, I was a bit bored and so installed the Microsoft Edge browser. I know that this is heresy for the Apple faithful but I’m not part of that group. I was never a fan of the Internet Explorer browser but Windows 11 users will know that Edge creeps into everything and it’s a pretty good browser. How would it fare on the Macintosh?

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.

I was so wrong.

It’s been running for 2-3 weeks now and it’s the fastest thing that I have on there for browsing. My go-to had always been Firefox but this is so impressive.

First of all, for the geeky me, there is so much configuration that can be done here.

I’m still working my way through things. I got burned a long time ago when I went through and made a whack of changes only to shoot myself in the foot and then had to backtrack to find what I did wrong. So, slow and easy is my motto now.

The functionality is impressive when you bring up the context menu. There are so many options and they run off the screen. Truth be told, this computer doesn’t have a huge screen to begin with and it shows. The best setting is 1280 x 800! I do have the browser set to display content at 90% to try to squeeze in more text and minimize scrolling.

Because the browser is based on the Chromium Project, any extension that I might use from the Edge Store or the Google Play store just works. So, things like uBlock Origin, ClearURL, Grammarly, Diigo, etc. all just work nicely. I really like the Edge-specific things like Collections, the control over Security, and the Tab Management tools. A complete list of features is available here. The new tab feature is terrific. No need for a separate extension.

At this point, it’s the fastest and smoothest browser on this machine. If I had to make any suggestions, it would be to use the space better. There seems to be too much padding used to separate tab icons and extension icons. With the limited space I have on the screen, it is an issue for me. It’s probably not something that someone with a larger screen would even notice.

Overall, I’m really impressed with what was done to make the browser work so nicely and work within the Macintosh environment. I’d be a real fan if they wrote something that would work on a Chromebook.

I’m wondering about other Macintosh users – have you used the Edge browser? What are your thoughts?

One click fixed it


Fortunately, I guess, I was up earlier than normal this morning. I grabbed my MacBook Pro and headed to the rec room to do some reading like I do every morning. Long time readers know that I play browser roulette on my computers to try and stay on top of things.

This week, I’ve been using the Brave browser. I’ve been intrigued with all the good press about how it blocks advertising and protects your privacy online. They’ve also launched their own search engine at: https://search.brave.com/

It’s also Wednesday morning so part of what I’ll be doing is reviewing the notes for the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. Rats. I’ve had difficulties with the Google Document and the Brave browser. It works fine under Windows but on the Macintosh, things get jumbled and centring doesn’t work.

Yuck!

In the back of my mind, I thought that there must be conflicting with the browser and the way that it works with my extensions. So, I tried opening the document in a Private Window with no extensions and the problem followed.

Rats.

It’s got to be some sort of incompatibility with the browser itself…or…maybe…

I had Brave’s Shields up to block advertising and I just happened to notice this.

I’ll take complete responsibility for this. This fine print was probably there all along on the Shields button and I either didn’t click or didn’t notice. Shields said it was blocking on tracker. I toggled to allow that one tracker through and … voila!

I’m passing this along just so I don’t forget about it should I run into an issue in the future and as a quick fix if you’re having the same problem.

I’m still at a loss to explain why sine the blocked item was a link to the Play store.