An experiment worth enabling


The Opera browser has had this for a while and it’s been indispensable for me. Typically, I have a few tabs open in my browser. Actually that’s a lie, I have far too many open and then when I start going down rabbit holes, it gets out of hand.

The problem happens when I want to return to a tab that I have open – somewhere. After a while, each tab gets squished so that only the icon of the site remains. Opera has had me covered for a while now. By floating my cursor over each tab, it displays a preview in the middle of my screen.

So, for example, I know that in among all the shared documents, there’s one that I share with Stephen Hurley and guest host for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. I just hover over the document icons until the preview pops up.

I recognize the content and click the tab to resume work on it.

A similar feature is available on Safari for Macintosh in preparation for MacOS 11 and the Vivaldi browser.

In Google Chrome, there was a hover feature but it was limited to the title of the window. No preview of the actual page …

A similar feature wasn’t available in Google Chrome until recently. It’s actually not officially there even now. I was reading about current “experiments” and this one sounded promising.

I enabled it, did the reboot of the browser, and voila! It doesn’t give the huge preview that Opera does but enough to give me an idea of what’s happening.

Now, experiments always come with a warning that things may not work perfectly, you’re doing so at your own risk, and you should undo the setting if you run into problems.

To date, this has been a very good actor for me and I like it. Productive time has increased as I spend less time looking for that elusive tab in my admittedly messy workspace. I suspect that this will be an official feature at some point.

For now, if you’re interested, just go to the chrome://flags/ page and look for

Tab Hover Card Images

enable it, and then reboot your browser.

Of course, the standard message about experiments applies.

If you try this, I’d be interesting in hearing your thoughts.

And of course, even geeky people don’t like new features. Here’s how to turn it off!

Why are we doing this?


It’s a question that every teacher has had to answer way more than once.

Because I told you so

It’s good for you

Both seem logical but they may well have worn thin as those are the answers often given at home as well. Well, at least around here.

It may well be that this question is being asked by parents of students who are doing at least part of their work online. Some, even more than that.

For those using Google products, Google has produced a TechToolKit for parents and made it available here.

In the document, it addresses:

Each of these sections can go a long way toward demystifying all the jargon that can come into play with technology use.

Photo by Niclas Illg on Unsplash

Now, it’s obviously Google-centric and not everyone works in that world or even solely in that world. It seems to me that this is a good model for school districts, schools, or individual teachers to use as they look to further communications between home and school about just what tools are being used to work with students.

There’s even a consolidation at the bottom of the document of a template that could be used in email communication to get the word out.

Does your district or do you communicate clearly in this manner with your parents? Do you have a similar resource to share?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Greetings from my remote location – in my house. If you’ve listened to the voicEd Radio show on Wednesday mornings, you’ll know that I’ve been bumped from Studio A to Studio B because of a bathroom renovation. I’m on a different computer, different network, but I did bring my chair to sit at this relatively small desk. So, I’m good to go but am staring at a wall instead of looking outside on this beautiful Fall day. Here’s my weekly wander around the province looking at Ontario Education blogs.

The voicEd Radio archive of This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcasts is located here.


Teachers Are Still Rocking It-

It’s easy to read about the challenges that Ontario (and everywhere) teachers are having as school buildings re-open in the time of COVID. It’s less easy to find something motivational but Michelle Fenn does in this post on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.

It’s great to read that educators from her district are interested in refining their technology and pedagogy abilities on their own time during the summer and now continuing into the evenings.

She draws a parallel in education to a series that she watched on Netflix about an exploration to Mars and the unexpected things they found. I’ll bet that describes your classroom.

It’s a good read and she mentions something that needs to be repeated and repeated. It doesn’t lessen our opinions of doctors, nurses, firefighters, grocery and other store and service workers but

Every educator is a front line worker, doing their best, making a difference, being brave beyond imagination and truly an inspiration.

I challenge all readers to repeat that on social and other media often.


A Dichotomy of Words

Elizabeth Lyons gives us a lesson in language in this post all tied to education’s current realities. As she notes, “dichotomy” is a word that we don’t use all that often. But, it was the inspiration for this post as she shares what she sees as dichotomies in our current reality.

  • Masks or no masks?
  • Physically distanced students or collapsed classes?
  • 1m vs 2m?
  • Online learning or face-to-face?
  • Hand sanitizer or soap and water?
  • Google Classroom or Brightspace?

Then, she takes off and gives her interpretation of each.

It’s an interesting read and important that it’s from the keyboard of an educator. We see these terms used casually by those in politics and on the evening news. Their true meaning goes much deeper.


“Somewhere the Hurting Must Stop” – Terry Fox

Patti Henderson is an incredible photographer and a valued person that I’ve met through my social connections and I’ve had the chance to meet her in person a couple of times.

I will apologize up front though; I went to her blog and looked at the pictures and was captivated and blown away with what I saw. I’ve mentioned it many times that artists like Patti see things that I miss. Certainly, this sticks out for me in this photo essay.

It wasn’t until I got to the bottom and saw the map that I realize that this wasn’t some sort of random collection of images. She had participated in a Terry Fox run/hike and took pictures along the way. I even thought that she had taken a picture of the set for Kim’s Convenience until I realized that there are thousands of corner stores in this world.

The pictures and her corresponding commentary puts the whole experience into perspective. Thank you, Patti, for doing this.


Body Breaks at Your Desk – for students too!

In a perfect world, there is so much movement in the classroom. Even when students are writing a test or a quiz, you’re up and walking around. This is certainly not a perfect world and people are supposed to sit at desks for the most part of the school day.

Laura Wheeler takes on this notion and lets us know that there are things that can be done to get the blood moving even in the current reality.

In the post, she explains why it’s important to have some movement in the classroom and shares a playlist of activities she’s curated to be done during breaks.

This is yet another example of how educators are seeing puzzle pieces strewn on the classroom floor and are taking the time to put them all back together. Using this metaphor, I think that it’s important to realize that you may have to smack some of those pieces to make them fit at times.


The 500 – #404 – Dr. John’s Gumbo – Dr. John

I really enjoy this series of blog posts from John Hodgkinson as he takes us through a list of great 500 albums. I hadn’t through of Dr. John for a while and when I do, I think naturally about

The song would be so important in our current time and place. If nothing else, turn up the volume and play it loud.

It’s not on this album (Iko Iko is) but there are great tunes nonetheless.

John gives us a description of the influences in Dr. John’s music including the connection to voodoo. It’s an interesting read and, he’s inspired to think about how to greet students in his classroom.

  • Everything is an influence for good or bad. I’ll remind my young charges to be mindful of the world around them and tap into its inspiration.
  • The teen-years are a fertile time for passionate pursuits…pursue your passions.
  • I will continue to foster the academic and artistic pursuits of my students. Unlike Mac’s Jesuit teachers, I’ll never give them an ultimatum.
  • Persevere and Adapt. Challenges are opportunities for greatness in disguise.
  • Quirky, flamboyant, wild and weird are positive descriptions. Be what you are meant to be … Let your freak flags fly!

Some inspirational thoughts here. Could you use them?


Networking in a Pandemic (key to survival)

OK, I love anything that Zoe Branigan-Pipe writes and when I’m in the first sentence of her post, I’m over the top!

My favourite Beauty and the Beast photo from a OSLA Superconference where led the Great OSLA Faceoff

I’m glad that I wrote that reflection post about my experience. In her response, Zoe takes us through her network and the value that it brings to her. I’m impressed with how our networks overlap.

If you’re new to networking or if you’d like to tweak your own network, take an opportunity to “meet” those in her post. You can only get better connected when you include them in yours.

In closing, hi Zoe, you’re not the only one to read your post and we’ll hold you to your promise of blogging at least once a week!


Commiserating With Others Over Their Technology Woes

Finally, back to the Heart and Art blog and a post from Tammy Axt.

This is another photo essay – about teaching this time. Technology works well except when it doesn’t.

Tammy is teaching in a hybrid environment and so is being observed with a couple different set of student lenses and everything just needs to work.

What happens when it doesn’t? It happens for all of us. I can just image the Help Desk at her district when she sends in these images to report problems.


I hope that you will take the time to click through and read these terrific blog posts. There’s great stuff there for all.

Then, make sure you’re following all these people on Twitter.

  • Michelle Fenn – @toadmummy
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Patti Henderson – @GingerPatti
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • John Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This post appears first on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

Whole lotta extensions going on


Not related to this topic but I love this song anyway…

The session “There’s an Extension for That” was given by these ladies at the Bring IT, Together Conference.

I’m a sucker for sessions like these.

I firmly believe that owning a browser is just a starting point. You make it “yours” by customising the look and functionality. It makes no difference whether you’re using Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, or any of the other alternatives. They all browse the web well.

I’m a long time Firefox user and have always thought that you could turn a good experience into a great experience by adding addons that extend the functionality of the browser. I have my favourite collections – devoted to privacy and what I need for functionality.

But, I’m not confident enough that I have the best of the best or that I have them all. I enjoy sessions where people identify what extensions they use and how it makes them productive. I’m not above stealing borrowing a good idea.

That led me to this session, run on Leslie’s laptop, to see what these two presenters felt were important to them. I remember thinking that surely, surely, all of these extensions were loaded on Leslie’s computer just for the sake of the presentation and not that they’re always there!

I like the presentation dynamic that they had. Leslie was seated and operating the computer while Nicole gave us the description of the extension and what they felt was the value for them. The presentation moved along very quickly and if you were taking notes, you might have missed something. Thankfully, they shared their presentation.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1eRxe6lfDs6mKnKtxcHM3bYJTTJ_Jft98JuNG7QcqpYI/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_04

The presentation was done in Chrome but most of the extensions/addons are available for all browsers.

I would encourage you to walk your way through the presentations and see what they’ve identified as their “Best of the best” choices. We can always learn from others. http://bit.ly/BIT19Extensions

The nuclear option


Grinning, at least now.

I wasn’t a few days ago. With the update to Chrome OS 78, I was feeling pretty good about reliability again. Then, I started to read about new features. If they were as good as the Accessibility Option that I had previously blogged about, this could be good.

One new feature, in particular, excited me. It was a setting for “Dark Mode”.

I’m a real fan of dark screen (green screen too but that’s not the point). I find it easier on the eye and hope that it saves on battery life as others have claimed. So, I was ready to check it out. Simply go to the Chrome Flags menu and change a setting.

I’ve seen this warning a million times and a million times I’ve ignored it. I think you know where this is headed, right? I applied the Dark Mode setting and rebooted as suggested.

And everything looked good. I logged in and the browser reloaded. I went to Twitter and it was fine. But then, I had already set it natively to show a Dark Mode. Let’s try something with a White Background.

Aw, Snap!

We know what that means. The browser has crashed that tab. I reloaded to see it partially load and then crash again. It looks like the browser is attempting to load the original page, do some colour shifting, and then reload with the new colours.

I tried to go to the help page.

But I couldn’t. It’s a Google page and so has a nice white background and so crashes.

I did some searching on my phone and found a Reddit page Dark mode on ChromeOS 78 has broken my Chromebook. That post could have been written by me! That, and a couple of other similar pages, revealed the one and only solution. Do a Powerwash on your computer.

So, I tried to do that. Into Settings I went where I new the Powerwash option was. The problem?

It had a white background and wouldn’t load! So, no Powerwash here!

Supposedly, after a Powerwash, the next step is to go to the Terminal and enter a “rollback” command. I was getting desperate so just went to the rollback stage.

The message from Chrome OS sounded hopeful; I guess it either didn’t know that I couldn’t access the Powerwash button or didn’t care. So, I let it do its thing.

I expected to get a fresh Chromebook with no settings and a previous version of the Chrome Operating System.

What I did get kind of surprised me. I got the same Chrome OS version as what caused the problem but it did work. In fact, the customized settings that I had previously set were all gone and I was back to the defaults. Then, came in all the browser settings from my Google account. I did expect that although I probably could have gotten away without all the Android applications being reloaded. But, they came too.

The result? I have a nicely functioning Chromebook restored to Acer’s settings.

You’ve got to love the cloud.

Oh, and Happy Hallowe’en!