A Chromebook simulator


I could have used this when I got my Chromebook.

Now, a computer is a computer is a computer but there are little gotchas with various operating systems that take a bit of getting used to.

Like MacOS not liking the ALT key but uses the Windows/Super key instead for some tasks. Or the difference between a backspace key and a delete key. They’re easily learned once you set yourself on a path to actually learn them.

I suspect that my learning with a new Chromebook was the same as others.

  • what’s that magnifying glass doing on the CAPS LOCK key?
  • how do you CAPS LOCK anyway?
  • is there a files manager?
  • is there a Task Manager?
  • where did all the Function keys go and what do those new symbols mean?

And other things. Of course, they’re all easily found with a simple Google search but they’re all nicely laid out in this Chromebook Simulator.

Work your way though the menu on the left and see the results appear graphically in the main part of the screen. Although I’ve used this Chromebook for a couple of years now, there were still a few new things to learn. In this case, I learned a few more multiple-finger actions.

You might want to tuck this away as an introductory lesson for Chromebooks in your classroom.

Bonus tutorial – Pixel Phone Simulator

Virtual desks


I’ve been a longtime user of virtual desktops on my computers. It’s my way of trying to stay sort of organized and not get confused with what I’m doing. Or at least minimizing that confusion.

Up until now, virtual desktops weren’t available in Chrome OS but a recent release now makes it possible. Here’s how.

Enable it. It’s actually something that you need to make happen before the magic happens. It’s easy enough. By now, you should know that there are many things available in the chrome://flags screen when you type it in your address bar. Search for desks and enable them.

You’ll have to reboot your computer to make it active.

Show windows. I’m not quite sure what this key is actually called. You can use it to take screenshots and also to see all the windows that are open. It’s the key just above the 6 on your keyboard! Press it.

Create a new desk

In the top right, there’s a + New desk option that lets you add a new desk to your computer. A thumbnail of each desktop will appear centred on the screen. Above, you’ll see that I have three desks open.

Choose your desk

Once you have as many desks (up to 4) that you want, select the desk that you want to use and away you go. As you work, subsequent show windows actions will show you up to date thumbnails.

Alternatively, ALT+TAB will let you cycle through desks just like you would normally switch through windows. And, if you have content on one desk that you want on another, just drag and drop it where it’s needed.

Personally, I typically have three desks in operation. Two instances of Chrome – each isolated on a particular task, and an instance of Opera open. Periodically, I’ll open another desk to run another Android option if the urge comes.

Try it yourself


If you’re like me, you probably hear and read a lot about this.  “Chromebooks aren’t real computers”.

I always like to challenge back with a why?

The answers are typical – it doesn’t run Photoshop.  Or, I’m not always connected to the Internet.

So, I’ll add a reply to that – “When was the last time you used Photoshop?”  “Did you buy your current computer just because of Photoshop?” “If you could install a program on your Chromebook and could run it offline, would that change your perspective?”

Now, the misconception of a Chromebook’s capabilities undoubtedly stem back to the beginning when it really was a browser in a box needing an Internet connection.  It’s just that it’s come a long way since then but the Internet never forgets.  Neither do some of the silly people who still maintain that it’s just a browser.

In fact, the whole concept like the Chrome browser and Chromebook has come so far.  And, you’re not limited to just that; modern Chromebooks run Android and some are experimenting with Linux.

And yes, it’s not the product of universal choice in schools.  I’d be up in arms if someone indicated that a Computer Science or Drafting or Visual Arts program would be equally as served.  But, there are so many other areas where the Chromebook does a terrific job.

So terrific, in fact, that we’re now seeing that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows to put computers at the same price point.  That’s going to be interesting.

In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to get yourself up to speed.  To that end, you should check out the Chromebook Simulator in your current system.

chromebook

Even if you are a Chromebook user, there’s always something new to learn.  Maybe a little time in the simulator will change the opinions of some or make others more sophisticated users!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Today is supposed to be the turn around for warmer weather heading into Super Bowl weekend. Let’s hope that’s true. With all the stories about animals left out in the cold and Jaimie’s refusal to wear snow boots, we’re both looking to get out and put together a few thousand steps. According to my watch, we’re down 3 798 from last week.

In the meantime, I’m so happy to share seven amazing, thought provoking blog posts from Ontario Educators. Read on…


A Modern ‘Who Came First’ Debate

There’s no doubt in my mind for the classic debate. The chicken came first.

And, actually, I think that the modern debate has a definitive answer as well. Technology appeared before the Pedagogy to use it. In some cases, it appeared well before we learned how to use it effectively. New technology continues to emerge, on the market well before its use in the classroom has been explored or understood or even asked for.

Tina Zita understands

Modern learning is not about the tool. It is about a set of global competencies that is needed to be successful in an ever changing workforce. I struggle even writing workforce because I think it’s so much more. The global competencies are about us finding our place in our communities and contributing. 

I know that the savvy technology leaders who read this blog will agree wholeheartedly with her observations in the post.

It brings to light a bigger question though. Tina’s district is lucky that they have someone with her skills in place to provide support and leadership for educators trying to keep up. That’s not a slam against teachers; with all that’s happening, it’s the reality.

Is it malpractice for a district to buy more “stuff” – looking at you iPads and Chromebooks and the latest gadget and throwing it into the classroom without a program of professional learning to implement, understand, and sustain effective uses?


Reset?

I thought this post from Jay DuBois was interesting. He’s noting a drop in his blog posting since leaving the classroom for a coaching role.

Blogging is an interesting beast. It can truly be a way to do any type of communication that you wish.

I would suggest and recommend that he actually increase his blogging in his new position.

Why?

  • a personal documentation/diary of activities performed during the job
  • documentation for a performance appraisal (what are you doing?)
  • stay in contact with your education clients when you’re not there
  • post his schedule online
  • take and share pictures/video of exemplary practice that you witness
  • share anecdotes from visits, comments from kids
  • share and comment on your professional reading
  • highlight upcoming professional learning events

The list could go on and on. Obviously, I’m a big fan of blogging; it will be interesting to monitor Jay’s progress and see what “Reset” means to him.


Scratch 3.0 is Here!

Jim Cash is one of those guys who really stays on top of things. A visit to his station at the Minds on Media station at Bring IT, Together is a must. I have fond memories of him having a number of micro:bits on hand and so we were able to program something that I’d always wanted to do but could only visualize since I own only a single micro:bit. We used the wireless connections between them to create a primitive slot machine with a micro:bit controller and a number of other micro:bits displaying the “fruit”. If we’d had enough time, we could have calculated the payouts too.

If you’re at all interested in coding, you know that Scratch has had a major reboot recently. In this post, Jim takes us through what he considers noteworthy changes

  • Nothing that was in 2.0 has been removed in 3.0
  • 12 blocks are new or tweaked
  • Talks about enhancements
    • Extension Library – micro:bit as example
    • HTML5 and Javascript – no more Flash
    • Drawing and Sound Editing

You’ll have to read his post to catch the rest. Jim’s not done though and provides a “wish list” of things that he wants to see in the future.


I Am Right Here

If you believe that learning should be messy, then this post from TheBeastEDU should be right up your alley.

It’s all part of a story about staying in a house at the Bring IT, Together conference but The Beast stopped me at the dining room table.

I have never known a world where the dining room table is not centre of the universe. 

Now, I’ll be honest. I have never, ever lived in a house that had a dining room. We always had a kitchen table and that’s about it. It was the place for meals and we were never allowed to put our stuff on it.

One of the things that my mom always insisted was a desk for me to work at. So, I’ve always had one. It started with my grandmother’s old desk and has replaced by a couple of others over the years. In fact, I’m writing this post at one right now. As you can see, it doesn’t make things any less messy.

Don’t hate me, Andrea. I know where everything is.


R.E.A.L. Leadership


“We should trust in people, I told them, not processes.”

If there’s any takeaway from any discussion about leadership, it’s always about the people. Always, always, always.

You can always change processes…

…and you can always lead people.

What does R.E.A.L. leadership mean to Joel McLean?

  • Resourceful
  • Engaging
  • Aspiring
  • Listens

Of course, he breaks out each of these points in the post.

I wonder if there’s anything missing. I’ve always operated on the premise that the real goal of leadership is to create more leaders


Class Sizes Really Matter

Lots has been said and discussed about the trial balloon from the current government about easing up on class sizes. This includes me.

When it comes from a classroom teacher, it is grounded in their reality and beliefs. I think we’ve all had big class sizes at times. I still can’t believe that I taught a Grade 9 Mathematics class of 37 (you never forget the big numbers) in a room that seats 24. Not everyone had a textbook which further increased the pressure on all.

What I like about reading Paul McGuire’s posts is that he is able to step away from the classroom and look more at the big picture. After all, a principal should be analyzing everything that’s happening in her/his school and making recommendations and decisions going forth to carve out the best school that can be.

This got way more attention than my tweets usually do. I think this is a good thing, there are many educators who are concerned about class size in kindergarten and primary. As a former elementary principal, hard caps in grades 1-3 made a huge difference in the learning environment for children and their teachers.

In today’s reality, it’s often difficult for principals to speak out this way. Fortunately, it doesn’t stop Paul and leads nicely into his voicEd Radio show.


What school and Curling have in common

My story as a curler is certainly different from Jennifer Casa-Todd’s. My experience was as a member of the high school curling team. I don’t even recall what position on the team I was; just that four of us were asked to be on the team because our parents curled. Is that skill even transferable?

I don’t even recall who our Skip was and I certainly don’t recall him being supportive of us growing as team members. For us, it was a couple of days away from classes to practice and then to compete in a bonspiel. If I remember correctly, we played one game before being knocked out – curling wasn’t big in my town because we had to go to a completely different town to even play. But, I got my school Curling badge to count towards my school total.

And, like in Jennifer’s post, I do recall a lot of yelling. When “sweep” was yelled, we really did sweep not like today’s brushing…

And, back to her post – after all, it’s about her and not me! Jennifer shares a story of growing in the sport going from Lead to Second. That is indeed a major change requiring more skills. Jennifer focuses on the takeout and how her Skip is helping her develop this and other new skills. Therein lies the comparison between school and curling.

Yelling for inspiration is required in one and optional in the other.

If curling is new to you, take the two minutes it takes to watch the video and you’ll be up to speed! Two minutes to understand and a lifetime to master.


I hope this little read warms up your Friday morning.

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This post is part of a regular Friday morning routine around here. You can check out all the past posts in the link above.

This post is original on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

and nowhere else.

Gone, gone, gone


This is quite amazing, to say the least.

One of the Photoshop skills that you learn at any workshop is removing the background from a photo. I know that the first time I tried the concept (before I knew anything about Photoshop), I just took an image and brought it into a simple graphics program and used the eraser tool to remove the background. It was timely, required the hands of a surgeon, and there were some pretty dicey moments around the edges.

Typically, you want to take a picture with a person and remove the background so that you can place them in a different setting.

Once I had developed a fairly deep set of Photoshop skills, I was able to do a better job although not quite perfect. There were always those little bits and pieces that you couldn’t quite reach.

So, in search of the perfect tool that would do a better job (and run on a Chromebook), I was intrigued when I found out about https://www.remove.bg/.

The site claims to do one thing and one thing only – remove the background from an image. The claim of doing so using artificial intelligence is also intriguing so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Typically, at moments like this, my test subject is the furry guy you saw on my Christmas post so up to the server Jaimie went…and failed. At this time, the service requires a human subject. Sorry, Jaimie.

As it would happen, we were talking this morning about how cold it was visiting Windsor’s Bright Lights last winter and I had a picture of this ugly guy and his beautiful wife taken there. The remove site will let you upload a picture or it will take a URL to an image. So, I right clicked on a picture I had in Facebook and pasted it into the service. True to its promise, it was less than five seconds later that I got the original and the image without the background.

The job? You can be the judge.


The download image is in PNG format which works everywhere.

I’ve got it bookmarked now for those occasions that I need a tool like this.

This blog post was originally posted at:
https://dougpete.wordpress.com/

If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.