Watches and Smartphones

My reading this morning featured a number of stories like this “Apple retail chief Ahrendts thinks covert Apple Watch use in the classroom is a good idea“.

I see a couple of sides to this.  First of all, if the facts in the report that this logic is used to sell a product, it’s as despicable as can be.  If this is a good product, it should be marketed on the value that it provides, not as a product to encourage cheating or other less than honourable uses.  You’ll notice that Android watches weren’t included in the stories.  <grin>

On that level, there’s no excuse.  As noted in many places, Apple owes so much of its popularity to education.  This really serves as a disservice.

On the other side …

Are people really that stupid to believe this?

It’s the same argument that we’ve heard for years about computers in the classroom, then smartphones in the classroom.  I wonder if Samuel Morse went through the same slings and arrows when he developed his code.  After all, you could conceivably tap, tap, tap on a desk while writing a test and have a friend pick up on your answers.  Or cough, cough, cough appropriately.  Or drop a pencil or paper.  Or click a pen.

Let’s give the teaching profession a little credit for understanding their trade.  If you picture the scenarios in the article, it’s of the traditional vision of a teacher/professor standing at the front of the room rambling on about something with no regard for what’s happening or caring about learning.  Give me a break.

Today’s contemporary teacher is up and around the room, concerned with the learning more than the traditional lecture.  The teacher knows her/his students abilities and skills long before sitting down to any test and can usually estimate +/- 5% what each student will achieve on the test.  That is, if they give tests – period.  Modern classrooms feature collaboration, projects, inquiry, and activity where the technology is a key partner in the learning, not an adversary.

I read the stories, picturing so many classrooms that I’ve visited.  That scenario doesn’t play out.  For the most part, I know of professionals that would be so pleased to have such a tool to make a good learning experience better.


When You’ve Always Done Something That Way…

I decided this morning that 5am is not the best time of day for anyone to change things up on me.  It’s way too early to problem solve.

But I had to this morning.

I started my regular routine, tip toeing down the hallway so that I don’t wake the dog, turn on the news on the television, and sit down to do some reading.  I was curious – Flipboard had updated itself yesterday.  What’s new?

My curating/storing routine is well documented here in the blog and I’ve shared it with others during presentations.  There’s another aspect that is not widely known because it’s probably of no interest to others but it’s a biggy to me. 

While I share stories as I read them, for the most part, there are times that I want to give one special treatment.  It might be that it’s going to inspire me to do some further research or fact checking or it’s directly related to something I’m working on or it could be a million other things.  For those stories, I’ve always tucked them away in my private Instapaper account so that I don’t lose them. 

So, it so happens that I run into such a story this morning during my reading.  Instead of the standard share to Twitter, I go to tuck it away into Instapaper.

Except the option wasn’t there.  So, I did what any rational thinking person would do at 5:06.  I tried again.  Then, I tried again only clicking on the sharing button harder.

Nothing.  What the heck? Maybe I’ll write it off to the upgrade and I need to do into the settings and add it.  How to do that?  Nothing was apparent.

Then, I realized that the sharing icons were actually on a sliding menu so I slide and found the option to add additional services.

I was quite surprised to see that that Instapaper wasn’t there.  The only service of that genre would be Readability. 

I poked around for a while and, if it’s there, I’m not seeing it.  I suppose I could write an email rant of complaint or go into the support forums but I needed to do something right now.  Besides, it’s a new release – it may just not be there now or maybe there’s a reason that the service was dropped.  Who knows?  I’m just the end user.  But, I still have this document that I want to tuck away.  Hmmmm.

Can’t beat them? 

Join them. 

I’ll just create another Flipboard Magazine and make it private for my eyes only.

Just to rub it in … I’ll call it “My Instapaper”.  After all, at 5am tomorrow morning, I don’t want to go looking for a Magazine called “Stuff I would normally put into Instapaper but can’t”.

And, I’ll probably poke around Flipboard support and drop them an email letting them know that it would be a nice feature to have back.

Enough of this early morning problem solving…

When You’ve Lost Integrity …

It was with real disappointment that I read Shelly Terrell’s post “When Education Leadership Fails You #Edchat” the other evening.  It wasn’t actually her post – it was well written – it was the content.  I wasn’t aware of the origin of the post but, as it turns out, I “know” the student work involved.  I did share the link to any of those who care to follow me.

There are a number of things that disturb me about this:

  • reuse of someone else’s work without attribution;
  • support from parts of the educational community that support the action;
  • that no apology had been extended for the action.

It’s the last point that, I guess, hits me deepest.  We all make mistakes.  At times, I feel like I’m leading the field.  While an apology may not necessarily make everything all right, it can go a great distance in smoothing over any hurt feelings.

Beyond the reuse without attribution, I think the situation is amplified since the product used was that of a student.  You know, the reason why education exists.  The beings that we hit over the head about doing things properly and avoiding nasty things like violating someone’s copyright.

The situation serves to remind me of the value that we put into the sharing of ideas and resources.  We are all so much smarter and richer because we’ve amassed this community of continuous learners.  I so value turning to my social media sources and find all the latest “finds” that my community finds and shares.  In a small way, I try to contribute back by sharing my readings and thoughts on this blog.  Sometimes, I feel like the noisiest kid in the classroom.  I used to think it was OK since I did my reading and sharing first thing in the morning and that people would have to conscientiously go looking for it.  It was only then that I stepped back and realized that we’re interacting in a global learning community and I was only concerned about people in the Eastern Time Zone.

Social media tools make it so easy to share.  The truly nice thing is that the Twitter, Facebook, Google + spaces that I use will honour the original author by crediting them whenever I share something.  That makes it easy to track back to the original source AND it lets people know that I’m not the original creator of the content.  I’m just the vehicle that passes it along.

But, if I was to remove the original poster name, then a reader would be well within her realm to expect that it was mine.  My ego likes it when you like my thoughts.  My ego likes it when you like a blog post.  My ego would never stoop so low as to intentionally take someone else’s work and repurpose it so that it looks like it’s a dougpete original.  That’s just wrong.

I like it when someone takes my original works and makes it better like Sylvia Duckworth did with some of the good folks that I’ve interviewed for this blog.

If you take a good look, you’ll see that there are attributions to the original contributors of the content.  Rightfully so, Sylvia signs the graphic with her name.  She’s built upon the works of others and is perfectly justified in claiming ownership to the final sketchnote.  She doesn’t make claim to the content by removing the original references.

As my dad once told me, “you make yourself look good by making others look better”.  Sylvia demonstrates this perfectly.

That’s the kind of learning and sharing that I want and I hope that others want and respect as well.

To do otherwise is a loss of integrity.  When you’ve lost that, what do you have left?

I remember a line that’s stuck with me about a jury instruction “if you determine one statement to be a lie, you’re entitled to ignore the entire testimony of the witness”.

A Couple of Days with Windows 10

I’d been waiting for a long time for the upgrade to Windows 10.  This computer came with Windows 7 installed and I’ve done my best to keep it updated and did all the tweaking/re-installing that I could to get it to run satisfactorily.  Sadly, I couldn’t.

A while back, I dual booted it and ran Ubuntu on the other partition and it just screams.  So, I spend almost all the time running Ubuntu and couldn’t be happier.  Given that most of the things that I do can be done in a browser, OpenOffice, The Gimp, or a text editor, it’s been a great solution for me.

I decided that I would give the upgrade to Windows 10 a shot and, if I was still unsatisfied, I was going to reformat the hard drive and just make it a Ubuntu machine.  In anticipation of the upgrade, I’d been booting into Windows and looking for my upgrade reservation.  I did the reservation part as soon as I was notified hoping that I’d be among the first.  I wasn’t so I just looked on as others did the upgrade and started to blog about it.  Friday, my number was up.  I spent the afternoon listening to music and reading while I watched the dial show the installation progress, rebooted when prompted, and upon the final reboot was up and running Windows 10.

And you know what?  I don’t hate it!

It’s almost like running a new computer.  As I do, I started poking around and was able to understand much about the new operating system based upon the reading that I’ve been doing over the past few months.  Below is a summary of my reactions to date.  These are all personal opinions; I had a friend ask me about the experience the other day and that inspired me to put this together.  So, thanks, Les.

1)  The installation didn’t clobber Ubuntu.  Quite frankly, I expected Windows to reclaim the entire hard drive and I’d have to go back and repartition and install Ubuntu.  With each reboot, I expected GRUB to be gone.  But, it’s still there and both Windows 10 and Ubuntu run like champs.  GRUB still lists Windows 7 as its option for booting and I might just leave it that way.

2)  Because I had been running Windows 7 Pro, my upgrade took me to Windows 10 Pro.


3)  A lot of the concerns that I’ve been reading about Windows 10 revolve around privacy.  There’s a great deal to tweak and try to understand under the privacy setting.  Based upon the reading that I’ve been doing, I’ve gone through and turned off a lot of the new features until I fully wrap my mind around them and what they do.


The one thing that I did was create a local account.  When I want to go to the web, I’ll use my web account.  I know it’s old school but I’m still of the mind that I like to separate the two of them.

A serious point of research going forward is the “advertising ID across apps”.  That bears real understanding on my part.  I’ve got it off for now.

4) There’s been a lot written about Cortana.  At this point, I’m not sure that it’s something that I’ll ever use so I’ve just disabled it.  It was a big area of discussion from the privacy articles that I’ve read.  Maybe if I was using a phone or something?  For now, I’ll just stick to manually asking the web for advice with my keyboard.

5)  I was really interested in the Edge browser.  As I expected from my reading and, from the fact that Windows 10 is a Microsoft product, it installed itself as my default browser and Bing as my default search engine.  The installation had carried forward my taskbar and quick launch.  So, I just clicked on Firefox, the first option was to make it the default browser, and then browsing was back to whatever passes for normal around here.

But I was intrigued with Edge so I did poke my way around it.  It’s really fast.  The layout takes a bit of getting used to – I’m accustomed to having my URL bar visible at all times and right at the very top of the screen.  I also like pressing the Alt key to get menus.  The “Where to Next?” kind of threw me for a loop at the beginning but life goes on.  It’s just a different layout.  I tried the dark theme and it’s just too dark for me.  It’s funny how you become used to things being the way they are.  There are different options for the opening display but the default START page is interesting.  At present, I’m going to stick with that.

I’m a big tab user.  Not necessarily for productivity purposes, but just too lazy to keep them closed.  In Firefox, I’ll pin a tab which also makes the tab width smaller.  There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent here.  Tab width is the same size until you fill the screen with tabs and then they resize.  (that didn’t take me long…)

The default search engine is Bing which should come as no surprise to anyone.  However, if you open another one in the browser such as DuckDuckGo, and go to the settings, advanced settings, you can choose to make that the default search engine.  Again, it’s a little different but functional and Edge does remember it for subsequent sessions.

Then, a big show stopper for me.  Serious show stopper.  I’m a big user of plugins in my browser.  There’s nothing equivalent here.  For example, I use long, involved passwords and have come to rely on a password keeper plugin.  In order to get into familiar services, I had to open both Edge and Firefox so that I could get the passwords from Firefox and paste them into Edge.  There’s got to be something better coming along.

Font rendering seems to be a little rough.  In the examples below, the first is from Edge and the second from Firefox.



6)  I’m reminded how fortunate we, the end users are, when developers compete.  With each new revision of any operating system you can see how good ideas spread and how we benefit.  Of immediate interest was the notification centre.  I’ve heard the complainers talking about how that was stolen from another operating system.  I’d prefer to use the words inspired and improved on.  Those other operating systems will just have to do their best to improve on their next revision.

7)  Sleeping isn’t good.  On my computer, closing the lid to send it to sleep causes problems.  When it wakes, Edge crashes and the Windows button stopped working.  Fortunately, I could right click to try and reboot but it just went into an endless daze.  Clicking the Windows button and then selecting sleep seems to work well.  It’s probably related to this computer.

8)  Applications work.  All of the installed programs that I had were brought forward and everything that I need (Like Live Writer and Snagit) are real champs.  Surprisingly, the native Windows 10 mail application keeps crashing.  No problem though, I like my mail in a browser anyway.  But you’d think I should at least be able to at least connect my Live mail account.

9)  New Desktops.  This is really sweet.   I like multiple desktops to help manage projects that have multiple applications running.  Using Windows/Tab instead of Alt/Tab for application switching lets you add a new desktop with a single click.  Or, you just click on the new Task View item on the Task Bar.

10)  Unfortunately, Ubuntu doesn’t mount the Windows 10 desktop like it did with Windows 7.  I need to do some work on that.  I have so much good stuff tucked away on the Windows side  of the hard drive that I like to bring into Ubuntu projects every now and again.  Using the Ubuntu file explorer to grab them was always nice.

11)  The new Settings option is kind of fun to poke around to see what’s what.  It’s someone comforting to note that the traditional Control Panel is still there.  Even more comforting is God Mode which gives you more control over anything than you could ever want.

12)  This is bizarre.  I’m unable to drag and drop objects from the desktop to anywhere else.  i.e. I have something on the desktop that I’d like to send to the Recycle Bin.  I can select the items and the little selected check mark appears but I’m unable to drag them anywhere.  I can certainly press the Delete key or right-click and delete.  But clicking and dragging is a non-starter.

13)  I was surprised to note that my printer didn’t come forward.  It’s not that I’m a regular printer but it’s nice to know that I could if I needed to.  Of course, the printer cartridges are always dry when I need to and a run into town is needed.  The one serious thing that was missing though was being able to use the scanner.  I’ll have to do a bit of work to get this installed.

And that’s about it for my findings for now.  I wrote this post in Windows using Live Writer and it’s gone without a hitch.  If I write again and want to go to ScribeFire, I do have that facility in Firefox but not (yet?) in Edge.

My reactions at this time are very positive and I’m glad that I’ve made the switch.  There are more settings than ever and I can see I’m going to be in for some researching and understanding.  However, the option to revert to Windows 7 in the Control Panel isn’t one of the things that I’ll be using.

If you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, I’d be really interested in your take on things and your answers to the questions that I’ve got so far.

Two seconds later after clicking publish … my first problem with LiveWriter …  uh oh …


Observations of a Dog Walker

Every morning, Jaimie and I are out for Walk #1 of the Day.  It’s our big one for the day, approaching 7,000 (14,000) steps according to my Fitbit.  We have a couple smaller walks later in the day.

Under the category of “You can see a lot just by looking”, I put together my thoughts today.  Since we’re rural, we don’t have too many options when it comes to walking…  we either go north or south.

There’s a lot of time to observe and speculate on the walk, the environment, and the vehicles that passed us by.  Here are some of them.

  • With one exception, every car that passed us had a single driver.  The exception had a teenager in the passenger seat.  I’m guessing she was being driven to a summer job.  There wasn’t a great deal of happiness on her face;
  • There are a lot of distractions happening.  We saw drivers:
  • on their cell phone;
  • smoking;
  • drinking presumably coffee;
  • eating breakfast;
  • one person was even flossing.
  • Something that you’ll only see walking – because you walk against the traffic when there’s no sidewalks, right? – on the back of the road signs is an installation date sticker.  The teacher is me says “hey, that could be used for a mapping exercise”, or “collect the dates for data collection”, or “call the department of roads and get a sense has to how long a typical road sign lasts.”
  • We’re not the only ones who had their mailbox hit by a snow plough.  There were lots of genius ideas for duct tape;
  • The town does a nice job of trimming the path to the fire hydrant.  I wonder if they’d do my lawn?
  • The deer that got hit is still decomposing in the ditch.  We did call the roads department but they don’t clean them up unless they are on the road.  In other news, the skunk that got hit is still on the road.  So is the opossum.  Well, we think it’s dead;
  • It’s interesting to note the people that will move over when they see us and the ones that won’t.  We do get off the roadway into the gravel – how far depends on courtesy and the lack of distraction, I guess.  Big truck drivers are always the most courteous;
  • As we approach the crossing side road, it’s fascinating to see how many people don’t actually stop at the stop sign.  Recently, I’ve learned about the Idaho Stop – but this isn’t Idaho, folks;
  • There are considerably more expensive cars coming from the golf course subdivision that going to it;
  • We like a good puzzle and a cryptic personalized license plate will keep us busy thinking for a while;
  • And, about 45 minutes later, we’re done.  I couldn’t do it without my mp3 player and ear buds to keep me going.  I’m not fascinated nearly as much by the smells as he is.

    But, come tomorrow, we’re ready to go at it again.

    A Do-Over?

    Over the weekend, Lisa Noble stirred the pot when she tagged me in this post.

    It’s a good article to read.  Bottom line – install this extension in your version of the Google Chrome browser and you can do a Mass Unfollow and basically reduce the number of folks that you follow to zero, nada, nothing, nobody.  Supposedly, you can do the same thing without the extension as described here.

    I find it so ironic in this day and age where we’re still trying to get educators to get connected by getting a Twitter account and following other great educators.

    I’ve been a member of Twitter since August of 2007 when Rodd Lucier indicated that I could be a lot smarter if I got connected and became engaged.  Dubious at first, I now know why he’s the Clever Sheep.

    When it comes to technology, I’m intermittently tidy.  I’d be embarrassed to show you the desk I’m working at now.

    As I read the article that Lisa shared, I realized that my Twitter account could be construed as untidy as well. 

    I think, like most people, when I got my account rolling, I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store.  I think I followed anything that moved.  Then, I became a little more discriminating.  Someone would have to share or blog something of interest and then I’d follow them so that I wouldn’t miss their next bit of wisdom.  I liked to follow people that thought like me.  I liked even more people who challenged my thoughts and beliefs.

    In the beginning, it was pretty sad.  There were very few Ontario Educators ready to make the leap.  At the time, Rodd was our Regional eLearning Coordinator and I think that was the genesis of things for those who could see and understand the power.  Classroom teachers, particularly those who were teaching eLearning courses, could see the value.  The further that people were from the classroom, the less interest they seemed to have.  But, pretty soon, I had a problem.  The great folks that were teaching in Ontario got lost amidst all of the others that I was following.

    But, I solved that problem.  Twitter has the facility to further manage your users via lists.  So, I started a list called Ontario Educators and put people there.  Before long, I’d reached the limit of list participants so I started another one.  Then, another one. 

    It actually started to work out nicely.  I didn’t actually have to follow these people in order to put them into a list.  It also facilitated automatic posts via and helped me give shout outs to active Ontario Educators on Friday mornings.

    Certainly, a tool is necessary to manage all this and I’ve found that Hootsuite does a wonderful job.

    Part of my desktop now looks like this…

    And, Hootsuite supports tabs so I have a number of tabs open to further refine my collecting.

    Given all this, you’d think that I’d spend my entire day following these things.  Generally, I don’t.  I do have a life.  What I really like is that I can open the browser and skim up and down and get the latest at that point in time.  In presentations, I call it a snapshot of the Twitter condition.  If there’s something of interest, then it’s easy enough to track back the conversation.

    But, back to tidiness which is what hooked me with Lisa’s initial reference.

    I seldom do any housecleaning.  Every now and again there will be a message posted by someone that I really find offensive and I’ll remove that account from my followers or the list. 

    For the most part, though, I just leave them alone.  I absolutely know that there are people I’ve added that no longer post to their accounts.  If I was conscientious about this, I suppose I could go through and clean them out.  But why?  If they’re not active, I just consider it “no harm, no foul”. 

    But, thanks to Lisa, I now have the little voice at the back of my head bugging me to do something about this.  At least, it will give Jaimie and me something to talk about during our morning walk.

    I’d encourage you to read the original message and then think about your habits.  Or, if you’re a proponent of using Twitter to be connected, what advice would you give to a new user about how to manage their new digital life.  Or, if you’re into improving things for others, tell me how I can become better organized.  Is a Do-Over needed by me?  Would you consider a Do-Over for yourself?

    In the meantime, it’s morning dog walking time.  I’ll see what Jaimie has to say.