Imagine a world without the iPhone


Today is a big day.  It marks the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the Apple iPhone.  

I’m writing this on Monday morning and my news feed was just full of stories about the announcement years ago.

It was a device like no other.  I remember thinking, at the time, that this had the potential to be a big change to everything that I do.  I also remember thinking that it might just be a big announcement of a product that nobody would use.

There’s no doubt that my first thinking was the correct thinking.  It spawned a whole new industry and it continues to involve today.  To say that the concept was innovative would be an under representation; it has changed so much.

Over the years, I’ve had a number of mobile phones.  My first one was actually not an iPhone; it was a Blackberry.  Our Information Technology department had convinced the decision makers that there really was only one secure player in the field and this was it.  When that technology grew old, we did move to the iPhone platform.  Later, when I made home purchases, I went the Android route with HTC and then Samsung products.  

They’re all variations on a theme but what would the world be like if that theme hadn’t happened?

  • we would still have pay phones on street corners;
  • there would still be one or two players in the telephone provider market;
  • we wouldn’t be immediately accessible by anyone who had our phone number;
  • the concept of texting would still be foreign;
  • app?  What’s an app?
  • we might still rely on going to a gas station and getting a big paper map to help guide us on our trips;
  • television crime shows wouldn’t be able to locate the criminals by triangulating their location via cell phone towers;
  • cell phone towers?  What’s that?
  • butt dialing?  What’s that?
  • a ring tone would just be the traditional bell or digital warble;
  • for those of us who lived on the road, the Franklin planner would still be my day organizer;
  • Garmin would absolutely own the GPS market;
  • fewer emails would be sent because we’d have to actually remember to write it when we got back to our computer;
  • voice activation and recognition might be still relegated to reruns of Star Trek;
  • only police services would have thumbprint recognition;
  • calculators would be, well, calculators;
  • real telephones would last a long time without the rush to upgrade with every new model or a perk for renewal of a service plan;
  • kids would still have to rely on the street lights coming on as a signal to come home for the day;
  • the whole industry of screen covers and phone cases wouldn’t exist;
  • we wouldn’t be debating the merits of real buttons versue touch buttons;
  • imagine your land line ringing for two-factor validation of your account?
  • how many crimes have happened over the years because of the mobile phone?
  • how would we record reality via video or pictures and upload it to Facebook or YouTube moments after it happened?
  • what would my Smart Watch pair itself with?
  • we might not make purchasing decisions based upon battery life;
  • we would still painfully watch the clock tick so slowly while waiting for appointments;
  • exam monitors would have one less thing to check for cheating.

Your turn.  What did I miss?  Please add in the comments.  It will be fun to read.

I’m sure that, had Apple not made this big announcement, it would have come from some other manufacturer.  But, Apple was right in there with so many of the concepts that we now take for granted.

It’s tough to imagine a world without that friend in your pocket.  

What is the new normal?


Over the summer, I started collecting a number of news stories.  I’d find yet another and tuck it away in my Keep account thinking that some day I’d pull them together and write a blog post.  I never did because every time I’d sit down to start the post, I’d read or hear/see something even more outlandish.

There were stories about plagiarism, trolling, shaming, false stories which we now call fake news, slander, and even downright stupidity.  As you can imagine, the list just kept growing.  The election south of the border seemed to encourage even more outlandish behaviour.  

Then, a couple of things really hit me hard.

There were some crimes and alleged crimes that were committed.  The news went immediately to social media to see if they could “profile” whoever was charged or allegedly committed something wrong.  I thought that it was quite sad that someone’s Instagram or Facebook post could be used as news and information.  But it did and you see more of it all the time.  Just turn on your evening news and count the number of times that contributions to news stories are based upon third party social media.

Probably the most timely item is the incident in Chicago where the crime was broadcast live using Facebook.

Now, I had many friends who are trying out this newish feature.  You’ll get a message that so and so is now live.  Maybe it speaks to the type of people that I follow but, if I jump in, I’ll see pictures of their holiday dinner or something else uninteresting.  I assure myself that this will pass and soon we’ll become sophisticated in the use.  We even used the feature at the Bring IT, Together conference to live broadcast some of the sessions for the benefit of those who couldn’t attend.  It worked nicely; the folks being broadcast were asked in advance for permission and the nice thing is that things are saved after the broadcast for those that couldn’t be at the right place at the right time.

If you’re following the news, you know that it’s not just the good stuff that gets saved.

As I do when I’m writing, I’ll have the news on the television to keep me company.  Recently, a news reporter was talking about the Chicago incident and gave the warning that the video to be shown could be disturbing.  It turns out that it had been edited after the fact to blur our some parts.  Then, I stopped in my tracks.  The newscaster apologized for the video and indicated that you could search for it on the internet to see it unedited.  How irresponsible is that?

What happened next floored me.  The news station had an online poll asking if social media services should filter out what they’re broadcasting.  This, right after they had actually used it to report the story!

What’s wrong here?

They next broadcast the current results of their poll.  I think it’s to be discounted because the audience is limited and who knows if you can vote more than once.  I was tempted but that would be giving in.

All of this brought back the collection that I’d been tucking away.  I started to think instead of how there used to be a dividing line between media and social media.  There’s not so much anymore.  Like it or not, this is fast becoming our new normal.  It used to be that we would question everything that we read online.  But what happens when the traditional media uses things that we question as news sources?  The more sensational; the quicker it gets broadcast.

I’ve been helping a friend who is writing a book about social media and we got into an interesting discussion.  She pointed out to me that she knows of school districts that, in this day and age, continue to filter out social media elements to protect students.  

Where will its students learn to become discriminating users and interpreters of content?  I think that we all know the answer.

Instead of having the guidance of an educator or teacher-librarian, who are the role models showing how to use the technology?  It’s scary to think of the results.  The answer that teachers don’t feel confident to address the situation needs to be laid to rest.  Nobody can be expected to know everything.  But we certainly can be the lifelong learner that we want our students to be.  If you’re in the classroom, you certainly know what’s right and what’s wrong.

How does your district support and promote the learning for all in this media?

Are you prepared to help define the “new normal” for yourself and your students?  

Or, will you allow others to do it for you and then wonder why when something ridiculous happens?

Whatever happened to …


… getting the facts right?

And then reporting.

And then correcting any error that might have been made.

In these days of fake news stories, I think that we all are a little more cautious about the news that we read.  We’ve come to rely on our trusted resources, right?  After all, they have a team of people fact checking and making sure that it’s true, right?

That wasn’t the case yesterday.

Like millions of people, I had my television on yesterday afternoon and it seemed like everything was preempted by news coverage of the incident in Fort Lauderdale.  Beyond the news story itself, I was a little concerned as I know that friends of mine have taken part of their Christmas Break in that area.

So, I flipped over to what I would consider a trusted news source – MSNBC.  There was that video and interviews of people who were witnesses to the event.  Then, as news stations tend to do, they brought in the experts to talk about the event.  At one point, an interview mentioned that the flight where the person was on originated in Canada.  That got extra attention on my part.

The experts then got into a couple of things.

First, visitors to the United States from Canada often clear customs in Canada.  That way, when you land in the US, you just get off the plane having already been interviewed.  Anyone who has ever flown through Pearson knows of the long lines as so many people are interviewed before being allowed to proceed.  As you arrive, you hope that all of the windows are open to get through in a reasonable amount of time.  So, yes, that part is absolutely true.  It can take a while but the agents I’ve encountered tend to be very professional and thorough.  Thorough can be frustrating.  Maybe it’s time to get a Nexus card.

Second, the conversation got around to how you travel with a gun.  Now, I’ve flown out of Detroit many times and I’ve been in security lines with people carrying rifle cases.  Typically, they are returning from northern Michigan where deer hunting is a major sport.  Yes, it was true; the guns are in hard cases and they check the case as baggage.  So, I agreed with that description of the process.  Then, a couple of things went through my mind – the flight in question was coming from Canada and the individual was checking a hand gun?  Hmmm.

Thirdly, and this was what got me.  The flight was identified as an Air Canada flight going from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Fort Lauderdale.  This really got my attention as I was always under the impression that Canadian flights had to either originate or end in Canada.  Air Canada wasn’t allowed to go from US city to US city.  It’s a way to protect the local flight industry.  They must have changed the law; after all, a credible news source couldn’t be wrong.  I was curious as to how many flights would fly that route so I went to the Air Canada website and tried to see.

The result?

If fact, on Twitter, Air Canada had shared this message.

And yet, the news that it was a Canadian flight continued.

Eventually, the truth became known, as we now know, the Delta flight originated in Alaska, stopped in Minneapolis-St. Paul and then a flight was taken to Fort Lauderdale.  From the news reports, Delta and Air Canada share the same terminal in Fort Lauderdale so someone had drawn a conclusion and the news reports just repeated it.  Eventually, MSNBC showed a graphic showing the flight pattern.  At least the facts were now out but if you hadn’t stuck around, you would still think that it was an Air Canada flight.

Later, I flipped over to CNN where they were still reporting that it was a Canadian flight with their experts checking in.  It didn’t stop there; my wife was reading the local newspaper online and they were reporting that it was a Canadian flight.

Back to Twitter, Air Canada asks for a correction.

By this time, I had flipped over to CTV News where this was but one story making the news.

As I think about this, I wonder – is the news business so competitive that everyone just wants to get the facts out first.  We’ll check them later?  What happens if the facts are wrong?  Shouldn’t there be a big CORRECTION noted?  How about an apology for reporting incorrectly?

We worry about fake news stories and student literacy.  We tell them to fact check with credible news resources.  What happens when the credible news resources fail?  I wonder how many other news sources had reported incorrectly as well?

For a Sunday, I’d like to hear your thoughts.  Please share them in the comments below …

  • were you following the incident from Fort Lauderdale?
  • how do you best recommend that students and others validate the news they read?
  • what news sources would you consider credible?
  • do you think that airport protocols will change in the areas where you claim your luggage?

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts. They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea. I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Know your Google


I hope that everyone is enjoying their break from the classroom.  Hopefully, there was something nice under the tree for you for Christmas or you took advantage of after Christmas sales to buy yourself something nice.  

Any chance that you were treated to a new computer either way?

If it’s a Chromebook or anything capable of running a browser, I’ll bet you’re just itching to expand your computing expertise.

What better way than to explore all that Google has for you.

Chances are, you have a pretty good understanding of what’s possible but do you know everything?

If your answer to that question is a bit iffy, then you need to check out Peter Beens’ big list of everything Google/Alphabet from A-Z.

For him, this has been a labour of love curating everything and he makes it freely and openly available on the web.

Everything is in alphabetical order but so start at the top and see what all is available.  What I find humbling is going through the list; the resources that I do use are in purple indicating that I’ve visited the resource.  I’ll confess; my blue links far outweigh my purple links!

The document is available here.

Well, actually, I did know…


… at least some of these things.

It doesn’t take long when you’re reading about things online to run across a post that is titled XXX Things You Didn’t Know About Google.

How did they know I didn’t know about them?  <grin>

When you’ve been around the internet block once or twice, you do tend to use features and don’t really think about them.  Certainly, I wouldn’t put them into a post although it used to be fun to do various things online during workshops.  The more we spread the knowledge, the better we all become.  I’m a firm and continuous believer in that.

Having said that, I still click through and read the posts.  There’s something powerful about being able to say to myself – hey, I already knew that.

On the other hand, it’s even more powerful to find a feature that I truly didn’t know about or had forgotten.

Such was the case with some recent reading.  I love it when there’s a takeaway that makes me know just one more thing.


17 incredibly useful Google products and services you didn’t know existed

Hah!  I was ready to add 17 checkmarks upon first skim until I saw this.

  • There’s a “Manual” feature in Google Translate that lets you draw characters or symbols.

This really makes sense if you don’t want to load a different language keyboard.  I’m not sure how often I would use it but it was fun to play around with.


10 Google Services You Probably Didn’t Know – Extended

There was nothing new here – especially when some of the services in the post were exactly the same as in the collection above!


17 surprising things you didn’t know you could do with Google

What’s with the number 17?

I thought this was going to be another repeat, this time from MSN, but it was different (and dated).

  • The cheapest airfare from all the major travel booking websites at once

I didn’t know this.  I always use Hipmunk for that sort of thing.

With this bit of knowledge, I could now start my own travel agency!


10 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Google

Then, I hit the gold mine with this one.  Really not a service but certainly will put me over the top during any trivia challenge.  I only knew a couple of things from this post but now know:

  • What was the first Google Doodle
  • The First Google Storage Was Made From LEGO – really?
  • Google’s First Ever Tweet
  • Google’s First Ever “Company Snack” Was Swedish Fish
  • The Google Logo Was Not Centered Until 2001
  • Google Has a Company Dinosaur

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this new found knowledge but it was fun learning!

Why aren’t there any posts about services from Microsoft I don’t know about?  Well, here’s one 10 THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MICROSOFT.

Tracking Santa


I don’t know about you but I still believe.

I never stopped.

I was worried a couple of years ago when we filled in the natural fireplace but somehow Santa still manages to get into the house to drop off gifts.  And he always seems to do a pretty good job.

Things are a bit different than my childhood.  I’ve stopped leaving cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph.  As a child, though, I remember looking at the kitchen table first thing on Christmas morning to see if he’d been there.  

Growing up in a small town, I was always amazed that he could hit all the houses; nevermind the number of houses world wide.  It’s like magic.

But as long as you believe…

It’s an important thing to stay on top of.  When I grew up, we didn’t have the internet to help but today’s believer has so many options.

They’ll all kick in today.

There’s no shortage of ways to track this guy and the most famous reindeer of all.

And, until the big moment arrives, most of the resources provide games to play and a bit of history of Santa.