This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s still summer time and reading blogs is a nice break from the heat. Check out some of the things that I’ve been reading from Ontario Edubloggers lately


Why Summer is a Perfect Time for Reflection

Summer is an interesting beast. Even when you go into your favourite stores, there’s no guarantee that it’s business as usual. Your favourite workers may not be there and instead are away on holiday.

Of course, as Sue Dunlop notes, don’t drop into a school and look for the regular crew.

They’re away doing things that aren’t connected to specific time slots and specific places. They’re on their own time and in their own place. Sue points out some great reasons why this “break from the bell” makes it a perfect time to reflect.

It’s not advice for others – she’s doing a bit of reflection on her own.


Experiment of The Week – Homemade Projector by Steve Spangler

After you’re done reflecting and you want to create something, the STAO blog has this little gem.

How about creating your own projector?

Is this a project for your makerspace in the future?


ETFO Innovate 2019

I really enjoy reading conference reports and this one from Shelly Vohra is no difference.

Lots of activities and learning seemed to be the theme coming from her in the post. She provides a complete and detailed report on her various activities.

Of real interest was a quote that she attributes to Debbie Donsky (see my interview with Debbie here) about her keynote. It surrounds the word Ubuntu. It’s a philosophy on many levels – including an operating system! But, its roots go back to connecting people…

She also talked about the term “Ubuntu” –  “I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours.” How are we sharing in a way that connects us all? How are we leading and connecting from the heart?

Doesn’t that describe the human teaching condition?


Tour de Mont Blanc – Day Eight for Climb for Kids

Paul McGuire may be on the other side of the Atlantic climbing for kids but if you’re connected to Paul, you’ve been seeing some spectacular pictures of his summer adventure.

So far, he’s provided one blog post of “how I spent my summer holidays” and check out the scenery.

On top of this, he’s raising money for kids. Talk about the best of both worlds.


Friday Two Cents: Honour Our Past To Understand Our Present

Like Paul Gauchi, one of my favourite places to visit while in Ottawa is the Canadian War Museum. Even visiting the local cenotaph can be a humbling experience.

I attribute it to a vet that I had as a teacher. He walked with a permanent limp and would often share personal stories when there were those 10-15 minutes of dead time at the the end of class.

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer people who have this sort of experience and memories. The Museum helps ensure that we continue to remember and to honour.

Yet I say, “To truly understand our present we must first understand our past”; the good, bad and ugly sides. I cannot tell you how many adults do not know or understand the current Canadian issues that we face today, started many years if not decades ago. But they keep on complaining and in my opinion whining about these issues without knowing the history of them.


Have you ever put a tooth in the microwave?

Well, Anne-Marie Kee, no I haven’t. Although now that I’ve read the title to this post, I am curious…

tldr; You won’t find the answer in this post.

However, you will find a summer reflection from a principal. In a private school, in addition to the sorts of things that you might expect anywhere, there are additional things to think about. Concerns about sustainability would be among them although that appears to be under control.

The final thought is something that I think so many are thinking and wondering about this summer. It’s important and the answer might make for a better school year.

How can we prioritize student voice in our programs?


Highlights of the National Association of Media Literacy Educators Conference

Finally, from the Association for Media Literacy blog, another conference summary and reflect by Neil Andersen.

Wow!

What a collection of sessions that he shares some notes and thinking about.

  • Teaching About Genocide Through A Media Literacy Frame • Jad Melki
  • Refugees creating documentaries in Greece using visual ethnography • Evanna Ratner
  • Eco Media Literacy • Antonio Lopez
  • Criminal minds and Looney Tunes: portrayals of mental illness and therapy on television
  • Pushing against online hate: MediaSmarts • Kara Brisson-Boivin
  • Media Literacy Pedagogical Practices With Children: Engagement, Learning And Home-School Community Knowledge Exchange • Vitor Tomé
  • Critiquing advertisements with teens and their families: video literacy intervention in Jamaica • Rachel Powell
  • The United States Institute of Peace Thinktank
  • Visualizing Media Literacy • Theresa Redmond
  • On The Air: Elementary Student Adventures In Podcasting And Radio Broadcasting • Diana Maliszewski
  • What Does The Internet Know About You? • Julie Nilsson Smith
  • Panel: Media Literacy And The Tech Industry: Exploring Collaborative Ways To Navigate Rapid Technological Growth
  • Panel: Trust, Journalism, And Media Literacy
  • The Future Of Media Literacy Requires Starting Early: “Ulla” The Little Owl In Kindergarten • Eveline Hipeli
  • Media Literacy Across The Pacific: What’s Happening In Australia • Amy Nelson

I hope that you can find some time to click through and read all of these posts at their original source. There’s great thinking there.

Then, make sure that you’re following these folks on Twitter.

  • @Dunlop_Sue
  • @staoapso
  • @raspberryberet3
  • @mcguirp
  • @PCMalteseFalcon
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @mediasee

This is part of a regular Friday feature here. It was originally posted to

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

A new browser


Sometimes, things are just under your nose and you completely miss them.

That happened to me.  The default browser in Windows is Internet Explorer / Edge, on the Macintosh, Safari, and on Ubuntu, Firefox.  The first thing I always do when configuring a computer is to add a couple of other browsers, typically Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.  This activity goes back to when not all browsers were created equal – Mosaic and Netscape each had its own way of thinking when it came to rendering webpages so I would always test my web work to make sure that it worked for anyone visiting my sites, regardless of their browser choice.  Put up your hand if you remember the message “This site works best on …”.

Of course, modern browsers all do a much nicer and more consistent job.  These days, the criteria for browser choice involves personal preference, thoughts about privacy, speed, and especially the add-ons that extend the basic function of the web browser.

So, I was a bit surprised when I read this article – “Canonical’s Ubuntu Internet Browser Silently Becomes Awesome – Video“.

I was intrigued by the video and a bit surprised when I saw the icon.

What’s this?  Safari for Ubuntu?

What’s the world coming to?

According to the article, it should already be on my computer since I was running version 15.04 of Ubuntu.  After a little bit of remembering, I did remember poking around and seeing it before.  By way of confession, I thought it was just another file browser to manage things locally and didn’t pay much attention to it.

Now, I decided I better kick the tires and take a look.

Hmmm.  It renders this blog very nicely.

It displayed open tabs a little differently…

So, I did some more reading and realized that this was related to the Ubuntu Touch development.  I shifted my thinking from it being just another desktop web browser and imagined it on a smartphone and it all started to make sense.

I then started to wonder again because the menu I saw was pretty small compared to the one in the video.

According to the software update, everything here was up to date.  I tracked back the source to a launchpad page https://launchpad.net/webbrowser-app and checked the distribution.  For mine, I was running the version packed into Vivid.  There’s another version for Wily that would be the one displayed in the video.  That would explain all of the enhancements.  My aha moment for the day!

I was about to get the new version until I checked the calendar.  Wily, version 15.10 will be released in the near future.  The updated browser will undoubtedly be part of that installation.  I’ll wait until then.

I wonder what else is on my computer that I need to investigate deeper!

Thinking about technology investments


From the New York Post this morning, check out this story “A Lot Changes in Tech Over Four Years and 1,000 Blog Posts“.

It got me thinking about things.

According to the dashboard for this blog, I’ve made 4,255 posts.  The very first one goes back to January 8, 2008 and was titled “Blogging on First Class“.  It was an encouragement for people to look at FirstClass’ new blogging platform.

The post was actually the second written for this blog – the first one was “I hope this works” and was written just to test WordPress to see if it would do the trick.  While I really hoped that people would use FirstClass for blogging, I needed to test out WordPress.  It turned out to be a better blogging platform.  More importantly, the writing of my first few posts was quite funny.  It was almost infantile which I guess describes my blogging efforts back then.

Anyway, a lot has changed over the course of four years as noted in Bilton’s blog post.  He notes that the iPad wasn’t around then.  Yet, it’s so popular and universally present these days.

It really is the change over the course of four years that is of concern to me.  Four years ago, I bought a computer and, with fingers crossed, assured my wife that this is the last computer I’ll ever need.  It had an i7 processor with 8 cores, 4MB of RAM and a fairly substantial hard drive.  Admittedly, it can run just about anything that I want.  It was, as promised, a laptop that’s a desktop replacement and that’s basically where it’s used today.  Dual booting, I can run Windows 7 and Ubuntu and if you’ve been reading, it’s typically running Ubuntu.

Indeed a lot has changed in four years.  I think of the power and the storage on the machine and it’s a sad commentary that they really aren’t as important to my regular use these days as it was four years ago.

Four years ago, I needed a computer and software to do the word processing and spreadsheet documents (among other things) that I had on a regular basis.  Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I opened LibreOffice to do any such work.  In fact, as I type this blog entry, I’ve got a notification that there’s an upgrade to the LibreOffice program.  Four years ago, I would rush to get the upgrade.  Now, I use my Google Apps on the web to handle these things.  Google takes care of the upgrades for me.

Post Christmas, every store that I ever bought anything online is pummeling my mailbox with notifications of great bargains and deals.  I look and don’t feel the need to even wish and dream.  After all, I spend my days in a browser.  As I write this, I’m in one tab with a bunch of others open.

I’d be hard pressed to come up with any plausible reason to go computer shopping tomorrow.

In fact, the more I try to think this through, do I really need something as powerful (expensive) for the future?

How about schools?

I know many school districts are experimenting with Chromebooks and some with Surfaces.  From where I’m sitting, and for my particular use, it seems like a very smart (and affordable) solution.

 

What a Difference an OS Makes


Nerdy post upcoming – you’ve been warned.  But, it just might be worth the read for you anyway…

A good friend of mine had the power supply go on her ancient PC so it wouldn’t boot.  She needed some files from her hard drive and asked for my assistance.  No problem, I says, bring your CPU over.  That was actually step 1.  Step 2 as described below happens a day later.

Now, a little background here at dougpete labs.  I have a Sony VPCF1 with an i7 processor that came loaded with Windows 7 and that was my main operating system for about a week.  At the end of the week, I partitioned the hard drive and installed an instance of Ubuntu and the computer boots there by default and remains there for the most part.  Every now and again I’ll have the urge to program using Visual Basic or Visual F# and I’ll reboot into Windows for that.  I have an on again / off again relationship with Wine.

Back to the problem at hand.  I actually had a similar problem with an old PC of my own and had ordered a Sabrent USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adapter from Tiger Connect.  With a wide variety of connectors, it’s just a matter of finding the one that works to connect the PC’s hard drive to the adapter that feeds into a USB 2.0 connection which attaches to the computer.  In my previous case, it had mounted the drive under Windows and I was able to get what I needed.

So, in this case, I figured that I would just replicate the procedure.

I rebooted the laptop to run Windows 7 and immediately was reminded of one of the reasons why it doesn’t stay running Windows for the most part.  The fan roars and you can feel the heat being ejected from the left of the computer.  Sigh.  I’ve tried upgrading the BIOS and I think I’ve read every FAQ about CPU heating / fan combinations on the web.  The best answer was a flippant “you’ve got an i7 processor.  It’s a workhorse and designed to run hot.”  I don’t know if that’s the ultimate answer but it was rationale enough for me.  I mount the hard drive and go to Computer and there the drive is sitting there as Drive Q:  Double click to open and I get the message that I don’t have enough permissions to do that.  Of course; it must be password protected.

I’m sitting here heating the room, listening to the fan, and staring at the error message.  I’m resigned to waiting for her to show up.

Then, I thought, what if I went back to Ubuntu?  I needed to check my email anyway and the fan is really annoying.

Within a minute, I’m looking at my friendly Gnome desktop.  Quietly too.  Hand over the heat vent reveals a little warm and the fan gently sending the heat out.  And, on the desktop is the now connected Windows hard drive.  A double click reveals the contents.  Hmmm.  Conscience kicks in so I leave the setup until she comes over and then we copy the desired files to a memory key and she’s a happy camper.  I’m a happy Ubuntu camper.  The computer is quietly doing its thing and saved the day.

There’s a lesson to be learned here though.  Getting to the hard drive was just a little bit too easy.  Lifehacker has a really good article for reading dealing with all of this.  It’s called “How to Break Into a Windows PC (and Prevent It from Happening to You)“.  It’s definitely a good read and offers some good suggestions.  If you’re concerned, make a point to read the article this morning.

 

A Couple of Days with Ubuntu 13.04


I had a friend try to grind my gears over the weekend.  If you’re such a fan of Ubuntu, why are you carrying around a Macintosh computer?  It’s a valid observation but the reality is that I have both a Mac and a PC (Sony Vaio) and it’s the Vaio that’s running Ubuntu.  At the time of purchase, buying a big hard drive for the Macintosh was too cost prohibitive.  Not so with the Vaio and it was the perfect machine to partition and boot into Ubuntu as well as the Windows 7 that it came with.  Due to its size, I view it more as a desktop replacement than a portable unit.  But, if I have my rolly computer bag, you know it’s in there.

The Ubuntu side has always been considerably quicker than Windows.  When you spend most of your connected time in a browser, speed and ease is appreciated and you can’t beat it with Ubuntu.  Ironically, it was over the weekend as well that I decided to upgrade Ubuntu to 13.04, Raring Ringtail.  I didn’t really have time to explore at the time – I did the installation and then just starting using it.

It was only when I thought about it that I was surprised that there wasn’t any big exciting change in the release.  It wasn’t like there was a new and refined Dash or anything.  It was just working.  But, as I think about it, it’s working pretty well.  Everything  was functional but noticeably faster.  I wondered – is there something I’m missing?  I ran across this article “Press Reaction to Ubuntu 13.04 Is a Muted, “Meh” Affair“.  Surely, there must be more.

My next read took me to this article. “Get More Out of Ubuntu 13.04 With These Awesome Apps” and this “10 Things to Do After Installing Ubuntu 13.04“.  I’ll be honest, many of the recommendations were already in place but “Geary Mail” was a nice new find.  Quite frankly, many of the things that I do, I do in the browser.  If it’s not in the browser, it might be LibreOffice, VLC, or Gimp that’s my go-to application.  And, of course, they’re already there.  There was, of course, the ability to manipulate the various search lenses in the Dash.  That’s always fun but not necessarily a life and death change.

What is kind of neat is social integration right in the Dash.  No need to flip to a new tab to see what’s up.  I really like the concept of the lens and there’s so much to choose from.

Twitter

I’ve got to be missing something.  So, I watched a video.

I guess I wasn’t missing too much.  This release is just a snappier, nicer experience.  So far, on this end, it seems to be pretty solid.  It’s definitely more responsive.  I always found it a better actor than Windows 7 on this machine.  With the new release, it’s even more noticeable.  I’m a really happy user.