Happy First Birthday Raine

Today is Raine’s first birthday, and it’s amazing how quickly this year has passed. This has easily been the best year of my life, and I can’t imagine my life without my little girl. I know … another sappy post from Couros, but I know that there are those that can relate. And what amazes me the most is that everyday just gets better.

Happy birthday, my little girl. Daddy loves you!

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Wired: “We Are The Web”

There’s a great new article in Wired by Kevin Kelly that describes the revolution that is moving us from the dot-commerce mentality to the potential and power of mass collaboration. It also does well in projecting what Internet culture may look like ten years from now … and even further, Kelly predicts how historians may someday view our particular point of time.

Three thousand years from now, when keen minds review the past, I believe that our ancient time, here at the cusp of the third millennium, will be seen as another such era. In the years roughly coincidental with the Netscape IPO, humans began animating inert objects with tiny slivers of intelligence, connecting them into a global field, and linking their own minds into a single thing. This will be recognized as the largest, most complex, and most surprising event on the planet. Weaving nerves out of glass and radio waves, our species began wiring up all regions, all processes, all facts and notions into a grand network. From this embryonic neural net was born a collaborative interface for our civilization, a sensing, cognitive device with power that exceeded any previous invention. The Machine provided a new way of thinking (perfect search, total recall) and a new mind for an old species. It was the Beginning.

Right here, right now, there is no place that I want to be …

Recording Skype With WireTap Pro

I’ve been using Skype with both my Mac and Windows machine (and a l’il on Ubuntu Linux), and while it has been working fine, I haven’t been able to record the conversations easily on my Mac. I attempted an overly complex solution using Soundflower, Audio HiJack Pro & Audion, and even played around with Audacity and Garageband as other possibilities. Still, nothing was as simple as I wanted.

Well, then I tried Wiretap Pro. I had previously used Wiretap (-Pro), but that only seemed to capture he Apple audio, and didn’t catch the line-in audio. However, I upgraded and Wiretap Pro is exactly what I need, and very easy to use without messing with audio preferences. Just use WTP to record Apple audio, line-in or both … very simple, and easily picks up Skype conversations. Additionally, you can record straight out as AIFF, AAC, Quicktime or MP3. Yea, I paid $19ish … however (lesson to for-money software developers) I will still pay for proprietary software when there is no good and easy open source equivalent. Until then, WTP is worth my time.

Leo Laporte On UNIX, FOSS & Open Content

Mad Penguin featured an interview with Leo Laporte where he discussed the future of Unix, free and open source software and open content. It’s a good read, and neat to see someone so embedded in the proprietary content industry advocate strongly for open ideals. Laporte states:

It’s ironic, because my background isn’t open content, it’s proprietary content, if you want to make that distinction. It’s working for mainstream media companies, and that’s what my career has always been. It funds everything else that I do. I still have to make a living. The books that I write, the radio show that I do, the television show that I do are all traditional mainstream media. But on all three of those venues, one of the things that I really advocate for and believe in is the opportunity for everyone to have a platform with digital media, to have a voice through open code and content.

And on the future of open source vs. proprietary …

It’s gonna get increasingly difficult for private enterprise to compete against open source, because open source combines the goodwill and efforts of thousands of people in all different areas in a way that they can marshal so much more brainpower than any private company can. What open source teaches us is that while money is an important motivator for people, it’s not the only motivator.

Ahhhh … that’s a nice thought.

Stephen Johnson on Grand Theft Auto

An interesting post on Boing Boing reports an excerpt from Stephen Johnson’s (author of Everything Bad Is Good For You) open letter to Hilary Clinton on the recent Grand Theft Auto controversy. The excerpt read:

Dear Senator Clinton:

I’m writing to commend you for calling for a $90-million study on the effects of video games on children, and in particular the courageous stand you have taken in recent weeks against the notorious “Grand Theft Auto” series.

I’d like to draw your attention to another game whose nonstop violence and hostility has captured the attention of millions of kids – a game that instills aggressive thoughts in the minds of its players, some of whom have gone on to commit real-world acts of violence and sexual assault after playing.

I’m talking, of course, about high school football.

If you’ve read Johnson’s latest, the satire should be familiar (it’s a good read). The rest of Johnson’s open letter can be found here.

“How I Got My Wife To Love Linux”

I thought this was rather interesting as it reflects partially what is being said repeatedly in the data analysis of my open source research project. While this is nothing profound, or unexpected, people, especially adults, have trouble moving to the Linux desktop because “it’s different”. However, making the interface more similar to what they know and expect may lead to greater adoption.

Fedora XP or “How I Got My Wife To Love Linux” demonstrates how even minor Linux modifications such as simulating the Windows “start” button (although my firm belief is that the Windows start button was never natively intutive, only intuitive by massive social repetition) could lead to wider acceptance of desktop Linux.

From my own experience and research, I know that this familiarity factor is very relevant to wide-scale technology adoptions in K-12 education. As a generality, teachers don’t like and will resist change. Making technology intuitive may not always be enough … familiarity, at least in the short term, may sometimes count for more.

Neat Skype Add-Ons

Skype Journal presented a list of the best five software add-ons for Skype. The number one pick was Pamela-Systems Pro, something the EdTech Posse has been using successfully lately, and Rob wrote briefly about. There were some neat addons in the list including Video4IM, which integrates video into Skype calls, and Jybe, which enables document sharing.

Unfortunately most of the tools are for Windows only, so off goes the dustcover … its’ time to experiment.

Dijjer: Open Source P2P Software Ideal For Podcasts

I noticed a few people mentioning (can’t seem to find the posts now) that having one’s podcast listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory could potentially lead to a surprising increase in bandwidth due to greater exposure/downloads. If you are hosting your own podcasts, one tool that could potentially reduce bandwidth costs is a new open source P2P tool called Dijjer.

I haven’t got a chance to use it, but it seems to work somewhat like Bittorrent, and the setup is a breeze.

You don’t need to install anything. Just put a file on your site as you normally do, but add “http://www.dijjer.org/get/” to the beginning of your links:

normal link: http://mysite.com/video.mov
dijjer link: http://dijjer.org/get/http://mysite.com/video.mov

For Dijjer to work, people must have a Dijjer client running on their machine (available for Mac/Linux/Windows). Therefore, the bandwidth is distributed across Dijjer users. However, to download a Dijjer supported file, a user doesn’t need to have the client installed.

Sounds interesting, I wonder if it will get the network support it needs to be successful.

Principles For Evaluation of Websites

I have “done the drill” re: critically evaluating websites for years now with my preservice teachers. Along with my own work, I have looked to countless online guides describing methods as to how you actually evaluation online content. However, at some point (likely coordinated with my own writing and reading of blogs & wikis) I stopped believing in the processes and principles which were widespread regarding the evaluation of websites.

For instance, here’s a document that represents a fairly standard approach in the field. Note the very first category, authorship, and the questions it asks. (e.g., who is the author?, what are the author’s credentials?, etc.)

I remember looking through this document a year or two ago, and feeling like something had changed. I went to the office of a colleague and asked her … “how do I deal with this”? “I don’t believe these criteria anymore”. So, I’ve pondered this since, but it’s been one of those tasks that has been put to the backburner.

Thanks so much to Steven Downes for reminding me of how important this is, and what principles of website evaluation should look like.

If you haven’t seen this already, check out Stephen’s “Principles for Evaluation Websites“. There are important ideological changes here as opposed to the first document I mentioned. For those of you who are my former students (and likely teaching in the Fall), take a few minutes to think about this. These are ideas which are important to the pedagogy of information literacy.

Rider Pride In Taiwan

I wish I could be in Calgary tonight to see the Roughriders blow out the Stampeders in their first regular season meeting since Burris defected to Calgary from Saskatchewan. It should be a great game.

And just to show the international nature of rider pride, I’d like to share a video featuring young students in Taiwan singing the Rider Pride song (thanks Trudy). Feel free to sing along!

Green is the Color
Football is the Game
We’re all together
and Winning is our aim
So Cheer us on through the sun and rain
Saskatchewan Roughriders is our name

Go Nealon, and Go Riders!

Update: Oh Riders, how you hurt me so.

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How To Make Enhanced Podcasts

MAKE recently produced a very detailed article on how to created enhanced podcasts, “audio files that can have slideshows, URLs and some cool features.” I love the idea, and would love to try incorporating this into my courses … the article even includes some neat ideas for learning integration . Neat stuff! However, the BIG drawback is that this only works with .m4a/b files, and therefore, only on compatible devices (e.g., iPods) or with iTunes.