280 Slides

I’ve just had a wee play with 280 Slides. I’m impressed. It let me search online for images & videos that could be embedded, and then let me upload it to slideshare. In terms of Presentations, it’s not got too many choices, just a few backgrounds & a few layouts – but given that most Powerpoint options never get used, it’s got more than enough choice.
The layout got a bit messed up on export to Slideshare & the video no longer plays, but it did let me download it to Powerpoint (the video’s been converted to an image at some point).
Downloading direct to Powerpoint from 280 Slides still had the video as an image, but the layout was as I’d left it. It downloads (or can be emailed) as pptx, rather than ppt, which could be difficult if the recipient hasn’t got Office 2007.
It is still in beta, but I think that it’s got potential.
Here’s the original, if you’re interested.

Audio on posts.

I’ve been using the Talkr podcast for some time now, but it seems to have stopped working (? when I upgraded to WordPress 2.5).
I’ve therefore just tried VozMe, which seems to work. It’s a little slower, as it creates the mp3 file on the fly. On the other hand, that means that it’s going to work for the oldest of posts, and equally, that I didn’t have to register.
I’ll see how it goes. I’ve selected the female voice, which I *think* sounds better than the male…

Audio bits and bobs.

EveryZing – attempts to analyse the audio in online audio and video to enable searching (Technical details are outlined in SpeechTechMag). I’ve just tried searching “News” for “Peter Tobin” – who has cropped up a lot in the UK news in the past few days. I didn’t get any hits, though when I extended this to “All sources” I got several YouTube videos (including several from UK based news agencies). I guess that it’s predominantly the North American (US?) news channels that it searches. Blinkx gave me quite a few more hits.
I’ve been using Talkr for a while now, to create audio podcasts of my blog posting. From Scott’s blog, I discovered xFruits, which he’s using to create a pdf of his rss feed. I’ve just managed to do the same, though it took some time, as I wasn’t sure which RSS feed it wanted -and it seemed to be quite fussy (the atom one satisfied it) xFruits have a range of services, including an audio generating one. After quite a few false starts, I’ve managed to create one, and after a while I’ve discovered how I think that I can listen to it. As far as I can tell, I have to go to VocalFruits – and sign in. The voice is better than the talkr one, the drawback – probably related to the quality of the voice, is the fact that I can only have 100 free listens. I’ve used up a few already testing it. If I want to use it more, I have to pay €35 a month (for up to 1,000 listens). Guess I’ll stick with Talkr! (The .pdf creation would appear to be free).


Quentin d’Souza has uploaded his Web 2.0 ideas for Educators to scribd. It’s similar to Zoho, Google Docs etc., in that you can upload Word Documents etc. It differs in that they are then designed for viewing – as .pdf, Word, plain text – and, which I think could be useful for quite a few students, .mp3 files. The real drawback that I can see with the mp3 files is that you’d have to do a bit of fiddlling to get to hear the .mp3 & see the text/ diagrams at the same time. That would be useful!

Read Pal

ReadPal is an interesting looking piece of software. It claims that it lets you read faster than you might otherwise on screen.
I’ve had a look, and I think that it could have some uses – the first problem I ran into was the fact that it only integrates with IE, not with Firefox (didn’t even bother trying with Flock). I also wasn’t keen on the fact that it wanted to run at start up – though I can see that would be useful if you decided to use it a lot. Images don’t get incorporated – which could be an issue if they are vital to the text. Another big problem is that it doesn’t currently work with .pdf files. I’ve also found another issue – they’ve supplied it with several files; but no way of bookmarking where you have got to. So, though I have started Huckleberry Finn, I can’t get back to the same point again, without remembering where I got to (you can zoom to say 23% – but you’d have to remember where you’d got to).
I tested it with a Word Document – and I can see the powers that it could have.
If it worked with Firefox, and .pdf – and, ideally allowed the user to select chunks of text (as ReadPlease does for example) – then I think that it would be a very powerful tool. I’d also be interested (long term) to see if they have a version that works with a PDA.

So, in summary – good idea, but needs further work.

Via: Lisa Valentine

Dispelling the myth of caption size

Had you asked me before this morning about the possibility of putting captions on video designed for an iPod, I’d have thought that the screen would be too small to make it really worth while. However, Joe Clark has posted a very clear description of how it’s entirely possible – mainly because an iPod screen is actually quite high resolution for its size – and you hold them very close to your face. Thinking about it, my phone has a much smaller screen – and I can get several lines of text on it – far more than you’d have at a time in a caption. Have just one or two lines & there’d be plenty of space left to see a video – so on an iPod there clearly is the potential for captioned video.
Now thinking about the language learning potential for that for all users …

Audio blogs

I’ve looked in the past at setting up audio for this blog, to enhance accessibility. The options, when I first investigated were either to record everything myself – which would have been very slow, or to use a plugin that read it. The first that I tried was Feed2podcast, which I set up, though ultimately decided that I wasn’t that keen on the object that it adds, as it essentially reads the whole RSS feed. I’ve since found Talkr, which puts a podcast button at the end of each post. (It’s still a mechanised voice), but I think that it works better – though it will be interesting to see what others think.
(If you are reading this on the Elgg mirror, then you won’t see the podcast link … I’ve not yet sorted out getting it on there, it’s just on my WordPress blog hosted in the University.)

Wiki on a Stick

Having talked to various people about “Wiki on a Stick”, I thought I’d better have a go. The first page that I found was one at MediaWiki – which is the one I’d seen before. I intially tried the method with Uniform Server3_3, though that started to look rather fiddly (and quite large, given that I only had a 64 MB stick). So I then tried the Alternate approach using WOS portable. That was much more straightforward to install, however, once installed I couldn’t get it to work on my PC in the office at all. I decided that it was most likely to be the University set up – so tried my tablet. I got a bit further this time (i.e. the server started running). However, I still couldn’t get MySQL to run. Remembering that I had MSSQL on there for Perception testing, I tried at home. Still the same problem. I did get it running from the hard drive in the end, but that required me to download & install the earlier version of WOS – which didn’t have a “Small Edition”, so the overall size was over 120 MB.

I had a further google, and it seems that there are other ways of installing a server on a stick, however, I suspect that given the fact that I couldn’t get it going on the University PC would mean that this isn’t a sensible approach if we’re thinking of getting students to use a wiki on a stick for note keeping, so another approach.

So, I’ve found two “Wiki on a stick” options that don’t seem to require a server. While I rather like the sound of t StickWiki , the fact that it only runs in Firefox, while not a problem for me, wouldn’t necessarily suit students, so TiddlyWiki seems to have the edge. It’s tiny! Basically it’s a 159kb html file that can be downloaded. It contains all the JavaScript required to allow you to start to build a wiki. I think that it will take a bit of playing with to get to understand how to use it, and I’m rather unsure of its accessibility. I’ve tried a couple of the accessibility tests on the AIS toolbar, and the results don’t seem too good.

As it was so small, I’ve put StickWiki (even smaller) on the same USB stick & will see what the pros & cons of each are. (So far StickWiki seems to be working in IE as well as Firefox, and I think that I prefer it).