Computer Hardware in Plain English

Yet another great video from CommonCraft.

Recently, they’ve started to cover a whole range of material; outside the computer based ideas. While they’re informative and interesting, I wish that they’d make it easier to sort the show into a “computer” (preferably including those commissioned for different companies) sublist & “other” sublist.
But, keep up the good work!

Happy 40th Birthday, mouse.

On 9th Dec 1968 Doug Engelbart demonstrated what was to become a mouse.
Now, as I look round my desk, I have:


A kitkat mouse (ball)


Trackerball (which I prefer)


Wacom tablet & wireless mouse (all 3 of these are connected to my PC)


Tablet – trackpad & pointer – fingers also work (it generally has a minature mouse attached, but not today)


OLPC’s track pad (not generally on my desk, but I’ve been using it recently)


OLPC’s “joystick” in reader mode.


The N85 – with a trackpad. I used the N-85 to take the rest of the photos – and am incidentally VERY impressed with their clarity!

So, what do I use the most often?

  • PC – it tends to be the trackerball
  • Tablet – mixture – the trackpad is quickest, the pointer more accurate – the miniature mouse is my preferred choice – but can’t always be bothered to get it out (e.g. today!)


Google Chrome

I’ve just installed the Google Chrome browser to have a play. A few thoughts so far: 

  • Though it is based on Mozilla, it doesn’t offer the option to create a Master Password; so, the option to save passwords isn’t as useful. (That’s the main reason I don’t use it in IE, I can’t have the master one). 
  • The interface is very clean & well, Googley. 
  • It knows I’m in the UK – so the options for default search engine (should I wish not to have Google) are UK versions of Yahoo etc.  And, it seems just about any can be added. 
  • The tabs are at the top … and the file menu – with the option to print etc., over on the right (a bit like IE 7)
  • It only offered to import bookmarks etc., from IE. Not from Firefox. 

I’ll try it for a while; I think that it might work quite well on the laptop, with its smaller screen, as it is very clean. More later, when I’ve tried it. 

Wikipedia’s got an overview of the technology behind it ( the incognito mode looks interesting), and Google have a comic book format explanation of its technology. 

(No idea how to change the default font, but they’ve picked a rather nice one) 


    6 Adobe AIR apps

    ReadWriteWeb have a list of useful AIR applications. I’ve just tried the Google Analytics application – it’s useful. Perhaps a little fiddly to set up profiles, as it seems that I have to enter the username & password to set up each profile – even when I have several sites tied to a single login. It’s also not possible to edit a profile when I realised I’d got it a bit wrong.

    However, those niggles aside, it presents the information in a very easy to digest way. I the map overlays seem to be a clearer than Google’s. (Am I really so popular in the middle east?)

    I’ll have a look at some others later.

    Is Podcasting the New PowerPointing…

    ….or Will We Finally Teach that the Audience Matters? Christian Long makes useful points, in particular in relation to student presentations/ blogs/ podcasts – commenting

    I suspect this is because our students have not traditionally been instructed in the ‘how to engage an audience’ side of the idea-sharing relationship.

    He’s got some useful URLs to give guidance – it’s clear that many (probably me included!) need good ideas about how to prepare slides, so that they add to the lecture, but don’t negate the need to be there.
    I have thought for some time that Powerpoint slides on their own ought not be enough to replace the lecture – i.e for students missing the lecture, they shouldn’t be “enough”. How, then, do I provide information – given that students may have a genuine reason for not being there?
    I’m trying with one course to record myself – I’m not intending to go to the Rotunda and record things properly – that would take far too long, rather I’ll record as I go with the Laptop, straight into Powerpoint and use Impatica to compress. (Or, perhaps, capture with Captivate, so that I can grab everything, not just Powerpoint).
    On a related note, there was recently an article in the Daily Princetonian about the use of technology – specifically students using Laptops and Lecturers (or should I say “faculty”) using Powerpoint. Tim Schamer gives his views of it – and several of his commentors have clearly had boring Powerpoint presentations – but they’ve not said what they’d like.

    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