Careful What You’re Locked Into

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 10.42.53 PMI had a great time mountain biking this past weekend. I really enjoy engaging in a physical activity that requires one hundred percent of your mental attention. Riding the more challenging trails is just that. In some places, the path is just inches wide. Between rocks and roots, you’re looking out for the smallest obstacle that could throw you off balance. Dodging trees on one trail is reminiscent of the speeder chase scene on Endor in Return of the Jedi.

One of the things that help you navigate through twist and turns, maintain control, and pedal more efficiently is a clipless pedal/shoe system. These clipless systems lock your feet to the pedals much like ski boots lock into skis. In addition to the physical advantages, there’s a mental advantage as well. You ride differently when you’re “locked in.” There is no easy bailing. You power through more. There is unity with you and the bike—if it goes down, you will most likely go down with it. There’s a life lesson there.

Choose carefully with what or whom you are “locked into” in life!

Love It, Hate It, Embraced It Or Ban It—The Apple Watch Is Headed Toward Your Classroom

AppleWatchApple has long been in the business of squashing the status quo with disruptive technology. The impact of the Macintosh changed the way we used computers. The iPod revolutionized the music industry. To say the iPhone revolutionized the phone industry is an understatement. The iPad has brought tablets to the forefront—in fact, this happens to be the year experts predict that tablets will outsell PCs.

Now, on April 24, 2015, the Apple Watch is coming to a wrist near you—and some of those wrists may belong to your students.

My guess is that it will take some time before the Apple Watch is on the wrist of the majority of students. For one, the wristwatch has been replaced by the cellphone—so much so that the gesture of pointing to your wrist to refer to time is unrecognized by many of those under 20. (Ironically, when simply considering it as a timepiece, the cell phone is more characteristic of a pocket watch, which, of course, was replaced by the wristwatch.) The Apple Watch may find its early adopters to be those beyond their college years, especially considering the second reason it may take some time—cost. For the high-end models, you may need to have a retirement fund to steal from to pay for it. The Apple Watch will start $349, and the gold Apple Watch Edition will set you back $17,000.

Among educators, there is concern that the watches will be one more way students could cheat. Some universities have already banned them, and others are considering an all-out ban on wristwatches.

Not everyone is against it. With its health-monitoring capabilities, the Apple Watch could be a welcome addition for health and physical education classes tracking steps, heart rate, and the duration of an activity. Science and biology classes could track signs of stress during a variety of activities.

So what are your thoughts—will the Apple Watch prove to be a disruptive technology or simply disruptive?

Things They Don’t Tell You—Fuel Aperture Location

fuelgageIMG_0207Recently, at a gas station, I watched a guy pull up to the pump across from me, get out of his car, swipe his card, remove the hose from the pump, and then realize the fuel aperture was on the opposite side of his car.

Now I am not passing judgment—he may have been distracted, or maybe he was borrowing a car from someone else—but, what he did next makes me think this tip wouldn’t have helped him much anyway.

After discerning this wasn’t going to work, he puts the pump nozzle down on the pavement, gets in his car, drives away with his door held open, and circles back around to the proper position to pump gas. I am beginning to understand why some states don’t allow people to pump gas on their own.

So the key to knowing which side the fuel aperture is on the fuel gauge. For most all modern cars, there is a triangle/arrow next to a fuel pump icon pointing either left or right—the side where the fuel aperture is located. So whether it’s a rental or a friend’s car, you can quickly glance at the gas gauge to see how you need to drive up to the pump.

Now if someone loans you a 1969 GTO, you won’t find this icon, nor will you find the fuel aperture on the left or the right. It’s right where it should be—centered, nicely hidden behind the flip-down license plate—so you can pump gas from either side.

By the way, if you know someone loaning out their GTO—let me know!

Nutshell—New From Prezi

nutshell_logo_rgbNutshell is a new visual storytelling app that combines the simplicity of photos, the compelling nature of video, and the fun of animation to create short, shareable cinematic narratives.

The idea for Nutshell came about when the Prezi team discovered that people were using Prezi’s zoom-able presentation canvas for sharing events like birthdays, road trips, and even marriage proposals—since it’s easy to embed photos and videos, add text and graphics, and use motion to connect the dots and tell stories. These Prezis inspired the company to create Nutshell, a new way to encapsulate life’s moments into stories and easily share them, all from a mobile device.

To use the app, simply snap three photos in succession, and it will animate them into a single movie sequence. It’s also easy to add text and graphics to customize your cinematic vignette. The result is a playful, unconventional twist on traditional photos, which can be shared by email and text message, as well as posted to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

To see Nutshell in action, visit prezi.com/nutshell. The application is free to download in the App Store under ‘Nutshell Camera.’

Canvas by Instructure

logo_instructureIf you have or are considering a one-to-one program in your school, a learning management system (LMS) will be a key piece in the mix of tools to make it a success. It will bring together many of the digital tools already being used (Turn-It-In, Google Apps, etc.) in one central place.

If you have ever taken an online course, you have already been on the student end of an LMS. Blackboard is one of the most popular but has grown rather complex and stagnated in the area of integrating new technologies. I had narrowed my choices to Canvas and Schoology. Both are very capable systems. Schoology has a bit of a “Facebook” social media feel. This can be both a strength and weakness. Canvas feels more course-like. From a very quick and non-scientific survey, I have found that high school students may have a greater chance of running into Canvas in college and this could be an advantage.

If you would like to try Canvas with a “toes-first” approach, faculty can sign up for a free Canvas account and begin setting up courses in it. These free accounts will allow you to use Canvas with a class with all of the features with the exception of the overall administration and school tie-in.

Prezi—A New Spin On Presentation Software

If you are currently using Prezi, they have released eight reusable design templates that you can customize with your own content.

Prezi is cloud-based, presentation software that zooms in and out of each slide. Using these or other templates is a great way to try it out without starting from scratch. Warning: After using Prezi, you may not go back to any other presentation software again.

Flushing DNS Cache In OS X (Panther Through Yosemite)

From time to time, when changing DNS configurations you will need to flush the local DNS cache on your computer. On a Mac, this can easily be done from the Terminal. Just run the following commands for your respective version of OS X…

El Capitan

sudo dscacheutil -flushcache;sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder; say cache flushed

Yosemite (10.10)

sudo discoveryutil mdnsflushcache;sudo discoveryutil udnsflushcaches;say flushed

Mavericks (10.9)

dscacheutil -flushcache;sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

Mountain Lion (10.8) and Lion (10.7)

sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

Snow Leopard 10.6 and Leopard 10.5

dscacheutil -flushcache

Tiger (10.4) and Panther (10.3)

lookupd -flushcache

Connections

eric-meyerThe Web is an amazing thing. Computers, wires, switches, networks, data centers, and all kinds of impersonal components, yet we use it in so many personal ways. We share emails, photos, and stories with family and friends often at great distances. Sometimes relationships are born through the Web.

Sometimes we simply make superficial connections. We follow people on blogs and social media that we will never meet and with whom we will never truly connect.

One such connection took a turn an unexpected turn.

I have been involved in Web design to one degree or another since 1995. As I got deeper into Web design and development, I became interested in Web standards and a niche data format standard called microformats. It was through microformats that I first heard of Eric Meyer. I read some of his books and perused his website. Never met him. Never emailed him. Never tried to be his “friend” on Facebook. However, a while back I did follow him on Twitter—along with about 75,000 others. Again, no personal connection.

I expected Tweets about Web standards and other tech stuff.

What I saw was the outpouring of a father chronicling the last year or so of his daughter’s life. A life that has touched many who will never meet her, never speak to her, and never see her grow up.

From his Twitter account, I could tell her time was short. Today was her birthday. She turned six. Today she breathed her last breath.

I don’t know the Meyers family at all. I won’t be flying out for the funeral. I won’t be sending flowers, but as a father, I have a sympathetic sinking feeling in my gut. I can’t imagine what they have gone through and are going through now. I pray I never know.

I have been looking at my children differently today. I want to hold them more, hug them harder, and tell them I love them more often. In short, I want to be a better dad.

What I have learned from Eric about Web standards and microformats doesn’t really matter. What I have learned from him about priorities in life is life-changing. Thank you, Eric, for sharing your Little Spark with the world.

Socrative 2.0 Releases Tomorrow


logoSocrative is a great way to get real-time responses and assessment from anyone with a computer, smartphone or other mobile devices. It gets its name from the Socratic Method and is a great way to engage students in the classroom or lecture hall.

Socrative 2.0 is coming out Monday, October 7, 2013. This new version will include student quiz navigation, which allows them to skip questions and move to any question in student-paced quizzes, and the ability to include images in any multiple choice or short answer questions.

I am looking forward to participating in their Fall Partnership Program, providing detailed monthly feedback and being a part of forming this up-and-coming student response system.

There is an app for teachers and a separate app for students for iOS.