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 For one, the wristwatch has been replaced by the cellphone—so much so that the gesture of pointing to your wrist to refer to time is unrecognized by many of those under 20.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?

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.’

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

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.

2013 Florida Sales Tax Holiday—Now Includes Technology

The annual back-to-school Florida sales tax holiday is next weekend, August 2 through August 4, 2013. This year it includes tech items ranging from thumb drives to tablets—even computers if sold for $750 or less. So when you plan your back-to-school shopping don’t forget to include technology.

For more details and a complete list of items exempt from sales tax during the weekend, please view the flyer from the Florida Department of Revenue.

Online & Mobile Resource: Faithlife Study Bible

logo-betaI hope everyone’s New Year has been off to a great start. Below is some information regarding a great (and free) online and mobile study Bible. While I have recommended (and still like) YouVersion as a great Bible for your iPhone or iPad, the Faithlife Study Bible takes is a step further as it contains quite a few study notes. There is also some information regarding how this can be used in school settings available at faithlife.com/about (then click on Faithlife + Schools).

The Faithlife Study Bible, worth $89.95, is the world’s largest, most advanced online and mobile study Bible, and you can take it anywhere. Get yours free on your iPad, iPhone, Android device, or online at Bible.Faithlife.com.

The Faithlife Study Bible is created by Logos Bible Software—the world’s leading producer of digital content for Bible study.

For more information, please visit faithlifebible.com/giveaway

LastPass—Keeping Your Passwords Secure Without The Hassle

The word “password” has been in the top ten list of most commonly used passwords for some time. Easy to remember? Yes. Secure? Not at all.

One technique to aid in memory is to substitute letters for symbols. Instead of password, consider something like p@s$w0rd. The problem is that once we come up with that easy-to-remember-hard-to-guess password, we want to use it everywhere. So that same password that is securing your rather mundane user account on your friend’s blog is also securing your bank, Facebook, and email account. That may seem fine until you read the headline about someone hacking into—insert some big company name here. Then when one password is compromised, the rest go with it.

Ideally, you should have a unique, hard-to-guess password for every online account you have—which is a daunting task even for card-carrying members of Mensa.

LastPassLogo329x40Enter LastPass, an online, multi-platform solution for storing your passwords. This service can be had for free and will keep all of your passwords synced and secure. It also allows you to share and give passwords to other LastPass users. Sharing allows the recipient to use the password without being able to see it, while giving allows for viewing of the password as well.

There is also a premium subscription for as little as $1 per month. With the premium version, you can use it with your iPhone or another smartphone. This alone is worth the cost, but you also get multifactor authentication, priority support, and no ads.

Related links:

DropBox—Easy Entry Into The Cloud

If you need access to files from multiple devices and locations one of the best solutions is to store those files in the “cloud”—the latest buzzword that you should be saying about 24.3 times a day so that everyone knows that you are “in-the-know”.

Google offers a great way to do this using Google Docs. It allows you to create, store, and share a variety of document types that live online—or in the cloud.

Sometimes, however, you need to do this with file types that Google won’t handle—like Photoshop files. You also need an Internet connection to access these files. For me, there is also the OCD issue of wanting to have my files on my hardware.

logoEnter DropBox—the best of both worlds. Sign up for a free DropBox account, and you get a place to store your files in the cloud, synchronization with your devices, and the ability to share files with others.

NOTE: While DropBox may be a great solution for sharing files, please be aware that what you put in the shared folder takes up space in the DropBox account of each person that you are sharing with. It is also not the best solution for interoffice sharing while on the same network since shared file must first be uploaded, then download via your Internet connection. In those situations, putting the files on a local server may be more efficient.

Access Other Domain Extensions In iOS

iPhone KeyboardWhen entering Web and email addresses, the iPhone soft keyboard saves a few taps with its .com key. If you are in Safari on the iPhone, you can even skip this key altogether if the domain name ends in .com. Safari assumes .com if nothing else is entered. For example, to go to http://www.blakejmatthews.com just type in blakejmatthews and tap go.

What if the domain name doesn’t end in .com?

If you press and hold the .com key .net, .edu, .org, and .us will appear. Then, slide to the one you want and simply let go.

But wait—there’s more! If you’re creating an email, press and hold the dot/period key and you’ll access the same feature. (This may not work in all apps, and Web forms as this is dependent on the developer.)