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Friday, October 27, 2006

Two from the LA Times

A couple of pieces this week in the Los Angeles Times Education section caught my eye. I'll just offer them up as links:


While I was just going to post the two links above and let it go, I happened to do a Yahoo Education search and was blown away by the results.

Assistive Technology Portal

Aaron Marks wrote this week telling me about his site, Assistive Technology News Portal. "Axistive Assistive Technology News Portal offers free news, articles, product reviews and all product and vendor information of assistive technology devices."

Friday Sales

The Friday Sale

"Friday Sales" have become a big item on the web. Amazon has had theirs for years, offering some values and short run items. eCost has made a lot of business with their Bargain Countdowns as well. I received a mailing from J&R Computer (and Music) that had a few nice Friday Sale items today. The one that caught my eye was a router-hub, since I just paid too much for an inferior switch!

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Saturday, October 28, 2006


OmniDazzle by the Omni Group, is a very cool add-on that can add some pizzazz to presentations. It's described as "a set of fun and useful enhancements that help you highlight certain areas of your screen, create visual effects, and track the location of your mouse pointer." I ran across the fairly new (June, 2006) application from a link on MyAppleMenu and a review by Jeff Gamet on the Mac Observer.

While Omni's site noted only limited support for my 12" G4 PowerBook, the add-on worked quite well in the "flashlight" and several other modes. The consensus of the folks where I work was that they liked the pixie dust plug-in best. It trails yellow pixie dust from the cursor as you move it around the screen.



Pixie Dust




I have a workshop in a week where I'll try it out in the field, but this appears to be a really nice addition to any presenter's (teacher's) bag of tricks. BTW: OmniDazzle appears to be Mac-only.


I'd briefly mentioned the Flock web browser in a posting last February. Since that time, I've continued to use Flock to do testing on the web site where I work. I frequently have to have multiple browsers running to log into the site with several different fictitious users.

Flock is now at developer release 0.7.6 and seems to be working well. It has a nice blue theme, although the screenshot at right has lots of green in it from the new chameleon theme Moodle introduced with their 1.6 upgrade.

From the Flock "tour" page:

Welcome to Flock, the safe, spyware free web browser that makes it easier to connect with your friends. With Flock it's a snap to upload, comment, and discover new pics. Read all the news you care about, in one place. Blog freely. Get search results as soon as you start typing in the search box, and much more.

I ran across the first online ad I'd seen for the browser this morning while surfing, and that, along with the release of Internet Explorer 7 and FireFox 2, got me thinking about doing a posting again on Flock. It's great that there are so many options in browsers once again for both Macintosh and Windows (and Linux, too, I suppose). I also regularly use Camino, Opera, and Safari, along with occasional use of Mozilla's Sea Monkey.

We've pretty well standardized at work on using FireFox. That occasionally gets us into trouble when we forget to check the appearance of a page in Internet Explorer, but we all like FireFox. I've noticed that FireFox 2 is just a tad more sluggish on my Mac than the previous version. Maybe it's just me or our internet connection.

Posted again

I buried the link to Richard Slettvet's excellent spoof, The No Family Left Behind Amendment, in a long list of links yesterday. It deserves better and should be a MUST READ for all teachers who are wavering on "voting the bums out" next week. Rich teaches special education at Lynndale Elementary in Lynnwood, Washington.

Excellent Algebra Tutorial

One of the things I'd fought for since the day I started as the User Community Liaison at PRISM was a front page link on our site to similar sites. In some internal political maneuvering recently, I got my wish and immediately posted the page I already had prepared: Other Resource Sites. While there is at least one listing on the page of...well, might as well just say it...a parasite site that slavishly copies everything we do on PRISM, there are many other excellent teaching resources listed.

Two of the best I've found are Wisconsin-Online and The Orange Grove. While both require membership to see and use their online teaching resources (not lesson plans, but real, honest to God, teaching resources that can improved classroom instruction), membership in both is currently free with no sign of any coming fees. Wisconsin-Online carries tons of excellent materials, and I highly recommend you visit and try a few of them.

While The Orange Grove has very limited K-12 listings (mostly social studies), one math posting stands out as an outstanding resource for middle and high school math teachers. Once you're into the admittedly slow-loading site, click Content, then Browse, and finally K-12 to reach Algebra 1 - Florida Virtual Schools.

Thanks for an Excellent Product

I really try to downplay the Mac advocacy on this page and site, as I find that people gravitate to the product that best suits their needs when possible. But today, I'm going to add a few comments about what I've been doing this morning.

I started out ripping a DVD with Mac the Ripper that I'd used one of those CD/DVD repair kits on. My granddaughter, Katherine, had gotten it out of its container and drug it across the stone kitchen floor! While ripping, I was also upgrading my virus definitions, writing this posting, surfing with multiple browsers. and had my Firewire drive and PowerBook linked to the G5 tower I use at home. In short, I was doing lots of things at once, something that I wouldn't dare try on my PC.

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