Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Podcasts! Podcasts! Get Your Podcasts!!

Have you discovered podcasts? Have your students? What do you know about Podcasts? Such as, did you know that Podcasts are basically audio files 'delivered' via the Internet? And, that you do NOT need an iPod or iTunes to listen to a Podcast? (Of course, having an iPod or other MP3 player, allows you to download and listen to the audio at a time convenient for you!)

One of the pieces in the Podcast puzzle is how folks go about "getting" Podcasts. You can easily click and download audio files from a website (but you have to first find the website, and then locate the links to the audio files). However, using a program such as Apple's iTunes (available for both Mac or PC), you can choose to subscribe to a variety of Podcasts (audio content produced on a regular basis), and each time you open iTunes, the most recent Podcasts download into your computer -- for FREE!

What's on your Podcast list? My favorite 'listens' come from educators such as Wesley Fryer, Bud the Teacher, Women of Web 2.0 and David Warlick. And now, Apple Distinguished Educators have begun a new Podcast channel... the Conference Connections, which promises to have a lot of great content coming. Conference Connections debuted last week with 15 episodes recorded at the Florida Educational Technology Conference. This is great for those unable to travel to education conferences! Kudos to the ADEs and the conference speakers who have agreed to make their presentations available online.

So, listen up, and check out the Conference Connections:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hey... I created a Widget!

I made a widget this week to countdown the number of days until the IL-TCE Conference!

Widgets are pretty cool. They are small web-based "windows" that work with Mac's OSX Tiger Dashboard, and can be used to display snippets of information, such as stock prices, airfares, weather, or provide quick access to utilities like the dictionary or calculator. And, when active, they float over what is on your screen. On the Mac, you can bring up widgets by clicking the Dashboard icon on the Dock, or by pressing the F12 key. On the new "Mighty Mouse", the tiny scroll button, when pressed, activates the widgets -- teachers in the lab often are surprised when they press this while scrolling and the widgets pop up!

What if you wanted to create a widget, how would you go about it?

The first step is to figure out what makes up a widget. The Apple website is a good place to start. The Apple Developer Page has a tutorial to make a basic "Hello World" widget.

Basically, widgets are a combination of html, images and some special Javascript files, all "packaged" together. Control + click on the widget's icon (in your "House" > "Library" > "Widgets" folder) and you can "Show Package Contents." Once the package is open, you can edit and view the html file in a web editor/browser.

My IL-TCE Countdown widget (available on the ICE website) is a reworked version of the "Christmas is Coming" widget, originally created by Jonathan Gardner of Gardner Designs,. Jonathan graciously replied to my email, and granted permission to publish this!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

How "green" is your car?

File this under "Your Tax Dollar$ at Work"... from the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, this website provides Gas mileage (MPG), greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution ratings, and safety information for new and used cars and trucks. Compare vehicles side by side, find your car's Energy Impact Score, get tips on gas mileage, investigate the best and worst MPG vehicle ratings, link to local gas prices, and more. Visit: www.fueleconomy.gov

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How geeks show they care...

... is the byline of GeoGreetings, a website that creates a message composed with "letter shaped" images (roofs of buildings for example) from Google Earth's satellite imagery. Type up to 40 characters and copy the url into an email to send your message. And, to make it easy for others to access the link, shorten it using "tinyurl.com" -- so instead of the 53 character link of: http://www.geogreeting.com/view.html?zdCW33*D+cuUhiZi, Tiny URL shortened my greeting to: http://tinyurl.com/y6gctk -- see what message the surface of the earth holds for you!