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EdTech Update





Skyping with an iPod

A few days ago, I admitted to weakening and purchasing an iPod Touch. I have to admit that my worries about it being consigned to the "drawer of unused toys" were without warrant.

I just love the little devil.

Here are some things I've found:

  • You can use it to make a SkypeOut VoIP call to another land or cell phone. Download Fring. Buy a headset/microphone combo. Purchase some SkypeOut  credits for about $0.03 a minute. It works! (Just remember to add 001 before the area code if dialing a US number.) No need to jailbreak the 2.0 OS.
  • With the microphone, it's easy to make a voice recording with a little application called SpeakEasy.
  • The calendar syncing with Entourage via iCal is working well. Don't ask me to 'splain exactly how you do this. Make sure you have a current back up of your Microsoft User Data folder when you begin experimenting.
  • Games are distracting. I still can't get my poor little Spore named Bob past the spiky things level.
  • I am trying to see if I can use one download of an audiobook from Audible on both my iPod and Kindle. Easy, cheesy on the iPod. The Kindle is being a PIA since it requires a PC for file transfer to it. I increasingly understand where the DRM opponents are coming from. (See Steal This Comic.) Hey, I buy a CD I can use it in my truck, my boombox. my stereo sytem, etc.
  • I am happy to have a monetary conversion program for my trip to Amman, Jordan next week. I love the world clock (no more need to bring an alarm clock on my travels.) I downloaded a great dictionary and use it at least once or twice a day.
  • The single e-book I downloaded seems easy to read. I need to try out different e-book readers. The Kindle still has the superior screen, however.
  • The ability to make buttons out of bookmarks is cool. I have an iPod screen with just bookmark buttons I can use to reach both my e-mail accounts, my iGoogle, GoogleReader, and my blog. Nifty.
  • The photos are beautiful, easy to sync and manage, and the slideshow of the grandsons is amazing. Would you like to see it?
  • Has anyone discovered a way to keep those damnable little white cords on the earbuds from being a tangled mess every time you want to use them?
So far, I'm happy I made this purchase. While the iPod is not a true Netbook, let alone laptop, it sure does a lot. Great fun.


A glimpse into darkness

I know I lead a sheltered life. I know it because every once in a while I get an unwanted peek into quite a different world.

Last Saturday morning, the LWW and I were eating breakfast at the Izaak Walton railroad hotel on the south border of Glacier National Park in Montana, surrounded by mountains clad with gloriously golden tamarack trees interspersed with deep green pines. As peaceful and relaxing a place as one can find.

We were happily munching on huckleberry pancakes in the dining room when a pleasant enough looking middle-aged lady at the next table looked up from her constant prayers spoken in an underbreath to let us know in the space of about 10 minutes:

  • She was an investigative journalist getting evidence of the trains full of shackled political prisoners being routed along the Great Northern.
  • That the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis was deliberately caused by Hilary Clinton in order to get more federal transportation funding.
  • That Roswell NM is the site of extensive human genetics experimentation by the military.
  • And that all the Yellowstone National Park rangers are on the take since the park officials provide prostitutes, meth, and "hard liquor" to important guests to the park. As a result of her learning this, she was "professionally" poisoned by park officials to keep her quiet from which it took her 6 months to recover.

I am probably forgetting some other of her discoveries, all declared with urgent certainty. We ate quickly, remained polite and headed out as soon as possible, her blessings and warnings following us out the door.

Happily, I don't seem to encounter people whose sad, dark minds are filled with wasps and demons very often. But here's the thing: I bet this lady has a website or writes for one. And I bet there are thousands just like her. What are the odds of kids coming across the "facts" she and other conspiracy theorists produce? Pretty good.

This tripe is as or more harmful than pornography IMHO. And I doubt there is a filter in the world that has a "nut-case" setting.

Are we teaching kids to avoid info-porn?

Oh, the lady did begin her little diatribe by telling me that I was a highly intelligent looking man. While I suggested that looks are often deceiving, it just goes to show that nobody is wrong 100% of the time.

Tamaracks of Glacier Park. October 2008


Off season

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

The photo above was taken yesterday afternoon in Glacier National Park in the middle of the afternoon. Note the lack of people and vehicles. It's off-season here in northern Montana. After speaking at the state teacher conference in Missoula on Thursday, the LWW and I are taking a couple days to visit this beautiful place.

I've always been a fan of visiting popular areas off-season. Fewer people, no lines, better rates for hotels, and just a calmer experience. Sure, plenty of things are closed. I may need to just live with the fact that I will never get to see the "Mysterious Montana House of Vortex Mystery." At least the scenery is still open, even if not all the roads are.

Perhaps there is some lesson to be drawn from this. Or maybe not.

Oh, this is how you tell you are getting old. The hotel in Missoula had Hooters and IHOP restaurants right next to it. It was the pumpkin pancakes that I got me excited. Sigh...

From Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park