Friday, September 26, 2008

Participation on the Internet

the web changes everything

I've been a mild enthusiast in following the US election for a few reasons.  I'm an avid traveler to the US, visit whenever and wherever I can.  I also follow the election as US policies have an effect on Canadians in many regards.

What I'm viewing right now is an election site on Twitter.  If you haven't seen twitter, it is a 'mini-blog' site that people post continual updates to the question "What are you doing?".  My posting are here:  These updates are called 'tweats' in Twitter language.  I've found it a great way to follow other educational technology leaders across Canada and the US.  Many of the people I'm following also have blogs where they post more indepth articles but twitter is where they share valuable information, links and thoughts on current issues.

Twitter also hosts tweats on specific topics like the one going on right now at:  About every second someone is posting their personal viewpoint in the form of a tweat.  The hot-topic at this time is the Obama, McCain debate that is supposed to run today as it is now in question since McCain pulled out due to the banking meltdown.  What I'm most impressed by is the shear number of people posting their views for others, like me, to read.

How the web changes everything.  Not that I agree with many of the tweats, it is just that they are voices from all across America that I wouldn't have heard from if it wasn't for this amazing technology.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Software Your Computer Can't Live Without

Picasa 3.0

Like many proud parents, our computer is clogged full of full of photos of our three kids.  At last count we have well over 10,000 photos from the past seven years of owning a digital camera.  One of the challenges is to view, manipulate and share the photos.  This is where I recently rediscovered Picasa 3.0 beta.  Weather you are at home or at school, Picasa is free Windows software that will make your photo work more seamless and enjoyable.

When you first install Picasa it will automatically scan your computer for pictures and videos.  If you are at school and have network drives that contain photos, be sure to let Picasa know about their location by clicking on File >> Add folder to Picasa and the photos will soon be available.  I've used Picasa in a previous version and the interface in this version really shines.  All the actions are smooth and the controls have helpful text to help explain the function.  

Making videos was a very quick process.  Simply select two or more photos and click on 'Create Movie Presentation'.  A movie will automatically be created with a title slide that uses the name of the folder the pictures.  A few more clicks and I was adding text on the slides, an audio track.

Sharing photos was an amazingly easy experience.  Again, select any number of photos and at the bottom of Picasa there is an 'Upload' button.  All options are in one simple interface.  You can name the album, add a description and choose the resolution of the files.  A great option to avoid inadvertently making your album public for all to see is that by default the album is unlisted.

Google Chrome

Chrome is the latest piece of free software for the Internet giant.  Chrome is google free internet browser.  If your computer is anything like mine you already have the three main browsers, Internet ExplorerFirefox  and Opera, so why would you need another?  Chrome is simply the fasted browser on my computer.  There are also a few great features that the other main browsers don't have yet.  
One the start screen there is a thumbnail of the recent sites that you have opened to make it easy to revisit your favourite sites.  Also, the address bar and the search bar are combined into one box so you just start typing a address or a search and click enter.  Where the browser really excels is when visiting the google sites.  I'm a regular gmail, google reader, google calendar and now picasa photo viewer.  It is great how quickly all those sites load on their own tab for easy access.  

Give Chrome a surf today!

Let me know your thoughts on either of these two products.