Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What's an ip address?

The website Of Zen and Computing is quickly becoming one of my favorite sites. Its simple design and layout help push its goal, to answer your computer questions. It is full of content and grows everyday. Categories include digital photos, hardware, iPod, Mac, multimedia, Windows, tips and tricks, and much more.

An IP address is a number, much like a street address or phone number, that uniquely identifies the devices that are connected to a network. These devices use IP addresses to locate and communicate with each other. Copied from here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

New Computer Buying Guide

In case you are buying a computer, I want to give you a general idea of what to look for. The top producing computer companies are Dell, HP, Gateway; all are very good. It is like comparing a Benz to a BMW. I prefer both Dells and BMW’s. The following recommendations are based on Dell computers. I should note that Apple Computers is fourth on the list of computer market share and I feel comfortable recommending them, but that is another buying guide.

Should I wait for Vista?
A question that I get a lot now is, should I wait for Microsoft Vista. Right now is it a toss up. If you need a new computer today, buy one. If you can wait, then I would wait. Vista is due out in January 30th. At the very least, make sure you get a coupon to upgrade to Vista for free or at a discount. Another thing to remember, upgrading your operating system is no fun and in a lot of cases requires formatting the hard drive and starting over. It is better to buy a computer with the operating system preinstalled, much less headaches and calls to tech support.

If you are buying a computer today, its all about the stickers. If the computer says "Vista Capable", then you are guaranteed that it will run the stripped-down Vista Home Basic. A "Vista Premium Ready" sticker lets you run Vista Home Premium.

Dell offers three types of Intel processors: Pentium D (Dual Core), Core Duo, and Core 2 Duo. All of these processors are dual core, it essentially means you have two processors on one chip. I would go with the Core 2 Duo first, then the Core Duo, and finally the Pentium D. If it says Celeron, skip it all together. A good speed, as of today, would be 2.80 GHz for the Pentium D and 1.86/2.00 GHZ for the Core 2 Duo and Core Duo. I wouldn't spend extra on a faster processer, upgrade your RAM instead.

Recommendation: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.83

Operating System
Today, you get XP, but you don't want a five year old operating system. Vista will be out January 30th, 2007, so the question is what version of Vista do you want. Like XP there are home and business version, but that is where the similarities end. Within the home edition there are four versions, Vista Starter, Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, and Vista Home Ultimate. I am not even going to talk about the business side. Go ahead and forget about Vista Starter, it is for users in emerging markets, ie not the US. You won't see it when purchasing from reputable deals, but I am willing to bet you'd see it on ebay. Vista Home Basic is pretty much Windows XP Home, with just a couple of software updates. Vista Home Premium is probably what you want and the safest answer for me. It focuses on the entertainment integration, movies, music, pictures and such. Vista Home Premium also has Aero Glass user interface; it will make Windows all shiny and pretty.

Recommendation: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

Memory (RAM)
This is the cheapest and easiest way to speed up the computer. Microsoft recommends 512 MB of memory for Vista Home Basic and 1 GB for the full versions of Vista. Personally, I would double what microsoft says and get 2 GB. If you have to pinch pennies, get no less than 1 GB.

Recommendation: At least 1 GB, preferably 2 GB

Hard Drive
Most of the entry level computers on Dell’s site start with a 80 GB hard drive, which is good. However, if your computer is going to house music files and home video it will fill up fast. You can always add a second external hard drive later.

Recommendation: 80 GB for email and word processing.

Recommendation: 160+ GB for home movies and music.

Optical Drive (CD/DVD)
Lots of choices in this section. Bare minimum you need a CD-RW (a cd burner). A CD-RW with DVD is a nice upgrade. The next step up is a DVD-RW, which will burn DVD’s and CD’s. If you plan on editing home movies, go for this. Often times you can get a second drive for free, this can come in handy, especially to copy a cd. Pop the original in on drive, and the blank in the burner, five minutes later you have an exact copy. Just try not to feel bad when the artist, who makes your salary in one night, complains about stealing music. Copying a DVD movie is much tougher (I didn’t say impossible).

Recommendation: Get a DVD Burner

Floppy Drive
Guess what! Computers no longer come with a floppy drive, you have to add it. I would pass. I would however buy a flash drive/thumb dirve/usb drive. It is the size of a key chain that you can plug into any USB port and it acts like a floppy disk. Dell offers a 128 MB flash drive ($27), so it actually acts like 88 floppy disks. An option to consider is a Memory Card Reader. It will read memory cards from virtually every digital camera. If you are still using floppy disks, please stop. They fail all the time. They should only be used to transfer files from one place to another.

Recommendation: Get a flash drive

I have a 15 inch flat screen and I loved it until I used a 19 inch monitor. I am now saving for the 20 or 24 inch widescreen monitor. Flat screens take up a lot less space too. Dell sells analog and digital flat panels. Either one is fine, you won't be able to tell the difference. CRT monitors (not flat screens)are perfectly good, just less sexy. I would go with a 17+ inch monitor. Look for a computer with a free flat panel upgrade.

Recommendation: 17+ Flat Panel. If you need to save money, CRT’s are still great monitors.

Graphics Card
Typically, I would recommend the entry level card, but vista is making this a little tricky. One of Vista's new features, Aero Glass, requires a more powerful graphics card. So to insure you will be able to run Aero Glass, Microsoft is recommending a graphic card with at least 128 MB of memory on it. I am going to double it again and recommend a card with 256 MB of memory on it. If you get a integrated graphics card, so can still run Vista, you just don't get the eye candy. If you just want to write a letter and check your email, the entry level card will do just fine.

Recommendation: A graphics card with 256 MB of memory.

Sound Card
Go with the default. If you need a better sound card, than you don’t need this guide.

Recommendation: Entry level card

Look at your options, odds are the cheapest speakers are your best bet. If you are getting a flat panel, they do have speakers that attach to it.

Recommendation: Entry level, or ones that attach to flat panel.

Mouse and Keyboard
A couple of choices: A mouse with a ball, an optical mouse, and a wireless mouse and keyboard. I like the optical mice, you don’t need a mouse pad and the ball won’t get stuck. This is a very easy upgrade if you later change your mind.

Recommendation: Optical Mouse

Office Suite
Microsoft makes at least 7 versions of office. Check here to compare each version. I am not going to recommend what version to buy, just offer some tips to save money. First, check with your workplace. They often have volume licenses and maybe able to give you a discount. Employees of BCPS are allowed to install a copy for free. Second, Microsoft offers a Student and Teacher version for $149, which includes Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. You can also check ebay or amazon used section. Third, consider MS Works. For $79 (sometime free) you get Word and a simpler version of Excel/Access. Fourth, dell pre-installs Word Perfect. If your word processing doesn't really go beyond letters, this will suit you just fine.

Lastly, consider OpenOffice. OpenOffice is an open source (click for definition) office suit. It includes a word processor, a presentation program, a math function creator, a vector drawing program, a spreadsheet, and a database. You can even run it off your flash drive! Did I mention the price? Free!

Recommendation: Shop Around

Dell offers Norton, McAfee, and PC-cillin for about $79. In my opinion, pass up on all of them. For antivirus, install Avast; it is free. You might want to check your workplace for this too. As for antispyware, I would recommend Windows Defender, Spybot S&D, and Spywareblaster; all free. Windows XP, with SP2, now has a firewall built in. Also, download and use Firefox, instead of Internet Explorer. Firefox will prevent a lot of spyware.

Recommendation: Lots of free options!

Optional Ports
If you have a digital camcorder, it connects to your computer via IEEE 1394 or FireWire. You need this port to edit home movies

Recommendation: IEEE 1394 if you have a digital camcorder.

Final Notes
Your best bet is to find a computer as close to your wants as you can get and then customize it from there. Some good deals can be found at Dell.com > Desktops > Home and Home Office > Smart Values. I was able to build a computer with my recommendations for $920 plus tax. If you have followed my guide in the past, this is a little more expensive. With the unknowns of Vista, I played it a little safe and there may be some overkill.

Typically I have also recommend the Small Business section. Go to Dell.com > Small Business > Smart Deals > Desktops. The only problem with the Small Business Section is that you don't get a coupon for Vista Home Premium, just Home Basic.

Dell also releases a ton of coupons, type “dell coupons” into google. Also be sure to check out my Computer Repair page.

Last thing… Never pay shipping! They say “Limited Time Offer,” but when it expires another always replaces it. In the Small Business section, they bump the shipping to Next Day, bump it down it to get it free again.

In Car Navigation

I, like my father before me, had to walk to school. Uphill both ways and in the snow. That all changed when I bought my first car, now I was driving uphill both ways in the snow. And when I get lost driving, I had to read the map. I got good at it too, and after years of practice I could even fold it back up. So, when my sister moved from Maryland to Orlando, do you think she bought a Florida map? Nope, she got her one of them there fancy GPS things.

GPS stands for Global Position System. It is a satellite navigation system that can tell you exactly (just about) where you are on the earth. In the beginning, it gave you your latitude and longitude. But now, they have built in maps, so it can tell you what road you are on. There are lots of different GPS units; I am going to focus on the in car plug and play navigation units for your car in this article. By plug and play, I mean there is no permanent installation. Just stick it to the dash or windshield and plug into the cigarette lighter.

I could spend the next couple of paragraphs outlining the features of these navigation systems, but Crutchfield already has a great guide to the plug and play navigation systems, which and be found here…


They also have a little demo of a unit, http://www.crutchfield.com/navdemo/index.html

I also highly recommend Crutchfield as a place to buy. Their prices maybe a little higher, but they provide great customer service.

Let’s say you are like me and have no problems reading a map, what good will a GPS do? The big selling point for me is the voice navigation. Pretend you’ve read the map and you know what road you are looking for, but you are unfamiliar with the area. It is nighttime and it just started raining and no matter how hard you squint, you just can see the road sign until you’re at the road. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a voice telling you your road is the next right turn? No map does that.

I personally use Garmin GPS units, and is the company I recommend. I have no affiliation with Garmin. My family has purchased two Garmin Units, specifically the Garmin StreetPilot c330. They are retailing for $299.99 on amazon.com (at the time of this writing, there are out of stock at Crutchfield). My family bought the c330 because of the easy of use. One unit went to my not-so-tech-savvy mom and not-so-tech-savvy sister. My dad’s care came with one built in and, remember, I can read maps. Arik Hesseldahl, of Forbes, also agrees in his article, “The Easiest Car Navigation System”. The c330 also has a 4.5 starts out of 5 on amazon.com, and this is out of 262 reviews.

I have also read good things about the Garmin StreetPilot i5. Specifically, from an educational blog I read, weblog-ed.com. This unit is retailing for $279.99 on amazon.com and also has 4.5 stars with 192 reviews. I have no personal experience with us unit, but would be one I personal would consider buying.

I have heard negative things about one unit; the Tom Tom. You may have seen the [annoying] commercials for these units; they are making a big holiday push. This was according to the person installing our two GPS units; my family prefers to have the power cords hidden behind the dash. He has observed, the Tom Tom being the most serviced and returned in car navigation unit. However, your mileage may vary.

If you decide to go a different route, do a little research. I would Google “in car navigation units” and check out Crutchfield and the reviews at Amazon. You can also see the links in this article and some that were not mentioned at my del.icio.us site with the tag “gpsreview”.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Free Audio Books?

LibriVox (librivox.org) provides free audiobooks from the public domain. The catalog includes books, short works, historical documents, poetry, children’s lit, and non-fiction. Worried about the copyright? All of the works are in the public domain and are not covered by copyright. In addition, Librivox has chosen not to copyright anything they do. “This means others can use our recordings however they wish, including for commercial purposes.”

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How Much do you Weigh on Mars?

I saw a post here and thought it was worthing mentioning.

The NASA Website has a great tool to help kids explore the solar system. http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/index.cfm?Display=Flash

It is all flash based, so it should grab the attention of students. It start with the Sun, covers all the planets, and even includes asteroids and comets. Each stop on the Explorer just has a quick overview, so it won't overwhelm younger visitors. The real magic happens when you follow the about link. There you will find a slightly longer overview, information about the planets moons, an extensive gallery, facts and figures, and a Kids Eye View (which is where I learned I only weigh 77 lbs on Mars).

This is just begging for a webquest.

Don't stop there, the NASA website has a lot more to explore. More pictures, more videos, more interactives, and even some downloads.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Google Earth Rolls Back Time

Google has updated Google Earth, but it takes you back in time. If you are using the latest version of Google Earth, go to the layers section and select Featured Content. Now find Rumsey Historical Maps.

Now you can see the world like those who saw it in 1790, or how Lewis and Clark saw it in 1814. I counted a total of 16 old world maps.

Very cool and worth a look!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Better than Google Earth?


Just found this site from EduBlog - it has a much better image of my home than any others I have found... one-stop shopping.
You can also link directly to what you found.
My House
I especially like that you can see the terrain better than on Google Earth.

Also, and perhaps the best aspect of Flash Earth is that it'll run on Windows 98 machines!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Graphic Organizers

This post was delievered straight to my inbox this morning. It was a forward of a forward all about graphic organizers. Copy the links, paste the links, and bam, I am done. Hope they help.


Friday, November 03, 2006

PowerPoint: Just Say No Clip Art

PowerPoint is a wonderful tool. If I have presentation to make, I always use it. It can turn a boring speech into a dynamic one. PowerPoint is also the main culprit behind Death by PowerPoint. Everyone has seen one of these presentations. Just look below...

photo from Zach Graham

A ton of text on a slide is boring and has me reaching for a sodoku puzzle. Just remember less is more. Another thing that gets me in the sodoku mood is Microsofts Clip art. It served a great purpose back in the day. With photo sharing today, it should be banned.

On October 21, Boston broke the record for most lit jack lanterns. This record was formerly held by Keene, New Hampshire. Which one of these do you think would capture your audience.

Don't worry about the lack of text, remember less is more. Plus you want the people focusing and listening to you, not on your bad PowerPoint or a sodoku puzzle. If you really want them to have the details, give them a print out of your notes.

Now, where do you find this photos....


You can also google stock photos for a bunch more sites. Just remember to give credit to the owner.

iPod Buying Guide

Being in charge of technology for a school, I often get asked for recommendations. The last couple of Christmases it has been the iPod. So here is my 2006 updated version.

The iPod Shuffle

This is the most basic iPod. It has no screen, it just clips to your clothes. I think of this as a second iPod and is perfect if you love to listen to music while exercising. It only comes in one size, 1 GB which holds 240 songs. It is only
available in aluminum.

The iPod Nano

This is the middle of the road iPod and a great place to start. They come in three sizes and six colors, specs are below. These will display your photo, but does not do any video. These are flash based, so they can handle any exercise.

The 2 GB version costs $149.00 and will hold 500 songs. It only comes in aluminum.
The 4 GB version costs $199.00 and will hold 1000 songs. It comes in aluminum, green, blue, pink, and red.

The 8 GB version costs $249.00 (same as 30 GB iPod) and will hold 2000 songs. It comes in black and red.

The iPod

This is the top of the line iPod. It comes in two sizes and colors, specs are below. These will play TV shows and Movies bought in the iTunes Store, and even your own home movies and photos. You can also purchase games. These are hard drive based, which means you wouldn’t want to use this while jogging.

The 30 GB version costs $249.00 and will hold 7500 songs. It comes in black and white.

The 80 GB version costs $349.00 and will hold 20,000 songs. It comes in black and white.


When you buy an iPod you will need to download iTunes. iTunes is the management software for the iPod. Essentially, anything in iTunes will be put on your iPod when you hook it up. iTunes also has a built in store to purchase music (.99 a song/9.99 an album), audio books (price varies), TV shows (1.99 a show), and Movies (9.99-14.99). I love the software and it is very easy to use. I believe this is what has made the iPod so successful.

One important thing to remember, it is possible to have music on your iPod without spending a cent in the iTunes store. If you put a CD into your computer, iTunes can copy (rip) the CD to your hard drive. The next time you connect your iPod that CD will be transferred over. Every CD you own can be put on your iPod.

iTunes also has a wonderful selection of podcasts. A podcast is broadcast that you can subscribe to that is automatically updated. These are typically audio, but there are some video podcast now. Podcasts are typically free and you can find a podcast about anything.

Where to Buy

Apple sets the prices of these, and rarely do you find a discount. Amazon.com and Sam’s may have a slightly lower price. Every iPod I have purchased, or helped purchase, has been from apple.com. They offer free shipping and are almost always in stock. The coolest thing about ordering from apple is the engraving. Apple will engrave the back of any of the iPods for free.

Hope this guide helps!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Google buys Jotspot

It seems Google just acquired jotspot. I had never heard of jotspot before. After a little searching it seems to be a pretty powerful wiki, much more than pbwiki. Of course they closed the registration, but you can put in your email address to be notified when it opens back up. I also found a link to a video tour of the site from google's cache, look at the bottom of the page. I must say I am impressed.

Some of the features are sharing documents, group calendars, and spreadsheets. If you have gmail, you already have 2+ GB of storage space. Could this shape up to be the interface or front end of Google's office suite or Gdrive.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0

While I was doing some reading over the weekend I ran into this blog. This is the most comprehensive list of web 2.0 tools for education I have seen. It is actually a three part series. Part one focuses on organizing, grade books, resume building, and research. The focus is not just teachers, student web 2.0 strategies are also mentioned.

Part two looks at online office applications including word processing, presentations, diagrams, spreadsheets, and calendars.

The third and final part focuses on "real world" educational scenarios in blogging, photo/video sharing, podcasting, and wiki's.

Be sure to check out the comments too; lots of good links in there.

Image from http://www.francispisani.net/

Friday, October 27, 2006

Science Podcasts - Gotta Minute

So you want to use podcasts to help your students learn science. But don't have time to listen through all the podcasts to see if they are worth while? Check out Scientific American Magazine. They offer a daily podcast called 60-Second Science. These are quick reports and commentary from the world of science. It only takes a minute!

These would be great for warm ups/bellringers or as a catalyst to journal writing. They are high interest as well, at least IMHO. The most recent (10/27) 60-Second Science podcast discusses vampires of New England.

You can listen to these podcast from their homepage or subscribe to them in iTunes (iTS link). Also published is a weekly Science Talk podcast (iTS link), where scientists and journalist discuss the latest developments is science and technology The homepage also features a blog, videos, and a place at ask a scientist a question.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Scary Stories

"To be buried while alive is, beyond question, the most terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality." From The Premature Burial by Edgar Allen Poe

Google's Book Search has made a collection of some of the greatest classic scary stories. You can find them at www.google.com/scarystories. The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, Dracula, and Frankenstein are just a few of the stories you will find. Because this is Google, you can search every word in each story. Plus, some of these books are in the public domain; look for the download button to save and print.

Tech Tags:

Persuasion Map

The website Read Write Think offers a ton of free online student materials to support literacy learning. A cool one is The Persuasion Map, an interactive graphic organizer that lets students map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate. Student can do this on a computer and print it out. My only advise, make sure it printed before they close it; you cannot save these to work on later.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Principal Blogging Project

If you know of any principals interested in blogging please share this link--- http://principalblogs.jot.com/WikiHome
Original post here.

Technorati Tags:

David Warlick's Keynote is Online Now!

The Keynote for the k12OnlineConference is online now!

Technorati Tags:

Links from Newsletter Oct. 13th

Google for Educators
This is a wonderful resource! There are teacher guides to 12 Google products, examples of how educators are using them, and lesson ideas. You can also subscribe to the Google Teachers’ Newsletter on this page.

Web 2.0 Applications
Back to school with the class of Web 2.0 Part 1 Compilation of Web 2.0 applications. Red arrows indicate ones particularly suited for education.

Resume Tool
http://www.emurse.com/ Create resumes online or upload an existing one. Provides distributing tools and will keep track of who has seen it. You can also make your resume password protected or choose not to show personal information.

Color Palette Generator Tool
http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/ Enter the url of an image and get the color palette (the 6 digit number beside the color is the Hex Value – this can be entered in Frontpage when you go to More Colors – you will see the top field asks for a hex value – type in the 6 digits and you will have that color!).

Just for Fun

Friday, October 06, 2006

Links from Newsletter Oct. 6th

Learn something
http://www.internet4classrooms.com/on-line.htm Technology tutorials.

Up and Coming
Online free conference Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30-Nov. 3

Subject Areas
http://arcademic.altec.org/ Online games for basic math, language arts, vocabulary and thinking skills.
http://medtropolis.com/VBody.asp Virtual Body (English and Spanish versions).
http://www.goodcharacter.com/ Lots of information on character education.

http://www.lifehacker.com/ “Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and web sites that actually save time.”
"a collaborative weblog of practical parenting wisdom”.

Just for Fun

K12Online 2006 Conference

K-12 Online Conference 2006

Spread the word! Download a flyer here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Google Donates Sketch-Up Pro and Google Earth to Maine 1:1 Program

This is way cool - imagine the uses...

Combination of Google Earth and the new Sketch-up Pro to redesign communities and placement of new buildings.

From Tim Lauer's Educational Technology blog.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Friday, April 28, 2006

New Free Book on Web 2.0

Called Coming of Age "The book provides a set of stories, describing the ways in which Web 2.0 technology can be used in schools, particularly as a way of supporting social, collaborative learning, and a more individualised curriculum." from http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/

You can Download the book here

Publish Your Own Book!

Great article in the latest issue of Technology & Learning about online sites that allow you to publish your own book.

I especially found interesting:
...possible applications for education: student portfolios, teacher-made lesson books, family history projects, PTA recipe books, class photo albums, and literary journals, to name a few.
see article here

Some of the sites listed in this article are:
Apple iPhoto

Monday, April 17, 2006

Flat Classrooms

David Warlick has started a new series of posts and a wiki on Flat Classroom Learning Engines. It is incredibly interesting stuff and a way to address some of the ideas and issues brought up in Flat World. I am intrigued by his ideas but always come back to how do we make this change? How do we take our classrooms from the traditional methods and move them towards the future. I believe that we need to setup a trial site of some kind to do this - a classroom or an entire school (yes I KNOW I'm dreaming here). If we don't show that this method can improve performance on high stake testing I do not think it will gain a following until it is too late!

Some of the interesting quotes from these posts:

"It's more important how we learn than what we learn."

"The teacher could rely on gravity to support the flow of curriculum down to the learners. But as much as we might like to pretend, we (teachers) are no longer on top of the hill. The hill is practically gone."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Google Maps Mashup Shows Census Data

This is way cool:

Saw this on Life Hacker "Just put in your address and you can quickly see the population, income, and housing statistics for your area in a 1, 3, and 5 mile radius of your home."

You can zoom in and get very detailed with this! Great!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

NCAECT Luncheon Speaker was AMAZING

I was so impressed with Deneen Frasier Bowen's presentation The Natives are Restless at the luncheon at NCAECT. I think it was probably the BEST presentation I have ever seen at a conference. She addressed everyone in the audience. She did not alienate "digital immigrants"... she encouraged everyone to see how important it is to create a dialog with our students - the "digital natives".

See a webcast of The Natives are Restless at http://www.kidzonline.org/necc/agenda.asp

Find out more about Deneen Frasier Bowen at her website http://www.actwith.com/

Truly - a very powerful speaker!

Categories: , , ,


Became aware of Gabbly.com after looking through links in del.icio.us. The site allows you to type in www.gabbly.com/ in front of any exsisting website and then a chat window will appear. We have now blocked it.
Look at these:

Monday, March 27, 2006

Web 2.0 Resources

Found some great sites to take some of the confusion out of Web 2.0 and how to keep everything together. Really liking www.suprglu.com great site for linking your blogger blog and the many and various feeds from your Web 2.0 life.

My Web 2.0 Links