May 28 2009

New Vocabulary: Keeping up with the Joneses


I almost didn’t title this posting as I did. I can never remember how to make Jones plural without looking stupid. Thanks to a quick Google search, I think I have it right this time!

It seems that every blog posting I read these days uses some new term that sets me off on a rabbit chase through the world wide web- just because I can’t stand not knowing. To save you some time and keep you in the know, here are a few I ran across recently:


Cloud Computing- “the cloud” refers to this surreal, invisible entity of the internet where files can be stored, applications can reside, and no one really knows or cares where the files are physically. They are just stored in the cloud- and can be accessed from anywhere. There are huge advantages to cloud computing- and some not so great things about it! But that’s for a discussion in some future post! Google Docs is a perfect example of cloud computing!

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May 27 2009

Tikatok- strange name, seriously cool web app!


The other day, I found a storybook I made in the second grade- at least I think it was second. I could barely read a single word of it since my handwriting was pretty bad (and hasn’t improved much). This powerful web application uses that same idea of a storybook and allows students to truly create an awesome, digital book like this one (their server has been down the past few days, so I hope it’s working when you see this- otherwise, link to it at

Yes, that was my daughter’s creation- no, I didn’t ask her for permission.

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May 25 2009

Finding copyright friendly images on Flickr



Finding images for teachers and kids to use for projects that stay within fair use/copyright laws can be tough. The internet is a wealth of great images, but copyright restricts the use of an awful lot of them. There are always paid sites for clipart and images, but that requires money! That’s why I alway try to find FREE images whenever possible. Continue reading

May 22 2009

GOOG-411 Google’s free 411 service


When I am out and about in the car I often need to make a phone call, but I don’t have the number with me. I can call information, but the charges on my cell phone are ridiculous! GOOG-411 can change that! GOOG-411 is a free service provide by Google to allow you to request a business (unfortunately it doesn’t have residential service included at this time) number and then it will place the call for you.

When you call 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) it will ask for the business name and then what city and state. GOOG-411 uses speech recognition to generate a list of businesses that fit the description. It usually reads the top eight listings. You can select one of those choices, or ask for more results. You can also “go back” if the choices aren’t what you were looking for. GOOG-411 can also find results based on categories if you don’t know the business name. Continue reading

May 20 2009

Zentation- Sync YouTube video with PowerPoint (even if YouTube is blocked)!


Zentation is a new player on the scene. It kinda does what the ill-fated Microsoft Producer software did for us! You find the YouTube (or Google) video you want, upload your PowerPoint, then sync them together so your user sees both at the exact moments you want!

Check out this Zentation of the Last Lecture:

Pretty cool, huh?

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May 16 2009

Picnik- my new favorite website


This is now my very favorite website (well after ours of course). In my real job during the day, I teach others to edit photographs using Photoshop Elements. In this class I teach how to crop, change the size of images, correct red eye and tasks like that. Although Elements does a great job, my participants have a hard time justifying the cost at home for just a few little fixes. Picnik solves that dilemma!

Picnik lets you select an image and then choose editing tools such as crop, rotate, fix red-eye and a lot more.

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May 15 2009

Turn your PowerPoint slide into a .JPG


Lots of times, you may need some fancy title slides but the web application you are working in (like Animoto) won’t create nice title slides. With a couple clicks of the mouse, you can convert PowerPoint slides into JPG or GIF images to use in almost any program. Here’s how:

  1. Open your Powerpoint file and choose File-Save As (versions 2004 and prior) or choose Office Button-Save As-Other formats

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May 13 2009

Vocaroo- a Tape Recorder for your Website!


My first grade teacher, Mrs. Parker, couldn’t stand for us to talk during class. Maybe that’s why I like Vocaroo so much! Vocaroo is basically a tape recorder on a website! It’s easy. It’s free! How cool is that? All you need is a cheap little microphone- even that cheesy built-in mic on your laptop will work!  The recording is saved on their servers and can be linked to or embedded:

There aren’t many settings or options- just click, record, and share. There are no limits on the message length or the time it is stored on their servers. Users can even download the recording if desired. Imagine- students talking during class!

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May 7 2009

Animoto- trash the boring slideshows!


Animoto (

This free web application will make you look much better than you really are! Take a look and see what I made with this awesome tool…

See, told you! Looks good doesn’t it? Sure beats the stuffing out of those boring PowerPoint shows with the same lame templates that have been recycled for way too long! And when I say it’s easy, I really do mean easy. You just upload your images, select some music and tell it to mix!

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May 7 2009

Why Goonies?


Because it’s one of my favorite all-time movies! And the domain name was available!

No, it’s not “One-eyed Willie” we’re after here. No, we want something far more valuable!

The internet, of course, is constantly evolving. And new web applications are popping up overnight about as fast as my aquarium is filling with baby guppies. While some of these applications (all of which have lately been thrown into a mysterious category called “Web 2.0″) do some incredibly cool and useful things, many of these new “mashups” are incredibly useless. And wading through this mess to squeeze out some content that is useful for educators is much like catching guppies in the ocean (please don’t throw your guppies in the ocean- they are not saltwater fish!).

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