Monday, December 9, 2013

The app StreamToMe.

A couple of years ago, I found this app to help my band teacher share his music files with his students, now I use it to help students read along with the printed book and to save my teachers from losing their voices by 10 a.m.   

Use StreamToMe on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to play *video*, *music* and *photo* files streamed over WiFi or Cellular from any Mac or Windows PC running the free ServeToMe server (download free from No prior conversion or syncing required (huge number of formats supported without conversion) just tap the file and it plays. Play on your device or via AirPlay or TV out cables, turning your iPhone/iPod/iPad into a mobile media player for all your computer's files.

I use this app and the service to stream .mp3 audio books to students using the iPad.
I download the audio book to a designated folder on my macbook, that I share using ServeToMe, the kids open the StreamToMe App on their iPad and the folder and files are there and can be accessed no matter what type of multimedia files they are (ServeToMe works with a lot of different file formats). 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AirParrot, AirPlay mirror your Mac or PC's screen to your Apple TV, wirelessly.

AirParrot. This app allows those with older Macs (non-Mountain Lion macs) that do not have AirPlay Mirroring built in, the ability to do just your screen wirelessly to an Apple TV. For $9.99 it was worth it.  My principal had fallen in love with the announcement slide show I would show on our cafe TV.  I was using an iPad with Keynote, Airplay and Apple TV.  It was working great until other staff jumped on the Apple TV bandwagon! Our network went from one person using Apple TV to six and my poor little iPad (and its AirPlay) kept getting kicked off our network and Airplay kept losing it's connection to the cafe's Apple TV.  I know what you are thinking...dummy it's NOT the Ipad or the Apple TV's fault but it's your network...IT CAN'T HANDLE ALL THAT STUFF and you are right.  Being the stubborn, OCD tech person that I am, I was not willing to give up.  I downloaded the AirParrot trial, which gave me 20 minutes to see if I liked it.  I put it on my MacBook and it worked like a charm.  It never lost its connection with my cafe's Apple TV (maybe somebody out there can explain this one to me) but it is just what the doctored ordered!
Click here for a product review from MacLife

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why the Brain Prefers Paper.

A interesting article forwarded to me by my principal.  It is from the November 2013 issue of Scientific American (p. 49-53).

Here's the skinny of it.  "Studies in the past two decades indicate that people often understand and remember text on paper better than on a screen,  Screens may inhibit comprehension by preventing people from intuitively navigating and mentally mapping long texts."  

"In general, screens are also more cognitively and physically taxing than paper. Scrolling demands constant conscious effort, and LCD screens on tablets and laptops can strain the eyes and cause headaches by shining light directly on people's faces."

"Preliminary research suggests that even so-called digital natives are more likely to recall the gist of a story when they read it on paper because enhanced e-books and e-readers themselves are too distracting.  Paper's greatest strength may be its simplicity"  (Jabr, Ferris.  Scientific American. November 2013. p 49.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Let's Block All Learning Tools and Eliminate Classroom Distractions

A very good Blog post by David Britten, a retired U.S. Army officer, husband, father and current public school superintendent who practices the principles of "leading out loud."  It's so good I wish I wrote it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Updating iTunes when it does not want to.

So here's the skinny, I have an HP laptop with Windows XP-service pack 3 and all the requirements to install an updated version of iTunes.  My installed version of iTunes was 9 (I know sooo 2008!!).  I bought a new iPod in November and wanted to see if I could get it to work with it.  I opened up my iTunes went to "help" and click on "check for updates". The response was "unable to connect to update server".  My next plan of attack was to download the new iTunes from Apple and install it. After a couple of tries, it could not be installed, seems as though a file or two got; corrupted, went missing, or was just plain out of date.  What to do?  Then I remembered... I went to "Start - Control Panel - Add or Remove Program - Apple Application Support.  Clicked on change (remember I'm in Windows XP) and chose "Re install Apple Application Support, replace missing or damage files."  It did what it was supposed to, updated and repaired the files I needed to update to the new iTunes.  The new iTunes installed without a hitch.  Who knew??

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Massachusetts Library System's Reference sources and tools online.

Ever find a great site you used, bookmarked and then totally forgot about??  Well that's what happen with this one.  It is a collaboratively created resource from MLS member librarians, where you will find freely available online sources that have been deemed reliable by fellow librarians. Also included are tools that may be helpful in your Reference work.  It's is maintained by Anna Popp, of the Mass. Library System (MLS). Saw her in person and found her to be a great research instructor and  source.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Smartboard verses do-it yourself??

This topic was brought out by one of our business teachers who wants to ditch her Smartboard and go with an Apple-TV type setup, but she did not know if that was possible so I looked into it.  It you go with the Smartboard option, bought straight from the factory with some extra stuff, the bill came out to $5099.  I shopped for all the stuff I would need to replicate the Smartboard experience, and that bill came out to $3010.  A savings of over $2000. Below is the list of things I compared.  Discuss amongst yourselves! 

SMARTBOARD OPTION.  Estimate total $5099
  • Smartboard: 77", 4:3 display ratio or 83", 16:10 ratio--more expensive.
  • Smartboard: Single-touch or Multi-touch (add $600 more).
  • Smart remote clickers: 32 clickers-$2,520, 24-clickers ($1,985).
  • Projector
  • Speakers: $289
  • Installation: $500
DO IT YOURSELF OPTION.  Estimate total $3,010 with 1 Ipad, ($2,400 with out Ipad)
  • 65" inch Toshiba HDTV (Tiger Direct): $1,000
  • Apple TV Version 3: $100
  • MacBook Pro (made after Mid-2011) $1,200.  With Apple TV Version 3 and a post 2011 MacBook Pro with Mountain Lion OS, you can stream your desktop to the TV via Apple TV.  Any earlier version of Apple TV or older model MacBook, Air Play will not work.
  • Air Parrot app: $10.  Allows you to stream your Mac desktop to Apple TV.  Only buy if you have an older MacBook that doesn't support Air Play.  
  • Ipad: $600
  • Doceri desktop app: $30. Turns your MacBook/Ipad into am interactive whiteboard.
  • TV Bracket Mount (Tiger Direct): $70.
  • Socrative student response app: 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How to embed YouTube video into PowerPoint 2010. Method #1.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.  One of our teachers went to show her PowerPoint presentation which she created last year and updated this year, saving it as a .pptx 2010 file.  With horror she watched as the YouTube movies that she embedded refused to play, the screen went black and motionless.  We also got a message stating that our version of Flash needed to be updated.

The videos played fine in her web-browser but not in PowerPoint.  Her Flash was the latest update so what gives?? I determined that since it played in the web browser that it was not a problem with Flash but with PowerPoint.  For a lack of better terms, Flash somehow became (or never was or couldn't be) associated with PowerPoint.  It seems that this issue happens with versions of PowerPoint 2003 and later.

After some research I found 2 fixes.  The easiest one came from Shyam Pillai's YouTube Video Wizard (YTV) freeware page.  THANK YOU Mr. Pillai!!! 
You download the YTV zip file then;

1. Extract the contents of the zip to a folder. 

2. Launch PowerPoint.

3. Click on File tab in the top left hand corner | Underneath that go to Options. 

4. In the Options dialog, select the  Add-ins tab.

5. Select 'PowerPoint Add-ins' from the Manage drop down and click 'Go...'

6. On the Add-ins dialog, click 'Add New...' .
7. Navigate to the folder where the contents of the zip file was extracted and select 'YouTubeVideo2k7.ppa'   and click on OK.
8. You might be prompted with the macro virus warning. Enable the macros. When the Add-in is properly loaded, it will display a tick against the add-in name.
9. That's it. You have successfully loaded the add-in.

Look at the top of your screen (ribbon) in PowerPoint and click on the insert tab, it should look like this;

Look all the way to the right and you'll see "YouTube" video. Click that and follow the directions.  JUST A HEADS UP FOLKS...when it asks you to insert the URL of the video, don't use the one you get from YouTube's "share" or "embed" tools.  Copy the URL right from you web browser, GABBEESH? :-)

A future post will deal with the other method to embed.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau’s New Web Tool - "Easy Stats"

The U.S. Census Bureau has released “Easy Stats,” an online tool developed to make statistics quicker and easier to access. The interactive tool provides selected demographic and economic statistics from the American Community Survey. “Easy Stats” allows searching by geography down to the local level, including incorporated places like cities and towns and census designated places. View detailed race, age and gender breakdowns, and compare communities.

Beginner's Guide to Research produced by Rutgers University

Are you sensing a theme yet?  After the last post, it occurred to me that there was another GREAT resource produced by Mr. Magoo's Alma Mater, Rutgers.  It's the Rutgers RIOT (Research Information Online Tutorial).  It's is an interactive beginner's guide to research.  They even give you a certificate when you pass all 5 modules! Click here to get started.

What is Plagiarism? A video produced by Rutgers University.

Thanks to the Massachusetts School Library Association Yahoo Groups and Alissa Rosellini of The International School of Boston for providing me with the link!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What's your financial I.Q?

Came across this article (pdf file) in March 3rd's Boston Sunday Globe and since this blog is about saving money AND education, I figured it would be a nice side trip!  The article talks about financial literacy and gives a 12 question quiz.  The Globe got the quiz from Northwestern Mutual, FINRA Investor Education Foundation.  A Harvard professor gave it to 50 students who attended a financial workshop hosted by the Harvard University Employees Credit Union.  

This is how the grading of the quiz broke down:
  • A - 1%
  • B - 5%
  • C - 10%
  • D - 15%
  • F - 69%
The article and a paper from Northwestern Mutual went on to say that this country as a whole need to improve it financial literacy skills.  Take the quiz!  The slides will move after 5 seconds and the percentage of the students that got the answer right will be listed under the correct answer.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Copyright and schools--a simple primer.

I attended an excellent presentation/talk by Salem State's (and my former) professor Carol Kelley about copyright and schools.  This has always been a subject that makes my head spin, gives me an upset stomach and gets me all sorts of looks by fellow staff members.
Trying to explain copyright and fair use is like understanding the concept of the mass at my old church in 1970, I was five and the mass was in latin.  Trying to explain to people why they couldn't show the movie "Shrek" in the auditorium, to the entire middle school on the last day before vacation always drove me nuts.  Questions like: "how much of a song can I use in my presentation, class project?" were akin to getting the answer to "what is the meaning of life?"

Thanks to Carol she simplified the explication of this matter to the point that as she was talking, a yellow glow appeared above my head and I fell off the horse like Saul of Tarsus. OK I'll ease up on the religious metaphors, but that's how I felt, it all started to make sense.

She suggested a book; "Copyright for Schools" by the guru of copyright, Carol Simpson, as a starter. Next she explained that most of the "rules" we followed about copyright and fair use were guidelines NOT laws and that no librarian has ever been found guilty or arrested for breaking copyright laws.

Copyright law is very flexible, it is the guidelines that are restrictive. Any work created or compiled is automatically copyrighted. You can have your work dated and notarized to protect it from being stolen.

She asked the question, "do we obey copyright because of the fear that we may get caught or because it is the right thing to do?"  I'm hoping the latter.  She gave us an acronym to help us deal with these issues PANE;  Purpose, Amount, Nature and Effect.
  • What is the PURPOSE for? To teach or to entertain? Can't use to entertain.
  • What is the AMOUNT being copied? You can't copy so much that you end up not needing to purchase it.
  • What is the NATURE of the work?  Is it fictional or factual?  Fair use is less lenient with fictional works than factual works.  Music has two copyrights; the writer and the performer, while common knowledge is not covered under copyright law.
  • What is the EFFECT on sales.
Another aspect that can be added to the above criteria is "the Teach Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act passed in 2002."  The importance of the TEACH Act stems from the previous copyright laws that allow educators to copy documents or use copyrighted materials in a face-to-face classroom setting. Because of the growth of distance education that does not contain a face-to-face classroom setting changes in these laws had to be made.  This allows the teacher to post anything on the web for teaching but it must have restricted access and a time limit.  It can't be left up there forever. 

So to decide what does or does not violate copyright use, apply the guidelines above and then YOU must decide using those criteria if you are using it ETHICALLY.

I believe we should teach that; if I use something...

  • I cite it.
  • I ask permission
  • I buy it

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Apply effects on your photos on your Apple device for free.

Ok, maybe I maybe a little slow on the trigger with this one, but it was such an Epiphany, I had to share.  I download Adobe PS (Photoshop) Express from the iTunes App Store and started to play around with some of the effects that came with it.  I tried to "reduce noise" on a picture of mine.  I applied the effect but it didn't allow me to save the picture, I had to purchase the advance App for this to work.  Then it hit me, I got the effect to do what I wanted I just couldn't save it.  So what happen if I just took a screenshot? (hitting the power button and the home button at the same time--you'll see a flash on your screen).  So do you know what happen?  I got a new picture of the picture WITH the effect.  WHO KNEW??

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Edit .pdf files in Word 2013.

Was reading a little about the new Office 2013 and this feature got me all warm and fuzzy:
Until now, you could not edit PDF files in Word without first converting them to the .doc or .docx format.  With the new Word 2013, however you can now open PDF files, edit them there, and then save them as either .docx files or PDFs.  Even when opened in Word, the file retains the structure of the PDF file, including that of elements such as tables.  So now you can just open a PDF file and get straight to work.

Here is what to expect in terms of pricing…

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How to make Follett Destiny Library software play nice with Google Chrome.

I received a question this past week posing this question:  

"My library uses Follett Destiny for our library maintenance/circulation program.  We also use Google Chrome, my principal wants us to migrate us entirely from Internet Explorer/Firefox to Chrome. The problem is when I check in a series of books in Destiny while using Google Chrome, I have to manually put the cursor back in the box each time.  It's so frustrating!  Have any of you solved this problem? I talked to a Follett rep today and he seems to think there isn't a solution, but I did find this discussion thread:!msg/chrome/hNPy98VrhPk/WumDjccf_DIJ
It talks about installing an extension called: "IE Tab Multi (Enhance)" and then tweaking it further.  Unfortunately, it didn't say how to tweak it! Thanks for any ideas! "

It was funny this was happening to me as well but I never gave it a second thought, after some research here is the solution I came up with:

I downloaded IE Tab from the Chrome store and it works like a charm.  The only fix I had to do was to go to my Destiny site like I would normally do in Chrome then in the top right-hand corner of the browser you will see a very small logo of a folder with a globe in it.  Click that and it will open your Destiny page in an IE tab.  IE Tab makes a webpage act as if you were viewing it in Internet Explorer instead of Chrome. As of the moment the cursor is staying in the box and working like it should.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Free web editing/design, multimedia software from Microsoft.

We here at DIY strive to do things with budget constraints in mind so these downloads/news were a no brainer!
Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on its Microsoft Expression Suite and kill off some of the products completely while rolling others in to its Visual Studio suite. The focus appears to be more towards developers than designers moving forward but….for those of us would be Saturday morning web designer wannabes the news has a definite bit if upside to it. As a part of this move Microsoft has decided to make Expression Suite 4 available for free download. 

Those of us who have used Expression Web 4 know that it is a powerful web editing tool with a rich set of functions that put it in the top tier of html editors. There is a catch… if you download any of the following applications for free you will be running it without official Microsoft support. But hey, they're free! For those who purchased it they will continue to be supported in accordance with the with support lifecycle.

The Expression Suite includes;
Expression Encoder 4 
  • an advanced audio/video-encoding and live-broadcasting application that provides new feature support, updates, and stability enhancements.
  • Import and encode video files
  • Produce live webcasts

Expression Web 4

  • a full-featured professional tool for designing, developing, and publishing compelling, feature-rich websites that conform to web standards.

Expression Design 4

  • a tool for creative professionals and developers who want to build graphics for application user interfaces, the web, or any other medium.

For those who may not be familiar with web editing or are new to Expression Web 4 there is a whole slew of training videos available for free as well on the site.
So what are you waiting for? Click on the links, start downloading and creating!!
*Note: While the .exe file says trial it is a non-expiring, it's a full function copy.