Thursday, August 30, 2007

Assignment #151

Real Player 11

Now I know I’ve just about beat this to death but I have to admit it works pretty slick. The new Real Player 11 has a feature that when your watching any video a little button pops up in the upper right corner of the video and asks you if you want to download the video. And it works. Not the huge files of Jing and not the .exe files of Screen2exe, just the file. I downloaded 2. The Youtube video came in Flash format but the other one came in IVR format which is some proprietary Real Player format. Neither VLC Media nor Gom Player could play the IVR format. But the IVR was plenty small--60 mgs for half an hour and it even took out the buffering gaps. Here’s the CNET Quick Tip with a little more insight.


Assignment #150

Snap Shots

I can’t really make up my mind if this application is either really cool or really annoying. I added it to my blog and the gist of it is when you point at a link, a thumbnail of the link comes up. Go to my blog and see it and after we’ll have a show of hands. Keep it or nay. If you want one yourself just go to

And fill in the stuff. Couldn’t be easier. Then the decision will be yours too.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Assignment #149

Time Wasters

I found this article thanks to Download Squad

No 14 was this one

Save it for home but not in front of the kids.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Assignment #148

Google Sky

The hot topic in Geek World last week was Google Sky. The latest version of Google earth included some pretty cool looks at outer space. CNET had directions:

To navigate to Sky, one must first download the latest version of Google Earth. A tiny round black icon with a planet resembling Saturn will then appear in the toolbar. Click on this to switch from Google Earth's Earth mode to Sky mode. Alternatively, one can also choose "Switch to Sky" from Google Earth's View menu.

The whole article is here:


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Assignment #147

Virtual Worlds

One thing I haven’t touched much in this email is virtual worlds. We hit Second Life a little back in Assignment #58, my kid plays with Runescape, and one of our techs and her husband do World of Warcraft which I guess is very popular. Second Life has evidently been losing its popularity since they won’t let people gamble any more. Anyway, here’s an article on what the author calls “casual” virtual worlds.

Here’s the Wikipedia article on the whole idea:

And this guy’s blog is devoted to rating bars in the UK with rating the virtual bars as well.

I’m not sure I can handle a virtual world. I can barely handle the real one.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Assignment #146

Here’s another Assignment from Mary Kyle at Learning 2.1

Dressing up your photos

It seems that everyone has a digital camera, if not a high resolution one, then at least one on their cell phone. Everyday library computer labs have more people coming in wanting to edit their masterpiece images. If we don't have Photoshop or at least Picasa, what can we do? Last year we played with Flickr and it's a great online photo album and even has some toys to play around with the photos but what if you want to fix red eye or crop the photos before you post? After this exercise you can fix them online with just a computer with an internet connection.

I use Picnik the most but I discovered it first and I like it's flexibility. There are others but let's start here. You do need to register but your photos can come from Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook; or you can upload from your computer. Fixes the most common issues, cropping, image size, exposure, red eye, and many more. You can also apply a few creative filters using the Create tab. When you are done save it back where you got it or someplace new. You will need to login to Flickr, Facebook, or Picasa to open from or save to there. The interface is fairly clean and they add a few cute bits to entertain you if a process is a bit slow to load.

Here are a few more to try:

Fauxto - No registration, upload, edit, and save. Mostly I'll say, I'm impressed. I'm used to Photoshop and wow, this one gives them some free, to the user, competition. Layers, Filters, even looks like a software window on the screen. Some effects are a bit slow to happen but they do eventually.

I suspect Fauxto is why Adobe has announced the launch of a free online version of their popular Photoshop software. Rumor says to look for it in November.

Pixenate - reads from and to Flickr or disk. No registration. Simple tools, can't handle high resolutions but if you don't have a high resolution camera this is fine. Window isn't as clear as I'd like though.

Snapfish - product of HP and there are strings attached. You do have to register and editing is limited. Free unlimited online storage! Well, not so free if you want to download or print your images. I only mention it as someone may ask you about it.

I found a few more but had issues with uploading images, may be a browser or flash version conflict. - cute name, wish it worked
CellSea - Created for Cell Camera Phone users.
ImageEditor - Associated with Google Photo Organizer, which is confusing since they also own Picasa another online photo storage and organizer site.

Discovery exercise:
1. Pick one of the above mentioned Photo editors, or locate one of your own.
2. Edit a few pictures and save them.
3. Write about your experience in your blog and include either a link to or embed one of the pictures you edited. Maybe even a before and after images?



Thursday, August 23, 2007

Assignment #145 a Videopedia

In my sojourns though the Internet the other day I ran across this site.

Prepare to spend at least an hour or so.

For example, here’s a computer trick you can play on your friends that’s fun, relatively harmless, and teaches you a little about your computer.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Assignment #144

More Video Capture

OK so you know how I was griping in assignment #137 that Jing and Screen2Exe didn’t capture the videos for I got an email from the guys at Jing and they told me why.

It’s probably that you are capturing Windows Media or Real Player or
something. Jing needs hardware acceleration turned off to do that.
More about that here:

Hope that helps.
have a good day,
bill scanlon
TechSmith developer

And it worked-- Right click on your desktop-Properties-Settings-Advanced-Troubleshoot-Move Hardware Acceleration Plunger to None.

Now I don’t know what that Hardware Acceleration thingy does normally so you are on your own after that.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Assignment #143

Here’s Mary Kyle over at Learning 2.1

Mini or Micro Blogging

What is Mini Blogging? Where can I set one up? Why would I?

Mini blogs are limited to short messages (frequently 140 characters), they began as cell phone text messages limited to a geographic region that could be used to find your friends, find out what's going on in the area that night, or to invite your friends to all go to the latest Harry Potter movie on opening night together. The original miniblog, Dodgeball, has all but disappeared and isn't available in Charlotte. However, several others have appeared and brought it to the web, though they still have the option to send and receive the messages on your cell phone. I don't advise getting that unless you have unlimited text messages in your phone plan though.

The new mini-blogs are:
Twitter - your posts are called Tweets
Jaiku - allows you to set up groups and has easy search
Hictu - mostly popular in France, Italy, and England
Frazr - French and German
Pownce - allows the biggest posts and also can be used for file transfer (up to 10MB in the free version, sounds more like email) since an invite is required I can't find out much more about it.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Assignment #142

Lyrics and Cheaters

One of the best Internet skills that you can have is the expeditious use of quotation marks. Sure, you can go to to get words to a song but why not put 4 or 5 consecutive words of the song between quotation marks and into Google and watch those lyrics pop up.

One of my teachers wanted to know if an assignment paper she’d been given had been copied from the Net. Putting a few words in quotation marks and then into Google showed that it had.

Quotation marks make Google and other search engines treat the phrase as one big word and a significant 4 or 5 word phrase is usually specific to a given literary work. Ah, the power of knowledge!!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Assignment #141


Something new to play with. It’s called RaimaRadio. Now I know I got into this other Internet Radio Station program called Songbird back in Assignment #11, but that one couldn’t record. This one can and to MP3s and you can set it to record when you’re not around like recording Coast to Coast AM in the middle of the night. It’ll also takes out any empty spots caused by buffering and it’s supposed to break up the recording session into individual songs but I haven’t had much luck with that feature yet. It’s pretty straight forward and the learning curve is low so have fun.


Assignment #140


I did a Real Estate assignment on Zillow back at Assignment #18. Rule the Web just had a blog entry on the web site Trulia.

It’s a Google Maps/Local Real Estate mashup but works well and fun to play with.

And Derek just left me a comment on Assignment #119-Craigslist

--have you seen allurstuff instead?

it's also a classifieds site, but with more emphasis on searching, and with a pretty slick google maps integration. (i think it’s the best out there so far)--


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Assignment #139

Free Stuff

Raise your hand if you like good free programs. The King of GFPs is Gizmo Richards. You can spend days at his main site. He has a good monthly newsletter that I actually spent $10 to subscribe to and it had an excellent site in its latest edition. It’s got a list of the best open source programs and their pay counterparts. It’s here:


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Assignment #138


Just a quicky today. Here’s a search engine that’s supposed to find unlisted phone numbers from all 50 states (but not Guam, sorry to say).

It comes very highly recommended.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Assignment #137

Jing Project

This is a neat idea. Jing is a little program that sets on your desktop and, when you want it to, captures what’s on your screen. It can capture videos, or individual pictures or even do a screencast. The downside is that you need XP or Vista or Mac OS X and it captures to .swf shockwave flash and you may not have that on your computer. And the files are huge. Over 2Mgs for every second of captured video.

But it works, although it didn’t work with those Annenberg videos at I just got the audio with those.

Keep trying guys. When you can capture everything and give it to me in a reasonable size, I’ll be your first customer—if it’s free.

Update: Gizmo Richards had a link to a better program. It’s called Screen2exe and it does things a little differently (it records to an exe file) but it’s super simple and the files are tiny compared to Jing. Still doesn’t do those Annenberg videos though.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Assignment #136


OK so the new Learning Guide over at Learning 2.1, Mary Kyle, had her own avatar and it looked interesting so I went over to and made one for me. It’s easy and fun and when I was done the thing actually looked quite a bit like me in a glorified self concept avatarish way. Since I’ve already got enough stuff on my blog I’ll see if I can put this on the blog demo. Your turn.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Assignment #135


OK, I think I may have found the next big thing. Wikiyou.

It wants to be the place for biographies for the rest of us. Now, you can get bios for biggees on wikipedia. And bios for other biggees at

but a place where everybody can put their own bio for posterity or just for fun might just be the next big thing. So go and be there. Put your (auto)biography on Wikiyou.


Assignment #134

Cached-Another Homer Moment

Assignment #107 was a Homer Moment. I showed you how to do something that I had just learned that was so elemental as to be, sadly, funny. Here’s another.

A number of times I’ve Googled something and clicked on a promising result that was already gone or updated. “#*$@,” I said. All I had to do was click on the word CACHED to see the original page that Google had, duh!!, cached. It also works if your system blocks your access to a particular domain, but maybe I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Assignment #133

Google Hacks Galore

Now some of these we’ve gone over before but different articles have come out and these are fun so—

Phil Bradley’s blog has Google Easter Eggs here:

Here are some great tricks:

Here are some not so great ones but the last one is infamous:

This is a more general article but item #3 is very interesting for Googlephiles:

And finally, PC Magazine had a cute little article that was interesting.,1895,2155901,00.asp

You are now qualified to wow! your friends.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Assignment #132

Julia was quite prolific this last month over at Learning 2.1 It made life easier for me. In case you’re questioning my work ethic with all this plagiarism, I am slotted to be the learning guide for this blog for the month of October.

Better Health

For some of us losing weight is never easy. Fortunately, there are nifty online tools available to help you along the way. I've found two that I recommend - FitDay and Nutridiary. They have similar features, and both are helpful. Set a target weight and track the calories consumed and calories burned. You can do this daily or, if that's too much of a time commitment, use these tools to occasionally look up the nutritional content of last night's dinner or find the approximate number of calories you burned working in the yard.

Here's how it works. You enter basic information about yourself (height, weight, age, lifestyle level). Using this information, the website calculates an approximate value for daily basal (metabolic) calories burned and lifestyle calories burned. For any given day, you can enter calories burned from activity, which ranges from biking to household chores to yard work. The sum of these three categories equals the total calories burned per day. Then you can enter the foods consumed on any given day. From this information, the website calculates total calories consumed, as well as where these calories come from and how they are distributed. It also creates a chart of all of the necessary vitamins and minerals and records how much of each you are getting, highlighting any that you are not getting enough of.

The only significant difference that I can find between the two services is that Nutridiary is also a social network. If you diet better with "community" support, perhaps Nutridiary would be a better choice for you.

Discovery Exercise

  1. Create an account at Nutridiary or FitDay
  2. Fill in the food chart and the activity chart for a typical day. Find out how the number of calories consumed compares to the number of calories burned.
  3. Find out whether you are meeting recommended nutrient requirements. Are there any nutrients for which you aren't getting the recommended amount?
  4. Evaluate the site in your Learning 2.1 blog.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Assignment #131
Here’s another lesson from Julia over at Learning 2.1
Express Yourself Through Online Art
Since the previous two entries were so darned useful, it seemed entirely appropriate to make this one equally useless. Indeed, the Internet provides endless opportunities to waste time. Here are a few sites where you can be creative, have fun, and, yes, waste time - but hopefully not too much time.
Have an urge to express yourself artistically? Try Mr. Picassohead. It's a drawing program with Picasso-like pieces that you can drag and drop onto a “canvass.” Each piece can be enlarged or reduced, rotated, or colored. When finished, you can add your work of art to their gallery or send the link to family and friends.
More time to kill? Then click over to String Spin to create string art or try your hand at snowflake making.Then for more fun and fascination, try one of the Falling Sand games. Is this art or is it a game? You decide. Here's the general idea. You are given materials (sand, oil, salt, water, seeds, etc.). You can use these materials to draw on a board (game field?). These elements interact with each other. For example, you draw a plant. You also have the option of drawing fire which will burn the plant. Or you can draw water which will put out the fire and also make the plant grow. There's absolutely no purpose to any of these sites except just idle fun. So if you’re feeling a little creative and would like to kill some time, check one or more of them out.
Discovery Exercise:

1. Explore one of the following:
· Falling Sand
· Mr. Picassohead
· Snowflake Maker
· Sting Spin
2. Blog about your experience.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Assignment #130

Net Poster

Some things are cool and some things transcend cool. Here’s a poster with the top 200 sites of the Net.

Now, it’s actually a augmented copy of the Tokyo Subway

but that doesn’t make it any less cool.