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Friday, November 30, 2007

Things I've learned this week



The completion of the Flat Classroom project has had Julie and I meeting continually and working through things. There are some new things I've learned this week, but I don't have much time so it will be quick!

  • Uhm, Facebook is like a monstrous rolodex. You'll find people you really might be missing and link up with others (like edubloggers.)

  • The Ohio Education Association who are telling teachers not to get facebook and myspace profiles need to realize that professionalism should be encouraged not abdication of society. (Teachers shouldn't have to be told not to run around naked in town, likewise, professionalism is everywhere. Don't stay away from town, just don't run around naked!)

  • Innovation has centered around human enhanced computing. It is soon to move to computer enhanced human-ing. The robo-soldier announced this week gives people the ability to have robotic exoskeletons with super human strength.

    Often these innovations begin like this and also with helping those who are disabled (imagine super human abilities for the disabled.) I can see how Xmen-like discrimination could happen at some point. Again, discussing technology and ethics is so important.



  • Strange Citations - My students and I had to basically "hack" the MLA format. How do you cite a comment on a ning page? How do you cite a specific discussion on a wiki page? How about a specific edit of a wiki page? We've worked through what works for us and I'm planning a video about what we did so those who know more than me can given input.

  • Flat Classroom Reflections - Most of this week has been spent working on the reflections for flat classroom made a little more complex by citations. Student work is starting to go up.

  • John Turner in Australia held a quick student summit in elluminate this week before his students are out for the summer. (It is archived for you to listen.) Look for a calendar this week with open elluminate sessions so that you can interact with and view the presentations of these amazing students.

  • Judging and surveys. I must say I'm quite taken with www.surveyshare.com. I recently met Dr. Curtis Bonk at the GAETC conference in Atlanta who referred me to this amazing service!

  • My current events class is finishing up with the incredible Middle East Conflict Simulation with the University of Michigan. Some are so into it they never want it to end, and others are frustrated because of the complexity of negotiating with so many. Interestingly, one of the "world leaders" was assassinated last week but didn't read the press release and kept wondering why no one was answering him when he wrote. The students role play so well that they truly feel a tiny understanding of the frustration.

  • I've played a little with Yahoo Pipes. I really would like to see us aggregate all of the RSS feeds in the edublogosphere to be able to be able to create a tag cloud for the edublogosphere. That would be so useful!!! (This came from an insightful discussion on the edublogger facebook group.) If we could create an xml file or something in Google Base (or if Google spreadsheets will do an ongoing output as a csv file), then we can aggregate that using Yahoo pipes. Then, we feed it into a tag cloud generator. It is probably going to take someone smarter than me to make it work, I spent about 3 hours tonight but probably won't have any more time for a while!!

    We really need to make something like this happen so we can simply see the trends emerge! We should be able to have a tag cloud for the edublogosphere.

  • Meanwhile, if you have a blog, please tag your feed on del.icio.us as edublogosphere_feeds. We could at least have a list, then we can pull it into something. (I've tried to make the page itself an xml file, haven't figured that out.) Would some programmer come rescue us!

  • Meanwhile, my ninth graders have been beta Testing Microsoft's New Expression Web which has been a great learning experience for all of us. Beta testing is a challenge that they've never understood or experience but I think it is a good one. Something happens when students are pushed by what they THINK they can do!

  • My ninth graders are also enjoying blogging. They all blog on youth voices, but some parents have allowed me to teach them "real" blogging. (See Add to Netvibes).

  • My eighth graders are working on their portfolios which I've totally restructured along with the curriculum director to include less "printing" and more meaningful higher order thinking activities. From explaining Web 2.0 using several creative choices, to making videos for next semester's students to use to learn the basics of keyboarding, these students are learning and very excited.



    Probably the greatest challenge for them is the photo essay assignment. They have to take four photographs that represent the essence of them. (This is reminiscent of what some major colleges are doing now.)

  • Meanwhile, as I help two of my three children slog through middle school, there are all of the challenges of having children in the throes of puberty! Whew! Life is really challenging. But I've found that the easiest way to be unhappy is to go to a personal pity party. When I focus on others and on my purpose on this earth, I am much happier.

    Today I had the chance to be there for a coworker during a tough time and it really was a great feeling for me. It reminded me that others are having tougher times than me and I need to just keep moving ahead.

  • I'm beginning to get a lot more spam and this is a tough one. While I love to try new products that relate to education and technology, I find that the "drive by commenters" and e-mailers or only want me to write about them are becoming more frequent. Don't get me wrong, I want to learn more about products for educators, and please keep sending the thoughts. However, I have always appreciated people selling to educators like those at Wikispaces, Crick Software, Airset, Discovery Educators, and Elluminate. (and so many more I've forgotten) They are involved in education, participate in discussions, and contribute to the overall environment as well as providing a service for profit. So, I guess my message to those selling to educators is to BE INVOLVED in education and you'll find lots of loyal customers and feedback on making your product better.

  • I've been Christmas shopping (on Amazon mostly) and trying to get the decorations up.
Well, I have a lot more to tell you, but really, I'm tired! I've got several blog posts in the hopper, but will tell you more later.

My official blog anniversary is tomorrow, December 1st! That was the original date of my first blog post. I'll be TWO!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time to Vote in the Edublog Awards



It was exciting to see my friend Darren's post today about the announcing of the 2007 Edublog Awards. He had the honor of telling me that Cool Cat Teacher is a finalist for best teacher blog this year and that the Horizon Project is a finalist for best wiki! (I'm not sure why I didn't get an e-mail from Josie, but I sent a quick message thanking her and included a description of my blog.) It is also exciting that TechLearning has been nominated for best group blog.

Congratulations to all of the finalists! It is great company that I'm allowed to keep! I hope you'll review the nominations and vote! You'll also find some great reading in there for your RSS reader!

Why it means so much to me!
This nomination means a lot because it means that there are some of you out there who like my blog! (I have a personal policy to NEVER nominate myself for an award.)

Blogging in the Trenches of Life
As I'm sitting here watching a JV basketball game (we're winning 39-12) and consider the ups and downs of life. I have three kids, two of whom have learning disabilities and two are in middle school... it is often tough to keep blogging when you're teaching a child to read and helping another one cope!

And yet, when something really exciting happens, who do I want to tell? You!

I remember when I had my second reader! (The first one was me!) It was on December 1st, 2005 (I later changed the date of the blog post to December 9th without knowing what I was doing!) that I first began blogging and in less than two years, I've been blessed with so many new people to inspire me and help me be a better teacher.

I feel like the poster child for the newcomer
I always say that I'm a "poster child" for the beginner and it is true. I'm a latecomer to the ballgame but so glad that I finally joined in! I'm proof that someone who knows nothing and no one can join in this technology revolution and not be too late.

But really, a blog is a conversation and you have made this blog what it is!

You've commented. (Mike Hetherington was my first.) You've encouraged me! You've kept me blogging when I really wanted to quit!!

You twittered me when my grandmother passed away this summer and you have encouraged me this fall as we've been struggling with my son suffering the taunts of bullies. When Julie and I had a silly little dream to collaborate across the world, you stepped in to judge Flat Classroom 2006, Horizon 2007, and Flat Classroom 2007. You made those what they have become!

The name Cool Cat Teacher was coined by my own students.

The blog Cool Cat Teacher was made and sustained with your encouragement. It was feed by the organism called the edublogosphere.

Whatever happens in this award, the meaning is this... when we connect, we all win. If you've gotten encouragement out of my blog, I'm so happy that my wins (and losses) can be to your benefit. But honestly, I wouldn't be around to comment if you hadn't gotten me through some really tough times. The good Lord has used you to encourage me through the darkest valleys of my life... and even one in which I'm walking right now.

A Six Week Hiatus from Wow2
I'm saddened to tell you that I'm having to take a six week hiatus from the Women of Web 2 show, but plan to come back in January.

It is about keeping my family first... and my children need me... and maybe some of you out there need to read the thoughts that I write here and often cry over. Writing on this blog is truly an emotional, soul baring experience for me. For on these electronic pages, you see the bits and bytes that make up my flesh and blood.

I just want you all to know that I'm grateful. It is easy to look and see numbers, but I see each and individual person and to take part of your busy life to stop over here, read, and often comment... that is the greatest reward you give to me.

It is not about the change in our pocket but about the lives we change.

Thank you friends! I am very grateful for what you've made me!

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View a student made interactive video using Asterpix



I want to know how this student on Flat Classroom made this video. It has links within it and an interactive survey at the end.

These students often make me say, hmmm How did they do that? I particularly like the puppetcast at the beginning, how they cite their sources of information (look for the little boxes that pop up), and the discussion between a person playing Google and Yahoo and the Google Pink video at the end. I feel that this is future of HOW we will do video.

After "hacking" their code, I see this was done in Asterpix. (Kudos to Elizabeth in St. Louis for encouraging this innovation. So so cool!)

Hyperlinked video citing sources. This is so far past what I've understood or even thought about but it is WHAT I'll be doing!

See the video. (I had some trouble w/ Asterpix making my blog not load in Internet Explorer but you can go to the link.)

We will be creating a standard for how student online video should be done, in fact it is happening now. And if you're not making video online, you'll not be a part.

This is how innovation happens. Teachers point students in the direction, students run with it. Students pass teacher. Students point teachers in the direction. Teachers pass students (if the teacher is running with the pace of change.) And so on.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ten Cool Present Ideas for your Teacher



I've been shopping today and yesterday and have found some things I think would be good for teachers.

I'm using the link on my amazon associate account below (so if you buy any of the linked items I get a little money to afford Christmas! Thanks! I hope this helps!. ;-)

1 - I Love You Toast Stamper$2.99 at Amazon

This is great for the teacher with kids. You press this onto the toast and magically the words "I Love You" appear on the toast.

2 - All Out Of- Grocery Shopping List$ 7.74

This handy list is great for teachers on the run! I couldn't get enough of these.

3 - USB Gadgets

These cool things are powered by the USB port on the teacher's computer (just make sure they know what one is.) I particularly like the USB Refrigerator ($34.99) which holds a single drink, although it is a little pricey for what most want to do. The USB Fan ($16.99) is also great for those in warmer climates, and USB Heating Gloves for colder. ($22)

4- Totes Fashion Micro 'brella - $13.95

I love these because they literally fit in my smallest pocketbook. I bought one for every lady in my family because we're always being caught without one. (Although it hasn't been a problem lately.)

5 - LifeHammer Original Emergency Hammer (Orange) $14.95

Everyone, I mean everyone needs one of these. After watching the guys on mythbusters show how difficult it is to get out of a car while sinking, my husband got me one of these. It has one edge to cut the seatbelt and an edge of the hammer to break glass.

I keep it beside my seat at all times on the middle dash secured with velcro. Every person who drives in our extended family has one.



6 - Deluxe Ladies Tool Set $17.99

This is the descendant of one of my favorite presents from about three year's back. The gentlemen at work kept stealing my tools!!! I couldn't keep a phillips head screwdriver for more than a week. Until I got my pink toolset, that is. I love this because if your teacher is a "fix it" type teacher or just a computer teacher, these tools will always come back!!

7 - My Must Read Teacher's Book List

8 - Office Supplies
This may sound silly, but there are some cool things I like in my room:
9 - Some geeky gifts

An ipod microphone (make sure you know what kind of Ipod they have this is the one for my 2 GB Nano-XtremeMac IPN-MIC-20 Micromemo Digital Voice Recorder for iPod Nano 2G (Black)), an awesome Logitech Quickcam Fusion (my favorite) or even a good Altec Lansing AHS322 Stereo Over-the-head headsetwith microphone is helpful as is a Keyspan PR-US2 Presentation Remote for those presenting on the road.

10 - Home baked goods

I've had people bring me homemade casseroles and cakes. I love things I can freeze for Christmas because most people don't realize that teachers are really stressed out in December with the end of the grading period. They want to give good things to their family but end up grading sometimes till 2 am.

Other Ideas
Sometimes a gift certificate to go eat out at a pizza place or in town is perfect. Also remember, if you give a teacher money and they have kids, it will rarely be spent on the teacher. So sometimes a gift certificate to a bath and body works or something is great.

If your teacher uses candy in her classroom, get her candy. I just love those big bags of candy from Wal Mart because I spend at least $25+ a month on candy.

Write a note!
Some teachers like to get nice keepsake ornaments, but honestly one of the best presents I get are the personal notes from my students. (Teachers appreciate grateful students and parents.)

Remember, it is not about buying an expensive gift!

A $2 gift with a meaningful note is priceless to me. (Hey, I'd be happy with just the note!) I'm not in it for the money, otherwise, I'd be doing something else!

Just being remembered means a lot and sometimes, you'd be surprised, teachers don't know it when they are a good teacher. Teaching is a toxic profession so say thanks!

It is always in good taste to say thank you to those you are important in the life of your child.

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Free Twitter tutorial on Viddler



I came across this neat video on Viddler by Goldie. I do like the viddler format in that it allows others to comment on the video and add remarks and clarifications (you'll see them pop up as you watch the tutorial.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving an educational face to facebook



I've had on my list for some to explore facebook and am spending my R&D time this vacation on Facebook. (And time is almost up.)

(By the way, I think that all people committed to innovation should take some time for R&D- research and development, each week and preferably each day. My R&D time is when I get my light bulb moments. But, set the timer, it could suck you in!)

I'm coolcatteacher over there. But I must say, except for adding a twitter app (to post my twitter updates), and adding a delicious app, I'm sorely deficient on how to effectively use facebook.

So, facebook fans, tell me, what are the groups I should join? How should I connect on facebook? What are your tips?

I'm all ears and will post more later about what "I think." I don't know anything and need to see what you think.

I am spurred forward because articles like the recent 14 year old girl's suicide caused by the creation of a fictious person on myspace has me greatly bothered and makes me feel that we as educators must begin to understand this world and create ways for kids to interact with us outside the "official" schoolhouse. Could someone have helped her?

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Half a World Away and Still You're Near Me



The following video is from a student assigned to explain Thomas Friedman's first trend "Connecting the World Online" using the concept of "Play" (we called it the Fun Factor) from Dan Pink's book A Whole New Mind. (I'm going to use this video to introduce the terminology of Web 2.0 with my younger students!)

It is amazing how well this video DOES teach, but the kids had so much fun (as you can tell.) This video was created in a little over a week and uses the green screen techniques taught by Dean Shareski as a by product of his amazing keynote. (Actually, we used a $25 green sheet of chromakey plastic from ebay! Not perfect, but hey, it worked!)



Again, this project has accelerated my students far past what any of us seven teachers could do alone. It is not something any one of us teachers can get our arms around or really take credit for.

We are facilitators, the kids grow and learn like a moving, evolving organism of thought, excitement, and challenge. It is full of experiential learning, peer review, and learning by socialization.

When a project gets this large, there is no tight fisted control. We are involved any time there are issues (had an accidental wiki war yesterday but taught the kids how to handle it and it is a non -issue at this point.) But every issue is a teachable moment for all of us.

This sort of project is challenging, difficult, hard to imagine, and yet so incredibly rewarding. I believe that making connections is one of the most important things you as a teacher can do.

For example, although Dana Huff's wiki project with Reuven Werber in Israel has been taken down by the month long teacher's strike in Israel. Dana says:

What do we do when the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley?

And what does it say about the project that the kids are still chatting through the discussion area of the wiki and friending each other on Facebook even though the project is on hiatus?

My response to her was this:

"The connections are so important and certainly take a life of their own. No project goes “as planned” and no project is perfect, however it is in the imperfection of humanity we can see the beauty of the connections… hybrid flowers if you will that would have never bloomed without cross pollinization. Thanks for sharing!"


What are you doing to connect?

What are you doing to bring your students near to a world that is half a world a way?

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Update on Moray and a Commentary on Connections



On November 1st, I blogged about Moray in South Africa who needed to connect with some people who could help her!

Well, my good friend Karyn Romeis (from the UK) had some contacts and this is the message I received today from Moray. (With names taken out.)

Dear Vicki

Thank you so much for helping me out. I have been put in touch with **name removed** who lives in Pietermaritzburg, about an hour’s drive from Durban, where I live. [She] was so accommodating and had material that I have been able to use and adapt to our special circumstances. We are getting along like a house on fire and should have everything completed by the end of this week. Something that initially looked like an insurmountable obstacle has suddenly become achievable. [She] also runs a marvelous phonics programme which I have discussed with our remedial teacher. We shall probably introduce something similar in the New Year. We have been given so many wonderful ideas and plenty of inspiration.

Thank you once again for responding to my desperate plea. I am ever so grateful and should you ever think of visiting this part of the world, be assured that you will always be most welcome.



When I corresponded with Moray asking for permission to use an excerpt from her e-mail, she said that the connection went from me to the UK, to elsewhere in South Africa until her contact was made.

What an exciting thing to happen! They are getting along like a "house on fire." Sounds like Julie and I doesn't it.

There is no "right" way to make a connection. Whether it is networking at edtechtalk or K12online or asking a blogger or joining Taking iT Global (which I highly recommend) make your connection and talk to others. Connect. Communicate. Share your vision, goal and objectives for your corner of the edusphere.

If you're a blogger, use your power for good. (And it is a great power, one which we are just beginning to understand.)

Isn't this exciting?

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Flat Classroom Videos are coming in!



I'm enjoying watching some of the flat classroom videos that are coming in today. We still have some students frantically working to meet the "lockdown" date of tomorrow (before judging begins).

Here's a glimpse of what you'll see:



For the videos that are on youtube, I've created a playlist that I'll be adding those videos to. I'll also be posting to my delicious account as well.

Flat Classroom Playlist


This project is challenging beyond belief for all of us. However, the payoffs are incredible as well. OK, I have students to go help!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Motivational Monday: This Turkey will Survive!



I play the song "I will survive" while paying bills or tackling any task that seems daunting or unpleasant to me, so this song was incredibly funny.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tips on windows Vista from Brent Williams



Brent Williams

I didn't get here early to ask permission to ustream. I'm sorry b/c this is a great one, however, ethically I don't advocate ustreaming w/out permission.

This is a session about the tips and tricks for getting the most out of Windows Vista.

Cool Folder Options
That is under Folder Options in the control Panel.
Folder Options views -- tell it to show the hidden stuff.


If on the same list, you can go down on the advanced settings and check "Use check boxes to select items" so you don't have to use Ctrl -- it is a cool feature.

How to turn off User Account Control
  1. For those who are technical.
  2. User Account Control Panel
  3. Look at the Last prompt "turn User Account Control Off"
  4. Uncheck the box the box "use user account control (UAC) to help protect your computer. and click OK.

Improve Vista Performance
  1. Add memory - 1 GB RAm to run comfortably, 2-3 GB as a power user
  2. (But you don't need a new PC -- it just needs a 1GB processor or better. If you turn off the glitzy stuff it will run as fast as XP.) If you have a PC w/ onboard video, it doesn't work with Vista. If you are buying a PC get a separate video card with 128MB of RAM or more.
  3. System control Panel --> Advanced System Settings --> Performance and turn off glitz to make it faster on an old computer.
Use Ready Boost
Lets you take any flash memory and plug it into your laptop or desktop to use the flash memory as a disk cache -- Max 4GB -- if it can go to the flash memory, it is 100 times faster to do that.

To do that -> Right click on Flash Drive, properties, ready boost tab, set space to reserve. A dialog bo pops up -- there is a new choice called speed up my system. It comes up with a seconary dialog (which you can also get by right clicking on the flash drive and go to properties.) Vista will use any amount as storage device. He has a 8GB flash key -- sets up 4GB for ready boost and the rest is for files and documents. It takes a moment, anything he commonly does Vista will copy on to the flash key and it will get it quickly.

If you go to a computer store and you buy a flash key and you get one for $10, you're getting a slow flash key. You want to buy a name brand -- Lexar Jump Drive,etc. they are must faster flash keys and benefit Vista quite a bit.

What happens if you yank the flash key while running -- it doesn't hurt Vista a bit.

Interestingly, Brent is running Vista on a Mac using BootCamp.

Built in Applications
Snipping tool -- Clip any part of the screen
Windows Photo Gallery application
  • Organize, tag, rate
  • Start--> All programs.
Photo Editing - good enough for most people

Snipping Tool

Start --> All programs --> accessories --> Snipping Tool
It grays out the screen take your pointer and let go and it clips it into a window. (Really really cool. Wow!) Save and copy it to another app. You can write on it -- HTML PNG GIF or JPG are the format options.

Windows Photo Gallery

Start--> All Programs --> Windows Photo Gallery (at the end of the list.) (Looks like Picasa) --
  • Automatically organizes by date. You can also tag w/ any category that you want. You have to manually tag the images w/ what category that they fit (that is really really cool.) It makes your own photos searchable.
  • You can also title any image.
  • Double click any image and it takes it into a photo previewer. You can zoom, go full screen, you can start a slideshow. You can rotate, etc. Up at the top there is a Fix button, you are now in the photo editor which lets you do autoadjust, exposure, color, crop the picture, rotate the picture and fix red eye. It has a lot of things in there.

Vista automatically backsup everything in my documents once a day. You can go back to previous backups of that image and get it back. So you have restore points for all of the documents saved in my documents (again why you should save in My Documents.)

Recover files
Shadow copy
Vista backsup up once a day. It takes 20% of your harddrive space for system restore and to backup your MyDocuments. Once a day.
You may have many days in there, but when it hits all of your space, it deletes the oldest copies. So, you may have days or weeks in there.
Right click and restore previous version. Properties. It is a new option in there and you should teach your users.

Right click on it --> in the middle restore previous version -- it opens properties it searches it -- there is no backup if there is not an image to get (the image has never been changed.) If it IS changed, it is there. That is really cool. Get it yourself.

You also have a choice to copy the backup w/ a different name so you don't loose it.

Voice Recognition
Powerful. Dictate and correct documents, competition for dragon. It take s a brief setup, it has an excellent correction mode.
Control--> Windows

He has switched from Dragon to the voice recognition in vista. You can literally unplug your keyboard and use your computer by voice. (So cool.) Very powerful voice recognition program. Dictation and correction is very easy. You can use a headset mike to dictate.

He did a very technical paper and it got all of them right, it had learned the words he uses. It supports a lot of languages. He used it to dictate a paper w/ many different big terms in it. He finishes his paper in 20% of the time as others. (Note -- If he could type 128 words per minute like I do I wonder how much faster?)

Burning CDs and DVDs
This has changed radically and there is a new default format. The way XP burned is that it Mastered it. You collect the files and then write to disk.

In Vista, there is a Live File system. The burn shows in folders. Still no ISO support. no Copy support.
It allows using CD/DVD like flash -- copy single fils at will
Use with XP and Vista only.
Double click the new disc for format options.

Microsoft wants you to think of the CD/DVD as a flash drive.
Can't take live file system cd and put it in your CD player. You'll still want to use mastered when you want to take a cd or dvd to .

OK, I just left my pocketbook in the other session. I'm running to go get it. Sorry I'm missing stuff!

Live Blogging Educating for a Flattening World with Alan Preis



Educating for a flattening world presentation (I will embed the presentation from my ustream later,but you may go over there and view it now.)

Alan Preis, Atlanta International School

He showed the Did You Know 2 video.
From audience response, many people have still not seen it. (Man version 2 of this video is really high quality!! Wow!

I like that, we are living in exponential times. 1 out of 8 couples married in the US met online.
I like BG - before Google.

Such an important message -- we can't solved problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. I honestly didn't realize that the Flat Classroom was in Karl's new video update! I have to show my students this video!!! Wow! (http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com) Man, that Karl Fisch is brilliant.)

Things have to change.

Thomas Friedman says that the real story of the dot com era was the fiber that was being laid during the dot com era. That is the story that few people understand. We're left with a legacy of the infrastructure of the way the world is working.

*Alan has a backchannel however, twitter is down and I can't backchannel without people to "talk" to. Twitter would have at least 4-5 more people in this great presentation!

This is an excellent overview of the book. Alan is doing a great job. If you want someone to understand the book, this is a good presentation to watch.

The real story of Y2K had to do with the programmers working on this problem and where they were located. The methods set up to allow people in India to do the programming for this problem.

*I keep trying to backchannel, but it is just me talking to myself. I like the idea of a facilitator. We'll see how it goes in my session!

He hates the classic response, "PANIC!" The world is changing whether we want it to or not. It is an opportunity... we must use it as a drive to improve the way that we teach!! (Alan has a great perspective!)

What skills are needed? Collaboration, processing, synthsizing, cross disciplinary thinking, global awareness, consuming and producing information.

"Our students aren't just learning polymonials sitting at a desk... they also need to know how to work with others." Alan Preis, Atlanta International School

1/4th of us in the class are getting more than 100 e-mails a day. Do students know how to process and weed through this sort of innundation of stuff. How do they decide what to do? What do they do?

Synthesizing and cross disciplinary thinking. A special kind of individual to make connections to be able to see things that specialists on their own cannot see. How do we teach that?

Global awareness -- Many students lack a fundamental understanding of the world. He is talking about their tandem learning approach... his daughter is learning tandem with their friends. His daughter was on skype and they practiced their language skills. AT the end the girl in France says "When can we have her over to play?" Didn't realize that her friend was half a world away.

Global mindedness, and important principle. We need to start seeing students as consumers and producers of information. How many have students published on wikipedia? Research shows when students are publishing for a global audience that they approach the task differently.

Students need to be well versed in navigating around things. How can they find things quickly? Be aware of what resources and how to get there.

Credibility -- evaluating credibility. He cannot get the kind of information he needs for things. He's talking about wikipedia.

(From Vicki
If Wikipedia has a footnote, my students use the footnote. If there is no original source in wikipedia that it footnotes then I teach them how to be wary of it.)

These are critical skills and before Wikipedia it was hard to teach it. Wikipedia opens the door to evaluate the sources.

Great example, a guy in the audience says, a great flatteners in his life was when he got a free encyclopedia on a CD-ROM with a pack of cheese. An encyclopedia used to be such a status symbol and people had to scrimp and save just to get it. And now you don't have to even buy the cheese.

Information is almost becoming free. Most of what his students are learning will not be of any relevance in terms of the language. Have a computer to buy for my five year old. It will change over the next five years. He is a fan of teaching concepts not the specifics. We should teach concepts and fundamentals, the strategies of learning technologies.

We must expose students to varied sources of information. As students get older, we want to flip the paradigms of teachers and learners.

He is in the process of building a global language exchange. Building collaboration of languages. He has two classes where his students are posted in French and the students in France are posting on the wiki in English and there is a dialog that is beginning to exchange.

He is talking about when he talked to my students.

People asking how do you set those up. He says that there were 2 pieces -- they had to find a school and they had to build a collaborative environment on wikispaces. (This is similar to what I've found in the 7 steps to flatten your classroom.)

The importance of information filtering and time filtering.

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Join Flat Classroom presentations starting now!



Twitter seems to be down (again.) In its absence, if you're online and would like to attend either of these sessions, join me at my ustream. (All times in EST.)

8:30 am - 9:30 am - Educating in a Flattening World - Alan Preiss
Google Pres - http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddqc6jmd_61dr2p6q

9:45 am - 10:45 am - My Seatmate Lives in China (remix)
Google Pres and links are at my Wiki
I have the google presentation and links to the slideshare slides there. Please join in. I need some backchannel facilitators -- if you'd like to come and answer questions in the backchannel, I'd love it.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Twittero, Twittero wherefore art thou twittero



Just got drug into a skype with 50 of my "closest" friends. Twitter is literally totally down. This is what I penned (pulled a lot from my friend Shakespeare!):

Twittero, Twittero, wherefore art thou twittero? Deny thy server and refuse to crash; or if thou wilt not, be but sworn to never crash again, and I'll no longer blog.

Tis but thy server that is my enemy Thou art thyself, not a selfish crashing fiend. What's a Twittero? It is nor hand nor foot nor arm nor face nor any other part belonging to man. O be some other dependable service! What's in a server? That which we call our favorite service on any other server would smell just as sweet.

So, twittero would, were he not Twittero called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without title, twittero, doff thy server, and for thy server, which is no part of thee, find a new stable platform so that we may flock to thy warmth.

OK, I've got to work on my presentation for tomorrow. I will be ustreaming from 9:45 - 10:45 EST -- My Seatmate Lives in china: the imperative for global collaborative projects.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Some practical recommendations on teens and social networking: based on some good primary research



Terry Freedman has written an important article over at Tech Learning. summarizing some extensive work he has done trying to understand teens and social networks. (Oh, and the Tech learning rSS feed is fixed, subscribe here.)

Here are his conclusions that bear repeating. These conclusions line up with the anecdotal evidence I observe daily in my own classroom:


"These arise from my own survey and other sources.

  1. Teens are not as savvy as they and we might think. They are not able to fully assess risk, and even when they do assess risk they don’t necessarily behave accordingly. Therefore schools should do more than scaremongering or reading the riot act. They should:
  • Provide teenagers with practical strategies to help them avoid giving away private information.
  • Encourage the use of social networking sites in school in order to train students in their proper use.
  • Ensure that students fully understand that it is not easy to delete all traces of oneself from a community, because of comments left on other people’s blogs or profiles.
  • Encourage teachers to join online communities for the purpose of CPD. The school could even have its own Ning community, or similar, for the exchanging of ideas and resources, and for virtual staff meetings. Taking part in an online community would help teachers to understand their students’ experience.
  1. Teenagers use social networking sites and similar Social networking sites in order to do school-related work. Therefore it may be a good idea to encourage popular social networking sites to provide easily accessible resources that students could make use of.
  2. Encourage social networking sites to make deletion of personal data a one-click operation, or as near to that as possible"
Thank you Terry for not only having opinion, but some good primary research. Now, we need to some extensive follow up research with larger more representative samples.

Meet my students live on Wednesday, November 14, 2007



Tomorrow my students will be presenting at the GAETC conference in Atlanta where they will be working on their Flat Classroom project videos LIVE. If you're there at the conference, stop by.

If you're not there, you can be there anyway, I'm going to ustream so watch my twitter and I'll let you know when we go live!

I'll also be teaching a class on wikis from 9am -12pm EST on Thursday, November 15 and plan to ustream and google present that.

Finally, I will ustream my entire presentation on Friday from 9:30 - 10:30 EST and have a google presentation... it is a redo (I always totally redo my presos) of my presentation last year for the Connectivism Conference called My Seatmate Lives in China: The Imperative for Global Collaborative Projects. (I'm looking for a backchannel moderator or two and will take moderators who aren't "present" if you're interested.)

So, stop by, let me know if you'll be around and I'll watch for you!
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Beth Kanter -- Taking Blogging to Cambodia on Wow2 tonight



I'm so excited about Beth Kanter being on Wow2 tonight! It is going to be a treat. Beth is not only an expert at Web 2.0 nonprofit fundraising on the Internet (we'll talk about that too) but recently returned from a trip to Cambodia to teach 18-24 year olds how to blog in order to give them a voice.

Wow! It is almost like teaching someone how to speak.

Beth is what I call "a crossroads blogger" -- she is a person that knows many people in different "sections" of the blogosphere and I'm so excited about learning from her tonight.

We're on at 9 pm EST at www.edtechtalk.com.

Here is information on Beth:

My Blog: Beth's Blog
My Wiki Portfolio: Beth Kanter
My Blog Posts about the Journey
Notes from the Real World - guest post from Read/Write Web
My Cambodian Bloggers Summit Campaign Page
Instructional Materials for the Conference (prepared by me and others)
My fundraising campaign to send a young Cambodian woman to college!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Motivational Monday: Laugh a Little Will Ya?



One of my students shared this on our private Ning. I was grading tonight and feeling overwhelmed, but watching this gave me a mood boost and I thought you'd like it too.



Let me ask you this... How often do you just laugh and be in the moment? So many times the problems we worry about never come to pass. Now, I the list-making Mama would never tell you not to plan, however, I find that I stress myself out way too much.

So, here are a few more:

Baby Laughing at the Wii



Or a summary of three funny ones



So, do you feel better?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life, Ethics, and Alicia Keys



This is a great case study to share with the students. The article at PC world says:

"The widely reported problems with pop singer Alicia Keys' MySpace profile have been cropping up on the social networking site for the past ten days and are likely to continue, a security expert said Friday...

As with the Alicia Keys hack, which was discovered Thursday by Exploit Prevention Labs, these pages try to install malicious software on the victim's PC. If the victim's software is not fully patched, this can happen silently, but if that fails, the sites will tell the victim that he needs to install a video codec. That file is actually malware, researchers say.

In all cases, hackers used the same background, the same Web code and the same malicious payload. "It's the exact same hijack," Boyd said via instant message.

But one difference has been the amount of pain experienced by the bands after they were hacked. While the Alicia Keys site was repaired and up and running on Thursday -- the same day that the problem was publicly reported -- smaller bands that have fallen victim to the hackers have had to restart their MySpace profiles from scratch."

One band has been trying to get myspace to restore its backup to no avail!

Some things to share here:
  • How to patch and keep one's computer safe.
  • The importance of backup but also the ethics of having a company have total control over your backups and information. (This is going to be an increasing problem.)
  • Hackers and ethics. The whole discussion.
But how about this. Why not have students write their solution for this. What should happen? I find that if you find a topic that students are passionate about that they will write!

Now, back to grading.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nominate your favorites for the 2007 Edublog Awards by November 21st!



The edublog awards are open. Nominate your favorites in the following categories.

And don't "assume" that "someone" will nominate your favorite. A lot of bloggers (like me) will not nominate their own blog for an award. (There is a story behind that for me, but no time to tell it now.)

Go here to nominate by November 21st! (There are a lot of educational blog awards out there that are basically ignored by edubloggers, however, this is one by edubloggers for edubloggers and for me, carries a lot of prestige. So please, participate.)

Here are the categories:

2007 Nomination categories:

1. Best individual blog

The best edublog maintained by an individual

2. Best group blog

The best edublog maintained by more than one person

3. Best new blog

The best new edublog (group or individual) of 2007

4. Best resource sharing blog

The best edublog of whose primary purpose is to share information, links and resources.

5. Best designed blog

The most beautiful edublog

6. Most influential blog post

The edublog post that has had the biggest impact (for better or worse!)

7. Best blogged research paper or project

The best research paper or project in any field that has been
committed to an edublog

8. Best teacher blog

The best blog kept by a teacher for or about teaching

9. Best higher-education student blog

The best blog kept by a student in higher education (16+)

10. Best librarian / library blog

The best edublog kept by, for or about a library or librarian.

11 .Best educational tech support blog

The best edublog for providing hints, tips and support for your tech needs.

12. Best elearning / corporate education blog

The best edublog kept by or written about education and training in a business context.

13. Best educational use of audio

The best use of the audio medium in any form.

14. Best educational use of video / visual

The best use of the visual medium in any form.

15. Best educational wiki

The best educational use of a wiki.

16. Best educational use of a social networking service

The best educational use of any social networking service.

17. Best educational use of a virtual world

The best educational use of any virtual world space.

18. Best educational use of open source

The best educational use of an open source platform.

19. Digizen’s 13-19 competition

For young people creating and sharing online resources around the theme of cyberbullying

20. Conveners award

A special award given to an edublog that particularly deserves to be of note.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

BestoftheWeb: My Most Useful Tools



a simulpost with TechLearning

Bloggers, we need to work on welcoming folks to the Internet and that includes sharing our tools. I encourage you to share your most useful tools and websites with your readers. Tag it bestoftheweb

Let me start by saying, I know I'll forget something, but here is my list.

  • BLOGGING:

    • Blogger: This is where I blog. Yes, wordpress and typepad are "prettier," but integration with searches from Google is where its at and despite what folks say, nothing is integrated more tightly with Google Blog search and Google search than blogger. Period. If you're not found, you're not heard. So, if you use another platform, you'd better make sure you submit your URL to Google so you'll be found.

    • Sources for content: Creative Commons Search and Youtube will turn up great sources for content or to add emphasis. When I get concerned about participating in group think, I pull myself out of the rut, I often go to Stumble upon, Digg, Twittervision, Flickrvision, or read the News at newsmap. It is so important to not only read IN education but also intentionally pull out of education and read other things. Don't think the "gurus" know it all. They don't. Sometimes they are wrong. Grassroots folks are important. I also read those who are writing about my work using my watchlist in technorati. (I also pay special attention to new bloggers, sometimes a comment from someone they've linked to will keep them going.) I also browse and read the tags I'm following in Education.

    • Tagging - If you have read 10 Habits of bloggers that win, you'll understand the importance of tags. I use the Tag Editor firefox add on.

  • Blogging Widgets and Add Ons:

    • Feedburner - This takes your RSS feed and makes it really useful. I use it to splice my del.icio.us links into my feed (something that many of my readers often tell me they like best. So much for blogging. ;-)) I also suggest you use the show feed readers button, add e-mail subscribe ability (for those who just can't do RSS), and a big RSS "chicklet" in the top left or top right corner of your blog. You can also use it to add all kinds of cool things at the bottom of a post (called Feed Flare). (I also love Feedburner because it lets me take the school blogs and import them onto the website. See my blog about how to use RSS to automate your website.)

    • Show Me Widget - This is a must use for bloggers. If you go to my blog and look on the left hand side, it shows you all of the places I communicate. Until the Open Social API takes hold, this widget helps others connect with you.

  • RSS Readers

    • I think that each of us should have two types of RSS readers: the visually organized RSS reader and our "power reader." It is about fast, easy access. We are so shaped by the information we surround ourselves with. None of us have any time, so setting up good RSS readers will pay big dividends in all areas of your life.

      • Visual RSS Readers --
        I have two favorites for this. I start up using my iGoogle page which includes several of my favorite blogs (shhh I'm not telling), my Airset calendar, my weather, Google Groups. It also includes a tab for "work" which includes a quick view of my Google Reader, access to my Google docs, and my Google Notebook. I also have a tab for my own "fun" including movie times and ratings, ratings of top products from PC Mag, an RSS feed of the top videos on Google video and youtube (and no they aren't the same), a recipe of the day and a feed from Interesting thing of the Day and How Stuff Works.

        Netvibes - My Teacher Dashboard - I use this for grading ALL of my student work. All of the wiki edits and comments, RSS feeds from public student Nings, public student blogs, etc. are here. The way this RSS reader works is ideal for grading and just so easy. It is the one I teach my students. I have at least 10 tabs in here!! If you want to know how I set this up, use the free tutorial that I created over at Atomic Learning where I give you a behind the scenes tour of how I set this up. Of note to principals is how I follow the youtube videos, etc. that are posted with my school's name. I am now calling this my teacher "dashboard." I can dash over there and see everything at a glance, all new things, all issues, all comments... everything!

      • Power RSS Reader - While I've used bloglines for two years, I've been gradually moving to Google Reader just because it is so unbelievably easy to use. It is chock full of features, not to mention the recent implementation of Google Gears which allows me to read my Google Reader OFFLINE! So, when you go on that long trip, the kids can watch a DVD, and you can catch up on your RSS! Just so cool. (And for those who don't want to set up delicious, the google clip service is really cool.)


  • My Personal Learning Network
    Besides my RSS reader, these are other things I use to learn. (Also see above, other sources for content.)

    • iTunes - More people listen to podcasts on PC's than on their ipod. This free software is my best friend and companion many times. Mood is often affected by music and sometimes we don't need medication, we need music! (I wish more schools allowed kids to work with ipods on!) If I'm stressed, sometimes a little Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Indigo Girls, or even a Disney tune just snaps me right out of it!

    • ipod - I always thought it was hype. It's not. My nano is with me. I have turned my most despised task of washing dishes and clothes into a joyous one, as I listen to the Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, anything from Twit TV (Leo LaPorte is da man!) , the shows at Edtech talk, the Bored Again Christian, or whatever podcast suits my fancy. I'm often adding and removing podcasts.

      (When I'm working on computers, I always have my earbuds in and am listening to something. Honestly, it helps me focus and it is why I let my students do the same. If you want to see them type a term paper in no time flat, give them their iPod and see what happens. You'll see that they work, don't talk to neighbors and focus. Isn't that what we're supposed to provide, a great working environment?)

    • Twitter - Twitter isn't for everyone. However, if you're going to test, use, and innovate on the bleeding edge, it is a must. When I decided to ustream, I went online and asked if anyone was "around" and had 6 people helping me test it within moments. It has sped my own R&D cycle up considerably and has prevented me from taking things into the classroom that don't belong there. Oh, and I actually use snitter to twitter. (And while some talk about leaving the blogosphere for twitter, I think this is a bit ridiculous. There is a place for both. Twitter is like the backchannel of the blogosphere but not its replacement.)

    • Newsmap - The most efficient way to read the news. Period.

    • My students (and family)- I have a private ning for all of my students. The Ninth graders also blog at youth voices. Flat classroom students blog and communicate over on their Ning. I read student work more than everything else combined (since I am a teacher) and I find that it refreshes me, gives me hope, excites me, teaches me, and makes me a better person and more focused teacher. When my students reflect on my classroom it is like an instant focus group. Why wait to survey them at the end of the year? If they are reflecting daily, you're learning daily what works.

      My kids are some of the greatest teachers about technology. I take the time to learn the newest Xbox game (although when I play call of Duty, I can't climb the darn ladder) or adopt a Webkinz or IM my own children. I listen a lot! I am a parent who loves them and I want to be IN their world. It takes effort but it is worth it and it makes me a better teacher (and mom.)

  • Other Important tools

    • Del.icio.us - The best bookmarking and sharing tool. Period. I want to play with Diigo which integrates with Delicious, but for now, Delicious is it.

    • Screen Capture - I've used CamStudio for screen captures, but have recently begun using Camtasia. I love it, however, if you cannot afford it, head over to the free Jing Project. I believe that screen capture is an essential skill. The reason that I love Camtasia is that the codecs are great, and it gives you the ability to render for just about any platform.

      Oh, and if you're going to screen capture, Sizer is a must download tool that automatically sets windows to the default video sizes. (Otherwise, you'll get blurry images.)

    • Video Editing and Conversion - I use a smattering of products for this. For editing screen captures, I use the Camtasia Studio. When I want to green screen, I use Pinnacle Studio 10 (thanks Dean Shareski).

      A must own for anyone editing video is Quick Time Pro. It allows you to convert all kinds of video formats, grab still shots of video, and has a robust editing program in this deceivingly simple looking software. You can even rip mp3 files off of quick time videos and produce video for the iPod or iPhone. It runs around $30.

      But if you need to convert and want something FREE try Zamzar. It converts between all types of formats... even those nasty Open Office to Microsoft Word conversions.

      Other great multimedia tools that are Free, Windows Movie Maker, PhotoStory, VoiceThread, Slideshare (try slidecasting), Animoto, and my sister loves iMovie.

    • Video for the Classroom - Of course, I'm one of the lucky ones who uses youtube in the classroom and do so at least twice a day. Nothing like video to pull them in! But, for longer videos and high quality teacher materials, nothing beats the united streaming service from Discovery Educators. This service has recently been provided for our teachers here and I've just finished training all of the teachers. From the word of a veteran teacher, "Finally a technology I can use." The videos are searchable by topic, grade level, and include standards, teacher guides, and quizzes. If your library is wasting money on DVD's, tell them to STOP and purchase united streaming. It is a must!

    • Synchronous Communications - For communicating one on one, I love Skype. We use it at my school to provide tech support to teachers, send files, resolve issues quickly. It is great. I also love Google Talk but can only communicate with those who have gmail accounts. (like my whole family)

      For real collaborative projects and group meetings, Elluminate is my favorite. With the seven teachers for Flat Classroom it is IMPOSSIBLE to get us all awake at the same time, so we use elluminate for the 3-4 who can meet to get together and then we record it and send the recording to the others. They have an mp3 feature coming soon which will make it even more useful. You can use a vroom for free and Elluminate Live is free also. I believe every student should know how to use a live classroom environment such as elluminate. They WILL use it in college.

    • Asynchronous Communications - OK, my name is Vicki and I love wikis. I can't help it. Is it any wonder? They are easy to use, have a super quick learning curve, and are trackable down to the comma. You can control editing and even make them private. As most folks know wikispaces is my favorite. Not that the other folks aren't great, but I KNOW Adam and the folks at wikispaces and when I have a problem it is solved in moments. They listen to educators and were one of the first organizations to offer ad-free services of any kind. I have my class wiki, the Flat Classroom Wiki, the Horizon project wiki, my cool cat teacher wiki for presentations, and the k12 wiki to train teachers.

      It is also important when collaborating globally to decide how you're going to connect the students. Our first project, we shared e-mails. Then, after experiencing it, we think that is not a good idea. Using a social network like Ning allows the students to communicate, and a comment on a student's page generates an e-mail nudge to come over to the Ning. It allows us to coach the process. Great tool!

    • Airset - I've blogged about this one before. Airset is my life. I now have airset on my cell phone (b/c I can't afford the Treo I'm dying for!) It handles time zones, runs my family, handles my lists, and even sends text messages to my cell phones (or those in my family) when I enter reminders. (see my posts Rapidly Synchronize your Sanity and time Zones adieu meet Airset.)

    • Cell Phone Tools - My new favorite is 4info.net. In fact, the other day I was talking about this in a conference and a man jumped up and said "I love you!" This handy service lets me subscribe to weather alerts for me. And I have it text me when a Georgia Tech ballgame ends. My son, who literally wouldn't leave the house on game day, gets a text message for EVERY SCORE CHANGE in a Georgia Tech football game. He went canoing two weekends a go and relaxed, knowing he'd know the score.

      I also use Google SMS- GOOGL - and have taught my students to use Google to translate, find directions, define words, and more.

      Another great service is Jott.com -- It is great for sending myself messages when I don't have a pen handy. I can blog from jott, but usually don't, my southern accent is a mess with Jott. I have used it to send messages to others when I can't get to a computer. Very useful!

      I also love Twitter on my cell. Not only can I twitter from cell, but I can receive direct messages on my cell phone. This meant a lot to me this past summer when my grandmother passed away, I received direct messages as condolences. It really helped me a lot.

    • Word Processing - I still love Microsoft Word. The Microsoft Office is a must own for teachers. (Sorry open source guys.) The smart art feature is the best for teachers because it makes creating graphic organizers very easy. But don't write your blog posts in there or you'll trash your RSS feed.

      Google Docs is what I use for collaborative editing or writing for blogs. It is a great online office suite.

    • Presentations - Although PowerPoint is the de facto standard, I often create in PowerPoint and pull into Google Presentations. And if you only use PowerPoint in your preso, you're missing out. You should pull in web resources AND video, which means going to the web. That is where google presentations is so handy. Drop in the link and those following online can go directly there. And remember to recruit a backchannel facilitator beforehand.

    • Live Streaming - Although I'm testing a new service, uStream has still got it!

    • Photo Editing - Guys, PhotoShop is the best. I know there is other stuff out there, but there are some things that I just have to find the money for.

      Some free tools are out there like Gliffy. Also, I love Flickr, and love their tools for automatically adding photos to the school website. Also, everything over at Big Huge Labs is wonderful (and free unless you need a print.) Also, forgive me for this term, but I needed to blow up a photo really really big, and if you want to do that, rasterbator is great for it. (Just don't tell anyone the name of it.)

    • Webcam - I have a personal Favorite. The Logitech Quickcam Fusion and here is why. It has the most phenomenal avatars, so when you want your students to shoot video and do not want their face on the video, you can still do it. The videos range from princesses to leprechauns and it requires NO geekiness.

      Additionally, it clips to your monitor but can come off easily and be held for video that needs to be a little more mobile. This is one thing you cannot do with permanently affixed webcams.

    • Web Browser - Firefox - Using the add in's firefox is literally MINE. It is customizable to everything I am and makes it easier to work.

    • E-mail Tools -- I use Gmail and have a great new add in called Better Gmail that helps me follow the Inbox Zero principles that I'm following now. If you have Gmail and are using firefox this is a MUST DOWNLOAD!

      If I wasn't using Gmail, I would be using Thunderbird because of its ability to do templates. You've got to use power tools in your e-mail or your e-mail will kill you.

I'm sure there are other things I'm using, however, I've been working on this blog post for 3 hours and its late and I need to go to bed! (And I probably missed a few typos too.) So, let me know what I've forgotten, will you?

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