May 7

A Crowdfunded Plan for a 3D Printer in Every School

Makerbot has a plan to use crowdfunding to get a 3D printer into every school.

3D Printing is taking off.  However, while 3D Printers have gradually been coming down in price, they are still cost prohibitive for most school (and school systems).  With Makerbot’s Crowdfunding initiative, perhaps this may change.

3D Printing can be used in wide range of areas within schools.  Teachers and Students in just about any subject area can find clever ways to use 3D printed models in the classroom.  If you are interested in applying for a crowdfunded 3D printer, check out Makerbot’s link on donorchoose.org.

For more information on 3D Printing, check out these links …

November 21

The Google Liquid Galaxy

In keeping with my Google-themed posts for today, here is some info on Google’s Liquid Galaxy Project.

Google engineers have combined their Google Earth Package with 8 High Definition monitors to deliver a stunning experience where the user steps inside a chamber of monitors and is fully immersed into the Google Earth Experience.

Continue reading

August 3

My dream tablet computer

I keep hoping that the tablet market will continue to develop and improve.  So far, I have not been impress with the units that have been offered.  Years ago, when I was working with my Z-pda (Zoomer), I had hoped to see the PDAs get a little larger and more useful.  For a while, HP had some WinCE units, but the WinCE market never took off as an O/S platform.  With the rumors about Apple’s probable entry into the tablet market, I started thinking of exactly what I would love to see in a tablet.

Continue reading

April 28

Run most of your Productivity Apps on a USB Drive

USB Drives are getting larger and cheaper every month.  A few years ago, my first 1gb drive cost $70.  Today, I can get a 32gb USB drive for that much.  Back then, the common size for drive was 128mb.  Currently, the common size I am seeing is 4gb.

Now that USB drives 4gb and larger are common, Portable Applications are a great choice to include on your USB drive.  I had played with the PortableApps.com Suite several years ago, but when I only had a 2gb drive, the suite of applications was not very convenient for me.  The PortableApps Suite took up most of the 2 gigabytes of space on my USB Drive.  Today, I am using an 8gb drive and now have plenty of room for my documents and a plethora of portable applications.  Portable Applications are generally small or refined programs that do not require an installation process on your computer to run.  These apps were either designed this way, or altered to allow them to be “portable”.  Personally, I try to run as many “portable” applications as possible because every “installed” application contributes to the eventual slowdown that all Windows-based computers get as time goes by.

There are portable applications to cover probably 90% of what most typical PC users need.  The PortableApps.com Suite includes an Email Appication (Mozilla Thunderbird), Office Suite (Open Office), Antivirus (ClamWin-A/V), IM Chat Client for Yahoo, AIM, and MSN (PidginIM), PDF Viewer (Sumatra PDF), MediaPlayer (CoolPlayer+), and Web Browser (Mozilla Firefox).  There are dozens of other portable applications that can be found at pendriveapps.com and everythingusb.com.  The list of portable applications grows everyday.

The main advantage of using portable apps is that you can easily take your data and work with you.  Since all of your work files and settings are on your USB drive, you can take the drive to another workstation and not have to worry if that computer has the same version of word processor or presentation software.

Of course, there is a disadvantage to this as well.  If you are prone to losing stuff (keys, wallet, phone, etc), then you might not want to put all of your data in just a USB drive.

If you do choose to use portable apps on your USB drive, I strongly recommend backing up your data on a regular basis.

July 31

New Multi-Touch Interactive Whiteboard from Hitachi

Hitachi has demonstrated its new multi-touch Starboard FX 77 Duo.  It has some great features not found in the Smartboards I have used at my school.  I love the idea that the "screen" is basically a whiteboard with the hardware located in a removable section (kind of like the Mimio Portable Whiteboard).  I also love multi-touch functionality showed off in the demo video.

I also love how you are able to use your hands without a special pen.  All in all, it looks like an amazing piece of equipment.  Check out the demo video.

July 28

Use your Cell Phone as a Presentation Controller

Last month I finally updated my old cell phone that was beat up, scratched, and locked up once a day with a Sony Ericsson w580i (Walkman).  The phone is a sleek “slider” model.  Students who have seen me with it have congratulated me on finally upgrading my old phone.

So far, I have enjoyed the upgrade.  The phone comes with a USB sync cable, and the synchronization software (for Outlook) is also free.  Two items that other manufacturers have notoriously charged a ridiculously high amount for their phones.  As nice as those features are, my favorite feature is the option to use the phone as a bluetooth remote control on my PC.  With a USB bluetooth adapter, I am able to connect with my laptop and control the mouse.  This works very well with presentation software like Powerpoint.

Bluetooth adapters cost around $30, but wireless presentation remotes cost around $50.  So, if you have to buy a bluetooth USB adapter, you still come out ahead than buying a wireless presentation remote.

I have tried out three bluetooth adapters on my computers.  D-Link and Jabra adapters work well.  The I-O Gear adapter did not work well with the w850i.

July 26

Web Site Resource – Howstuffworks.com

Howstuffworks.com is one of my favorite websites for material for my tech lessons.  The site, now run by the Discovery Channel, covers a wide area of topics such as  Animals, Communications, Computers, Geography, Health, Money, Science, and many others.  Since I teach Information Technology, I mostly stick to the section of the website covering computers at computer.howstuffworks.com.

The Computer Section covers topics involving hardware, peripherals, security, software, and the internet.  Some topics contain several pages of information while others may only contain one or two paragraphs.  The material is put together professionally and accurately.  I have yet to come across a computer topic that had any obvious inaccuracies.  Howstuffworks.com is a staple in my list of web resources.  I usually end up using their website as a lesson supplement at least twice a month.