turning stones

taking for a spin: tools for The Five 8s

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Alternative Software & Applications

There are multiples of applications and software out there that are very useful for our daily lives. As a teacher, as a student, as a learner in the 21st century, we rely heavily on these tools. From full suites to individual applications, to get our message across, to fine tune that poster, to edit that short film, etc. Most of these software are proprietary and do not come cheap, especially when you come from a developing country in Asia. How many times have we almost succumbed(or actually succumbed) into buying pirated software especially when they are openly available in flea markets? Or search for cracks from illegal internet sources? And always our reasoning is that genuine software is so expensive. There is no denying that they are. That is why our school has gone open source.

We know that there are cheaper, or even free, alternative tools and applications that are available and sometimes it is just a matter of finding the right software to suit your needs. You may do a search but AlternativeTo makes it easy for you to sift through categories with a long list of untested/unreviewed software. Whether for your computer or mobile phone, AlternativeTo can help you find just what you need. Software and applications are listed based on users recommendations so that you are assured that these substitutes or replacements have been tested and vouched for by users.

Chances are, whatever software or applications you find may be as powerful and as easy to use as the proprietary ones. When you sign up, you are also invited to participate in recommending and submit applications that you like. Go find what you need now!

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Protect Windows – Free Downloads

For Windows users out there, here is a site where you can download free home edition software for your systems(2000, 2003, 2008, XP, Vista, Windows 7). Resplendence specializes in advanced tools for Microsoft Windows to manage the registry, enable file protection, malware detection, recovery from crashes and system monitoring. Professional editions can also be downloaded for a fee. Get them here.

Anyone for a Qwiki?

When I first saw Qwiki(pronounced quickie) in a Twitter feed a few days ago, I didn’t mind it as there were(I thought) more interesting items at that time; more interesting and cool tools to learn about tweeted by renowned professionals in the EdTech field. Then yesterday I was sidelined by a fever and had to beg off from a Saturday afternoon commitment in school. It was late Friday night in the US and the Twitter feed was sluggish. So I found Qwiki again via Lazyscope and was attracted by the page. Visiting it, I found that Qwiki is in Alpha and you get to try it out only if you get invited. So I entered my email address and requested for an invitation. I received a confirmation email and was told to wait for login credentials to be able to play around with the site. I received the certification today after about 24 hours.

It has been 3 hours since I first visited the site and I’m still on it liking what I’m seeing… and hearing. It is Wikipedia come to life via text-to-speech and slide presentations. Qwiki’s pitch: The Information Experience… You just don’t get information on a page to read, you experience it via images and audio.

It’s a good source to find out about places, people, events and things. Since it is still in Alpha, feedback is solicited and it is still hopeful that more can be done with it. At the moment, there are 2 million individual entries on their database. It’s integration with Google Maps and presenting timelines when there are dates involved are definitely pluses. And it suggests Qwikis related to your subject.

It’s far from perfect but having images moving around in sync with text-to-speech is indeed an experience. Be one of the first to try it out. The Alpha release is only on it’s 20th day today. Request for an invite here.

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Direct your own animated movie


Image by Montreal Tech Watch via Flickr

Xtranormal has been around for quite some time and many have enjoyed creating movies online and publishing them. A number of teachers have used them for various class activities. All one needs to do is sign up for a free account and continue on to make movies. It’s pretty easy to use. Just add elements like actors, script, animation, expression, camera angle, scene and music. After it renders, you can view and publish your movie, share it on YouTube or Vimeo, in Facebook or other networks as well as embed it on your site. Visit Xtranormal here.

Here’s a quick movie I created in under 4 minutes.

Thank you to Lee Kolbert for reminding me about this Web 2.0 text-to-movie tool.

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Time to protect our Macs

Mac users generally do not worry about viruses and malware. But since more and more are becoming Mac converts, the possibility of worms being designed to affect Macs is also increasing. Just a week ago, the trojan Boonana or Koobface surfaced and infected some machines. It takes control of social network accounts and attempts to spread itself by sending spam messages using your username. The trojan has been known to spread through Facebook, Twitter MySpace and email. Windows users are also not spared.

Sophos Anti-Virus, a known enterprise-level software brand, is giving away their Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition for free. Maybe this is a way for them to break into the individual/user-level market. Download the free Sophos here.

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Reinventing Physical Education

The foundation's logo

Image via Wikipedia

A TEDxPennQuarter video.

Is this our direction too?

TEDxTalks | July 28, 2010

Twitter discussion: Blogging in Schools – Storify

Image representing Storify as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Just some pieces of that lively discussion about blogging in schools via #edchat in Twitter. A Storify.
Please click on the link below.


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Listening/Spelling Activity

You choose a song and a degree of difficulty, a YouTube video plays. Shown on the screen with the video are lines of the song with missing words. Your objective is to listen to the lyrics carefully and type in the correct words to complete the lines. If you miss a word, the video stops playing; just hit the up arrow key and the video backtracks and plays the line again. The video continues to play as long as you supply the correct words. I learned about this from Ana Maria Menezes. Like her, I had tons of fun trying this out.

I’m sure language teachers will find some use for this either as a practice tool or as springboard to a related lesson. Make sure to choose songs that are appropriate. Other languages are French, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Click Lyrics Training.

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Fresh and Hot – Lazyscope

Many of us use Twitter as we acknowledge it’s power as a communication tool. It’s ease of use, live delivery and wide menu of options make it worth our while to micro-blog. The introduction of short URLs made the tweeting experience complete. About 14% of all Twitter users login to their accounts via the web(twitter.com). All the others use a Twitter client that suit their tastes and needs. I have gone through several and there are many to choose from. The more popular ones are TweetDeck, Twitpic, Twitter for iPhone, UberTwitter, Twitterrific and Tweetie for Mac, to name a few. The choice depends on which candy catches your eye.

Still, to actually see/read content of a URL in a Twitter feed, you need to click and wait for a new window/tab to open. Wouldn’t it be great to have all the content right there next to the Twitter feed? Enter Lazyscope. Released just a few days ago, this new Twitter client presents the user with all the content associated with the particular feed on a column next to it. It unpacks the URLs and visually delivers the links and its contents including images and videos.

In a Twitter feed, this is what you see:

Lazyscope presents you with this:

Be the first of your friends to try this out. I am sure you will like it.

There are other features. Read about them in the related articles below.

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Poll Everywhere Tryout Result

Here is the screen shot of the generated Keynote slide(Powerpoint/Impress also available) of the results of the online poll which was up the past 20 hours or so. There were 22 respondents and I would like to thank all of them. I believe we can make good use of this in Xavier School for classes and activities. During a presentation, you can beam this on to the screen after your audience have voted. I just hope the text messaging feature will be supported here in the Philippines soon. Interpret the results however you want 😀 Thank you again to all who responded.


The result generated on the Poll Anywhere website before downloading it as a Keynote looks like this:

This format may also be embedded on your website or blog.

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