Archive for the ‘Personal Technology’ Category

Ryerson’s Own Digital Media Zone

March 18th, 2010

One of Ryerson’s latest innovations is a centre for innovations – the Digital Media Zone. Located in the AMC, it is the new home for a slew of edgy student projects.

From the DMZ’s own website:

The Ryerson Digital Media Zone (DMZ) is an energy-charged concept space designed to enable student innovation and collaboration. Students will be able to test out and develop their digitally inspired ideas that come from any program area and solve any problem.

Take a look at Ryerson Student Life’s tour of the DMZ:


Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

Edit:

Here’s an article from the Globe & Mail about the DMZ

WordPress v 2.9 Available

December 21st, 2009

They’ve just released version 2.9 for the standalone WordPress system. This update brings a few useful additions, as well as the usual host of bug fixes and things.

Some of the updates that interest me:

  • easy and quick embedding of video from various online sites (Youtube, Vimeo, etc.) – still want to see if this code will translate in Feed Readers or other sites that people may push their WordPress blog posts to (WordPress proprietary tags will not work in these other environments, so need to wach out!)
  • easier updating and compatibility check for plugins
  • image editing capabilities

I’m currently taking a peek at it on our test server, and hopefully the update for WordPress MU (which blog.ryerson.ca runs on) will follow in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, here’s a little video from WordPress to outline some of the changes:

1 Month of Wave: Post the first

November 4th, 2009

I now have a Google Wave account.

I got it a few weeks ago, but haven’t really had the opportunity to try it out in a meaningful way. There’s no point in playing alone… Wave’s potential lies in the ability to collaborate with others. “Potential” is really the key word here. My first experiences with the features and user interface have left me hoping that it will evolve in the right way, but it does fall short in some ways.

What is a wave? It’s hard to describe… it’s like an enhanced wiki tool that you could use in place of email, plus gadgets.

Actually, it’s much more complex than that, especially once you start taking into account the ability to make public waves (so now you have a public forum? a public blog?) and embed waves into other sites (like your existing blog).

This video explains the concept behind Wave pretty well (and it’s pretty funny, too). Also be sure to check the Google Wave Intro at the bottom of this post… it shows some cool features that will be possible in the actual release of Wave.

Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

One thing to keep in mind is that it is in preview — not even in Beta! There are no guarantees that features will work (and, in fact, I’ve had some work one day and not the next), so you can’t really use it professionally yet. Many of us are just trying it out, to see what we think we can do with it, and provide some feedback on things that just aren’t working for us.

Things I like:

  • Wiki-style group collaboration on documents (asynchronous… and kinda synchronous)
  • The ability to embed tools like polls, map tools, conferencing, etc. (although I haven’t been able to try them all yet)
  • The ability to make your Wave public, and search public Waves on different topics. Very cool!
  • The ability to add things like Twitter into a Wave. Not sure I know what to do with it, but it’s neat that I can.
  • The group of folks attending Educause that decided to try using Wave for sharing conference notes and info… I’m TOTALLY spying on you all!

Things I’d like to see improved:

  • The total destruction of the darn “Done” button you have to click when you’ve made an update to a Wave. Doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re testing Wave on your own and have a 2-line wave. When you are participating in a BIIIG wave that scrolls forever, and has various long replies, etc. the “Done” button is tricky to find.
  • Long complicated waves can be complicated to navigate. Not sure how to improve this, but I am finding it challenging.
  • Difficulty in locating changes to a Wave. I know there’s a green bar on the side. Doesn’t help if I have to scroll for 10 minutes to find it. Give me a ‘history’ page with a list of changes, like you’d see in a regular wiki. The playback feature seems like a cool idea, but has been useless for me so far.

There are other points, but I’ll save some for my next post. Overall, I do see its potential, and I hope that Google takes the feedback that they are given.

One weird thing that’s come out of this is trolling for account invites. I’ve actually had strangers ask me for a Wave account invite when they saw me post on Twitter that I had an account myself. Weird, no? Unless I know you personally or professionally, please don’t ask me. I want to use my invites to gather a group of people that I can test and collaborate with.

Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

Some other first impressions:

This series is a (roughly) 1-month attempt to figure out what the heck to do with Wave, with some commentary along the way.

EVENT: Adobe MAX

October 6th, 2009

I didn’t catch all of the keynote today, but there was one big announcement that I wanted to repost here.

Flash01Flash CS5 will include the ability to develop iPhone Applications using Action Script 3.

This is one of those announcements that is both positive and yet a little disappointing. Let’s start with the good stuff — Flash can be a great tool for developing interactive applications delivered online. We’ve all seen examples of Flash at work, with things ranging from online games to animations to video sites like Youtube. People with a creative mind can take Flash really far! Now Flash developers can create iPhone Applications that can be delivered via the Apple iTunes Store (or iPhone developers can use Flash to develop… either way). Sounds great!

Apple and Adobe have not been playing well together when it comes to Flash on iPhones. I’m not pointing any fingers, but I know that I want to pull my hair out every time I have trouble accessing a site on an iPhone because it uses Flash. The hair-pulling will continue, unfortunately, because they have not agreed to permit in-browser Flash support for the iPhone.

Regardless, it is a good first step — now I hope they can take it all the way home!

Some Links:

Now to find out about Connect Pro on the iPhone…. saw a tweet about this (#adobemax #adobemaxgs on Twitter) and didn’t catch it in the keynote. This would be a really great addition!

I hope I have some time to tune in to the sessions tomorrow… it’s always good to keep up on this stuff!

Yummy Bookmarks

September 30th, 2009

I surf deliciously. Yes, I said it… corny as it is, it’s been an interesting evolution for me. Let me explain.

This post is about the personal – and not so “social” – side of social bookmarking. (What is social bookmarking? Check out the great link at the bottom of this post!)

I got a delicious account a few years back. Honestly, I didn’t do much with it at first. Like with most things, I signed up to try it out so that I could see what it was about and how people used it. I didn’t end up using it very much, and my bookmarks didn’t get used much, and I basically forgot about it.

This year, I decided to make more of an effort to put important bookmarks on it. I could see its use — being able to access my important links from anywhere, tag them in various ways so that I could find them again (maybe!). Sure, I knew it was useful, but I wasn’t using it. This time would be different, I would make an effort.

And then it happened.

I installed the delicious plugin for Firefox, so that it would be easier and more efficient for me to add links. Little did I know what I had done. The next time I tried to access my computer’s bookmarks via Firefox, I was in for a shock — my local bookmarks didn’t show up, my delicious ones did!! I was angry at first, and then I saw it as an opportunity.

You see, I now had no choice but to actually use delicious. I had to add my links there. I had to properly tag them so that I could find them again. I had to learn how to access them.

I learned that you could create a list of ‘favourite’ tags to appear at the top of your browser window – and you set these favourites on each computer, so they can be different at work than at home. Brilliant!! My biggest fear in using social bookmarking for all of my bookmarks was that I would end up with a meaningless list of hundreds of links with no context. With the browser plugin, you can narrow that view to just what you need in that context.

delicious_plugin

Above, you can see the delicious bar in my browser, showing only the tags (categories, shown here as headings to a dropdown menu of links) that I have deemed ‘favourite’ in this browser on this computer. This makes it easy to categorize and access just the links you need at that time! The list of ‘favourites’ on my home computer is much different, of course!

Forcing myself to use delicious means that I have access to my bookmarks from virtually anywhere! There is even an iPhone/iPod Touch application that you can install for even more mobile access.

Next Steps: to explore the “social” aspect of social bookmarking. I’ve figured out how to use it for myself, but how to I share my bookmarks with others? How does social bookmarking make it easier for you to find resources that interest you?

Related Links:

Living & Learning with the iPod Touch

August 24th, 2009

Yes, this is my iPod.Welcome to a new system for my Adventures in Technology!!! That probably means that you’ve never seen this blog before, or you managed to find the trail of breadcrumbs left at ye olde site. A giddy ‘Welcome’ to everyone, as we settle into our new home. I still need to paint, rearrange the furniture and maybe buy a new entertainment unit (I broke the old one in the move), but I’m still happy to be here!

With all of the excitement of moving, I’m feeling a little tired and lazy. Instead of coming up with something entirely new, I thought I’d share some info that I found on another blog (one I’ve mentioned before, Kinda Learning Stuff). I recently got an iPod Touch, and am really trying to fit it into my life, for more than just listening to music. Of course, I want to see how it can be used for education as well!!! I came across this article a while back, and keep returning to it to find another task that I can add (I’ve been adding them little by little… don’t want to overwhelm it with apps and features I will never use!!). The format of the blog post on KLS was to introduce the article they read, then add their own thoughts. Sounds good to me… I’m going to do the same!! Maybe someday we can compile a definitive list!!

Articles of Interest:

Some Highlights:

  • Screen-grab – this is my next thing to play with, but sounds like a great tool to have!!
  • Note-taking – I use this feature ALL THE TIME (mostly for groceries). Granted, it’s not the most flexible tool, and I wish I could load pre-made text files from my computer, but it’s handy dandy. Oh, and you can email your notes elsewhere.
  • Synching Calendar & Contacts – this one saved me… I thought I could only access my Gmail, using the available mail option. Little did I know that I could also synch my Google Calendars and stuff using the Microsoft Exchange part.

Some Additions of My Own:

  • Delicious Bookmarksan app that pulls in your del.icio.us bookmarks and tags. I recently switched ALL of my bookmarking over to del.icio.us and now do not use the internal bookmarking in the browser. Since all of my bookmarks are stored centrally, I can pull them into any browser I like, and yes – even my iPod!
  • WordPressanother great free app, will let you update your WordPress blog using your iPhone/iPod Touch! Yes, you might be able to do this using the browser interface, but the app makes it that much simpler. Pretty handy, if you ask me!
  • WPtouch blog plugin for WordPress – OK, this is not specifically an iPhone app… but it is related to accessing WordPress blogs on an iPhone. I’ve also started testing the WPtouch, which automatically generates an m-version of your blog! While it does strip out the “look & feel” of the site, and is a little wonky when you have large videos embedded in your blog, it’s pretty cool! It works for iPhone/iPod Touch, as well as Android! (sorry, Blackberry)
  • Google Apps (via the browser) – still not 100%, but really improving. I can access (but not edit?) my Google Docs, Picasa Photos, Google Reader, etc. Still painful to use with Google Maps, though.

I’m still exploring, and will hopefully have some learning-specific posts after a little more practise with my new toy.

A Few More Articles:

Me, the Twit – Day 1 ends

May 20th, 2009

Ahh, a mass of posts all in one day, after not posting for a year or so. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

Me, the Twit – Day 1 has now just about come to an end. I’ve done some digging, found some info on how it makes sense as a social tool, how it can be used academically, and why it isn’t as stupid as it looks. (Ha!)

My own limited experience with it started with "following" a bald guy I know, and evolved to:

  • finding comments from people all over the world who attended a music festival I went to this weekend
  • finding comments from people who mention Ryerson (but not always the U)
  • finding comments from people who mention a band I like (listening to, excited to see upcoming concert by, just bought CD of, here’s a new video clip of…)
  • finding people who are following people who are following people I know
  • finding supposed celebrity Twitterers, but still not feeling like following them

I now have 2 followers, one of which is probably some spammer (since I have NO idea who this person is). I still have to wrap my head around a bunch of it, though, because it’s evolving into something I didn’t expect. Although I suspected that may be the case. (double HA!)

Below are a few collected resources and articles that I found compelling, in my search for the twit-truth. Enjoy!

 

A Bunch of Twits…

 … and before this gets lost in the mess below, there is actually a way to create a private group Twitter, via http://grouptweet.com/

This sounds perfect for course use! Any Rye faculty out there want to try it out with one of their classes?

Twitter for Academia

While I obviously spend a great deal of time online and thinking about the potential of these new networked digital communication structures, I also worry about the way that they too easily lead to increasingly short space and time for conversation, cutting off nuance and conversation, and what is often worse how these conversations often reduce to self-centered statements.

 

How Twitter Creates a Social 6th Sense

Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It’s practically collectivist — you’re creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.

We Travel in Tribes

My tribe is not your tribe because you’re not using Twitter how I do. You wrote an Academy Award-winning screenplay, only follow a few people, but have thousands following you. You sell shoes and follow each of the thousands of people who follow you. You are a major airline, but sound surprisingly human.

Twitter’s value has nothing to do with the technology.

 

Contribute to: Twitter for Teachers

 

Private Members Only

I also feel that I have to make mention of the privacy issue here… I know, it feels like the biggest ball & chain on the leg of creativity, but it’s important to keep it in mind. Twitter is a public service, and probably has servers housed in the U.S. Due to the Patriot Act, your information (user info, what you say, when you said it, who you communicate with – EVERYTHING) can be accessed by the U.S. gov’t. This is against Canadian policy, and certainly against the policies that we try to adhere to at Ryerson. I’m no expert in such privacy and legal matters, but it’s important that any users (faculty, students, TAs) being asked to use these systems for class work have some understanding before signing up.