Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Web2practice from NetSkills

Guides to emergent technologies and innovative practiceAre you thinking about using web2tools for research, administration or teaching? If so, make a quick start with the web2practice user guides.The web2practice guides explain how emergent web technologies like RSS, microblogging, podcasting and social media can enhance your working practice. Each guide consists of a short animated video explaining the key concepts (such as microblogging in the example below), supported by a more in-depth guide covering potential uses, risks and how to get started.
Netskills: Web2practice

Useful guides from JISC - giving a bit of heavyweight legitimacy to things regularly dismissed as superfluous / superficial / damaging.  Good to see and handy to bookmark!
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, August 17, 2009

Three cool tools

I'm always trying out new tools. Some of them make me go 'hmmm'. Some of them make me go 'nice idea'. Some of them make me go 'ooooooh, that could work in x scenario'. Others... I really get using and they become part of my online toolkit.

So, here are three which have taken pride of place on my virtual mantelpiece in the last few months: - unbelievably simple to use tool to schedule meetings. You just create a free account, give your event a name... put in some suggested days / times... and send out the URL to others who simply enter their names and select their preferred times. The beauty of it is that you get to see at a glance what times work... what time the majority can make and it doesn't matter what diary system / calendar people use, this is just a click, click, click and you're done kinda thing:

Another great tool is Dropbox - if you work on more than one computer and want to move files from machine to machine, keeping them all in sync is a pain. With dropbox, you set up a free account (which gives you up to 2GB of free space) and your files are synced via the secure online Dropbox. Doesn't matter what operating system you're using - it just works. I have a PC at work, PC, MacBook Pro and Linux netbook at home... if I want to work on a file and I know I'm going to need access on a number of different machines, I just put it into my dropbox. On Windows it installs as a folder in your My Documents area / as an icon in the status bar. On a Mac it appears in the Finder and the top menu. No more copying stuff onto a USB stick / e-mailing it to yourself - if you have an internet connection, you file will be updated. But... if you want to roll it back to a previous version, then you've got 30 days to sort that out. Oh, and you can also share your Dropbox folders with others. Love it!

My final new tool is Mindomo - it's a terrific, free online mind-mapping tool and it's even won me away from MindMeister which I liked for years. The advantages of this? Well, once you ignore the Google ads down the right hand side, is that it's seriously feature rich, collaborative and really flexible to use. Work on your maps online, import from Freemind or export as a pdf / rtf / xml file / an image file. It's a bit Microsoft Office 2007 / 2008-ish in appearance and it doesn't feel like 'free'. :o)

So... there ya go. Three free, simple, online tools which have 'stuck' in the past three months: Doodle, Dropbox and Mindomo.

Anyone else got any recent favourites?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

10 Pleasing MacBook Pro keyboard shortcuts

Being a total Mac newbie (well, I last had a Mac five or six years ago, so it's pretty much all new), I'm finding out some handy things which I thought might be useful for other people too. So... here goes my 10 handy keyboard shortcuts:

1. There's no hashtag key on my MacBook Pro keyboard - to enter a hashtag you need to press alt and 3 together

2. You can get a whole load more symbols by pressing the alt key and another key... here are some useful ones:
  • alt + 2 = €
  • alt + 0 = º
  • alt + 8 = •
  • alt + r = ®
  • alt + w = ∑
  • alt + p = π
  • alt + s = ß
  • alt + g = ©
  • alt + ; = …
  • alt + x = ≈
  • alt + c = ç
  • alt + / = ÷
3. There's no delete key, only backspace. To forward delete just press fn and backspace

4. If you want to delete one word at a time, press alt and backspace

5. Pressing F12 brings up the Dashboard gadgets. Press it again and the Dashboard disappears again

6. Pressing F11 moves everything so you can see the desktop. Pressing it again brings everything back.

7. When you're in your web browser, press F6 and you select everything in the address bar

8. Press F9 and you can toggle through all open windows

9. To select words one word at a time, hold down alt, shift and press the left cursor key

10. To quit any application, press cmd and q

That'll do for now! My closet nerdness loves finding keyboard shortcuts! :o)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The joy of the Fail Whale

Nice little piece in the New Scientist about Twitter and its delicate disposition...

Innovation: Why don't users mind when Twitter breaks? - tech - 10 August 2009 - New Scientist:

"The strong roller-coaster-riding community of Twitter, by contrast, have tied their personas to the service. They simply embraced the fail, enjoyed taking a break from maintaining their 140-character selves, and prepared to celebrate when the service came back."

Yup, people hate Facebook, Google, Amazon etc going down... but there's a certain humour in the fail whale-ness of Twitter going down the loo yet again. A sign of an immature service or one that's got its users on-side from the start in terms of allowing itself to have a wry sense of humour?

Maybe it's just because it's not seen as corporate as the others on the failure hit-list? Maybe it's not seen as essential as the failure hit-list? Maybe it's a bit more opt in... which means temporary 'opt-out' isn't as painful?

Who knows? Fail Whaling (spotting and celebrating the appearance of a Twitter Fail Whale) seems to have an opposite reaction to most systems failures. Bet you any money IS departments all over would kill for that kind of sympathetic, forgiving band of users! :o)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Changing online demographics...

It's SO over: cool cyberkids abandon social networking sites | Media | The Guardian:
"From uncles wearing skinny jeans to mothers investing in ra-ra skirts and fathers nodding awkwardly along to the latest grime record, the older generation has long known that the surest way to kill a youth trend is to adopt it as its own. The cyberworld, it seems, is no exception.

The proliferation of parents and teachers trawling the pages of Facebook trying to poke old schoolfriends and lovers, and traversing the outer reaches of MySpace is causing an adolescent exodus from the social networking sites, according to research from the media regulator Ofcom.

The sites, once the virtual streetcorners, pubs and clubs for millions of 15- to 24-year-olds, have now been over-run by 25- to 34-year-olds whose presence is driving their younger peers away."

Where are they going then?

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