Some Useful, Some Not, Things for You

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

Here is a list of things I have been collecting as of late, which may or may not be of interest to those in academia . . .

  • I frequently make the argument that blogs are one of the most useful “tech tools” in education. In fact I now run a class blog for each of my classes, which becomes the primary means thru which students can access course information (cutting out WebCT and Blackboard all together). Even more importantly though in several of my classes I require students to blog as part of the coursework. So, I am always looking for ways to make the blog composing/maintaining process easier and smoother. Lifehacker’s recent post on the Top 10 Blogging Tools is worth a read, even for the most experienced bloggers. As usual, reading the comments to a Lifehacker post can be just as productive as reading the actual post (this is where I learned about Windows Life Writer which looks impressive for PC folks). Most of the tips here are for those who use Firefox and/or blog from their web browser, so not the most useful for those who use MarsEdit or Ecto, but well worth the read for those who don’t want to spend money on software for blogging.
  • Powerset which has been in private Beta, recently went public. (Read the CNET article here). Powerset is one of the first stabs at creating a semantic web search (i.e. using natural English). You can watch the video demo to see how this works. Right now it only works as an interface for Wikipedia, but for me this is what makes it really interesting. One of the shortcomings of Wikipedia has been the interface, layout, and search function, Powerset improves all of this.
  • Following up on last weeks post about online presentation software, Omnisio has also launched. Omnisio solves one of the problems with making your presentation available online. Before you had to either sink your audio to the slides, and not show yourself talking, or show the video of your presentation at the expense of not always being able to see the slides. No longer. Omnisio allows you to synchronize the video with the slides and show both.
  • A reader sent me a link to jygy a mobile social networking site. Despite my interest in twitter mobile computing is not really my thing, so I have not really checked it out, but it does let you create texting “micro apps” which might be useful for teachers mobilizing the mobile space.
  • The above not withstanding I do own an iPhone, which I might add is totally worth it, changed my life. As of now I have not yet jailbroken it (in other words I can’t install applications on it). For me though, the “killer app” so far has been anywhere access to Wikipedia (instant knowledge). I was using Wapedia for this, but have recently switched to Comoki which rather than splitting the information into several pages (like Wapedia) presents it in a collapsable outline (see below). comoki 1.jpg