- Ning Announces New Pricing Model, Free Nings for Teachers…but they can still take it away anytime they want http://tinyurl.com/2g6evay #
- Law Librarian Blog: Moving Beyond the Ubiquitous PDF for Durham Statement Compliance http://bit.ly/c7f7XR #
- RT @pgsimoes: Simple but gr8… RT @retorta: The Clever Sheep: Top 20 Uses for Wordle http://ow.ly/1ABMY #
- RT @gsiemens: sentences you will never read in a published research paper: http://bit.ly/cbjaP9 #
- Having wonderful conversation on ethical issues in practice, with 4th year physio students on WP/BP social network #uwcphysio #
- Installed #doubletwist to manage podcasts on my HTC Hero (Android), and loving it. Only in beta but works well http://www.doubletwist.com/ #
- @amcunningham would like to know how using #screenr for feedback works out #
- 1022. Teaching What You Don’t Know http://tinyurl.com/3x6lgdl #
- Faculty Perceptions of Group Work. Interesting insights that will be useful for my student groups http://tinyurl.com/2wxmg8x #
- Google Editions: Google Plans to Launch E-Book Store This Summer http://tinyurl.com/2d9jojq #
- My Social Network: post by Couros on the value derived from soc net, & shouldn’t students get the same benefits? http://tinyurl.com/3yv5exq #
- The 21st Century Classroom – Alfie Kohn. Some great ideas for teaching http://tinyurl.com/34llqgl #
- Inside Teaching : Interesting format, but not sure if I like it for a PC. Think it’ll be awesome on an iPad-like device http://bit.ly/cdo2TO #
- Ubuntu 10.04 released. Beautiful Gnome desktop http://bit.ly/aXekDg always makes me want to switch. But KDE is also beautiful…sigh #
- ♻ @cristinacost RT @netcrit #nlc2010 – Wenger – reflects on his theory – community doesn’t explain learning; learning explains community! #
- Network scientists at Harvard: Nicholas Christakis, Laura Bogart, Martin Nowak | Harvard Magazine May-Jun 2010 http://diigo.com/0aq94 #
- Google and Wikipedia — Separated at Birth? http://tinyurl.com/yzxj3az #
- @patrickkayton I liked the cartoon look 🙂 #
- YouTube – Students Helping Students. A video by Michael Wesch http://bit.ly/cE7aDL #
- I know it’s ridiculously early, but I’m already looking forward to SAAHE ’10 at Wits in July this year http://bit.ly/9CGOA6 #
- @Sallykenyon12 Not on it at all, just saw a random tweet and followed it up. Don’t know if I have enough voyeur / time to watch other people #
- How to Destroy the Book, by Cory Doctorow (part two) | theVARSITY.ca http://bit.ly/awIOZX #
- Race Shapes Teen Facebook and MySpace Adoption, says danah boyd – ReadWriteStart http://bit.ly/c55Brc #
- Mohamed Amine Chatti’s ongoing research on Technology Enhanced Learning http://bit.ly/bPCgyp #
- Gumption: Clinical Wisdom: Knowledge, Experience, Compassion, Creativity and Honesty http://bit.ly/d8S9lF #
- Kevin Smith’s Plus-Sized Predicament : NPR http://bit.ly/axsayt #
- Chatroulette – only mildly disturbing http://bit.ly/bRdeWy #
- @cristinacost thanks for the offer, i’ll think about it and get back to you #
- @cristinacost at this point, a #diigo educators account is all I want. I’m tired of asking them for one #
- RT @pgsimoes: Building a #PLE – 15 Must-Have Web Apps for Students – http://ow.ly/197p0. Didn’t know about most of these…thanks #
- RT @acedtect: Don’t just shorten your URL, make it suspicious and frightening! http://www.shadyurl.com/index.php. This is awesome 🙂 #
- Filesharing is illegal, but not wrong. Winning essay by Canadian 12th grade student http://tinyurl.com/****** #
- RT @openednews: News: OpenCourseWare Consortium Panel Recap http://bit.ly/aVkMia (apologies for the shameless self-plug) #
- School Accused Of Spying On Kids In Their Homes With Spyware That Secretly Activated Webcams | Techdirt http://bit.ly/c6Wn4e #
- xkcd: Science Valentine. This is awesome http://bit.ly/9nbXs9 #
- The tool for the 21st century classroom. I use Docs, I collaborate with Docs, but this lady is way ahead of me http://bit.ly/cBRrB8 #
- I really like using KJots and it seems as if it’s going to be getting some very cool new features http://bit.ly/bZr2Lc #
- ♻ @pgsimoes: RT @antoesp: RT @Czernie Interesting: ‘A #Research Revolution: The Impact of Digital Technologies’ http://tinyurl.com/ydr63lu #
- @amcunningham he is, my comment is “saved, awaiting moderation”, it’s only short one, sent from phone between shop and office #
- Public Collections Empathy in Medical Education – Anne Marie Cunningham | Mendeley http://bit.ly/b5o2xV #
- @patrickkayton I think that’d be a great use of #cognician why don’t you whip something up for us quickly 🙂 #
- @amcunningham done, exciting stuff, we’ll have to come up with a cool name for this type of project…extreme writing or something 🙂 #
- @amcunningham If you mean lit. rev. online with docs, etc, I’m super-keen 🙂 #
- Arin’s Blog: How to write a literature review using only the web http://bit.ly/cVn4S2 #
- @marlonparker complete loss of speaker’s credibility #
- RT @clebe05: @wesleylynch did a cool interview on #TheDigitalEdge podcast – have a listen and share your thoughts – http://ow.ly/17OPS #
- Journals as Filters and Active Agents | Virtual Canuck. Make sure to read the comments as well http://bit.ly/b7CxPk #
- @cristinacost I like Carrington (http://bit.ly/bBhPef) on my WP site (www.mrowe.co.za/blog) #
- Great interview with Salman Khan (khanacademy.org) on his response to a crisis in education http://bit.ly/cPcLIb #
- Siemens – Teaching in Social and Technological Networks http://tinyurl.com/yknuclq #
- Developing a Pedagogical Framework for Web 2.0 and social software http://tinyurl.com/y9zsddj #
- @wesleylynch thanks, finding the stuff I’m working on at the moment quite a challenge 🙂 #
- Aligning outcomes, content and assessment to more accurately measure competence and facilitate meaningful learning…this stuff is hard #
- @sharingnicely I’m pretty happy with my coverage from Vodacom, haven’t been anywhere yet that doesn’t have it. Can’t speak for US tho #
- ♻ @p2pu: Breaking News: The new http://www.p2pu.org is live, and beautiful. Sign up for your course today! Congrats Bekka, it looks great 🙂 #
- A critique of Tapscott and William’s views on university reform, in Educause Review (see previous tweet) http://bit.ly/bUDcP2 #
- Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time! (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE http://bit.ly/bkMYbo #
- Getting excited about the upcoming SAFRI (medical education) session in a few weeks http://bit.ly/99ULI7 #
- Just upgraded to #Kubuntu Lucid running #KDE 4.4 – better stability & nice new features, enjoying it so far http://bit.ly/ayygg0 #
- Facebook Driving More Traffic Than Google. Hard to believe & only 1 metric but is it a sign of things to come? http://tinyurl.com/ybxcwol #
- Peer-To-Peer Recognition of Learning in Open Education by Schmidt in the IRRODL journal http://bit.ly/bFVpMd via @addthis #
- Alternative Grad School: creating a do-it-yourself higher learning experience http://bit.ly/cBuCVM #
- Mobile platforms are proliferating. Check out MeeGo (merged Moblin & Maemo) http://bit.ly/d69pLv #
- Thought Leader » Eve Dmochowska » The web’s unavoidable sharp learning curve. Interesting comments http://bit.ly/9OPmrE #
- RT @maggiev: TESSA – Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (lovely resources here) http://bit.ly/dtb6rU #
- RT @patrickkayton: About to present Cognician to postgrad students and academics at CPUT. Smart crowd! #
- ♻ @cshirky: RT @pomeranian99: Length of Britannica’s entry about Wikipedia: 913 words. Length of Wikipedia’s entry about Britannica: 6,804. #
- Finalising details of collaborative project with Irish physio students on Physiopedia #isp1 http://bit.ly/dz2UGb #
- 21st century literacies (HASTAC), 10 additional literacies over and above the 3 R’s http://bit.ly/dtFcJt #
- Effective Pedagogy – rubric based on the structure of observed learning outcomes http://bit.ly/bV6dvv #
- OpeningScholarship Project | Centre for Educational Technology at UCT. Lots of interesting content http://bit.ly/brrRKk #
- UCT OpenContent portal now live. Congratulations to all involved http://bit.ly/dfAeCH #
- I’m on the #microecop programme committee (http://ow.ly/176eM), but sadly not on the list yet 🙁 #
- For The Love Of Culture – post by Lessig on issues around copyright and rights clearance http://bit.ly/bxsNCn #
- @gsiemens I’ve been using Chromium for a few months and now find FF slow and clunky #
Powered by Twitter Tools
I’ve been playing around with Gnome-shell on Ubuntu over the past week or so and am still trying to decide if I like it. It’s going to replace Compiz in the next generation of the Gnome desktop and the idea is that it’s supposed to enhance productivity by creating an innovative user interface that more easily exposes the day-to-day tasks of the user. But besides some pretty cool transitions between virtual desktops, an “overview” of the running tasks, and some additional shortcuts in the Activities panel, I’m not sure what else it adds.
I know that it’s going to improve with time and I’m hoping the developers include more features that actually challenge the current desktop paradigm like KDE has done with their 4.x release. I do like my desktops shiny so I’m happy to see Gnome finally moving in that direction, which is why I’m not going to get all upset about the fact that the developers are breaking with tradition to try something new.
Check out this tour of Gnome-shell for details of the features and screenshots. If you like to play with bleeding edge tools, I’d recommend installing it and playing around for a while. It’s stable enough to get an idea of how it’s supposed to work and you might just like it enough to keep it.
Is it too much to ask for software developers to agree on one standard storage format for commonly accessed data? Why does every browser that I use have it’s own bookmarking system, rather than one location separated out from the actual programme that all programmes can then access.
For example, Firefox keeps it’s bookmarks at …/.mozilla/firefox/…default/… (different for each OS), Flock does the same in it’s own location, and so does Chromium. Why not have one bookmark storage standard that gets kept in /home/michael/.bookmarks? Every browser can then access the same place and so will all have the same History and Bookmarks, no matter which browser I’m using. The same is applicable for RSS feeds. Why can’t every application use a storage container that’s kept in /home/michael/.rss? I’m hazy on the details, but I thought that this was the sort of thing that XML was designed for?
The Akonadi framework on KDE is going to go some way to address this problem, but only within the KDE desktop, and only for the (personal information management) PIM applications. Am I missing something here? If you know of a way to share resources across applications, please point me in the right direction.
- Grading practices http://tinyurl.com/kmaftd via http://www.diigo.com/~michaelrowe #
- Beyond Social Networking: Building Toward Learning Communities — Campus Technology http://bit.ly/VnmhB #
- Skills developed through social networks that lead to collaborative learning http://www.diigo.com/06rad #
- 3 Challenges to Wiki Use in Instruction — Campus Technology http://bit.ly/biP0c #
- New NICE guidelines on LBP : RachaelLowe (interesting post on the applicability of clinical guidelines) http://bit.ly/Mb3TA #
- KDE 4.3.0 Release Announcement. Congrats to the development team for an amazing release. It just keeps getting better http://bit.ly/eDQ4o #
- The KDE Education Project – Marble desktop globe. New release is beautiful http://bit.ly/uXarV #
Powered by Twitter Tools
I’ve known about Choqok for a while now but haven’t really played around with it very much, until recently. First of all, it’s not a replacement for any of the big “overview” type applications like Tweetdeck and Seesmic. It’s more along the lines of an unobtrusive client that sits quietly in your system tray until you poke it to see what’s going on. I also like it’s simple interface and the fact that it integrates nicely with KDE (if you’re running primarily Gnome, then it’s going to need a lot of dependencies that you may not want).
It’s been a busy few weeks at the university, with mid-year assessment (in all it’s various forms) having to take precedence over everything else. Now that it’s over and students are on holiday, I’ve finally gotten around to doing the things I’ve been putting off for a while…like installing the beta version of KDE 4.3 on Kubuntu Jaunty.
The 4.x series of the desktop is getting more and more impressive with every iteration, so much so that I felt I needed to put it on show a little. I’ve been playing around with it for a few days now and while it’s still a little buggy, it’s stable enough for me. In this post, I’m going to go through some of the applications I use most often, and give my own thoughts about why I’m loving this update.
Desktop. The Folder view widgets on the desktop do a great job of keeping it clean and useful, and I love the way they expand on mouseover to make navigation really easy and intuitive. The Lancelot menu is brilliant, keeping unused applications out of the way, but making it simple to find them when needed.
File management. There was a lot of controversy when the KDE developers decided to
create Dolphin and replace Konqueror as the default file manager, but it was clearly the right move. There are a couple of things that I love about Dolphin, including the Information side panel, split view mode, Terminal view and the integration of Nepomuk semantic search.
Work stuff. I tried using KOffice2 even though it’s a platform release (because it looks so very cool), but there are a few issues that keep me from switching from OpenOffice.org, the main one being that it doesn’t support OpenDocument or MS Word files as well as OpenOffice does, and the fonts look terrible.
I’ve installed and am using BasKet notepads for my note taking application, which unfortunately is still a KDE 3.5 application. There were some concerns about the project stalling when the lead developer decided that he couldn’t continue maintaining it, but it seems as if it’s been taken up by others and may yet have a future. I hope so because it’s a great application, even in it’s current state. A project to watch out for in this field is SemNotes, a semantic note taking application being built on Nepomuk (see here for screencast).
Okular is a universal document viewer, although I don’t use if for much other than PDFs. The feature I like most is the ability to annotate documents, although the default colour scheme of the notes isn”t great.
I used to use Kontact for email for the longest time but then I switched to Thunderbird for a while, then Spicebird and finally back to Kontact. In terms of functionality, nothing comes close to it right now. I’d like to say that I use Akkregator for my feeds, but it’s missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. The interface also hasn’t changed much in the past few years and it seems very slow.
I have to admit that I’m using the 3.5 preview release of Firefox as the web browser, rather than Konqueror. While Konqueror was awesome a few years ago, it hasn’t kept up with the changes on the web, and is really starting to show it’s age. There’s a lot happening at Mozilla that Konqueror jsut can’t keep up with and unless there’s a radical change of pace in it’s development, I can’t imagine using it again.
Multimedia. I’m always switching between different media players, but generally I’ve been keen on Songbird and Amarok for managing my whole library, and Audacious as a light-weight player for quickly playing single files. Gwenview (the image viewer) has been given an overhaul and
does a brilliant job of managing image libraries. Amarok is a bit buggy right now (although I am running the beta version of 2.1) and it’s still lacking some functionality that was present in 1 (the port to Qt4 means a lot of catching up has to be done), which is why I use Songbird on occasion. But as with other KDE apps right now, it’s in a state of transition and every release is building on the solid platform that was laid down with 2.0.
Marble. This is a great tool that’s something along the lines of Google Earth and Maps, but it’s open and a native KDE application. I’ve included these screenshots showing a satelite view, as well as a
street view using Open Streetmap. It’s already got Wikipedia and Flickr integration for additional information, as well as being able to overlay additional data, like temperature and precipitation maps. It’s a young project that’s come really far and has the capability to be incorporated into other KDE apps, like using it together with geo-tagging photos in Digikam.
The one thing that I can’t find anywhere is a decent podcast catcher…something like Gpodder for Gnome, but native to KDE. I know that Amarok has one but it’s not working for me and besides, it’s lacking the finishing touches that would win me over. Little things like being able to read a summary of the podcast would be so useful but is currently impossible.
I’m also not a fan of Kpackagekit, as it’s still very much in development and doesn’t always work very well. Generally the command line is quicker anyway, but there’s always Synaptic if a GUI is needed.
Anyway, that’s a brief overview of some of the apps that i use and while most of them are still in beta, there’s so much happening in KDE right now that this post will be outdated very shortly. Sigh…
If you’re interested in following the developments in KDE, check out KDE.News
I’ve been following the idea of a semantic desktop for a few years now, waiting for someone to implement a framework that enables a user to actually do something that’s useful. I think that time has come. It seems as if KDE has managed to integrate the Networked Environment for Personalized, Ontology-based Management of Unified Knowledge (Nepomuk) into their new 4.0 release, and while it’s far from perfect (not least because of the hideous name), it seems at least to be a usable solution and manages to give us a glimpse of the power of the semantic desktop.
So, what’s a semantic desktop and why is it cool? First, we have to understand why current filesystem managers aren’t cool. The file/folder hierarchy has been around since the first graphical user interface and for the most part, has handled the task of providing users with a visual of the filesystem in an easy to understand way. Of course, it’s only a metaphor and “files” and “folders” are actually scattered all over the disk. The interface presents the information in a hierarchical and linear fashion, which is not even close to how we think about and organise information, and this is where we can start to see the system breaking down. The metaphor of files and folders that we use for managing information on a computer has worked reasonably well until now. What’s changed?
When I only had a few thousand files on my computer, it was pretty simple to put them into folders and more or less remember where they were. Over time, I had to start using dates or descriptions in the files and folder names to give me more information about what it’s contents were. Again, this served me well until I began my masters thesis and had to start working with large numbers of large documents. Now, not only did I need to know where I could find certain information (eg. what folder a file was in), I needed to know “deeper” information, such as author, publication and perhaps most importantly, what ideas were in that document (remember, that “document” could include videos and audio files). The default search application could only index the name and type of the file, so if my document name wasn’t descriptive enough (i.e. have author, title and main idea in it), it’d sometimes take ages to find what I was looking for just by searching.
This was partly solved with Desktop Search, which indexed not only the document location, name and type, but also all the text within the document (if it was supported). Now we could search by keywords within documents. Awesome. Except sometimes ideas are not articulated using the same words across documents. Or the ideas are related but not the same. Or you could spell the word/s incorrectly and now your keywords don’t match the keywords in the database. Besides, Desktop Search couldn’t index the text within an image or the ideas within a video. So it was a great temporary solution but still not good enough.
It’s a big problem, especially for me. I can name a file using author and title, and if I have a good memory (which I don’t), I can maybe remember the gist of the ideas in the document with a few keywords included in the name of the file. However, try doing that with a 150 page White paper or thesis that contains many different ideas or themes. It gets worse. Suppose I have multiple documents, all with different main themes but related subthemes (for example, contradictions of the same idea), or with the same ideas framed in different ways. Suppose those documents actually deal with different topics in general but each comes to a similar conclusion and I’ve filed them according to the main idea in different folders. Now I have to remember not only the author, title and main theme of the document, but also the subthemes and their relationships to other documents, in different folders, by different authors, with different titles. What if their are multiple ideas relating to multiple other documents, as their often are?
As you can see, once you start dealing with large numbers of large documents, multiple themes or ideas and different relationships between all of these things, the file/folder metaphor breaks down pretty quickly. So, what’s the solution?
The semantic desktop is an idea that has been around for a while but has taken a long time to bear fruit (I’m not sure why, although possibly because there’s not enough demand or because technology limited development). It suggests that with the huge proliferation of content we store locally (photos, emails, music, text documents and everything else we hoard), finding information and remembering the relationships between that information is going to become increasingly difficult. An example given often includes trying to remember who emailed you that image you want to show someone, but don’t remember where it is or what it’s called. It’s the same idea as trying to find that article by that author who had that great idea (we find it easier to recall ideas, rather than specific information like author and location).
So, the semantic desktop is a framework that exists as a data layer within the operating system that “remembers” not only the relationships between objects on your computer (for example, the email address and name of the person who sent a photo) but can also store any metadata you ascribe to it. Metadata is data about data, so the date information that’s encoded into your photo or the ID3 tag you apply to an MP3 is all metadata. What if we could ascribe metadata to articles?
We can. The good people at KDE (there may be others, although I’m not familiar with them) have implemented the Nepomuk framework into KDE 4.0 (another article here) and it seems to be working OK, although right now it’s quite limited. At this point you can only apply tags to a document, provide a description and rate it. While that doesn’t sound terribly exciting, think of the possibilities. Now I can design textual Tags to loosely describe the main themes or ideas within a document (of course, multiple tags are possible, which means describing multiple ideas), as well as use the Description component to highlight the key features of the article, as well as any other information that might be useful. The rating system could be used to define the strength of an article, for example, newspaper articles might get one star, while systematic reviews could be given 4 stars.
Now it’s possible to search through hundreds of documents in multiple folders (or all thrown together in the same document) by themes or ideas (tags) and quickly establish which of the documents dealing with those themes contain the key points (description) I want to review, as well as determine the strength of the article (ratings).
This is just the beginning of the potential that Nepomuk will bring to the desktop. It’ll also create a system that will allow people to decide what information (and ideas) to share across distributed environments. So for example, researchers on the same team can each have access to everyone’s information dealing with that project but not everyone’s personal data. Sounds pretty cool to me.