- Cameron narrates stunning Titanic simulation http://t.co/DaFSV5ty via @zite #
- Smart Kitchen by Toncelli with built-in Samsung Galaxy Tablet http://t.co/K1G6rPds via @zite. So jealous #
- How Linux is Built http://t.co/z0bJiqNb via @zite. Very cool video showcasing how cool Linux is #
- Managing Google Docs in the Classroom http://t.co/ZEk12K7g via @zite #
- Just got the first build of the new article on Delphi studies from the designer. Very happy with how it looks. I… http://t.co/2wp6Sqxl #
- I posted 4 photos on Facebook in the album “Delphi studies” http://t.co/NTVVBQb7 #
- I thought I’d post another pic. This is the final version of the cover of the first article for The Clinical Teacher. http://t.co/OzmyY8dW #
- Just got our first “Like” 🙂 #
- Locate your stolen Linux laptop With Prey – free, opensource tracking app http://tinyurl.com/3xz55ch #
- RT @Peter_vdm: Uruguay cheat their way into the semifinal. Suarez treated as a hero after the game. What a travesty. #wc2010 #
- RT @IvoVegter: I’m livid. Stop dancing, you thieving, cheating lowlife. Be ashamed. #uru #wc2010 #gha #
- Disgusting result. Feel sick that cheating paid off for Suarez #wc2010 #
- RT @GarethCliff: Suarez is a despickable little worm. F*#k him. Ghana deserve to go through just because he’s a tit #
- RT @bopuc: “have you tried holding it differently?” is the new “did you try rebooting it?” #
- RT @courosa: Why are people so worried about getting their work remixed? I see that as the ultimate compliment. #
- @cristinacost You’re really getting around on the conference scene lately 🙂 in reply to cristinacost #
- Looking for cheap-ish accom. near Wits medical school (Parktown) for conference at end of July. Any suggestions for B&B-type places? #
- RT @mpaskevi: RT @hjarche: Picking the best medium for our great ideas is a critical 21st century skill @timkastelle http://is.gd/dbfAO #
- RT @SirKenRobinson: Good thoughts on the education revolution http://tinyurl.com/373j5fo #
- Is it ever OK for a therapist to snoop on clients online? http://bit.ly/cKWlAW #
- Google Chrome Gets Extension Sync http://bit.ly/bFhgRM #
- Free Online Textbook Project Gets Federal Money – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education http://bit.ly/at35RY #
- Springer Announces New Open-Access Journals – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education http://bit.ly/d6uYd8 #
- The World Cup Desperately Requires Innovation http://bit.ly/9ywUXJ #
- Sorry, there’s the link for mobile Google Docs http://bit.ly/cb4vQ4 #
- Mobile viewer bring Google Docs to Android Handsets #
- Mobile Viewer Brings Google Docs to Android Handsets | Android Phone Fans http://bit.ly/cb4vQ4 #
- Dreaming of what can be http://bit.ly/c8blEt #
- The SA Fallacy: Open Knowledge Foundation Gets It Wrong | iterating toward openness http://ht.ly/23xnD #
- Reading “The blind watchmaker”, Dawkins does for evolution what Sagan did for physics #
- Summary of Eric Mazur’s presentation on using technology to engage students http://ht.ly/23oMz #
- The darn drop outs and lurkers. Suggestions to address the issue ay P2PU http://ow.ly/1qDjMm #
- Learning with ‘e’s: Teaching with Twitter. Some nice ideas for using Twitter in the classroom http://bit.ly/bJGOLU #
- New #Hootsuite web UI is beautiful. Their #Android app is also brilliant, might even replace #Seesmic as my mobile client #
- Reading Wikis as Social Networks: Evolution and Dynamics on Scribd http://scr.bi/9TQqpo #readcast #
- Google Scholar has just launched a blog. They must have a decent academic following if if they’re blogging now http://bit.ly/ank7yw #
- Open, distributed social networks, from Linux News http://bit.ly/dc3LvW #
- Diaspora social networking project looks interesting. Looking forward to public release http://bit.ly/biDUKh #
- @rosemaryzummak Welcome 🙂 Try 2 find a few people who are talking about things you’re interested in. Search for topics and see who’s active in reply to rosemaryzummak #
- Guidelines on things to consider when buying into an LMS service provider, from Pontydysgu http://bit.ly/clrcT1 #
- Learning spaces and e-portfolios, from Pontydysgu http://bit.ly/ctCPjz #
- Long-Term Yardsticks – helping children find their passion, instead of worrying about low test scores, from 2¢ Worth http://bit.ly/9ghnqc #
- Digital story telling stops plagiarism as students’ must be personal and draw from own experiences, from Pontydysgu http://bit.ly/disrWv #
- Interesting Q&A platform called formspring.me http://bit.ly/a3Wfo4 #
- Online Learning May Slightly Hurt Student Performance…if by “online learning” u mean watching lectures by video http://tinyurl.com/38n2hbk #
- Chrome extensions for Google Docs. Really nice if you’re a heavy Docs user http://tinyurl.com/3x78lcy #
- In 20 yrs SA will b in the top 5 ranked teams in world soccer. Tonight we got a glimpse of what SA is capable of. Proud of u Bafana #wc2010 #
- RT @IvoVegter: No comment. RT @EveD: Hmm. @ivovegter lives in Knysna. So does the #FRA team. Coincidence? Sabotage? Hmmmm… #
- Request for OER Material | OER Africa http://bit.ly/b4UQBO #
- I could survive for 1 minute, 6 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor! http://bit.ly/8b9vop from the voluptuous @oatmeal #
- AP Biology: Final “Evaluation”. Awesome use of Google Moderator for class evaluation http://bit.ly/aGzkt6 #
- Badass of the Week: Flora Sandes http://bit.ly/cj8HEM #
- Interesting approach to collaborative keynoting, at SITE 2008 conference http://bit.ly/dfztju #
- Reading Blogging as a reflective tool in physiotherapy ethics on Scribd http://scr.bi/cRvavP #readcast #
- Published Abstract – The Use of ICT by SA Physio Students on Scribd http://scr.bi/ab9Tkt #readcast #
- Published Abstract – Bringing Human Rights Into Focus in Medical Education on Scribd http://scr.bi/d3mcz2 #readcast #
- @jcmm33 Touche 🙂 I was more impressed at the rate of improvement, seems they have a new feature every week since launching the new backend in reply to jcmm33 #
- Google Docs Now Does OCR for Images & PDFs (Sort Of). Docs just keeps getting better http://tinyurl.com/36gddzf #
- Just finished reading Daemon by Daniel Suarez. Best fiction I’ve read in ages (see here for preview chapters) http://bit.ly/97VJjz #
- Everything you need to know about the internet | Technology | The Observer http://bit.ly/aV0uhM #
- The use of ICT to support South African physiotherapy students. My first ever conference presentation from 2008 http://bit.ly/bLkL4L #
- Jake Shimabukuro performs @TEDxTokyo, via Garr’s posterous. Beautiful http://bit.ly/d4XmnL #
- RT @malinkaiva: An overview of the most important trends in ICT innovation in Higher education (2011-2014): http://tinyurl.com/24tfdc9 #
- Webicina.Com • About Us. Interesting medical startup by @berci http://bit.ly/aaYKmk #
- From @giustini: Digital communities of practice [early draft]. Good resource for anyone interested in digital CoP http://bit.ly/90zxt6 #
- @ryantracey It’s clear that no-1owns the internet, but what are the consequence if large sections of it shut down? As u say…interesting in reply to ryantracey #
- Screenr – Create screencasts and screen recordings the easy way, includes posting to Twitter http://bit.ly/9t6uLh #
- Mozilla Labs » Blog Archive » Contacts in the Browser http://bit.ly/bsQnr9 #
- RT @davidworth: RT @brad_bett: High-Tech Cheating Abounds, & Professors Bear Some Blame: Chronicle of Higher Education http://bit.ly/bOuBCA #
- RT @cristinacost: …Am I right to assume we need to allow 4 ‘self-transformation’ b4 we attempt to ‘transform’ Ed/others learning? #
- RT @Berci: Telemedicine Improves Stroke Diagnosis in Rural Hospitals http://ff.im/-ifYvR #
- Students Retain Information in Print-Like Formats Better than scrolling pages http://tinyurl.com/y9lxhzp #
- Just watched “Something the Lord Made”, fantastic movie – http://goo.gl/oFWs #
- Earth hour tomorrow night…don’t forget http://tinyurl.com/ybfyldt #
- Evidence of Effectiveness. 4 tips for judging the effectiveness of a change in practice http://tinyurl.com/yekv34z #
- Quality podcasting in social work http://tinyurl.com/yc5htxr #
- Are You Ready for the New, Easier Wikipedia? Improved navigation and editing features due to launch http://tinyurl.com/yzk3bkz #
- Open Accreditation – Next steps http://bokaap.net/open-edu/open-accreditation-next-steps/ #
- Finding Openly Licensed Images for Teaching and Learning Materials http://tinyurl.com/yzq4vgr #
- RT @timkastelle: Good post: 9 Social Media Topics that Need To Die by @ambernaslund http://bit.ly/9dqwoi #
- RT @cristinacost: the last lecture is not meant to sit on a bookshelf gathering dust. it should be shared http://twurl.nl/x0tbpl #
- @cristinacost nice publications, can I get this 1 “Teachers Professional Development through Web 2.0 Environments, Communications…”? #
- @cristinacost So it’s a normal day then 🙂 #
- SRMO – SAGE Research Methods Online. Might be a useful resource when it launches http://bit.ly/bQksg3 #
- Trying to determine my students’ learning habits / styles via a survey. Can anyone suggest a valid, reliable instrument…or anything? #
- @nlafferty Considered possible use cases in higher ed a while ago (http://ow.ly/1pwg5), haven’t found a practical use in physio ed yet #
- @nlafferty What are you using Google Wave for? I’m interested in any medical education use cases #
- Displaying a Personal Interest in Students and Their learning « Tomorrow’s Professor Blog http://bit.ly/dDhkn1 #
- Students Use Wikipedia Early and Often, Study Shows http://tinyurl.com/yaukd2v #
- Researching the Net Generation: Separating Fact from Fiction http://tinyurl.com/ya2g5fq #
- Six Reasons to be Skeptical of the Net Generation discourse. Nice short summary with links to additional studies http://tinyurl.com/ykmogxo #
- An African perspective on the Tapscott and Williams article on University Reform http://tinyurl.com/yl9ghbw #
- How to Cite Facebook: Fan Pages, Group Pages, and Profile Information. From APA style blog http://tinyurl.com/yzyl2am #
- Paperpile: A new kid on the block. Cross-platform reference manager (linux only for now). Compare to mendeley? http://tinyurl.com/yjmjs2g #
- Can Wikipedia be trusted as a real-time news source? http://bit.ly/9T2eYx #
- Web Illiteracy: How Much Is Your Fault? ReadWriteWeb post on the importance of multiple literacies online http://tinyurl.com/yakuvk3 #
So the Linux build of Chromium (the open source browser than Google Chrome is based on) has been out for a while now and every now and again I’ve been upgrading to the latest developer release just to see how it’s coming along. Lately, the builds have been a lot more stable, font rendering hasn’t been a problem in a long time and small features are regularly being added. It seems (for my purposes anyway) that Chromium is starting to become a serious contender as my browser of choice.
The reason I haven’t been using Chromium as my default browser up until now has been the lack of extensions that make Firefox the best browser available. Recently though, that’s changed, although the public version still doesn’t have extensions enabled.
A few days ago I upgraded to 184.108.40.206 (Ubuntu build 30813), using the Chromium daily build PPA enabled with Ubuntu-Tweak, and it’s simply blown me away. I estimated that the startup time of Chromium on my machine is about 4-5 times faster than Firefox (edit: I’m running Firefox 3.5.4 but it would be more fair to compare it to 3.7), and rendering of complex pages also seems to be faster (see this post that confirms the speed improvements). That prompted me to have a look to see how the extension support is coming along and I like what I found, even though some of the extensions lack the polish of their Firefox equivalents (it is early days). You can find a list of extensions at Chromium extensions, as well as follow some plugin development at Chrome Plugins.
It seems that the guidelines for extension development under Chromium is sensible and well thought-out (I’m not a developer, but it makes sense to me), and I’m pretty excited about what’s on the way. One of the nicest touches is that the browser doesn’t need to be restarted after installing (or uninstalling) an extension, and the installation process is less intrusive than Firefox’s. It must be nice to come in after someone else has made the mistakes that you can then avoid. Some of the more useful extensions I’ve come across so far are:
- Adblock+ (as it says, the toolbar button icon is missing)
- Gmail checker and Subscribe in Feed reader (from official sample extensions)
- Google Reader compact and clean (cleans up the reader interface…very nice)
- Bookmark sync (the option is greyed out on my computer, not sure why, maybe this feature is currently only available on Google Chrome?)
- Tweetpage (opens a popup with URL shortened and status update text area, toolbar button icon is missing)
- YousableTubeFix (allows downloading and manipulation of YouTube content)
- Session saver (saves tab collections as sessions)
- Chromed bird (Twitter feed checker…lack a lot of functionality but I imagine this will improve)
All in all, Chromium is looking more and more like it will replace Firefox as my default browser in the near future, especially if development continues at this pace. I’m not sure if I’m ready to make the shift just yet (there are still some Firefox extensions that I can’t live without), but I’m starting to see a time when Chromium is faster, more intuitive and more elegant than Firefox.
Note: it’s not immediately apparent, but if you want to uninstall an extension go to chrome://extensions, find the one you want to uninstall, and press Uninstall.
I just changed the name of the blog to /usr/physio. This is far more geeky than the cliched “2.0” that’s popping up everywhere on the web now. Like most geeks, I only think that something is cool until it becomes mainstream, then it’s so last year. The /usr/ in the title is a reference to a directory in the Linux / Unix filesystem hierarchy that stands for Unix System Resource.
It’s going to take a long time for Linux to become mainstream.
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.
- Open source – the source code is freely available, which usually means more stable and more secure.
- Free – as in no cost and free from restriction.
- Cross-platform – they run on multiple operating systems, including Linux and Windows.
- As good as, if not better than, their proprietary counterparts.
So, here goes (by the way, this list is by no means complete):
Firefox – A very popular web browser that offers a more secure, more intuitive and faster alternative to Internet Explorer.
OpenOffice.org – An entire office suite of applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and drawing. It uses the OpenDocument format by default and as such, it’s use is encouraged, especially in academia and governments.
Thunderbird – An email client that is a fast, secure and stable replacement for Outlook and Outlook Express, especially if you just need something light to manage your email.
Pidgin – An single instant messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once, including IRC, MSN, Groupwise, AIM and ICQ.
GIMP – The Gnu Image Manipulation Program. A free alternative to Photoshop that, while lacking some high end, professional features, does more than enough for most of us.
Another great application to run, although once it’s set up you’ll hardly ever notice it, is BOINC (click here for the Wikipedia article). After installing the software, register with various projects and join millions of other users who donate their computer’s idle time to solving complex medical, scientific and mathematical problems. I can suggest the World Community Grid to begin with.
And while I’m at it, here’s a link to a post that discusses some of the problems with using Microsoft Word. I personally don’t mind receiving Word documents and understand that many institutions don’t give their employees a choice, but the first step is realising that you actually have a choice.