Image editing software

After reading the latest blogs I thought it was time to read some articles from my technology news feeds; one of which is PCWorld.com “Most popular downloads of the week”. Dare I say it; Google Picasa is one of the top ten downloads for the week. While I had read an article posted by Phillip Nichols on “How to do simple graphics editing with Picasa” back in February I had not got around to giving it a go. So when I saw the PC World article it reminded me that Phillip said it was a great program and I decided to give it a try.

Unlike a lot of Google applications this one you actually download and use on your computer. It is definitely cool. Goes through and scans your hard drive then places all the images and videos from all your different folders (not just My Pictures) into folders that are easy to access from its library. Their library is so easy and nice to scroll through.

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There are lots of photo editing options as well.

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Definitely an excellent option for fast editing of photos. The only feature I would like to see improved is picture resizing. Here is a collage I made quickly using it. Refer to their information on “How do I create a collage” to see how I did this.

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My final thoughts:

  1. Google Picasa is definitely fantastic free software that organises all the photos and videos on your computer into one library and lets you locate and edit them much easier than any other program I use. Much easier than using Windows Explorer and trying to remember which folders pictures are in. Definitely give it a try!
  2. SnagIT – while it is not free – is great for screen capture, editing and adding call outs. Thanks to Sue Hickton for putting me onto this program
  3. Picture Manager is great for resizing photos

Google Personalized Home Page

What I can not believe is that it has taken me so long to realise that I can set up my own personalized Google home page which I can view from any computer I am on. I feel a bit better in the knowledge that when I tell my friend about it, they also did not realise. Amazing something that was sitting right in front of me – and I did not see it.

So I googled this morning information on Google Home Page – shame on you Sue – it has been around for 2 years. You have been missing out for 2 years.

With my personalized Google home page I can add whatever Gadgets on my home page – there is too many to choose from. If I run out of space I can add more tabs for more Gadgets (this girl has become gadget crazy). I have a Google Reader gadget that feeds the latest posts directly onto my home page (regretfully this is how I learnt about the shootings at Virginia Tech). Local weather (I should have looked at it rather than the newspaper because I did not wash clothes on Tuesday because the newspaper said rain – Google said fine). News feeds – you name it is there!

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And they are coming out with new features for your Google home page all the time – you just have to look more closely at the page. For example – I can access it on my PDA (it is mobile) and they have now just introduced themes. These themes change with the time of the day – mmmm – wonder if they will also show my mood? Read more about themes at internetnews.com.

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If you have not set up your own Google personalized home – do it well worth it. Just click on “Personalize this page” at the top of the Google page.

Update on popularity of Liam’s ToonDo comic

Unbelievable! All I can say is never work with kids. To encourage Liam to create comics using ToonDo I said I would post his comic on my blog and I even warned people to be nice as he is only 8. As it is his first adventure into making his own comics online today he was keen to see how many views his comic has had.

Prior to this ToonDude had sent me an email letting me know that one of my comics had been featured on their homepage. Thought ok will check that out later.

Imagine my shock, and incredible laughter, to realise that Liam’s comic on safety is the featured comic and has so far had 77 views. And mine? (49 views).

I should have known better. His digital story on my podcast site has also been popular and rates higher than Where is Sue? I just have to accept that my kids are the stars my audience wants to listen to! For me the most positive outcome is it has inspired him to create more comics – so thanks ToonDude!

Read my “how to” tips if you are struggling to embed ToonDoo Comics in an Edublog blog.

UPDATE
You can now make ToonBooks as wells as comics at ToonDoo.

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Check out FORA.TV for enhanced online TV viewing!

Part of my daily routine is to quickly read posts from blogs that I subscribe using my Google Reader – this keeps me up-to-date with all things new and happening. One of the blogs I subscribe to is by written by a Gabriella Grosseck in Romania. While this may seem a bit crazy as Gabriella posts in Romanian (which I can’t read – and the online translators do not seem to translate the Romanian really well) I actually get a lot out of reading her posts.

Yesterday she posted an article on Jimmy Wales. Not quite sure what it says but it did link me to a great presentation by Jimmy Wales on Wikipedia. While I am always keen to listen to Jimmy Wales, that is not the most important aspect of this presentation, what did amaze me is the video format that FORA.TV uses which I thought is really important to tell others about.

FORA.TV is all about is presenting or producing content from the world’s leading public forums. Most importantly all programs are broken up into chapters which means that you quickly access the part of the program that interests you.
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It also includes a transcript of the presentation. Which you can read. You can search for a word in the text and then jump to the point in the video.

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The use of chapters and searchable transcript makes it much better to watch their videos than watching a normal video. I just can not believe it has taken me so long to realise FORA.TV exists; considering this great presentation by Jimmy has been on their site since the end of Nov, 2006.

Any way check out Jimmy Wales presentation on Vision: Wikipedia and the Future of Free Cultureby pressing Launch FORA player.

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How I create my screen capture “how to” tips

I know that one thing that some people like about my Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki is the pictures that explain “how to do” a particular step when using a software application. People from other countries have even asked if they can use them.

If you want to make your own pictures, quick and easily, then I suggest you give the program I use a try. SnagIt allows me to take Screen captures, edit the pictures, add notes, call outs and so much more. I strongly recommend you to download their 30 day trial and give it a go. Brilliant program and definitely worth it. I was using Photoshop but SnagIT is a really quick and easy way to do fast creations of pictures.

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How to Embed ToonDoo comics in Edublog blogs as a scrollable flash

Yesterday, I checked out ToonDoo and created my first comic. Unfortunately I had a bit of a problem embedding it into my Edublog blog so the nice people from ToonDoo helped me out.

Here are my instructions on how to do it so you can also enjoy the benefits of adding ToonDoo comics to your edublog blog.

Step 1: Click on the embed swf icon.

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Step 2: Insert the following code into the swf popup box but make sure you change the username and the toonID to your username and the toonID of your comic.

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http://toondoo.com/viewEmbed.swf? imgPath=http://toondoo.com/public/dswaters/toons/cool-cartoon-9055.jpg & goURL=http://toondoo.com/View.toon?param=9055

However make sure that there are not spaces in your code (e.g. remove any spaces when you copy my code as it needs to be all as on word to work. While it may not be obvious the image below of the code is one word:

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This is how your code should look in the popup box.
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Step 3: Click ok. You will now have a box open up to ask you for the width of the flash. Enter 450 for width and click ok.
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Step 4: Now you will have a box open up for height- enter height as 320

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I hope this has been of some help to you. Happy Toondoing!

While I was writing these instructions my son created the following comic he wants to share with you. Please remember he is only 8. For me what an excellent way for him to work on spelling, writing and creative skills.
[swf width=”450″ height=”320″]http://toondoo.com/viewEmbed.swf?imgPath=http://toondoo.com/public/dswaters/toons/cool-cartoon-9223.jpg&goURL=http://toondoo.com/View.toon?param=9223[/swf]

ToonDoo – Create your own Comics

Yes, perhaps it may look like I have too much time on my hands but I am on holiday so decided to catch up on reading other people blogs. Over the last few weeks I have kept coming across people inserting cartoons in their blogs but had not paid it much attention until I went back and re-read What are holidays for anyway? (Obviously I am not the only who catches up on things during weeks off).

So I followed the link to ToonDoo – what a great site. Take a few seconds to sign up. And unlike some online applications – it is so easy to use. You can create one, two or three panel comics. There are lots of great characters to choose from, lots of great scenery and props you can add. Creating a comic is really easy with ToonDoo. In fact it is probably the easiest online application I have ever used. The hardest task was coming up with an idea to put into a comic. So please go to ToonDoo and give it a try – have some fun being creative!

Unfortunately the hardest thing was getting it to fit properly in this blog! Thankfully the nice guys at ToonDoo stepped in and gave me some great advice on how to make it work as a flash in my site.

So,take the time! Be creative by making your own comics at ToonDoo

[swf width=”450″ height=”320″]http://toondoo.com/viewEmbed.swf?imgPath=http://toondoo.com/public/dswaters/toons/cool-cartoon-9055.jpg&goURL=http://toondoo.com/View.toon?param=9055[/swf]


Using Social Computing in Organisations

social-computing.JPGLast week, Euan Semple and E-learning Networks Community Forum funded by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, © Commonwealth of Australia 2007 were nice enough to grant me permission to create a video podcast from Euan’s online presentation on the use of social computing in organisations. Euan pioneered the use of blogs, wikis and online forums at the BBC and these tools continue to enable staff to work more effectively and more collaboratively across the entire organisation

What got me thinking was that here I am, using a range of social computing tools (e.g. online forums, blogs and wikis) and yet I never even stopped to realise that these tools not only benefit our students but can add real value to organisations when used effectively. If you want to read more about how these tools were implemented at the BBC check out Euan’s article on Social Computing for the Business World.

Within organisation’s social computing tools such as:

  1. Online forums are excellent for creating interaction and spontaneity between staff. Staff can pose questions on a range of topics such as “how do I”, “where do I”, “what is the policy on” as well as discuss their feelings on a range of larger issues affecting staff.
  2. Blogs are excellent for providing a space for staff to express themselves and their ideas. They also provide a mechanism for letting other staff know more about the person as an individual.
  3. Wikis are excellent tool for staff to work collaboratively to complete projects. For example: collaborative document creation and project management.

To me the question is it is so obvious, why don’t myself and others that work with these tools, encourage their use within our organisations. Maybe it is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

Mobile techology in TAFE is now blogging!

After much debate (with myself) I have finally decided to set up a blog site for Mobile Technology in TAFE for a number of reasons:

  1. My reluctance have stemmed from the fact that sometimes I feel overwhelmed reading blogs – however I have now solved this problem by managing my reading of blogs using Google Reader which I have found brilliant for keeping track of all the blogs I like to reader and I have inserted a Google Reader gadget onto my personalised Goolge homepage. This gadget lets me see the latest 10 postings from the sites I subscribe to when I go to my google homepage.
  2. I am a avid podcaster and my podcasts take considerable time to create. Check out Mobile technology in TAFE podcasts to see my latest podcasts on m- and e-learning. However I learn a lot about different topics while I am creating my podcasts, and I have some many ideas running through my head that I can not put in my podcasts and a blog is a good place for me to share these thoughts.
  3. I have a wiki at Mobile technology in TAFE wikispaces where I share information on m- and e-learning in terms of use with students and “how to” tips for educators. Once again it takes me time to write the pages for my wiki . But once again while I am writing the pages I have lots of ideas that are better shared on a blog.
  4. Added to the fact that I work full time and have two kids. Oh well a person has to have a hobby.

So welcome to my first post. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and my different sites help you learn to use the different technology better, whether you are just interested in learning more about technology for yourself or you want to use it with students.

Meanwhile check out this excellent video from T4 Jordan School District which highlights the reasons why we should be using technology to engage our students.

And if you have not watched Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us take the time to have a look. Well worth it if you are struggling to understand what Web 2.0 is all about.