Site Seeing 6: Browser Based Photo Editing

Gadgets

Don’t own Photoshop? At a computer that doesn’t have a photo editor? Need to knock out a quick graphic for a web site or a presentation, here are some free and easy to use (but still very powerful) photo editors for fun and work. In this episode, we visit:

Picnik: http://www.picnik.com
FotoFlexer: http://www.fotoflexer.com
Pixlr: http://www.pixlr.com
Dumpr: http://www.dumpr.net
TiltShift Generator: http://labs.artandmobile.com/tiltshift/ (you can run it from here or download the Adobe AIR application)

And, give a quick mention to:
Aviary: http://www.aviary.com (another episode will cover this site in more detail)
Photoshop Express: http://www.photoshop.com

Enjoy!

Image Credit: ‘Gadgets

NEXT Classroom: Some Student Generated Content

One of the classes being taught in the NEXT Classroom this semester is ADMN 2450, which focuses on business communication from a Web 2.0 perspective. The class has been blogging, tweeting, exploring Flickr and now – vlogging! We are so happy to know that all of the tools we are trying to provide in the NEXT Classroom are being used. Here is one example of a student vlog.

NEXT Steps: Ancora Imparo

Ancora Imparo. Most days, I wear a bracelet engraved with that statement. And it is SO true with the NEXT Classroom. We are still learning.

Things we have learned so far and issues we are experiencing:

  • The dual boot Macbook Pros are not has happy with multiple users as we had hoped. Most faculty have assigned a laptop to a student so they are using the same one over and over again but the multiple users still seem to cause problems, especially on the Windows 7/Boot Camp side of the house.
  • Students are NOT good at shutting down the computer completely before they close it up and return it to the cart. This has caused several problems including:
    • locking the PC side so others cannot log in
    • causing error messages on bootup from the MacFUSE and MacNTFS-3G system preferences that were mounting the BootCamp partition to the Mac side could read/write to it. We are uninstalling the MacFUSE and MacNTFS3G system preferences because of this. We are afraid that the mounting of the disk and then constantly improperly un-mounting of the disk will cause errors that will make Win7 unstable. I really, really like the idea of being able to read/write to both partitions from either operating system but until I can find a way to make this work more reliably, we have to take that option away for now.
  • Wireless networking is still a problem. This room is a testbed for wireless networking to our shared drive space as well as to all other network access for the entire classroom. It will also, eventually, be a 802.11n room but for now it is still 802.11g. The issues we are experiencing include:
    • Random inability to log into the Mac side of the laptop to the Active Directory account
    • Network access dropping after 30 minutes on about half of the laptops in any given class. We have finally identified how to fix it by disconnecting and reconnecting the wireless access but it is frustrating. The NTS staff is working very hard with us to figure it out and I certainly do appreciate their efforts. We are trying some different things from assigning a bank of IP addresses to use on the laptops so they will always have one to get (apparently the growing number of iPads and cell phones on campus with Wifi enabled are snatching up all of the pool of available wireless IP addresses, even if they are not active on them). We also have increased the “kickoff” time limit for inactivity from 30 minutes to 1 hour in hopes of helping with the issue.
  • Some programs we have installed seem to only be “attached” to the account that installed it and are not propagated to all of the student accounts that are created when they log in for the first time. This has been very frustrating and has caused us to have to log into all 24 laptops a LOT to change things, install things and so on.
  • The instructor station was not mapping to the instructor shared drive (called the H drive here on campus, because that is its usual assigned drive letter). We fixed that by figuring out that the Simplifi unit on the instructor station had SD and CF card readers that were snatching up the G and H drive designations and then the login script that assigned the shared drive to H would simply not work. So, we changed the assigned letter for those card readers to X and Y and all is well again!
  • I had a Greasemonkey script installed called Helvireader for simplifiying the Google Reader but it was not installed on the instructor station and one of the classes is actually teaching how to use Google Reader and this caused all kinds of problems. Oops! That brought in a valuable teaching opportunity about how to disable Greasemonkey scripts!

We are also adding a new NEXT Classroom Support blog here at this site running the Quality Control theme and will try it out as a simple “help ticket” system for monitoring these problems. We’ll see how it works.

So far, though, only one laptop has totally bombed out on us and that was due to really, really mungled permissions that I probably did during an update right before the semester. I am rebuilding it and trying again!

President’s Convocation

For every year we have had the Common Academic Experience that centers around the Common Book, ETS has supported the President’s Convocation that kicks off the school year as well as the Common Book events. This year is no different as we welcome the author of this year’s book: Eric Weiner.

We will be broadcasting the event through our Distance Learning Classroom technology as well as streaming to the web via Ustream on our Live Video page. Check your email for the password to the page.

Web Wednesday: The Summer Series

It is SO hot out there, that it is clearly summertime.

This means that it is time for Web Wednesday: The Summer Series. This triumphant (and short) return of our lunchtime brownbag series will be on four Wednesdays this summer in the NEXT Classroom (GN 232).

Check out the schedule below and mark your calendars for those of interest. Bring your lunch and let’s learn together.

Each session is at noon in GN 232:

July 7 Facebook 101 (understanding the privacy settings and controlling your account)

July 14 Timesaving Tricks (software, browser tricks and more to save you time at work)

July 28 Stay Cool with Texting Tips/Tricks/Tools (even if your cell phone doesn’t “do” text, we have ideas for you!)

August 4 Blogging for Everybody (blogs are a great way to share writing, photos, stories, links and more. We will show you the blogging platform we have here at Pellissippi as well as other easy to use option)

Image: ‘Real Joy

But wait! There’s more..

Now we are getting to the eXperimental part of the NEXT Classroom’s name. While updating, we have decided to upgrade Safari to version 5 that was just released AND we turned on the Developer menu to allow extensions to be installed on Safari as well.

Apple won’t have the Extension Gallery open for a while but with thanks to Jonas Wisser and his Safari Extension Tumblr, we will have a few installed and a framework in place to add more as they come along.

Only wish we could do that centrally like we are doing with the NEXT Classroom Toolbar!

Some updating for the NEXT Classroom

I know, I know…this blog has been all NEXT Classroom all the time lately. I promise that it will change but this pretty exciting stuff that we want to share with everybody.

This summer the NEXT Classroom will be used for training and workshops for faculty as well as showing it off to various groups who are coming through and on the New Student Orientation tours.

Oh, and we have to upgrade all of the computers to Windows 7!

In fact, that task is just about done. Along the way, we also upgraded Firefox to 3.6 and along with the other plug-ins we have already mentioned, we added a few more things:

First Look: Video Tour of NEXT Classroom

Here is Part One of what is sure to be a continuing saga of bad camera work and low audio while we explore the various offerings in the New, Emerging and eXperimental Technology/Techniques (NEXT) Classroom.

Flash Version
Flash Version

Movie will be here!

This version will show up in iTunes if you subscribe there (same as above!)

Setting up the NEXT Classroom

Well, the concepts for the physical technology and furniture in our New, Emerging, and eXperimental Technology Classroom are all about fluidity, flexibility, modularity and adapability. That is why we chose the furniture that we did:

Our current step is the setup of computing environment. For this, the concepts of user (student and faculty) generated content, open source, cloud computing, collaboration and sharing are very much in the forefront. This is why we chose to go with dual boot laptops for the students and a dual boot Mac Min for the teacher station.

The teacher station will contain many of the familiar elements like touchpad controls, document camera and remote mouse. It also will contain a few items that are not found in our current classrooms like:

The computers are being set up with our standard load of Microsoft Office, SFTP clients and other software. We are also adding media creation software and mind mapping software.

Here’s where we are with that list right now:

Software:

Browsers

  • Internet Explorer 7 (PC only)
  • Safari (Mac only)
  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox 3.5 with these extensions:

With an interest in cloud based services and tools, we are also building a custom set of bookmarks for the multiple browsers that will include links to services/tools that can be used by the faculty and students.

To centrally manage those within multiple browsers, except Google Chrome, we are going to use a NEXT Classroom browser toolbar (built from Conduit)

conduit toolbar screenshot