Technology Tuesday/Web Wednesday Archive

An archive of the TT/WW sessions 2000-2007

Web Wednesday (Summer Series 2010): Blogging for Everybody

Web Wednesday August 5th, 2010

What is a blog?

According to Wikipedia, “a blog is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.”
How Common Craft describes a blog:
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How can I use blogs?

  • Class (post assignments, provide additional information, etc.)
  • Clubs (events calendar, RSS feed, files for members of the group, etc.)
  • Share your interest in a topic or group of topics
  • Keep a portfolio of your work
  • Share information with friends and family

A closer look at the PSCC Blog Site

Address: (no www!)
  • Create an account by visiting the site and logging in
  • Change the look and feel by choosing a new theme
  • Control who can view and comment on your blog under Settings
  • Create/edit posts from your dashboard
  • When working with media, it’s better to use external sites for storage and link to it on your blog – Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, and others.
  • WP’s new automatic media embedding makes it SO much easier to embed videos and photos now –
  • Extend the basic functionality of your blog through plugins – some of the coolest are:
    • Flickr Manager – easily insert your Flickr images into blog posts
    • Subscribe 2 – allow users to subscribe via email to your updates
    • Share This – visitors can share posts on a variety of social bookmarking sites
    • Share This on Facebook
    • WPMU Polls
    • WordPress Mobile Edition
    • Backing up and moving your blog – check out import/export options under Tools
Tools that make your job easier!
  • Press This (bookmark) – found under the tools heading
  • Scribefire plugin for Firefox/Chrome –
  • Additional mobile blogging apps available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones
  • Create a book of your blog – BookSmart from Blurb & Anthologize plugin

Other Alternatives

If you want to have a personal blog rather than something at Pellissippi. Here are some other alternatives
You have a blog that is Hosted for you by a service. Most are free but they might have ads on them
  • – same software we use here
  • – owned by Google now
  • – very easy to post – you can post by email even!
  • – also very easy to use for microblogging or capturing videos, etc to share
  • Twitter (micro-blogging, VERY micro as you can only have 140 characters per post)
  • Yammer (much like Twitter but you can control the membership of groups by email address domain so it is good for companies, etc)
  • Edublogs – same software as here but offers free blogs for educators and students. Ads are embedded, though.
You also download blogging software and run a blog that is Self Hosted. This gives you complete control of how the site operates. Blogging software options include:
  • WordPress – what we use here
  • Joomla – a content management system
  • Drupal – another content management system
  • Expression Engine – another content management system but it is not free
  • Moveable Type – what we used to use here. Powers LiveJournal

Web Wednesday: The Summer Series – Stay Cool with Texting

Web Wednesday July 28th, 2010

TEXTING  without a phone

If you don’t have a cell phone or don’t have a texting plan, you can still send messages to those who do with one of these services:

Web based

Email Based: Use the 10 digital phone number as the username and add the address after it for the phone provider.

  • Verizon:
  • AT&T:
  • Sprint:
  • T-Mobile: Nextel:
  • Virgin Mobile:
  • Alltel:
  • CellularOne:

Talk the Talk! Do you know all of the abbreviations?

Everybody knows 🙂 , TMI,  LOL and OMG. Here are few more:

  • POS  = parents over shoulder
  • YMMV = your mileage may vary
  • FTW = For the Win
  • PROLLY = probably
  • <G> = Grin
  • IM = instant message
  • 404 = I don’t know
  • WTG = way to go
  • OTW = Off to work

Need to know more txting talk?

Get Information via SMS:

  • Traffic Information in Tennessee Dial 511 inside the state for up to date traffic and construction information from TDOT:
  • Google SMS is a way to use SMS texting to Google’s short code [Google = 466453 (google)] and send a message of your question using their codes. has a demo and lists of sample searches
  • On Yahoo,you can get a mobile version of their search by going here and entering your phone number.
  • ChaCha is another SMS based information service. You send a question to 242242 (chacha) and it sends back an answer

Texting Tools

SMS Group Communication

  • Broadtexter: this was designed for music groups but it can easily be used by organizations, clubs or businesses.  In fact, check out the ETS group:
  • txtBlaster: Another group texting service that is ad supported.

SMS Polling

  • Text The Mob (free plan for up to 50 recipients and three questions)
  • Poll Everywhere:  (free plan in Higher Ed allows for 32 per class for one teacher)

Stop Texting in the Car

  • Textecution – Android app that uses GPS to determine speed, cannot text when going too fast) $30
  • Txtblocker (Blackberry with iPhone, Droid and Palm Pre coming soon) $25 activation fee and 10/month. Uses GPS location for speed and for “no-cell zones”
  • ZoomSafer (locks keys) Blackberry and Windows  25 up front  3/month
  • Cell Control (uses device in car and software on phone for nonGPS phones) Works with  BlackBerry, Symbian® phones, BREW® phones, Windows Mobile® phone

Facebook 101

Web Wednesday July 7th, 2010

UPDATE (MAY 2011) – Some new guides have been published that we wanted to share:
The How and Why of Using Facebook, from the Edublogger site
Facebook for Educators, from Facebook
Facebook is all about sharing but it is important to understand how you can control what you share and with whom you share. Here are some tips and places to visit to control your account more fully. We will also explore the differences between personal profiles, pages and groups.

Control Your Account

You need to visit a few places under the Account tab in Facebook. One of the first things to check out is organizing your friends using Lists.

Account menu in Facebook


You can create “Lists” to groups your friends however you like. Using these lists then makes it easier for you to find friends from different aspects of your life (work, school, organizations, close friends, etc)

Next up: Privacy

The default settings for Privacy in Facebook are pretty open. If you don’t change anything, you are sharing your status, photos and post as well as family information and biographic info with everyone on Facebook.
There is a separate page for privacy settings for your Basic Profile information and visit the Applications and Web Sites to turn on or off the “Instant Personalization” option as you desire.
Be sure you consider the difference between Friends of Friends and “Friends Only” settings. You can also customize the settings to include or block groups of your friends by the lists that they are on.
Under Account Settings, there is a tab called Facebook Ads, you can use that to opt in or out of sharing what you like or don’t like within the advertisements in Facebook.

Finally, check out Applications

Applications can be authorized to share your information. Be sure that what you want to be shared is what is really being shared. Go to Account -> Application Settings to see what applications you have authorized to have access to your information and delete the ones you don’t want there anymore.

Username (or Custom URL)

If you want to have an easier way to say, “Here I am on Facebook” and share that with others, then you will want to create a username that then becomes a custom URL (or web address) for your Facebook page. If someone is not logged into Facebook, they will see what you have shared with everybody. If they are logged in, they will see what you share with everybody and then based on their level of friendship or list membership with you.
To create this username, log into Facebook and then go to: You can then select a username (this is NON-reversible so choose carefully).
If you choose your username to be iamawesome, then folks can find you on Facebook at:

Pages and Groups

Beyond just having a profile for a person, you can also create Pages and Groups in Facebook. Both have advantages and disadvantages and serve different purposes.
Groups provide a way to bring people together to share discussion, information, photos and more. You can create a group that is private, public or even secret. You can also “mass message” all members of a group.
Pages are a way to share information and more about a brand, company, school, cause and other non-membership oriented organization. Pages act like a person profile so you can “like” them and like what they share but you cannot join them as you can join a group. Pages also allow you to “streamline” your posts to only show up to page fans based on criteria like geographic location or gender, etc. Pages can also have the custom URL or username that a person can have.


Series of video tutorials on Facebook Help and Privacy Settings
Avoiding Facebook Fail (some of the screenshots are out of date but the principles are still valid)

Microblogging (Fall 2007)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

What is microblogging, anyway?

Microblogging is the practice of sending brief posts to a personal blog or a microblogging Web site. Each entry can be called a micropost. The appeal of microblogging is both its immediacy and portability.


Sincemicroposts are typically very short (less than 200 characters), a microblogger can send updates often enough to keep subscribers updated as events happen, no matter if they are large or small. Even political candidates like Barack Obama and John Edwards have used microblogging to send details from their campaign activities.

How to Microblog

You can use a traditional blog, such as WordPress or LiveJournal but you can also set up a microblog using a service like Twitter or Jaiku. Facebook and MySpace have “status updates,” which are also microblogging services. Pownce is another service, from the founders of Digg. It combines microblogging with social invitations and file-sharing. What you choose to use really depends on what you want from such a service.


Twitter screenshotTwitter is one of the leaders in the microblogging scene. From their site:

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?

It is easy to get started. Create a twitter account and then you can send your posts, called tweets to your blog using a variety of methods including:

  • Cell Phone – using text messages from phone
  • Web Browser – via twitter site or a plug-in (Twitbin) or your own blog feed (TwitterFeed)
  • Instant Messaging (IM) – like GTalk or Yahoo Messenger
  • Widgets in portals/personal homepages or other third party applications


If you want to blog mostly to provide a stream of things you find on the web rather than sending a stream about what you are doing, then Tumblr might be a better fit. From their site:

Tumblelogs are the refreshingly simple new way to share anything you find, love, hate ….

Tumblr screenshotTumblr provides a very easy way to get into blogging without the major learning curve of setting up your own blog. You can easily post links to videos, text and photos, URLs, quotes, and more.

You can post to Tumblr in several ways, just like with Twitter:

  • Bookmarklet: a button you can add to your browser’s Bookmarks Bar
  • Cell Phone Posting: Post text and photos directly from your mobile phone. You can use the Subject line to attach a caption to photos.
  • Tumblet – Mac users, install the Tumblet Dashboard Widget

You can also view Tumblr via a mobile phone that can browse the web. To browse your tumblelog on a phone or PDA, just add “/mobile” to the URL.

Our Two Sample Sites

Other Microblogging Options

Helpful Resources

Your Guide to Micro-blogging and Twitter:

Microblogging (Wikipedia):

Comparing the Top 4 Mini-blogging Options (comparing Twitter, Tumblr, Jaiku and Pownce)

Alternative Browsers (Fall 2007)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

So, why go with an alternate browser?

While Internet
Explorer (IE) does enjoy the market lead in browsers online, there are
some browsers that offer more options and customization and other tools
designed for specific users and types of activities. One of these
browsers might really fill a need for you so it is nice to know what is
out there.

One of the first reasons many left the IE boat was because of tabbed browsing. Tabbed browsing
allows the users to open multiple pages in one window on their computer
making it very easy to move between several sites without getting
confused about what window needs to be opened next.

What is out there?

There are more browsers out there than you might realize. Some of their names might sound familiar such as:
Firefox, Mozilla and Opera.
There are others that you may have never seen before, like: K-Meleon, Shiira and iCab

We will focus on two browsers for our demonstrations this month: Flock and WebRunner


Flock is based on Firefox and has a lot of Web 2.0 functionality “baked in” with the browser.

you have accounts on sites like Flickr, Photobucket,,
YouTube or blog, you will find Flock to be very helpful for many of the
activities you do on those sites.
After downloading Flock, you can
set up the information for any of the services you use and it supports.
Then, you are integrated with those services from the browser itself.


the “bleeding edge” of alternative web browsers there is WebRunner.
WebRunner is a build of Mozilla that is designed as a Single Site
Browser (SSB) or what is also called a Distraction Free browser.
Download the WebRunner application and then download “bundles” that are
tied to a single site. When you start one of these x.webapp files, it
will load that site in WebRunner. There are builds for applications
like GMail and Google Calendar as well as some popular productivity
sites like 30Boxes and Remember the Milk.

is still very much a beta product and there are some security issues to
consider if you choose to download and use individual’s webrunner
bundles. It is an interesting concept, nonetheless.

Helpful Resources

Flock Quick Start Guide:


Alternate Web Browser Alliance:

Comparison of Web Browsers (Wikipedia):

Sending LARGE Files (and more) – (Fall 2007)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

Sending large files is easy..just email, right?

Well, most email programs work okay with files of 1 MB or less. With today’s digital cameras shooting images at 3 MB or more as well as videos, PowerPoint files, large databases and more information being shared between folks, it is important to have other ways to send files to folks besides as an email attachment.

What options do I have?
If you have your own server, then FTP to that server and sharing from there is the best way to go. If you don’t have then, then there are several online sites that offer ways to share or send large files. We will cover two approaches: sending one file and online file storage. Which approach you want to use depends on your needs.


If you just need to get this presentation/video/soundfile/insert file type here to someone, then an “email a link” service like might be the best option. With this kind of service, you simply go to the site:

  1. Upload your file, enter an email address,
  2. The service sends email to the address with a link to file.
  3. Recipient downloads the file from the link.

The file stays on the service’s server until a certain criteria is met (days, number of downloads or lack of activity).


Free plan: limit of 100 MB for the file size (can pay up to $9 to send a file up to 2 GB)
Pro plan: $10/month for files up to 2GB that are kept for 14 days and can be tracked.

Free plan: limit of 100 MB file size but only 3 downloads
Pro plan: $19/year for files up to 2GB in size

Free plan: limit of 2 GB file size. Files are available or a minimum of 5 days or up to 30-days if you upload through a registered DropZone account.

Digital Fastball:
No limit to file size and requires a login to both send and receive a file. This allows you to track if/when somebody gets the file Might be a better option for more sensitive files.


Sometimes you have large files that need to be shared with others over a longer period of time. A file storage/sharing service would be a better option for this need.


Free, unlimited storage supported by advertising. Automatically creates flash slideshows from uploaded photos and flash videos from uploaded video files. API so it works with Facebook, iPhone and others applications. View documents via Flash Paper. File size limit 200 MB.

Free, A hybrid of the two approaches. You can send a file or upload it to online storage. You can send files up to 1 GB and can store up to 250 MB.

Free. Up to 5 GB of space to store files. You can share with friends, family, co-workers, collect files or showcase your work.

Free Plan: 25 GB of storage. 25 GB of secure online storage, Download or share 1GB/month, Send files up to 10 MB in size
Premium Plan: $5/month. 100 GB of secure online storage, Download/share 10 GB/month, Send files up to 1 GB in size. (Also have Elite and Pro plans up to $30/month for 10000 GB storage)


Sometimes you just need to change a file from one format to another. There are online sites that do this as well. The most popular are:

Convert files up to 100 MB in size. Can convert YouTube videos to another format.

Media Convert:
Can upload and convert sound, text, movies, images. Allows for splitting audio files and capturing a web site as an image.

Similar to the above, you can convert documents, images, audio and video to different formats.

If you want to convert files on your own computer rather than an online service, there is a free tool that does a great job of converting files: SUPER Converter (Windows only):

Slideshare and Voicethread (Fall 2007)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

What are these sites, anyway?

These are both sites that provide a way to share online presentations but, really they do a whole lot more than that!


From their site:

SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations & slideshows.

slideshare screenshotYou create presentations, tag them, embed them into your blog or website, browse others’ presentations, and comment on individual slides.

What file formats does SlideShare support?

  1. PowerPoint (ppt, pps)
  2. OpenOffice (odp).
  3. Portable Document Format (PDF)
  4. Maximum allowed file size is 30 MB.

It also allows for linking to an online MP3 file (have to have it online) and then synchronizing it to the slides. This is called slidecasting.


USES: Share presentations with others. Create slideshows with music.


Zoho Presentations, Google Docs

Voice Thread

From their site:

A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows people to make comments, either audio or text, and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows an entire group’s story to be told and collected in one place.

Voicethread screenshot
Supported Formats:

  • JPEG
  • GIF
  • BMP
  • PNG
  • document types: PPT, PPS, PDF, DOC, XLS
  • varying video formats

The process is pretty simple:

    1. Create an account
    2. Upload files or import from Flickr or Facebook
    3. Add narration, text, scribbles
    4. Make sharing selections to allow others to see and comment on your thread.


USES: Storytelling, Audio/Image Presentations, Reactions to a presentation by recording in the thread, Foreign Language practice

SIMILAR SITES: Vuvox: and Flektor:

Helpful Resources


VoiceThread FAQ:

Welcome to Netvibes (Spring 2006)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

What is Netvibes, anyway?

Netvibes is one of the leaders of the pack in webtops – a web based desktop. Another way to look at it is a personalized homepage. Webtops provide you a way to keep updated with all kinds of things inside your web browser.

From their initial launch materials, Netvibes described themselves this way:
The aim of it is to provide a place on the internet where you can set just the content you like, a super easy way of building your personalized homepage, available anywhere, anytime. No registration is needed, however if you want to access your page from another computer you’ll be able to do it by registering with your email address and a password.


It is an easy way to have the same information available from any internet connected computer. You can add modules for different news feeds, Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, weather, blogs and more. Adding tabs to the page allows you to continue adding information without getting too cluttered.
It also makes it very easy to search for and listen/watch/view podcasts, videos and photos

netvibes screenshotHow do I use it?

You pretty much can set up Netvibes however you like. Add widgets from the sidebar and move them around on the page or to another tab for organization. Then, when things are updated, you will see that indicated in the widget title and you can act on it accordingly.

Um, widget?

A widget, in this context, is a window or other element on the webtop that contains either content or some way to interact with site. You can generally move widgets around on the webtop to organize as you like.

Why Netvibes?

Netvibes has gotten a lot of startup funding and has well over 5 million users so it is very popular and has 200+ modules like email, webnotes, RSS feeds, Flickr photos, chat and more.
It has also really developed into a strong RSS reader that is online and available from any computer. Many other readers are installed programs so you have to be at a certain computer to read your feeds. Netvibes gives you the same environment at any computer.

Other Webtops:

Protopage: AJAX enabled homepage that allows users to customize the look and content as you like.
From their website: “Protopage = personalized news + sticky notes + photos + email + weather + bookmarks, all on one page.”

Pageflakes: Also AJAX powered and driven by modules and tabs.

NOTE: Both Protopage and Pageflakes have some public capabilities, which allow you to share your personalized pages with others. With Protopage, you do not even need to have an account to see the public pages. You can share tabs publicly in Netvibes EcoSystem.

Google Personalized Home: If you have a GMail account, you can customize a Google search page to include information you want to have on the page as well as how it is organized on the page.

30 Boxes: This one looks the most like an actual computer desktop.

Helpful Resources

Tutorial made by a Netvibes users:

Netvibes EcoSystem, where you can customize Netvibes and share your work:

Sites You Should Know..but probably don’t (Spring 2006)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

Web Browser Tips (PDF)

We did this session with a PDF. You will need the free Adobe Reader to view and/or print.

Online Collaboration (Spring 2006)

Web Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

Working with Online Groups

We all work with people all over the world, whether it is students, other faculty, family members or co-workers. More and more online tools are emerging that make collaborating on projects easier for everybody.

Online Collaborations can be both real-time, like web conferencing such as Elluminate or instant messaging/telephony such as Skype. It can also be asynchronous for collaborating on projects or reports using tools like Whiteboard, wikis, Skobee and others.

There are some major categories for collaboration online:


Of course, email is the king here but sometimes you need communication tools that allow folks to read/write and follow conversations in a different manner than email.

Discussion Boards provide for asynchronous communication that is usually threaded so the context of the discussion is kept intact, regardless of the timeline. Group discussion boards can be easily created at several locations including:

Instant Messenger (IM) communication also can allow for real-time communication/collaboration via text and (in some instant messaging tools) voice. Most also now allow for file sharing which increases the collaboration possibilities

IM clients allow you to talk to others using the same client build “buddy lists” of friends, family, and coworkers and can have real-time conversations with them when they are online.

Common IM clients include:

  • MSN Messenger
  • Yahoo (Mac and PC)
  • AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
  • iChat (Mac)

Working on Tasks/Projects

Working with a group of people often requires scheduling, so shared calendars or other task lists can be helpful. There are more and more online calendaring options appearing but here are some interesting ones:

Skobee is a different take on planning as it works with “fuzzy logic” to make plans for social events or meetings within your group, if they all use Skobee.

Creating task lists/to do lists are also useful for groups. Options include:

If you need to work with a group on a larger project and need discussion boards/to do lists, file sharing and other tools, you might want to look at something like Basecamp ( the free service allows for one project and no file sharing, but it might fit the bill. Pay options expand the service.

Creating Documents

If you are working on a document with a group, instead of sending around revisions via email, consider using an online collaboration space. Here are two examples:

  • Writeboard: ( ) An online word processor which allows group editing of a document [Another option is Writely – – but they just got bought by Google and are not currently taking new memberships so time will tell on its future]