Drone Video

My brother has become a quadcopter hobbyist. Once you learn the ropes (on smaller, less expensive machines), the major application is probably aerial photography. We have a lake home in Wisconsin and here is a tour around our lake. The video ends with the quadcopter coming into our beach.

I must admit that I would be intimidated flying anything as expensive as a quadcopter and camera over water, but I guess you get to the point that is what you do. The GoPro will record video in 1080p. I downsized to 720 to reduce the file size. Still, the quality of the video is pretty impressive.

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I am part of the .1%

Summary: In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.

Blogs have even worse participation inequality than is evident in the 90-9-1 rule that characterizes most online communities. With blogs, the rule is more like 95-5-0.1.

I remember when a major complaint about iPads was that the devices encouraged consumption rather than production. For those of us promoting “doing”, “making”, or “participation“, this was a concern because we liked the seeming utility of the mobile devices. This report from Jakob Nielsen and colleagues indicates this consumption mentality may be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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Complexities of big tests and big companies

I enjoy reading content from individuals who know an issue deeply enough they can share both sides of the issue. Too often, I encounter an anti this or that post which always makes me wonder about the agenda of the writer.

In this post, Morgan Polikoff addresses complexities and trade-offs involved in major tests and what the testing companies have to do to keep scoring costs down.

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Ads, ad blockers, and ethics

I have become focused on the role of ads and ad blockers online. While I do offer content that contains ads, my concern goes beyond the few dollars these ads generate. My concern is that ad blockers and counter measures available only to those willing to pay to defeat the blockers will lead to great inequity and a decline in the diversity of those offering content.

Here is a good description from the folks at This Week in Google. Ignore the name of the episode and watch or listen to the first 20 minutes or so.

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Ads and ethics

This attitude drives me crazy:

As much as I like Apple’s position, I feel a twinge of guilt at the fact that the company’s brand of privacy comes—quite literally—at a price. Not everyone can afford a Mac or an iPhone, and it’s probably fair to say that billions of people in today’s world are only able to access the Internet thanks to “free” services that rely on data mining to sell ads.

It’s obviously not Apple’s job to figure out a way for other companies to balance their need for revenue with the rights of their users, but it’s also unconscionable to blindly accept the vision of a future in which only the well-off can afford to protect their lives from unwanted attention.

Why would a writer take the position that anyone has a right to modify content in defiance of the wishes of the content creator? You certainly have every right to avoid content with ads and you have a right not to click on ads that appear as part of an author’s presentation. The author offers you content at no cost with certain assumptions. If you intend to view this resource, I suggest you have an ethical obligation to honor the content creator’s expectations.

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Big ed tech conferences

I am guessing I have attended far more ISTE conferences than your average ed tech guy. I have begun to accumulate a list of “issues” that bother me. Some are my issues, but others concern the nature of large conferences, who funds what, and who is really benefitting from how things are done.

  • Session attendance is very inefficient – there are too many attendees for the number of sessions. With “Fire Marshall” requirements and guards at the door, you must pretty much plan to attend a session in alternate time blocks.
  • Keynotes are a waste. This may be a personal thing, but I do not attend conferences seeking motivation or general commentary.
  • Is this a great way to network? I am probably an introvert by nature and nearly all conference conversations I have are catch up sessions with people I knew before. It seems possible that the networking that happens is mainly among the tech entrepreneurs with the practitioners spending time with their home town colleagues. This would make a great simple research project. Ask participants how many 15 minute or longer conversations they have had with someone they did not know? Could they reach these individuals if they wanted to continue the conversations?
  • The cost – any conference that is not local costs a lot of money. Transportation, lodging, and registration typically come to well over a thousand dollars. For the record, I pay my own way. I am guessing this places me in the minority, but it does provide a certain perspective those who attend on their schools’ dimes do not have. Consider a different way of thinking about the money issue. If you were required to spend $1500 on personal professional development and you had to demonstrate the pact of your decisions would you choose to attend ISTE? There is no way I can argue this would be most beneficial. There is a great deal of free online content (video, podcasts, in-depth multimedia tutorials) and professionally generated tutorials available at far less cost (e.g., Lynda.com) that are superior to whatever you would experience at a conference.

For me, it is not the money. I just find ISTE to be a less and less productive experience.  Mostly, I blame the inefficiency on the size of the event. There seems to be no way to scale the conference to the number of attendees. Perhaps no one can be blamed for this situation and this is the way things work. However, I do think it is a situation that should be evaluated by the organization. My go to conference has become FETC. The sessions and vendor access are similar with a smaller number of participants. I attend several conferences a year and I do not intend to give up conferences, but I think it is time to analyze the conference experience, who benefits, and what is accomplished.

Perhaps it is time to focus on the use of technology to learn about technology and technology integration. Perhaps it is time to experiment with professional development models that are not based on one time, concentrated experiences.

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The 140 character limit

I see that Twitter has removed the 140 character limit for direct messages. I wish there was a way to extend the limit for the tweets generated as part of “chats”. As an observer, I have not found the “edchat” sessions to be particularly informative. If the assumption is that such chats must be limited to text, it would be helpful if such conversations were not bound by the 140 character limit. The posts are so cryptic when bound by the 140 limit, that too many really offer little information and too much time is wasted attempting to generate a thought within the limit. This has long been, for me, an example of committing to a tool before carefully considering the point of the application. A Twitter chat alternative with an expanded character limit would do a lot to improve the value of these chat sessions.

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Auto Bird ID

Machine “intelligence” is becoming quite sophisticated and the freely available demonstrations such as the capabilities of Google Photos make such capabilities available to us all.

I recently became familiar with the bird identification service from the Cornell Ornithology lab from a photography blog. I am familiar with this lab because of their efforts to utilize the contributions of citizen scientists and I blogged about the labs use of technology back in 2005.

The new ID service works like this. Upload an image. Mark a couple of key points on the image (beak, eye, tail) and indicate where you took the picture. The service will attempt to identify the bird.

merlin1

 

merlin2

I tried the service with a few images from my collection (I found them with a Google photo search for “bird” from my collection of images.). The Cornell ID service correctly identified the pileated woodpecker. I am not certain about the hummingbird. I have photographs that clearly show the ruby throat and am guessing my photo shows a female.

I have included another photo if you want to try. Download the pic and then go to the Cornell site.

practicebird

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Pic togo for Flickr

I am very interested in the new Photos service from Google. Aside from the free price, the magic Google performs to identify and organize what appears in the images (without your help) seems an interesting and useful capability.

I remain a fan of Flickr. I shoot most of  my pictures with high end cameras (Canon 7D) and want to keep the originals (I understand I could pay a reasonable amount for the unlimited Google plan). I also have used Flickr for years and am familiar with the features of the service.

I do want a way to backup my Flickr pictures. Google seems perfect for this. The opportunity to explore is an added benefit.

My immediate challenge was how to get 9000+ images downloaded from Flickr so the images could be uploaded to the new Google service. I found a couple of solutions, but settled on one that allowed me to download the originals. I have tried others that download a reduced size, but my preference is now for the originals.

Pic togo for Flickr costs a few bucks ($3) and worked slowly (there is no real way to make this a quick process as you are limited by your bandwidth). This is the type of use case that will not attract a lot of developers so the pickings are going to be slim. So, having tried three different products, this would be my present recommendation.

pictogo

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TWIT evolving, not changing

Disregard my post on changes to the TWIT podcast network. Leo Laporte now says he overreacted and TWIT will find new ways (evolving) to do what it has been doing rather than abandoning live chat and streaming. Modifications will be implemented to address personal attacks by trolls.

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