Dumbing down as progress

It annoys when a service is updated and loses capabilities in the process. This seems to happen fairly regularly of late and I am not certain if the idea is to somehow make the user experience easier or removing capabilities is a cost saving measure (own up if this is the reason).

One of the capabilities of Flickr I thought had great value to students was the ability to add notes to images. In the old days and not in Flickr, I remember this being described as creating an image map. The idea is that one can identify “hot spots” on an image and take an action (e.g., display text) when a user mouses over that spot on the photo.



This is what the creation of a “note” used to look like on Flickr. I am fairly certain this capability has been removed. Please let me know if I am wrong.

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Earth Day

I always try to post on Earth Day to recognize environmental issues and an appreciation for the natural world.

I had hoped to capture an image and use that image as part of this post. I have the opportunity spend as much time as I want in the north woods of Wisconsin and this is a very beautiful area. I had an opportunity to photograph a large female, bald eagle, but I could not get close enough to capture a good image without my telephoto.

What I decided to do was to bring in my trail cam and see what I could find from the past couple of days. My trail cam represents one of my “tech in the wild” hobbies. We own a little over 4 acres of land and share this area with interesting wildlife. A trail cam is a motion activated camera that you position to capture images of wildlife. Hunters use these cameras for scouting. I use them just to see what I can find.

Here is the best “capture” from this week:


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Teens online – PEW

PEW has released the results of a new survey summarizing teen online use. I did not spot much that was new or that surprising, but educators might want to review this document for current statistics.

Fully 88% of American teens ages 13 to 17 have or have access to a mobile phone of some kind, and a majority of teens (73%) have smartphones.

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I do not read a lot on my phone, but one exception is news. I have several apps I use to follow news.

My newest fascination is Circa. Circa News is designed for presenting news on the phone and has several unique features. Circa presents a top story from each of several categories (there are other services that do this), but if you select then presents each story using a predictable pattern of elements. There is the lead story, individual quotes, additional resources, etc. The idea is that you can dive in as deep as you want. Circa offers an interesting additional feature. If you wish to continue to follow a story, you select the story and you will receive information regarding future developments.

The downside of this and similar services is that you can select from categories you want to follow, but cannot expand the categories. For example, there is not an “education” category.




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History of Learning to Code

Ben Williamson offers a post of the history and future of learning to code. This is a good read for those new to the “coding” in the classroom movement.

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Mobile Friendly

I knew this was coming, but did not really have an official way to check my content. Google is going to downgrade the rank of my sites because my content is not deemed by Google as “mobile friendly”. I did not really check this because my content appears find on an iPad. However, I have no run the Google check and my content failed.



I use standard blog software (WordPress) and standard page authoring software (Dreamweaver). I will make the adjustments as I can find the time, but this seems a great amount of work for the number of phone hits on my content.

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Photos – First Look

With the most recent iOS and OS updates, Apple has replaced iPhoto with Photos. Here are some initial impressions after a short period of experimentation. The Photos editing tools are impressive and a drastic improvement over iPhoto.  I have one complaint in this area. Perhaps the things I do most with photos is to crop and then adjust image size for use outside of the Apple environment. I cannot figure out to adjust size beyond one kludgy 3 size option adjustment I could make when emailing an image. I keep thinking I must be missing something, but I don’t think so.




Apple assumes we want to access our images across devices and store these images in the cloud. We tend to use multiple devices and in at least some cases even with cross-device access we would prefer not to save the image on the device. This makes some sense. However, Apple is not keeping up in the storage wars. Apple offers 5 GB free with Photos, but the first price point beyond 5 GB would be approximately $12 per year for 20 GB. Flickr offers a terabyte at no cost and my $25 per year pro account gives me unlimited storage. I suppose $12 a year would satisfy the needs of most individuals and you could then take advantage of the convenient access from any Apple device feature.

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Ed Tech Developer’s Guide

The Department of Education has released an Ed Tech Developer’s Guide (download the pdf here). The document attempts to identify “opportunities” for resources that will have an impact (evidently there is a concern that designers tend to limits their efforts to providing information). In addition to identifying the opportunities, the guide attempts to make the case for why each opportunity is important. There are a few examples and guidelines explaining student privacy issues.

This might be a useful document for students interested in graduate instructional design programs. Some of the design processes are simplistic unless you are a tech type with little exposure to instructional design, but an examination of the document offers useful links for even experienced ed tech types. As far as I can tell, this is not a document guiding government funded work. The assumption seems to be that there are “edupreneurs” out their who would benefit from a more productive focus.

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Wikipedia on 60 Minutes

The most recent 60 Minutes included a nice segment on Wikipedia. Comments from Jimmy Wales are included.

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Tech in the city

We have moved from North Dakota to the Twin Cities. I will not say I am fond of the traffic, but I do enjoy the diversity a more metropolitan area provides.

This advantage extends to our tech interests. Specialization is an advantage of larger population areas. I had a hard drive go out on my iMac. A trip to an Apple store did not result in a fix because the computer was 5 years old and Apple stores no longer provide service.

The techs at the Apple store did direct us to a Micro Center. The service center installed a new drive at what I thought was a low price. We had a great time just browsing. This store may be my new favorite – all tech, all the time.

So, for educators or hobbyists, there are kits and kit add-ons of all types – Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Little bits. I understand you can purchase these items and have them delivered to any place the post office or Fedex can reach. Still, there is something better about exploring the goods on the racks.



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