Showing posts from April, 2011

What's The Deal With All These Goofy Boxes?

Chances are you've seen goofy little squares like the one pictured above somewhere lately. They're on posters, advertisements, and websites. The other day I was in Home Depot and saw them on their plants for sale. If you haven't seen a weird square like this, pay attention and you will!

They're the latest rage in quick advertising. They're called QR Codes (short for Quick Response). They are two-dimensional barcodes that can contain text, web site addresses, email addresses, contact information, links to maps, and more! All you need to access the "hidden" material is a QR reader.

And, as you've probably guessed, there are a multitude of FREE QR readers for your smart phone. I have an iPhone and my favorite is one simply called Scan. All  I have to do is launch the program, point at the QR code and Scan automatically opens the code. If it's contact info, I can add it to my contact list. If it's a web address, Scan opens the site. It's amazi…

Say it Ain't So! The End of the Flip Camera!

I love my Flip camera! It's the easiest point and shoot video camera I've ever used. In fact, we've purchased at least thirty of the cute little puppies for our school district. And now, the Flip will join the elephant graveyard of "yesterday's gadgets."

On Tuesday, Cisco (the networking giant that bought out Flip two years ago) announced that they are closing their Flip Camera division. They are stopping all production of new units but will continue to sell what's left through their website and in-store markets. Support for the devices will remain in tact until December of 2013.

Why the shutdown? Despite its ease of use and portability, the answer is pretty simple. The rationale behind the closure is the smart phone. With the rapid innovation of smart phones, we now have video recorders at our side all the time. Almost all smart phones include video recording capabilities, and most have uploading features not found on the Flip.

It's amazing that thi…

Friday Freebie - Easily Capture Your Screen With Jing!

I can't believe that I haven't mentioned today's Friday Freebie before! It's my favorite piece of free software ever!

If you've ever tried to create a "how-to" tip sheet for software and struggled to capture images off your computer, or if you've wanted to create video tutorials for FREE, then you have to get Jing from TechSmith! This free piece of software allows you to easily capture images from your srceen to paste them into a document, or easily capture up to five minutes of video (including your voice)! If you create a video tutorial, you also get a FREE account on With your 2 GB of storage on screencast, you can house all your video tutorials!

I've presented on Jing at least five times at local, state, and national conferences and everyone that attends is always amazed with Jing. In fact, I have a whole page on this blog dedicated to this great piece of software. Check out all the links and examples on my Using Jing page. I…

GoogleApps in Action! This is One Cool Book Report Project!

I remember having to write book reports for high school English. It was, sadly, not one of my most pleasant memories from my youth. I would slave away (usually the night before it was due) on an old typewriter (yes, typewriter!). After reaching the required length, I'd wrap it up, hand it in, and never think about it again!

Fast forward from 1982 to 2011, and check out what kids at Cole High School are doing. In our AP Junior English class, our teacher Mrs. Garatoni divided her students into groups. Each choose a socially relevant non-fiction book to study. Then, instead of writing a standard old book report, they used Google Apps for Education and each group created a website for their book report.

Mrs. Garatoni outline the key elements that had to be on each website and I taught the kids how to build them. Rather I should say I gave the kids their username and password information and got the heck out of their way! They took to it like a duck to water!

I applaud Mrs. Garatoni f…

Friday Freebie: Create a Real-Time Poll for FREE

Need to get some audience feedback? Ever wanted to assess your students on the fly using their cell phones? Need to create a poll you can embed in a website?

Most importantly - want to do it for FREE?

Then, PollEverywhere ( is the site for you. Create a free educator account and you can poll up to 32 students per poll. You can create a multiple choice or an open response question and participants can respond via text messaging, smart phone, or via the web. The results show up instantly on the screen! This is a great way for teachers to take advantage of students' smart phone technology.

For teachers, clearing the results and using the poll with your next class is as easy as clicking a button. For blogger (like me) embedding the poll is easy. Just look here:

You can save your polls, download them directly into your PowerPoint, upload them to Facebook, and more. It's a great tool! So, head on over to PollEverywhere and get started!

How To Download Videos from YouTube

I often get asked by teachers and others how to download videos from YouTube. Unfortunately, there is no really simple way to do it. You can't right click and save the file because of the way it is encoded. While there is no really simple way. there is a way. There's always a way! In fact, I'll give you my two favorite ways.

My favorite way to download videos from YouTube is by using a website called Zamzar (  When you go to Zamzar, you'll see several tabs (convert files, download videos, send files, and manage files). Click on "Download Videos" tab. There, you can paste the URL (web address) of the YouTube video you'd like to download. (To do this first go to YouTube and find the video. Then highlight the web address and hit the Ctrl key and the letter C at the same time. Then click in the first box in Zamzar and hit the Ctrl key and the letter V to paste it in).

Then, you can choose from 19 different video formats to get from Zam…

The Power of Prayer and Technology: An Update on Jeannie

Thanks to all of you for your prayers for my cousin, Jeannie. As I posted earlier, Jeannie's cancer returned - this time in her arm.

Last Thursday, at M.D. Anderson, doctors had to remove all of Jeannie's arm. In fact, they had to remove some of her shoulder as well. Despite all of this, Jeannie remains in good spirits. Her faith has not wavered and I am confident that with Gods' help, and your continued prayers, she will live a full and healthy life.

My mother is bringing Jeannie to San Antonio today (Monday). She'll rest overnight and continue her ride back to McAllen Tuesday morning. When I stop by to see her, I will take with me all your wonderful thoughts, well wishes, and prayers.

Thank you all for keeping Jeannie and her family in you prayers. God Bless.

Create an Online Bulletin Board to Communicate, Plan, or Play

Every now and then, we need a place to plan collaboratively online with others - a place where we can post notes, pictures, documents, and to-do lists. What we need is an "electronic bulletin board."

This week's Friday Freebie does just that. If you need a place on the web to collaborate, head on over to Create an account for free and then using Stixy's simple tools, you can easily create a new bulletin board (called a Stixyboard) and start adding content.

Go to your "Options" page for your Stixyboard and you can allow "guest" access to your Stixyboard. You can let guests view the Stixyboard, or view and edit the board. You can even password protect it to add some security. Guests that can edit can add notes, pictures, documents, and to-do lists. Insider Tip: If guests try to save what they've added by clicking the Save button, Stixy will prompt them to create an account. They don't have to. Tell them to just wait f…

The Power of Prayer and Technology

Okay, I'll say right from the start that I don't believe God will only love you if you forward a certain email to 20 people. Nor do I believe that by posting a blessing on Facebook, you'll be blessed beyond your wild dreams!

But I do believe in the power of prayer. And, I also find technology is a great way to spread the word of your need for prayers. Mass emailing to friends and family about your needs can quickly bring about a band of prayer warriors in ways we never could before. A post on Facebook will elicit well wishes and prayers from people far and wide. The power of the Internet couple with prayer is awesome.

An example - my cousin Jeannie is battling cancer once again. A strong and faithful woman, she beat breast cancer several years back. Sadly, the cancer has returned and has manifested itself in her arm. On Thursday, doctors at MD Anderson will amputate her arm at the shoulder and begin chemotherapy once again.One quick email to my church brothers got the pray…

A Late Friday Freebie: Have Fun with Your Photos Online

Okay, I had a very busy week last week, so I'm a little late with this week's Friday Freebie. And, I missed last week's because of my church ACTS Retreat. So, to make it up to you, I'm giving you SIX free sites I love! And once you visit them, I', sure you'll love them to!

All of these are designed to let you have some fun with your photos online. Enjoy!

PhotoVisi First, create awesome collages online at PhotoVisi has a slew of templates for you to choose from. Add photos, move them around and save your work. If you don't want to create an account, you can still download your collages, but you'll have to either upload them to your Facebook account to email them to yourself - a small price to pay for such cool collages!

BeFunky At you can have a ton of fun with pics without any sign-up or account. Simply click "Get Started" and select from several activities. My favorite is "Apply an Effect." From there …