Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WordPerfect Lightning

I use to really admire WordPerfect. It had one of the best DOS word processors going. While I seem to find WordPerfect on most new computers, this new research tool, Lightning, may be something you will want. The main downside I saw was that there isn't Mac support. The features look good.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

xFruits to collect and distributed RSS-based info

xFruits appears to work much like Yahoo! Pipes. It takes RSS data and does all types of tricks with it. You can collect a variety of sources and then redistribute the information in ways the original source did not even imagine possible. This could be very useful for teachers wanting to distribute information on certain topics. I could also be used to collect emergency information and then send alerts to staff.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Arranging Complicated Meetings

I've been having a lot of trouble recently planning meetings where many people have to be accommodated. While I found a few paid systems that did this work, Diarised is a free online system that appears to get the job done. I'll let you know how it works out.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Reducing Technology Clutter

LifeHacker -- one my favorite blogs -- has a photo of a clever way to reduce technology clutter. Simply take a peg board and mount your equipment to it and then mount it on the bottom of your table. Of course, you need to have enough room for you legs and chair arms. This solution could be very handy for computer labs.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hard Drive Reliability

Here is an interesting article on hard drive reliability. Now that there are customers, such as Google, with hundreds of thousands of hard drives in service, there is becoming a database of actually performance characteristics. What I found most interesting is that the type of drive is not particularly important. I had always assumed that the extra money I paid for SCSI drives would be rewarded by longer service life. The findings seem to indicate that environmental factors, such as heat and power fluctuations, kill drives no mater what technology is being used. I'll spend more money on the environment and less on the disks.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Accessibility Resources

Marcus Zillman does a great job putting together collections of interesting Internet resources. Here is one of his collections on Accessibility. This is required reading for anyone developing a school web site. It's not just nice, it's a law.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

ERIC on the Internet

Most teachers know ERIC because any serious research paper often required time at the ERIC terminal in the library going blurry-eyed at all the small print. The good news is that you can go blurry-eyed at home. ERIC is on the Internet.

Sorry for not posting for a while. I was stuck in the blizzard in Chicago. :-(


Friday, February 09, 2007

Yahoo! Pipes

Yahoo! has just released a new service called Pipes. It is a system for combining information from a variety of Internet services and then repackages it in a variety of ways. This is not for the regular user. It might be a very good source of projects for your school's computer classes.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

One Laptop Per Child Security

Thankfully someone has decided to add security before they put something out. The OLPC people have created an innovative collection of security features -- mostly available now in pieces -- so that children will have security has strong as a high security government agency. Wired Magazine has a good story on the new security system. If you want to see more of the details, look at OLPC's Wiki.

Let's hope that more operating systems will incorporate these features.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Meebo takes the risk out of IM

Meebo is a service I've following and using for quite some time. It's a web site that allows you to open up all your instant messaging accounts at the same time. When you log in to Meebo, it logs you into all your IM accounts. Obviously, you need an account with each provider and you need to tell Meebo your user name and password.

What I like about Meebo is that it does not install into your operating system. This greatly reduces security concerns and it means that you can use any computer with an Internet browser. Of course, advanced features, such as voice and video do not work.

If you're interested in managing all your IM accounts while reducing security risks and CPU drain, this is the service for you. And, it's free.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hamachi for Off-site Backups

This is not the first time I've written fondly of Hamachi. While it is especially popular with gamers because it creates a local network between players in remote locations, I've recently been able to use its file sharing feature along with my standard backup utility.

The main problem with off-site backups is getting the information some place safe without the hassle of carrying multiple CDs or DVDs. A USB device isn't large enough and carrying around an external hard disk isn't very appealing.

There are some online storage areas, but nothing is so wonderful that I can recommend it. I suspect this will change over the coming year. Hamachi is a free software application that creates a secure network between a number of computers. This can be two computers or hundreds.

Last night I turned on the capability of sharing local drives. I then mapped the remote main drive of my remote server and then used my backup program as I would normally. Naturally, this is not a fast way to backup, but it's as fast as an online storage system and there are no storage fees. If you're like me, you have plenty of extra space on your local hard drive.

One last thing, it would be a good idea to encrypt the folder you plan on saving the backups. You don't want to take a chance with your data being exposed from your computer. As for the connection during the transfer process, Hamachi is more than secure enough for that. One last thing: Hamachi runs on Linux and OS X, as well as on Windows.


Monday, February 05, 2007

MediaMax: Online Data Backup

MediaMax, formerly Streamload, is offering 25 gigs of free data storage. The features look great and the storage amount of 25 gigs is better than anything else I've seen. I've been using it for several weeks now and while it has come in handy, the software does not always work -- at least not in a way that I recognize as working. The application screen can get stuck in a mode that appears to be frozen, but the processor stats tell me that it's working like crazy. I cannot recommend using this system at this point in time but I'm going to activity follow this product so that when it becomes more solid and easier to understand, I'll be ready to use it.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Which Linux Distro is right for you?

This is a great site for comparing the various Linux distributions.