Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blogging and IM in the Classroom

A recent study says that nearly 75% of all teenages in this country use Instant Messaging. In addition, a growing phenomenon among teens is the use of blogs. Both of these internet-based tools mandate that kids read and write. Yet, most of the press is about the negative aspects of these technologies (when used inappropriately). On Thursday, Oct. 27th, the Star Ledger reported that Sparta's Pope John XXIII High School is banning blogs on certain websites such as and, even if the kids were accessing them from home! If a blog is found, the kids face suspension (who in the world is patrolling the web from that school?)
I can understand that they want their kids protected (online pedaphiles can gather information about kids from their blogs), but wouldn't it be smarter to teach kids online safety than to ban certain sites? The school will never be able to keep up with the list of banned sites nor the students' work-around.

This brings me to the next step... Rather than look at ways to ban these tools, why not incorporate them in healthy ways into the curriculum? If kids are drawn to reading and writing using blogs and IM, educators should harness that enthusiasm and use it in meaningful ways. Some have done it successfully!

I'm going to keep fighting the good fight. If we looked at cars as killing machines rather than modes of transporation, we'd still be on horseback.

Now that the World Bank has started blogging, will blogs become important?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tivo Revisited

My Tivo came yesterday. I spent a few hours setting it up to interact with my wireless network. I can search TV listings online and schedule recordings from my computer. I can also view photos and listen to music that is stored on my computer on the TV screen (kids were impressed by this). I also hooked it to my DVR so that I can burn DVDs. I'm hoping to find some good kids' shows to record (I think we have every movie ever made but we'll see). I've created a "Season Pass" to Survivor and Apprentice-Trump. It was a bit frustrating to deal with the wires (why oh why isn't everything wireless already!?). Other than that, it works flawlessly. I have no idea why I didn't do this sooner.

While I was at it, I purchased a fax machince that differentiates calls and can be used on a regular phone line. I feel like I'm coming out of the stone age!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My Tivo Quest

Armed with my Best Buy coupon, I visited the store. They had no idea what coupon I meant, did not carry the wireless adapters I would need to hook up my system to my wireless network, and didn't carry the 300 hour Humax machine. Off I went.

I next visited Circuit City. I couldn't even get a salesperson to ask! I saw one pitiful 40 hour Tivo stuck on a shelf. That was sad.

Home, I went online to search for Tivo bargains (coupons, etc.) My favorite sites, Saving Center, Current Codes, eDeal Info, and Slick pointed me to a deal on I'm a fan of Overstock. I've purchased a number of items from them and I love their $2.95 shipping.

I found a Toshiba DVR with an 80 record time that comes with Tivo FREE! No monthly fee! I couldn't believe it (sounded too good to be true, even if it was a refurbished unit). I clicked on the Live Chat and had a lengthy chat with Rick the sales guy. He guaranteed it came with Tivo or I could return the unit at their cost. If I ordered during the chat, he'd cut 10% off the price. SOLD!

Then, you'll never guess what he said... Sorry, but the computer said we had ten of these but when I ordered it, it says we are sold out.

SORRY? After all that? I ened up ordering European featherbeds and pillow sets to make me feel better (and still got the 10% discount).

Finally, my last hope... the actual TIVO website. I called and talked to a live person who knew about Tivo (isn't that amazing!?). I ordered the 300 hour Humax (top of the line) for $199 after rebate. That is several hundred dollars less than anywhere on the internet. Free shipping. And, they had the wireless adapter. By this time next week, I'll be recording!

Only problem is that there really isn't anything on TV lately that I want to see!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tivo, iPod, GPS, oh my!

I consider myself a pretty techie person. As a matter of fact, I'm somewhat of a geek. I find that talking "tech" can be pretty fun (with another geek, obviously). I printed out Best Buy's newest coupon for their Tivo sale this weekend. I feel like I'm the only geek without one. I would truly benefit from having the ability to record specific shows (only reality: Survivor, Apprentice, Amazing Race...). Anyway, I hate to subscribe to yet another service. On the other hand, I can't imagine continuing the use of my old VCR. I actually have a DVD recorder, but I hate to use up a DVD-R to burn a show (that I no longer want after I watch it once) and always forget to buy a DVD-RW when I'm at the store. Anyway, I may bite the bullet this weekend... actually, I may just go to Tivo's website and order one (we geeks do a lot of shopping online).

Do I have an iPod? No! Surely I am losing my status in the geekworld. I have a simple little necklace mp3 that holds maybe 50 songs. Yes, I will buy an ipod. Perhaps with its new TV show downloads, I can kill two birds (metaphorically).

Steve Jobs' keynote was interesting. As much as I am an Apple Loyalist, I now use a Toshiba. I still have my G4 laptop and G3 tower; my 6 and 8 year old kids have inherited them. The sad thing is that my 8 year old finds the titanium G4 "too slow." I'd love to go back to Apple someday...

As for GPS, I have one! I have a Magellan Roadmate 700, one of the best portable GPS systems for driving (it's the one used in the Hertz rental cars, Neverlost systems). "Maggie" as I affectionately refer to her has navigated me to wonderful remote locations around the country. I know that I can be as adventurous as I like and she will always bring me to safety. She also is great for re-routing to avoid traffic. I don't know anyone else who has this system (except my sister who I told about it, so that doesn't count).

I am a geek ahead of the pack!

Saturday, October 08, 2005


This week I received a book contract from ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). ISTE is the largest teacher-based, nonprofit organization in the field of educational technology. They literally "write the book" on educational technology (I suppose that is what I will be doing then!).

I had to get a headshot for the book cover. My previous headshot (obtained for a conference brochure in which I was presenting) was pretty nice. One thing that bothers me is authors who have an outdated photo on their books. When I look at the author, I want to see the person who wrote the book, not the person as s/he was ten years ago. So we took several photos. The funny thing about selecting a photo of yourself is that you want the best one (naturally). However, I also wanted the one that looked like me! All of the "serious" poses just didn't convey who I am.

So here is the photo of me as it will appear on the book. Now I just have to get to the hard part- writing the book!!