Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Call for presentations for FOSSED 2009!

Do you love Free and Open Source software? Are you an educator who is using FOSS or Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom? Are you a techie who utilizes FOSS in the server closet or around your school or organization? If so, we'd love to have you share your knowledge and expertise at FOSSED 2009. Fill in the form below to help us out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Software Freedom Day Worth Celebrating

Software Freedom Day Worth Celebrating | Fanatic Attack
No, this is not a day when you free yourself of all your software addictions. Rather, Software Freedom Day is an annual grass roots effort to educate the public on the virtues of free and open source software. The 2008 event takes place on September 20 and will be celebrated in 65 countries across the globe. So exactly what is this open source movement and why are people celebrating it? Moreover, why should you care?

Open source software is available for free, to everyone and unlike for example, Windows or Mac operating systems, it is non-proprietary - meaning it is available for others to share, build upon, change, and redistribute either in its modified or unmodified form.The source code is transparent and allows rights to users which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright. Since the source code is transparent, bugs or security flaws can quickly be discovered and patched. In a proprietary system, the software is closed and typically you are reliant on the company’s “word” that security glitches will be or have been fixed.

Just as Sunshine Laws are invaluable tools to keep the public informed of elected official’s meetings in the public interest, open source provides such user benefits in software as increased control, enhanced security, free or reduced cost and higher quality due to constant peer review of the code.Some excellent examples of open source software include Mozilla Firefox internet browser, Ubuntu operating system, OpenOffice.org, a software suite similar to Microsoft Office, GIMP image editing software and the list goes on and on from there.

So if you’re new to open source, Software Freedom Day celebrates a philosophical movement which values collaboration, community and transparency. It benefits the public good and ensures basic human freedoms are strengthened by technology, not hampered.

Monday, June 30, 2008

One Participant's Impressions

FOSSED 2008 is an amazing adventure. If you missed it, you might be interested in my take on sessions that I attended. I hope it inspires you to register for FOSSED 2009!

Friday, June 27, 2008

FOSSED Evaluation

FOSSED 2008 attendees! Please take a moment to fill out the evaluation and provide us with some feedback on the conference. Your answers are confidential and your input truly helps to shape the future of FOSSED. We want to thank you for coming and hope you had a great experience! Hope to see you again next year!

Click here to go to the online evaluation

David and Bryant

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How to get a Windows Tax Refund

If you buy a computer, you often pay for Microsoft Windows even if you
didn't ask for it and aren't going to use it. This article shows you
how to return your unused Windows license and get your money back,
freeing yourself from the Windows tax.

Linux.com :: How to get a Windows tax refund

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Posting on the fly from IMified

I recently read a post on Twitter about a new service called IMified which allows you to post to many Web 2.0 services right from your IM client. I use IM quite a bit to stay in touch with others during the day so I figured "what the heck"? So here I am posting to my FOSSED blog using Pidgin (my IM client of choice on my Ubuntu laptop). We'll see in a second if this posts. Check out IMified here: http://www.imified.com

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pencil - Open Source 2D animation software!

Looking for an easy to use animation program to use in the classroom? If so, try Pencil. I downloaded Pencil and had my first crude animation going in just a few minutes! It's very cool and easy to learn. Best of all, it's available cross-platform! Linux, Windows, Mac OS X....installation is a BREEZE! Download it and play, learn, create! Check out the Pencil web site

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The OnTime podcast (ACTEM)

The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM) has a podcast! A darn good one I might add! Last night we had parent/teacher conferences so I was set to walk home in the dark. It's about 3.5 miles and I do it willingly and on purpose...it was a beautiful moonlit night. I started out listening to the Red Sox - Yankees game, but ran into a stretch where both the game and the radio signal weren't doing well. So...I had downloaded the OnTime podcast to my N800 earlier in the day so I decided to listen to that. I had listened to snippets of previous shows, but last night I listened to the whole thing. I'm glad I did! I actually learned some very useful things! Vince, Sharon, and Crystal talked about a variety of topics ranging from Crystal's trip to a conference in San Francisco... the upcoming PackageMaker training...the FOSSED conference (unsolicited...all 3 have attended and Sharon is presenting again this year)...and they also shared some tips and web "finds". Vince really piqued my interest (to the point where I stopped walking for a moment) with his discovery of Shockwave for Linux! He also told about a little known part of the Adobe site where all of their beta and "lab" stuff can be found. Very cool! You can find links to the podcast at http://www.actem.org. I'm sitting here in a high school parking lot using my n800 to blog about this podcast while I wait for my daughter to get out of softball practice...why? Because you really should listen to it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

FOSSED 2008 Flyer has been posted!

Download the 2008 FOSSED flyer here! Print it, download it, share it! (far and wide)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Using Skype and a bluetooth headset to replace my cellphone

Hi all. Yet another snowy day here in Northern New England (darn it!). I love snow, but it's APRIL! Enough already! Hard to play baseball when there's 2 - 3 feet of snow on the field.

Last night I was in Staples buying some blank CD-R's when I came across a "clearance table" where they had lots of things marked down, like external hard drives for $60 and other things like a Motorola H550 bluetooth headset for $17! Needless, to say...I bought the headset. I've always wanted to try using a BT headset with Skype. Here was my opportunity. I began by pairing it to my MacBook Pro running Leopard. Very simple and straightforward. I went into System Preferences and set my Sound output and input to use the headset. It worked fantastic with Skype as I had about an hour long conversation with a colleague.

Next was to try it with my little Nokia N800 and Skype. Pairing was a bit tricky and it could have been because my MacBook was nearby. Once detected it went very easily. I wasn't able to test it beyond having conversations with myself by calling my own cell phone via SkypeOut. It was a bit choppy and overmodulated, but it could have been a network issue. I have to experiment more.

Last was my System76 Darter2 running Ubuntu. I had to install Stephan Graber's BT headset pairing application (which works fantastic!), but once I did it paired and worked great. Skype defaulted to it right away. I use SkypeOut to call my wife at her work number and she sounded very clear and vice versa.

Why do this? Some of you may be like me. I have a weak cellphone signal here in my classroom and many times I can't make or take calls depending on where I am, however, my building is completely covered with WiFi and accessible via WiFi from anywhere. So, I paid my $29 per year for an unlimited SkypeOut account (only calls to the US and Canada...I'd have to buy more credits for international calls) which allows me to call landlines (computer to computer is free) from my computer. Now that I have a bluetooth headset, I'm no longer tethered to my laptop. :-) Skype is a wonderful VOIP tool and it makes life a bit easier for me when I'm unable to use my cellphone and still need to be able to move about my classroom or school.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mobile Blogging from my Nokia N800

I finally got it working! It was actually quite simple...basically a matter of me not following directions ;-) What am I talking about? I am making this blog post from my Nokia N800 internet tablet Click Here for more info. I'm using a neat little program called MaemoWordPy which is a blogging agent that allows you to post to your blog (Wordpress or Blogger) and have all the features of a blogging client on a desktop computer.
n800 blogging
I'm pretty excited now that my mobile blogging can be kicked up a notch. Of course, I could blog via email or via the web browser, but this is so much more powerful and better for me. Keep a lookout for more mobile blog posts! If you have an N800 or N810, I encourage you to give MaemoWordPy a try!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

FOG...a free computer cloning solution!

Chuck Syperski is working on an Open Source project that aims to make computer image deployment for companies and organizations very easy. Version 0.12 of FOG includes many new features including printer
management, inventory, client side registration, reporting, and a
client updater, just to name a few. I have yet to try it, but the screenshots look very intriguing. According to Chuck...It is a ghost-like imaging solution that can be used to image Windows PCs in large network environments. It does everything without boot disks/CDs, it also includes some pretty advanced features like multicast support, a client side service that does printer management, hostname changes, AD registration, user tracking and more. The FOG management suite does imaging plus hardware inventory, AV scan, memory testing, and disk wiping. It is all web based and can run on Fedora or Ubuntu. Sounds pretty cool! I'm looking forward to trying it!

FOG :: A Ghost-like Computer Cloning Solution - Home

Monday, March 3, 2008

Miro "Using the Internet TV for Education"

There's an awesome application out there called Miro. Miro is a free application that turns your computer into an internet TV video player. You can download it here for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Miro is open source...which has gotta' make you feel good, too! I've found that Miro plays just about anything, but its strength lies in that there are literally thousands of channels that you can subscribe to and download internet TV shows.

So...how does this play into education? There are many channels dedicated to such topics as nature, science, history, space, tutorials and so much more! I just watched a very interesting show from NASA and a news show compiled from newscasts from Middle East TV stations! The video quality is superb! Students can download their own shows or better yet, the teacher can download the content to a master computer and show the video up on a screen for the entire class! Miro is a powerful tool that can really enhance learning in your classroom...check it out today!

Using OpenOffice extensions to enhance productivity!

Many people know about OpenOffice, StarOffice, and NeoOffice, but few seem to know about one of the most powerful features of OpenOffice...extensions. OpenOffice has a built-in extension manager (go to "Tools" > "Extension Manager") where one can add extensions to enhance the function and usability of OpenOffice. Visit the OpenOffice Extensions Page and download your favorite extensions...then use the extension manager to install them to OpenOffice. I highly recommend you grab the OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs extension.

Export and Import your documents to Google Docs from OpenOffice.org, and from OpenOffice.org to Google Docs.

It can upload:

* Documents: OpenDocument Text (.odt), StarOffice (.sxw), Microsoft Word (.doc, but not MS XML), Rich Text (.rtf)

* Spreadsheets: OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods), Microsoft Excel (.xls), Comma Separated Value (.csv)

There are several template, clip art, and accessory extensions which will populate your OpenOffice installation with clips, templates, and more!

Firefox keyboard shortcuts! Improve your surfing!

Firefox logo

Today I stumbled across a blog post about voting for your favorite
Firefox keyboard shortcut. I thought to myself, “I wonder just how
shortcuts there are?” I know the old standby’s like CTRL-C to copy,
CTRL-V to paste, and my favorite…CTRL-T to open a new tab. (Yes, I know
more too, but these are a sample) Lo’ and behold…I found even more!
Some of them have already changed my surfing habits! I’m much faster
now. How about CTRL-L which highlights and selects the address bar….or
try this…

Type a word in the address bar such as “openoffice” (no quotes)

Now press CTRL-Enter Voila! Firefox automatically puts in the www
and .com for you! To use .org press SHIFT-CTRL-ENTER and for .net use
SHIFT-ENTER. Pretty cool huh? Between CTRL-L and the others, I can
pretty much avoid using the mouse or trackpad most of the time!

Find out all about the shortcuts and more on this page from the folks who bring you Firefox! Click Here

Saturday, March 1, 2008

£99 laptop could hatch the Linux generation

PC manufacturer Elonex is launching ONE,
an ultra-portable laptop, at this week’s Education Show at the NEC. The
machine provides a 7″ LCD screen, wireless Internet access and 1GB
on-board solid state memory (there is no hard disc to save on costs).
It runs Linux with what looks like OpenOffice for word processing and
is being aimed at the education market. It costs just £99. Read all about it and check out their page! Click the link below!

£99 laptop could hatch the Linux generation « Tech Lunch

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The ultimate collection of Linux/Unix cheat sheets!

For those of you who know him, Trey Bachner actually sent me this link the other day. He figured I'd seen them already and he was right to a degree....I have seen some of them, but not all of them and not all in one place! This is an awesome resource! Linux newbie, OS X command-line junkie, guru, geek, or whatever....these cheat sheets can be VERY handy. Expect to see copies of them at FOSSED this year! Check them out! (also...looking around this site will yield other cheat sheets for networking and so forth)

Linux-Unix cheat sheets - The ultimate collection >> Scott Klarr

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The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy — and Their Open Source Alternatives

While browsing around this evening I stumbled upon a fantastic article about those pesky proprietary programs that drive you nuts either due to feature overload, clumsy interfaces, or price and lock-in....and their Open Source alternatives that you can use to replace them! Jimmy Atkinson does a pretty good job of picking out some that really drive me nuts! These programs are not just for Linux, but rather they run the gamut of Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. Number 35 is pretty interesting. It mentions replacing iTunes with Songbird. Just so happens that at this very moment I am listening to U2's Joshua Tree album on my noise reducing headphones...using Songbird! Also...number 39 is pretty cool too! If you've never used Miro, then you owe it to yourself to check it out...it's pretty awesome! For #42...I personally recommend Clonezilla. Clonezilla has proven to be a godsend for us at VCS and Union 52. Be sure to check the comment section as many folks have suggested even more alternatives!

The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy — and Their Open Source Alternatives | WHDb

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

FOSSED registrations and planning underway!

Finally! I just finished a major project at another school and finally have some time to "come up for air". Springtime is just around the corner and that means it's time to get ready for another great FOSSED conference! I'm actually really excited as I feel I have a really good handle on some things this year that have given me trouble in the past. One of those things is the registration process. I have switched to a fantastic Web 2.0 solution some of you may be familiar with...Zoho Creator. The solution we had in the past worked well, but it was a bit cumbersome for me and very susceptible to SPAM. We had a lot of Russians who registered for the FOSSED conference last year and still are ;-) (in other words Russian SPAM sites...etc.) You'll notice that I've added a "Captcha" (the little picture with letters and numbers you have to enter) to the registration process just before you submit to verify that you are indeed...human. I'm also excited about our new location! We have decided to move our second FOSSED conference location from UNH to The Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA. The reasons are many, but suffice it to say...keeping the price reasonable was a large factor. We're excited as we feel The Governor's Academy will generate much of the same type of atmosphere we have at Gould Academy every June. The good news is that it's only about 10-15 miles difference from the distance to UNH...for many of us... it's a straight shot on the interstate. I'm hopeful that in addition to our colleagues from New Hampshire that we'll also have many folks from Massachusetts and beyond.

Well that's it for now. I gotta' get up early in the morning and hit the slopes! Headed to Saddleback for what I hope will be a fantastic day of skiing. Check out the links above with regard to sending us session ideas! We need your input! After all, it's YOUR conference! Wanna' present or teach a session? Let me know! copperdoggy@gmail.com

Looking forward to another great year!


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wow! Our new SmartBoard and Edubuntu!

Recently I was able to purchase an interactive whiteboard called a "SmartBoard" for our school. I have several more in the budget for next year, but this one gives us an opportunity to learn more about how to use one. I was excited to find out when I ordered it that it would be compatible with Linux, but I had my doubts. Often times manufacturers make claims to be compatible with Linux, but generally with a loss of features or a very difficult installation. I was a little nervous when I stuck in the CD to the drive on my Edubuntu desktop....and I couldn't get the installer to execute. So...I went to the web site and downloaded the installer from there. The installer was a breeze to work with! It's an autopackage that simply asked me a couple yes or no questions...and then VOILA! That was it! Suddenly the SmartBoard software launched and we were in business! The total install time took less than 2 minutes! Guess what else? Everything works! Every feature from the notebook software to the screen captures and more! I'm truly impressed! The folks at Smarttech have really taken a look at the future of Linux and FOSS in Education. Today was simply my first day...all I got a chance to do was put it together, load the software and play around a little. I'm finding myself a bit excited to get to school tomorrow so I can really try things out. Just in the few chances I got to try it out today, I can really see how it will totally change the way I teach! I'm psyched!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Really cool Web App! Bubbl.us!

I found this while researching apps to help me keep my New Years Resolutions...bubbl.us. I often use graphic organizers when creating presentations and getting ready to teach a specific class. I just signed up for an account (FREE of course) and have found it to be remarkably easy to use! Flash-based mindmap creator bubbl.us allows you to quickly and easily
make effective, attractive mindmaps that can be exported as images or
as HTML outlines, or shared with others who can add new items or draw
new connections between existing ones. Check it out!

bubbl.us - free web application for brainstorming online

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FOSSED 2008 Conference Schedule!

The 2008 FOSSED Conference schedule is now posted...get it here CLICK HERE

Conference Sessions listed here

Great sessions! Great presenters! ALL driven by YOU! Check the session descriptions (always a document in progress) here:

Click here to view the Session descriptions

NOTE: This session list is currently in development...some sessions may be added and a couple may disappear, but for the most part things will give you a very good idea of what is being offered at FOSSED 2008