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. 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, and from 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

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