A Windows 8 Preview

Microsoft previews the highly touch-centric Windows 8 operating system. I like the idea of tiles, but wonder if that is the ideal interface metaphor for the next shift. I'm already victim of app fatigue, I wonder if tile fatigue is next. I don't mean to be a doubter, this looks quite beautiful. Just keeping up with the change right now seems to be overwhelming for technologists, let alone users.

via @rcuza

How we did the recording and live streaming of #TEDxNYED

TEDxNYED used more than $100,000 of equipment (most of which we rented for ~$9,000) to record/broadcast live in HD. We are currently editing the videos which will be placed on TEDx's YouTube channel. @mjmontagne asked me via Twitter if we would share our AV setup, so I fired up Inspiration and made a quick visual. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Posted via email from arvind's posterous

Education and Web 2.0

In case you haven’t noticed, the world wide web has changed substantially in the last few years. I am not talking about the number of websites, as those have been increasing since the web started. I am talking about two major facors: Blogs and the Web 2.0 movement – the 2.0 is referring to a new generation of websites, those the act less like standard websites, and more like programs on your computer. Try the example that lets you drag items into a box on the page. This was not possible a couple years back.

What does this new web mean for educators? Here is how it has impacted my life:

  • We use the free, open source blog software WordPress to power a Digital Poetry blog and our Parents’ Association website. We let them post entries in a remote WordPress site, then using the automatically generated RSS feed, we publish onto our school’s Intranet. We control the look and feel, the parents control the content. Great symbiosis.
  • We use AirSet, a free portal for blogging, calendaring, communicating, sharing links and more. The site allows you to give certain people access to certain parts of your group. We use the group calendaring feature to power our intranet calendar. Once again, just pull out an auto-generated RSS feed, style it, and pop it on your website. No longer necessary for the webmaster to update the calendar. Empower your end users.
    • AirSet also has a free synchronization tool that works with Microsoft Outlook. I have it sync my calendars and contacts each night so that I can update either from AirSet or Outlook. I will explain what I do with the calendar RSS feed on that private calendar later.
  • 30boxes – I have been evaluating as many web calendars as I can get my hands on, and this one is hands down the best. Create a free account, and type right into the box at the top of the page, “Building Learning Communities July 17-20 (Weston, Massachusetts)” and 30boxes automatically figures out what you are saying, and adds it to the calendar. Amazing! Then choose what friends are allowed to see what parts of your calendar. You can also tag events. I use school, personal, professional and others. You can then pull RSS feeds out based on tags, or pull out the whole calendar. You can also sync to iCal on the Mac, or export to CSV for Microsoft Outlook. If you have a website, use their HTML badge creator to make a nifty calendar piece for your website.
  • Right now for me, Protopage, self-described as, “Free Personal Start Pages,” is the granddaddy of them all. Head to Protopage and click the link at the top right to start your own page. You can add whatever you want to a page, to-do lists, RSS feeds (click to add 21apples to your Protopage), an e-mail checker (great feature), weather, links and more. I have a few different pages, one for work, one for personal, etc. On my personal page, I pull weather, personal e-mail, and my personal calendar (30boxes) all from feeds. I also use their sticky notes as to-do lists. On my school page, I pull school e-mail, the school’s Airset calendar, the Parents’ Association feed, and my Airset calendar (sync’d from my Outlook calendar) via RSS feed. Now I really do have 1 starting page which lets me see my calendar, my new e-mail, my to-do list and more. No need to go around checking all the different information systems I use. I can quickly pull up my page from any web browser, and check all relevant info.

Lots of information to parse I realize, but try out some of the websites, you won’t be disappointed. If you have any other great ones to add, please leave a comment with a link.

Technorati Tags: 30boxes, AirSet, Apple, blog, education, future, open source, Protopage, resources, review, software, web, web2.0, WordPress


Lego has just announced the new version of MINDSTORMS, the fantastic robotics programming package. The new version is called MINDSTORMS NXT. The main idea is for users to be able to build more interesting robots, more easily. A great article in Wired reviews the development process, and explains how the original MINDSTORMS kit has 70% adult users, and 30% young users. Lego hopes to reverse this trend by making a better user interface and programming language.

The old system will not be compatible with the new system, so all of us in the education market need to get ready for new expenses if we want to try the NXT system. From the pictures, the new brick (robot brain) is very elegant. Gone is the big yellow box, and here is the accessory-friendly, sleek new brick (click image for big close up). New and improved sensors include: ultrasonic (for “seeing”), sound, light, touch, rotation (inbuilt in motors). These open the doors to improved robot performance. One of the best new features is Mac version of the software.

The new brick is USB and Bluetooth compatible which may lead to some really neat interactions with devices like Bluetooth headsets, camera-phones and more. Gone is the difficult-to-use infrared tower that has been the bane of so many student and teacher programmers.

I think the idea of an easier to use Lego robotics kit is a valuable one and a dangerous one. Lego is excellent at building step by step instructions on how to build things (see Ikea for the opposite of good instructions). However, programming and computer science are not about following instructions to build products. Computer science is about problem solving, trial and error, debugging. I would rather see Lego build a better debugging interface than build more guides. Students already have ideas of what to build. We just need to enable them to be able to succeed. None of us as teachers are looking to make our students good instruction manual readers. We want them to be inventors. Since I haven’t seen NXT yet, I won’t comment on how well it facilitates this, but I can only hope it does.

Lego announced a new blog, which will provide news on consumer electronics. So far, the blog only has 3 posts, but it just started. Add to the RSS readers and let’s see what they have to share.

Lego has also has an exciting developers program which will let 100 lucky people test out the new NXT system early. You will then be eligible for a reduced-priced NXT set when it releases. Throw your name in the hat, I already did (deadline: February 5).

Technorati Tags: computer science, education, hardware, blog, robotics, software, teaching