Friday, February 6, 2015

Focus on bullying

This blog was originally meant to be for Web 2.0 related tools and ideas. I'm finding that I am learning more about other things as I go along. There are wonderful resources out there for many things, and recently what I have been finding revolves around once central theme...


It seems to be a fact of life. I was bullied in elementary school. It carried on into junior high. Then I had a light bulb moment. Why was I trying so hard to please everyone? It wasn't making me happy. I stopped caring what other people thought, and amazingly enough the bullying stopped.

OK...I have to admit that back then we didn't call it being bullied. I was being picked on, teased. It was really only bad for 6th grade when I changed schools and knew one other person. I realized later that it was because the girls were jealous. I was an "early bloomer" at a time when the girls were all really interested in boys. I was uncomfortable with my new body, and it made me an easy target. It could have been much worse.

On the other hand, I watched my best friend...who is still my best relentlessly, mercilessly bullied. She was always heavy, even when we met in 4th grade. The bullying happened at home, by a younger, thinner sister. The bullying happened at school...every day that I can remember. I can remember things hitting a low point the night that I rushed over to her house in Junior High to make sure that she didn't hurt herself. It's too bad. If they had given her a chance, they would have seen just how great a friend she could be.

I know that this still happens today in our schools. I see it, and hear it at work in the school. Sometimes the kids don't even realize that is what it is. "I was just kidding", "She knows I didn't mean it", "we're friends". The reasons can be just as they look, how much they weigh, what nationality they are , what religion they are, what sexual orientation they have. None of it should matter, and I'm glad that the world is starting to really take notice.

That brings me back to where I started...

First, it was No Name-Calling Week in January. The following week was The Great Kindness Challenge. Today I learned about This is a great site put together in the UK. The theme is universal and so are the resources. There are sections for teens, teachers & parents. The topics run from cyberbullying to bullying in schools, peer bullying to bullying of teachers by students. They recently (Jan. 22) started a new campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and other Social Networking sites called Enough is Enough. This has videos that are being collected of kids that have been bullied. A safe place to tell their stories and support each other. What a great idea! Maybe just one kid will see this and realize that they really aren't alone. Others have been bullied, and others have come out the other side stronger. Hopefully it will touch many others. It's touched me...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Year....New Start?

I am always filled with good intentions.

I will get the dishes done right after dinner...but maybe I'll wait a little bit to let the food settle....

I will send out Christmas letters this year...or maybe Valentines day? Easter? There's always next year...

I will finish this book's morning, and the book is laying open on the floor...

I will write in my blog at least once a week...well, this time it's only been about 4 months instead of the 8. How am I supposed to keep anyone interested if it takes that long?

Well...back to that last one. Here I go again. I have been learning so many things, so why not try and pass them on?

I have recently discovered MOOCs. OK...not actually discovered, since I've known about them for a while. But I actually signed up for a couple of them! I finished the first one, which was about how to become a better trainer. It was short, interesting, but I did not learn as much as I had hoped. Now this wasn't because they were's a testament to how good leadership training is in the Boy Scouts of America.

I'm currently in the middle of my second MOOC. It is called Introduction to Learning Technologies, and it is put on by the University of Saskatchewan, and hosted on the Canvas Network. The week 4 starts by covering blogs. As I put on a comment page there, it's time to get back on the horse...only this time I'll try at a trot instead of a full-on gallop. No wonder the horse keeps getting away from me! Anyway...long-winded explanation of how I ended up back here.

On to the discoveries! Today's revelation I actually learned about yesterday. I have been using Google Docs for a few years now. I know that Google has been expanding what they offer, and for the most part, it's been great! (I am a little disappointed that they let the Google Book project go.) Anyway, yesterday I learned about the Add-ons. There aren't just a few - there are many! I was most excited to find that EasyBib is an Add-on to Google Docs. I haven't explored it much yet, but it seems that it would save our students a step on having to go to the EasyBib website for citation. There's a thesaurus, a graphing calculator, Doctopus, Flubaroo, even a Twitter Curator. So much to explore! And the possibilities!

If that wasn't enough...I learned something else about Google Docs yesterday. There is a Research Tool. So what,  you say? It's amazing! It allows you to do a google search without leaving the document. It just shows up on the right hand side of the page. Do a general search or be more specific. There are options to search for images, quotes, academic articles and more. Not only that, you can even filter the image search to find free to use images. As if that isn't enough, it will also cite in MLA format for you. I tried this. I did a simple search for Florida...just to see what would come up. I dragged a picture to my document...Voila! There is was, with a citation at the bottom of the page. Next I tried a quote search. One came up. It had a little "insert" button at the bottom. One click and there is was - cited just like the picture. This was getting fun! Could I take something from an article and cite that just as easy? Almost! I took some information from the official Florida tourism site on an island that makes me want to get away. It doesn't automatically cite it, but if you hover over the article preview, it give you the option to cite. One click and there it was again. Where was this when I was doing my research papers? It was a quick little experiment, and not put together like it would be if I was turning it in for credit, but I wanted you to have a peek.

I have already passed what I learned on to a couple of teachers, but I now need to find a way to get it out there. Can I get the teachers to follow my blog? There's a thought....

Friday, October 10, 2014 I bad at this Blog thing!

Despite my best intentions of completing the 23 things...I made it through #5. Not great progress.

Then, I didn't even come right back to it. February of this year was my last post. It's now October, and I am trying again.

This week, I have been attending an online conference called Library 2.014. My mind is full to bursting! So many many things to many things that I had never even heard of!

So here is my New Year's resolution. (Yes, I know it's October...but it's still a pretty new school year!) I am going to try to use this blog as a way of sorting out some of this information, as well as passing on what I have found. I plan to even try to make it through all 23 things when it is offered up this year. Does this mean that I will blog every day? Even I can't delude myself that much. I will start by making a much more modest goal - Once a week. Maybe I can handle that, and then work my way up to something a little more often and regular. No promises, but the best of intentions.

Stay tuned.....

Saturday, February 1, 2014

23 Mobile Things - Thing #5

Notetaking...something that I have been trying to use more and more since I got my tablet. I like the fact that I can take notes at meetings and keep them all in one place. I tend to end up with piles of pieces of paper that I have to go through, and hopefully not misplace.

I didn't really like the notes app that was on my phone when I first got that, so I downloaded one. I started with Lino. I was actually pretty happy with it. I can choose different "canvases", including a "someday" one. Great for those daydreams. You can create groups on it, see a calendar view of upcoming tasks, save favorites, save pictures, etc. Oh yeah, and you can take notes. I used this quite a bit for shopping lists.

My husband really likes ColorNote, and it definitely has it's strengths. I do like that you can sort the notes by color, and that there are many different ways that you can use it. Calendars, to do lists, shopping lists, a nice list of all the notes you have as well as the date that you made the lists. I'll admit that haven't really used it, because Lino was doing what I needed it to do. If you are looking for a simple note app, this would be a good one to check out.

My son turned me on to Google Keep. I really like it. It gives me the same kind of digital post it notes that I can move around on the page. I can also color code the notes. It is very simple to start a new note, and I can do this by using the keyboard, or by voice. I can keep pictures - either ones that I have taken, or found. It's very versatile for taking different kinds of notes. The thing I like most about it, is that it syncs with my gmail. It's nice to have all of my Google apps work with each other.

So, I was interested to try the ones that were recommended by 23 Mobile Things. I downloaded 2 out of the 4 apps. One, Dragon Dictation, is an Apple app only. That one obviously won't work with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. One of the other ones, Bamboo Paper, was supposedly available for Android, but I could not find it using a search of Google Play Store.

The first one I'll talk about is Remember the Milk. It's not a bad app. Fairly basic. It's easy to get started with, and it gives you a good overview of when your tasks are to be completed. Beyond that, I really didn't see much to recommend it for me. I can do these kinds of lists on just about any other note app that I have tried.

The second one was Springpad. I like that this has a lot of flexibility. To me, it kind of seems like a cross between a regular note app and Pinterest. You can search other peoples Notebooks and you can search by category. I can choose to save things like bookmarks, checklists, notes, TV shows, videos, places, recipes, barcodes, music, etc. I played around with the TV shows since this is different from other apps I have tried. I chose a couple of TV shows that I like and saved them. You can put comments on it, save it to multiple notebooks, or choose to tag the show. If you click on the TV show, you can choose to rent at Netflix, or to view on TVDB. If you have either of these memberships, I find it to be a nice shortcut. You can share the TV show, or save it as a favorite. I'm not sure how much I will use the features like searching other peoples notebooks as I am fully invested in Pinterest, but who knows? I do plan to try to use it for some upcoming meetings and shopping trips. We'll see if I like this portion more than Google Keep. If nothing else, I have found another fun toy to play with.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Forced Time Out from 23 Mobile Things boss, the librarian, keeps teasing me and telling me to stop learning. Due to a couple of things over which I have no control, I did just that. At least, when it comes to the 23 Mobile Things.

First of all, my tablet has decided to punish me if I let it run out of juice. If it gets to the point where it has so little charge that it shuts itself off, then it will take a full 2 days to charge up enough for me to turn it on. OK, fine, I just let it charge. I started looking at the list apps, but found that my attention was not grabbed enough to play with it too much on my phone.

Second, someone decided that they would go on a shopping spree using my PayPal account. Luckily for me, I have been using PayPal for all the purchases I made on Ebay and a couple of other sites. I have always felt a little more comfortable with the fact that I have only put my credit/debit card information on one site, without having to send it to multiple small, often out-of-country, retailers/vendors. Thank goodness that I did. I contacted PayPal when I had these unauthorized charges clear my checking account. They had already frozen my account and reversed the charges. They were very helpful, and even emailed me a letter to show to my bank since the third charge had sent my account into a negative balance, and I had been charged an overdraft fee. After taking care of this, and confirming that I was really me, I changed my password and they unfroze my account. It looks like it was just charges through PayPal, they didn't get my actual banking account information. I have always been very watchful for thing like phishing, and I'm not sure how someone hacked my account, but it happened. To be on the safe side, my husband & I went in and closed our current checking account, and opened a new one. Now I have to deal with all of the automatic payments and deposits that need to updated. Sigh.

Where to start? Make a list of all of the people that I needed to contact and what needed to be done. Wait! What was the item I was just working on? List & organization apps! Perfect. Now I know what to use them for. I started taking a look at them last night. Tonight will be a little more experimenting around...not to mention phone calls...and then I will post my next item tomorrow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

23 Mobile Things - Thing #4

Thing #4...Keeping Up

RSS Feeds. Once upon a time, I had Google Reader. Apparently, it helped keep me so up to date that I didn't even know that it ceased to exist all the way back in July of 2013. I just figured that maybe RSS feeds wouldn't work for me. I have problems enough keeping up with my Twitter Feed.

Little did I know that 23 Mobile Things would give me the solution to keeping up with with RSS feeds with the bonus that I'll be able to keep up with my Twitter. All in one App! I can do this using Flipboard. I downloaded it on my tablet, and took a look around. I really like the layout. Everything from the news to my Facebook feed to my Twitter feed, all on one page. I like the fact that I can add whatever I like to the page. I think I'll be using this one a lot.

The other app that they recommended was Zite. It is billed as a Personal Magazine. When you sign up for an account, they give you a checklist of things that you might be interested in. Then when you go into the app, it will give you articles that you might be interested in. I don't think that I will use this one quite as often, but it did bring up some very interesting articles that I really enjoyed reading.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

23 Mobile Things - Thing #3

Thing #3...Utilities

We all use utility apps if we have smartphones or tablets. Not that I knew that's what they were when I started with a smartphone. Then I got a tablet. I use apps every day, and not just those fun games like Candy Crush that I'm so addicted to. I've used Google Keep for my notes, Pandora for my music, Peel to control my TV, store apps to save money, not to mention the calendar & email apps that I use every day. So when this one came up, I was excited to try some new apps that I didn't really know about. Thing #3 was to choose at least one of the listed apps and give it a try. I decided to take a look at all of them.

The first one was RedLaser Barcode & QR Scanner. I get really excited about an app that promises to save me money. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. I tried it first on my tablet. My first disappointment was that it was not very compatible with the camera. It would not focus in on the barcode long enough to take the picture. Let's five it a second chance and try it on my phone. After all, it's my phone that I would have with me in stores if I want to compare prices. Good news, the camera feature worked just the way that it was supposed to. So I decided to do some searches for some simple things to start. Campbell soup. Every grocery store carries that. Here is where more disappointment came in.

These were the results. Target, Kmart, and I''m assuming a case of it from Staples. No Cub? Rainbow? Walmart? Hmmm...let's try another search.

Barilla Pasta...Target, Kmart, Walmart this time. Still no grocery stores.

 Pasta sauce to go with the pasta. No results?
Let's try something else. Ink for my printer. I'm always looking for a good price. It sure looks like it's a pretty universal price around here. I have many more results. I went and looked at the websites. Office Max, Best Buy, Office Depot...yep...same price. Exactly what the app said. I wonder how accurate the online prices are...

Here were my results. Ebay. That's kind of hard as auctions are ending all of the time.
Sears...I'll double check that one against the website.

RedLaser gave me a price of $13.49. Sears website...$19.49.

What did I learn from this? I don't think it's worth keeping on my tablet or phone. I didn't even try the QR code part of the app, but I have one on my phone that I am already happy with - QR Droid.

Next! Google Goggles. I have like just about everything that Google has introduced. This streak has continued. Google Goggles uses the camera on your device and uses that to find information on the internet. I started by pointing the camera at various things around my house. Most of the things brought up a variety of
results. Pictures, videos, definitions, websites, retailers. I like it. Ok...tried to take a picture of my cat. No matching results. Well, she is one of a kind! Overall, this is one app that I will leave on both my tablet and my phone.

Third item...Google Search. Really? Is there anyone that hasn't used it? It's still my go to search engine. Sorry Bing.

Fourth item. StandApp. Good premise. Bad app. I should have paid attention to the reviews on the app store. Nobody was giving it a good review. Well, all in the name of research.... All those reviews were right. I didn't like the app to begin with. I don't appreciate scare tactics, even when they are for my own good. the whole introduction. If you work in an office or sit to much, it could kill you. Wow! After the introduction I got into the actual app. No matter what you are in the middle of, it will pop up for you to do the exercises. 5 minutes worth. I can't always devote that amount of time at one shot. Ok, not horrible. It also opened up every time I tried to open up anything else. That is not cool. No wonder it got bad reviews. I found another one that got really good reviews. It's not as intrusive, but still encourages you to get up and move and gives you a timer and exercises. If you want to try one, this one is called Healthy Break. Only downfall, I can't test it out until Monday, because the breaks are set to go off only Monday through Friday 9AM to 5PM. I do like the simplicity that I have found so far.

Fifth item. iHome Sleep. I took a quick look at it, but realized that it was impractical in my life. I don't have a set schedule ever. Different times that I have to wake up when I have to drive my husband to work. Different times that I go to bed. Is this the healthiest thing for me, no, but it is a fact of life. It might be a good app, but I'll leave others to decide that.

Sixth item. Wi-Fi finder. I was hoping that I would get good results on my tablet when I am connected to the Wi-Fi here at home. I do not have a data plan on my tablet. It gave me good results for Wi-Fi around my house in people's homes. Not so good for public Wi-Fi. It couldn't pinpoint my location. Trying it out on my phone gave much better results. It found 3 paid public Wi-Fi and 13 Free Wi-Fi spots within a couple miles of my house. Most of these I knew about. Mcdonalds, Caribou, Etc. I think that this would be a really great app to use in an unfamiliar area.

Last but not least, Browsers. I took a look at Chrome, Firefox, Dolphin, and Opera. To be honest, most of them gave the same results on a search. Well, there's a big surprise. They all defaulted to Google Search. As for speed, Chrome and Dolphin had just the narrowest edge over Firefox and Opera. Coming down to Chrome and Dolphin, I stayed with Chrome, because I can sync up all of my favorites, and links between my phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. I'm already using it so why change.

Some winners, some losers, and an affirmation that I am a Google Girl. Overall, an interesting evening.