Tech enhanced narcissism is now more dangerous than sharks

The death toll of officially recorded selfie-related deaths currently stands at 12, shark deaths are currently at 8.

http://mashable.com/2015/09/21/selfie-deaths/#xbqR1cMJskqm

Previous incidents this year include a man who was gored to death taking a picture during a bull run in a Spanish town, and two men who accidentally blew themselves up in the Russian Ural mountains when posing with a live grenade. The picture was discovered saved to the camera roll on one of the men’s phones.”

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/22/live-grenades-bull-chases-clifftops-selfies-death-toll

It may be that the Darwin Awards will need a whole separate category for Selfie related deaths.  For those who aren’t aware of the Darwin Awards

“the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.   Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”

Something to think about before you buy a selfie stick.

Weekend Funny – MTV awards feud explained in emojis

First – I could care less about pop stars feuding.

emoji feud

http://www.wired.com/2015/09/nicki-minaj-miley-cyrus-beef-explained-emojis/

Second – While this is a gag, it is a reflection on how our language is evolving.   As the current young generation of tech users disperse into the workforce (if they ever leave home and learn how to wash their own clothes) it’s not hard to see communication via emojis, animated gifs and text abbreviations become established as the unofficial  universal language.  Unlike top down universal languages like Esperanto, this is an evolutionary  grassroots change.

It is conceivable that the “Queens English” becomes the isolated language of the bureaucracy, much like Latin in the  medieval Catholic Church.

Or, it could be that emojis are rejected by the next generation as symbols of oppression by the smart phone obsessed old fogey millennials who are keeping them out of jobs and don’t how to use washing machines.

Tech giants stab at Flash with pointy sticks

Actually that’s not really the headline.   Some of the big players (Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix, but not Apple or FB) are coming together to create an open source video format for internet video that they don’t have to pay royalties to use.

flash stick

They are actually poking at  H.265 (the successor to H.264)  put together by  ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group and ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). I’m not sure what this means for us in education?  Backwards compatibility is paramount for us.  Will Firefox and Chrome bail on the older H.264 video (e.g. MP4) .  How easy will it be to convert our current resources to the new format? Here’s a basic report from Wired https://www.wired.com/2015/06/whats-wrong-flying-pterosaurs-jurassic-world/http://www.wired.com/2015/09/techs-biggest-names-unite-create-new-video-format/ Those with a technical bent might want to read this The Streaming Industry Gangs up on HEVC with the Alliance for Open Video http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/Commentary-The-Streaming-Industry-Gangs-up-on-HEVC-with-the-Alliance-for-Open-Video-106115.aspx

Robot tutor – not as cool as it sounds (but it’s free)

Actually only Wired magazine called it a robot.  It’s actually Knewton.com’s adaptive learning platform.

Basically,  students enter some info about learning preferences and the system hunts though it’s collection of resources for something that matches it.  If the student gets a question wrong the system finds a simpler resource.

It’s not that ground breaking, but what it does have is a large collection to resources that anyone can add to, and it’s now free (it was previously available via publishers like Pearson).

Knewton.com figures out what each student knows and how each student learns best, to pinpoint the type of content, level of difficulty, and which media format each student needs. Its technology can take any free open content, algorithmically calibrate it, and bundle it into a uniquely personalized lesson for each student at any moment.

Anyone who wants to learn or teach a subject can use Knewton.com. Knewton.com helps teachers, tutors and parents provide more personalized lessons. Students at any level can reach their academic goals at their own pace, and get extra help or more advanced lessons.

Some tips for buying a teaching video camera

The first thing to say is dollar for dollar, any current camera is better than the 5 year old one you may be using now.   I’m not going to provide an exhaustive list of features, just a few things that could trip up.

Panasonic HC-X920 3D Ready HD 3MOS Digital Camcorder with Wi-fi (black)

My basic premise is you want a camera that the average academic can use to record an event in a lecture theatre.   Best quality for the minimum effort.

  • Records in MP4 format – Staff should be able to put a compressed file straight into Moodle or YouTube with out doing any conversion.  Most cameras do this, but not all, and some of their formats don’t work well in some programs e.g. Camtasia is finicky about audio codecs (AC3) and Windows Movie Maker can’t handle the High Definition format MTS used in most major brands.
  • Fold out view finder that turns 180 degrees so people ca see themselves – this is pretty much standard now but check for it anyway
  • Has a physical remote control – This removes the need to clip the start and finish of your recording.  Staff can sit down, get their hair right, and take a deep breath before pushing the record button.  It turns out this is probably the main thing that will limit your options.    Many cameras now use OS and Android apps, which is fine if you are lending out a smart phone with each camera, and providing instructions on how to sync up the devices.

And don’t forget a tripod.  You don’t need a top of the range item, but don’t go too cheap.  Aluminum tripods are fairly rugged and cheap.  Personally I prefer having a mid level spreader for more stability.  Make sure the head doesn’t make any noise when you move it around.

If you have you own tips, let me know.

Audio is also important but I’ll deal with that later.

Weekend funny – Media and toy makers are getting dinosaurs wrong

Don’t mess with the dinosaur geeks.

(First National Pictures)
The Lost World (1925), First National Pictures

While the rest of us are going “oooh that’s so cool,” they are sitting in a barely controlled rage.

What’s Wrong With the Flying Pterosaurs in Jurassic World

“In conclusion, I think that the flying animals in Jurassic World are not real and instead the producers used some type of computer generated graphics to depict the motion of the pterosaurs.”
http://www.wired.com/2015/06/whats-wrong-flying-pterosaurs-jurassic-world/

A Dinosaur Expert Critiques Dinosaur Toys

http://www.neatorama.com/2015/06/12/A-Dinosaur-Expert-Critiques-Dinosaur-Toys/

Windows 10 info

There are a few conspiracy theories and a bit of confusion about MS giving away free Win 10 upgrades.

Basically,

  • it is free,
  • it works well,
  • it is a vehicle for MS to sell you stuff (although how intrusive this is remains to be seen).
  • it does have some dodgy privacy settings, but you can turn them off.

It looks like MS is shifting it’s revenue model.  It apparently makes very little on upgrades  so it is giving away a system that will make it easier for you to buy related MS services and apps

http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsofts-windows-monetization-plan-services-are-the-new-attach/

It looks like a good system, but the upgrade process has been problematic for some people.
http://www.windowscentral.com/errors-windows-10-upgrade-fix

Here is a collection of reviews (very positive)
http://www.engadget.com/products/microsoft/windows/10/

There are some dodgy default privacy setting, but you can configure them
http://bgr.com/2015/07/31/windows-10-upgrade-spying-how-to-opt-out/

Should you upgrade?  PC Adviser says ‘yes’.

The OS is clean, familiar, and easy to understand, plus it has a wealth of new, helpful features that you’ll actually want to use. The fact that it’s free for the majority of existing Windows users, and can be rolled back quickly to the previous version if you don’t like it, really makes it very, very easy to recommend.

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/feature/windows/should-i-upgrade-windows-10-advice-better-3618139/

Personally, I’d wait until the next update in October.  The truism when dealing with MS is “never get version 1”.

A couple of remote teleprompter apps

Here are 2 apps to look at, one from each church.  There are quite a few out there but these 2 appear to be better than most

Android

Prompter for Android. 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.georgesdick.prompter&hl=en

Tablets have remarkable capabilities for video production, and one of the best uses teams a tablet up with mobile apps for use as a teleprompter. Now anyone can have clean, clear dialog using professional video tools.This free app from MonacoDevDroid has mirror mode, full screen mode, and can read plain text. You can add copy on the fly, directly in the prompter or copy and paste with ease. The app runs remotely using Bluetooth and has a built-in timer so you know how long your segment runs.

IOS

Teleprompt+ 3
https://itunes.apple.com/app/teleprompt+-3/id859980419?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D6

Teleprompt+ 3 adds rich text support for inline formatting, a quick edit mode to make last-minute changes to displayed text without leaving the current session, and a new design for a Universal app that runs on both the iPad and iPhone. Because it’s an app Teleprompt+ takes advantage of iOS to enable features like remote control for multiple devices (have a technician adjust text and speed on a master device while text is displayed on a second iPhone or iPad), Dropbox import for text, and audio and video recording through the built-in microphone and cameras.

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