Oct 21, 2013

Passwords and all that security stuff

With all the security scares in the news, people are scrambling to change their passwords. So, here's my take on the subject. In fact, this is what I did/do in my own life. First, separate all your logins into three categories: the critical ones, the important ones and everything else. The distinction between these categories is the amount of aggravation and losses you would suffer if a malicious person were to steal your login and completely take over your account.

Sep 25, 2013


If you want to read up on Chromebook capabilities and setup, try support.google.com/chromebook/


If you have been trying out Chromebooks and need to do a task for which on your Windows/Mac laptop you have specific software -- despair not. The site, aboutchromebook.com, provides information on Chromebook apps or online apps to accomplish those tasks. It's a good place to start, but do not be surprised if you hit inaccurate entries. A very good place to check for online apps (for any computer, not just Chromebook) is TechSupportAlert.com


To enable printing, you need to setup Google's Cloud Print. To do this (one-time) setup, use the Chrome browser on a PC/Mac that can access the desired printer. Follow the instructions enable the Google Cloud Print connector. How do you print? See Print a page or the how-to video at youtu.be/8fPR5A2pg3k. Reference for cloud-printing info:  support.google.com/cloudprint

Microsoft Word

If you need to edit Word documents, read Office Document Editor for Chromebooks

Sep 13, 2013

Finding answers to tech support questions

I made a custom Google search that looks only in  recommended technology support sites. So, if you have a technical question, try it out. I've also put it in the "Search Tools" page on this blog.

Search good techsupport sites

If you want to know what these sites are, here's the list:
Tech Support Guy
5-Star Support
Techie 7
Suggest A Fix
About Guide on PC Support
Virtual Dr
Bleeping Computer

Jul 24, 2013

Authoring your own electronic textbook for you class

Many teachers use their own collection of materials for their classes, rather than a single textbook. In this day and age, creating an electronic version of such materials should be painless. In this post, we find out otherwise.


The first step in our process is to choose a format for our electronic end product. We want a widely-used multimedia-enabled ebook format that the students can view and annotate/highlight on any platform, including mobile devices.  Apple's iBook format is proprietary and only works on Apple devices. Adobe's PDF format can be viewed and annotated on all platforms, but it is still a proprietary format. The only viable remaining choice is the EPUB format (short for electronic publication). There are many apps on all platform that can view and annotate EPUB files, and the most recent version of this format, EPUB3, allows embedding of audio and video files.

Now all we need is an authoring software or platform that can package our materials into an EPUB book. Here are the features that I think a teacher-author would want from an ebook authoring software:
  1. Easy to use ... a teacher should not need to be a techie to create an EPUB book
  2. Imports standard documents ... a teacher needs the ability to include their existing documents, such as Word files, PDF files, HTML (web pages), etc 
  3. Incorporates multimedia ... a teacher should be able to include multimedia materials, such as images, audio, video, links, and these materials should be embedded within the ebook so that they "play" within the ebook app
  4. Update-able end product ... a teacher must be able to make changes and distribute the updated version to students
Requirement 3 needs clarification. Many authoring platforms incorporate audio and video multimedia by putting a link to the multimedia file, rather than embedding it within the ebook. It seems a minor point, but the continuity of the "reading" experience for the user is compromised if, in order to play every media clip, the user must switch between the ebook app and a different app capable of playing the media. The user may have to download this other app, it may have a completely different user interface, and on many mobile devices, there is no simple way to return back to the previous app (i.e. the ebook). This makes the in-app playing of media files a "must" for the authoring platform output.