Monthly Archives: September 2010

Novell Identity Management and SIF

Doing some research on industry Identity Management (IdM) solutions and stumbled upon Novell’s Identity Manager (3.5.1) which has a SIF Agent plug-in.  The following case study may be of interest…

Alvarado Independent School District used Novell Identity Manager to automate user provisioning, and reduced administration time by 45 percent using Novell ZENworks @ http://www.novell.com/success/alvarado.html

How To Judge Your Vendor’s Support for a Standard

An interesting blog from Michael Feldstein about “How To Judge Your Vendor’s Support for a Standard” @ http://mfeldstein.com/how-to-judge-your-vendors-support-for-a-standard/

iPhone Photo Editing Apps

It was a bit of a leap of faith for me when switching from my reliable Blackberry Bold 9000, with its perfect little keyboard and reassuring security, to the iPhone 4. Much time was spent comparing the iPhone to the latest Bold and HTC Desire with its “get under the bonnet” Android OS. A few months in and I would never go back! In true Apple style the interface is incredibly intuitive and slick. The performance is brilliant. The screen is another level up from any other phone that I have seen or used. I’m spending about 40% of my computing and online time on the iPhone – something that I would never have thought feasible! See the “man bag” article to read more about this…

Anyway… I’ve started to explore the mega vault of apps that are available through iTunes (the Marmite of music, video and apps stores) and this post starts with a quick review of some of the free to cheap apps available.

Starting with photo editing apps that can really bring to life the great quality pics that the iPhone 4 is capable of taking!

ColorSplash costs $1.99 and is a great little app. Very simply ColorSplash allows you to load up an image, convert it to grayscale and then, using pinch pan and zoom and your finger, select the parts of the pic that you want in colour. Remarkably simple and really easy to use! Then you have a number of save or share options; straightforward save, email, copy to clipboard, upload to Facebook or Flickr and post to Twitter.

The following example took about 2 minutes and is shared on Flickr – and yes I will regret posting this one 😉

Next up is Mill Colour from UK based BAFTA and Oscar award winning visual effects company The Mill. This is a free app that in essence alows you to apply some great filters to your pics and play around with Lift, Gamma, Gain and Saturation.

Another example…

Colour Mill 2

Now for a little fun and free app called PuriPhoto which brings PuriKura photo booths, which iconify Japanese pop culture, to the iPhone. Again a very simple to use, possibly slightly girly app, that gives you a bit of “Scott Pilgrim Vs The World” photo editing fun!

Here’s a pretty mundane example but you get the idea 🙂

Colour Mill 1

Hipsatamatic was recommended to me by a reader… I’ve downloaded it and found myself going all analogue. It’s a serious app. The default films, lenses and flashes get you going, but there is always the temptaion to download more at about £0.59 a bundle. The app itself costs $1.99 and is worth every cent.

Output seems to be limited to 600×600 which is a shame – there may be an option to increase this though probably at a cost.

Here are some hip Old Skool snaps with old skool candy and classic Landy 😉

Hipstamatic and Fizz Wiz

And a modern classic…

Hipstamatic Land Rovers

Finally a not tremendously exciting but very practical and a free must have app is CropForFree which allows you to do just that. You can crop (and the guitar pic above is an example using this app) and rotate 90 degrees left or right. That’s it. Simple.

Apple’s iOS4.1 is out now and there is a very cool new functional addition that will help with your photo taking…

HDR
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, allows you to get perfectly exposed pictures by merging three snaps – one over exposed, one under exposed and one at correct exposure. When merged, you’ll see some pretty dramatic effects.

This is already available in more advanced photo editors such as Photoshop, but as an added extra to the iPhone’s camera it certainly takes the already much improved picture taking capability of the iPhone44 5 megapixel camera up a notch.

My Social Bookmarks

I have finally got myself a social bookmarking account on Delicious 🙂

I have been looking for online tools that could replace more traditional – or legacy – PC installed apps for the classroom. I will post reviews for each as and when friends and I get some time to try them out properly!

in the meantime have a look at http://www.delicious.com/f2mke and why not leave your own reviews in the comments section below.?!

Education, Skills and Children’s Services: Interoperability Review

F2MKE Logo

I have read and digested this, re-read and re-digested… My initial thoughts are that, while the overall premise is absolutely correct in terms of the potential savings that an open interoperability standard can deliver across the sector, it doesn’t seem to present any logic in the suggested dismissal of SIF as a strong contender for development to meet the requirements.

I agree that SIF does have some shortcomings at present, but these are clearly recognised by the community and the will and swell of collaborative activity between schools, LAs, RBCs, Government departments and very importantly, suppliers, is without doubt there! The community approach, of which I have been a part since mid 2007, is an extremely refreshing and productive one. Indeed, it is the only approach that I can see being plausible in the development of a truly open standard. Just look at the make-up of the W3C and that clearly works!

The work of the http://www.escs-isb.org.uk/ is critical and there is no reason why the SIF standard cannot mature to deliver on the business and data standards set out.

The report provides examples of the current weaknesses in the SIF standard, but does not mention any of the positive aspects – aspects that I can clearly evidence as already delivering tangible and intangible benefits in terms of efficiencies and education. 14 to 19 is not excluded here either!

Finally, for now, the report fails to mention any alternative standard with which to ether compare or build upon.

Have a look at the following link for the full story and in the meantime, I will digest some more 😉

http://publications.education.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DFE-00523-2010&

So… What do you really think?

If you are reading this, then the likelihood is that you got here via the web and your internet browser after reading a Twitter or Facebook post, searching Google, or whatever… You probably have an interest in technology and maybe its use in education?

So… What do you really think?

I’m a keeny beany when it comes to getting your feedback and where better than using this blog?

– Do you think that web apps can replace traditional classroom ICT tools for good?

– What sorts of devices do you think are really suitable for everyday use?

– What will a classroom or school of the future look like?

– What do you really think?

Post your replies here and I’ll publish ’em 🙂

Smart Phones – a serious contender for everyday productivity & learning..?

Small is beautiful! But is it really practical?

I rely on being connected with access to my key apps, communication tools and unlimited supply of information – increasingly location specific. I’m also (slowly) trying to reduce the amount of stuff and clutter that I have, both at home and when out and about. I’ll always aspire to the minimalist way of life but acknowledge that this will never be a reality 😉

So, if it is a given that the ‘manbag’ is now as acceptable as the male handbag in our cosmopolitan existence, then this is a good starting point for stuff limitation.

Indiana Jones with his Manbag

Indiana Jones with his Manbag

My starting point back in 2006 was a manbag capable of housing a Samsung Q1, mobile phone and wallet. Although smaller than a standard laptop bag, with dimensions to support a 15-17″ device, my look was bulky and still reasonably weighty. I could link the mobile phone up to the Q1 to get a vague shot at internet access – the phone, a Samsung D400, alone was a no hoper on the web and apps front despite being the latest and supposedly greatest at the time.

Samsung Q1 and D400

Samsung Q1 and D400

And ultimately, the Q1 was not a heap better. The screen resolution was just not up to scratch and the battery life, although good compared to your standard laptops of the time, barely managed a couple of hours after a year’s regular use.As soon as it was possible for me to do so, I had moved back to a laptop – a Dell 430 which was about as small as I deemed practically feasible at the time. In the mobile stakes it proved pretty useless after a short while with dreadful battery life the main problem. Didn’t fit the manbag either!

Dell D430

Dell D430

Then came the Samsung NC10. Ultra mobile perfection when it arrived and still holds its own today! A usable screen, keyboard and awesome battery life that has not seemingly diminished in over 2 years of use! Plenty of connectivity options to boot and extremely well built. I firmly believe that the NC10 and its successors and imitators are currently the only way to go in the classroom, mobile working and just plain old social-wise.

Samsung NC10

Samsung NC10

And now comes the SMART phone. And I say now despite the existence of this marketplace for quite some time. It is really only over the past few years that these devices have become a practical mobile alternative to supporting short burst communication and productivity tasks. I started with the Blackberry Bold 9000… I wasn’t ready for touch screen and found the excellent keyboard and track-pad reassuring and surprisingly nimble to use. So, here I was in a position to downsize the manbag – well most of the time – email was a doddle, Facebook kept me socially connected and a decent web browser teamed with manageable screen size and GPS gave me access to most of the info that I needed most of the time. Battery life was also good enough – I’m quite happy for the overnight charging routine! Where the Bold fell down at the time was around the apps available and their true ease of use within the screen real estate and keyboard navigation.

iPhone 4_& HTC Desire

iPhone 4 & HTC Desire

With great trepidation (for me anyway), I took the slightly more expensive plunge for the iPhone 4… The closest competition seemed to be the HTC Desire with Google Android OS. Reviews suggested that there was little between the two; the main being that the iPhone just worked, was intuitive and had the best wealth and integration of apps. The Android OS gives you more geek factor in terms of getting under the bonnet.

I’m hooked! I can’t say that the iPhone replaces my little Samsung NC10. But it’s a 40/60 % split in use between the two. The iPhone is spot on for short tasks like viewing and small edits with Google Apps and other office tools.  I’m posting on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. Photo stuff is a breeze with Flickr and Facebook. Dropbox and ZumoDrive keep everything stored and synchronised. And that’s without the many, many other apps that float my boat! Internet access with location services, music, talking and so on is all without effort – and I can go on a bit on the talking front! The option to pinch and zoom and switch between portrait and landscape at the flick of a wrist makes for a strong case for the size being really practical. Battery life still fits with the overnight charge regime and that’s despite comparatively far greater use.

More time spent with some of the apps that could be relevant to education is now needed to round this article off!