Fri, 29 December 2006
We have spent a lot of time the last few months discussing the excitement and benefits of Web 2.0 technologies but have not spent much time discussing the inherent vulnerabilities of these technologies. Earlier this month the application security experts at SPI Dynamics Inc. put their collective heads together and took a look at the threat landscape for 2007. Specifically, the researchers identified seven threats that they expect to be prevalent during 2007. In this podcast we take a look at this SPI white paper and discuss these threats.
SPI Dynamics Website: www.spidynamics.com
Sun, 17 December 2006
In our previous discussion regarding gaming we learned about Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games or MMORPGs. Among the most popular was World of Warcraft. This week we consider The Webware Wars. Among the factors that have led to the proliferation of webware are: increased adoption of high-speed internet, greater bandwidth, cheap storage and a new dynamic and interactive web architecture enable by a collection of technologies referred to as Web 2.0 and AJAX. Everybody's getting into the act, including big players like Microsoft and Google, and little fish like Zoho and Thinkfree.
Mike, let's start out with what we have been using the longest - What are some of the New Features in Google Docs and Spreadsheets?
As with any Google product, new features are quietly added with little notice or fanfare. Since we last talked about Google docs and Spreadsheets (GDS), there have been a number of additions and improvements - mostly on the spreadsheets side of the house. The first addition is actually within Gmail - Google's popular web-based email. In the past, when a Gmail user received an email attachment (either word or excel) the only option was to open the attachment as an an html document-viewing only, or download and open the attachment. Now when a users receives an excel document, the have the option of opening that spreadsheet directly in GDS - presumably, a similar functionality will eventually be available for word documents.
Can you describe GoogleLookup?
This a new feature in the spreadsheets portion of the GDS that takes advantage of the online nature of GDS. In fact, it's a formula in the spreadsheet that attempts to answer a question by using information from the web. The syntax is fairly straightforward:
Some examples include:
What are some of the entity types you can look up?
Here are some of the types of entities you can access using GoogleLookup, and a few popular attribute names (some entities won't have all these attributes, and some will have more, so experiment):
While GoogleLookup provides access to a wide variety of data, another new feature, GoogleFinance provides just financial data pulled from Google Finance. Using a similar syntax, you can look up the price of Google stock [=GoogleFinance("GOOG")] or the 52-week high of Apple [=GoogleFinance("AAPL", "HIGH52")]. And since this type of data changes fairly frequently, they are updated in your spreadsheet automatically.
How has Publishing Improved?
Google has also improved web-based publishing of spreadsheets. You can publish your entire spreadsheet (or just one sheet of it) so that other people can view it as HTML, or PDF - without having to sign in to a Google Account. The HTML even updates is the original spreadsheet changes.
Last week in Houston you demo'ed something called Thinkfree - can you tell us about that?
A new addition to the webware wars is Thinkfree and their online office suite. Like GDS, Thinkfree provides online access to Word and Excel documents - what differentiates it is the addition of powerpoint and the ability to create charts in calc - their version of Excel. Thinkfree provides 1 Gig of space for their Thinkfree Write, Calc and Show suite. The collaboration and revisioning features are very similar to GDS. I would rate the interface a little cleaner and more user-friendly - Thinkfree refers to your online documents as your webtop, as opposed to your desktop. Like GDS, the architecture is AJAX-based, but Thinkfree uses JAVA as well. Another interesting feature that the Thinkfree suite provides is a doc exchange - an online repository that users can publish their documents to and share with one another - in fact this feature allows for a variety of creative commons licensing options. Another neat option is the Bulletin Board - sort of a guest book, where you can view all of your published and blogged files, collaborate with other Thinkfree users and get feedback from people all over the world.
Another unique thing about Thinkfree's Online office suite is that it's just one of a number of products that they have launched. In addition to the free online version, there are commercial versions available including a server version, a desktop version and a portable version. The desktop and server versions are cross-platform, running on Windows, MAC and Linux and are reasonably priced ($50 desktop, server pricing starts at $30 per user per year). The portable addition runs on a U3 drive - similar to a USB drive, but with the ability to run applications - see http://www.u3.com/default.aspx for more info on U3 technology. Finally, there's a version of portable show (powerpoint) for the iPod.
Are there any other applications we should take a look at?
Not nearly as far along in development as either GDS or Thinkfree is Solodox. In fact, on their website, the product is listed as an alpha - in the nomenclature of software development and testing, alpha-testing is internal testing that occurs before the software is made available to the public for beta-testing. So why bother discussing a product that's not ready for prime time? Well what's unique about Solodox is that in addition to providing a web-based word processor with features similar to other such products (creating, editing and sharing documents) Solodox And Solodox supports English, Japanese and Chinese.
Where is Microsoft going with this webware technology?
In the December 4 issue of Business Week Seattle Bureau Chief Jay Greene interviewed Kevin Johnson, co-president of Microsoft's platform and services division, which makes Windows, and Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, which is responsible for Office. Here's a couple of quotes from this interview:
In the Web 2.0 world where everything seems to be moving online, it almost seems anachronistic to be talking about packaged software.
RAIKES: The new world of computing is the combination of software and services, and Microsoft is very, very focused on that services opportunity. I think the point that some of the competition misses is they think of it as an either/or situation when in reality it's an "and" situation--it's software and services, and you use the combination to do the best job for the customer.
But doesn't the growing importance of the Web and all sorts of devices require Microsoft to take a different approach?
RAIKES: You might think the core of our business is the PC. That's the misconception. The core of our business is software. And the software can be applied to the PC, the software can be applied to the server. When K.J. [Johnson] was joining the company [14 years ago], servers were kind of just getting started for us. Now we're big in game consoles. Did we want to get into Xbox because we wanted to be a hardware company? No, Xbox is a vehicle that allows us to deliver software. Zune is about software. So we are about software, and if you stick to that understanding of our company, then it's a lot easier to see how we transform.
You can find the entire interview at: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_49/b4012009.htm
The pricing has me a bit concerned: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/FX101754511033.aspx
Mon, 4 December 2006
In this session we'll take a look at a few of the common social media applications including mySpace, Facebook and Flickr. We'll also look at some applications that are designed specifically for academic use.
Gordon, can you tell us a little more about
what these social media tools?
How about some examples?
del.icio.us: http://del.icio.usFacebook is probably a good example of what many of our students are using. Can you use as an example of how these work with some detail?
Letâ��s take a look at the Facebook website site tour. [Source: http://www.facebook.com/sitetour/]
Iâ��ve heard about social media applications that extend beyond the desktop. Can you give an additional example?
Mobile location-based service that functions using â��devices formally known as cell phonesâ�� and text messaging. See website for demo.
Are there any specific academic applications?
Is there a good comprehensive list of social media application links?
Sure â�� Wikipedia maintains a great list that is linked up in the shownotes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
How about academic applications?
Blackboard/WebCT (www.blackboard.com) â�� RSS not available yet
Moodle (www.moodle.org) has a basic blogging tool. It has the capacity to add tags and create RSS feeds for the other people in your course/class.
â�� Moodle is an â��open sourceâ�� applicationâ�¦â�¦
Other Course Management Systems [samples from www.wikipedia.org]
ANGEL Learning (commercial)
Brihaspati (Open source, commercial version also)
Dokeos (open source)
LON-CAPA (open source)
.LRN (open source)
Sakai Project (open source)
WebCT (commercial, owned by Blackboard Inc.)
Sat, 25 November 2006
Flat World Strategies: Online Games People Play
Overview: According to wikipedia.com: MMORPGs are online Role Playing Games (RPG's) in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world. As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a fictional character (most commonly in a fantasy setting) and take control over many of that character's actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player RPGs by the number of players, and by the game's persistent world, usually hosted by the game's publisher, which continues to exist and evolve while the player is away from the game.
Today business and industry (including Intel and IBM) along
with academic institutions (including Harvard and the
A social network is a social structure made of nodes which are generally individuals or organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds. The term was first coined in 1954 by J. A. Barnes (in: Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish, "Human Relations"). The maximum size of social networks tends to be around 150 people and the average size around 124 (Hill and Dunbar, 2002).
Social networking also refers to a category of Internet applications to help connect friends, business partners, or other individuals together using a variety of tools. These applications, known as online social networks are becoming increasingly popular. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking
MMORPGs Your Future Students are Playing
Ones Your Current Students are Playing
Maple Story: http://www.maplestory.com/
Final Fantasy 11: http://www.playonline.com/ff11us/index.shtml
Second Life: http://secondlife.com
What is Business Doing?
IBM Second Life Story:
What about education :
Second Life Community: Education
Example: Harvard Law
in the Court of Public Opinion
20 Minute Second Life Harvard Tutorial Video: http://cm.dce.harvard.edu/2006/01/82002/P11/seg1/index_SingleHighBandwidth.html
Tue, 21 November 2006
Have you ever been working collaboratively on a document, either with one other person or multiple people? Have you been frustrated looking through your computer or your email for the most recent version or even an older version that that has something you've since deleted? Worse yet, have you ever been looking for that file wondering if the most recent version is on my work computer, my laptop, my home computer, my email or any number of usb drives I have laying around - or even worse yet on someone else's computer. What about collaboration - sending a file around by email, everyone adds their comments and you have to try to put it all together - what a hassle. And who can stand to read documents with track changes turned on. Well there's a new class of applications called webware coming to the rescue!
Gordon: Mike - what is webware?
Webware is an online software application that trys to replicate the richness and responsiveness of a traditional desktop application. What's really made this even remotely possible is the widespread adoption of high-speed or broadband internet and a new architecture for the Web (Web 2.0 and
Gordon: I know we've been using Google Docs and Spreadsheets - can you give our audience an overview of how these applications function?
Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a fairly full-featured online word processor and spreadsheet editor that enables you, your colleagues and your students to create, store and share documents and spreadsheets. It's this sharing - the collaboration - that's really exciting! Sharing enables you to decide who can access and edit documents, and even better, all changes are kept in a document revisions history. You can create documents from scratch or upload existing documents and spreadsheets. Other than a web browser and a network connection, there's no software required, and all your documents are stored safely online and accessible from any network-connected computer. Some of the neat features include being able to save documents to Word, spreadsheets to Excel and either (documents or spreadsheets) to HTML or PDF. The Spreadsheets even have a panel that allows collaborators to have a live chat regarding the spreadsheet. A particularly useful feature - AUTOSAVE - means you never have to remember to save your work!
How are people using it? Teachers are publishing announcements about upcoming assignments and monitoring student progress via the revision history. In the revision history, you can see clearly who contributed to what assignment and when; if a student says he or she worked on a given project for five hours, it will be documented (no more "dog ate my homework" excuses). Additionally, faculty are using GDS to keep track of grades, attendance, student projects and assignments. Students are using GDS to stay organized and work more effectively. Google Docs & Spreadsheets helps promote group work and editing skills, and encourages multiple revisions and peer editing. Students can go online to collaborate with other students, teachers, parents, relatives and tutors, and enter updates anytime from anywhere. And through their revisions history, kids can check how they've revised a document and who has helped. Not to be outdone, Google spreadsheets allows students to track their grades, assignments, semester goals, baseball statistics, car expenses, or anything else that interests them.
Gordon: Can you give us some more examples of how these can be used?
Consider the example of a high school English and journalism teacher who uses Google Docs & Spreadsheets to help facilitate students' work and has found significant improvement in their writing. Among the reasons she gives, GDS:
- facilitates peer editing and revising,
- allows for multiple versions of an assignment,
- allows her to see who students collaborated with and when,
- prevents students from losing documents either by failing to save or having crashed hard drives, and
- provides 24/7 access to their documents from anywhere in the world.
Adds the teacher - "It has changed the way I teach writing... for the better!!"
Imagine the way you could use GDS in your work - collaborating with colleagues to develop curriculum, a budget or even complete committee work - the possibilities are endless - take it for a spin and let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike: Gordon, there's been 3 new products released in the last week - the Zune, the Wii and the PS3. Can you give us a quick update?Zune
Microsoft's Zune digital media player came out a week ago and has had mixed reviews.
Looks including color choices of white, gray or brown
Connectivity: 802.11 b/g with range up to 30 feet
Zune's wireless song-sharing functions (many are calling this aa killer app), which allow users to digitally "loan" songs to other Zunes. Those loaned songs disappear from the devices after three plays. The song-swapping capability has been dubbed "squirting." Microsoft is working on other uses for squirting, and has called the song exchange a good first step in using the technology. Although the wireless sharing does not allow users to expand their music libraries permanently, it could give Zune owners a way to try out music and see if they like certain songs enough to buy them.
Weight, which is heavy for a digital media player, coming in at 5.6 ounces.
Critical mass is not there yet - yes you can do file sharing with other Zune users but how many people do you know that have bought one?Time will tell!
Mike: How about the Sony PS3 and the Nintendo Wii?
Looking at www.gametalk.com and the Next Generation Console Debate forum where people discuss Xbox 360 vs Wii vs PS3 you get the usual fans - and most of these people are pretty dedicated to their favorite platform. I (or correction - my kids) got a Wii and I get it play it sometimes. When I do get to play it - it is incredible. The controller - what I like to refer to as the user interface - is incredible. It's wireless and what I would probably call like a wand or a television remote control. You swing the wireless controller like a baseball bat or golf club or tennis racket. You can even simulate the throwing of a bowling ball. You can also attach the optional nunchuck controller and play two handed games like boxing. On the gametalk website there are lots of people complaining about sore arms - I know you sent me a tongue in cheek link written at Scientific American titled: Could the Nintendo Wii Reverse the Childhood Obesity Trend? Based on my own personal experience I think it could. Yesterday I threw 120 pitches in 7 innings and ended up having to ice my arm!:) Seriously - it can and does provide an excellent workout. I'm waiting for Nintendo to come out with Velcro sensors you wrap around your ankles. This would allow both the feel and arms to move - think of the potential - DDR for all 4 limbs!!
The Nintendo is about half the price of the high end PS3. I have not used a PS3 so can't provide much comment on usability. The control has some limited motion capabilities but not like the Wii. The graphics are supposed to be incredible.
Mike: What about the Microsoft Xbox 360?
The 360 is sorta old news believe it or not. It launched in March of 2005 so it's tough to compare to the new products from Nintendo and Sony.
We'll have to put together a separate podcast comparing these products once my arm gets better!!!
Microsoft's Zune Garners Mixed Reviews: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20061120/bs_nf/48070
Zune Website: http://www.zune.net
Could the Nintendo Wii Reverse the Childhood Obesity Trend?: http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=could_the_nintendo_wii_reverse_the_child&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1
Mon, 13 November 2006
On November 6, 2006, BroadLogic Network Technologies, a San Jose chip manufacturer, announced The World's First Massively Parallel, Multi-Channel Video Processor, a terapixel-speed video processing chip that will allow cable providers to recover bandwidth that can then be used to deliver more high definition channels, video on demand and high bandwidth data services without major network upgrades.
Mike: Gordon, before we discuss the Boradlogic product, can you give us an idea of how current cable delivery systems work?
Traditional cable delivery systems work by allocating 6MHz of analog bandwidth for each channel. Most cable providers offer approximately 80 channels that consume (6 MHz/channel x 80 channels) 480 MHz of bandwidth. Typical cable networks provide only 750 MHz of bandwidth and with 480 MHz used for video, there is not much left for other services.
Let's think about this a little bit more - one channel consumes 6 MHz of bandwidth but it takes 480 MHz of bandwidth to deliver that single channel to your TV while "wasting" (480 MHz - 6 Mhz) 474 MHz of bandwidth. Not very efficient even if you have a few TV's going in your house watching different channels at the same time. In summary and according to an article at Light Reading and linked in the show notes:
Each analog channel consumes 6 MHz of capacity (or roughly 1/125th of the total capacity of an upgraded cable plant). Re-claiming that channel slot frees up enough capacity to launch 2 more channels in HDTV (each of which consumes about 2.4 MHz), or ten more digital Standard Definition (SD) channels (each of which consumes about 0.6 MHz), another ten QAMs, each capable of delivering an additional VOD stream, or more broadband [Internet] capacity.
Many of the hundreds of digital broadcast TV channels a cable operator delivers are not being watched at any given time. It is a network inefficiency that can be remedied by simply switching off those channels that are not being watched. By reclaiming much of this analog spectrum, splitting fiber nodes, and employing switched broadcast video (SBV) techniques, there is lots of room for cable to expand service offerings, including HDTV and VOD.
SBV has attracted major interest to this point and involves the delivery of all 80 or so channels in digital format Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ it works but requires every attached TV in the house to be connected through a set-top box with each box having its own remote controller - we have 6 connected TVs in my home now so 6 boxes plus 6 more controllers - expensive and we have enough time keeping track of a single remote.
Light Reading says Comcast Corp. has an aggressive plan to cut the average number of analog channels it carries in half over the next five years, from 70 to 35. That means moving some three dozen basic cable networks from analog to digital-only carriage.
This is where things get interesting:
Until digital penetration reaches 100% being left off the analog tier means reduced distribution. And that means lower affiliate fees, and lower advertising revenue.
It's gonna be slow because subscribers will not want to pay for the extra boxes, will not have room for them on their shelves, etc.
This means the programmers will fight this tooth and nail. Ironically, it is SBV that may well help prove their case is built on a house of cards. Cable TV programming networks sell themselves to advertisers based on their total distribution footprint - say 40, 60, or 80 million homes. The metric is bogus, as only a small fraction of homes are viewing it. With SBV, MSOs will have all the statistical details on who is watching, and eventually, so will advertisers.
Mike: So last week along comes Broadlogic, what does this product do?
According to Broadlogic website:
The BL80000 TeraPIX chip is capable of decoding dozens of digital video streams and generating a full analog and digital service tier, including an 80-plus analog channel lineup, that any number of cable-ready devices (TVs, DVRs, PCs with tuner cards, etc.) can view, plus up to 160SD or 50HD programs.
The TeraPIX processor powers a new type of Residential Gateway, installed outside or just inside a residence, which allows the network to be all-digital, while subscribers continue to receive the cable-ready analog video, digital video, high speed data and voice services they crave. Conventional set-top boxes output one channel at a time and thus feed only one TV. Cable MSOs can use this technology to take their networks all digital, thus tripling their digital capacity at a time when rising content and competitive requirements demand it.
Mike: It sounds like the Broadlogic chip may be a much more cost effective solution - can you give more detail?
More according to Broadlogic website:
The BroadLogic TeraPIX video processor works by decoding bandwidth-conserving digital video signals delivered by a cable operator, and generating 80-plus high-quality channels of television. Cable operators get their extra bandwidth, and consumers get the channel lineups they're used to without having to get more set-tops, run more coax, or lose more remotes.
The TeraPIX processor enables solutions that support virtually all existing analog and digital consumer devices. For example, if a subscriber has a DVR set-top from their cable operator, the digital signals are passed through TeraPIX to the DVR.
The price of an individual chip is around $300 when purchased in bulk (1000 or greater numbers) and cable companies are saying this could be a cost effective way to increase network bandwidth.
The technology is moving at such an incredible pace and it is easy to see more bandwidth and more applications and, from an academic perspective, the ability to provide more and more quality IP delivered content to our students at a distance. Very exciting stuff and - what's next??
Mike: Let's change the subject a bit - I know you took a train ride last week and performed an interesting "experiment". Can you fill us in with some details?
On Tuesday I had an excellent visit with the Borough of Manhattan Community College Video Arts and Technology Program (http://www.bmcc.cuny.edu/speech/VAT/VAT.html ) faculty and administrators. BMCC has an NSF project grant titled "Creatiing Career Pathways for Women and Minorities in Digital Video Technology" , an exciting project with an HDTV focus. We're looking forward to lots of good results from the VAT group at BMCC.
Instead of driving I took the AMTRAK train down to New York City from Springfield, MA. I had my notebook computer with me and on the way home, as I was doing some work, I decided to let NetStumbler ( http://netstumbler.com/ ) run in the background. NetStumbler is a Windows application that allows you to detect 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g Wireless Local Area Network Access Points (WLAN AP's). In addition to Netstumbler, there is MacStumbler for Macintosh computers, and Kismet for machines running Linux.
Many people use Netstumbler for wardriving that involves driving a car around with a wireless enabled laptop or PDA and logging wireless Wi-Fi networks. According to the Netstumbler website wardriving was first started in the San Francisco area by the Bay Area Wireless Users Group (BAWUG) and is similar to using a scanner for radio. Many wardrivers will use GPS devices to find the exact location of the network found and log it on a website. In fact, if you have a GPS device attached to your computer Netstumbler will automatically log the latitude and longitude settings for future reference. There are several active databases on the web that maintain lists of open hotspots - one of them is maintained and accessed via the Netstumbler site.
In the train I started up Netstumbler on my PC at the New Rochelle, NY stop and just let it run until I got to Springfield, MA with some interesting results. Netstumbler logs, among other things, the access point MAC address, SSID and whether or not the AP is running any kind of encryption. An un-encryped access point is one that is wide open for access. Between New Rochelle and Springfield I logged 1441 access points, many unencryped and wide open for public access. SSIDs were sometimes very descriptive and I found open access points from at least one large insurance company, one law firm and the 36th floor conference room of an unknown company. I also got a kick out of some of the creative SSID names people are using.
Hundreds of the access points still had the Vendor SSID with linksys, NETGEAR and default [note: SSID default is commonly used by no-name routers sold by the big box retailers] popping up on my screen as we rocked along the tracks at 60 mph. Hundreds were setup for open access - I could not actually log in to any because we were moving to fast but I'm convinced I could walk the tracks from New Rochelle to Springfield and maintain free wireless access by piggy-backing on these networks.
I don't want to get into a debate on what's legal and what is not - my concern is seeing so many open access points with many likely connected directly into corporate networks. I thought we had this security problem licked but it appears many are still buying these things and just plugging them in.
Anyone want to carry a load of batteries?
Netstumbler Website: http://www.netstumbler.com
BROADLOGIC UNCLOAKS CABLEÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½S SECRET WEAPON; Nov 6, 2006; http://broadlogic.com/11062006press.htmLight Reading: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=106730
Sat, 11 November 2006
Flat Word Strategies: New Technologies Create Interactive Learning
In "The World is Flat," Thomas Friedman makes the case that a number of forces have converged to flatten and restructure the global competitive landscape, and that this process is continuing and accelerating. This flattening has empowered individuals to compete and collaborate on a global scale like never before. As educators, we must understand the implications for us, our students and our institutions and more globally on education and learning. Key flatteners that are already impacting education include the Internet, open source software, search, wireless/mobility, VoIP, digitalization, personalization and virtualization. One of the key observations of this less predictable, less hierarchical flattened world is that knowledge is widely distributed and rapidly changing leaving traditional course-based learning increasingly unable to meet the needs of students. Bridging this divide requires new paradigms in education that incorporate "flat' world strategies such as informal learner-driven knowledge transfer and new technologies and forms of learning.
Question from Mike: Gordon, can you give us a little background on some of the new tools being used?
In the 1990's many of us first started to use the Internet to deliver and supplement content for our courses. We developed relatively static web pages that included text and pictures in similar format to traditional textbooks. Today with the combination of high bandwidth access and new development tools, fresh web content looks and feels much different. With "Web 2.0" tools and delivery methods, instructors are discovering new ways to develop and deliver content to and engage their students. Among the new tools finding their way into business and into the hands of our students are:
While many faculty are well-versed at using websites, email, and course management systems to interact and engage with their students, most have been slow to adopt some of these "new" technologies into and outside of their classroom.
tools are part of the dynamic, interactive new Internet many are calling Web
2.0. According to techtarget.com, the term Web 2.0 was first used by O'Reilly
Media and MediaLive International in 2004 during a next generation web
conference. Web 2.0 based technological advances have continued over the last
two years and new applications are coming out daily that allow faculty and
their students to experience new ways of interacting and learning. Much of this
new technology is built around two fundamental technologies,
Question from Gordon:
To understand how
Question from Mike: Gordon could you tell us a little bit about RSS?
RSS (RDF Site
Summary and also referred to as Really Simple Syndication) is a technology used
to push content out to subscribers using an aggregator application like
My.Yahoo or Google Reader. In addition web browsers like FireFox and Internet
Explorer 7.0, along with Mac OS X and Microsoft's upcoming
RSS developers create an XML file that describes content as it is posted on websites. The blog at nctt.org/blog is a good example if you want to take a look at an XML file. The blog is written using a word processor and then the content is typically copied and pasted into a blog editor with the XML file automatically updated with the latest content. If you are a subscriber to nctt.org/blog your aggregator checks the NCTT blog site periodically for updates and, if it finds one, it lists the content on the aggregator screen. You can see a brief summary on the aggregator and, if you wish to read further, you can click the link and read the entire blog.
Your current students are using this technology on, in some cases, a minute by minute basis. Let's take a look at how it can be used. Let's say you wake up one morning not feeling well and have to cancel your classes. When and how do your students find out you are out sick? Maybe you send out an email which requires students check their campus email account or (worst case) you call in and a note goes on the door or board. In both cases many, if not all, of your students will show up for class and be disappointed to find out you will not be there. Using a simple RSS feed, you could give your students the option of subscribing and actually push the message out to their cell phone or other connected device. Students get the message and do not end up showing up for a class that has been cancelled.
Question from Gordon: Mike, What are some of the popular apps out there now that people are using?
appâ�� or application that demonstrated the potential and viability of
Question: Gordon: Where can people find the content of this article?
You can find
the content of this podcast in the Oct/Nov 2006 edition of Community College
Journal, at nctt.org/blog and at nctt.org/podcast. In addition you will find a maintained list of
several interesting links that further demonstrate these technologies. You can
reach the authors at email@example.com
and at their National Science Foundation center and project websites at
www.nctt.org and www.maitt.org
Thu, 2 November 2006
Researched and written by: Michael Qaissaunee
In Death by Powerpoint, we talked about becoming a better presenter, but we (myself included) take for granted that the copious notes students take in class capture the key aspects of our great lectures, are well organized, and will provide what students need to retain for tests and for further courses. Have you ever looked at your students' notes? As an exercise, try collecting and reviewing notes from a cross-section of your classes. Most faculty won't be surprised to learn that good note-taking is a lost art. This got me to thinking ... Where do our students and our kids learn to take notes? What I've concluded is that we don't, at any level, do any formal education on note-taking - it's all ad-hoc; most teachers are rightly focused on the content. But what's really troubling here, is that good note-taking is a critical part of learning and clearly we don't do enough to teach it and to reinforce with students the importance of good note-taking.
What I'd like to introduce to you today is the Cornell Note-taking method. Developed by Cornell's Walter Pauk to help Cornell University students better organize their notes, this system is just one of many different strategies designed to help students take more effective notes. No one method is better than another, the goal is to find a method that works for you. I encourage you to share this method with your students and encourage them to give the method a chance. At the very least, it will get them and you thinking about how they take notes.
The Cornell Note-Taking System
To use this system, separate your page into 3 separate sections
illustration here), as follows:
Now for the
This site provides a great list of common abbreviations that
can help students take down their lecture notes as quickly as possible.
This link shows an example of a page of notes taken using the
Cornell method. Using this as a handout is a quick and easy way to illustrate
the method to students.
A site with more general tips and suggestions for better note-taking. A great place to send students as they start to think about their note-taking.
A nice overview of the Cornell system. Not the only place to learn about the system, but a good starting point.
Some additional PDF resources on the web can be found at
PDF Pad. PDF Pad allows
you to generate pdf version of a variety of useful documents, including
Sun, 22 October 2006
Writely and other Google products like Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Gmail have become a pretty formidable combination. The only disadvantage at this time is you have to be online to use. Next year, with new browser versions coming out, things will change significantly.
Sat, 7 October 2006
Jajah, started by Roman Scharf and Daniel Mattes in 2004, is offering an interesting service that may challenge Skype and other similar products. Jajah provides a paid service that allows calls to be routed landline/cell to landline/cell in many parts of the world without long distance fees. Here’s how it works: Let’s say I’m a Jajah customer and I want to call my brother who is living in
See www.nctt.org/blog for complete note set.
Sun, 24 September 2006
Many people have very strong - mostly negative - opinions about Powerpoint. The phrase "death by Powerpoint" has been used (some would say over-used) to describe the painful experience of sitting through a bad Powerpoint presentation. The sentiment can be summed up by borrowing and adapting a phrase from Security Consultant and blogger Steve Riley - Powerpoint is "... the place where knowledge goes to die."
While we don't disagree with critics that the use of Powerpoint is part of an ever-present misconception that technology fixes things or makes things better, we're not here to pile on - instead we'd like to offer some ideas to make Powerpoint more effective in your classroom.
Sun, 3 September 2006
WiMax - Why Not?
Craig McCaw is a visionary, who has had an uncanny ability to predict the future of technology. WiMAX has the potential to do for broadband access what cell phones have done for telephony - replacing cable and DSL services, providing universal Internet access just about anywhere - especially for suburban and rural blackout areas.
Just like in the early 1980's Clearwire's Craig O. McCaw has been buying up licensed radio spectrum. You may not have heard of Craig but in the early 80's he recognized local cell permits being sold by the the FCC were greatly undervalued and he started bidding cellular phone licenses. He did his buying under the radar screen of the telcos and, by the time they recognized what he was doing it was basically too late Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ Craig had already purchased and owned licenses in most of the major markets.
Of course he had the money - in 1986 Craig and his brothers
sold a cable television business their father had left them for $755 million
and concentrated on building a national cellular phone network. The story
continues - MCI Communications sold its cellular and paging operations to
Craig in 1986 for $122 million and their company went public with the brothers
holding around 40% of the company. His last big acquisition in the cell market
was the $3.5 billion deal for LIN Broadcasting where he outbid Bell South.
With the LIN acquisition Craig and his brothers had almost complete control of
McCaw brothers sold the company to AT&T in 1994 for $11.5 billion and a lot of people figured they would just ride off into the sunset Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ not the case!
Fast forward to today - Clearwire, under Craig's direction, has
quietly purchased enough licensed radio spectrum
to build a national WiMAX network.
What is WiMax?
Can you give us some specs for WiMax
Currently, the fastest WiFi connection is up to 54 megabits per second under optimal conditions. WiMAX is predicted to handle up to 70 megabits per second - providing the equivalent of cable modem speeds even when shared by several dozen businesses or a few hundred home users. Distance is where WiMax really outshines WiFi - while WiFi has a range of about 300 feet, WiMAX will provide wireless access for a radius of 30 miles. The increased range is due to the frequencies used and the power of the transmitter. Of course, at that distance, terrain, weather and large buildings will act to reduce the maximum range in some circumstances, but the potential is there to cover large geographic areas.
What would happen if I got WiMAX
An Internet service provider sets up a WiMAX base station 10 miles from your home. You'll need a WiMAX-enabled computer or upgrade your old computer to add WiMAX capability. You would receive a special encryption code that would give you access to the base station. Potentially, the cost could be much lower than current high-speed Internet fees because the provider never had to run cables. For your home network, things wouldn't change much. A WiMAX base station would send data to a WiMAX-enabled router, which would then send the data to the different computers on your network. You could even combine WiFi with WiMAX by having the router send the data to the computers via WiFi.
Craig has also attracted some major investors with Motorola and Intel giving him close to $900 million in July. Rumor has it that, with Clearwire's potential network, within 3 years the company will be able to offer nationwide WiMAX service for around $25 per month which is significantly less that people are currently paying for other providers nationwide lower bandwidth data services.
Clearwire is not without competition. According to WiMAXTrends.com:
On August 8 Sprint Nextel President and CEO Gary Forsee announced that Sprint will adopt WiMAX as it technology choice for its next generation "4G" network. Mr. Forsee announced that its current EV-DO network will complement a mobile WiMAX network. The mobile WiMAX network will be utilized with a full range of WiMAX-embedded devices.
The products are coming and the providers are committed to
build the network. This makes me think seriously about the Muni WiFi
initiatives we are seeing springing up in most
References:A Wake Up Call from Craig McCaw, Business Week Magazine, July 24, 2006
The Wizard of Wireless: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mcc0bio-1SPRINT NEXTEL ANNOUNCES THAT WIMAX IS TECHNOLOGY CHOICE FOR ITS NEXT GENERATION "4G" NETWORK: http://WiMAXTrends.com
Sun, 13 August 2006
Since the launch of Gmail and the (at the time) unheard of storage space of 2 gigabytes, a number of developers have created tools to allow users to use their Gmail accounts for file storage. Examples include the GMail Drive shell extension, an add-on for the Firefox browser - Gmail Space, and even an equivalent for Mac OS X. Each of these add-ons/applications allows users to seamlessly email files to their Gmail accounts, while appearing to the native OS as another drive. Likewise, there's been a lot of buzz about Google's launch of Google Spreadsheets , and their acquistion and integration of Upstartle and their online wordprocessor Writely. In this blogcast we discuss some of these online tools.
See www.nctt.org/blog for complete show notes.
Fri, 4 August 2006
recent issue of Wired magazine details six trends that are driving the global
economy. Not surprisingly, 5 of the 6
are spearheaded by ICT-enabled companies and rely on a number of technologies
that we seem to be discussing with greater regularity (SOAP,
Tue, 18 July 2006
On July 13, 2006 Charlie Paglee claimed on the VoIPWiki Blog that a Chinese business has reverse engineered Skype's communications protocol. Rumor has it the un-named Chinese company will produce a Skype compatible soft phone and will go public with it by the end of this month.
Complete shownotes at: http://www.nctt.org/blog/index.php#53
Also see NCTT Summer Workshop Resource Area for Workshop Content: http://www.ncttbuzz.org/NCTT_01/NO LOGIN IS REQUIRED TO SEE CONTENT!
Wed, 5 July 2006
FON ( http://www.fon.com/), a Spanish startup that is building an international WiFi community, is selling and organizing WiFi access to anyone who wishes to join and connect to the Internet. According to their website:
Complete shownotes at: http://www.nctt.org/blog/index.php#51
Sat, 24 June 2006
In the mid 1990's Oracle and Sun Microsystems developed and promoted
the concept for a Network Computer (NC).
Unfortunately, the revolutionary idea did not make sense offering a
fraction of the functionality provided by a regular Personal Computer (PC), at
a similar purchase price and the networks of the day could not support it. Recent
developments, including greater adoption of high-speed internet, a new
programming model for web-based user interfaces called
Fri, 16 June 2006
This blogcast discusses low cost computers for emerging markets in developing countries. The term being tossed around by the major manufacturers is the next billion and refers to the approximate number of low cost computers that will be sold in the next decade in coutries like China, Brazil and Egypt.
Sun, 11 June 2006
On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives voted 269-152 against the net neutrality amendment, a bill sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey. A yes vote would have required broadband providers (Telco's, Cable Companies, etc) to offer the same service speeds to competitors that they provide to partners. The telcos and cable companies in particular lobbied heavily inside the beltway and it appears to have paid off. This was not without some push back - according to CIO.COM at the last minute several technology and service companies sent a letter to House members asking for net neutrality support. Among those companies signing that letter were Microsoft and eBay and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers – a large and influential venture capital firm.
Sun, 28 May 2006
Todays gamers are not the gamers of the old pong days. High performance graphics, processors, controllers, I/O and network connectivity make many games appear anything but virtual. This show gives updates on new products from Sony and Nintendo and also discusses Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Mon, 15 May 2006
This show brings technology updates on past shows along with recent news items that affect Information and Communications Technology and Information and Communications Technology enabled industries.
Thu, 4 May 2006
With increasing business and consumer adoption of internet telephony (more commonly called voice over internet protocol or VoIP) and recent revelations regarding the NSAâ??s domestic spying program, one begins to wonder - how secure are VoIP calls? In this podcast we discuss the differences between public switched telephone networks (PSTNs) and VoIP, security concerns regarding VoIP traffic, the potential for blocking voice traffic and potential security threats posed by Skype and other VoIP clients.
Sun, 16 April 2006
Local governments are looking closely at different
technologies and business models in efforts to provide wireless broadband
access. The current number of
Tue, 4 April 2006
Organic Light Emitting Diodes and Light Emitting Polymers are set to revolutionize the display industry. They don't require a backlight, and are more energy efficient and offer a higher contrast than traditional LCD displays. This is a relatively new display technology that promises to deliver thin, power efficient and bright displays. These new displays, already popular in MP3 players and cell phones, have amazing potential - thin TVs, flexible displays, transparent monitors, white-bulb replacement, and more.
Sat, 25 March 2006
A new consumer goods tracking system called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is poised to enter all of our lives, with profound implications for consumer privacy. RFID couples radio frequency (RF) identification technology with highly miniaturized computers that enable products to be identified and tracked at any point along the supply chain. The system can be applied to virtually any physical item, from pets and people to ballpoint pens and toothpaste, each potentially carrying a unique identifier embedded in a chip. Uniqueness of RFID tags enables individual tracking of a product from location to location, even to the consumer, aids in combating theft and other forms of product loss, and facilitates quality control and product recalls. There may soon come a day when RFID will be used to identify and track every item produced on the planet, contributing to concerns over post-sale tracking and profiling of consumers. If you’re skeptical, consider the following quote: “I think the industry has sold itself on a program that offers so little return that it simply won’t be worth the trouble and expense.? Not from a critic of RFID, but from a Midwestern Grocery Chain Executive discussing (in 1975) the potential of the barcode.
Sun, 12 March 2006
Technology updates on past shows along with recent news items that affect Information and Communications Technology and Information and Communications Technology enabled industries. We will do these update shows every five weeks, with the next one scheduled for Show 16.
Sat, 4 March 2006
Though not as memorable a question as that faced by Shakespeare's Hamlet, many companies are now confronted with critical decisions regarding adoption of Linux and other open source software. This podcast, the fourth in a 10-part series detailing technologies to watch for 2006, examines Linux and open source software. Though originally developed and used by individual enthusiasts for Intel 386 microprocessors, Linux and two subsequent generations of open-source software have gained support from IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and Novell. These products are used in servers and have been successfully deployed in virtually all popular computer architectures, ranging from embedded systems (routers, mobile phones, Private Branch eXchanges [PBXs] and personal video recorders) to PCs and supercomputers. With increasingly competitive economic environments and continued pressure to cut costs and streamline operations, many organizations find the issue of open source adoption a question of to be or not to be.
Fri, 24 February 2006
How many times have you saved a file on your local machine and, a few days or weeks later wasted time trying to find that file? Modern operating systems have search capabilities but most are not very user friendly and they are typically slow. Today third party desktop search engines are adding new features and functionality, finding their way on to business and personal machines. These tools work similarly to the popular Internet search engines only they allow you to search your local computer. As we will discuss in this podcast, our third in a 10-part series detailing technologies to watch for 2006, well known companies like Google and Yahoo and some other not so well known companies are making inroads onto our computer desktops.
Fri, 17 February 2006
There's a disruptive new technology on the horizon, and it's called micro-commerce. Microcommerce allows vendors to sell low-ticket items at a profit, changing the way e-business is conducted, allowing for value-added content and providing new business models for online sellers. As we will discuss in this podcast, our second in a 10-part series detailing technologies to watch for 2006, one need only look to Apple’s iTunes as evidence that microcommerce has already become big business. By offering products, information, or services for a small subscription or a one-time fee, many businesses see great potential for phenomenal growth. Online retailers aren’t abandoning the cash cow that e-commerce has become, but they’re paying a lot more attention to micro-commerce’s potential to become cash mice.
Wed, 1 February 2006
Instant Messaging or IM, once the domain of generation X and generation Y is quickly becoming a mainstream business application. While this technology has been a great boon to businesses, increasing productivity and streamlining efficiency there is a darkside. Chief among potential corporate headaches are manageability, security, interoperability and records retention. In this, the first of a 10 part series detailing technologies to watch for 2006, we provide a review of IM history, usage, trends vulnerabilities and future solutions.
Sun, 29 January 2006
Excellent coverage of Information and Communications Technology security issues that everyone should know.
Sun, 22 January 2006
The Telecom Act of 1996 is long overdue for a rewrite and this is the year. Think back to 1996 if you can when the telephone companies sold voice and the cable companies sold video. Things are not the same for the Verizons and the Comcasts of this world as they compete head to head for your business while disruptive companies like Google are nipping at their heels.
Mon, 16 January 2006
This podcast reviews cable and telephone company plans for delivery of voice, video, data amd wireless technologies.
Mon, 16 January 2006
This podcast discusses the Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (SMET) pipline and work being done by the National Academy of Science and the National Science Foundation.
Mon, 16 January 2006
This is the second of a two part podcast looking at Information and Communications Technology predictions for 2006.
Mon, 16 January 2006
This is the first of a two part podcast looking at Information and Communications Technology predictions for 2006.