Friday, July 25, 2008


Greetings, all.

I'll be taking a short break from this blog while I do some traveling. But once I return I'll be back to testing out applications and writing about all the things that will be going on starting in August.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

CoveritLive - Take 2

Ok, so a few people (some publically, some privately) mentioned that they'd have helped but I was only online with CoveritLive for about 20 minutes.

Well, now I'm sitting at home working on other things so I thought I would give it another shot, and this time stay on a bit longer.

So, here it is:


Today’s tested application is CoveritLive, thanks to Chris, who left a comment in my blog from yesterday.

At a recent conference (NMC in Princeton, I think it was), Chris was using CoveritLive to post notes about what was going on. I liked it and asked him about it later on but never got a chance to try it out.

Now that I’ve tried UStream, and Chris suggested that UStream and CoveritLive might go together, I decided to check it out.

Again, the initial read seems a bit complicated; I wasn’t exactly sure what I might use it for. The introduction talks about reporting election results, game scores, etc.. I’m not interested in using it for any of those reasons, but I forged on and set up my account.

My account is SORRYAFK, of course. For those of you who might be wondering what sorryafk means (or sorry_afk, sorry-afk, or sorry.afk), here is a link to my web site that explains it.

Back to CoveritLive. My idea of why I want to use this is so that instead of taking notes at meeting (like SLCC or EDUCAUSE), I can use CoveritLive and the good thing about that is that others can join me, comment, we can post images. So it seems as if it does in a text version what UStream does in a video version. Once a video from UStream is recorded, it can be added into the CoveritLive, although I’m not sure if they can both be used at the same time.

I’m not sure why one might use both at the same time, since they seem to do similar things. UStream has a chat log for those watching the stream, which is the same as what CoveritLive does. Both allow for polls. Both can be posted into a blog or website. Although similar in some way, I think both are valuable and I’ll look to use each in some fun and creative ways.

One way I can see faculty using CoveritLive might be to chat with students during an off-campus synchronous meeting, such as part of a hybrid class. In fact, I hope to be able to test this out in the fall and have a few faculty members in mind to give it a go.

Here is the CoveritLive I started to test the service.

I’m going to post this blog and then link it to a few of my social sites. I’ll leave it up there for a little bit and see if anyone checks it out. If not, I’ll try it again another time. The good thing is that the CoveritLive will stay here for folks to see it again later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today I decided to test I’ve seen any number of people recently streaming from their various locations, such as conferences. It was a way to either bring those remotely to the presentation or to share a presentation (such as a keynote) with others.

In October we will be holding the first meeting of the EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds Constituent Group. Last year it was a “hot topic discussion” and due to the success of that, and the forward motion of virtual worlds, EDUCAUSE granted my request to form a CG.

During last years meeting we showed the in-world location through a data projector but it was too complicated to have the on-site location streamed back in world. It is time to start our discussions with EDUCAUSE’s fantastic tech people and the question came up again about the ability to stream back in world.

I wondered in Ustream might be a solution and so decided to test it out today.
As you know by know, I allocate 15 minutes with these new applications in order to see how far one could get in a short time frame. Anyone has 15 minutes to check something out. More tech savvy folks that I will do things faster, less tech savvy folks might take longer – so I selected 15 minutes as a good jumping off point.

In that time frame I was able to get my account set up, figure out how to get the video to show through my built-in camera (in my MacBook Pro) and how to start a broadcast. Of course, the problem was, in that short time, and now in the times it’s taking me to write this, I had nobody come and watch my test. Poor me. :-)

It was not intuitive at first and I would recommend that the folks at Ustream take some time to improve the first minutes experience for new users. I was a bit confused, having never tried anything like this before. It didn’t take me all that long to get going, but I was resolute because I have a need. Others, less comfortable with technology, might have given up.

There is a LOT to this service and I’m very surprised it is free. Looking for now at the main page during a broadcast you can show just the video, just the audio, or both. There is a place to determine which video or audio source to use, so a web came and portable or wireless microphone are almost certainly an option (I am going to test that). You can slider up and down the audio and video quality, if you want or need to compensate for conditions at/in whatever you are streaming. And you can record as well as just broadcast.

In a bottom window you can have chat, which is great for those who are viewing. There is also a place for advanced settings, which tells you all about adjusting frame rates, mixing sound, and so on. Next to that you can create a poll, have co-hosts, send the broadcast to Twitter, and something called Overlays, which I didn’t have time to figure out.

All-in-all these seems like a great tool. While I was writing this someone popped into my broadcast. I waved, said hello, and asked him/her to chat, so I knew who was out there. This person decided not to engage me, or to take my poll (asking if s/he could see the poll LOL). The first person popped out as quietly as s/he popped in and a few minutes later, another person (or the same one, perhaps) came in but did not engage. It’s certainly possible that there were technical problems, that the person was not familiar enough with the program to use it, or someone was just lurking. In either event, I learned how to use this and now my mind is spinning with all the different ways this could be used in teaching.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ping, at last!

Ping is clearly one of the coolest apps I’ve stumbled across in a long time!

As I’ve gotten deeper into my exploration of Web 2.0 apps, each one seems to have a place for you to update your status. I was only using one of those places since who has the time to go to six or seven different sites just to say “I’m heading home”, or “I’m at work”

Ping lets you enter an update in one place and then it pushes it down to any of the sites you choose. They have one or two sites you can send to. If you missed the sarcasm in that last sentence, here is the list: Bebo, Blogger, Brightkite, Custom URL, Facebook, FriendFeed, hi5,, Jaiku, Kwippy, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Mashable, MySpace, Plaxo, Pulse. Plurk, Pownce, Tumblr, Twitter,, Xanga. So, as you can see, its more than just microblogging sites or status updates.

And one could completely configure this to do any number of things – you should really do to the site and check it out.

I decided, for right now, to just use it for updates. So I set it up to tell my Twitter, Plurk, and Facebook accounts whatever it is I was updating from the Ping web site. I tested it and sure enough, my Facebook status was updated and the entry was posted in both my Twitter and Plurk. I was a happy man! I need to try and figure out if I can have it update my GTalk status too, but I didn’t see that option at quick blush.

What’s that you say? Why have to go to another web site to update all these other web sites. Well, no need – you can enter you update from: AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk (GTalk), Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, iGoogle Gadget, Facebook Application, iPhone Web App, Mobile App (WAP)

So I set Ping up as a friend in GTalk and then “chatted” a message to Ping and it posted it to all my sites.

All of this took me just under 15 minutes from sign up to set up to posting. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is to set up the iPhone Web App. I wanted to see how much I could do in 15 minutes so you can see, with all of these apps I keep writing about, how much can happen in that short amount of time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ping and Plurk - sounds like a cartoon.

Back from a week off I was ready to sink my teeth into some great new Web 2.0 stuff. Not entirely meant to be, I guess.

The first thing I wanted to try was I am not able to keep up with updating ALL of the sites I’m now trying to test out and follow. Apparently, will do that for me. It’s a great idea – enter your update in one place and it updates many, most, or even all of your social networks.

One problem. Its in beta, and I don’t have a code. Ok, so I dropped a Twitter and asked if someone has a spare code. Then I went to their web page where they basically said one could grovel for a code. No such luck there, either – they’ve taken that down while they play catch-up a bit.


Ok – so what else is on my list?

Mind Mapping. One of my faculty members asked about mind mapping and I recently received a link to a student technology blog that gave a list of some. I went back to check that and there are 8 or 9 options there – too many for me to just arbitrarily start checking. So I dropped another Twitter asking if anyone could recommend one over another.

Last resort, I decided to check out Plurk. I really didn’t want to get into another microblogging site, but one of the faculty here started doing it a month or so ago and I’ve heard a few other folks talking about it. I like the time line idea, so I signed up. I had very little time left to play around with it, but I did post a first post – my user name is sorry-afk for those who want to look me up or friend me there.

I then posted to Twitter that I’d become a Plurker and instantly got the following from someone who follows me on Twitter.
@sorry_afk Nooooooooooooo! (enough said)
Um – ok, so I Twitter back, trying to find out more. We’ll have to see.

I did get an immediate response on Plurk from that faculty member I mentioned. I guess we’ll have to see how that one goes. It will be nice to have someplace to go when Twitter is offline or down, which seems to happen a lot lately. And if I ever got on, maybe I can update both Plurk and Twitter at the same time (as well as Facebook and a few others.)

Do you use Plurk? Or Twitter? Or Both? Any thoughts on either? How about on Microblogging in general?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Am I on time delay?

In October of 2006 I’d read about this thing called Second Life. I went to the web site and determined that I did not have the time to invest in looking at this, it seemed far too complicated.

What it did remind me of, though, was a few years back how Dr. Jack Baldwin LeClair of the then Legal Studies Department (now Political Science and Law), had told me about these things called “avatars” and how he had created a whole world and his students were doing something with them. It seems really interesting to me, at the time, but I didn’t pursue it.

Fast forward to January 2007. Since school is out of session, I know have time to poke into this Second Life thing. Well, the rest is well-documented history. I now spend part of my full time job, and my entire part time job, working in Second Life.

Many years ago, in one of my many exceptional conversations with Jack, he mentioned a book called Snow Crash. He recommended I read it. I didn’t. I don’t make time to read, although I know I should.

Last summer he even loaned me his copy of the book, which sat on a shelf in my apartment, unopened, until I finally returned it to him in the Fall.

Being involved with Second Life, I’ve heard people talk about this book time and time again. I know it was something I should read, but like I said, I never make time to read.

A few weeks ago I decided that I MUST insert “down” time in my life – hobby time, some of which includes reading, exercise, writing, meditation, etc...

Last Monday I sat down with Dr. Laura Nicosia, of the English Department here at MSU, to talk about what her plans are for her Fall classes. She will be using the CHSS Island in Second Life for a few builds and one of the texts she is using (although not specifically on our island) is Snow Crash. I decide, given my new regime of down time, to get Snow Crash and finally read it.

Now, I realize how many forces have been pushing this book in my direction for such a long time, and I fought it. Maybe I need to stop delaying things that keep trying to happen in my life. If one likens life to novels, perhaps The Celestine Prophecy is a good one to think about now.