Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: November 2008

Conversion Aversion

I grew up on the Metric system, and now I have to survive with inches, pints, and pounds. Sometimes I can estimate the conversions in my head. Often I need lots of help. I know we have our Unit Converter widget in our Dashboard, but…

Have you ever wondered how many sideral months there are in a century? Or how many bars are in an atmosphere? I haven’t, but I found out anyway.

At AskNumbers I found more unit conversions for more types of measurements than I ever knew existed. This image shows just a portion of the measurements you can explore. Pretty fun, and maybe useful to some.

Kool-Aid Fact?

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown disaster, when about men, women, and children drank cyanide-laced fruit punch. I am not an expert, but I heard it on NPR this morning.

Later I used the phrase “they drank the Kool-Aid” when describing a meeting to a colleague, and that stuck in my head. I immediately assumed Jonestown was where the phrase had originated, a situation in which everyone did as they were told, no questions asked. But, a few days ago I was angry when someone sent me a forwarded email full of dire warnings without checking if any of the content was true. I decided to check for myself.

Sure enough, a quick search turned up thousands of pages with answers. The phrase predates Jonestown by a decade, and comes from Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

With correct information only a few keystrokes away, we should all work harder to teach students and teachers to check their facts and help dispel myths and misconceptions.

Frame By Frame

Yesterday, one of the featured links in my PopURLs site was to a list of 100+ free applications for Mac. Of course, I had to look. There were lots of items on the list that we routinely include in our image for teacher and student laptops here in Goochland. Still, a list that long is bound to have something interesting.

In the video section of the list, I found FrameByFrame, a FREE stop motion movie creator. What struck me first was the icon:

I immediately thought of the dozens of Lego stop motion movies my own children watch on YouTube. They are really fun to watch. Their favorite is Lego Indiana Jones. This was probably created by an adult,  but look at some of the other animations. You will see that some of these movies are created by kids, and I always wondered how, since creating my own tiny stop action claymation took me a couple of hours.

Knowing this tool is available, I can work with teachers to create some interesting animations. Or, I can work at home with my kids and have some fun.

Pro Art

Mrs. Rohrer shared a Promethean flipchart with me this morning. She created the flipchart during an art lesson in which the students worked on observing carefully before drawing. I really like what she did with her pen and highlighter tools to demonstrate what is normally done on paper. The students saw the artwork being created and ended up with a good review of the concepts they are studying.

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