muse: n. a source of inspiration

Thursday hot tip!

We’re fortunate enough to have a number of iPads, which are centrally managed by our IT department. That’s great, except for when we have special projects that require the students to access specific websites. It’s too time consuming to have our IT department add web links for a short project (and, let’s face it, it’s entirely likely that we need those links available pretty quickly – too quickly to go through IT). Rather than worry about getting the web links on the iPads, we just generate QR codes for them and have the kids use the QR code reader on the iPad to get to the site. It seems obvious, now that I’ve written it out, but it, um, took us a while to figure that out.


January 31, 2013 Posted by | Hot tip, QR Codes | , | Leave a comment

Getting ready for Germany…are we there yet?

Once again I’m traveling with Centropa for their annual Centropa Summer Academy. This year I’m excited that it’s Germany: Mannheim, Frankfurt and Berlin. I really can’t believe that I’m doing this again – it’s a phenomenal opportunity and a wonderful, educational and stimulating way to spend ten days, but simply exhausting! I’m glad I have three weeks after I return before school begins to recuperate. Oy – only three weeks?

Are we there yet?

Of course I’m worried about how I’m going to entertain myself while I’m on the plane. I’ve already been to British Airways’ website to scope out the in-flight entertainment (excited to watch Salmon Fishing in the Yemen!), and I sprang for the iTunes Essential George Gershwin collection, but I want to put some movies on my iPad too. I mean, what if my video player thingie doesn’t work? Or what if I’m bored at night (yeah…right) and need to have something other than German TV to watch in the room?

Unfortunately, season two of Downton Abbey only got me through my last three trips (thank you, Downton Abbey – that was six blissful flights!), and there wasn’t another TV season I wanted to download. I do have some DVDs, though, that I want to watch but I’m not bringing my laptop – just the iPad (it’s so much lighter and easier to get through security!), which, of course, does not have a DVD player.

Now…I know you’re not supposed to do this. I would NEVER suggest my students do this…But if you already own the movies you want to bring on DVD, and let’s say you wanted to watch them on your iPad…you could rip the movies using Handbrake. Be sure to choose the iPad preset. Then you end up with a .m4v file that you could throw in iTunes and transfer when you sync. Easy peasy.

The only problem is that those movies can be pretty heavy – reaching 2 gb. That’s a lot of real estate on an iPad, so…

You might want to bring them along on an SD card. If you have the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, you can do that. You just have to set them up in a way that your iPad will recognize them and know to import them as media. This post on CNET will be very helpful if you’re thinking about doing that.

Finally – I decided to spring (amazing how these trips cost SOOOOO much!) for a really good set of earphones. I wanted good, I wanted noise canceling, and I wanted small. I also didn’t want to spend more than $50. This is not as easy as it sounds. I researched a lot of companies, and finally settled on Thinksound. What got me were the reviews on Amazon. Now, many of those reviews mentioned having cable separation problems, so the big question is why did I pay $50 for earphones that could break? It’s simple – every single one of the reviews also stated that as soon as they contacted the company, they were immediately contacted by the company (in many cases, the president) to arrange for a replacement. I also really loved that they’re made from wood, and that the product has a low footprint packaging-wise. I appreciated not having to dig out the scissors and deal with those nasty plastic clamshell packages which fill up my recycling bin. They came in a lovely little brown box, with their own little cloth bag for storage. I was using them in about two seconds after receiving the package and they rocked. Pun intended.

Oh – and I also bought a new suitcase. But that wasn’t interesting.

I hope to post lots from Germany – stay tuned.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Centropa, Lifelong learning, Technology | , , | Leave a comment

Bought me an iPad

So I bought an iPad with money that I received as part of an award (cue humble blush here). That makes the iPad free, right? Work with me.

Once I bought the iPad, though, I decided that I needed the following:

Warranty, of course
Cover for both front and back
A/V adapter so I can connect to my SMART Board
Camera connector kit

And now I’m considering the World Traveler kit since I’m traveling to Europe in a couple of weeks.

And maybe a keyboard since I’m not feeling the love for the virtual one

And of course I bought a number of apps

I’m reminded of the time we used Green Stamps (remember those?) to get a “free” fish tank.


June 21, 2011 Posted by | Technology | , | 1 Comment

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