30. November 2008 · Comments Off on We wish you a merry WordPress · Categories: My personal learning journey · Tags: , ,

It’s after Thanksgiving and time for all of us of American distraction to write our annual Christmas letters.  The art of balancing between bragging and whining and pitching a missive at people you a)only talk to once per year AND b) those you keep up with regularly is a dying art.

After deciding that this Christmas we were going to limit our spending and try to reduce our impact on the planet, I thought of the $100 plus I spent last year on cards, ink and postage alone.  And all I could really do is fill an A4 sheet with some 11-point font and a few photos.

So this year, I spent a few dollars on a domain name and have set up a password-protected WordPress site for friends and family.

Our Christmas blog

Our Christmas blog

In that site, I’m going to be able to post video, embed Google maps, create galleries of Flickr photos with a click and allow my family and friends to contribute via text or video comments.  If they’re keen enough, I can even make them contributors and give ’em their own section of the site.

To my mind, this beats the hell out of a double sided A4 sheet shoved in a card.  Plus, next year I can write as things happen — so I don’t have to rack my brain over what we were up to.

All of them are relatively light internet users, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to seduce a few over to the dark side with this.

Your suggestions on plug-ins and/or fun content much appreciated.

There are so many people who have contributed to my learning this year — in person and online.

My nominations for the 2008 Edublog awards are:

20. November 2008 · Comments Off on Google kills Lively · Categories: Technologies · Tags: , ,

Google’s foray into 3 D chat – Google Lively – is going to be shut down at the end of this year http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/lively-no-more.html

Is Google the McDonald’s of the internet in that if they pull out of a neighbourhood it is time to sell up?  I don’t think so.

Does she know? Hard to tell, she was ALWAYS pouting.

Does she know? Hard to tell, she was ALWAYS pouting.

For me, Lively has never had the ingredients that would have made me feel a connection.  It was contrived, I didn’t have enough control over my avatar or environment and — this is the most important — my friends and colleagues weren’t using it.

I gave it a go — even embedding it into its own page on my blog to see what comments, feedback, invitations I got.

So I’ll be farewelling the pouty teenaged me in Lively and exploring other browser-based 3D chat tools in the near future.

Okay, here I’ve been having vibrant discussions around what blogs are – conversations on reasonably consistent topic areas is my take on it – and I’m about to deviate madly.  But there is a tenuous edutech connection…

Tissue paper turkey

My American tissue paper turkey

I’m an American-born, soon to be Australian and next week it’s Thanksgiving.  For me, it’s on a par with Christmas yet in Australia it’s just another Thursday, just another weekend.  I’m asking my workmates out to lunch on Thursday and am taking the Friday off to prepare for lunch on Saturday.

Many friends and colleagues and new acquaintances ask me about it — and (with moues of distaste and morbid curiosity) quiz me about pumpkin pie.  “It’s a vegetable – how is it a dessert???”

So in the interest of using web 2.0 tech and saving trees and email — I’ll post the recipe here and welcome your conversations.

This is slightly adapted from one in my much soiled Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1980s.

Pumpkin Pie
If you’re planning to dine at night, bake this in the morning.  If you’re planning a lunch, bake it the night before so that it has time to chill.

In our family we had this at Thanksgiving and at Christmas.  I don’t know why we didn’t eat it more often.

The Crust:

Use your favourite custard pie crust. It should be reasonably robust.  If you are trying this as your first attempt ever at a custard-type pie, there is pie dough available in the frozen food section of most Australian grocery stores. Or ask your partner or parental or grandparental who does the cooking in your family to help out.  You spend too much time in front of your computer monitor with your online friends anyway.  : P

The filling:

I always end up with extra here so don’t stress if you do too. Most measures are in US, but I just use my Australian measuring cups and spoons and haven’t had an issue in 10 years.

The pumpkin: The end result has to be 2 cups cooked, mashed and strained pumpkin cooled to a point where it won’t cook the eggs in this recipe on contact.

(NOTE: No, not sure of how much fresh pumpkin you start with — easily 6 cups is my guess. Use a fine mesh strainer and make sure it is well strained. I find adding one carrot lends additional sweetness. In the States I used a 2-cup can of pumpkin, but it’s hard to find here. This year I’m cooking for 11, so to save time I bought three cans of Libby’s pumpkin from David Jones’ food court but had to pay $7 each.)

The rest of the filling:

2 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 can (375 ml) evaporated milk
1 t ground cinnamon
3/4 t salt
1/2 t teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 t ground cloves (or 1/2 t nutmeg)

The instructions:

  • Put the oven rack in the middle position and put a piece of aluminium foil or a wide, flat oven proof dish in the bottom of it in case of spillage.
  • Preheat the oven to 220 C.
  • Measure your spices out first.
  • Line your pie plate with the crust.
  • Beat the eggs slightly and then beat in the remaining ingredients until well blended.
  • Put your pie plate on the oven rack and pour the filling into it.  You may want to use a bowl with a pouring lip or use a gravy ladle to spoon it in from a standard bowl.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 220 C, then
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 180 C and bake about 45 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

When it’s cooked, let it cool a bit — then get it into the frij as soon as you can.  Chill it down thoroughly. Serve it with whipped cream.  It’s very nice with a glass of port or some warmed mead or medium roast coffee.

09. November 2008 · Comments Off on Second Life sessions for EDayz08 · Categories: My personal learning journey, Presentations, Second Life · Tags: , , , , ,

The countdown is on to South Australia’s EDayz and I’ve been working up the in-world sessions for the people coming to my Second Life sessions.

On Wednesday night, we’re going to do a nuts and bolts session on the basics — how to walk, talk, teleport and interact with objects.

That’s taking place at the learning loft I’ve built on my Plot 13 sim.

To get there:

Keep your web browser open to this post.

Open Second Life and connect/log in.

Return to this blog post in your still-open browser and click on this link: Plot13 Jokaydia.

It will open up a web page.

Click on the orange “Teleport Now” button (see image above).

Go back to Second Life — a teleport window should have opened.

Click on the Teleport link (circled in red at left).

Having problems with the SLURL?

Check that you’re logged into Second Life and have fully connected.

If you’re still having problems, you can contact my avatar in Second Life and send an instant message.

My avatar’s name is Pandora Kurrajong.

To send me an instant message:

  • Go to the edit menu in Second Life
  • Click on Search
  • Type my avatar’s name into the search: Pandora Kurrajong
  • View my Profile
  • Click on the “Send Instant Message” button
  • Type a message indicating that you’re having problems
  • Click send

I’ll send you a Teleport to where I am.  This will pop up in the top right hand corner of your screen.