I’ve been using the PeakFinder app for a month or two now. It is a nice app for showing what hills are in view. Basically it give a ‘live’ wireframe of hilsl from your location or anywhere you like. All the features are listed PeakFinder App.

Today I opened the app and it must have been updated, because it gave me a message saying:

Augmented reality
For a long time many of you have asked for an option to combine the image of the camera with the panorama drawing. l’ve finally implemented this feature in this newest version and so PeakFinder now also supports true augmented reality.

This is quite amazing, and in my tests it works a treat.

I think this is the first AR I’ve seen that makes be think this could really be useful and soon. It is not much of a stretch to imagine a botany app that can recognise flowers.

What is cool about peakfinder is that the data is loaded so that you do not need a connection to use the application.

Micro.blog 1.1 is out and is a lovely application. I really like mobile apps that are elegantly simple.

Even if you don’t use micro.blog it is worth watching the screencast

Using the micro.blog app for a few months has made me think about blogging from both technical and philosophical (not really sure if that is the right word) points of view.

The one of the main new feature of the app is support for longer posts and this leads to this test.

My own blog has developed layers of ‘cruft’ over the years and I’ve made a fair tangle in trying to separate micro/status posts from longer ones.

I’ve now added a function or two to my blog which will look for a particular piece of text ‘wwwd’ with colons around it. If it finds it the posts format should be changed to standard and the category wwwd added. This should mean I can post longer posts, like this one, to the front page of my blog from the micro.blog app. Here goes…

AudioBoom is closing its free tier:

If you take no action, then after 2nd October 2017, you will no longer be able to upload new content and your account will become private. We will continue to enable distribution of your existing content for a period of a month so all your RSS feeds and web embeds will continue to work for that period. If you choose to move to another podcast provider, let us know by emailing us at support@audioboom.com and we will redirect your RSS feeds for you. We’ll need at least 5 working days to comply with your request. After 36 months from 30th August 2017, your account will be deleted (including your old podcasts and your RSS feeds, so we recommend that you arrange for redirection of your RSS feeds, download your old podcasts and back them up elsewhere, before that period expires.

from: Subscription Changes

Which is depressing news for me and for Edutalk. I have 50 odd boos which range over field recording, audio recorded for Edutalk and some microcast type posts. Edutalk has had several hundred contributions from many different people over the years.

The situation at Edutalk is more worrying. I could pay $9.99 a month to keep my own account alive. But Edutalk has had contributions from many different people, we could not expect them to pay up for the privilege of having their content syndicated onto Edutalk.

AudioBoom did not provide any export that would help with importing into WordPress (or anything else). This differs from the posterous closedown which did give a WordPress export option.

We do have a while to sort this out. There is a month until the accounts become private.

AudioBoom does have an API, and we used it before.

I am not intending to rush, so this is the plan.

  1. Download the information about the posts using the API
  2. Download all the mp3s by parsing the JSON the api provides.
  3. Delete all the posts on edutalk that have been syndicated from AudioBoom.
  4. Upload all the mp3s
  5. Create posts that embed all these mp3s with the matching titles and descriptions etc.

Today I managed to download the json files and the mp3 I used AppleScript as I find it easier to get stuff done with that than pure shell scripting.

Thank goodness for the JSON helper for AppleScript which worked a treat.

I’ve put the script here:

in case anyone is interested.

I had to run it 10 times, I guess I could have just made a loop but as I ended up downloading 890 mp3 for a total of 2.6 GB batches of 100 files at a time seemed like a good idea.

I am a wee bit worried that there are 2186 posts syndicated from audioboo on the Edutalk site, but there does seem to be a lot of duplication presumably caused by FeedWordPress.

Next Steps

I’ve now got all of the data and the mp3 files I can get.

I know how to post to WordPress from AppleScript, but I’ve discovered a couple of hurdles. I don’t seem to be able to add an enclosure with AppleScript and I can’t see how to ad multiple tags to a post.

The first is probably not a problem. These posts are all so old that they will not feature in our RSS feed. I would like to include all of the tags. I may end up creating a WordPress export file or try one of the csv import plugins. There is now not such a rush. I can test these approaches on this blog with my own boos.

I guess the main lesson to be learnt here is about the temporary nature of the free layer of the web. The AudioBoo app and service were wonderful in their day but reliance on free services costs.

The featured images is a gif captured with Licecap, of a mp3 download.

Screenshot of the Wick Editor

Last week I posted about the end of Flash, one of the thing I regretted was the loss of a tool to teach animation.
This week I noticed Wick: The Internet’s Free and Open-Source Creation Toolkit. This  works best with Firefox and Chrome. It make javascript animations that can be exported as a webpage. I’ve put one in the iFrame below.

Direct link: jj-test-wick

It looks like you can do a lot of cleave stuff with JavaScript, byr the editor supports the use of motion tweens and clips that can have their own timelines and tweens without any scripting.

My skills in this department are limited, but if you look closely you will see the person in the animation is moving his arms and legs. They are a clip.

The flash vacuum is being filled before it exists.

I'm curious what, if anything, you all think that the IndieWeb as a community could do or do better to make things easier for Generation 2 users? by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (Chris Aldrich)

Hi Chris,
I am not sure there is much that the IndieWeb as a community can do more that the amazing efforts that are going on at the moment.

This reply turns out to be a bit of a ramble…

I think at this stage of the development of IndieWeb there is bound to be friction for new users.

I am certainly aware that some of my posts must sound like ungrateful whining (this is hard, I don’t understand, I am so confused…) hopefully if seen in the round some enthusiasm for the IndieWeb will shine through.

I doubt very much I can really add much to what the indieweb community already understands what they need to do. A stroll through Chris’s #indieweb channel makes that pretty clear.

Even in the short time I’ve been attempting to implement some of the principles here it has become simpler. I started with sempress at the end of 2014 but didn’t really take it much further although I read a bit and installed known.

It took micro.blog where I began to see the effects of webmentions from more than tweets to accelerate my interest.

Even in the short time micro.blog has been around the process has improved. The WordPress plugins seem much improved.

From my POV there seems to be several possible sticking points.

philosophy

I’ve instinctively alway enjoyed the idea of owning my own online space. This was backed up with an understanding of the Domain of one’s own idea through #DS106. This took a long time to think through, often with practical experience (posterous). We are really just scratching the surface of being online and everything that this brings with it, many folk will just not be interested in owning their own space.

In the U.K. there is a strong culture of home ownership compared to, say, Germany where renting is more popular it might be worth exploring the cultural reasons for decisions made between owning and renting.

learning

I’ve approached the IndieWeb from the same angle as I’ve taken to other technologies. I poke about a bit, try things out, change parameters and avoid reading instructions unless I am stuck. When stuck I search feather than read from the start. I am more likely to read a blog post that a manual. This method works well up to a point. With something that is a complex in both principal and execution as the indieweb I think it has some drawbacks. I’ve headed the wrong way a few times.

Engaging with members of the indieweb community is a really marvellous way to make progress. I didn’t really find my way into that until I used micro.blog.

The manual is pretty good, but there is a lot to understand.

Getting Started on WordPress is great too.

Perhaps shorter how-toos that don’t link off too much might and have a smaller scope might help generation 2 & 3? I am not the best person to judge this.

Some friction comes with the power. Especially if you have already got a blog, workflows etc going. I’ve found quite a few assumptions I had were slightly wrong.

nuts and bolts and choices

One of the difficulties that I found is that there are several ways to do most things. This is of course good, but can be confusing.

For example:

I had jetpack publishing my posts to twitter. When I started using micro.blog I took up a subscription for posting to Twitter, to see how it went and to pay something for the service.

I really like the way micro.blog posts images to Twitter, they look good, but they do not get webmentions in the same way other posts that go to twitter do.

I don’t like the way likes and replies that are posted on my blog are displayed on twitter. They include the Twitter card from my post and look like there should be some blog content behind them. This is fine for a article or longer note but doesn’t really work for replies or like. I guess I’ve not fully worked out how things are happening. Possibly I need to adjust the posts length or titles. I also dislike the way a quote at the start of the post can look as if it is my content rather than the person quoted.

I do like the way Chris’s replies are cross posted to Twitter. The look pretty much like normal replies except they are posted from his blog.

I wonder if using the bridgy publish plugin to send out my posts to twitter would be better.

This is just one example of a process I am, if not struggling with, am in the process of resolving. For me the process is interesting and certainly worth going through, I can see why some folk would not bother for the sake of owning a tweet.

All of this is harder than using a silo.

As I’ve tried the odd reply, like and bookmark here, I’ve had to slow down a bit. For replies at least this might be seen as an advantage. Moving toward a slow web avoiding this: You like my like of your like of my status on Vimeo.

Something’s I’ve decided, at the moment at least, to leave in silos, I like flickr, love it’s api and have the originals locally. My Videos on YouTube are mostly throwaway and I don’t think I could afford to host. They can wait while I slowly deal with what are more interesting issues to me.

This will probably not help Chris but it did help me realise that I’ve made some progress, enjoyed it and will continue. I don’t need to build my space in a day.

Finally I wonder how Chris replies to several people at once? I guess it is a known feature.

A last though, as I click Publish, will this end up as a comment on Chris’s post? How will it look on twitter, on micro.blog, I can’t say I am wholly confident that I know!

Reposts and quoting by Manton Reece
For Micro.blog, I believe the right approach is to first introduce a simple “quote” feature. This UI would be streamlined to support quoting a sentence out of a blog post, with your own thoughts tacked on. It would fit with the spirit of easy posting in Micro.blog, but it would encourage more thoughtful posts and naturally scale up from traditional linkblogging.

likes Reposts and quoting | Manton Reece

I very much agree that quoting from and adding something to a post is of great value, but some times I love something I don’t understand well enough to add value. That is why I’ve an enviable stuff category here.

Last week Adobe announced that they would stop supporting Flash in 2020.

Although in the age of mobile and tablets Flash content has become less important there still is a lot of educational material, especially games, that uses Flash.

Back at the end of the last century I used flash to make resources for teaching I even used this old one and this one in class this year.

I also used Flash to teach animation in class. Although Flash is expensive at the time I used it you could get cheap education copies and the software was less complicated.

Sandaig Primary School: Computer Club (on the Internet archive) still has some of the work we did.

I’ve just had a trip down memory lane, Littlefish Flash lists some of the things I did with Flash and also links to a pile of worksheets I made for my pupils.

Looking back I remember how exciting, for me, to be able to learn and teach about layers, frames, bitmap and vector graphics.

One of the introductory exercises we did was to use flash to trace our faces. The same technique was popular with my class using iPad apps this year.

I’ve read a lot online about the problems with Flash over the last few years. It uses too much energy for mobile and has regular security problems. Despite this and the fact it was priced out of my classroom when Adobe bought it I am a little sad that old flash content will either vanish or be hard to view in just a few years.

I didn’t ever expect to write a post with this title, but this has been stuck in my head for a while, I started writing it a few weeks ago.

Kenny Pieper is one of my favourite education bloggers. He doesn’t write much about technology but I don’t miss a post (his Book is a good read too).

In a recent post he writes about using google docs with his class and this bit brought me to a halt:

I would never use it with younger kids; they need to write accurately with pen or pencil before they should move on to more focused tools but for seniors it works really well.

From: What’s Up, Docs? Digital Technology in English.

I’ve recently finished my first year in a classroom in nearly a decade. A lot had changed! One of the thing that changed in my classroom is the children each had use of an iPad. I’ve blogged a bit about some of the technical aspects of the experience but not about some of the decisions made about when to use technology and any benefits. At the start of the year I didn’t introduce the iPads straightaway, but established jotters as normal. We discussed the importance of keeping using the jotters and over the year came to some sort of balance. I’d estimate about 1:2 iPad to handwriting ratio. Given that the primary sevens would be going to a new school next session where they would not have 1–2–1 devices I did not want to put them at any disadvantage.

It was a small class and only the older children, the primary sixes and sevens, did a lot of daily writing on the iPads. I’ve not got any statistics or real findings. I do feel that writing digitally has help with some of the processes of writing. In particular the ability and willingness to revise written work. Correcting ones own writing is a lot easier on a device and gives a more pleasing result in the main. Reorganising writing is easier too. Moving paragraphs around, or just creating paragraphs out of a block of text is a lot easier.

That should make improving writing easier? I hope so.

Kenny writes about his own experience of finding examples of his handwriting from the past.

I found a little piece of my own history when I came across the old notebook. Wouldn’t it be a shame if that same opportunity were to be denied to future generations?

From: What’s the point of handwriting?

Which was obviously an enjoyable experience for him. My own history with handwriting has been different.

All the way through school (and university) I got reminded that I would lose marks for my handwriting writing. I can’t recall ever feeling pleased with it.

Left handed, primary seven lessons with pen and ink were a smear. Even with a left handed fountain pen.

At sixteen, taking a shotgun licence form to the local police station my printed ‘signature’ provoked a ‘call that a signature son’, I’ve signed a scrawl ever since.

A gap of nearly 10 years between university and Jordanhill did nothing to improve the situation.

My first permanent head teacher gently suggested I practice writing on the board and at home. This I did for a few minutes at home (copied out the Tao Te Ching), and when I arrived in school. This improved my classroom writing enough to get by. Making Banda worksheets was an extended torture for me. Usually making a mistake right at the end.

When the same head suggested I improve my non-existent ICT skills by taking home a computer for the summer break I was not too keen, but I went along with it. I discover ClarisWorks and the ease of editing. I was much more interested now.

I write a lot. I’d not argue that I am a good writer, but I love blogging, as a way of sharing but more as a way of thinking.

The main difference between my blog and the few journals I’ve kept (I’ve found old travel ones) is that I can read the blog. I can search it too and find what I half-recall.

I don’t know if digital writing is better or worse for pupils literacy. I’ve read various bits of research but nothing conclusive. I certainly feel digital helps me and perhaps some learners.

Update: while this post has been maturing in drafts I read: Can’t Trust It: Typing vs Handwriting which indicates that the water is muddy.