iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GSJust before Christmas, I was given an iPhone 3GS to use as part of my MoLeNET Mentor role for LSN. It came from Italy [http://www.blogfromitaly.com/iphone-availability-italy/] and therefore requires no jail-breaking to be used with any provider.

Some readers may recall that I’d been loaned an iPhone 3G to trial last February (see bottom of post for list of related postings) .. and that I’d pretty much dismissed it as a phone: but praised it as a wonderful tool for use on the move (whilst mobile), provided that 02 could supply the necessary connectivity.

I’d pretty much decided that, apart from having no camera, the iTouch was the way to go. http://snipurl.com/twxcl (and below). And that’s the way I went from summer ’09. I inherited a 16gb iTouch after Sharon opted for the iPhone 3GS as soon as it came out. The iTouch did everything I wanted it to, provided I could get internet access via Wifi – something I was able to provide at home and whilst on the move via JoikuSpot [http://www.joikushop.com/] on my Nokia N95 and my T-Mobile Web-n-Walk data plan. Also see: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/mobile-notes/

Sharon loved the iPhone 3GS and she enthused about it. I could see why, because many of what I had seen previously as deficiencies had been ‘sorted’ (see previous postings below). It could now do MMS, it could now do video – it was an altogether better tool and marginally better phone, but was still dogged by poor connectivity. No matter how many people defend the 02 iPhone service – I will not be convinced that it is good. Not even as good as the service offered by 02 on their other phones.

Then came the news that 02’s exclusivity would run out in the autumn and that Orange and Vodafone would pick up (have picked up) the mantle. T-Mobile would follow. Then came my Christmas present from LSN …

screenshot - not importantI’ve been out of contract now for about a year and had been continuing with the old T-Mobile SIM in my Nokia N95 8gb. I thought I’d take advantage of this situation to review my spending and to take on board some more technology. I therefore re-contracted with T-Mobile (at half the cost, but over two years) and received a HTC Touch 2 for my troubles. I’d wanted a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone to play with (and to investigate the uses for and with) and this seemed the easiest way to get hold of one. I also took out a second SIM @ £10 p.m. to include unlimited texts and 3G. So – I pay for calls and MMS on that (they come out of the £10) but get all my texts and all my Internet at no extra charge. This is sitting pretty right now in the iPhone and although I cannot use 3G until January 1st (don’t ask), it shows all the signs of being ‘well connected’.

So – comparisons between Symbian, WM6.5 and iPhone will follow but on first appearances WM6.5 looks and feels old and decrepit, the Nokia is still fabulous and the iPhone (if I can remember not to put my finger over the speaker/mic when calling/listening) shows all the signs of being the better tool.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Some of the following postings about the iPhone include Podcasts:

http://dsugden.posterous.com/my-first-apple-day-1http://dsugden.posterous.com/my-first-apple-day-2
http://dsugden.posterous.com/iphone-trail-day-three
http://dsugden.posterous.com/my-first-apple-day-four
http://dsugden.posterous.com/my-first-apple-day-6
http://dsugden.posterous.com/my-first-apple-day-goodness-kn
http://dsugden.posterous.com/iphone-one-week-to-go
http://dsugden.posterous.com/iphone-story-final-chapter
https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/apple-pros-and-cons/

Blogging

Following a recent comment on one of my pages, I began to ask myself:

“Why DO I have so many blogs?”

and

“What is their purpose?”

The flippant answer is ‘who cares?” but the longer and more complicated answer is perhaps more interesting:

I’ve experimented with many and various blogging sites ever since I first came across blogging as a tool for education at the 2004 ALT-C Conference in Exeter. http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2004/. I remember returning to work and asking colleagues to try out the idea and to tell me what they thought. As it turned out not much – only one or two really saw the point. I played with a few sites and hated them – so started to write my own ‘blog’ via html.

For many years I wrote my blog using MS FrontPage 2003 and publishing it to my own domain: http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/blog.htm. This became much less convenient as new facilities became available via Web 2.0 and as I moved away from my XP laptop to my Vista laptop. The reasons for moving from XP to Vista are too complicated to go into here. At the same time Microsoft refused to update FrontPage for Vista and I’m too busy/slow/stupid (delete to suit) to learn Dreamweaver.

As the inconvenience became more pointed I moved over to WordPress (this blog).

I’d been playing with several blogging sites over the years, mainly to see which supported my needs and which was easiest for my learners to use (these days my learners tend to be teachers or trainers in the wider UK F.E. sector, although a fair proportion are from H.E.). Others have sought this Blog nirvana too: http://www.xlearn.co.uk/2009_09_01_archive.html

I found the change over to WordPress fairly smooth and although it still doesn’t do everything I want it to do, it is available on every machine I sit at and does ‘pretty much’ what I need. I do get irritated that the template I have chosen creates fairly small text (I have to code it slightly bigger myself when I remember) but the alternative is just another level of complexity.

I’ve tried:

* http://moblog.net/dsugden/ initially to send picture via mobile phone – but most blog sites allow this now

* http://touringfishman.blogspot.com/ (Play time version)

* http://dsugblog.blogspot.com/ (Books I read)

Both of the previous two are Google based Blogger sites, one of the first I tried Blogger didn’t fit enough of my needs to host the main blog. However, Blogger is the one I use with ‘new’ bloggers as it is simple to use and can be accessed via a Google login – which is essential for most web-based communications (another blog post maybe?)

* http://sites.google.com/site/dsugden/ This was a facility offered by Google during my visit to the USA in 2006. I experimented with it to keep a holiday diary. It (and the next) used to be ‘Google pages’ but have now become ‘sites.

* http://sites.google.com/site/dsugden/commodities This was a site I developed from the above – thinking to try and make it into a ‘learning’ web

* http://www.myspace.com/dsugden I used the blog facility here to write about ‘food’ but got really bored with it (same with Facebook – which I hate)

* http://dsugden.posterous.com/ was chosen initially as it could be authored via email and any images attached would be nicely inserted. As it developed, it became easy to ‘send to’ other social media and although I decided to make this blog my more chatty arena, it gets pushed to WordPress anyway – so it’s hard to choose between what is work and what is play.

So – again, why so many?

I tried to compartmentalise my blogs during the experimentation period, (blogger = books, MySpace = food etc.) and eventually to use Word Press to blog about e-Learning, m-Learning and teaching and learning generally; but really found it hard to separate my daily life from my daily work. I also found myself in something of a straight jacket and therefore decided to continue what I had started to do way back in 2005 with the Village –e-Learning Blog. They are all about me, what I do and who I am.

Will I open more? Will I try out other social media facilities?

Of course I will.

Season’s Greetings.

Sprouts

#lovesprouts

Having prepared your sprouts ala Twitter:

My perfect recipe for Sprouts this Christmas.

1) First of all arrange for all sprout haters 2B out of the house. #lovesprouts

2) Trim outer leaves; put one deep cut into root (no need for cross). Place pan of water on stove to boil #lovesprouts

3) When water boils, add a litte salt (stuff your arterial thrombosis) and the sprouts – boil for one minute. #lovesprouts

4) Remove from boiling water: immerse in cold (preferbly iced) water. #lovesprouts. Now – 3 versions for completion

Version 1 – plain

Cook dinner. As you start serving (I suppose you'll have to allow everyone back in the house now – Mmmm) anyway, as you start serving, slowly melt some butter in a pan and add the par-cooked sprouts as they begin to sizzle, lower the heat and cover with a lid for maybe 3-5 minutes. Serve. You should have lovely crunchy (or JUST past crunchy), delicious sprouts. If your guests suggest they are not soggy enough – remove them from the house and don't let them darken your doorstep again.

Version 2 – Tourangelle

Make a white sauce (just make one – this isn't a cookery course). Copy Version 1 above but with two slight changes: 1 – add a little crushed garlic to the butter and 2 – add the white sauce as you serve the sprouts. Super delightfully delicious.

Version 3 – A meal in itself.

This time you need some chunks of smoked bacon or ham (sliced rashers will do) and some walnuts (no other nut – just walnuts). Melt some butter (or duck fat – yummy) and cook the bacon/ham. When cooked and about to begin browning, add the sprouts for 3-5 minutes and then the blanched and peeled walnuts (look it up – the peeling is not essential for me, but the blanching probably is). Drain, serve. Actually – for this one, youprobably don't need guests, just sit alone with a pint of cold beer and a chunk of bread and ENJOY.

Merry Christmas.

Apple pros and cons

Continuing the diary theme: last week continued in the way it started: busy busy busy. I spent my actual birthday at the Apple offices in Regent Street and although much of the day was a repeat for me, I remain impressed by what can be achieved with Apple kit.

I was even more impressed by the iPhone’s accessibility functions. For me, an iPhone skeptic – the accessibility functions appear to be brilliant and I’m on a quest right now to check them out further. I also want to compare them to other phones’ accessible features.

I’m still reserved about the iPhone because although I understand, know and agree that it is a wonderful device – it is not a good phone. No matter what excuses people roll out in its defence the iPhone does not receive calls in places other phones on the same (previously only O2) network can. So come on Apple: up your game a bit here.

Just launched: iPhone via Tesco? Well I never. Sadly, I’m told that they use the same network as O2 so no change there then – just cheaper.

With Sally and Nigel, Sue and Barbara, I then helped to deliver Advanced e-Guides and PDAs in London (Tuesday) and Birmingham (Thursday). I had returned to the Thistle Hotel in Birmingham on Wednesday evening hoping to finally speak with someone in authority about my ‘missing’ camera. Despite phoning and writing to the company, I had had no reply whatsoever to my enquiries. If nothing else, this was very poor customer service by Thistle Hotel Birmingham. I did meet someone and he promised to get back to me within seven days. We’ll see. Full details published here if he doesn’t.

On Friday I visited The Manchester College to meet their MoLeNET team. They are partnering with Burnley College and it was therefore a great pleasure to see them represented by Jo Crumblehome. Jo and I had met several years ago and she gained my tremendous respect for the work she was doing with and for blind learners at the Burnley Football Club (a college outreach centre). We’d met up again last week at Apple but it was still great to realise that Burnley’s project is in safe hands. The Manchester team are another great bunch, firmly focused on learner outcome and effective, pedagogical use of devices.

So – just a week to go before things slacken off for Christmas!

Not Generation?

I’ve just read this:

http://wp.me/pwkUZ-5A [Bill Ferriter]
from http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/

… and am prompted to refute the idea that only people born within the last 30 years have “an entirely different set of expectations for their work experiences”. The author suggests that they: “want to be taken seriously and to have their professional strengths recognized and rewarded.  They grow impatient in situations where senior leaders fail to listen and frustrated when feedback on their performance is infrequent or ineffective.” – well don’t we all?

Frustration with the state of education and the apparently laggardly take-up of enriching and engaging technologies is not the sole domain of the 18-30’s or anyone with names like digital native or net-gens. A great many experienced (perhaps long in the tooth) teachers and trainers are equally frustrated by the “top layers of education’s bureaucracy [who] continue to doubt the intellect and ability of classroom teachers, leaving them out of important conversations

I agree wholeheartedly that things need to change and that (like Bill Ferriter) we should bemoan the loss of any good teachers to whatever onward career they choose. But let’s be honest here: It’s the system that’s creaking and not necessarily the older teacher.

Let us make more effort to ensure that the leaders of Education become increasingly aware of the benefits for technology by promoting ANY good practice and not just that of those with fancy labels.

Also see:

http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/

and

http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/visitors-and-residents/

or hear:

http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/e-learning-stuff-podcast-018-digital-literates/

A Busy Birthday weekend

Well, it was my birthday on Monday. Celebrations started on Friday last when Sharon took me to Leeds for the night. We’d decided to go on Friday because many of the Last Minute hotels in Leeds were booked up on Saturday. Even our recently favourited Ibis.

We stayed at the Hilton which was surprisingly dour and second rate. Sharon worried constantly about the 1″ plus gap beneath the fire door but I had more positive views about the likelihood of fire anyway (Positive in the sense that there wouldn’t be one). We had no towels and two phone calls plus a face to face request at reception failed to make these appear. In the end I had to visit the housekeepers myself (as they ‘sorted’ a room down the corridor). Then having been out and bought a bottle of wine, we noticed that there were no glasses! Sharon sorted that one with the same housekeepers. And, to finish, the room was noisy – all night. Cheap but hardly cheerful.

We had no luck with our planned meal either, at Strada, Red Chilli or La Tasca as they all professed to have hour long waiting lists – but this turned out to be a good thing as we ended up at Anthony’s, one of the finest restaurants in the north of England. I suspect that this was down to timing: At 9.15pm they had probably ‘sat’ all their bookings and could see just enough room for two more. I believe that an hour earlier our cold call would have received a ‘no’. The food was delightful. Each morsel had flavour, taste and texture and the ‘service’ was unobtrusive – which is, in itself a delight and far from the normal “is everything ok?” you get as you sit there with a mouth full of food, listening to your co-diner tell you something really interesting. All restaurants should take a leaf out of Anthony’s book and teach their waiters to hover – wait – watch – be invited to talk.

On Saturday, we had a nice relaxed breakfast at Bagel Nash. Their coffee turned out to be the best I’ve tasted in England this year and coupled with an ‘everything’ bagel (with butter and jam) was a great surprise. We went to Gill and Tony’s on Saturday night, a last minute invitation which, once again, turned out to be gem. We’re always relaxed in their company and it was a nice addition to a stretching birthday weekend. Emma and Charlie brought the girls around on Saturday afternoon – which is always  nice. Ben and Shiv came around on Sunday. It’s so great to see my kids from time to time – but like the old song by Harry Chapin suggests http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH46SmVv8SU time is always tight.

Then I began one of the busiest weeks of recent months. On my actual birthday, Monday, I travelled to London to meet my colleagues and friends before our delivery of the Advanced e-Guide/PDA programme Day 2 on Tuesday. I went early so that  could attend the MoLeNET event being held at the Apple Store on Regent Street. I learned lots of things here – one of which I will pursue at some time in the future – the iPhone accessibility features. I think I need to reflect on the week a little more.

Anyway – many many thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings and best wishes. I like to think that my electronic replies of gratitude reached you – but as I can never be sure: Thanks you again. 🙂

Mobile notes

Although this post is about taking notes on a mobile device, I have to admit to using my Mac Book Pro to compose it. My apologies to all purist readers.

I am prompted to write this after reading Col Hawksworth’s recent blog post and subsequent comments. http://mindmug.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/take-note/. Half way through my reply to his post (and Jame’s agreement with Col’s frustration) I realised that I had the makings of something to say that might be useful to others. My post is not entirely unrelated – but not about the iPhone undo function – which Col has solved.

I used to be an avid note taker. At meetings, conferences and throughout my various University courses I took notes. Lots of notes. These helped me later to form ideas, plans and write reports for managers. All were on paper – at the time it would have been impossible to take a laptop with me (or in earlier times the slate and chalk) :-). When I received my first Palm PDA (back in 2002) I begun to realise that this could be a useful device for taking notes. After struggling with the script writing software I quickly updated to a WM-OS iPaq. Now this was great, all I had to do was tap away at the screen with a stick and at the end of the day synch the notes up to the PC mother-ship and there were my notes; in Word ready to spell check, add to and move on. But something was missing. As the keyboard became smaller (actually, the keyboard remained the same – but my eyesight deteriorated) it became much more frustrating to use. And – have you noticed the position of your arm when you’re tapping away with a stylus? I eventually stopped taking notes on a mobile device and resorted once more to paper.

Over the intervening two or three years my handwriting (never my best feature) had, like my eyesight, deteriorated. My scrawl was hardly legible and therefore hardly any use so, over time I became more reliant on memory: never the best of all human features. I tried laptops (sometimes too heavy, no battery life, too big for use in some places – sometimes just too laptoppy!) and thought that all my note-taking ships had come in at once when the Asus eee popped onto the market. But I fell out of love with that too.

So now what?

Well, I’m currently using the iTouch to take down my reflections on train journeys. And I’m loving it.

Why?

I think that it’s a combination of ease, of software choice and Web 2.0 connectivity. Thanks to Lilian Soon and Ron Mitchell, I’ve been persuaded to use Evernote. This sits nicely on the iTouch and on my Mac. I suspect it will also work on one of my other laptops but I’m not currently speaking to them (long story). I’m also using Dropbox on both (all actually) devices. So, I now have the ability to grab, capture and compose bits and pieces on any device and with the magic of Web 2.0, knit them all together later when I have the time and patience. But (and here, finally is the link to Col’s post) the main convenience is the finger tappingly good interface on the iTouch. Despite aging eyes, despite the screen size (which for a mobile device is excellent) I’ve found that I can manage to tap out a convincingly long piece of reflection without a problem. My Penzu personal reflections (prepared for IfL) have never been so good. My blog posts (apart from this) are often formed via Evernote and the iTouch. And why is the iTouch ok and the iPaq not so good (for me)? Because I use my fingers. Simply that. It’s tactility makes it the tool for me. I can increase the text size by spreading two fingers on the screen, I can tap away at a reasonably sized keyboard and (most importantly) my brain can keep up with my fingers in a way that it could never keep up with the stylus on my iPaq. So, now that hand, brain and device are in synch – I seem to manage perfectly well. And also because of this, I’ve not (yet!!!) had the problem James and Col describe of deleting the whole damn lot.

And finally, why am I using my Mac to write this instead of my iTouch? Well, there’s a real keyboard and it’s the right tool to do the job. The iTouch is perfect for impromptu note taking, but there’s no need to use it all the time.