World Book Night

World Book Night 2012 logoTomorrow, Monday 23rd April 2012, is World Book Night.

World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift books in their communities to share their love of reading. 1,000,000 books are given out in total – half of these are donated directly to hospitals, prisons and care homes, and the other half go to the Givers to distribute amongst individuals in their communities.

I’d never heard of this event until last year, when Karen Ford presented me with a book for World Book Night 2011. [See]. Then, I’d thought that I had to buy the books to distribute, but no, the books are supplied for me to distribute.

I therefore have 24 copies of Misery by Stephen King to distribute.

Picture of books taken from web site.

I can’t remember exactly how the selection of books went but I think I was given the list of books to be given away (see picture on left) and asked to pick my top five (may have been ten). I then had to say why I liked the book and why I would want to give that particular one away to friends.

I think Misery was my third or fourth choice. It has been a while since I read it, but I do remember it being more gripping than the film (which starred Kathey Bates and James Caan.

I suspect that I had also chosen The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, a book that I loved reading; Small Island by Andrea Levy, which an interesting read; Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Not because I didn’t like the others, but because I could remember enough about these choices to write a short review 🙂

Anyway, watch the news tomorrow and the World  Book Night web site for the launch and look out for friends wanting to give you a book. Enjoy reading!

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Staffrooms

picture of a small coffeeI first read about this back in February in the Guardian, but thought it was just a journalistic way of filling up the print inches and therefore thought no more about it. Then, yesterday’s Sunday Times seemed to imply that the removal of a requirement to provide staff spaces in schools was now a fait accompli.

Not to have somewhere to go and simply ‘chill’, in any occupation, must be dire.  Even now; self employed and working from home, I have places around the house that I can go to for a change of environment.

Teachers especially (remember that teachers do not ‘work with’ their peers, but with completely different age groups), need their ‘break’ space.

Over and above their role as chilling space and change of environment, staff-rooms have other important socio/academic functions; not least the chance they offer what for many are the best opportunities for sharing and collaboration with colleagues.

Without staff-rooms, how would young/new teachers seek informal advice and guidence? How would all appropriate personnel become aware of the recent death in little Johnie’s family? How would practitioner’s ‘cascade’ newly learned techniques and skills?

We throw away these informal, collaborative places at our peril. It has been tried (and failed) before.

Read: The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

Photo editing – Aviary

Earlier this week, and just after posting my previous blog post I received a notification from Flickr which meant that some information I’d given in my earlier post would now be out of date.

We are thrilled to share the news that we’ve partnered with Aviary to bring you a brand new photo editing experience on Flickr. [Flickr blog]

I wasn’t overly surprised at Flickr’s decision to move from Picnik, given my earlier post [January 2012].

Aviary has never been one of the online photo editors I’ve mentioned or recommended before as although I’d always been aware of the service I had never used it. I’ve always thought that two or three different sites offering the same or similar service, is enough.

So I never went there much, before today!

Flickr does not link to the main (original?) Aviary site, which gives access to a powerful range of tools which go far beyond the sort of editing I want to do quickly and easily online. Instead, it links to a basic, icon-led and very customer friendly interface. This video demonstrates some of the features available (don’t worry that it shows it being used on a mobile device – I’ve only found links to the SDK online, not an actual App – perhaps it’s me?)

So, whilst I don’t always welcome major and constant change, I do do cautiously welcome this one. One of my predicted nails in Picnik’s coffin 😦

 

Photo hosting

picture of angler with huge fishI’ve had a Flickr account for several years now and I like the service so much that I have paid a little extra for the privilege since 2007.  I’ve also had a Photobucket account for about the same length of time, but I haven’t used that much. Mainly because I prefer Flickr’s interface and facilities.

I think that photo hosting sites like these two are essential in today’s online world. With both services, you can show your favourite pictures to anyone and everyone around the world. You can set access controls to individual images so that some can be totally public and some private to only selected viewers. For me the most useful facility is that I can insert pictures into my blog directly from Flickr/Photobucket. Both sites offer editing facilities – Flickr uses Picnik and Photobucket uses Fotoflexer, both of which are useful editing sites (I prefer Fotoflexer).

two chairs covered in snowHowever, Photobucket presents non-stop video advertising during the time you are uploading images and I find this intensely irritating. By comparison, I also have a different ‘free’ Flickr account where the adverts are far less intrusive, whilst on my main ‘paid’ Flickr account there are no adverts at all. I think that I prefer this option. By paying just a little over $47 every two years, I avoid all of the irritation of advertising (I even record T.V. programmes, so that I can fast forward through the adverts) and am not limited to the number of images I upload.

I don’t think that there’s a ‘pay for’ option on Photobucket.

Another service that puts Flickr in front for me is the fact that I can attach various levels of Creative Commons to my images and that I can search for similarly usefully copyright free(ish) images on the site.