January 13

Google+ Hang Out with QR Codes

We had an exciting day last Friday when we used Google+ to hang out with the 2nd grade gifted inclusion kids at Ms. Mensing’s class from Sonoran Sky Elementary in Scottsdale, Arizona! Whew! That’s a mouthful! But these kids were AWEsome! I taught a brief lesson on QR Codes in the Classroom (and Library!) all about where QR Codes came from, how they are different than regular bar codes, and how they are being used all over the world to transmit information like Text Messages, Video, and URL Web links via Mobile Media!

Say What!?
After that my 6th graders in Ms. Torsani’s Math class held up to the camera special QR Voice audio codes & written messages they composed for the kids!  QR Code Voice is a really cool new resource! You just type in a short message (100 Characters) and click and Voila! You get a QR Code that when scanned reads out in a robotic voice your message! Scan the QR code on the left to see what it says! (Download the FREE QR Code APP i-nigma for both iPhone & Android! Click link or search on the App store for i nigma QR)
Ms. Mensing’s kids scanned the codes using both iPod touch generaton 4’s (like we have here at the MHMS Daring School Library!) and iPad 2’s! (we don’t have any of those yet, but I brought mine in!) they were very engaged with the learning and it was a lot of fun!
Ms. Mensing and I became friends when we were both at the Google Teacher Academy this past summer in Seattle Washington.   That’s her next to me & Miss Critter Sharpe (and another teacher friend) She’s the one with the long blonde hair & fabulous pearls! I’m peeking out from behind the sign – NINJA Style! We had a great time learning together and I’m so glad we could use Google+ to hang out with our kids.
Then…this week I got the BEST PRESENT EVER in the mail! A big envelope of drawings & letters from Ms. Mensing’s class! SQUEE!
See ALL the cool pics here!Most were taken by Mrs. Mensing, Thank you for your permission to use them, hon!
Thank you Ms. Mensing & Ms. Torsani for an amazing video chat adventure! We’re gonna have to do that again! Hmmmm next time MATH!???
January 8

10 Super Geeky Tips for the New Year


Resolutions are usually hard to keep..but there are a few easily done things that feel great for a SUPER GEEKY SAFE….errm Aware! New Year. (There is no *safe* on the Interwebs, only Aware!)

(click above for a larger size or download PDF it here)
1. Change your passwords. Yes, ALL of them.
According to CNN Tech an 8 digit password can be hacked in 2 hours but a 12 character password would take 17 years. Use this handy NEW! Comic Tutorial to create a really super new password for every website….don’t worry, there’s a trick! Oh and in the small print I said 3 important things – Change your passwords twice a year, have a different password for Facebook that you don’t use for ANYwhere else because FB’s security is notoriously unreliable (and the bank, too), and as a disclaimer – I’m not a security expert and nothing is foolproof.

2. Check your Browser’s History & Dump your cache, cookies
Parents: If you’re a concerned & want to see what is being viewed on your home computers – check your browser history. Then, at least once a year (I try quarterly) go around to every computer you use public & private -and dump the cache, clear your cookies, & browsing history. Just in case visitors or workers in the home can get into your private business. Also, I would not recommend instant password acceptance on your email, social networks,  or banking institutions.

3. Consolidate your Flashdrives
We all have a gajillion flashdrives floating around from 128mg’s to 16gb’s. Lazy Way: Gather them all up and create a folder on your external HD called flashdrive backups (or one folder per flashdrive) and drag all the stuff in there. Smart Way: Go through all those flashdrives & trash anything you really don’t need & save only the archive worthy stuff. While you’re at it – are those drives named? Do you have an .RTF doc on it that says “If found, Please Read” with your contact information? This might be a good time to get those on there. I give every new teacher to my school a new 4G flashdrive and yeah, sometimes they lose them. So, even though it’s super easy to carry around & save stuff in a pinch, you wanna give yourself a chance to get it back if lost. Now… throw some of those old flashdrives away & go on to the next tip.
dropbox.JPG4. Forget the flashdrive try the cloud!
Now that you’ve backed up your flashdrives consider using Dropbox, Amazon Prime storage, iCloud, or Google docs to save your stuff! Don’t have Dropbox? Get it by using THIS SPECIAL SECRET SQUIRREL LINK to register for dropbox & and you’ll get EXTRA FREE SPACE!  (it’s a geeky pyramid scheme but so worth it!) Dropbox allows you store your files online, easily share files with others, and sync your documents with multiple computers and mobile devices. I have it on my iPad and all my Macs both home and at school! This is a must have tool for educators! It’s Free, Convenient, and Saves Time!
5. Edit your privacy settings & friendships
Facebook is notoriously changing their privacy settings – Google “latest facebook privacy settings” to read blogs with advice to double check that you’re sharing what you want to share. Consider what you share and who you share it with. Also, look at your friends – are you really friends with them? Or are they friends of friends? Friends of friends are NOT friends. “While considering what’s private and public, take time to evaluate what a “friend,” “contact” or “follower” means to you and what types of information you share with different groups.” (Quoted from the super AWEsome )

6. Walk wisely. We all should be good role models for our kids & students about what kind of footprints we’re leaving on the Intarwebs. Google your name, your child’s name, (“your name” add state) and see what comes up. It is up to us to create a positive digital footprint, one that we can show future education institutions, employers, and the future.

7. Buy your name. (or your kids name!) 
For $10 bucks a year you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don’t want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, I considered it back in the late 90’s – went with Angelfire instead. That was stooopid. Wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh Opera singer & the Sci Fi YA Author! Ahh well! Now I have 2 domains!

8. Clean out your Apps!
If you have a smart phone, iPad, or tablet review the APPS you have downloaded. Are you still using them? If not, they’re taking up valuable memory & space and could be slowing down your phone or tablet. Also delete old versions of Apps. I had a lot of “lite” FREE versions of Apps I later went & bought. (Like yes, Angry Birds & Air Penguin) Save space  and get better performance by cleaning once a year!

9. Go digital with your photos
Using a site like Flickr or Picasa you can save your digital moments & share them with family and friends. Uploads can be either public or private (or to family, friends, groups, etc.)  “Flickr has some similar qualities to Facebook, such as “contacts” (friends), comment postings, private messages can be sent, there are groups anyone can join, blogs can be maintained, Flickr can be operated via cell phone or computer, and there are even more mutual features.” Directions from:  Setting Up an Online Photo Gallery with Flickr


10. Back up your data.
“Hacks and hardware failures happen. Before this year gets going, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected. From calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects, more and more of us are relying on networks of servers and startups to keep us running. So, now might be a good time to download and back up files of your contacts and blog posts – anything that’s valuable to you and portable.” Get a big external HD but also burn to CD or DVD the really important stuff because I’ve had externals die on me. And yeah, the cloud is awesome, but I’m not ready to give over yet completely! LOL “Think of it this way: You – or at least parts of you – live in the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?(Quoted, inspired & adapted from the super AWEsome )

What are the geeky things that you do that we can learn from?
Please comment your suggestions, corrections, & additions! Thank you dear readers!

And……Happy New Year!
BEST Christmas Presents EVER!
Oh and though Santa got me an iPad2 for Christmas, don’t tell him but here are the best presents I got this year from 2 students featuring a Ninja Squirrel & Ninja Bacon, & one fabulous kid blogger – my friend Hagan! (click for larger images)


(check out Ninja Bacon! My kids know I love Ninjas!)

Lastly, thank you to everyone who voted for this blog as Edublogs Best Librarian Blog– we were only 16 votes away from winning! Maybe someday! But seriously, having this conversation with you is the real prize! For reals! Thank you!
(not that I’m not gonna pimp my blog with those fab badges! Love me some badges!)

–Credits & Resources
Creating and Remembering Complex Passwords by Alex Jones (not my nephew!)
The Ultimate Guide for Creating Strong Passwords – Some of these suggestions seem impossible but I got great ideas here.
The top 50 passwords you should never use | Naked Security
8 Things Every Geek Needs to Do Before 2010
Five New Years Resolution Suggestions.
Baby Cthulhu Squishable a gift from my dear friend Dr. Gelving Obolensky of New Babbage. Thanks darlin! He, I will NEVER Prune from my PLN tree!

Flashdrive pic from: bamalibrarylady Tamara Evans