Thursday, August 13, 2009

There is now an alternative to PowerPoint Presentations? That's right, Prezi offers a way to do presentations that Harvard Business Review called "Insanely great," and Techcrunch said was the, "coolest online presentation tool I have ever seen."
Prezi is an application that has 3 positive features:
  1. It does not require you to download anything to your computer,
  2. You can link to any file you create,
  3. And my favorite, it's FREE!
This is an application that is easy to learn and can include images and videos in your presentations. You can click here to see a Prezi presentation I made on "Facebook and Twitter for Education." You can also go to and watch the one minute video and look at the other examples.
Give Prezi a try and you might say goodbye to Powerpoint. As always, call if you need help with this or any other application that might help you in the classroom.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Did you know that you can take a PDF file, convert it to a document (either a .doc or .rft) edit it and save it as a PDF?
How many times have you had a PDF file that you wanted to edit and couldn't? Well here is a solution to this situation. You can use PDF to Word. It is a 3 step process:
  1. Select the PDF file
  2. Choose to convert it to .DOC or .RTF
  3. Enter your email address and click Convert
  4. Wait for the email
  5. Once you receive the email, open the attached document and make your corrections
  6. Then save the file as a PDF
No downloading is required and, remember our favorite word, it's FREE.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Have you ever tried to copy part of a webpage and printed a lot of pages you didn't need? Here a way to make any webpage print friendly, and save paper.  Go to

and enter the URL of the page you want to print and it will give you a print preview. Now just select the stuff you don't want printed, delete it, and print what you want.

Save a tree, lower your frustration, get what you ordered--use
And, like most of our tips, IT'S FREE! 

Monday, May 4, 2009 to find Adobe ConnectNow

Did you know that Adobe has a site where you can create PDF's for free, even if you don't have the Adobe Acrobat software? You can also use Adobe Connect to meet live over the web and share your screen with anyone.
That's right, at you can use several of Adobe's applications for free. You may have heard of Adobe Buzzword to share documents, well Adobe has added Adobe ConnectNow, Create PDF, Share (to send files to others), and MyFiles (to store your files online).
All you need is a User Name (email) and Password which are, as we always look for, FREE!  Also, if you have one of Adobe's CS4 applications you have the ability to share your screen with others. Look under File>Share My Screen... This will take you to a sign in screen where you log on and then email the person you want to share your screen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Finding Facebook Connections

Are you aware that there are applications you can use to visually see how your friends network together on Facebook?
That's right, for all you visual learners you can see the connections between your friends. Here are a few of the applications that you can use, a description of each from their website, and my comments on them:
  • Facebook Visualiser "Visualiser is a tool to graphically explore your facebook social network. You can use it to see how all your contacts are connected to each other, and in the process disclose unknown common friends. Other FOAF (friend-of-a-friend) disclosure would be interesting, but unfortunately, the Facebook API doesn't include this important bit of data."
    COMMENT: Like this one the best. It uses the photos of you friends and draws connecting lines between the ones who are networked. You can make the chart larger or smaller and sort by relationship and gender filters.
  • Facebook Friend Wheel "Friend Wheel is free and anyone with a Facebook account can see their network of friends linked and represented in this fashion. The rationale is simple: On the outside are all of your friends and if two people are linked together, it means that they are friends with each other. There's also an interactive flash version which allows the nodes to be moved and highlighted, and makes it possible to zoom in and out."
    COMMENT: The most colorful of all the options. Friends are listed around the outside of a circle and lines link connections. The more friends, the harder to differentiate the connections. Created by a 19 year old student with 100 friends.

  • Nexus "Nexus is a friend grapher for Facebook built on Graphviz twopi and neato. It calculates friend similarity by parsing profiles (through the Facebook API), and highlights links between friends who share interests and groups. While the generated image is static, browsing the connections is dynamic: clicking a friend node shows who they are friends with, as well as all commonalities with mutual friends."
    COMMENT: Interesting but looks more like a visit to a planetarium in the dark version. You can rollover the dots and you friend's photo appears. A light version can be selected and size can be easily changed.

  • Facebook Mutual Friends "Daniel McLaren has built a Facebook friends visualization using his own flash-based graph visualization tool called Constellation. The interface lets you see which of your friends know each other. At any given time it will show one of your friends as the selected node (in bold), and any mutual friends as additional nodes. Lines between nodes represent friendships." 
    COMMENT: Interesting format if you like to see things move about. Click on a friend from the drop down window and that friend's connections will be displayed. Could use a lot of processor energy with a large number of friends.

All of these applications are free and none require a download.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Have a Picnic with Picnik

Previously I have mentioned Adobe's Photoshop Express and Google's Picasa for photo editing. One problem with Picasa is that you need to download the software to your computer and it seems to take over all you digital images. I found this frustrating since I also use Photoshop CS4 for editing and didn't want the Picasa logo on my images. Flickr, a Yahoo application, does not require any download (by the way, neither does Adobe's Photoshop Express) and does a nice job in photo editing. But recently I discovered an application I like better than these three and there is no download required and, like the others, it's a FREE registration. Yea!
This application for photo editing that I recently discovered, and really like, is 
Picnik ( This application will allow you to do the usual editing things like crop, rotate, resize, make color corrections and remove red-eye. But it will also let you do a lot more. For example you can add effects to your photos. Like adding vibrance, vignettes, mattes and making color changes. You can also turn your image into a pencil sketch, increase film grain and posterize them. You can add stickers, text and frames. All these are done with easy clicks of your mouse.
Above is an an image I edited with a few mouse clicks using Picnik. The results can be seen in the image below. As you can see, its been cropped, text added and it has been sharpened and posterized and had a frame added. Give it a try--after all it's free, what do you have to lose?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Abbreviating URL's

Did you know that you can abbreviate URL's? Well, not actually abbreviate them, but you can shorten them.
Have you ever run across a URL filled with percent signs and underscores and equal signs? Something that looks like this:
This could be copied and pasted in a browser, but what if it had to be typed? Here's a solution that is (say it with me) FREE! Go to and paste in this long URL and it will be converted to something much more manageable, in this case it would be: Either URL will take you to the same place but isn't a lot easier to use?
So join the movement to stamp out the use of &'s and %'s in URL's and make them tiny.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Old Technology--The Chalkboard

Did you know that there are "thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars" available on the Internet?

That's right, on Academic Earth there are educators from places like Stanford, Yale, Harvard and MIT that have placed full lectures online and, in some cases, full courses. Do you need to refresh your teaching topics? Want to assign a special lecture on Milton? Need help falling asleep?
The lectures are referenced by Subject, University, and Instructor. And each lecture is graded! That's right--grades are assigned. There is also a list of Top Rated Courses, Lectures, and Playlists.
Not only are they available, but they are FREE! We not only look for exciting and helpful applications to share with you, we try to find free things. There is a place to register, but even the registration is free.
So click on Academic Earth, or go to, and see if Alan Binder can help you understand the "Origins of the Financial Mess," or if Gilbert Strang can help you with "Linear Algebra," or if Amy Hungerford can explain "The American Novel Since 1945."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Applications for Google Earth

Did you know that you can use Google Earth for more than looking at your home from a  satellite?
That's right, Google Earth can give you a lot of information. If, for example, you click the little "+" next to Gallery, under the Layers frame you will see several options. Clicking on one of them, like New York Times, will place icons showing every location where there is a story in the Times. Under 
Geographic Web you can select places where there are Wikipedia
But there is still an even more exciting application that can be used. From the Google Earth website (not the Google Earth program but the website (, you select Gallery from the menu on the left and choose from several topic areas, one of which is Educational. Each topic has applications that can be opened in Google Earth. When you click on the "Open in Google Earth" link the application is transferred to your Google Earth program and can be found under the Temporary Places folder in the Places frame.
There are some excellent educational applications that can be used in the classroom. Things like "World Population Density," "Darfur--Destruction of 1,000 Villages," and "Age of Exploration: Magellan's Circumnavigation of the World," can enhance a lecture or discussion with information that visually enhances learning. 

Click here for a short video on adding these applications to your Google Earth program.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Creating Screen Captures

TechSmith, who produces Camtasia Studio and Snagit, also provide a free screen capture program (available for both PC and Mac) that will allow you to create short (5 minutes or less, but should a screeen capture really be longer than that?) videos. 
This product is called Jing. Today, Jing is offering an expanded set of features in Jing Pro, which costs $14.95 a year. For this price you get a better quality of movie (an MPEG-4 AVC), smaller video files, a link to upload directly to YouTube (you can still upload to other video sharing applications like Facebook), and the Jing branding is gone from the final product. 
I've attached a sample video I created using the free Jing. This file was uploaded to, which has some free space for Jing users and clicking on the link will take you to Screencast where you can view it.  The movie gives instructions on adding photos to Office 2007's PowerPoint.