If there is a problem, Twitter will solve it – The power of a great PLN

If Twitter for Educators needed a new catch phrase it need only call upon Vanilla Ice  and DJ Earthquakes 1991 anthem Ice Ice Baby, run to line 17 and there it is…

If there is a problem, Yo I’ll solve it.

After school yesterday I was faced with a novice Mac user question  (I have a lot of these at the moment). I googled the question and received too many leads, most were to paid sites, some were free downloads and many were to tutorials or forums; all were probably good leads and would have answered my question, but not the fast fix that I was after as I was trying to work to a tight timeframe.

So I tweeted the question and “Bada Bing” I had several different options that solved my problem, but one came up multiple times – Quicktime. So I downloaded Quicktime, installed it,  watched a youtube tutorial that explained what I wanted to do and I moved onto the next task on my to do list.

It was a perfect illustration of why I use twitter, why I follow the people that I follow and why I communicate and collaborate with those people.  The Tweeps that I refer to as my PLN have a wealth of knowledge and are so keen to help where they can.  By building a relationship with them they become more than just names on a list, they become colleagues and friends and when they have a problem or I have a problem we help each other if we can.

So if you are thinking about your PLN and about some Tweeps who are awesome helpers, collaborators and willing to share an idea or thought then you need to have a follow of Stephen (@PalmyTeacher), Allanah (@AllanahK), Vivian (@ChezVivian), Juliet (@Juliete_Revell), Julien (@Julienlesueur), Paddy (@Spongepaddy), Rebekah (@ndbekah) and Luke (@Novalightning). These 8 people who I think of as friends,live all around the world and have never met, are just too awesome and I truly apprieciate them and the time that they gave me yesterday when I was stuck.

So I dedicate the clip below to them as thanks 🙂


Open Source Software: Just because it is free it doesn’t make it cheap.

With my new computer I am coping with a constant stream of new learning and that is not a bad thing as I like to refere to myself as a learner, especially around my students.  When I first experienced a Mac 8 years ago there was not YouTube or Twitter to solve my problems and I did not even have computer access most of the time; now I have all of these things and every issue that arises is solved in mear Open-Source5-460x290minutes.

Now one thing that has been a constant for my entire ICT life (almost 20 years) is Microsoft Office its related products. Outlook, Front Page, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint and Word have all been my friends and go to programmes, but this new computer came without and I felt abandoned.  Google Docs is now the main man – it’s my place for documents, spreadsheets, presentations and surveys (My favorite feature of Google Docs), but what was I to do if not online?  My schools report format is not a Google doc.

What to do? What to do? Tweet the question!

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 1.16.47 PM

The responses were varied, but the response that has been a game changer sent me the way of Libre Office.  It is an open source set of programmes that replaces the Microsoft package. Open source, but I can not be as good if it is free and it must be full of adds and hidden snags!  But then realized that I have been shouting the praises of Mozilla for years and Gmail and Chrome have never caused me a problem and in fact I could not live without them. Open source software in my mind is programmers creating not for the money, but for the love of it ; thumbing their noses at the Man like a Cyber Hippie (If i offend with that analogy I’m sorry as that was no the intent and yes Google has money in mind , but it still provides a pretty fantastic service for no cost to me).

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 3.47.11 PMSo, Libre is free to download, a donation is appreciated, but not required and then you are ready to go.  Is it as pretty or streamlined as Microsoft? Not really, but is that the purpose of the tool? I downloaded Libre Office and it is fantastic. All that I want to do is there, I have not needed to read a manual to figure it out and when saving a document there is all the expected options including save as a .docx.  I am free to create and write, cut and paste and all that I could do previously, so if you are in line for a new computer, or simply feel like stepping outside the norm, give it a download.

Now, with my most of my data cloud based in Google, Dropbox, Evernote and Libre Office on my computer I think that I am free of Microsoft for the first time in 20 years.  OK, I am still in debt to Apple, but until my iPhone dies and this Macbook Air does too I will keep on the MAC path.  Who knows, maybe in 20 more years I will jump to Linux?

Changing of the Guard – Apple is in, PC is out.

Now this week something happened that I never thought would unless I was forced to by a schools computer preference… I bought a MacBook Air.  I always knew the pros of Apple with regards to Education; Movie Maker does not quite compare to iMovie and comparing Audacity  and Garageband is like comparing Lego and Duplo – they do the same things kind of, but not really.

The biggest game changer has been the use of my iPhone in class and the class iPad (Singular, Uno, Tahi, like Han it is Solo).  I have come to love Apple and the ease of its applications and interface. Now I am not going to claim that there is only one device to rule them all, as that is just malarky and we all know it, but for now I am going the Apple path and am plaining to photoabsorb myself in all it has to offer.

Now I have chosen the MacBook Air 11 inch, which is small in size and storage and that could be problematic, but I do not feel that it will be.  The majority of all the ‘paperwork’ that I make at the moment is cloud based in Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive, so storage of that will not come into the equation.  All of the movies or audio that I have created over the past 6 months is using either an iPad or iPhone then sent to various hosting sites such as YouTube or Vimeo, so again it should not be a problem.  My only issue that I can see being a problem with storage will be music and photos; the photos could be cloud based, but I prefer not to send family photos out to the net, so I think that with a new hard drive this problem will also be saved.

photo (1)Ok, so I am sure that those are not the only three issues, but the rest will be part of the adventure. In 15 minutes of playing i was able to hook into the Wifi at school and workout how the proxy settings worked and I think that the command key works like right click on a mouse, but not always. The journey has begun and I’m feeling good about it, so lets hope that I am feeling the same way once school is back and I have to use it in my class.

In conclusion I must also add that I am not going to miss Microsoft’s constant change in operating system… I am sure that Windows 7 is quite fantastic, but I am not going to take the time to relearn how to use my PC every time a new operating system arrives. So as of now, I am the newest Apple Fanboy and quite excited at the prospect.