The use of Windows-D to minimise Windows

I learnt a new trick today from a techie that was helping me with something.

I have known about holding down the windows key and pressing the letter M, to minimse all windows that are open to the bottom of the screen, but I didn’t know about Windows and D, which does the same thing except with this you can reverse it, by pressing Windows and D again (to bring all the windows up again).

Another advantage of this, is I can do this one handed as the letter D is closer to the Windows key than the letter M.

Another useful tip, is the combination of Windows-L which locks the computer – very useful if nipping out to the loo for a few minutes, and you don’t want your office mates to send rude emails to your line from your computer.

Educational laptops for less than £100

The Asus eee which is an ultra small, ultra lightweight laptop type device but most importantly costs about £200 has started a kind of revolution, where devices are getting smaller, lighter, cheaper, and significantly are moving open source solutions such as Linux and Open Office.

Elonex have  plans for a similar device to appear in June this year for less than £100

These development are not for everyone (I for one with bad eyesight, and fat chunky fingers will probably always go for the bigger laptop type device), however this does present a completely different model for educational establishments. Rather than investing heavily in thousands of computers in Learning resource centres and classrooms, they could just invest in a really good realiable wireless network, and allow people to bring in their own devices (whether they be full size laptops, mini laptops or other internet enabled devices). This would save the institutions lots of money, would save the environment (think of all those computers that are currently left switched on not being used).

There would obviously be other isues to consider such as storage, re-charging, acceptable use policies, bullying etc. but all of these are surmountable and the benefits enormous.

Synchronising Outlook, Google and a Mobile device

Up until recently I have used Google Calendars as my primary diary, with a mechanism to record a back up to my Outlook account stored on my laptop. This worked well as I could access my calendar from anywhere on the web, and I could give other people access to it (e.g. my wife).

I have thanks to a posting by someone called Jake Ludington on his blog, managed to create a mechanism that synchronises Google with Outlook, and subsequently a mobile device such as my PDA. This means that I can view or add appointments to my calendar from my lapto, my PDA, or any internet connected computer.

Now for someone like me that doesn’t do paper, spends most of my time ‘mobile’ this is very useful indeed.

Getting rid of the ‘Drawing canvas’ in Microsoft Word 2003

When I first started using Word 2003, one of the most annoying things that I discovered was the way that it handled the drawing of images – in that if you wanted to draw a simple diagram (e.g. 2 text boxes connected by an arrow) – it would automatically create a drawing canvas, and make it hard to get the drawings to fit with the surrounding text…

..But this feature can be turned off (and is one of the first tings I do if using a new computer).

Go to the Tools menu, and then select ‘Options’

Then choose the ‘General’ tab

Bottom but one option says “Automatically create drawing canvas when inserting autoshapes” If you untick this option and click OK – this annoying feature will annoy you no more.

JISC Copyight resource

I blogged about this last year, in my previous blog, but as I was asked a Copyright question yesterday, I thought it was worth me bringing this to the fore again.

Copyright is a complex issue, with most people either ignoring it, or getting to heavily bogged in the finer details of the legalities. What this resource does, is provide useful, educationally orientated information, highlighting a few common misnomers on the way. It was produced in part by James Clay, author of the e-learning stuff blog.

JISC Online Copyright Activity 

Embedding images from other people Moblogs

My good colleague Lilian Soon of xlearn (pictured on the right below) is an avid used of something called Shozu and Moblog. Shozu, is a piece of software that you download to your mobile phone, allowing you to take pictures somewhere, then publish them directly to the web from your phone – in this case she has posted them to her mobile blog (Moblog). And I (pictured on the left in picture below) can then embed this image into my blog (as I have done below). Also pictured is David Sugden of Village e-learning in the centre,

moblog image
this image was originally posted to by user xlearn

Dave Foord, David Sugden and Lilian Soon – all working on the Learning For Living and Work project in the Yorkshire and Humber Region

The educational merits of Wikipedia

Wikipedia seems to have created very polar views within education – there are many who think it should be discouraged at all costs, as it undermines the whole educational system based around scholarly activity and reading of books, and then there are the others that recognise in certain areas it is far more accurate than written texts due to the speed with which it is updated.

It is coincidental that I was having this conversation with a sport science lecturer earlier this week, and I used my favourite sport of cricket as an example – showing how information was being updated even based on the current test between New Zealand and England, and then in the early hours of this morning, Ryan Sidebottom takes a hat-trick, and within a few hours Wikipedia has added this to the list.

Although I respect the views of the traditionalists who are anti Wikipedia, I am all for it, and whichever side of the fence we sit ourselves on, learners will be using this resource, and it is our role as educators to help them analyse and interpret information rather than the emphasis being placed on just finding it.