Wednesday, December 19, 2007

OLPC XO Computer Arrived Today!

It's here! My very own XO computer! I keep discovering wonderful things about it.

It has an SD slot and a built in camera. They ship it with the battery already charged. I need to find my microphones so I can make music. It's awesome!

It is little as in "child-sized." Here you can see the cute little keys. I have thin fingers so it is not a problem.

The biggest problem I had was how to shut it down. Mouse over the XO and a menu pops up with shutdown as one of the options.

More to come (I left it at home so I would focus better on work I must do now).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't think that the actions of one person do not make a difference

I use a Firefox add-on called WOT for Web of Trust. They rate web sites on four criteria: trustworthyness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety. Green means the web site is good to go; yellow means caution; and red means stop, danger here. Most of the time, the sites I visit are green. Yesterday, I was surprised to encounter two sites that had lower ratings.

  • Tegrity was marked as an unsafe web site by Web of Trust (WOT) (yellow for trustworthy, red for vendor reliability and respecting of privacy, with no rating for child-safety).
  • The WOT rating for Echo360 is trustworthy, but also has a red rating for vendor reliability and respecting of privacy.
These ratings are disturbing, but I like their products. I went to the WOT web site to ask them about the ratings.

I wrote to WOT about the Tegrity and Echo360 ratings and received the following reply from Sami, a representative at WOT:
"It seems that has a poor rating, because one of our information sources believes their products have been spam-advertised in the past. However, we have no other evidence of this, so it's plausible that this is a false positive. I have removed the false positive from our database and the site's rating should improve shortly.

"It looks like has been reported of spamming last spring by a couple of our sources. The company is now called Echo360, Inc. and some of links direct to the domain instead. Again, this might be caused by a one-time mailing instead of a larger campaign.

"As you can see, email marketing is a very touchy subject for many Internet users these days, and sending out unsolicited messages is an excellent way to quickly hurt one's reputation. That's probably because the spam problem is getting worse each year. Even though companies like Google do a great job filtering out most of the junk, over 90% of all email traffic this year has been spam:

"If you have any further questions, please let us know."
So, one person's action (mine) resulted in the change of rating for both companies. Tegrity's ratings were all changed to green. Since Echo360 had been reported by a couple of sources, their ratings on reliability and privacy were changed from red to yellow.

I plan to write WOT again because it seems to me that they are linking vendor reliability and privacy policy to spamming. Vendor reliability should have more to do with their delivery of their products and the quality of their products. I think that since spamming is so critical, there should be a separate rating that would reflect advertising methods.

While I was at it, I also mentioned that many of the links in the ALA (American Library Association)'s newsletter indicate a yellow rating for the first three categories with no rating for child safety. Here is Sami's reply:
All the links in the newsletter you sent us point to a server called . The domains and are owned by a company called eWayDirect, which sells email marketing and tracking services to many companies. Unfortunately, they also do business with spammers. You can read some of the abuse reports here:*+ewaydirect
I like WOT's service. I like how responsive they are. I want to help them improve their service.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What did the professor say?

The New York Times had a most intriguing article today, What did the professor say? Check your iPod, by Anne Eisenberg. A number of universities (University of Central Florida; Santa Clara University, CA; Purdue University; El Centro College, Dallas; Kansas State University) are using or planning to use software for recording a professor's lectures and making it available to students on their iPods.

The software for recording that "captures the words of classroom lectures and syncs them with the digital images used during the talk--usually PowerPoint slides and animations" is offered by at least two companies: Tegrity and Echo360. Each web site lists colleges/universities that are their clients (Tegrity claims over 400 educational institutions world wide; Echo360's customer list).

In the New York Times article, they spoke with people at Purdue who were using Echo360. Their web site lists MIT, Princeton, Brandeis, St. John's University, and Stanford among their customers.

On the Tegrity web site, Blackboard is listed as one of their partners with this comment:

Blackboard is allied with Technology Partner Tegrity to enhance the online education experience for institutions, administrators, instructors, and students. Tegrity products complement and enhance the Blackboard suite of products, and Tegrity-generated class recordings and e-learning content is seamlessly integrated into Blackboard courses.
In a news article, the following is said:
Blackboard provides the e-Learning platform used by colleges and universities across the country and abroad. For more than a decade, Tegrity's technology has enabled educational institutions to automatically record every class on campus and deliver them online for students to access. Together Blackboard and Tegrity will enable greater access to educational resources and content providing significant convenience and flexibility to the members of academic institutions around the world.

How Tegrity's Blackboard Building Block Works - Podcasts Automatically Created from Class

Tegrity Podcast setup starts at the beginning of the semester as the Tegrity Campus Blackboard Building Block adds a podcast subscription button in every Blackboard course and sends a personalized email to students with a one-click link for subscribing to their podcasts using iTunes.

During class, instructors press one button to start and stop recording and the software automatically creates visual podcasts broken down by chapter, that are automatically uploaded after class to the right place on the Tegrity Server. The Tegrity Campus Blackboard Building Block component uses information already available in the Blackboard Learning System to automatically catalogue the recordings by course. While listening to their podcasts, students can easily navigate to specific parts (chapters) of their class and get right to the information they need.

Blackboard administrators and other stakeholders in the institution can use the Tegrity Campus governance component to track usage, observing how students effortlessly take advantage of more instruction hours without burdening institution staff.
More to come . . .

Confirmation that my photo is to be published

I received notification three hours ago that my photo taken inside the American Museum of Natural History has been selected for publication in the Schmap's Guide to New York City. I wrote about the possibility of my photo being selected previously. As mentioned previously, the selected photos rotate through a mini slide show above the description of the AMNH. You have to look quickly, but my photo is in the show and they do give me credit.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Google (maps) goes green!

Esther Dyson shows a screen shot of the new Google map screen (may not yet be available where you are) for New York City with a "Take Public Transit" option. Esther is reaching this screen from within the Google headquarters. Commenters indicate that they are not able to access the same screen as Esther shows.

Her screen shows a route from La Guardia Airport to the Meetup Headquarters where she has office space. She credits Tom Sly of Google for the new green and indicates that real-time transit information is coming soon to a computer near you.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Richard Wolf, NYPL librarian @ Health & Information Center

On November 26, 2007, I took a class called Health Information on the Internet at the Mid-Manhattan Library. The class is regularly scheduled.

More to come . . .

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Jack Kerouac Explored in In-Depth

Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road on view at The New York Public Library from November 9, 2007 - February 24, 2008; March 1 - 16, 2008. The occasion is the 50th anniversary of the publication of his novel, On the Road.

The poster is from another event, Remembering Jack, held at Columbia University, November 3, 2006. I took photos of the panel discussion and participated in the reading of Howl at the West End.