Web Tools

Your Flowing Data: Using Twitter to keep track of your life...

In a recent post, Alan Levine discussed the use of a web tool called Your Flowing Data. Your Flowing Data(YFD), is a Twitter application that lets you collect data about yourself. It allows you to use direct messages from your Twitter account to track different types of data. Basically, once you have set up your account, you just send a direct message to YFD to note and track just about anything. In Alan's post he noted some of his uses including keeping track of his blood sugar readings, his bike trips and his running mileage. Basically anything you want to track you can do so.

Alan's post got me thinking of how I might use this tool. As a principal I make many visits to classrooms each day. Using the method that Alan discussed I am thinking I can use this to keep track of classroom visits throughout the school day. On my iPhone I use the Twitter application Tweetie to follow and post to Twitter. I anticipate using Tweetie to post direct messages to Your Flowing Data as I visit classrooms. I believe I will find this a pretty quick method to note and track which classrooms I have visited and help me to recognize patterns and make sure I am visiting all classrooms equally.

This morning I was testing this and posted some sample data. Once you have some data, you can use the tools on Your Flowing Data to look at that information in a calendar view, a cloud view, a timeline view and a treemap view. The screenshot below shows the treemap view for the sample data i submitted. I'm looking forward to following Alan's examples and utilize this tool to keep track of other things including the types of tasks I find myself doing during the school day.

your.flowingdata / Treemap / classroom
Using some sample data, the Treemap above shows graphically the number of times a classroom was visited.
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Cross posted at TechLearning.com

Pixelpipe: a content distribution gateway...


"Pixelpipe is a content distribution gateway that allows users to publish text and upload photos, video and audio files once through Pixelpipe and have the content distributed across over 60 social networks, photo/video sites and blogs, and other online destinations. We provide a number of mobile & desktop applications for users, liberating their media and sharing their life..."

Pixelpipe is an online service that allows you to post images, video, audio, text and files to multiple social network sites and weblogs at the same time. On the Pixelpipe website you can set up auto posting to social networking sites such as Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Picassa and over 60 other services. You can do this via various tools including email, MMS, the web, or by using the stand alone mobile applications for the iPhone, the Google Android G1, and the Nokia N Series. In addition they provide several tools that integrate into desktop applications such as iPhoto, Picasa, Aperture, and Lightroom.

A nice feature of the app is that on the iPhone, it lets you get around the limitation of single attachments when uploading images via the iPhone Mail App...

pixelpipe screen shot pixelpipe screenshot

Pixelpost screenshots from the iPhone...

via Readwriteweb

Playing around with Everytrail iPhone App

I have been playing with the Everytrail iPhone app and find it a pretty interesting tool. It utilizes data from a GPS to document a walk or a hike. You can shoot pictures along the way and when finished upload the information to your space on the Everytrail web site. You can also edit your maps. For example you could take a picture with your iPhone and also with a better resolution camera. Once you have uploaded the everytrial file you can edit you trip and replace the low resolution photos with the higher resolution you shot at the same time. You also have tools for integration into the web and also to Facebook. You can choose to include your map as a slideshow or a conventional map. Great for documenting a field trip. They also have a similar app for bicyclists. The example below is a short trip I took around my school grounds this afternoon. Along the way I took some photo graphs. The Everytrail iPhone app interface is very easy to use and displays your time and distance as you travel. My first waypoint is off, but found a fix for that on the Everytrail forum.

Conventional Map Lewis at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging



Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

via Digital Geography...

Simplify Media: Music Streaming from your Computer...

Simplify Media is an application that allows you to share your music over the net. In addition you can listen to up to 30 other streams from your friends music collections. In addition they have a nice application for the iPhone/iPod Touch that allows you to access music from your own computer, or from friends computers, using our iPhone/iPod Touch.

[From Simplify Media - You've Been Invited]

Playing with Friendfeed vs. Twitter

What with the flaky nature of Twitter of late, I've been playing around with Friendfeed, the social networking tool that allows you to build a customised feed made up of content that friends on other collaborative sites have shared, including news articles, photos, Twitter posts, and weblog postings. Basically it is a web presence stream catching tool.

In addition to displaying the content, the FriendFeed interface on the web, and on clients such as Twhirl or MySocial 24x7, allow you to comment on an item. For example in Twitter if you want to comment you @reply to the individual. The item is posted chronologically, and this makes it difficult to follow conversations. For example this morning Steve Dembo and Ryan Bretag are having a Twitter discussion about the merits of interactive clicker type tools in the classroom. It started last night and continues on this morning, but it is hard to follow on Twitter. In FriendFeed comments are nested with the original Tweet/post. As others comment on the posting they are added along with yours. You also have the option of sending an @reply directly to Twitter. Kind of a foot in both worlds. (the Friendfeed web interface and MySocial 24x7 allow this, Twhirl has not yet implemented this feature.)

I also like that you can follow a friend's web contributions. For example FriendFeed allows you to aggregate posts to sites such as YouTube, Flickr and over 40 other web sites/tools. I am finding that I like following friends and collegues in this manner, rather than jumping around from various sites to see if they have posted anything new.

Update: Another feature of FriendFeed is something they call Rooms. Basically private spaces that a team or workgroup could set up to have a Twitter like discussion area, but only viewable to those that you allow in. Might be useful in a school or classroom setting...


200806290657.jpg twhril-twitter.jpg twhirl-friendfeed.jpg

Speak to iTunes Audiobook Service

Michael Tyson, a Computer Science PhD student, living in Melbourne, Australia, has created a service (Speak to iTunes Audiobook Service) running on Mac OS X that converts any text to an iTunes compatible audio file. Select some text, invoke the service, and his tool converts the text into a spoken file using the Mac OS X text to speech tool. The file is placed in the Audiobooks section of your iTunes collection.

I installed the service and converted a few articles. I found the result to be pretty good. Not the same as having had it read by a person, but useful none the less.

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

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TagCrowd: Visualize Word Frequencies in Web Pages and Documents...

It looks like this has been up since last summer, but today was the first I have heard of TagCrowd. TagCrowd is a web based tool that allows you to visualize word frequencies as a tag cloud. You can visualize web pages, text files, and contents of your clipboard and then embed the tag cloud in your page. This could be great for teachers to use to visualize frequently used vocabulary from text sources. Amazon has a similar feature, concordance, for books that are searchable in their Search Inside feature, but TagCrowd allows you to do this with any text. The example below is from the freely available (in public domain) text of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain at the University of Virginia.

TagCrowd was created by Daniel Steinbock, a doctoral student in Design and Education at Stanford University. You can read more about TagCrowd, and some interesting uses ideas, on the TagCrowd Blog...

By way of NancyW and Twitter...

TagCrowd Example: The 100 most frequently found words in Tom Sawyer available at the University of Virginia...

created at TagCrowd.com


Cabel Sasser is a software developer and one of the founders of Panic Software, the folks that make Transmit along with some other nice web development tools. Transmit is a great FTP utility for the Mac and a tool that I find myself using just about everyday. Cabel also does some other coding and his weblog, cabel.name is a good read for folks who like to keep up with smart independent software developers. (If you are interested in software design, his talk from C4 is very informative and entertaining...) This morning, David Warlick pointed to a nice little piece of Javascript that Cabel wrote that produces a nice visual effect when viewing images that have been posted to your web site. He calls it FancyZoom. Basically when a thumbnail link is clicked a larger version of the image appears as a call out. A very nice effect. Below is an example. Click the image to see the effect.


Photo Dropper

Photo Dropper is a Wordpress plugin that allows you to easily search for and place Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr in your weblog posts. The Plugin provides a search field within the post interface that allows you to search via key words. It provides the option of placing a small, medium or large images in your post and automatically includes the attribution.

The setup options allow you to automatically exclude images that are not commercially usable and also allows you to sort your search returns based on "interestingness."

This is something I plan to add to our school weblogs that are powered by Wordpress.

Note: Please see Paul Left's comment below regarding validation...
Creative Commons License photo credit: christopherdale

Via Read Write Web

iRadioapp.com and Seeqpod.com

iRadioapp.com is a web based application designed for use on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, but available through any web browser. It uses radio station listings from Yes.com and returns live information about currently playing and recently played songs for the top 30 US radio markets. Once you have found your station you can drill down to a specific song, you have the option of emailing the song information, looking up the song in the iTunes Music Store, reading the lyrics, or playing the song (this feature is only available over WiFi.) Clicking the play song link will stream a copy of the song. This feature is dependent on if the song is available or not. Clicking the play song link initiates a web search using seeqpod.com and if found, the song is streamed and played.

Seeqpod.com is worth a closer look. It is basically a playable media search tool. It allows you to create an account and you can create playlists from your searches. An interesting way to find audio and video media...

From their web site:
We are passionate about search and discovery algorithms and believe that one day, everything on the Web will need to be 'playable'. So, we decided to apply some very sophisticated technology to 'Playable Search' so that anyone, anywhere can mine the deepest crevices and corners of the Web for media that is publicly available, yet it is not always so easy to find...


By way of Fabric of Folly...

Sharing Forms/Spreadsheets in Google Docs

Stop sharing spreadsheets, start collecting information:
The Google Docs Blog posts today about a new feature in Google Docs Spreadsheets called forms. It basically allows you to share a Google Docs Spreadsheet as a form with others and the data they enter in that form is automatically added to a Google Docs Spreadsheet. So rather than sharing a spreadsheet with others, you can send them a form to fill out and the data they enter is automatically entered into a Google Docs Spreadsheet. Lots of possibilities here... I tested it on my iPhone and the form works nicely. Think I'm going to redo my Learning Walk form tomorrow...

Coveritlive: Live Blogging Tool

CoveritLive is web based software for live blogging of events such as conference sessions or lectures. Through an iframe, your commentary is published on your web site in real time like an instant message dialog complete with time stamp. You can easily add polls, videos, pictures, and audio clips to our live session. Viewers of your live session can add comments and questions with you controlling what gets published. This looks like an interesting tool for folks who like to blog live events. It might be useful for participants at FETC and Educon to take a look at.


Update: The content through the iframe displays nicely on the iPhone too...


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Google Docs New features for 2008!

Official Google Docs Blog: New features for 2008!:

Google has added some new features to its Google Docs applications. These include the ability to create sub folders and the ability to rename documents within the Docs home toolbar view. The one that is of most interest to me is the ability to embed Google Docs Presentations into a web page. This is similar to what is available on sites such as SlideShare. The key benefit being that you can now do this from within your Google Docs workflow. This feature is available when you publish a Google Docs Presentation. Some code is generated that you can then past into a web page or weblog post.

I am wondering if Apple will update their iLife applications to take advantage of this. They already have an export to YouTube option within Keynote. It would be nice if they added the ability to directly upload and publish a Keynote presentation in this way.

Below is a screen shot...

Screenshot 03-1


Slideoo is an interesting little tool that allows you to create horizontal photo slideshows from Flickr photos. The interface allows you to select from public images and define the width of the slide show and the image size. The example below is from one of my Flickr photo sets and the image size is medium. Notice the slider at the bottom of the image. Click and drag the slider to view the images.