Saturday, April 25, 2009

My life with a Smartpen?

I guess I've been living under a rock, but I just found about the Pulse Smartpen. This handy little device (ok, not so little for us feminine types who prefer thin pens) allows you to take notes on real paper, and simultaneously record the handwriting and voice for later upload into an organization system called Livescribe. You can create pencasts and share them online...imagine! Please check out their videos, it's much easier to visualize that I can describe here.

As a department chair who attends a lot of meetings and conferences, I'm imagining this little device may have the potential to change how I process information at those events. It's a toss-up, either I 1) keep carrying my 15" laptop, 2) buy a netbook (another computer!), 3) write my notes on paper and translate essential facts when I get back to the office, or 4) use a Smartpen!

Who could use a Smartpen? Students who sit in class and need to take notes, teams who work in brainstorming sessions, people who take meeting minutes, folks who may have memory issues such as Alzheimher's and need a way to record their conversations, artists who want to teach others their drawing techniques, child psychologists who work with kids drawing and discussing their artwork...the list goes on....

I'll be the first person to admit I have gadget lust. I'll be ordering my Smartpen on Monday...and I'll let you know if the hype meets the reality. Anyone else have more insight to share?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Tweetin' along...singing a song...

OK maybe not the singing part....

If you tweet using Twitter, or on one of the many apps people use in place of Twitter (I have Tweetie on my phone, TweetDeck on my laptop, and the TweetHUD in Second Life!), then most likely you have developed a strategy for using it to meet your needs. As an advanced user (I joined two whole months ago), I've become aware of certain personality types and how they use Twitter functionality to meet their goals.
  1. I'll tell you everything about my day type: When Twitter first launched, it was touted as a way for people to share what they were doing at the moment. "I'm eating a donut." "Cleaning up the dog's poop--for the 3rd time!" "Watching Dancing with the Stars." There's a great YouTube parody about this type of first-generation user, you'll laugh until you cry: "I just twoted all over the place" lol
  2. I'm elite and you'll have to work hard to get on my list type: This person always has tons of followers, but follows less than 100 people. Celebrities, big-time book authors, you get the idea. Groupies will work hard retweeting these folks, hoping to get picked up as followers. My husband follows Lance Armstrong and loves him. I can't get into it, personally--never been the groupie type.
  3. I follow thousands and thousands type: Beware, they are creating very large spam lists, and are usually trying to sell you something.
  4. I follow alot, and a lot follow me type: Hmm I seem to fit in this category at a baby level. By using Tweetdeck, I've learned to create groups that give me the ability to 1) keep my main feed going, I pick up tons of interesting tidbits when I happen to look at the big stream, and 2) add selected individuals into a second "friends" group. This allows me to create a customized list of people who have good information, are funny, or are just friends and I want to make sure I catch their tweets. I'm able to browse several streams of tweets in a very short time, and prioritize the ones I definitely want to read via the group strategy. I learn something new every day, and keep up on current trends and breaking news with very minimal efforts. I sent out the question, "do web crawlers crawl content hosted in Moodle," and had two answers in less than 5 minutes...hand-delivered to my inbox.
Today, a lovely lady who goes by the name of @kyteacher said something very profound, and she gave me permission to quote her: "Twitter is the best PD (professional development) I've ever done. I learn something new every day." I'm starting to understand why. Hope to see you on Twitter @lisadawley

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ode to Mom

I just read a BBC write-up of Michelle Obama's visit to an all girl school in London, and how she was moved during a performance. She was quoted as saying, "I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity." That got me thinking about my mom. And before she and I leave this planet, I want her to know, and really feel, the impact she has had on me as a human being.

My mom, Betty Miles, was divorced during most of my childhood. She raised five kids alone, and still carries a lot of guilt to this day that she didn't give us more attention. I've tried to talk to her as an adult--how much attention can you give five kids when you are working more than one job trying to support us? And going to school for several of those years? She was amazing, and still is to this day. I have memories of going to her job at Winchell's Donuts and helping to glaze the donuts at night. It was magical--are you kidding? Donuts at night that I made myself--get outta here!

From my mom, I learned many things. Most importantly, I learned that women are strong and intelligent. I learned that I can do anything I want to do if I'm willing to put the time and energy to make it happen. It was just never a question, and always a given. My mom helped inspire confidence in myself through her subtle belief in me.

My mom is one of the smartest people I know--she introduced me to computers and online games, believe it or not. I felt happy when I could finally introduce her to a virtual world she didn't know. As a kid, she taught me the bones of the body while she was going through nursing school. She had this dead cat she had to keep refrigerated while she was learning its muscles. I was fascinated that she could be emotionally distanced from this formerly alive creature taking up residence where we kept our food. I loved her scientific mind.

We were always learning together. She bought me books, and workbooks, and I ate it up. As an adult in graduate school, she got me into the antique business. We went to sooo many flea markets, auctions, yard sales, and antique stores. To this day, I can still tell a good quality piece of furniture, whether a piece of china has been repaired, or whether those blue sunglasses are from the 60's or used by snipers during the Civil War.

For the last 32 years, my mom and step-father have been caring for my brother, Charlie, who is severly disabled. Charlie is in and out of the hospital on a monthly basis. He would never have lived this long without their loving care. I look at her example of caring for a son she loves, her dedication and sacrifice. When they lost their aide, there was a point where she couldn't leave home for months. Surely, I can learn from her example to be a better mother, friend, and wife.

Mom, I love you, your sense of humor, your intelligence, and even your eccentric ways. Your mind and spirit fascinate me and inspire me. I always hope you find happiness, and know that you are truly loved. I'm grateful for every moment you've given to me, and every moment I've been able to share with you. You are perfect, just the way you are.