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Keywords and Operators

Not long ago, the ISOCS Middle School investigated digital fluency with an on-line mini course, and within that, good Internet search strategies.

Those wishing to brush up their skills should have a look at this 21st Century Information Fluency blog post.
Screen shot of http://21cif.blogspot.ch/2013/03/21cif-operator-search-challenge.html

Clicking on their link will take you to the game page, which requires Adobe Flash Player in your browser.

It's April Fools day because...

April Fools' Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year.  It's not normally a holiday, but this year if falls on Easter Monday, which is a holiday in Switzerland.  So, alas, there is no school, and no opportunity to practice your April Fools' skills.  I hope this small collection of videos and pictures will make up for the lack of opportunity.

You can read about the history of April 1 and Fools at Wikipedia in English , or Wikipedia in German (two very different articles!)

From Wikimedia.  2001 in Copenhagen 

From http://bit.ly/13E64Tl

Expensive games

There have been several stories in the news recently about children running up huge phone bills, and/or  iTunes store bills because they have a device in their hands which enables "in-app" purchases.

This morning's story from the Daily Mail is another, but this one has an interesting twist.

"When he discovered he had run up a £3,700 bill on his father’s credit card playing games on his iPad, Cameron Crossan expected a very stern telling off at least.

The 13-year-old was mortified by what he had done – but worse was to come. For instead of punishing him, his father filed an official police complaint effectively accusing him of fraud...."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2298771/Policeman-Doug-Crossan-reports-13-year-old-son-Cameron-FRAUD-running-3-700-iPad.html#ixzz2OdF67u3u
The father doesn't really want his son arrested, but he does "want to embarrass Apple as much as possible."

You may have read about this case recently, where a 5 year old spent $2,500 in a game.

It has always been possible to block these purchases on your phone or iPad.  There are very good directions for setting restrictions at arstechnica.  Apple has very recently made a small but significant change to iOS app listings on its App Store, adding a prominent "Offers In-App Purchases" line for freemium apps on its store.

Google Play gives directions for blocking in-app purchases at this page.

Here's a screen shot of a free app on the iTunes app store, and possible purchase clearly listed:
Screen shot
Parents and schools have been very careful about the settings on a computer used by children, but somehow mobile devices have not been looked on as being so "dangerous", although when connected to the Internet, they have many of the same capabilities as a computer. 

Enabling Parental Control settings often gets forgotten, or the possibilities ignored.  Common Sense Media offers 4 pointers for controlling purchases:
  • Turn off the possibility
  • Turn off the grace period
  • Keep your password secret
  • Use gift cards
Click here to read the whole post.

93 Android Apps to Try

Have you seen this book by Richard Byrne, who writes the Android 4 Schools blog (as well as the invaluable Free Tech 4 Teachers blog)?  You don't have to be a teacher to test out the apps!

Goodbye Google Reader

Yesterday's news from Google that they are closing down Google Reader has produced a series of outcries on the web, and lists of alternatives, along with reflections about the nature of Google as a company. Apparently, efforts to monetize RSS feeds has turned out to be difficult.

We are reminded, once again, that Google is a company, which makes money (link), and is not a free social service agency we have come to depend on.

"We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites," the company said. "While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months." (link)

Richard Byrne, at Free Technology for Teachers, described the situation very well:
"Google Reader may have had a bigger influence on my life in the ed tech world than any other single app or service. Since the day I started using it in 2006 to now it has reliably served me fresh content from all of my favorite sites and blogs."

Chris Betcher points to Google Reader's place in education: "...I’m just disappointed that Google would even consider doing this. As an enthusiastic Google user, Google Certified Teacher, and Google Apps Certified Trainer, it makes me annoyed and embarrassed that Google would kill off a product that so many people clearly care deeply about. Reader may not be sexy and shiny like Google+ but it’s hugely powerful and has an huge following.... "

You might be interested in reading Chris Wetherell's reflection, on Google+ written in 2011, as Reader's eventual end started to become clear. He was the man responsible for Google Reader, and no longer works at Google.

Here's a list of some alternative RSS readers:




The Old Reader


Update: Stephen Abram offers a fine "review of the literature" offering alternatives, opinions and ideas of how to manage your RSS feeds without Google Reader.

You can use Google Takeout to export your feeds, ready to be imported into another service. While you're on the site, download an archive from all your other Google sites, too, as backup. It's good to do this regularly, in any case.

On a personal note, I will add that this is my 3rd recent experience with Google distancing itself from me. The first was the termination of iGoogle as a start page product. The next was the decision no longer to support the Chrome browser on "older" Apple OS (I have a Mac running on OS 10.5.8, on which Firefox has now become my main browser). I will find new ways to read my 455 subscriptions, and take one step further away from (what was) the fine package of apps and services accessible with my Google password.

How much do you know about Sea Urchins?

As I was reading my news feeds this morning, my attention was caught  by this video:

Sea Urchins - Planktonic Origins from Parafilms on Vimeo.

Barely visible to the naked eye, sea urchin larvae grow and transform into bottom-dwelling urchins.
Plankton Chronicles Project by Christian Sardet, CNRS / Noe Sardet and Sharif Mirshak, Parafilms
See Plankton Chronicles interactive site: planktonchronicles.org

Watch the full video with related content here: http://www.richannel.org/the-plankton-chronicles--sea-urchins

This video is on a page from The Ri Channel "The Smart Place for Science".  The Sea Urchin video is part of the Plankton Chronicles, every one of which is as weird and wonderful as the Sea Urchin story. (The plankton videos are also housed at Vimeo, by their producer.)

The Ri Channel
"The Ri Channel is an online project by the Royal Institution of Great Briatin showcasing the very best science videos from the Ri and around the web." 

You might want to read the posts on the Ri Channel blog: I highly recomment The Best Science Videos of 2012 - all 10 of these videos are fascinating! (The original article is at The Guardian.)

Learning to code

I receive the ECIS ICT Committee eNews which recently featured this video from Code.org

This is a particularly good video for our ISOCS Middle School students to watch, because they visited the Zurich offices of Google last week, and learned a little about what sort of jobs, talents, experience, and education most Google employees have.
ISOCS Middle School arrives at Google in Zurich
If you're just getting started with the idea of learning coding, I recommend the Learn page of code.org.  You can experiment with 4 (easy) ways to learn: ScratchCodecademy, Khan Academy, and CodeHS.


"What are our brains made of? What happens in our brains when we think, feel, see, hear or touch?"

Those are the questions behind Neurocomic.  This morning I added resources about the project to our Tech News for ISOCS Scoop.it page.  It's so interesting, I thought I would post about it here, too.

Here's a video from the Guardian:

Source: Newton  Length: 14min 04sec  Friday 1 March 2013
Artist Matteo Farinella and neuroscientist Hana Ros of University College London collaborated to create a graphic novel called Neurocomic about a hapless character who is sucked into a human brain where he encounters bizarre creatures and famous neuroscientists. The objective is to introduce the neurochemical workings of the brain to a wider audience, so entertainment, storytelling and clever metaphors are just as important to the enterprise as the science

    Read about the project at its webpage,  and follow it on its Twitter page,