Winners in the Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009

As usual I was reading planet TALO aka superuser network and read the post “Top Tools for Learning 2009” by Kerrie Smith.

It’s interesting to see that “educators” on the web are doing most of their computing using “Linux” and an “open source” web browser.

Lets look a bit closer at the top 10 software tools:

Many Flavours (cc) kobrasoft
Many Flavours (cc) kobrasoft



I know a secondary school student is more than capable of learning to build and run a web server but the way its taught in schools using IIS is really pathetic. The student doesn’t learn much and does it really empower them? No not all, it cripples them. I remember chatting to a young friend of mine about his early days in high school, he likes computers and studied ICT thinking it would be different in high school but it was the microsoft word training again, he told me he’d previously gone through the word training twice already in primary school. They are taught that pressing the “export as web-page” button is Web development so people should think about how much they can learn about word processing and word processor software on Ubuntu using open source software and compare it to what they learn and do now because obviously they aren’t learning anything useful about web development.

I don’t understand why there isn’t a government policy to have a preference for free and open source software yet or at least equity for students wanting to learn and use GNU/Linux. Imagine you work in a school as a computer/library assistant and there’s 40 or so pentium 3 computers in the store room and you want to use one to add a diskless web kiosk to the library, the computers are in the store room because they were replaced by newer computers with even bigger hard disks (the most expensive component?) and you wonder why they didn’t buy smaller cheaper hard disks if only 5gb of the 80Gb will ever be used, it would probably be worse these days.

Meanwhile the teachers are fighting for disk space on the server. Imagine asking a simple question; “May I use one of the computers in storage to add another computer to the library?”, obviously the first thing is the fact that those computers don’t work with the current version of windows, to cut a long story short if they’ve never heard of GNU/Linux then its likely they will reject the idea and sometimes give ridiculous reasons.

Its also a power issue, proprietary software users know all to well that you can gain power over people using software, its common in things like LMS’s and if you’re the guy who setup the school website then you can give people access to publish. There’s a lot of social politics involved in these things, whoever gets the better computer is not always the person who needs it.

Will the student wanting to use FOSS and GNU/Linux to learn about technology and software be allowed to do that in Australian schools? Choosing an operating system and software is part of the “Information Technology Systems Syllabus”, read the “Sample assessment task 1”. I wonder if the students have any rights or choice, perhaps it falls back to teacher preference.

If the general public knew about Ubuntu and the fact that unlimited copies are available for free, would they want a fair share of the systems running ubuntu in state funded education. Learning about technology shouldn’t be reduced to training kids to use proprietary products.

Most teachers Ive met say they’ve used “Linux” with their students but usually its just for a single day in the year.

So hows your favorite operating system do on the list of the top 500 supercomputers.

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How to install Tux Paint stamps

I’ve talked about Tux Paint on this blog over the years and produced an informative and slightly humorous Tux Paint demonstration video back in 2006. The video has been downloaded 1,066 times from internet archive.org and viewed 31500 times not including the 14000 views from the version with low quality audio which Ive deleted.

The most common question I get asked is “how do I get the stamps?“. All of the people who have asked are on the windows platform, I believe this is probably because on Debian/Ubuntu systems the stamp packages are installed with Tux Paint. So rather than continue to reply to all the email and comments I decided to write this howto and perhaps someone will do the screencast version.

Getting Tux Paint stamps for windows and mac osx

The steps are the same, visit the Tux Paint website, chose your operating system then download and install the optional stamps package.

tuxpaint_website_dos_dl
Chose OS then download and install stamps

Some of the people that asked me about the stamps must have been too excited at the time they downloaded Tux Paint and didn’t notice the optional stamps package or perhaps they didn’t install Tux Paint. If you’re having trouble you might need to ask an adult for help, if that fails just go colour.

Tux Paint stamps on Ubuntu

Ubuntu software package managment
Ubuntu software package managment

On Ubuntu we have advanced packaging tools, software management programs and remote software package repositories. Pretty much all the software on my system has been installed this way, its easier and more user friendly then installing software on other systems and the amount of top quality software you can install is amazing. Using search its easy to find cool new programs, for example if you’re a social media guru you might search for twitter, facebook or blog software, if you need a web server running a wiki you might simply install mediawiki and enjoy watching all the system dependencies get met. The two programs I’ll mention are the Ubuntu Software Center and Synaptic.

Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center is new in Ubuntu 9.10, some people may not have upgraded so we will also look at Synaptic. Synaptic is usually installed on most versions of Ubuntu.

The Ubuntu Software Center is available from the Applications menu.

Ubuntu Software Center
Ubuntu Software Center

Simply use search, type tuxpaint and click the arrow and your done.

Ubuntu Software Center - Search
Ubuntu Software Center - Search

Synaptic

Synaptic is available through System Administration menu.

Again simply use Quick Search and type tuxpaint, Synaptic gives us more information about the packages, to install/uninstall software you tick the box and hit apply.

Synaptic - tuxpaint
Synaptic - tuxpaint

Tux Paint still reigns as the best educational paint software. Usually people are having too much fun with Tux Paint to think of it as an intelligent tutoring system within a highly interactive learning environment.

Tux Paint is available for free and as free software and you can also purchase the CD. It makes a great gift.

When Learning SEO

Don’t Worry About Validation

Being afraid to ask questions to your online community will only hinder your progress. Get your validation from offline sources of your life, like work, sport or hobbies.

Have a Vested Interest

Like a website with a clear commercial nature. If you don’t know what you’re trying to sell and to whom, you will flounder about in mediocrity.

Plan Your Tests

Before you start them. If you’re starting a PPC campaign for example, take the time to read up on different testing methods and the steps involved.

Keep It Simple

It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Take everything one step at a time and don’t be too fancy – you have enough on your plate.

MobilizeThis09

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Mobilize This09 being held on Friday the 30th of October, brings together those pursuing the active use of mobile technologies and associated digital literacy in their daily lives, teaching and work related duties. The event will be held at Charles Darwin University, Australia – Google map, in the ‘Mal Nairn’ Auditorium. In attendance will be invited guests, Charles Darwin University staff and students and many registered community representatives.

The focus of this years events are on the showcasing of examples of where mobile related learning concepts interface with popular learning design. There will be ample opportunity for online participants to connect with physical activities happening.

As this has both interactive and broadcast free / live to air components to the program there is expected to be a large online audience also.

Please feel free to join in uStream and tell others about the Friday 30th event.

96% of public sector in France is using open source

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Unixmen.com report that almost the entire public sector in France, 96 percent, is using open source, according to a  market survey. The most used applications are database management systems and content management systems.

A research firm, Markness, presented a summary of its report on the use of open source in France on 17 September in Paris. It is based on an on-line survey during in the summer months followed-up by interviews with 160 IT project directors, heads of procurement and other IT decision makers, half of which are employed in the private sector and the other half representing the public sector. Another fifty interviews were held with IT vendors.

Using open source requires firms and organisations to seek technical assistance and support, said 54 and 44 percent of the respondents. It also requires changes to their IT maintenance, said 38 percent. The research firm says that half of the respondents say that the current financial crisis is not a reason to switch to open source. However, to 39 percent this did make it more of an option. In 2011, open source will take up less than 20 percent of the IT budget of public sector institutes. Markness expects the French open source IT market to grow by more than 16 percent in 2011.

Jokaydia’s New Outpost

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I am pleased to see that  the community of Jokaydia have embraced and developed a new outpost on Reaction Grid, which is run on the OpenSimulator platform. Jo Kay reports on her blog that the community of educators will be meeting up on Sunday evenings;

To visit jokaydia @ Reaction Grid, simply sign up here and follow the instructions here.  When you arrive, you’ll find us either by searching the map for jokaydia, or look for a blue landmark button that the Reaction Team have kindly added at Core 1 (the Reaction Grid landing point) t0 direct visitors to our new space.

Whilst Jokaydia will continue to have its main headquarters in second life, the plans to diversify will continue, spurred on by recent events which have caused a stir within the virtual world community.

Software is owned not licensed

The software company Autodesk has failed in its bid to prevent the second-hand sale of its software. In a long-running legal battle it has not been able to convince a court that its software is merely licensed and not sold. Out-law.com report that

Autodesk claims that it sells only licences to use its software and that those who pay for it do not necessarily have the right to sell it on. It sued Timothy Vernor, who was selling legitimate copies of Autodesk software on eBay, for copyright infringement.

The US District Court for the Western District of Washington has backed Vernor, though, in his claim that he owned the software and had the right to sell it on.

The Court said that there were two cases to use as a precedent and that they clashed fundamentally. It had no choice, it said, but to follow the earlier precedent, which was a dispute over the ownership of prints of Hollywood films sold to film stars.

The Court did say, though, that Autodesk’s claims that Vernor’s actions were likely to result in the creation and sale of illegal copies of its AutoCAD software were not well founded.

“Autodesk’s claim that Mr. Vernor promotes piracy is unconvincing,” the ruling said. “Mr. Vernor’s sales of AutoCAD packages promote piracy no more so than Autodesk’s sales of the same packages. Piracy depends on the number of people willing to engage in piracy, and a pirate is presumably just as happy to unlawfully duplicate software purchased directly from Autodesk as he is to copy software purchased from a reseller like Mr. Vernor.”

Sign petition for open Internet in Europe

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An interesting link from fsdaily, apologies for the blatant copy and paste, but I am tired…

If you believe Europe merits an Internet that is free and open according to the following principles, please sign this petition and share it with your friends using the “Share it” links below:

  1. Internet users are entitled to access, send and receive the content of their choice;
  2. Internet users are entitled to use and run applications and services of their choice;
  3. Internet users are entitled to connect their choice of software or hardware that do not harm the network;
  4. Internet users are entitled to choice and competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers;
  5. Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address. Broadband providers cannot block or degrade traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers’ homes. Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by them.
  6. Providers of Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices and Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection with a predefined capacity and quality.

These principles should be enshrined in European and national laws, and enforced by the relevant authorities in a consistent manner across Europe.

I am going to sign it now… and then paint my toenails…got my priorities right  😛

Making sculpted chair for secondlife part 2

Following on from part 1, in this episode we finish modeling our chair, then bake the sculptmap, texture and preview them in opensim.
Watch it below or watch it on youtube.

Visit Archive.org and download the Ogg video or Avi.

Download [download#2#size] , it contains the blend file, sculptmap and texture used in the tutorial.

[Attribution 2.5 Australia]

All files and video released under CC-BY2.5-AU license.

Make sure you visit Teachers Without Borders space on Secondlife to check for upcoming events.

Making sculpted chair for secondlife

Following on from Teachers Without Borders on Secondlife, I met Konrad to discuss what he needed in detail. The main goal is to have a set of chairs with multiple configurations depending on how the space is being used. In simple terms you have an object that you touch which brings up a menu with options like “lecture”, “discussion” and perhaps options for the number of chairs needed. When you choose an option the chairs reposition themselves. We’ll get to that in time. In this post we look at starting to design the chair in Blender. Konrad wanted to keep the space fairly informal so for now we are going with a typical outdoor chair.

I produced a video tutorial that roughly shows the steps I’ve taken to make the chair. I hope others join in and share their progress. All of the software is free and open source and runs on all the major operating systems. Here’s the things you will need.

Watch the video below or watch it on youtube or download it from archive.org.

I think Konrad has done really well with the space, to appreciate his work it might help some people to imagine what its like standing in a completely empty room.

You can see images of the chair in secondlife on flickr.

Stay tuned for part 2, we’ll look at baking the sculpt map and making the texture.

PRO TIP FOR MEDIA: You’ll notice on archive.org that the video is available in Ogg Video format, this is the video format used by professionals involved in OER and free learning, its a royalty free format. If it doesn’t play on your system by default then download vlc media player.