Friday, August 22, 2008

Internet Bumper Stickers: My 15 minutes of fame

As promised by Andy Warhol to all, my 15 minutes of fame has arrived! The chimp at Internet Bumper Stickers has chosen Technology Tips as the sticky site of the day! Ha ha.

It's because of the post I did a while back about how to use the RotateContent.com tool to create an image randomizer. I use random Internet Bumper Stickers to liven up my online classes!


(Random Internet bumper stickers)



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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Firefox: Clearing the Browser Cache

When you run into a problem with a website, the first thing to do is to try Reloading the page. If that doesn't work, sometimes just restarting your computer will do the trick. If you are still having trouble, it can sometimes help to clear your browser cache, removing any copies of the webpage that your browser has stored in your computer's memory for quick access.

Here is how to clear your browser cache in Firefox (you will find similar options for Internet Explorer, Safari, and any other web browser, although the specific instructions will vary - see the comments section for this post where you will find a link to an article about clearing the Firefox cache on a Windows computer):

Go to the Firefox menu, and choose Preferences.


From Preferences, choose the Privacy option.

In the Private Data section, click on the Settings button.


This will allow you to choose exactly what you want to clear. To clear the saved copies of webpages in the cache, just choose cache. You also have the option to remove information about cookies, browsing history, etc.


When you are done, click OK. This will return you to the main Privacy screen, so that you can click on the Clear Now button in the Private Data section.


You be prompted to confirm your choice - and that's it! You can close the Preferences window now and continue browsing; there is no need to restart your browser.




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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ning: Your Ning Settings

This blog post has moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Firefox Add-On: Screengrab

In teaching my online courses, I find it very handy for my students to be able to take a screenshot and send it to me via email. If they run into technical problems, this can be really helpful - a picture's worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, so if they can show me what they are seeing on their computer screen, instead of trying to describe it in words, I can usually identify the problem much more quickly.

The difficulty I've run into in the past is that while some of my students are Mac users (so that they can easily do a screenshot), most of the students use Windows. In Windows XP, taking a screenshot was clunky and awkward at best; there's a "snipping tool" in Windows Vista, but since I am using a Mac, I've never actually used the snipping tool and cannot give my students any help in learning how to use it.

The solution: Screengrab, a Firefox add-on, that works perfectly well for both Windows AND Mac users (although, as I said, the Mac users have such an easy time of it to begin with, they don't really need an extra tool).

Here's how the Screengrab tool works:

After you install the Screengrab add-on, you will see a little Screengrab icon in your status bar at the bottom of the Firefox screen (if you do not see the Status bar, turn it on using the View menu in Firefox). Here is what the icon looks like:

Just click on the Screengrab icon, and choose Save - Complete Page. You will be prompted to give the file a name and to save it to a location on your computer. Save the file with the name screenshot.png (make sure you include the .png extension if your computer does not do that automatically for you).

There are additional options you can configure. Just go to the Firefox Tools menu, select Add-Ons, and configure your Screengrab preferences. For most purposes, however, you can just go with the default options - it's ready to go and conveniently waiting in your status bar whenever you need to use it.


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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ning: RSS Feed Box

RSS is a way to get content from another blog or website to appear on your own webpage. In your Ning Profile page, you have an RSS box, where you can add an RSS feed. Here's how:

First, get the address of a feed that you want to include. Pretty much any blog has a feed, as do many online news sources and other content-intensive websites. (For example, I've created a list of some feeds related to my classes, and to the University of Oklahoma in general.)

Then, go to the RSS box in your My Page Profile and click on Edit:

You will then be given the option to supply a title for the box, together with the feed address. You need to decide if you just want the titles to appear (that's usually best) or if you want the entire content of the feed to be displayed. You also give to pick the number of items to display.

If you are displaying just the titles, you can choose a large number; if you are displaying the detailed content, you should choose a small number. When you are done, click on Save.

That's it! The content will refresh automatically - you don't have to do anything. If you want to change to a different feed, you can click on Edit to enter new information.

Want more than one feed? You can use YahooPipes to create a combined feed, and then enter the combined feed here in your Ning box.



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Javascript in a Mozilla Seamonkey Composer page

When you are creating a webpage using Mozilla Seamonkey Composer, you can insert javascripts into the page in order to create dynamic content. Here are some sources you might use for dynamic javascripts and other forms of embedded HTML:
For the example in this tutorial, I'll be using the javascript from a PollDaddy.com poll. To add the javascript to your page, follow these instructions:

Create a page and type some kind of text to accompany the script, along with an XXX that marks the spot where you want to place the script results on the page:


Next, click on the HTML Source button at the bottom of the page:


Now paste the javascript (it maybe a big chunk of stuff!) into the place where you had your XXX before - in place of the XXX, you should now see the javascript code:


Now, click on Normal down at the bottom of the page to go back to your normal editing view:


Don't worry if the screen looks really weird - sometimes javascript will show up a bit oddly in this view. Here's a typical example of what you might see:

To see if your script really is working, what you need to do is SAVE YOUR WORK, and then click on the Browser Preview:


This will allow you to see if the script really is working - and in this case it is! Here's what I see when I actually preview this page in a browser window:

Close down the browser window, and you can now make any final changes you want to your webpage, and then hit Publish. As always with Seamonkey Composer, MAKE SURE YOU CLOSE THE COMPOSER WINDOW after you have published the file. If you want to keep working on the page, that's fine - just make sure you CLOSE THE COMPOSER WINDOW after publishing, and then open the page again. This is very important: if you don't close the window after you publish, you will be editing the remote copy of the page, and your local changes will be lost. So, be careful: always close the window after you publish!


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Creating a Poll with PollDaddy.com

PollDaddy.com is a fantastic free service that allows you to create polls which you can link to directly or embed in your blog or in your webpages. Here are instructions on how to create a PollDaddy account and start making your own polls.

Create your free account. First, go to the PollDaddy.com website and click on the Signup tab:


There are a variety of types of accounts, but you want to click on the option for a Free Account (scroll down to the bottom of the free column to create your account):



Fill out the information requested (name, email address, and password).

Go to Account Home. After your account is created, click on the Home Tab to go to your PollDaddy account home page. To the right, in My Latest Polls, you should see a list of any polls you have created, along with a link to create a new poll:


Create a poll. When you create a poll, you will need to ask a question. Then, list the possible answers. Remember to use the RED MINUS SIGN on the right to remove any blank answer spaces that you don't want to use. On the left, you can find UP/DOWN ARROWS to rearrange your answers in the order you think is best.



Select a Poll Style. You can choose a style for your poll down below where you entered the question and answers. Use the arrows to page through the different style options.


Save and Continue. When you are done with the poll questions and answers and have selected a style, click the Save and Continue button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

Publishing your poll. You will see several options for publishing your poll. By default, the javascript widget appears first. You can use javascript in most webpages and blogs. If you want to send someone a link to your poll via the email, you need to choose Direct Link Method from the right-hand column.



This will give you the webpage address for your poll:

You can also use the javascript option to include the poll inside a blog post or webpage! Here's a sample:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ning: Managing Your Blog

The contents of this post have moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GoogleDocs: Spellcheck and Word Count

Google Documents is a great system for creating documents that you can access online from any computer. Fast, easy - and free!

To get started, you need a Google account (for example, a Gmail address). If you don't have a Google account, it just takes a few seconds to set one up. You can either get a Gmail address, or get a Google account based on any email address you want to use.

Create new document. When you log on to Google Documents, you will have the option of creating a new document (or spreadsheet, or presentation, etc.)


By default, your document is untitled. You can give it a title by clicking where it says Untitled and typing the title you want in the dialog box that opens up:


You can type as in a regular word processor. If you will be cutting-and-pasting what you type into a blog or other web-based program, don't do any formatting here. Just type your text.

Spellcheck. When you are ready to spellcheck, you will find the spellcheck icon is at the right-hand end of the toolbar, or you can choose Check Spelling from the Tools menu:


Any words that are not correct English spelling will be highlighted in yellow.

When you correct the spelling, the yellow highlight will disappear. To get hints about the spelling, LEFT mouse click on the highlighted word. You will see some possible corrections, and you will also have the option to add the word to the spellcheck dictionary.

When you are done making any correctins you want to make, just click the Spellcheck icon again to turn off any of the yellow highlighting that is still left on the page.

Word count. To do a word count, select Word Count from the Tools menu.

There will be a variety of statistics displayed, with simple word count being the first item:


To close the Word Count box, just click on the small X in the upper right-hand corner.

Save your work. Google Docs has an auto-save feature, but you can also choose to Save your work, or Save & Close, at any time, using the buttons in the upper right-hand corner of the page:


So, while you are typing, auto-save will be saving your work periodically, but you can use Save & Close to make sure you save the latest version of your document when you are done working. You can then access your document any time from any computer using a web browser, simply by logging in to Google Documents on that computer. Very handy for people on the go!




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Managing Multiple Google Calendars

When you have a Google account, that means you have a Google Calendar account - and there is a link to Google Calendar in the upper left-hand corner of your Google screen. By default, a personal calendar is created for you, and you can create as many additional calendars as you want. You can share your calendars with others, or keep them private. If other people have made their calendars public, you can subscribe to their calendars.

So, when you manage your Google Calendar account, you may end up managing multiple calendars. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Managing your calendars. To manage your multiple calendars, just go to Google Calendar and then choose Settings (top right-hand corner of the page), and choose the Calendars tab.


You will see the calendars you are managing divided up into My Calendars (with a Create new calendar button), and Other Calendars. The other calendars are calendars that other people have shared with you, or public calendars that you have subscribed to.

Displaying your calendars. In the box in the left-hand column of the screen, you will see a list of all your calendars. From the dropdown menu indicated by the arrow, you can color-code your calendars, and choose other display options. When you click on a calendar so that the tab is colored that means events are displayed on the main calendar screen. Click again, and the events will not be displayed. For example, here is what I see, when I am displaying my World Lit calendar and Latin Proverb of the Day calendar. All the other calendars are turned off (I can see their names, but they are not outlined in color):


Subscribing to a calendar. If someone makes a calendar public, you can subscribe to that calendar. For example, here is the calendar for one of my classes, World Literature, displayed inside Desire2Learn. To subscribe, just click on the +GoogleCalendar button.


You will be prompted to confirm your choice:


Then, after you click "yes" to confirm, you will see the calendar listed, and you can choose the color and other display options.


Calendar notifications. In particular, you might want to choose to set up email, messaging or mobile phone notifications from the display options for each calendar ("Notifications"). You can also configure the notifications by clicking on Settings, choosing the Calendars tab, and then clicking on the Notifications link for the calendar you wish to set up with notifications.


You can choose email notifications for individual events or for a daily agenda, along with cell phone alerts, too, if you want!



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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ning: Adding a YouTube Video to Your Profile

The contents of this blog post have moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Ning: Adding an Image to a Blog Post

The contents of this post have moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Ning: Adding a Link to a Blog Post

The contents of this post have been moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Ning: Formatting Blog Posts

These instructions have moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Ning: Quick-Add Blog Post

Depending on the different features included in your Ning, you can use the "Quick-Add" feature to access different features with a single click.

Quick-Add options. You will find the Quick-Add options in the upper right-hand corner of the Ning homepage, in the little welcome box with you rname on it. To Quick-Add a blog post, just select "Blog post" from the Quick-Add drop-down menu:


Accessing the complete blog editor. When you choose to Quick-Add a blog post, the default option is a very primitive blog editing window. You can type text, but you cannot add links, images, etc. So, in order to access the full-featured blog editor. click where it says More Options in the lower right-hand corner of the window:


After you click on More Options, you will have access to the blog editor which makes it possible to add links or images, preview your post or save it as a draft, etc.


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Ning: Adding a Blog Post

These instructions have been moved to the Online Course Lady wiki.

Desire2Learn: Combined Courses Calendar

If your instructor has made the Desire2Learn Calendar widget part of the class homepage, you will see by default a month view, with a button at the bottom that lets you click for a detailed view of Today:


Here is what you see if you click the Today button:


You can configure the Calendar Settings by clicking on the Settings option in the right-hand column:

Even more important, though, is the Display Options button, which is in the left-hand column.


This is what allows you to decide if you want to view the events from ALL COURSES together, or just the events for this course:


If you choose to see the events from all courses, you can click on an event that is part of another course, and it will take you to that course area in Desire2Learn - but be careful: all the rest of the navigation still applies to the course area for which you are logged on (so if you click "Course Home" it will not take you to the course home area for the event you clicked on; instead, it will take you back to the course home area for the calendar page you were originally viewing).

If your instructors have included events for the course in the course Calendar, that will make it easy for you to see a combined list of all your course events for any given day!




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PBWiki: Editing and creating wiki pages

When you are a "writer" in a PBWiki, you are able to edit pages - adding new content to a page, or changing existing content. To edit a page, just click on the Edit tab that appears near the top of each page:


When you are done editing the page, make sure you click on the SAVE button at the bottom of the page to save your work.

You can also create a new page; just click on the Create Page link which you will see in the upper right-hand corner of each page:


You will be prompted to give your page a name. It's best not to use any punctuation in the page names, and no blank spaces.

When you have given the page a name, just click Create Page. Make sure you click SAVE when you are done.

The page you have created can be found at an address consisting of the name of your wiki, forward-slash, your page name:

http://tollelege.pbwiki.com/TestPage

You can link to the page just as you would like to any other webpage on the Internet, using this address.

It's the easiest and fastest way I know of to publish your materials online!


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