Left is Right, Up is Down

Every so often we all have to go through a technological refresh. I just seem to do it more often than others which annoys my wife. My latest one happened this past February and March when I purchased a new smartphone and computer. What I purchased would have surprised even me as early as January of this year. However, I wanted to try new things for the experience and challenge different technologies provide. Here is what I decided on and why.

Motorola Atrixphoto © 2011 ETC@USC | more info (via: Wylio)
The first thing I did was replace my beloved iPhone 3GS with the Motorola Atrix 4G. I know I said I loved my Blackberry Curve when it was sent to the technological bench. Now the iPhone? My original plan was to wait for the iPhone 5 and I may still go that way when it ever appears. However, some Android users, including my son, kept after me to try Android. I was reluctant because of the apps I had invested in my iPhone and the thought of spending more money on apps. Another hang-up I had with Android was the limited memory on the phone. This was somewhat solved with Android 2.2 which allows users to store apps on the SD card in your phone. Then there was the learning curve of how the phone would work with an alien operating system. I wish I could tell you it was flawless transition. However, once I learned the basics, I found Android offered users more than iOS devices. The thing I like most is the ability to install widgets on the phone's screen which allows quicker access to apps. If I want to play music on my music app I just press the play button and I have music. Should I need to jot a quick note in Evernote, then no problem. Widgets is one thing Apple could learn to make iOS even better. I do miss some apps like Awesome Note and Netflix and it took me a long time to find a podcast player I liked but for the most part life has been good.

After shopping around and even taking the HTC Inspire home for a spin, I finally settled on Motorola's Atrix 4G. The first thing I noticed was this phone is fast! The 1GHz Dual Core processor really makes this phone zip along. When I went to do something in my iPod Touch 3GS (the iPhone without a SIM card), it seemed very slow. Some Android apps are buggy but no more so than some iOS apps I worked with. I found out that many apps need updating to work with dual core processors which explain some of the crashes. So far I have not been able to take advantage of the 4G speeds because of AT&T and they way they treat one of the fastest growing areas in the state of South Carolina. We have not had 3G in this area very long so I am not holding my breath for 4G (or AT&T's version of it anyway) but I did not buy the phone for data speeds just the processor and it has not disappointed me yet.

Nuevo MacBook PRO!photo © 2008 Marco Paköeningrat | more info (via: Wylio)
My next technological upgrade actually caused some of my friends to raise their eyebrows. I bit the bullet and got a MacBook Pro. The reason was simple, I wanted a upscale performance laptop that would give me many years of service. My son will graduate high school (hopefully) in a couple of years and will need a good laptop to take to college (again I hope). While my Acer Aspire One netbook gave and still gives good service, I wanted something larger and with more horsepower. Plus, when I went shopping for PC's the selection was large and somewhat disappointing because they did not have the Sandy Bridge processor. The Mac I selected has Intel's latest processor, Thunderbolt connectivity which is Intel's answer to USB 3.0. Of course there needs to be some Thunderbolt peripherals which have not come to market yet. This is how new it is.

When I announced my Mac purchase my Facebook and Twitter sites went nuts. Some of my friends, thinking I was a die hard Windows man who would only give up his PC when they pried it from my cold dead fingers, welcomed me from the clutches of the darkside of the computer force. I don't know why people thought this because I have wanted a Mac for years. Ever since I saw Garage Band I started drooling over Macs but the machines are darned expensive. Finally, I had the money and had run out of excuses so I bit the bullet and got one. So far I have not missed the Windows system at all because I have a Windows 7 machine at work. Actually, I could lose that HP and not miss a beat thanks to inter operable programs and cloud storage. Plus, I have not had needed to make expensive software purchases. The most expensive programs I purchased was iWorks 11 and Scrivener. Garage Band is everything I expected it to be and more. iMovie has been a pleasant surprise. Safari and Chrome gave me trouble when I needed to show a full webpage I was mirroring during a presentation but the new Firefox came through. Finally, the battery life has been incredible! I rarely have to take my charger with me when I hit the library or Starbucks.

They say that change is good and I have had my share of change in the last year. I guess I needed new challenges in technology with both my smartphone and computer. Now, I believe I have the resources to tackle new challenges like learning how to program with students using Scratch and for iOS and Android apps on my own. While I still draft some writings on my smartphone, it is nice to have a larger platform to write than my netbook offered. Perhaps I can use that famous Mac creative ability to squeeze that great American novel that is supposedly in all of us or get back to producing some creative videos and audio projects. At least one can dream.

Books on they way out? Teacherbytes December 30, 2009

I hope everyone had a great holiday but is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come pointing its bony finger at the demise of traditional, paper books or students armed with smartphones invading your classroom. Is doom and gloom what some teachers see as more technology comes their way and they can't seem to stop it? No but here are glimpses of what the ghost is pointing to.

Another sign of the apocalypse

Some will see this as another sign the apocalypse is coming but on December 25th Amazon reported more e-books were sold than physical ones. Before you head off to your bunker to wait out the doom you should realize the Kindle was the most gifted item in the history of Amazon. While in the near future traditional books should not worry but if more e-readers are coming, and speculation says 2010 will see a flood of them, then will we have neighborhood bookstores by the end of the coming decade? Yes but they won't look like they do today. Source Engadget and Mashable.

More on Pico Projectors

Pico projectors started coming out in 2008 but have not made much of an impact yet. The biggest reason is you almost need a completely dark room to see a mediocre picture at best. This is starting to change, slowly. RoyalTek announced the RPJ-2000 which is supposed to be the first of five new pico projectors coming out in 2010. The $315 device can project a 65 inch image at 640x40 resolution with 14 lumens of brightness. A very dark room is still needed but it is getting better.  You will also need a $43 converter kit if you have a Mac. Pico projectors can be useful for teachers who are not assigned to one classroom or does not have access to a regular projector or does not want to lug around a projector. Source: Engadget

What can you do with a pico projectors?

Other than the obvious Logic Wireless has the 150LGW Projector Phone. This little device sold at Skymall (the catalog you browse waiting for your plane to take off) will set you back $499. The projector is said to project an image up to 64 inches but no word on resolution or brightness. The phone is built to be a portable office with dual SIM card slots so you can use it on different carriers and Quad Band GSM. Software for the Symbian-based phone includes a Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF viewer. This is the second phone to be bundled with a projector. The other phone is the LG eXpo which will offers a projector as an option. Cell phone use in classrooms is coming, just think about the first time a student pulls out one of these to show their project. Source: Engadget

Get it while it's hot!

Apple dropped the price of its entry-level MacBook to $728 for educators and students. It is not known how long this price drop will last so if you still have some Christmas cash left and are wanting to dip into the Mac waters this might be your chance. Source Engadget

Verizon sees slates everywhere

Last week OLPC announced they are working on a thin tablet PC for the education market. Almost everyone is speculating on the rumored Apple slate computer which is supposed to be announced early next year. Well Verizon apparently wants to take advantage what many think will be next computer craze and make sure you can access the Verizon network on slates like you can on some netbooks. Source: CNET

Easy Shot Videos

Concord Keystone is going to announce the Easy Shot Clip camcorder at CES next month. Specs on the $70 camcorder is it can shoot 640x480 at 30 frames per second. The 2GB memory will allow for up to 2 hours of video. All this will be in a 2-inch package you can hang around your neck or mount in various places. This could be useful to have to quickly shoot video of class activities that may be unplanned. Source: Engadget