Archives for April 2006
Learning Sciences Handbook Released
The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences is finally released! I just received my preordered copy. As we previously highlighted, the book provides an overview of LS-inspired learning environments, organized by key areas of the field, and includes entries from many of the today’s most eminent learning scientists.
Technology & Learning Magazine: Ads or real substance?
I just got a Special Invitation to sign up for a free complimentary subscription to “Technology and Learning,” which appears to be one of those magazines where meager articles provide the justification for a book full of advertisements. From the looks of it, it’s geared towards teachers and tech staff at schools. Still, it’d interesting to see who’s in this market and what kinds of products are being pitched. Based on the ads on their web site, it looks like it’s gonna be mostly hardware pitches, with a few software vendors thrown in. We’ll see if the ratio holds in the magazine.
USB Foot Pedals for InqScribe
With the release of InqScribe 1.5, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether or not InqScribe supports a particular manufacturer’s foot pedal. InqScribe 1.5 offers much better integrated support for foot pedals, including VEC, VPedal, X-Keys, and others. If your foot pedal appears as an input device on your system, InqScribe should be able to use it. Details on using foot pedals in InqScribe 1.5 can be found here.
While we can’t guarantee that InqScribe would work with every USB foot pedal on the market, we are in the process of building a list of confirmed compatible foot pedals. Currently that list includes VEC, VPedal, and X-Keys foot pedals. If you have a pedal from another manufacturer, please download our software (it’s free to try!) and just try it with your footpedal. If you find that your foot pedal works, please let us know!
We’ve released InqScribe 1.5.2, a maintanence release that fixes, among other things, a highly annoying “shaking text” bug on Windows. (We’re really sorry about that one.) This version also cleans up some appearance issues to look better on specific operating systems, and breaks out a few preferences so you can vary them on a per window basis. (Perhaps most useful in this respect is the ability to turn time code coloring on and off for individual windows.)
Comment spam update
Bloggers are quite aware of the problem of comment spam: automated bots that seek out weblogs and leave inane comments that contain links. The goal is to improve the advertised site’s Google PageRank, in addition to providing a few impressions on the weblog.
We’ve had this problem under control for several months using a technique called HashCash. We also format all links in comments with the rel=’nofollow’ attribute, which prevents Google from using the link in its PageRank calculations. (Yet spambots still visit us. Go figure.)
Recently, some spambots has broken HashCash. So, we’ve added a new layer of shiny anti-spambot coating: the Obvious Question. If you’re leaving a comment (please do!), before you submit the comment form you’ll need to answer an Obvious Question. The answer is even provided, in case what’s obvious to us isn’t obvious to you.
In general, we hate the idea of inconveniencing real contributors in order to better manage spam. But the ratio of spambot postings to real postings is running well over 1:1. The Obvious Question attempts to solve the problem in the least intrusive way.
posted April 22, 2006 by admin | permalink |
Register now for Games, Learning and Society conference
Early registration ends May 1.
The second annual Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Conference will be held June 15-16, 2006 in Madison, Wisconsin. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and the Academic ADL Co-Lab, the GLS Conference fosters substantive discussion and collaboration among academics, designers, and educators interested in how videogames – commercial games and others – can enhance learning, culture, and education. Speakers, discussion groups, interactive workshops, and exhibits will focus on game design, game culture, and games’ potential for learning and society more broadly.
Helping students search the web
How do web-browsing students filter quality content from rubbish? Educators have long struggled with this issue. Edward Tenner writes in a New York Times Op-Ed piece about how advances in search engines may be leading to a decline in skills to structure meaningful web searches. The convenience of modern web-searching, he claims, has led to web-searching malaise.
One consequence of Google’s efficiency, writes Tenner, is that users no longer need to think as deeply about how to find good information. He goes on to claim that a consequence of Google’s brand of citation analysis is that it tends to “display irrelevant or mediocre sites on a par with truly expert ones” because it is more concerned with ranking sites by how often they are linked to other highly ranked sites, not necessarily by how often they are linked to other high quality sites. Google’s powerful advanced search options can provide remedies to this, but they are rarely used— especially by students.
Educators, take note. Making web searching more of a challenge may be a key to helping students find better information.
How to bypass your browser's cache
Wikipedia has a nice summary of how to bypass the cache on most modern browsers. It’s probably common knowledge for a lot of folks, but we find that as more of our development shifts to the web, knowing how to force browsers to read the latest version of a page is an important skill for early adopters.
Suggesting Features 101
Brent (of NetNewsWire reknown) writes a nice piece about how to convince developers to add your favorite feature. Bottom line: explain what you need to accomplish, not what you think the feature should look like. Task models are really good places to begin design, because the designer can use the model to place new development in a broader context of what you, as a user, need to do. As Brent says:
If you tell me good, specific stories about you and the software and the problem you want to solve, then I’ll know why the feature is important, and that makes it more likely I’ll get to it sooner.
(InqScribe users, take note.)
New features include:
- Support for Windows Media Player.
- Support for QuickTime 7 pitch locking.
- Expanded keyboard shortcut commands.
- Text snippet support.
- USB foot pedal support (as well as other USB input devices).
- Support for film, PAL, NSTC, and NTSC drop-frame time code formats.
- Time code coloring.
- New offline media options for taking notes during live events.
- and more
InqScribe 1.5 is a free update for owners of InqScribe 1.0.2.
Custom Hybrid Hell
Who’d a thunk that creating a custom hybrid CD is still so difficult in this day and age? Does nobody do it anymore? We’re getting ready to do a limited release of InqScribe 1.5 on CDs and wanted to create a cross platform CD that would:
- Have a background image on Mac OS X
- Automatically open a file browser on Mac OS X
- Automatically start the installer on Windows
The Custom Hybrid format is the way to go: If you’re a Mac user, you see a Mac disk, if you’re a Windows user, you see a Windows disk. But apparently, this is now a relatively rare thing to do as it’s essentially hidden in Roxio Toast 7, one of the more popular CD-burning applications on the Mac. And man, was it painful!
After running into a slew of problems, a quick google search turned up a page by our very own friend/company/developer (and 9rules rising star): David Seah. He has a most excellent tutorial of how to create a Custom Hybrid CD-ROM.
Some other useful sources of tips:
Roxio has an article on How to AutoStart.
TidBits recently had an article on this topic called Burning Down the Disc by Adam Engst.
The key things that I missed in my process:…