Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spotify and cheating the network to search Google images

I have been doing lots of social networking through Spotify. It is almost perfect. And the collaborative playlists are loads of fun. Music on tap. Just the way I like it.
Sadly, tried to use it in school today and, of course, it was blocked. Go figure. A shame; I was looking forward to investigating some interesting class collaborations in mixtapes.

Flickr is also suddenly blocked this term. Which makes the Creative Commons image search completely useless now. Going, going gone.
Fortunately, my stage clever stage partner shared a clever way to bypass the the filter on Google images.
Put something like 'Scotland' and the word 'photo' or 'image' into a normal Google search engine. Some photos will appear along the top of the search results. Click on an image. Along the top it reads 'back to image results.' Click on that and suddenly you are in the Google image search engine proper. Put whatever you want to search for in the search engine and off you go. Nice!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Last Chance to See

I know I'm a bit late but I've just discovered this fantastic BBC site dedicated to animals on the brink of extinction. With the gallant Stephen Fry as host, there is a wonderful collection of blogs, video posts and archive radio to pick through and enjoy. I don't remember the original radio series of 20 years ago but I love the way the blogs and video diaries have been used as a work in progress, allowing viewers to get excited by and be remotely part of the programme team. I think this is a great model which shows simply and clearly how blogs could be used to record a project that a class are studying. More importantly than that, it's lots of fun!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

a sort of homecoming...

After 9 months AWOL in the wilderness, it comes as no surprise that my return to the classroom at the beginning of January was a severe jolt to the mind and body. It's been very dark, very wet and the whole world seems very depressed. Woolies is also a distant memory. The winter monotony of waking up in darkness, returning home in darkness and never bothering to open your curtains is a stark contrast to 9 months of adventure and excitement. 'Credit crunch' is as common a topic of news amongst the kids in my class as the usual Old Firm nonsense. (As a lifelong Aberdeen fan, it'll always be a constant thorn). Thankfully, I have one faithful Partick Thistle supporter brightening the gloom amongst the faded greens and blues. And another of my kids has brilliantly rebranded the credit crisis as the 'MONEY MUNCH!' You gotta love that.

So what's new in education? Not much it seems. ACE is now CfE. GLOW is making slow but careful progress. The influx of new teachers of the Bebo generation in my school, who have decimated the average age of the staff, seem completely unphased by GLOW. Which is great. The email is rubbish, though.

And after weeks of feeling rusty as hell, lost at sea and about as effective in the classroom as a chocolate fireguard; I'm beginning to settle back into the normal way of things. Lucky to have a job. I know. Some of my pupils' parents have sadly been made unemployed; a sobering thought.
Still, it's impossible not to stop the mind sailing blissfully off to foreign shores at 3.05pm on another dreich Wednesday afternoon. Truth is, I'm not alone. After their third full day of wet breaks some of the children in my class were on pressure gauge setting, 'EXPLODE!' Friday nights are once again working their therapeutic magic through the twin turb0 combo of LOUD 80s/90s music and HOT curries. Nostalgia and spice in served equal measure.

We did have that one weekend of amazing powdered snow. Husker Du? At 9pm, on the Sunday night, a gang of us charged to Kelvingrove park armed only with Sainsbury's plastic bags. Skidding and charging our way down every hill of virgin snow we could claim, we met a lovely couple at the top of the largest hill armed with a classic wooden Rolls Royce of a sledge. The masked pair were well hidden under woolly hats and scarves. They were also kind and gracious enough to gie us a wee shottie on the demon machine. The voice of the man was really familiar. He was dead small too. After a couple of shots, the couple departed with full speed and grace down the hill. It was then that the voice and face clicked. The wee man was none other than Gordon Strachan! What a good guy. And he was a brilliant player for Aberdeen back in the day. Perhaps the Old Firm are not so bad after all.

Steady... that's maybe pushing my optimism a bit too far.