Thursday, February 21, 2008

Overcome mp3 filters

Quick blog: I tried sending an mp3 file to some colleagues in colleges recently and in some instances, the email was blocked due to mp3s being filtered.
So I put the file into Movie Maker, stuck on a picture and saved it as a wmv.
This was received without a hitch. Hmmm...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Success with software on Asus eeepc

Hurray! Managed to get a few things going on the Asus eeepc:

1. I can use my t-mobile usb modem with my eee:
Plugged it in, clicked on Network connections, created a new account and it pretty much detected everything itself.

2. Install WINE on eee:
"Wine is an implementation of the Windows API designed to run in Linux."
Read my wiki to find out more on this:

3. Record directly to mp3 file:
Also in the same blog post above.

4. Run Audacity (although the buttons don't look right)

5. Worked out how to screen capture in Full desktop mode (Ctrl - Fn - Prt Sc)

Here's a 'podcast' that I captured using Mypodcast recorder on the eee!

You can subscribe to my podcasts with
I like to keep them short ;-)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Two-way texting - beware certain long numbers

There are lots of things to watch out for if you are going to implement 2-way texting and I'll try to write a full post another time, but very quickly, if learners are to text back to the college:

1. How much does it cost the college to implement 2-way texting? Janet (PageOne) charges extra for incoming accounts. Does anyone know what the charges are and can let me know?
2. Check that you do not get charged to receive incoming texts.
3. Check that learners don't end up paying extra to text you: some SMS providers give you a radiopaging number based in the Isle of Man, for instance, to keep their costs down. On T-mobile, this is classed as an international number and it costs 17p per text. Mobile numbers that start with 0762 should be checked, among others. Check this Excel sheet ( against your incoming number and query your supplier if the number given to you is a radio paging number, or a number based in Guernsey etc. Also check with your learners if they are being charged extra to use the number. Ideally, the number you are allocated allows learners to text in using their existing contract allocation for text messages, or on pay as you go, it should cost 10p or less.
4. Can you set up your own text codes to give out to students? This should allow you to receive your own incoming texts to your email or a web page that only you access. You don't want to sort through thousands of texts from learners.
5. If using a short code (like 80010), ensure it's zero-rated so learners don't get charged more than the standard charge for texting to that number.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Asus eeepc 701

I love the little Asus. I've taken it with me everywhere in the house - it's become like a pet. The reason why the Q1ultra never achieved this status is partly to do with the following:
  • It's awkward to hold when you are sitting on your sofa (you can't just have it on your lap - you need to prop it up somehow)
  • It got heavy quickly when used as a handheld (with the 6 hour battery attached)
  • It couldn't detect my wireless network successfully if I was more than 5 metres away from the router
  • The lack of easy input (for msn, typing is essential)
  • It took ages to start up. I used to walk away and do other stuff rather than wait.

Even though the keyboard is cramped on the Asus, let's face it: it's not as cramped as the tiny keyboards on a Tytn or a mobile phone, and the learners manage with THAT.

And it powers up and is ready to go in about 30 seconds!!! Incredible! One reason not to put XP on...

The Asus comes with everything a learner might need to get started:

  • OpenOffice (handles all Office documents, allows creation of stuff. The home version of a PC normally doesn't come with a spreadsheet application or a PowerPoint type application, and only a basic version of Word)
  • PDF reader
  • Firefox (web browser)
  • MSN and Skype (er, that's just what the learners will use it for a lot of the time...)
  • Educational material /software (Science, Language, Math and Paint), typing programme
  • Media players, sound recorder (wav format) and some games
  • If you feel like it, you can use Voice Command to open programmes

The 7" screen can feel a bit cramped when browsing web sites but if people try not to put anything important on the Moodle blocks on the right hand side, they actually fit nicely.

It comes with an adapted version of the Xandros version of Linux (here's where I start to get my terminology all wrong...;-)) which isn't as popular as Ubuntu, based on what I've seen on the Web. Nothing to stop you installing Ubuntu or XP on it; in fact, because it ships with Xandros, that makes it easier to install XP on it and the manual comes with instructions for how to do this. I don't need another XP machine, so I'm not going to go down that route. I'd be interested to find out how much longer it takes to load up after XP has been put on it.

You call up the terminal window with Ctrl Alt T and then, get yourself a good linux book! For a start, you can type in sudo synaptic and this brings up the Synaptic Package Manager that's supposed to help you install and remove additional software on your Linux. That's how I managed to get Full Desktop on my machine. See my wiki for the links for this ( I'll be adding more stuff as I experiment with the Asus to my wiki rather than the blog because I'd rather keep it all in one place. It's a bit thin on the ground at the moment, but I'm sure we'll all be learning fast when everyone else gets their machines! Woo hoo!

One downside: battery doesn't last very long. You'll find yourself charging it twice a day, so what are we to do with the learners' machines? Have lots of extension cables in the classrooms so they can keep them powered?