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- Blackboard Feature of the
"Goodbye to Wimba"
Tech Talk Topic:
"Using Google Blog Search"
- For more, see
podcast notes page
for Episode 63.
Technology & Download News Briefs
CCC Confer, the organization
responsible for administering the state grant that purchases access to the Horizon
Wimba e-conferencing and voice tools that we use in our Blackboard
system, are completing a bid process for a new
Horizon Wimba, our current provider, is one of the bidders, but we
discovered this week that they are not, apparently,
the final successful bidder. The Palomar
College Governing Board agenda was published this
week. The board will be asked to approve
Elluminate as the new provider. We are
unclear on our future with Horizon Wimba and the
status of files kept on their servers. Worst case
scenario is that we will not have access to their
tools or our archived and stored files on their
June 30, 2007. Therefore, we are advising
professors who may have wanted to develop online
learning materials using the Horizon Wimba tools for
summer or fall courses to
suspend development until we get more information on
voice tool availability. It seems almost
certain that the e-conferencing system will be
elluminate's and not Wimba's. We do not want professors to go
to work that may have to be re-done using some other
system. Consequently, we will turn off
access to the Horizon Wimba tools in Blackboard
effective June 16 (at the end of the 4-week summer
session). We are also working to try to ascertain if
we can have access to Wimba voice tools ongoing.
As of June 16, however, they will become unavailable
in Blackboard. If you have questions please call
Haydn Davis at ext. 2341, or
It's official. the iPhone will launch on June
29. "The device, which combines
the features of a mobile phone and personal digital
assistant, will sell for $499 (£251) and $599,
depending on configuration" (BBC).
The iPhone was first publicly announced back in
January, at MacWorld (see
episode 46 for links and video). Click
here to watch the first real iPhone TV ad, which ran
last Sunday night on 60 Minutes.
It was revealed last week, in fact, the day after
Apple announced the availability of DRM-free music
from its new iTunes Plus store (see
episode 62), that Apple is embedding
user name and email into every DRM-free music
track download. This means that what you do with the
download can be tracked and traced back to you as
the originator. Why? "The entertainment
obsessed with the idea of "casual piracy," or
the occasional sharing of content between friends. I
wouldn't be surprised if some data was being
analyzed in aggregate, although Apple's current
technica). Ask a technician about this and
she will say, "What's the point? If that's all
it is it can be easily spoofed." But there is
more to the story. There are also a couple of
mysterious data fields in every DRM-free track
which, it is believed, can be used to specifically
and eternally track the original purchaser of the
an EFF article on this feature). In any event, be sure your kids
do not place DRM-free music from Apple on a
peer-2-peer network, because it is all-too-easy
for the RIAA to trace it back and initiate yet
another in their barrage of law suits.
Google announced this week that they have added
twelve more Universities to their
book scanning and digitizing project. The
group, including Universities of Minnesota,
Michigan, Michigan State, Chicago, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State,
Pennsylvania State, Purdue, and Wisconsin-Madison
will allow Google to scan a collective 78 million volumes.
No word on whether YouTube gets the replay
rights to Big-10 football (Inside
Google Book Search blog).
Soapbox, Microsoft's YouTube-like video sharing
web site, has re-opened after a closure of two
months while the company implemented a content
filtering system designed to avert Viacom DMCA
take-down imbroglios like the ones perpetually
plaguing YouTube. We initially reported on
Soapbox back in
episode 33. Google has long been rumored to be
on the verge of implementing similar filtering
software on YouTube.
Last week we did a feature on Microsoft
Photosynth, a revolutionary new approach to
compiling and integrating photos from multiple
sources on the Internet to construct models of real
places. This week Photosynth is in the news
and the BBC announced that "Your Britain in
Pictures" which utilizes Photosynth technology to
provide unique 3D models of famous British monuments
will be available on the web as a compliment to the
BBC video production.
Click here for the web site that demonstrates
the use of Photosynth,
here for information on the BBC production,
here for the Microsoft press release.
- Here is one for ethics professors. In
episode 60 we reported on the
OpenNet Initiative and the
Internet filtering map. The map shows
those countries that carry out the most extensive
internet censorship and surveillance. Now Amnesty
International in a recent conference is arguing that
"censorship is a "virus" affecting the health of the
technica). AI "reserves particular
criticism for the firms—often American—that go along
with censorship or actively contribute to it,"
Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google in their dealings
in China. On the other hand, AI DOES support
censorship of "hate speech" and sites that encourage
race hatred, violence, and child pornography.
The US does not censor hate speech, but does censor
Internet gambling by organizations other than the
state. Where does right lie? Or left or
libertarian, for that matter.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Holiday lectures
from 2006 are now available on DVD for free
distribution. The lecture series last year was
titled "Potent Biology: Stem Cells, Cloning, and
Regeneration," and were delivered by Drs. Douglas
Melton and Nadia Rosenthal.
Click here for more information and ordering
- File under "lumpers or splitters." We reported
in episode 59 on the effort led by E. O. Wilson,
perhaps the world's most famous life scientist, to
Encyclopedia of Life. One of its goals is
to comprehensively catalog the Earth's species.
Now Nature.com joins the debate by on what
constitutes a species by publishing an article by
Emma marris titled "Linnaeus
at 300: The species and the specious." The
article has major implications for the eol project.
- Wiiitis, a new medical term canonized by a letter to
New England Journal of Medicine (and reported by
CNN) is Dr. Julio Bonis' self-diagnoses of
a sports-injury like condition in the shoulder
caused by excessive and continuous use of the new
gamers simulate actual sports motions (in this case,
virtual tennis). This is not to be confused
with Nintendinitis "thumb soreness brought on by
pushing the buttons on a controller" or any of a
host of other injuries related to the innovative
new Wii controllers. The treatment?: ibuprofen
and complete Wii-abstinence for 1 week.
Safari Tech Book Online:
Office 2007: The Missing Manual by Chris Grover,
Matthew MacDonald, and E. A. Vander Veer.
"Quickly learn the most useful features of Microsoft
Office 2007 with our easy to read four-in-one guide.
This fast-paced book gives you the basics of Word,
Excel, PowerPoint and Access so you can start using
the new versions of these major Office applications
right away." Palomar maintains a
subscription to Tech Books Online, and the books can
be accessed from any computer on the campus network,
or from off the network with a password
obtainable from the library.
Listen to the news [mp3 -
- Academic Technology Training
- We have completed our training schedule for
Spring 07. We will announce the new schedule
in this space in a couple of weeks. We have
finalized our training schedule for fall 2007, but
it is not yet complete because the Professional
Development Office has not yet supplied the PD
codes, which should happen in about a week.
For those desperately interested in training you can
the schedule here.
- Palomar Office 2007 Training
- The Information Services department will be
offering training in several of the Office 2007
products (Word, Excel and Outlook). Training
will occur on various days in June. Conact the
help desk at ext 2140 or
firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
@ONE training resources:
The Blackboard Feature of
the Week - David Gray
Goodbye to Wimba
“Don’t cry because it’s
over. Smile because it happened” –Dr. Seuss
Saturday, June 16th, we will be shutting down the
Wimba extensions to our Blackboard system. This is
the first time we’ve ever turned off a component of
Blackboard, and there are some implications for
instructors’ courses that should be discussed.
First, what exactly is going to be shut down? We
have been using three building blocks from Wimba
(formerly “Horizon Wimba”), the LiveClassroom system
for synchronous chat and collaboration sessions,
Pronto for instant messaging bound to Blackboard
rosters, and the Voice Tools which allowed for
recordings from instructors and students to be
posted in various areas in a Blackboard course.
The LiveClassroom system was an improved version
of the built-in Blackboard Collaboration tool.
That Collaboration tool is still going to be
available, but the improved Wimba system will not
be. Links to LiveClassroom sessions will remain in
your courses, but obviously will not work.
Instructors must manually remove any links in
content areas to LiveClassroom sessions or archives.
Since it was so new, Pronto was not likely used
in most Blackboard courses. The link to Pronto would
have shown up in the Communications area, and this
link will vanish when the Pronto building block is
disabled. However, the Pronto instant messaging
client may have been installed on faculty and
student workstations. Those will not be
automatically removed, but we would recommend
uninstalling the program since Palomar support for
Pronto it is being discontinued.
The Wimba Voice Tools were the most heavily used
of the Wimba offerings at Palomar. The Blackboard
content using the Voice Tools will not vanish
automatically, but will have to be manually removed
by the instructor. The way these items will appear
until removed varies depending on which tool was
used. For example, Voice Recorder items will
display a message indicating that the Voice Tools
Server is down, while Voice Boards return an HTTP
Status 404 error page which is quite ugly. At any
rate, Voice Tool content should be removed –
particularly before instructors copy material into
Fall courses! (It should be easier to edit one
course and copy to several, rather than copy these
unusable items and then have to sort through several
Hopefully faculty have not started developing
their Fall 2007 courses depending on these tools
already. If anyone has, please contact us at
email@example.com and let us know what
you really want to accomplish. There are other ways
to integrate audio into a Blackboard course, and we
would be happy to help!
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
Using Google Blog Search
The Blog Herald, there are now in excess of 70
million blogs being regularaly updated. Who is
doing all this writing? Most of the blog
service providers are in the United States, but the
blogging population is from all over the world:
approximately 15 million in South Korea, 2.5 million
in the UK, 1.4 million in Poland, 5 million in
China, 400,000 in Australia, and so on. The
leading blog services are
SixApart (TypePad and LiveJournal), and several
Now, this does not mean that there are over 70
million bloggers. I have three blogs I use for
different purposes. What it does mean is that
there are a lot of text being generated in the
blogosphere on a lot of topics. The "blogosphere"
is different and separate from the web, though they
both work with the same protocols in the same space
on the Internet. The blogosphere is much more
interconnected because most blogs allow reader
comments and trackbacks (a list of blogs that link
to other blogs). So how do you find something
amidst this babble? Enter Google Blog Search.
You will find Google Blog Search at
interface is the same, pleasant, minimalist
interface used by all the Google search products.
In fact, recently, it has been better integrated
into the overall Google search design (see "The
New Google: Universal Search" from episode 60).
Blogs are subscribable, which means you can
receive them automatically in any RSS (really simple
syndication) aggregator (or "news reader," as they
are often called). Many people use their IE7
or Firefox browsers as their news readers.
Others use web-based services such as
Google Reader. Others install specialized
stand-alone software which does the same thing.
(For more on RSS,
click here). Whatever tool you use, they
work the same. Blog "feeds" are syndicated by
means of a simple XML file called the blog's "RSS
feed," or "Atom feed." (RSS and Atom are,
confusingly, two different syndication format
standards -- it truly doesn't matter which is used
and most blogs use both). When you "subscribe
to a blog" (there is no money involved, in spite of
the word "subscribe") you start receiving in your
news reader a headline and brief summary of the
latest blog posting as it is posted. To read
the entire post, simply click on it in your news
Google does the same thing. Instead of
sending their spiders out to scour the web for
content, as with their web search, they simply
subscribe to all blogs. The text comes to
them. They then index it and allow users to
search it using the same sorts of sophisticated
algorithms their web search tools use. It is
important to understand that Google Blog Search
searches all blogs, not just those created through
blogger.com, Google's own blog service provider.
Because of the quicker retrieval of text, blog
postings get indexed and show up in search results
much more quickly than web page postings, usually
within less than an hour.
Let's say we want to investigate further the news
article we published above about Linnaeus, polar
bears and speciation. Entering "Linnaeus
species polar bear" in the Blog Search search box
will return 62 hits sorted by relevance. The
fourth in order is a commentary on the Nature
article we referenced in the news story. There
is a link on the search results page to Sort by date
(in the upper right), and to filter the display by
time published (Last hour, Last 12 hours, Last day,
Past week, Past month, Anytime (the default), and a
date range selection) in the upper left of the
screen. At the bottom of the search results
screen there are links to 1) create an email alert
for Linnaeus species polar bear (or whatever search
terms you entered--this means you will receive an
email informing you each time (they will be grouped
if multiple postings occur on the same day) there is
a new blog posting on these topics; 2) add a blog
search gadget for your search term on your Google
home page (it updates automatically each day showing
the latest blog postings on your topic); and/or 3)
subscribe to a blog search feed for your search
term. That's right. Google blog search
will create an automated blog feed and place all the
new blog postings on your topic in it and make it
subscribable by you in your news feed reader.
That is what you would call leveraging the
If a basic blog search does not find what you are
looking for, there is an Advanced Blog Search, which
should look familiar to users of other Google search
The usual filters are available. Google
also provides a Preferences panel where you can
select preferred interface language, search
language, language filter, safe search filter,
number of results per page, and results window
behavior (open in new window is the default).
Pick a topic and try it out. The results
are often amazing.
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