Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Friday, November 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by danielcraig

Is this new, or I'm I just getting it late. This just showed up on my Google results today. It allows me to raise the rank of sites and even delete them (from what I get back)

Monday, November 17, 2008

YouTube - The Time Machine: START HERE!

YouTube - The Time Machine: START HERE!

This is great. I've often thought about choose your own adventure types of videos and how they would be great. Someone finally did the work to do it, using YouTubes annotation feature. This just blows me away (the idea, not necessarily the video :)

Hat tip to Alec at Open Thinking & Digital Pedagogy for the find.

Just imagine doing one of these with your students. It would be great. They could all take a branch of the story. Maybe the class could determine a few endings and set a goal to reach those endings within a number of steps (depending on the scope of the project). This could be a sizable undertaking, but one that could be a LOT of fun. I have flashbacks of high school when students would do projects for variety shows and pep rallies. Some of these included pre-recorded video that students, teachers, administrators, and members of the public participated in. They were great. Take this to another level and take the adventures through multiple threads. Incredible potential here for a fun, educational activity.

Check out the start here and wait until the end to make your choice.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This is a message sent using ( I'm hoping that it only ends up in my blogs and not across my social network :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

That isn't really your friend: hijacking users in Facebook and how to protect yourself

This won't come as a surprise to many of you, but Facebook has become the land of opportunity for bad folks trying to load nasty things onto your computer. I have had 3 Facebook friends send me messages that were obviously either simply spam or hijacked sites with downloaders (scripts that load bad programs onto your computer) and I've seen Wall postings on scores of other friends sites that were obviously the same. Now, I have personally received Facebook mail, chat, and Wall messages in this vein.

Some news reports on the topic: 1, 2

I like to think of myself as rather tech savvy, but I nearly click on these links too. I would never do that in my email, but Facebook is a place where we are all friends, right? And I'm not even a teenybopper with 400 friends, most of whom I hardly know; I know all of my friends in Facebook well. This is why I feel almost obligated to click on a link that they send. This is something that those bad folks are counting on and we all have to retrain ourselves.

Below is an edited and slightly expanded copy of a message that I sent one of those friends who asked how she could protect herself. The advice below is certainly not extensive, but I believe that it does cover the basics. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.

What to look for:

(1) Messages with just a link and no description (which means that when you send links to other people you should include descriptions).

(2) Links to websites that are not major media/tech companies or something that you know is your friend's website. Websites like CNN, MSNBC, Youtube, Flickr, and so forth are ok. Sites like geocities, msnspaces, and other sites that host free websites are not a good sign.

(3) Messages that just sound spamish--"Whoa! You gotta check this out," "I can't believe what this chick did," and the last one I got was "Someone posted a video of you being bad." (I almost fell for that one).

(4) Bad spelling and grammar. Now, you may have bad spelling and grammar yourself, but if you don't think that your friend does, don't click on it.

How to protect yourself:

(1) Most of these direct you to a website that has a script that loads something bad on your computer. This almost always comes through your browser (likely Internet Explorer), though it could come in through a host of other programs like Acrobat, Flash, or any other software on your computer that has a vulnerability that is not patched. Therefore, make sure that all of your software is updated. Most new applications have a "check for updates" option under the "Help" menu. It is especially important to have Windows and MS Office fully updated. This is where most of the bad stuff gets in.

(2) Drop Internet Explorer. It's just not worth the trouble. Firefox is the best out there in my opinion. It's also one of the safest (though nothing is perfectly safe).

(3) Invest in a good antivirus suite and keep it up to date.

(4) Make sure your firewall is turned on. It likely is, but make sure. If you are running XP service pack 2 or higher, the default is to have the firewall on.

What to do if friends report that you are sending strange messages in Facebook (and you really aren't):

(1) Contact all of your friends and tell them not to click on any links that you send, at least for a while.

(2) Change your FB password and possibly your email password that is associated with the account (they could have used that to get access through the password reminder function).

(3) Contact FB and tell them what's going on.

(4) Check all of your computers (home, work, and other) to make sure they are updated (especially the antivirus program) and run a scan.

What if a friend sends me one of these messages?

(1) Let them know immediately. They can likely stop them by simply changing their password. A little more work might be necessary if their computer has been compromised, though.

Am I safe now?

Not really. It might be that none of this works. Websites like Facebook are notoriously easy to hack for someone with a bit of energy and an ounce of know-how. It's really a numbers game, because you are always hoping that it's someone else and not you :) In the end, you just have to be a little careful and follow some basic rules and you will be a lot less likely to be a victim.

------------- UPDATE 11/15/2008 --------------
I just happened to run across Facebook's help section that makes people aware they what you are experiencing is likely a known virus (on your machine, not theirs). See Facebook info here on the Koobface worm. They point you to a Kaspersky notice that has much more information.

The short of it is that when you follow links to a bad site, it prompts you to download the most recent Flash application, but it's really a nice little virus that attacks both Facebook and MySpace sites.

How does it know your password? It doesn't have to. You're likely logged in already, which gives it access to everything it needs. It pillages your contacts and sends out a bunch more posts to the nasty Web page to infect more people. Really, if it weren't so nasty, I'd have to say it is genius.

------------- END UPDATE --------------------

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Facebook | Teach the People | Recently Changed Communities

Facebook | Teach the People | Recently Changed Communities

WOW! This has real potential. If you can get your students into Facebook (and access it from school), this could be a real challenger to Ning and other online social networking apps focused on learners.

Don't get me wrong, this is not an LMS. This is an online social networking service that works on top of Facebook and provides functions that teachers might find useful. However, with the increased availability of widgets and the ability to embed them in Teach the People provide for an environment that could be just about anything you want it to be.

I've only set up a site, I haven't tested it yet. We'll see if the performance lives up to my first impression.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Totlol - Video for Kids. Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Grade School, Tweens and Parents

Totlol - Video for Kids. Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Grade School, Tweens and Parents

Looking for child-safe videos, this may be the place. It's tough to know just how well this will work, but if the community grows and becomes active, it could be great. The site pulls content from YouTube and the community moderates it. In addition, no questionable Google Ads along the side advertising "Go Get Your Date On."

The only problem that I see so far is that they stripped the ability to embed. Ning was able to do it, so I think that it's doable. They will see adoption lag (maybe deadly lag) unless they do this. It's all about sharing these days. Mommy and Daddy blogs want to sharing this content. They don't want to send people off their pages.

Here's a good example of videos on the site

At this point, there is no advertising. This is good, because who likes ads. It's bad because without ads they'll never be able to pay the bills and this will float away. I just hope they don't ruin everything and throw up Google Ads.

15 Hot New Technologies That Will Change Everything

15 Hot New Technologies That Will Change Everything

I love it when others do the work for me. Here are some of the technologies that PC World thinks will change "everything." Not sure if I agree that these will change everything, but they are evolutionary steps that are not too far off: smaller, faster, and less restrictive.