This is one iPhone App I want…
Via Andy Kemp
From BBC News.
A survey by comparison site Broadband Expert suggests that UK mobile broadband providers are delivering services “far lower than advertised”.
Almost three and a half thousand broadband connections were tested over a five month period.
The firm found that users recorded an average download speed of 1.1Mbs, substantially lower than advertised.
The advertised speeds are sometimes in my opinion a bit over the top, for example Vodafone advertise 7.2Mbps which is really fast, however though I believe I have had that speed probably once, in London, I generally get a much lower speed.
However I agree with the expert critcism of the report, this is mobile broadband we’re talking about, though I would like to get a consistent 7.2Mbps I know that the technology doesn’t work that way. If I am moving, if other people are using their 3G devices, buildings, the weather and other stuff.
I have been pleased with my Vodafone 3G and T-Mobile 3G speeds, what are your 3G experience like? Do some people have high expectations for a technology which personally I am surprised works at all.
So you want to be connected to the internet on the move? Or you need connectivity at a conference without wifi?
Yes you could get a 3G USB dongle or stick, but that only allows a single computer to connect.
What happens if you also want to connect your mobile device, a second laptop, what happens if there is more than one person and only one dongle?
In the past the solution I used was Joikuspot which was an application which ran on my Nokia N95 phone. It acted as a wireless access point, it connected to the internet via 3G and then shared that connection over the phone’s wifi connection with other devices. It was a very clever technology which made life easier for me. There were a few downsides, the main was battery life, it drained battery from the N95 really fast, so was only useful for an hour or two or when the phone was plugged into the mains. Of course this meant that I couldn’t use the N95 as a phone, as the battery would be drained. Another problem I had was with devices such as the Nokia N810 and Sony PSP which would not connect to the Joikuspot wireless network. The reason was a limitation in the Symbian software which meant that the phone acted in ad-hoc mode for wireless rather than infrastructure. The N810 and PSP had issues with connecting to an ad-hoc network. It did however work fine with the iPod touch which was how I mainly used it.
I was very interested to hear from Andy Ihnatko on MacBreak Weekly about the MiFi. A battery powered 3G wireless router. Using a 3G SIM it would connect to the internet and then allow up to five wireless clients to connect and share that 3G connection. With a four hour battery life, could be charged via USB and about the size of a credit card, it seemed ideal. Of course I didn’t expect to see it in the UK, probably only available in the US on Verizon or Sprint…
I did an internet search (as you do) and found it on sale at Expansys (without a contract). Ordered and delivered.
Using a SIM from a Vodafone 3G USB dongle it was very simple to set up and configure and I would recommend that you use the details from Ross Barkman’s excellent website on connection settings for GPRS/3G to save having to work out where the information is on your providers’ website.
You can configure it wirelessly, and the first things I did was rename the wireless network and add WPA2 security.
Once configured it is simply a matter of turning it on, waiting for it to connect and then connect your laptop (or other device) to the wireless network.
It works very well and felt faster than using the USB dongle!
One problem I have had is the MacBook Pro losing the wireless connection and being unable to re-connect with the result the only solution was to reboot the MiFi. I am now trying just WPA as I think it is a MacBook Pro wireless issue rather than a MiFi issue. Or it could be an issue with the fact I was on a train!
I do like the MiFi and it does what it says on the tin.
You can now get the MiFi from 3 on a contract or as PAYG. This is much “cheaper” than buying the unlocked MiFi, but of course you get less flexibility as a result.
Once only available to Hollywood and BBC weathermen, it’s now possible for anyone to use green screen or chroma key technology.
Chroma key is a technique for mixing two images or frames together, in which a color (or a small color range) from one image is removed (or made transparent), revealing another image behind it. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay, greenscreen, and bluescreen.
This video was made using a couple of Sony HDD Camcorders, on one of them was screwed a 37mm adapter with a ring of green LEDs.
I sat on a sofa in front of a screen which is not green (but you can use green) but has reflective beads to reflect the green light back into the camera.
Using Apple’s iMovie 09 and switching on the Advanced Tools option in preferences allows you to add your green screen footage over existing footage.
There is a nice and simple guide on how to do that here.
Has quite a bit of potential to making short videos more interesting and adding learners and practitioners over existing footage to explain stuff.
Remember Shift Happens?
This an updated new version.
Full of facts and stats.
The world is changing, society is changing, however are our learners changing as fast? Are our institutions changing too?
I really enjoyed ALT-C last week and not just because I won an award. It was an excellent conference and I found it a very rewarding experince from both a delegate’s perspective and as a presenter. This is part two of my reflections on the conference, you can find part one here.
So on the Tuesday night I rendered and uploaded the video recording I had made of the VLE is Dead debate and put it on my blog. It has proved quite popular.
There have been 600 odd views of the video and I have served 40GB of video in just a week! I am impressed it has been that popular.
So back to ALT-C, where my Hood 2.1 Workshop was due to start at 9.00am (another early start). I hadn’t realised when I put my flyer for the event together that MLT was the acronym for the Main Lecture Theatre.
It’s quite big and not that suitable for a workshop, but we worked at it. I covered a fair bit and I have made a video recording which needs a fair bit of editing before I can post it online. In the meantime here is a list of the services we looked at.
I also mentioned a few gadgets as well, just to add a little bit of interest.
Due to a scheduling clash, it does mean I missed David Sugden and Lilian Soon’s excellent Active learning with Mobile and Web 2.0 technologies workshop. I also missed Brian Kelly’s session too.
One of the problems with ALT-C is the sheer quality of many of the sessions and as a result you will miss them. I video my sessions, so though no reflection of the experience of being there, if you have missed me at least you will be able to get a flavour of what happened.
I really enjoyed Martin Bean’s Keynote which he delivered with passion. Some great slides too, take note and learn.
With lunch I was on poster duty, showing off my Glossy Poster on our MoLeNET project.
I enjoyed the Xerte and SL demonstrations I attended, but the tightness of time meant that a good (and probably heated) discussion on a distributed repository model and the IPR implications wasn’t had. Time to write a blog post on that methinks.
Final session of the day was the Epigeum Award for Most Effective Use of Video Presentations. I was one of the judges so was at this session presenting the videos.
In the evening was the ALT Gala Conference Dinner which was very well cooked by the students from Manchester College and Sheffield College and where I was presented with an award…
Thursday morning saw another 9.00am start and the Distribute This workshop which went really well and was very well attended. Lots of discussion and debate on digital identity.
After that it was the final keynote from Terry Anderson which saw a huge flurry of Twitter activity which alas was not presented to the rest of the auditorium who merely saw the Elluminate chat in which no one was chatting!
After that it was time to go home.
Reflecting on the conference, I know that Seb and the rest of the ALT team put a huge amount of work into the conference and I appreciate all that they do. I do not envy the work they put in and end result is fantastic.
For me the online element of the conference is very important, allowing conversation, chat and to meet new people. This year it felt that finally ALT-C was also online. Crowdvine which worked so well last year, worked ever better this year, Cloudworks, which I was initially hesitant about, has proved itself as a great online place for links, comments and resources. Of course Twitter really came into its own. At ALT-C 2007 no one was using Twitter (well I was) but everyone was using blogs – I remember that’s when I first met Steve Wheeler. Last year at ALT-C 2008 there was only about fifty or forty of us using Twitter, this year according to the stats in Brian Kelly’s blog post, 633 people used the #altc2009 tag, now not all of these were at the conference, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were hundreds of people at the conference using Twitter.
What I found interesting in the discussion was that @jamesclay was a trending term. I believe that this was less used as a descriptor in Twitter postings, but more more in reply to what I was saying, in other words I was stimulating the discussion on Twitter. Difficult to show that, but it’s not as though I was a keynote speaker or anything. Twitter added an extra layer to the conference and despite the spam was a really useful tool.
So what would have I added to the conference?
Well though there was a great social programme, for me there wasn’t enough social spaces, a decent coffee shop type place, somewhere to meet those people you had promised to meet in Crowdvine and so on.
Just going back to the coffee and a note to all conference organisers, please provide an alternative to conference coffee and I would be willing to pay for decent coffee. Also have coffee available throughout the day and not just at coffee breaks. Well I would say that wouldn’t I.
A social cafe area for people to meet and discuss during the conference would be a real advantage, you could see the potential by how people used the exhibition area.
I also wonder if it is time that an unconference strand was added to the conference? A series of rooms available for open discussions and demonstrations. With Crowdvine and Twitter it would make it much easier to advertise these sessions and for people to join in with them. F-ALT has shown there is a demand for venues that allow for discussions and debates which don’t quite fit into the abstract submission process. It would also allow for debates on issues which arise out of formal presentations and keynotes that we don’t have time for in the main strands. An unconference format doesn’t mean disorganised or unstructured, but it does require an element of trust that something happens.
Overall I did enjoy the conference and it was certainly one of my highlights of this year. I would recommend that you do go to Nottingham in 2010. I know the timing is awful for those in schools and FE, for many it is the first week of term. However my view is that surely your institution can run smoothly if you’re not there and you can always check your e-mail and make phone calls. If you can, do go.
I really enjoyed ALT-C last week and not just because I won an award. It was an excellent conference and I found it a very rewarding experince from both a delegate’s perspective and as a presenter.
It was really nice to meet up with a lot of different people, some I knew, some I knew only from the web, some I had never met and those that knew me though I didn’t know them.
There was some great presentations, workshops, keynotes and debates and I felt I learnt a lot and was given a lot to think about.
I had a reasonable journey up to Manchester (no connectivity on the train) and having arrived, caught a taxi to the venue. I was relieved to see that my Glossy Poster had safely arrived though for some unknown reason at that time my flyers for my workshops and that symposium had failed to arrive.
I bumped into a few people I knew and then someone came up to me and said hello. I recognised him, but couldn’t name the face… I hate it when that happens, and after turning over their name badge (why do they always flip the wrong way at the wrong moments) I saw it was Richard Elliot from New Zealand. I am doing the keynote at ASCILITE 2009 conference so it was good to meet one of the organisers to chat and discuss the conference.
After the pre-conference buffet and chatting I headed up to the F-ALT event on post digital and managed to catch the last bit and added a little to the discussion.
These fringe events add a lot to the conference, they’re not competing with the conference, but adding a social, informal side to the conference that allows delegates to add a social learning element to the conference. It also allows delegates to discuss and present issues on stuff and technologies which at the time of the abstract submission deadline maybe wasn’t available or didn’t even exist.
Tuesday morning, saw a bright and early start with the conference kicking off proper at 9.00am. After the conference introductions we moved onto the conference keynote from Michael Wesch.
It took tens of thousands of years for writing to emerge after humans spoke their first words. It took thousands more before the printing press and a few hundred again before the telegraph. Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. A Flickr here, a Twitter there, and a new way of relating to others emerges. New types of conversation, argumentation, and collaboration are realized. Using examples from anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, YouTube, classrooms, and “the future,” this presentation will demonstrate the profound yet often unnoticed ways in which media “mediate” our conversations, classrooms, and institutions. We will then apply these insights to an exploration of the implications for how we may need to rethink how we teach, what we teach, and who we think we are teaching.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed his presentation and presentational approach, however I do wonder and still wonder if all our learners are like his students? Are all our learners using Facebook and other Web 2.0 tools and services on a regular basis and importantly are they using them for learning?
I don’t see a Google Generation or Digital Natives in the learners I work with. Some are using Facebook and other tools, many are not. Those that are, not all are using these tools for learning.
See what you think from the recording.
I enjoyed the short papers on staff skills, some of the work that Alan Cann is doing at Leicester is very illuminating and interesting.
Then lunch and I won’t dwell on the conference catering, all I will say how much I enjoyed the coffee from the Museum Cafe across the road from the conference venue.
After sustenance we had the big debate, you know, the one about how the VLE is Dead! The debate was a lot of fun and it would appear that the delegates who attended enjoyed the debate. In a room with space for eighty, we had nearly a hundred and fifty people, many sitting and standing. We also had about two hundred people online following the live stream.
The debate was based on the following proposition.
The future success of e-learning depends on appropriate selection of tools and services. This symposium will propose that the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as an institutional tool is dead, no more, defunct, expired.
I know that most people realised that the debate (and especially the title) was provocative and that the aim was for a fun debate as well as looking at the issues. You are not going to be able to give serious academic consideration to the issues in an eighty minute debate.
I was pleased with the interest shown, not just at the conference, but also online on Twitter and on various blogs. Cloudworks has a list of the blogs that have discussed the issue. The “marketing” for the debate worked well (probably better than expected) with the trailer, the flyer and the numerous blog posts by me, Steve and many others…
As expected, I didn’t get to the next session, but did make Steve Wheeler’s Twitter session. A very popular session with lots of different people attending, some like me who are immersed in Twitter to people who had never used it.
After all that I missed the new ALT Members Reception, and as Gloucestershire College joined ALT this year I should have been attending. Ah well.
In the evening I went to a nice Tapas bar with Ron, Lilian and David.