Saturday, July 27, 2013

Use Pictures to Fill Shapes in PowerPoint 2013

When you take a picture with your camera it always comes out as a rectangle but when we make presentations with PowerPoint, we may not always want to use our pictures in that shape.

This tutorial uses PowerPoint 2013

Here is how you can use your pictures and fit them into any shape that you place on the stage.

This really helps us to go beyond the simple use of colors as fill. What kinds of awesome ideas do you have for using pictures as fill? I would love to hear them!

Have an awesome day!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How to Move Your Taskbar

Hey - have you ever managed to somehow find the taskbar in a different spot on your screen than the bottom? Oh Dear! Let the search begin for how to put that back!

A view with the taskbar at the top of the screen

Or - maybe you would like to place your taskbar in another spot but need to know how.

Look no further! This will only take a couple minutes.

I hope you have everything sorted out now!
Have an awesome day!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Touchcast - A First Impression

Background Stuff

OK - so I happened across an app in the App Store called Touchcast and thought it looked pretty cool. Since the app was free - I decided there was no harm in trying out something with a high cool potential factor.

I played around with it and after lots of "hum and haw" activity and wrestling with "content creator's block" for a while I finally decided to create a touchcast about OpenDNS. The YouTube version is embedded below but it does not have the interactive capabilities.

To interact with the video please use this link.
Link to Interactive Video  -  Be sure to go full screen

YouTube Version (Non-Interactive)

OK - So what is Touchcast?

This - in a nutshell - is web meets video. You have the ability to create videos and embed interactivity into them all from your iPad. What is really neat is that the user can interact without leaving the video. An example of this is the placement of a webpage within the video. If the user taps on the website in the video on the iPad they will go to the website and the video will shrink up all "picture-in-picture style" while you browse the site. Just tap the video again to bring it back to full screen.

You can also add lots of other - what they call vApps to the video. These include polls and questions - twitter feeds, tickers, and ratings, pictures, maps, and more. You can also use a whiteboard feature to allow you to draw directly on the video for pointing out things.

Your Touchcast length is limited to five minutes and a total of one hour can be stored online. You will need to make an account for sharing since - for now- it is the only real way to share and maintain the interactivity.

This is also only available on the iPad right now. I understand that they are working on a desktop version as well as some pricing plans for more than one hour of storage.

Some Good Stuff

SO - I really like the potential here. It was fun to play with. I enjoyed being able to add in all sorts of pictures, and interactive elements. I think this could be a useful tool for mobile learning as well. It was nice to turn the camera on and off for some variety and for the ability to try and navigate. It is too tough to try and maintain eye contact while needing to move your presentation forward - even when you have all the stuff staged.

I also like the ability to pause the recording and start up again. This was great for major "scene changes" that would take too much time otherwise to set up.

I look forward to the desktop version and being able to maintain interactivity across embedded locations.

I did not use the teleprompter feature but like the concept.

I did listen to the sound effects which were nice ideas but I did not put any in the project this time around.

Some Bugs and/or Suggestions for Improvement

This is relatively new as it has only been on the App Store for just over a week as of the time of this writing so I realize there are some bugs to work out. Here are just a few that I noticed.

I was unable to get any Facebook pages to come up in the vApps.

It would be really great to resize all the vApps such as polls. I tried to create a poll with three response choices and they did not all fit in the box. Since I could not resize the box - the poll was useless. I had to stick with two choices.

I would like to be able to stage all my items on one screen. For example - I have a title that I must initiate on the titles menu - while talking - I must switch to the vApps menu to bring up my first poll - then I need to switch to the whiteboard menu and choose a board there, etc. There is a lot of jumping around that was making it a challenge to flow smoothly - at least as a person working alone. This may be a different experience if I am behind the camera rather than in front of it. At any rate being able to stage all those things in a single menu that I can simply tap to the next layout would be awesome.

Many times I wanted to increase the font size of the text in whiteboard mode.

Had a few random crashes.

I saw a YouTube vApp in several screenshots elsewhere but never saw one in the application.


Excellent app - price is right! I appreciate any app that allows me to be a creator of content on the iPad rather than just a consumer. There was a good deal of time getting everything set up the way I wanted - but there is some expectation with that - especially as a newbie to the app. I will continue to create some things with the app and consider some mobile learning uses.

Have an awesome day!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Use Task Manager to Close an Application

Have you ever been using a program on your computer and it just locks up on you? Maybe the only way you knew how to fix it was to reboot the computer.

Have you ever been using the computer when suddenly a strange popup makes an appearance on your screen? Do you suspect a virus or other malware? So how can I shut the box without clicking on it?

You can use the task manager to close out unresponsive programs and other popups that you might be a bit leery of - cannot blame you there.

Here is how.

While the process is pretty much the same, the look of the task manager is a little different between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Just remember to visit the Applications tab in Windows 7 and the Processes tab in Windows 8.

A view of task manager in Windows 8

Have an awesome day and stay safe online!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Moodle Installation Guide

I have been working with Moodle since 2004 and have built a number of courses and have installed and upgraded many servers. Most recently I have found Ubuntu to be a great platform for hosting Moodle.

I decided to take a crack at writing up a guide for installing Moodle on a box with Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS.

I welcome any comments or suggestions for improvement on the document.

Here is the link for download. Size is about 111K

Have an awesome day!