Monday, February 23, 2009

Sharing Files

A challenge for many people is sharing files with friends, particularly files too large for email. Some great free tools are out there to share your files. If you have really big files, you may have to pay some money, but anything under 100 MB can probably be done for free.

I have used in the past. It is easy to use. You just have to go to their website and sign up. Files can be sent via the web or with their desktop client you can run on your computer. Anything under 100 MB is free. You can send up to 2 GB with a paid plan. The nice thing about YouSendIt is that you can pay by use. You don't have purchase a full subscription if you just want to use it once or twice.

A colleague recommended to me. I just used this twice this week. It is a free service again for files under 100 MB. I think you can pay for more premium services like password access and larger files. Your link is private and won't be caught by search engines. An additional feature is that others with whom you share your drop space can also add files. It becomes a common location of shared storage that can also store comments and you can even email attachments and information. It is reminiscent of a private wiki in many ways. It will also integrate with your Twitter account.

Dropbox a wonderful service that I have been using for a few months now. It allows up to 2 GB of space, and like other services, I think you can pay for more. An additional benefit is that any files you upload and then erase can be retrieved from the trash. You can use it entirely web-based but the real benefit comes in downloading the client on your computer (both Mac and PC work great). It can create a "dropbox" folder in your documents and anything added to your account will automatically sync across computers. I use this to share files between my home computer and school computer regularly. Although convenient for syncing files which can then be run locally on my computer, I find the real power in being able to share folders with others. By sharing a folder, any item placed in that folder is automatically synced to my colleagues' computer. It is a good way to collaborate on projects where multiple files are being used and updated.

These are 3 tools that I have found helpful in sharing files. Perhaps they'll help you as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I have been using StumbleUpon for about 2 months. It is a free web service and can also be a Firefox add-on so a toolbar appears in your browser. I use Firefox so I prefer the toolbar for ease of use.

How does it work?
When you sign up, you identify categories and interests that you have as well as contacts. Based on that information, the service takes you to random websites that other users have identified as good and applicable to your interests. It's pretty easy and straightforward. And yes, I have run across several sites that were quite good but I may never have found otherwise.

What are the benefits?
This is a great way to share bookmarks as it is easy to send links to specific friends in your contacts. I have used this as part of my PLN (personal learning network) to trade links on several occasions. It is also a great way to stumble across some good sites that could otherwise be lost in the exobytes of data on the web.

I see this is a tool for professional growth but can also lead you to some good classroom resources and tools. In addition to finding some resources, it can turn some leisure surfing into productive and applicable professional or personal learning. Who knows...maybe someone will Stumble across the Be Literate blog.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How Students Use Google Apps

Google hit the road to see how students are using their stuff. Don't just stop at the first post, but skim on down and see some cool ideas on the Google Student Blog. You might learn something new. If you don't like Google Apps or other Google products, you probably shouldn't waste your time here because there is a lot of Google love on this site.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A View of the Internet from 1981

A flashback to the the past...27 years ago when a news anchor said they might start getting their news on the internet one day. Who would have thought...crazy stuff!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Open Culture

Open Culture has a sort of blog format on its website. It claims to be the "best free cultural & educational media on the web." As far as that goes, I can't say. I can say they have some nice educational tools highlighted. Much of their content may just be organizing and pointing out resources on other sites such as iTunes but it is helpful information.

Perhaps one of the attractive free resources that they highlight is free audio books. This is a great boon to ESL students or 1:1 laptops schools. Students can access a number of books via their iPod or computer. They also have some free digital books on their site which are available via creative commons (which I discussed in the previous post).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Creative Commons

Regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with the new US president's policies, President Obama has taken a different stance on technology. He is trying to use Web 2.0 tools to his advantage in communicating and collecting information from the American people. Perhaps only time will tell how genuinely transparent and open his government is. Regardless of whether it is a facade or not, the tools he is employing reflect changes in society.

One of the most telling examples of the changes technology has brought can be seen in the idea of citizen reporting. Cell phone videos, random pictures submitted to news sites, and twitter feeds have given instant information on a number of recent incidents. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai and recent emergency landing on the Hudson River by an airplane serve as vivid examples. CNN has sought to embrace this and they have edited their website to make it easier for individuals to submit newsworthy items. Anyone can become a reporter or a photographer. Everyone potentially has an audience and access. Technology has enabled someone that may have never had a voice in the past to be able to reach millions via the internet.

With many publications, you see items regarding copyright, like all rights reserved. With Creative Commons, it allows a creator to share their work with only some rights reserved. Typically, attribution and credit should be given. However, it lets others use it. Whether it be music, writings, photos, etc., it is contributed to the "commons" for the world.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization. It states the following on its website:
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that works to increase the amount of content (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons" — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, re-purposing, and remixing. Creative Commons does this by providing free, easy-to-use legal and technical tools that give everyone a simple, standardized way to pre-clear copyrights to their creative work. CC licenses let people easily change their copyright terms from the default, restrictive "all rights reserved" to a more flexible "some rights reserved."
Whether you are looking for some different background music or a photo to spice up a presentation, check out Creative Commons. I use Firefox and in that browser there is a convenient search for CC in the toolbar. Just click on the default G (for Google on top right of your browser) and a drop down will appear and select CC. By using a general CC search, everything is included but many sites like Flicker will allow the advanced search features in a service to filter out only CC images.

People do some really creative things. Check out what is available on creative commons...