m-learn: Mobile evidence gathering using GoogleDocs

This one nearly escaped my attention yesterday. Google has just announced the ability to edit Google Docs on your mobile device via their Google Mobile Blog. Just point your mobile browser to m.google.com/docs and start editing. Along with the use of 2D barcodes this will open a few interesting m-learning possiblities for educators that would previously have required custom coding to achieve. I can see this being very useful in situations where you have students being in the field and allowing them to enter data gathered using a standard mobile phone. The barcodes could point students to the location of the spreadsheet (avoiding the need to type the information) The screenshot below shows a spreadsheet that I just made up for demonstration purposes. The data gathered can easily be used embedded into LMS course pages for review in the classroom. The (quite capable) graphing tools in Google Spreadsheets can be used to visualise the results gathered. For some of our clients that use Moodle and GoogleApps for Education this is a very interesting combination as would allow for the authenticated entering of mobile data into the LMS. It would be interesting to look at how you could easily geo-tag the information gathered for mapping purposes. But that's probably a topic for another post.

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Finding the ideal OS for (my) EEE PC

I have been a user of an EEE PC 900 for over 10 months now and in general very happy with the form-factor and it's portability. I has been very useful in public transport, waiting rooms, coffee shops,... However - in terms of Operating Systems I am now on my 3rd OS (despite initially telling myself that I will stick with the default and avoid tinkering) and it looks like I still have not found what I am looking for. With the XP version of the EEEPC not even on the list of choices because of the sluggish performance on models I tried I survived on the default Xandros install for about 1 month until it's 'Easy Interface' just got too painful in the number of clicks it took to get anywhere. So I changed the Xandros install to 'Advanced Mode' which made some things easier, however the lack of any locking mechanism and the fact that installing nearly anything that was not officially supported (via other Debian packages) broke something else, forced me to look for a more standard Linux distro. Eventually I chose Ubuntu for EEE (now called Easy Peasy - ???) As I have started to use Ubuntu on my VMWare desktops for some cloud-app development. The thought of having the same OS on the desktop and netbook had a lot of appeal. Next to CentOS (our Server platform of choice) I don't want to deal with more distros than absolutely necessary. However in hindsight this turned…

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Testing mobile Twitter clients

Being out and about a lot, I am a fairly heavy user of my mobile internet plan (currently with Hutchinson 3). One of the more common tasks when there is some down-time while in transit or waiting for coffee is checking out what's happening in the twittershere. Personally (being a web-app developer for years) I generally prefer browser-based apps over 'native apps'.  Dont even get me started about J2ME apps. One of the main reasons for this preference is that I tend to switch handsets fairly frequently. This makes installing software on phones a large waste of time. Just copying your bookmarks (in my case I have made up my own custom start page on the device) saves a lot of time. 1) Mobile twitter (http://m.twitter.com) Being Twitter's very own interface this is probably the one most people start off with. However the functionality of the mobile Twitter client is very limited and after starting to use Twitter more regularily I found the lack of functionality too limiting and started looking for alternatives. 2) Slandr (http://m.slandr.net) The Slandr interface looked very nice and functionality compared to mobile Twitter was excellent. I quite liked the 'Geo' function in Slandr, however the annoying adds embedded in content put me off this one. 3) Dabr (http://m.dabr.co.uk/) Shortly after trying out Slandr I found this client and this is the one I am now using as my default. I find the interface very clean,  the functionality is all I require on the mobile handset…

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Using Nokia Share Online to upload directly to Flickr

One of the nicest ways to get photos straight from your mobile to Flickr (without having to use e-mails) on Nokia devices is the Flickr Plugin for the Nokia Share Online application. Since a lot of my clients in the educational sector  are starting to use Flickr as part of their online teaching I decided to create a short HOWTO. The application itself comes with the phone on most recent Nokia S60 devices (with recent Firmware - check Nokia Software Updater for new firmware). To check if your particular phone is capable you can check the Nokia Share Online Support site. Nokia Share Online appears on the home screen of your device (screenshots are from a N95 8GB): First time only configuration On first use you will have to check the available services by choosing 'Options': On a new device you will be prompted for your Flickr Username / Password. Since I have used the Flickr Plugin on this particular phone previously the Username was already saved (which is a bit of a worry - since deleting the account should have also removed the credentials I would have hoped). Set the update frequency: NOTE: Be careful with this setting as there could be mobile data fees involved depending on the method you use to connect to the internet on your device. Consult with your network operator on the fees if you are using the wireless data network of your phone provider. After this step you are ready to connect to…

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QR code usage in Japan

Just came across this post about barcode tombstones in Japan. Shows very clearly how much public acceptance the 2D barcode technology has got in Japan. It allows visitors to the grave to access to the biography and photos of the deceased person and leave a personal message. This concept probably takes some time to get used to, but you can see that it could clearly add some value for people visiting cemeteries. There is not much info you can fit on tombstone. A good example of providing 'further information' for people that are interested.

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iPhone User Survey

As people that know me are aware I am not the biggest fan of the iPhone (3G - hello ???), but obviously from a professional perspective it is another phone that is with us and gaining market share (although not much happening in OZ yet). And to be fair it is breaking some technical ground as well (just not in the areas I most need). From my own anecdotal evidence I was expecting a high percentage of users to choose the iPhone because it 'looks cool' or is a 'chick magnet' - but I can not back this up by an empirical research (yet) ;-). But nevertheless I found this report a very interesting read: Rubicon Consulting iPhone Survey A short summary: Users are generally young(ish) - well - depending on your definition of 'young'. iPhone users are overall very satisfied with the product. Rather than eating away the competition the iPhone seems to be expanding the smartphone market.  About 50% of iPhone users replaced conventional mobile phones ( most often the Motorola Razr - which is a good thing IMHO ;-) ), about 40% replaced other smartphones (Blackberries & Windows Mobile devices mainly). Usage No.1 is (reading) e-mail - no surprises there. Around 60% browse the web daily on the iPhone and overall the iPhone increases mobile browsing. Over 75% say they do a lot more mobile browsing on it than with their previous mobile. As the survey is US based hence there needs to be some degree of…

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Unmetered mobile access to university websites

I came accross this article last week which I found quite interesting in terms of it's impact on m-Learning. University inks unmetered Web access deal with Bigpond The unfortunate thing is that this is only limited to one particular university and one provider only. It would be interesting to see if there are any other institutions that are going down that track. How about a general unmetering for the 'edu.au' TLD ?

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Co-working in Australia

After reading an excellent article by Brad Reed on Network World (this seems to be the online version: Co-working: the ultimate in teleworking flexibility),�I finally got motivated enough to do some more research about this�phenomenum in the two places of interest to me (Austria and Australia)�as well as write a quick entry about this. The whole co-working concept has been interesting me ever since it started, but the organisational issues associated with starting such a�venture (and as with everything else - a lack of time) have always�prevented any serious attempt to actually move in this direction. But�after reading some of the examples in the above mentioned article and�doing some further research I am starting to warm to the idea again. Some interesting case studies Worldwide listing of Co-working Sites Google Map of US Co-working sites Irish Coworking Site Co-working Google Group Activity in Australia After some quick online research there appears to be some activity�also in Australia although things seem to be still very much in their�infancy. Most of the activity seems to be happening in Canberra, Perth,�Syndey and Melbourne (in order of 'online' activity). �Andy Howard in�Sydney has an interesting post on his site and� fellow software developers describes the situation in Perth and Canberra. It seems (not surprisingly) that most people interested in co-working are in ICT related industries. Unfortunately so far I have not seen any activity in South Australia. I�would have a few locations in mind in the Adelaide CBD (as I have�rented there before in…

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Mobile 2D codes gathering pace (outside of Asia)

FINALLY !!! As somebody that has been experimenting with this technology for over 2 years now I am quite exited to see that the adoption of this technology is gathering some steem. While it has bee widely adopted in Asia for some years now, it has taken some time to get a foothold in the rest of the world this seems to be changing now. At least in Europe as I can see for myself at the moment. In my opinion with Nokia finally getting serious and throwing its (considerable) weight behind this technology (http://mobilecodes.nokia.com/) and some other industry heavyweights joining forces in the Mobile Codes Consortium.� This will hopefully produce one key outcome, the stadardisation of the label technology, which up to now has been one of the stumbling blocks that has kept people such as myself from adopting these codes in real-world projects. Along with the adoption by some major companies in their advertising this should produce the momentum that was needed to push mobile 2D codes into some broad adoption. Of course there is similar technology available for the applications that require this link between the physical world (presence) and the mobile internet. One example is RFID together with Near Field Communications (NFC). However apart from the additional expense for RFID labels, no other technology has anywhere close the number of handsets that are capable of using this technology without some add-on to the mobile phone. Currently there are only very few handsets that will support this…

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