Die, Word, Die!

Several of the RSS feeds I follow commented on an article from Slate (also a feed I follow) about the obsolescence of Word. Ironically, I was just having conversations with the Network Admin at school about his desire to axe Word. We are planning to move to Google Docs with a few computers running Pages and Word for serious conversion needs. I can’t wait.

Today, the last few hours of my day were spent trying to find out why a 37 page Word form kept crashing. Both the Network Admin and I tussled with it. When I left, the situation was still not resolved.

Yes, Word, time to exit the stage. You have secured your place in the Hall of Fame alongside the typewriter and printing press.

A Bunch of Roses

I finally got around to entering the license key into Ultra Fractal, the program I use most often to create fractals. When I have time, I put them up in my Cafepress store, Patterns. This little experiment ended up looking like a bunch of roses. Enjoy.

Up is Down, and Down is Up

At school, my aging MacBook laptop has been replaced with a new Mac Mini. I also now made a transition from Snow Leopard to Lion. I have had to tweak the interface to make it more usable. I vastly prefer the column view for navigating Finder windows, so setting that to default is not a big deal.

I have also had to install all of my software including a new copy of CS5.5. Yay! I finally have a machine that can handle Photoshop and InDesign. Dropbox, 1Password, and other favorites went on early.

As with most transitions to a new computer, the speed and lack of crashing makes up for any learning curve with the new OS and with the time it takes to install all the software that makes it one’s own. Some of that time is even reduced with most of my work material living on the server or in the cloud.

One feature of Lion, however, has my brain working overtime. Lion reverses scroll direction, and it would be easy to go into system preferences to change it back to what I have learned since the advent of mice. However, the change was made with reason; Mac (and Windows) OS is migrating toward touch control in which the scroll direction makes sense. I have ordered a magic trackpad to help me make this transition away from mousing, but in the mean time, I will make my brain just adjust. It reminds me of an experiment I read about in Intro Psych in which the test subject wore glasses that inverted sight both vertically and horizontally to project an “upright” image on the retina. I imagine that the upside down glasses would be a similar experience.

Past the Initial Worry

 My computer is back from the dead. I am past the initial worry phase, all Windows updates are installed, and now comes the plodding through all the software to reinstall. It is an excellent time to evaluate each piece to see if it is still what I want to use.

So far, Dropbox and 1Password have been installed. These will help with all of the licenses for other software to come. I think next I need to evaluate my mallware/spam/icky program protection. What are people using?


 Today, I worked with another teacher to make some charts in Excel 2008. There are times I get quite frustrated with trying to get the formatting and even the right data represented. In the end, I couldn’t get one set of labels to display horizontally without making another set vertical, so I just put a text box over that part of the chart and wrote them in. The charts, in their working form, were appreciated by the other teacher, but he was doing all of the data analysis. I feel that I just did layout and design work which in this case amounted to grappling with Excel and making it do mostly what I wanted. I feel that there was a sweet spot in the development of the program when the basics were done automatically, but one had the ability to really control much of the layout and formatting. It seems to be harder to do that now. Perhaps I am just rusty and the controls have been evolved.

OnePassword to Rule Them All

 A while ago, I moved to using a password manager, OnePassword, on my computers, iPad, and phone. It is one of those things that I have forgotten how challenging remembering passwords was or how they were inaccessible or how they lived on different lists scattered around my life. Many things fall in the category of I-just-can’t-remember-how-I-did-it-before, but a password manager (paired with dropbox) is one of those backbone things for me.

I can get to my passwords anywhere, I can create much more secure ones now that they are accessible, and I feel so much more secure now that they are on a very encrypted database rather than pieces of paper, Word files, or spreadsheets.

I just don’t know how I managed before!



Getting the Stone Rolling

This year, my school decided to pilot using Rosetta Stone in the Spanish program. After a number of technical and communication issues, we launched last week by introducing it to the fifth and sixth graders. They enjoyed it, it was clearly easy to use, and I will withhold judgement until I see how their learning is affected. One thing is clear, the company is outstanding at selling their product. This is neither good nor bad, but it says nothing about the pedagogical soundness of their product.