Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Monday, January 23, 2006

First Page 2006 for PHP/MySQL coding

'First Page 2006' could be a good environment for students to use to compose their PHP scripts .
+ It is free but is not Open Source
- Is not available for OS other than Windows
+ initial impression is that it is easier to use

I have played with it for a very short time and I think it is OK but not really competetive with PHP designer.

It has an add on module so that ftp is handled within First Page BUT it does not seem to handle sftp wich LiveLamp needs. Pity as this could've meant that students would need to have one less window open (ie not need Filezilla available to upload scripts to server for testing) PHP Designer also has an ftp component that does not seem to be capable of sftp

PHP Desginer can be setup to include access to the PHP manual from within the program interface.

How bittorrent works.

Simple and clear explanation of how bittorrent technology works

Sunday, January 22, 2006

US Govt wants to access Google database records


Might be good article to use when talking about user privacy

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.

The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content accessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.

Computer First Aid Using Knoppix


Practical activity for computer repair type students.

Nice activity where a number of students can boot from CD and retrieve a file or two from computers in the computer lab. Easy to set up and good practical exposure to Linux for them.

Stupid in America

American schools in general do not turn out high school “graduates” with a decent education. They do turn out people with almost belligerent assertiveness, and boundless (though unfounded) self-esteem that makes it difficult for them to perceive that they have anything more to learn. In an individual this is tragic; in a corporation, it’s dangerous; in a nation it’s disastrous........

IMHO schools are a reflection of society. Schools are often blamed for various things but the bottom line is that schools can not do it by themselves. Parents, community and business must support their schools - they must get involved and participate actively and personally. Let schools and students know by their support and participation that what they do and learn is important. Schools must encourage this support and participation.

On the other hand schools can be a powerful force for cultural change.

Seems a little contradicatory when on the one hand I say they can not do it by themselves and on the other they can be a powerful force for change :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Programming - Design for change


How To Write Unmaintainable Code

Using humour it makes a good tool to help students learn about how to make maintainable code - designing for change.

Multi-cultural Day

My school has a multi-cultural day each year to celebrate cultural diversity. It is one of the highlights of our annual calendar where we share stories, traditions, language and food.

One of the things I have noticed is that young people, when they start interacting with people who speak other languages, want to know how to swear in that other language.

From the Swearaurus home page

How to insult, swear, cuss, and curse in 170 languages!

Swearsaurus is the world's largest resource of multilingual swearing. It will teach you a vast array of swearing, profanity, obscenity, blasphemy, cursing, cussing, and
insulting in a massive 170 languages - because it's good to experience cultural

Over 4,000 contributors have helped compile this Swearsaurus. Our
aim is to include all languages. New language submissions are always welcome.

It lacks some of the Australian languages - eg Pitjantjatjara, Nyanganyatjara, Yankuntjatjara, Luritja, ...
- but someone could add them.

Use the Swearaurus search feature 'Oban'

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I reckon that this can be done in Photoshop but it is a bit like using an elephant to pull a match stick out of the forest. In education, I like the idea of using various free tools that work particularly well for certain functions.

  1. Take a heap of photos standing in the one spot - better if you use a tripod. Capture everything in these photos - top to bottom (180) and 360 degrees around. Download these images to computer.
  2. Autostitch - Use Autostitch to automatically stitch these images together into a seamless panorama. If the panorama is to be displayed on the web, then it is best to use something like Irfanview to resize all of the images first. Autostitch does the resizing automatically BUT the quality is poor.
  3. Use PT viewer to provide the user interface for the panorama on a web site

VOIP to landline for free

I have just installed VoipStunt and made a call to my children and a mate - for free.

VoipStunt is for making free phone calls from a computer (VOIP) to a landline

Make free calls to landlines in:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States

There is a delay that takes a bit of getting used to.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Law involved with student who tries to crash computer system


There is a video of the news item as well.

I guess you can break anything and if the student had tried to get others to push against a railing or somthing to see how easily it could break it is really the same thing.

A server failing is fairly short term though I would think. The server gets overloaded and crashes. Reset the server and things are fine again.

There was nothing in the story about helping the student learn about how to test boundaries in an acceptable way. There was nothing about letting everyone know that it is inappropriate to try and break soenmthing that people need and are using. It all sounded rather punitive and nothing in the story seemed to be educational (as I would expect from a school). Sometimes involving the law is needed to get the point home.

I don't mind helping kids test the limits provided that we can do it when there is not going to be an issue for others. That's just good responsible science.

I think I will use this story and video as a discussion starter in some of my classes. The story is extreme and the student could have used far more sophisticated techniques to bring down the server. It is the principle that I want discussed and so an extreme story like this should get the jaws moving and the brain working.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Something that operates using timed or pulsed ons and offs can't be all that complicated really. Transistors are at the base of these operations.

The sound quality is around 2/10. If does provide a good understanding of the basics of transistor operation and the leg in to IC's that this fantastic invention provided. Fancy being Kirby who invented IC's during the vacation that he was not able to take because he was new to the organisation - what fantastic things are we doing in our hols?.

Might be helpful for to senior school IT studies. Length about 40 minutes. Would be better with some animations.


Internet different for men and women

Men Are From Google, Women Are From Yahoo
On the Internet, as in life, men and women have different motivations for doing
what they do. According to a recent report from Pew Internet and American Life,
women view the Internet as a place to extend, support, and nurture relationships
and communities. Men tend to see it as an office, a library, or a playground--screw the community, this is about function not family.

I have not seen this difference in use of searchd engines at school. Other stats and observations are interesting.

Isn't it interesting the way that our society, without thinking, brings up females and males differently and despite many of the evolutionary reasons for this difference having gone - we still do it?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Plaboek linked to monitor man

Do you think this 'get up' would go well with my Tux mascot? and here

Being very tall I might have some problems wiping out the monitor on door ways. :-(

Actually I've given some thought to togging up as a wizard. Put a gothic looking doorway into the computer lab and calling it the 'IT school of wizardry' Here we develop magic potions to transform data into information at the blink of an eye. bwahahaha

I did actually do a bit of a hunt at one stage to find a good costume and staff. Must look into that again said the mirror man.

10/20/30 rule for presentations


Talks about a "10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint". Let's not bebiased here - lets call it the 10/20/30 rule for presentations - Open Office Impress does a fantastic job of making presentations also - ans there are others.

Guy says that a "presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points."

He says that

The ten topics that a venture capitalist cares about are:

  1. Problem
  2. Your solution
  3. Business model
  4. Underlying magic/technology
  5. Marketing and sales
  6. Competition
  7. Team
  8. Projections and milestones
  9. Status and timeline
  10. Summary and call to action
I like this 10/20/30 rule - at least the principal. If you need to be verbose, put it in the notes. I see so many presentations that have a multitude of gunshots and other sounds, written as if it is an essay, and transitions that blow the mind.

What would be a good rule of thumb for middle school kids to use? 10 slides is probably more than enough (too many), 20 minutes is far to long (5 at the most and usually more like 2 or 3) 30 point font is cool.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Top Posting/Bottom Posting

I have observed a number of lengthy feuds over top and bottom posting on
various email talk lists. Neither side concedes defeat and the muddle

Another way to go might be

If someone makes a post and the next posting for the thread is a bottom
posting - what if we just followed the trend for that thread and continue to
bottom post even though we might have fundamentalist beliefs that it is not
right (or visa versa)?

Cute factor

Isn't Tux cute?

New studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine,The Cute Factor - New York Times

I think Tux makes a great classroom mascot.

A recent study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the University of Michigan showed that high school students were far more likely to believe antismoking messages accompanied by cute cartoon characters like a penguin in a red jacket or a smirking polar bear than when the warnings were delivered unadorned.The Cute Factor - New York Times

Today, it's not enough for a company to use cute graphics in its advertisements. It must have a really cute name as well. "Companies like Google and Yahoo leave no question in your mind about the youthfulness of their founders," said Dr. Orvell.The Cute Factor - New York Times

Is the name 'Tux' cute? I think so.

Take penguins as an example. Some people are so wild for the creatures, said Michel Gauthier-Clerc, a penguin researcher in Arles, France, "they think penguins are mammals and not birds." They love the penguin's upright posture, its funny little tuxedo, the way it waddles as it walks. How like a child playing dress-up!The Cute Factor - New York Times

OK - that's it.

Instead, he said, penguins waddle to save energy. A side-to-side walk burns fewer calories than a straightforward stride, and for birds that fast for months and live in a frigid climate, every calorie counts.The Cute Factor - New York Times

and that's why Linux makes efficient use of resources.

As for the penguin's maestro garb, the white front and black jacket suits its aquatic way of life. While submerged in water, the penguin's dark backside is difficult to see from above, camouflaging the penguin from potential predators of air or land. The white chest, by contrast, obscures it from below, protecting it against carnivores and allowing it to better sneak up on fish prey.The Cute Factor - New York Times

subversive Tux


Pattern for soft toy Tux

Pattern to sew a soft-toy Tux.

Make one for my 2006 classroom mascot.


Low Tech VDU

“Random Screen” is a mechanical thermo dynamic display which does not rely on any electricity.

Must make me one of these things :-)

Could be a good IT related teaching aide? (or not)

Why remember? Google can do the brain work for you.


Implications for schools
  • Let the reference section of the library die - do not buy reference books unless there is absolutely nothing suitable on the net.

  • Teaching students how to search effectively is one of the most important things that you can teach them.

  • Times tables are still worth remembering.

Some quotes from this fantastic article:
As more people find themselves spending much of the day within arm's reach — or even pocket's reach — of something that can tap into the Internet, search engine Google quickly is taking the place of not only a trip to the library, but also a call home to Mom, a recipe box, the phone book and neighborly advice.

"It is amazing how often I use the search engine when I can't think of something," says the public-relations associate at PAN Communications in Andover, Mass. "My roommate and I don't have arguments about trivia anymore — they usually last about as long as it takes our DSL to open up the search page."

In the midst of packing for her family's move from New Jersey to Las Vegas, marketer Cynthia Mun had a revelation: "I was going through my files and I thought, 'Why do I need this stuff anymore? If I need something, I'll just Google it.' " She and her husband were in the process of turning a decade or so's worth of clippings, files and reports into packing material when their overheated shredder gave up the ghost.

Do these experiences mean that Google is fundamentally changing our notion of memory? Plato wrote: "For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it; they will not exercise their memories." He wasn't talking about Google; he was talking about writing.

In pre-literate societies, what was worth remembering might be complex information about who can marry whom, or the history of long-term trading relationships, she says. Today, "the emphasis on what kinds of knowledge need to be remembered has shifted."

there should be a kind of Google Olympics to see who can find a craftily hidden piece of information the fastest. Giving up on memorizing state capitals is one thing. But Google has definitely had an effect on students, says Jeffrey Schwartz, a professor of the history of science at the University of Pittsburgh. "They're worse at spelling," he says, because Google is life's spell checker. Type in
conscious and Google pops back with "Did you mean: conscious."

Does our increasing dependence on Google pose a danger? John Rooney, professor of psychology at La Salle University in Philadelphia, worries. "The knowledge that we have 'in our heads' is much more than factual information. It provides us with perspective on ourselves and our relationship to our physical and social environment."
The scenario at the end is great - hehe

Impact of technology on music


Could this be a useful tool to involve in a discussion about the impact of techology of society. Well really the impact of people's use of technology.

Is the RIAA fighting a loosing battle? Reminds me of the Monty Python skit "Come on, fight like a man" as he attempts to take on the knight with no arms or legs.

Seems to me that they need to accept that things have changed and find the new opportunities that change brings about.

Wearable iPod headset displays video


How cool is that?
How expensive is that?

"Suddenly you've got this big-screen, movie-screen, home-theater experience, wherever you are,"

I assume that this technology could be used for computer output? I like the idea just to get the screen off my desk. Imagine a bluetooth version of this along with bluetooth input devices. Very neat for individualising the educational experiences for students. No laptops just big mother servers and each of these bluetooth I/O arrangements a terminal.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Making an RFID blocking wallet


A comical introduction to an IT issues unit of work. Could also be used to start/end some learning about RFID technology.

Anatomy of a Hack

Very long. Might be useful for senior school IT issues - hacking

2005 - Big Year for Open Source


Large Businesses signing off on Open Source projects. Great and understandable.
87% of companies are using Open Source somewhere. There's a statistic.

In addition to the items that made it to this report for 2005 there was
  • The Becta report . Making strong recommendations for the use of OSS in British schools.
  • In october I recorded a Sydney Age article - Open Source Boom - Here it is reported that Australia has an Open Source export industry in the face of a much larger IT trade deficit.
I hope that the various government strategic directions and chief information officers are taking notes. The support of government agencies could actually make a difference with our trade deficit and contribute to our 'clever country'. Choosing the OSS path will mean some changes in the way things work. No junkets in tropical beach resorts for OSS solutions for starters.

Blogging Software Comparison Chart

Does not seem to be exhaustive but provides some good information. Might be useful in selecting a tool for a school to use.
I notice that some tools allow for categories - blogger doesn't. Bill Kerr has recently start using his delicious tags as a part of each blog posting. I think I prefer tags over categories and subcategories.

Chat with others viewing same site

Students are given a research project. This firefox extension would allow them to chat with others also at the same site - peers in their class and others.
Has some hazards.
Has some great opportunities.
Of course this only applies to firefox users who also have this extension installed.