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Author Archives: Angelo Fernando

About Angelo Fernando

Author, business journalist, elementary school teacher, podcaster. I have been blogging since 2004, and a business and technology columnist for magazines, since 1994. Passionate about education, and media literacy.

Solar Oven STEM project – Chili Cook-Off!

As temps rise, I’m bringing out my solar oven for an engineering & science class. It will be a ‘maker’ type session that will culminate in a Chili Cook-Off for 5th and 6th grades. Students of each grade have been asked to come up with their own class Chili recipe and put it to the test. Outside judges will decide on the best Chili

To get started, I’m introducing them to topics such as insulation, radiation and the greenhouse effect.

  • Next a session on designing and building a Solar Oven from a Pizza Box.
  • Finally, Ann Patterson from Solavore will be here to teach a class on Solar Cookers and the engineering principles behind it.

If you’re looking for solar oven recipes, here are some. I’m a big Chili Concarne fan. Solavore has some here, too.

 

 

Chilli CookOff - CHILLI & STEAM - May 2016

 
 

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Second eBook experiment. It gets better!

As I mentioned yesterday I’m trying out different publishing tools for eBooks. Here’s the second option, using SimpleBooklet. It is at www.Livebooklet.com. Click on the image to open the book

livebooklet.comFrontPage-Culture

       https://livebooklet.com/angelofernando3

 

 

QR Code - Culture Book

 

The Pros

  1. Simply upload a PDF and the site converts it to an eBook.
  2. You could start with a blank page and add content –including audio and video.
  3. You could change the layout of the book, the way the page flips, and also add a contact card.
  4. Sharing is a big deal here. It generates links and embed code for social channels.You could also email directly from the website to your network.
  5. QR Code generator. Very neat feature lets you generate the QR code –on the right.
  6. You can check Stats on the dashboard (it uses Google Analytics)
  7. My best feature: A unique URL livebooklet.com/yourtitlehere

The Cons:

The embed code was not available for WordPress. You need to upgrade to a paid account to get this.

NOTE: The previous eBook Was created using YouBlisher.com.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, Workshop

 

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The Chatbots are coming! The Chatbots are coming!

You are not imagining. Suddenly there is a lot of talk about these things called Chatbots.

And, um, what exactly is a Chatbot? It’s probably not what you might imagine at first. It’s not an App that you use to talk to someone – thought that evolution might just happen. A Chatbot is a virtual information assistant that uses artificial intelligence to provide answers you may ask of it. Yes, like SIRI, but better.

A Chatbot may predict what you are looking for (say weather in Colombo, as opposed to weather in San Francisco), and provide you with some insight it gleans from past interactions with you.

Amazon and Microsoft have been early out of the gate with these AI assistants. Amazon, for instance has Alexa, and is used with the Amazon Echo speaker. It’s basically a piece of hardware you talk to (as opposed to an App like SIRI). And it this networked speaker provides you with things such as sports scores, places you are looking up such as restaurants etc.

What’s the big deal about Chatbots?

Let me answer this from the perspective of my book (conveniently titled) Chat Republic. The big deal is that we humans fully immersed in a Web 2.0 world are moving towards having deeper, richer, and dare-I-say commercially-infused conversations. For whatever reason, we sometimes prefer technology over humans (which is why we are often politely asked to text someone not call!), so the market is giving us what we show preference to.

Artificial Intelligence has developed to the point that it can deliver information that was once curated, created or thought through by humans. Oddly enough, some Chatbots do have humans working behind the scenes! I’m not against Chatbots. They have a role to play, after all.

Side note: Many moons ago, before smart phones (c. 1998), I used a phone-based service to find movie times, demographic information and such. That data was saved on servers we now call the ‘Cloud’, and that database has evolved into AI.

Supreme irony: Chatbots do the work once done by humans. Humans also do the work done by Chatbots.

 

 
 

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Creating an eBook from a PDF – Cool tool!

I am testing a book creation tool called YouBlisher. The goal is to learn how it works so I could teach my students next year how to ‘publish’ in more ways than one! Test it out and let me know what you think.

Click on the icon to view a digital book that lets you flip pages. Then read below the pros and cons:

eBook Experiment - YouBlisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s good about Youblisher:

  1. It’s free, so I don’t have to download any software.
  2. The content has to be created on a local computer, and not on the provider’s website.
  3. You need to convert your document into a PDF to upload it. Which means you create your book as a Microsoft Word doc, or Publisher. Alternatively, you could create a photo book using Photoshop or Powerpoint. As long as you save it as a PDF.
  4. The pages flip like a professional ebook.
  5. YouBlisher gives you a link to embed (which is not what I did here – I just linked an image of the cover, back to the site.) They also give you a Facebook embed code.

What I wish was possible:

  • A way to download the entire ebook, and save it on any device
  • A custom URL would be terrific! Right now it’s www.youblisher.com/p/1391665-Full-STEAM-Ahead. But hey!
  • I wish the links within the content worked. There may be a way to fix this…

Note: The content for this eBook was culled from several posts on this blog. It took me just 20 minutes.

 

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No magic eraser on the Internet. UC Davis learns the hard way

There’s a corollary to that old saw, “On the Internet, information lives forever,” and it’s this: “There’s no such thing as a magic eraser.”

But that doesn’t stop people from trying. Like this case of University of California, Davis and the ‘image scrubbing’ scandal. There are still companies offering services to clean up bad information by some dubious SEO work. But most experts say this isn’t possible. Search engines crawl, index and place information in so many places it’s not possible to delete a bad story once it gets out. Especially something has covered by the media, shared, and posted to several media channels. UC Davis reportedly paid two PR firms $175,000 for this magic eraser.

Is this a good thing that we cannot turn back the clock? It has given rise to a privacy right case known as the ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ right that the European Union fled against Google in 2012. It states that : “Individuals have the right – under certain conditions – to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them.” A good Fact Sheet is available here. There’s a longer discussion in Stanford Law Review, here.

I feel sorry for US Davis, because the story they tried to bury has given rise to hundreds more – giving the original piece that much more links. SEO companies often advice as much: Instead of trying to delete a story try to generate enough good information that will push down (not take down) the bad.

Oddly enough, while Google has complied, it accidentally revealed data about these requests.

Which brings me to social media literacy and privacy. We ought to be telling young people the ramifications of over sharing, being in pictures –group shots or selfies –that they might regret later.

 

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Whatever happened to music lyrics? Are good songwriters going extinct?

Tell me if you’ve felt this way – that the words of many recent songs are beyond awful.

We’ve got some oddly eclectic music going on at our home, so I do hear a wide range – from Adele and Chris Stapleton to Merle Haggard and Sting. But in so much of the other current music (and I know this sounds like a dad talking!), they are passably listenable, until you actually hear the words. You’d think a bunch of blindfolded monkeys were given word processors and the results were set to music. And while I’m at it,

I know there are folks who think, for instance that Adele’s lyrics are very old. Such as that refrain “I must’ve called a thousand times.” But she does tell compelling stories (River Lea, for instance, which has been the subject of literature before), and those stories never grow old, accentuated by the quality of the voice.

There’s a good article on the music industry on the business model of making us like bad music: How The Music Industry Is Brainwashing You to Like Bad Pop Songs. Basically it’s that ‘Stockholm Effect’ combined with virtually bribing radio stations to play terrible music until they infect our brains.

But to get back to the main point of this: Is the music industrial music complex ignoring good songwriters just to churn out radio hit after radio hit? Isn’t it odd that while there is so much of emerging musical talent via TV talent shows, songwriting talent seems to be going down the slopes.

Mr. Paul Simon, where are you when we need you most?

 
 

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