Sunday, January 30, 2011

Don't be Daunted by the Post Below

The post I just finished is quite long. However, I was experimenting with a different type of organization. Usually I try to segment sections under subheadings which I kind of did (Twitter, tweetdeck, seismic), but there were still chunks of text that were really long and boring to the eye. I know when I look at an uber long piece of text my motivation drops off a cliff! So, I tried pointing out key words or phrases of a given paragraph by putting them in bold. Hopefully this will aid the reader in skimming for information that is pertinent for them. Unfortunately, it also numbed the effect of the aforementioned subheadings, at least it did until I added hyperlinks to each heading.

I think if we all did this type of composing more (such as in textbooks! *cough*), readers, such as myself, would be more engaged and not have to read through the stuff they find boring or already know to get to the good stuff. I have also been told by a friend who has ADHD and dyslexia that sometimes text is easier to read when words are highlighted differently. Too bad this blog site doesn't allow me to put words into different colors!

Twitter, Tweetdeck, and other bird-like activities (but not twiddling)

Six months ago, I thought Twitter was stupid and essentially a constant status update. While it IS somewhat the latter, I have gotten over my initial aversion to it and realized what it is good for. For instance, I am using it as a tool to expand my PLN and keep in touch with college of ed. peers.

Over the weekend, I monitored #educon. Watching a popular hashtag is a great way to jump into twitter. I saw and practiced many aspects of twitter such as retweeting great ideas and quotes. I also realized how twitter can be used to share resources. Links to blogs, articles, etc. were being tweeted constantly. At one point, I became overwhelmed by the number of tabs I had open due to the links I had clicked in others’ tweets. I finally had an epiphany that “Hey! I can bookmark these in my Delicious account!”

Another neat thing about twitter at this point in my life is that my age and experience are not on the forefront. When I was conversing with other #educon tweeters, I was seen simply as another adult interested in education, unless, of course, someone looked into my profile. As someone who is still in that awkward stage of life between childhood and adulthood, I can attest to the importance of being seen and treated as a fellow member of the adult and professional community. It is almost embarrassing for me to admit how excited I was when educators whom I had never met started replying to and retweeting my tweets. Due to my insecurity about my experience and age, I was hesitant to ask questions for fear of sounding ignorant or being annoying, but so far it seems others are eager to answer questions and share info. and resources.

Twitter seems to also be good for keeping updated on news events. It’s how I learned about the Egyptian protesting. I even followed a Twerson who tweeted updates every 30 seconds.

The downside of twitter is that you really need to be logged in and paying attention to reap the benefits. This means it could become another feature in this life that sounds great at first, but could take over your life if you let it. I like it while I’m logged in, but in the end, I prefer things that I can check and reply on my own time such as email.


I think I expected twitter to let me know when I log in what tweets I have missed, but as I said before, you really have to be constantly logged into twitter to reap the benefits. So, I wanted to see if tweetdeck would help keep my tweets organized.

One feature of tweetdeck is that the notifications are in the form of pop up windows in the corner of my screen with a corresponding sound (of a bird tweet? who knows) which are both beneficial and annoying. Being driven mad by the constant chirping, I quickly figured out how to turn the sound off. While I chose to keep the pop up notifications running, I still have mixed feelings between the pop ups being helpful and distracting. I like the fact that they are small and in the corner. So, I can easily ignore or glance at them and continue working on something else. On the other hand, so many of the tweets were not relevant to me such as people talking about where they’re eating dinner or meeting up with someone else. I felt like I was wasting my time even just glancing at them especially when I would try to go back to working on homework and couldn’t remember what I was doing. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to log out. I thought, “What if I miss something life shatteringly important?!”

I think there were too many tweets per second by #educon for TweetDeck (or myself!) to keep up with in practical way. I would go back to full screen for tweetdeck and realize that it wasn’t notifying me for ALL the new tweets. This made me nervous because as I said before, “What if I miss something life shatteringly important?!” Eventually I figured out that the little numbers at the bottom of the pop up show if there are multiple new tweets and if there are you can use the arrow buttons to see them. So, all is well.

You can also use tweetdeck to keep updated with your facebook and myspace accounts as well as other accounts, but I, personally, did not like this. It’s my personal preference that I want to check facebook when I’m ready for facebook and I do not want constant updates from facebook. This is probably because my view of fb and twitter are different. I think of facebook more like an email account that I check on my own time when I’m ready as opposed to Twitter which I see as a necessity to be in constant contact to get anything from it. Although, I DO think it’s pretty cool that you can update both twitter and facebook (and probably myspace as well) with the same post at the same time.

Then, I tried Seesmic which has the same purpose as Tweetdeck. At first, I thought Seesmic was not as easy to figure out but that was probably just my bias from using Tweetdeck first. After I got over that, I was pretty impressed by how modern looking Seesmic looked (it was probably just the spinning settings window that got me). Seesmic basically does everything Tweetdeck does as far as I can tell. I was all ready to switch to using Seesmic permanently instead of Tweetdeck when I realized that Seesmic doesn’t have a refresh button that I know of and it definitely needed one because the tweets for #educon were stagnant for about 5 minutes. I knew that couldn’t be right. The only way I could figure out how to get it jump started was to delete the column and make a new one. Not wanting to blame Seesmic, I thought it might be due to a poor internet connection. However, Tweetdeck was doing just fine. In conclusion, I decided to use Tweetdeck.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Creating Web Sites

I am already currently working on a google site for my wedding. To balance it out and try something new, I decided to set up my e-portfolio on a weebly.

I think Google Sites is easy to use and figure out, but I feel limited sometimes. For instance, there are only five font types and I do not have the option of having navigation visible on some pages and not others. I can’t wait to see if weebly offers more options and more room to be creative. So far, weebly seems to be at least equal to google sites.

+ can edit pictures (crop, shading, etc.) right on the editing page instead of uploading new ones which I edited on my computer
+all editing tools right on top of page for quick access
-NO font choices!
-constantly requesting that I pay for a domain for every time I save changes

Google Sites
+supposedly easily connects to other google tools (I haven’t had the need to test this out)
-only 5 font choices
-moving to pages that are not on the navigation panel is more difficult than it should be

My guess is that once I’m done playing around with Weebly I will favor it more than Google Sites because it seems to be catered more for the things I want to do. I love both of them more than any wiki I have used. Wikis (such as wikispaces) seem to be great for sharing plain information and allowing a class to edit, but they are so limited creatively.