Thursday, December 31, 2009

Updated - Must Have Mac Apps

I updated my list of Must Have Mac Apps...what am I missing?

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Search for a Mac 7zip Archiver (Updated 2012)

Update 2012: Get Keka for Mac. Awesome! 

Looking for a 7zip compatible archiver/unarchiver for Macintosh? I was earlier tonight...I right-clicked on a folder titled 21stCentury, a presentation I'd given earlier this Fall including videos, images, and Keynote slideshow files, and PDF versions. Unfortunately, the right-click ZIP compression available on via right-click (Ctrl-click) on a Mac kept hanging in the last 5 seconds of the compression, as shown below:

So, I decided to try my old standby, GUI Tar. and decided to use the 7zip format that I've standardized on for long-term archives. For whatever the reason, GUI TAR didn't work either, also freezing. This was the first time I'd tried to use it on a Mac using Snow Leopard, so I'll be dropping it from my list of favorite Mac apps...even the latest version doesn't work. Sigh.

Since I've standardized on 7zip format, I had to find a program that would work well on Mac. Sure enough, there's been some innovation in this area and I found several solutions, however only one worth writing home about.

What works best? Keka for Mac. It's free.

What a pleasant surprise to find it!

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DiigoNotes - Court Upholds State-Sponsored “Kidnapping” of Homeschooled Boy

A pretty amazing story about Swedish government social workers targeting a family and taking away a child due to what looks like trumped up charges, but who can really know unless they're involved in the case? Although I work in public schools, I do agree that parents have a right to home-school their children. In fact, if we're not careful, we may see parents completely bypassing public schools because they have access to better technologies and resources than K-12 education facilities.

As someone with Swedish ancestors (my father's family immigrated to the United States from Sweden), I'm disappointed that Swedish courts would deprive a child of his parents because they disagreed with the "poor" decisions those parents may have made in regards to the child's education.

What do you think?
  • tags: no_tag

    • Court Upholds State-Sponsored “Kidnapping” of Homeschooled Boy
    • Swedish family of Annie and Christer Johansson whose only child, 7-year-old Dominic Johansson, was “kidnapped” by Swedish authorities in June of this year as the family was on a plane leaving the country for a new life and home in India. Annie Johansson is from India where her entire family lives.

      Your Help Needed

      Please contact Swedish officials on behalf of the Johansson family. We also ask that you keep the Johansson family in your prayers during this incredible trial they are facing.

      Contact Information

      The social workers

      The social workers’ supervisors

      National officials

      Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt
      Telephone: +46 8 405 10 00
      Mailing Address: Rosenbad 4, SE-103 33 Stockholm

      Minister Maria Larsson
      Ministry for Elderly Care and Public Health, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
      Telephone +46 8 405 10 00
      Fax +46 8 723 11 91
      Mail Address: Fredsgatan 8; SE-103 33 Stockholm

      To email the officials above visit the webpage:

      Local politicians and government leaders

      Indian Ambassador to Sweden

      Sign Petition Calling for Dominic to Go Home

      The Johanssons’ lives suddenly changed, and a nightmare ensued as police officers took Dominic off the plane at the orders of local social workers. They didn’t have a warrant, and they didn’t charge the Johanssons with any crime. Their reasoning? Dominic had been homeschooled, and the authorities wanted to make sure he was receiving an education.

    • The family had been refused school materials by their local school when they had asked for them last year. As a homeschooling family, the Johanssons lean towards unschooling, profess the Christian faith, and try to live close to nature. Mr. and Mrs. Johannson had made plans to move to India to work with several orphanages to help them to live simply and economically. Although their lifestyle is out of the ordinary to Swedish officials, nothing in their approach to family life justified such a radical state intervention. In addition to living simply, the Johanssons exercised their legal rights to opt out of vaccinations for their son as well as only taking him to the doctor when he was sick, also reasons cited by the court to allow Swedish social services to retain custody of Dominic.
    • The Swedish press has reported that the court admits the family has taken care of Dominic as they thought best, but insists the government’s plan is better.

      In its opinion the court noted that Dominic had some untreated cavities and had not been vaccinated. The court also said that because Dominic had not been in school he had been “socially isolated.” This, the court said, demonstrated that the parents were not aware of the impact their decision to homeschool would have on Dominic’s future development and opportunities.

    • Roger Kiska, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney based in Europe, noted that this kind of behavior was shocking but sadly not without precedent. Kiska has been following the case and has sent several letters expressing concern over the incident.

      “What you have here is a socialist country trying to create a cookie cutter kid,” Kiska said. “This family is a little different from the average Swedish family. There are so few homeschoolers in the country that this, along with their issues, has caused the social services agency to take the child in order to coerce changes from the family. Unfortunately. in Europe this kind of thing happens too often where social workers take a child and then just keep him. The parents in these cases are really powerless since the system is so one-sided.”

      Michael Donnelly, director of international affairs for HSLDA, expressed indignation at the court decision.

      “This court decision is deeply disturbing. The hostility against homeschooling and for parent’s rights is contrary to everything expected from a Western nation. This decision echoes the German courts who have ruled homeschooling illegal, and that it is OK to take children from parents who do homeschool. We had hoped that the appeals court would return Dominic to his family. Since they are not, we believe it is critical all freedom-loving people respond to this outrageous decision.”

      Donnelly continued, “HSLDA is gravely concerned about this case as it represents what can happen to other families who might wish to homeschool their children. Furthermore, in response to inquiries from HSLDA, Swedish authorities have cited the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to explain and defend their actions. If the U.S. were to ever ratify this treaty, then state-sponsored kidnapping could occur here. Every homeschooler would be at risk. Such treatment of families and children is inhumane and inconsistent with a reasonable understanding of basic human rights. Therefore, we are asking our members to contact Swedish officials asking them to return Dominic Johansson to his family.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Follow Me on Twitter - @mguhlin

Generated using TweetStats

Although I don't use Twitter all that much, I realized that as I was cruising the front page of my blog to read comments you folks have left, I found it lacked a "Follow Me" on Twitter feed. This is one I'd made a long time ago...but it's kinda boring:

I started seeking out some ways to add that badge to my blog and here are some of the roads taken:

Go2Web2.0 Twitter Badge

181 Free Twitter Badges
Some of my favorites from this list:


Mashable.Com's List of 20 Twitter Badges

A nice collection of Twitter Logos

I finally settled on this one:

More tweet stats:

and this next one is just doggone funny (if not sad):

and for fun, I'm going to throw this image in again:

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Citing Flickr Images New Tool - @Sprixi

When using images from Flickr under Creative Commons, I have relied on one online search engine Peter Shanks. It works great, allows me to add attribution to images found. It also allows for easy image editing!

A caught my attention and is pretty easy to use....

For example, I did a quick search on the word "dragon" and came up with this:

I chose a dragon image available and then was asked to rate it, a feature not available on Flickrcc (which sometimes turns up yucky images that are objectionable to K-12):

and then....

The final product looks like this with the appropriate image citation:

Not bad! I may be trying this out in K-12 learning environments where words like "flickr" are blocked out of hand.

Note: For fun, I'm putting the Twitter address for @sprixi to see if it makes it through from Blog post to Twitter via Friendfeed.


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Make Free Backups of Blu-Ray (Time-Sensitive: Expires 01/11/2010)

Image Source:

Thanks to post about WinDecrypter, a program that's available until January 11, 2010 at no cost that allows you to backup Blu-Ray disks to your hard drive (on Windows obviously):

WinX Blu-ray Decrypter is specially designed to backup Blu-ray movies to your hard drive. With user-friendly interface, this Blu-ray decrypter enables you to easily decrypt and copy Blu-ray movies with Blu-ray DVD drive to your computer by removing all protections from BD video, including encryption (AACS), BD+ copy protection, etc. It is fully compatible with all BD media.
To get the full version for free, please download the program and register with the following Information. Don't forget to share it with your friends!

Requirement: When installing and using WinX Blu-ray Decrypter program, please log in PC as the "Administrator" ID; or "Run as administrator", while using other IDs.
Reg Name: Blu-Raygiveaway
Reg Code: WinXBDD-2009-1216-1231

Regular price is $39.95...worth downloading and having on hand for the future? Of course, there are no Blu-Rays or Blu-Ray players in my home. I found the cost of a Blu-Ray player to be quite exorbitant and I was definitely unwilling to pay for it...of course, the cost has come down since I first wrote about it!

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Convert Ext3 to Ext4

Although some have complained that Ext4 isn't exactly perfect, I took the plunge on an external drive yesterday and followed these instructions to convert Ext3 formatted drive to Ext4. It worked, as far as I can tell, flawlessly.

To change an ext2 filesystem (should you still have one) to ext3 (enabling the journal feature), use the command:
# tune2fs -j /dev/DEV
To enable the ext4 features on an existing ext3 filesystem, use the command:
# tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/DEV
WARNING: Once you run this command, the filesystem will no longer be mountable using the ext3 filesystem!
After running this command (specifically, after setting the uninit_bg parameter), you MUST run fsck to fix up some on-disk structures that tune2fs has modified:
# e2fsck -fDC0 /dev/DEV
To create your own ext4 from scratch...
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/DEV

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Internet Explorer on GNU/Linux

Wanting to run Internet Explorer on a GNU/Linux distribution like UbuntuLinux? Here's one solution shared via the San Antonio Linux Users Group list:

I have a simple solution that let's me easily run IE6 or IE7 on Linux. Install "playonlinux" ( and use it to easily install the IE6/7 tool.
You don't have to own a Windows license to use PlayOnLinux. PlayOnLinux is based on Wine, and so profits from all its possibilities yet it keeps the user away from its complexity while exploiting some of its advanced functions. PlayOnLinux is a free software. PlayOnLinux uses Bash and Python
Internet Explorer 7 running via PlayonLinux on ubuntu:

Some information from the web site:
PlayOnLinux is a piece of sofware which allows you to easily install and use numerous games and softwares designed to run with Microsoft®'s Windows®.
Few games are compatible with GNU/Linux at the moment and it certainly is a factor preventing the migration to this system. PlayOnLinux brings an accessible and efficient solution to this problem, cost-free and rescpetful of the free softwares.

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Kindle Cracked - It's about choice

Image Source:

A primary objection to Amazon Kindle and other similar ebook technologies is that the documents you get from them--Adobe PDFs--are locked down tight. You can't copy-n-paste them, or do much of anything with them except read them on the screen. While this seems like great stuff to businesses who want to use "digital rights management" (DRM) to control access, it's a pain in the rear to customers...which is why I vowed to never buy a Kindle. Far better to get a netbook and read what I want to read that's out "in the open."

Of course, Kindle popularity isn't hampered...the masses of consumers appear to not give a darn about open content:

On Christmas Day, for the first time ever, customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books," reads an AMZN) press release over the weekend.

Since every DRM technology eventually gets cracked, I was thrilled to read this announcement:

The popular e-reader, the Amazon Kindle has been hacked this week, allowing for all purchased content to be transferred off the device via a PDFfile.
Kindle e-books are sold as .AZW files which haveDRM that stops users from transferring the purchased books to other devices that are not Kindles.
That should no longer be a problem thanks to Israeli hacker "Labba" who has cracked the DRM. A second hacker, "I <3 cabbages," has released the "Unswindle" program, which will reformat digital content downloaded and stored on the Kindle for PC app, converting it to easily movable formats, such as PDF.
You can read and download the process how online in various blogs. One of the commenters shares this remark:

Thanks for all your hard work on this. I just converted my recently purchased Amazon (Kindle for PC) book to a mobi file, then to a pdf using Calibre. Now I am free to enjoy my book the way I choose.
Another remark...
Thank you for coming back. I've been aching for someone to un-DRM Kindle4PC. A few of my textbooks for this semester and next are only available on Kindle and dead tree. I have an eink reader already so don't want to buy a kindle, but the $10 kindle book is so much better than a $30 paper book, not to mention it's reflowable and I can more easily make it fit my eslick's screen (unlike ADEPT protected PDF ebooks).
Cheers! This makes my next semester a touch more affordable, and I can read on eink rather than my monitor!
I don't own a Kindle and have no plans to purchase one...but isn't it amazing what people will do so that they can embrace openness in their content and how they use their devices?

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guides to GNU/Linux

Ken Task shared this list of GNU/Linux related resources and it's definitely worth highlighting here! source of the links below--is a portal site to all things GNU/Linux. For example, in the Software section under Project Management, you can find a page or two of free software that purports to help out with project management. The problem with a site like this is that there's almost TOO do you know what's great, and what isn't?

Linux Equivalents:


CMS (content management systems)


20 of the Best Free books on Linux

Linux Distribution explained


How to run Office 2007 on Ubuntu 8.10

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Moodle Good Practice WIki

Thanks to Joseph Thibault for a link to the Moodle Good Practice wiki via Moodlerific, which has an intriguing introduction:
I’ve been trying to assemble a list of good practice Moodle sites without much success. Several people have offered examples of well designed Moodle sites with a list of courses that are not publicly accessible without an enrolment key. So I can’t actually get inside the courses themselves. And that of course is one of the beefs of the anti-CMS/LMS lobby. That CMSs and LMSs of any kind, even open source alternatives like Moodle, largely operate behind closed doors. Having to go to and log in to see examples in there is a hassle. (Compare with this fully open course)
You can certainly add more courses. Acknowledging Michael Coghlan's point about having to login being a hassle, I do wish the next version of Moodle--or maybe a plug-in or add-on--would make Moodle more easily accessible and wouldn't require the login page, even login as guest.

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Reflecting on Moodle as LMS or SNS

Image Source:

What a great conversation that was had over at George Siemens blog (linked below)...I could say I missed it originally (not true) but that wouldn't be accurate. The truth was, I skimmed it, promised myself I'd come back to it, and never did. Since I had time earlier today, I went through highlighting some of the points that jumped out at me as relevant.

What do I think? Well, it's a tough one. Like the image above suggests, Moodle just doesn't measure up to dedicated solutions (e.g. blog, wiki). Yet, it does provide the opportunity to introduce people in K-12 learning environments to those tools in a "safe" environment. This is essential.

In K-12 education, there's a clear need to focus on content-centric course management systems. Even though tools like Moodle are used as content-centric tools to run people through a predetermined set of activities designed to facilitate "online learning," we've seen an explosion in self-directed learning that's enhanced by people making connections with each other as if dendrites were reaching out to each other. In K-12, though, it's clear that self-directed learning--where people build professional learning networks, connect via Twitter and blogs, and Nings--hasn't caught on completely yet. I predict another 5 years at least until the technology makes such networks unavoidable, or impossible to live without.

In the meantime, we'll continue to see an explosion of Moodle use in K-12, not only because it's a transitional technology, but because Moodle is adaptable to a variety of pedagogy/andragogy employed, allows for walled garden scenarios that enable K-12 to be CIPA compliant (something our college brethren have less to be concerned about with their eager embrace of ELGG, Facebook, and other tools).

Another point to consider is that Moodle itself is evolving, making it possible for educators to continue to lean on it as it scaffolds their growth and expansion into the kinds of connected learning many of us recognize as possible and engage in daily.
  •  Future of learning: LMS or SNS? « Connectivism

    • First: Most organizations currently use a learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle or Desire2Learn. These systems are content-centric. Their objective is to organize and manage content, just as Google did in early 2000. Because higher education is particularly enamored with content, an LMS is a critical service. It’s completely the wrong model, however, and this will become increasingly apparent in the next several years.

    • ELGG is an excellent alternative to an LMS, but most organizations are not yet willing to accept a network-centric tool as an alternative to Moodle

    • ELGG is a better model of what learning will/should look like than any of the current contenders in the space. And yes, for you open-source lovers of Drupal and Wordpress, I include those software tools in the “not as good as” category.

    • On another note, perhaps my biggest gripe is that we’ve provided teachers this AWESOME tool to structure courses and content that could easily be used by other teachers, but the software locks it down (or at least, it provides tools that are easily configured to “close” the content to the outside). Sure there are Moodle course exchanges, but far and wide content is closed to outsiders, difficult to procure (even if a backup is available) and not available as OER. Imagine if all the content created in Moodle were open? THAT would be a great asset to the educational community and would be ripe to transition past the “build today use for 3 years model” to more of a social approach (where the best content floats to the top of social interactions because it’s freely available).

    • Beverley Oliver says:

    • Here’s a thought, though…do many of the LMSs and other systems give the control of the space to the learner? (It’s a genuine question-I don’t know the answer). In the limited examples that I see and hear of, as per some of these comments, the teacher has the overriding authority to lock down or open up, so their ‘teaching paradigm’ rules. At present, at Curtin University, we are building an eportfolio system which (like others) gives control to the student–not only to post, but to form their own groups within and beyond the university and so on. This means the learner’s ‘learning paradigm’ rules, and because it’s not an LMS, the scope is not bound by enrolment in a particular course.

    • Jude Rathburn says:

    • I am wondering whether you think the social networking model should be more open than what most universities can currently offer in their LMS. Issues such as user authentication (making sure that everyone who enters the space is a registered user) and privacy (protecting students’ rights to know who is viewing their posts) – seems to make it less likely that LMS will adopt an open social networking model. While I think there may be some value to having folks from outside the university participate in discussions, it seems like it might be very hard to manage the complexity.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

DiigoNotes - Moodle and Course Management Systems

There's nothing like discovering a new blog and realizing it's talking about all the neat stuff you're interested in! There tons of goodness in the following blog entry titles, and excerpts and I've probably done an evil thing by highlighting with Diigo and sharing it here, but, hey, it's great stuff!

Some of my favorites include the Document lockers video below, Susan Nash's "Revisiting Moodle, and the many other items that appear here, including one's I've missed like the Moodle Hub diagram. Be sure to click through to the original entry to see all the other Moodle stuff!

    • Moodle Wikis - as document lockers -- from Moodle Girl's Blog
      I came across this excellent jing video which explains how to use a Moodle Wiki activity as a means of students uploading documents/file repository. It is well worth watching! Yes there are many ways you can set up a file repository system on Moodle but I particularly liked this method. I believe the video was created by Digidoug whom I have since located on twitter. So if you enjoy his video you may want to go follow him and thank him for such a neat idea and well presented how-to vidcast.

    • Revisiting Moodle -- from Susan Smith Nash

    • The basic structure and philosophy of Moodle are simple: object-oriented, with a focus on reusability of components, and a very transparent structure that rests on a foundation of forums, which makes it very friendly to interaction and collaboration. Further, the flexibility of Moodle makes it ideal for programs ranging from certificate programs to graduate programs such as an online MBA program.

    • Ideal for Small and Evolving Programs
      Moodle is instantly appealing to fledgling programs. After all, the price is right. It's free. Granted, nothing is really free, and the trade-off with opensource is the fact that it's necessary to do the IT work oneself. There are hosting solutions such as MoodleRooms, which are affordable for the individual instructor or small institution.

      Moodle does not look much like other learning management solutions such as Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Angel, or the old WebCT. If anything, it reminds one of an expanded discussion board, with customizable add-ons. Student information systems can integrate fairly easily, which makes a "soft launch" or pilot program a viable option. This kind of approach is effective for graduate programs, professional programs, as well as independent study and professional development. One is limited only by the limits of one's imagination.

    • Moodle's emphasis on reusable content objects makes it fairly easy to make changes to individual courses and to an entire curriculum. It's also fairly easy to save objects in repositories that can be shared by other instructors and the instructional design / technology support. Moodle lends itself to convenient, enterprise-wide content management.

      The fact that Moodle allows faculty and the institution to be responsive to evolving student and organizational needs, and educational objectives is a core benefit. For example, if the school wants to be able to tweet students in the event of an emergency, Moodle is much more effective than using email to do so. One can embed applications and integrate them in order to enhance functionality.

      • Moodle Hubs scheme: Goals and rationale The main goals of the Community hub project are:
        1. to allow people to easily find courses around the world that they want to enrol in:
          • educators want to find communities of practice that are subject or region-oriented, so that they can associate with their peers on a long-term basis.
          • other learners want to find and study courses on various other subjects

        2. to make it easy for educators to find and download course templates from other people. This will help educators share and identify examples of best practice in online pedagogy and hopefully improve the average quality of online courses.
        Finally, we want to do all this in the simplest, safest way possible, while allowing a range of scenarios such as courses that are public or private, free or paid, so that the Moodle community can build solutions for themselves.
        Moodle Hub Server

    • Moodle and Elgg: a comparison -- from Learning Conversations

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

DiigoNotes - Open Source

  • tags: no_tag

    • The transition from open to proprietary software and the subsequent evisceration of university programming departments angered Stallman. The very culture of innovation driving his work was disappearing.

      "'I was faced with a choice. One: join the proprietary software world, sign the nondisclosure agreements and promise not to help my fellow hackers. Two: leave the computer field altogether. Or three, look for a way that a programmer could do something for the good. I asked myself, was there a program or programs I could write, so as to make a community possible again?'" (6)

      • Stallman created the Free Software Foundation. The term free has two definitions - free as in monetary, or free as in free of speech. Stallman uses the second definition: "Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software." Free software has four freedoms:

        • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
        • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
        • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
        • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. (7)
    • "The fundamental difference between the two movements is in their values, their ways of looking at the world. For the Open Source movement, the issue of whether software should be open source is a practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it, ``Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement.'' For the Open Source movement, non-free software is a suboptimal solution. For the Free Software movement, non-free software is a social problem and free software is the solution." (13)
    • Open Source is developed in groups with high levels of contact between software users and developers. Users report bugs, request features, and provide solutions throughout the development process. The process is very transparent - a blurring of software creator and user. Free Software, on the other hand, is generally developed by smaller groups of highly skilled programmers (which prompted Raymond to classify the Free Software development model as cathedrals "carefully crafted by individual wizards", and Open Source as a "great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches").
    • This open/proprietary debate is spilling over into all areas of the digital world. RIAA is requesting greater restrictions to digital content use, Microsoft is creating software that has increased limitations for users (and greater control for the software creators), etc.

      The debate has been incorrectly labeled as an issue of intellectual property and theft (though this component certainly exists). The real debate is on a level that expresses views of how society is to be organized, how power is to be distributed, which types of resources should be free (not in a monetary sense), what are the obligations of content creators to users, and what are users options to build on, improve, and incorporate content developed by others.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Convert YouTube Video to MP3 Audio (Updated)

Someone recently asked me, "You know how singers publish their songs as music videos on YouTube?" 

<"How do you get the music without the video? Make it into an MP3 sound file?"
The easiest approach is to download the FLV video version of the music video and then strip out the audio and save it to MP3. Of course, there are approaches that allow you to go straight from YouTube video on the Web to an MP3 file you can save on your computer...we'll start with those approaches first:

How To Go Straight From YouTube Music Video to MP3
  1. Use Media-Converter, a web-based service that not allows you to convert video to audio, but you can actually browse YouTube and add items to the list to be converted. Pretty awesome!
  2. YouTube to MP3 Converter. From their web site: ...the only thing you need is a YouTube URL. We will start to convert the audiotrack of your videofile to mp3 as soon as you have submitted it and you will be able to download it.
Converting from FLV to MP3 or OGG
You can also download the FLV file and then strip out the audio from the FLV video file. There are many tools you can use to download, are only a few of those. 

To convert from FLV to MP3...depending on what computer you are on:

  • On UbuntuLinux, although it will probably work for others (download source here)

    Required Software

    I am using Ubuntu Linux, but the concept should be the same for other distros. Make sure you already have all of the multimedia codecs including ffmpeg and mplayer. You will also need to install youtube-dl:sudo apt-get install youtube-dl 
    Downloading YouTube Videos on Linux (works on Windows)
    To download YouTube videos on Linux, use youtube-dl in the terminal like this:
    youtube-dl [options] video_url

    Ripping MP3s from YouTube Videos on Linux

    It is easy to extract MP3 audio from a YouTube movie on Linux with mplayer.
    The method to rip MP3 audio from FLV files with ffmpeg from this site doesn't work on my computer so I use mplayer to do it:
    mplayer -dumpaudio old-file.flv -dumpfile new-file.mp3

    Automating the Process with a Shell Script

    If you want to download a set of YouTube movies and convert them to MP3 audio, or save them as MPG movies on your hard drive, you can automate the process with a shell script.This is just a quick script showing how it might be done. Use the following code at your own risk, and make sure you understand what it does before doing it. It will delete all the FLV files in the current directory after it processes them.
    Here's the script...I renamed it to ""

    Follow the excellent instructions outlined at this blog post. Works great and not just for YouTube downloaded videos in FLV can use it to extract audio from ANY FLV file. The command using ffmpeg:

  • ffmpeg -title “my_title” -i filename.flv -acodec mp3 -ac 2 -ab 128 -vn -y filename.mp3

  • Use FLV'll need to have .NET Framework 2.0 installed. The benefit of using FLV Extract, as opposed to other converters, is that the program won't re-encode the audio (which might result in sound quality issues). FLV Extract can do multiple files at once, so...this may be the best app if not using a web-based service.
  • Download FLV video then use one of these 4 tools to convert it....
    Use Freez FLV to MP3 Converter -
    Use VLC Media Player - - Record online video stream to a file.
    WinFF or FormatFactory -
  • Pay for a software program that will do the conversion for you...more on that below.
  • Use GetTube, an application that will allow you to download YouTube video straight to MP3. I couldn't get this to work in Snow Leopard 8-<
  • Use Free Video Downloader and then convert it with VLC Media Player.
Purchasable Programs and Copyright
Finally, be aware that you can buy TubeSock for Windows and/or Mac for $15. Note that this is not an endorsement...using any of these program will constitute a YouTube license violation. However, knowing how to convert FLV video format to MP3 audio is certainly a valuable thing to know how to do.

For general conversion on a Mac, you might consider FFMPEGX...$15 shareware. Sigh.

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Monday, December 28, 2009


My 10 year old son absolutely enjoyed ScribbleNauts, which we received as a free copy for review along with the rooster hat...He enjoyed it, mind you, not enough to stop playing Star Wars, but enough to spend serious time on it...and serious time for someone who can finish a Nintendo DS Star Wars game in a day and a half--from start to finish--is several hours.

The game works on a simple premise--write it on your DS and the item magically appears on the screen. Big vocabulary? All the better! If you're not familiar with ScribbleNauts, check out this overview:
The game centers around Maxwell and his quest to obtain Starites. However, to claim them he needs to overcome certain puzzles and these can be solved by summoning items. For example, if a Starite is out of reach, Maxwell can write ladder on his notebook and it will appear, so he can climb it. This is only a very simple example though, as there could be many other ways to obtain the same Starite.
There are approximately 220 levels in the game, and players will be able to summon animals, weapons, forces of nature,famous people (both fictional and real), vehicles, household objects, and even internet memes as they attempt to obtain all of the Starites.

I'd hoped to do a podcast interview with my 10 year old but it didn't quite come through (we did it, and I lost it and we've been a bit busy to do a repeat). Some of the things he liked about ScribbleNauts were the fact he could write anything and bring it to life in the game. You can find an exact list of what, who you can bring into the game online. A comprehensive wiki appears online

You can purchase the game online.

My 16 year old also tried the game out, but it didn't catch her fancy. 

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Paint a Mural


Are you an edublogger/reformer? Which one of these labels--listed in no particular order--best fits you?
  1. Martyr - You're willing to abandon everything you learned about working, surviving, thriving in your K-12 education culture and be a radical advocate for a new way of doing education involving the support of 21st Century Learning Skills (whatever you believe that to be), knocking traditional learning styles because they don't have the research. When your boss asks you to enforce high stakes testing administrations, you rebel citing sad stories about how it's not going to prepare students for the future. Getting burned at the stake is just fine, even though it means your family may have to struggle along in a tough economy without your income.
  2. Firecracker - Although you are willing to advocate for change in private, maintaining the status quo is all-important because you don't want to lose your job. You've given "hostages to fortune" and while YOU can certainly talk and use Web 2.0 like the rest, you're like a firecracker in the palm of your school district's hand...lot of bang, but no serious change.
  3. Subversive - At every step of the way, you try to jam a spoke in the wheel, hoping the higher-ups won't notice your actions.
  4. Quitter - Don't like the way the ball is rolling? Quit and run to the next job...the grass is always greener over there and life's too short to try to bring about change where you're at, even though there are people that need it. Your life is too precious to waste on changing any education system.
My first blog entry about the GTA for Administrators was a lot of fun to write with the Moses, Promised Land connections, but I'd like to revisit it. I like Moses because he was the imperfect, reluctant leader. He was the guy God got mad at because he said he couldn't get the job done. I'd like to think of Moses as the perfect role model for campus and district administrators who don't know what to do in the face of change...not unlike Kelly in this blog entry about GTA for Administrators. Kelly's post came after some reflecting I did yesterday as I sat through Alvin and Chipmunks.

I was reflecting on the whole GTA for Admins--including asking myself if I even wanted to go through the effort of applying and drinking the Google Kool-Aid just to see if made a difference--yesterday, and I had to ask myself, Is this really something worth doing and what impact will it have?

The answer was not as encouraging as I would have liked. Simply, the impact is limited to the changes I'm able to bring about in my organization...I have to ask two more questions:

  • Will attending GTA teach me anything fundamentally transformational? Maybe.
  • Will I be able to use that "maybe" to transform my organization's perspective about Google? Not likely.

Like a conversation I had with another highly placed leader (two levels above my current position), districts have to overcome a lot of "personal inertia" present in its employees...for some districts, achieving such change is impossible. Imagine if Moses had to change the Pharaoh to his way of thinking rather than just pick up an leave. Maybe Martyrdom is the refuge of those who say, "Ok, I'm tired, I'm not going to move from this spot."

Then, this morning, I read Kelly's blog entry and this part jumped out at me:
Being an agent of change may seem like a great martyrdom thing in a system but, after awhile it, well, becomes old and, after being publicly humilated a few times for “improper technology use”, one sees that being an agent of change isn’t very glamorous and can be determental [detrimental] to your career....
We need leaders who will be able to move things in a different way. Telling them about the tools may give them some understanding, showing them how teachers use the tools may give them some information, connecting them with others who are the same may give them some support but we need to have leaders who have the time and energy to lead in ways that will bring about real change.
Dr. Scott McLeod, Educational Leadership guru via CASTLE, outlines the following options for Kelly, who serves as a vice-principal...who are we to argue with these options that Scott lays out quite clearly and are worth sharing again:

Kelly, I’m going to push you a bit… =)
So you’re in a position of leadership, not just management, right? And yet you essentially say that you personally can’t be a leader ’cause the system only allows you to be a manager. So… you have several options as I see them:

1. Leave the dysfunction and work in a more change-conducive system.
2. Quit because you can’t / won’t do what is needed – you’re not the right person for this job at this time – and let someone else do the job who does have the ability to be a leader, not just a manager, within this school system.
3. Continue to be miserable because you can’t reconcile the cognitive disconnects between your recognition for the need for change and your inability to make it happen.
4. Reframe the situation, recognize that you’re smart and talented, not helpless, and start doing things differently than your current practice so that you’re more efficacious.
I’m probably missing some other options but these are a start. Thoughts?
Everytime I've read or heard Scott makes these points, I'm tempted to argue with him. But the fact is, he's right.

If you can't get the job done, either decide to persist in making change in the face of serious opposition, or quit and get out of the way for someone else. If the job can't be done, why are you still wasting your time staring at the wall? If you can't get the job done and you have to waste your time staring at the wall, then learn how to paint a mural.


You know, GTA for Administrators isn't the real issue. The real issue is bringing about change when no one else thinks that change is worthwhile.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Easy Software Installs on Win Computers

Wow, wish I'd know about, an easy way to install software. You just check off what free software you want to install on your computer, and Ninite makes an installer for you. A little about it:

Ninite installs apps with default settings and says "no" to browser toolbars and other junk.
Ninite checks your PC's language and 64-bit support to install the latest, best version of each app. Ninite runs on Windows XP/Vista/7 and works in the background 100% hands-free. All Ninite does is install the apps you choose. Not even Ninite is installed.
Give it a shot if you're setting up a new computer!

via The Mobile Classroom Video Podcast (main page)

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Re-Discovering Miro

This evening, I've been re-discovering Miro, an easy to use portal to a variety of rich media content. Not being an iTunes fanatic--in fact, it's too doggone confusing and I hate wading through for pay content to find the valuable free stuff--I've tried out different solutions, like Songbird. As nice as Songbird is, it didn't quite do it for me, although it's definitely a great player for your media library.

Thanks to a tweet by Joyce Valenza, I found myself reviewing the list of 10 greatest open source apps in 2009. While I found the list to reflect great apps, not all of them would have made MY list of open source apps. However, Miro was one I hadn't looked at in a long time, and I was delighted to discover it's easy to find access to NPR podcasts--like Fiona Ritchie's Thistlepod and Terry Gross' Fresh Air--not to mention a wealth of GNU/Linux podcasts and more content than anyone could listen to in a lifetime...all within easy click and download (including YouTube in HD, as well as Hulu). This makes it easy to download and then listen to the content offline.

You can also add video online that will appear in Miro...and it doesn't hurt to learn about the process online.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure