Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Block Scripts in Firefox

On the same evening that I got my Acer Aspire One and became a Windows user again (on a part-time basis) CNET ran a short article and video about blocking malicious scripts on Firefox. While Macs are not immune to attacks they certainly happen at a much lower rate. So now that I am using Windows again I'll be paying a little more attention to these types of articles and videos. The CNET video about blocking scipts in Firefox is embedded below.

Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision

As some readers might already know from my Twitter postings, I bought an Acer netbook this evening. Judging by the replies on Twitter there is some interest in my decision process so I'll highlight some of the factors that influenced my decision.

I don't make very much money and therefore don't have very much money to spend so price was a key consideration for me. Netbooks met my criteria for being relatively inexpensive (although anytime I spend more than $50 it's a major purchase in my mind). After researching them on the web, asking for comments on Twitter, and emails with people I trust, I was 90% certain that I wanted an Acer. Three stores in my area Radio Shack, Staples, and Walmart carry the Acer so I set out this afternoon to test the Acer and find my best deal. (Notice the being thrifty pattern developing). After trying the Acer I was sure I wanted to purchase it. But, then I stopped into Best Buy. Best Buy was running a sale on the base model Toshiba Satellite. For $50 more than I had planned to spend I could have bought the Toshiba with a 15" screen and DVD drive. That was where my shopping trip got confusing.

At the end of the day I bought the Acer Aspire One. I have a computer (Macbook) when school is in session that is provided by the district/ state. But during the summer I'm relegated to my very old Gateway at home. I wanted the Netbook to serve as my on-the-go blogging tool and web surfing tool. The Acer Aspire One with the 10" display seemed to be perfect for that. The Toshiba Satellite on sale at Best Buy was a much bigger machine in screen size and weight. Approximately 97% of what I do with a computer is done in the cloud, not on the computer itself. Getting the bigger Toshiba and spending $50 more was not something I could justify when I considered my original intent for a small, light blogging tool.

If you're considering buying a netbook for your personal use or your child's use here are a few things to consider.
1. If you don't have any other computer to use, a netbook might not be what you want. The 10" screen is a little too small to see the entire field of some websites and programs.
2. If, like me, most of what you do is online then a netbook could be a good choice for you.
3. For some people the size of the keyboard is a consideration. This wasn't a consideration for me because I never learned to type properly and have a "speed hunt and peck" technique.
4. To get the most out of your netbook you may want to consider stripping away any unneccesary programs that come installed on your netbook.

I've had my Acer for only a few hours now and so far I am happy with it. I've already written two blog posts with it. I will update this post tomorrow evening after I've had a full day of working with it.

30+ Alternatives to YouTube

Over the last year I've done a few posts about alternatives to YouTube. This post consolidates all of those resources into one list. If you have a suggestion that should be added to this list, please leave a comment.

1,2,3. This list cannot be started and would be totally incomplete if I did not start by mentioning Teacher Tube,, and iTunes U. My blog posts on the three services are here, here, and here respectively.

4. Viddler
is a service that I enjoy using because of its integrated in-video commenting system. Read my review here.

5. How Stuff Works is a video site that I spent hours exploring in September because I was sucked in by the quality of the content. My blog post about it is here.

6,7. The History Channel and the Discovery Channel both offer a lot of content similar to and, in some cases, identical to that which is found on their respective television networks.

8,9 Vimeo and are two user generated content video sites that have gained some traction over the last year. My reviews of these services are available here and here respectively.

10 Dot Sub
is full of user generated content that is subtitled into many different languages. I have a hearing impaired student this year that uses Dot Sub quite a bit.

11. If you're looking for current news content you may want to consider subscribing to the Reuters Video RSS feed.

12, 13. Along the lines of news videos, all of the major US Networks offer most of their nightly news as online videos. For news videos that are kid-friendly try CNN Student News. If you're interested in showing your students the inner workings of Congressional proceedings, visit the C-Span video library.

14. Hulu
, a joint venture of NBC and News Corps, offers high quality video of television shows, movies, and old news broadcasts. You can read my review of Hulu here.

15, 16, 17, 18. For videos directly intended for use in the classroom visit the Kids Know It Network, The Futures Channel, Science Tube, and Math-A-Tube.

19, 20 TED and Big Think offer intellectual discussions and presentations about a wide variety of social, political, scientific, and economic topics.

21. Snag Films is a great place to watch full length documentaries from producers like National Geographic for free. My review of Snag Films is here.

22. Google Video serves a lot of results from YouTube, but you will also find non-YouTube videos in the mix that you can use in the classroom.

23. Nibipedia - Nibipedia takes the concepts of Wikipedia and YouTube and combines them. In other words if every Wikipedia entry had a YouTube or a Ted Talk video attached to it, you would have Nibipedia.

24. Untamed Science is a collection of videos and podcasts about biology and Earth science topics.

25. is similar to Big Think in that it presents videos relevant to topics in the news and in the public conscious today. The videos feature well known personalities and experts talking about the important issues of the day. You will also videos of debates, press conferences, and public meetings.

26. iCue, presented by NBC News, features videos about history and current events. There is a capability to connect with other students to discuss topics and learn together. There are also quizzes and learning activities associated with many of the videos.

27. School Tube is a website that is similar to Teacher Tube. School Tube's content is generated by teachers and students contributing videos about a wide variety of topics.

28. features user generated content about current news topics.

29. Next Vista is an academic video sharing site. Next Vista has three video categories. The Light Bulbs category is for videos that teach you how to do something and or provides an explanation of a topic. The Global Views video category contains videos created to promote understanding of cultures around the world. The Seeing Service video category highlights the work of people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others.

Academic Earth is a video depot for individual lectures and entire courses from some of the top universities in the United States. Visitors to Academic Earth will find lectures and courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

31. comes to use from the same great people behind is similar in function and purpose to that of Teacher Tube.

32. One Minute Wonders from the BBC are short videos that explore all of the amazing things that happen in one minute. There are thirteen episodes of One Minute Wonders. Each episode consists of twenty short videos. Every episode has a corresponding quiz. Each quiz has five questions that continue to loop until the player gets all of the answers correct or time expires.

33. PBS Video offers videos from the most popular shows including Frontline, NOVA, Nature, and American Experience. For the younger crowd, PBS Kids offers videos as well. If you're not sure what you're looking for, but you think PBS has an appropriate video you can search the PBS Video center by topic.

34. Your suggestions here...

The Citizendium - For The Wikipedia Skeptics

The Citizendium is, in some people's minds, an improvement over Wikipedia. Everyone has a story about or has heard about Wikipedia's early struggles with unchecked and unreliable editing and contributions. Unfortunately, Wikipedia still suffers from that stigma. The Citizendium, which was started by one of theWikipedia founders, aims to create a free reliable online encyclopedia. Citizendium requires that authors and editors use their real names and submit a C.V. to prove their expertise on a topic. The Citizendium is in its infancy right now, only 5,000 articles, but those articles are reliable. Like Wikipedia, the Citizendium provides links to related topics and to cited sources.

Application for Educators
The Citizendium is a good online reference for everything that a typical encyclopedia would provide. The Citizendium's advantage over an encyclopedia found on a bookshelf is that the Citizendium is constantly evolving to account for new discoveries and developments. I feel comfortable directing students to the Citizendium as a general reference. The links provided within each general reference article are good and reliable for further study within a topic.

I'm away on my annual "school's out for summer" fishing trip. A few of the blog posts this week will take a look back at some resources that I wrote about in the early days of this blog before it had much of a following. I'll be back online on Wednesday evening at which time I'll be moderating comments.