Monday, January 30, 2012

Novels on Location

Novels on Location is neat use of Google Maps designed to help you find fiction works according to their geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

Applications for Education
Novels on Location is a little lean on titles right now, but it has the potential to be a good place to find your next favorite read. You could have students contribute to Novels on Location. Or create your own classroom version of Novels on Location by creating a shared Google Map to which your students make their contributions. If you do develop your own version of Novels on Location, ask your students to include a short book review in the placemarks that they add to the map.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

Moglue - A Platform for Building Interactive eBooks

Moglue is a platform for creating interactive ebooks that can be viewed on iPads and soon will be available for viewing on Android tablets too. Moglue's creation tools can be used on Windows and Apple computers. I initially reviewed Moglue back in October. Since then it has made a few changes. Moglue is free to use and it is free to download your creations to view on your own device. If you want to publish your ebooks for others to access through the Moglue store or the Apple store, you do have to pay for those options. The video below offers a short overview of Moglue.

Applications for Education
The obvious question when looking at Moglue is, "how is this different from Apple's new iBooks Author?" The answer is, you can use Moglue on Windows computers. So if your school has Windows computers and you were feeling left out when Apple announced iBooks Author, Moglue has a tool that you can use to create your own interactive ebooks too.

You, Google, Ads, Search, and Privacy

As you probably know, Google's privacy policies were recently overhauled. The data that Google collects about your use of their services (including the Chrome web browser) is now shared across all of Google's services. In other words, what you do with Chrome can be shared with Gmail, Google Music, or any of the other Google services you use. Why did they do this? The answer is simple: advertising. Google wants to be able to display the ads that they think will be most relevant to you.

Now, it doesn't bother me that Google thinks I'm a geeky 35-44 year old (they've got my age wrong), but I know that it does bother some people. If it does bother you, there are a couple of simple things that you can do to limit the data that Google collects and shares about you. The obvious thing is to just not use Google products, but that might not be practical for you. And if you think that Google is the only Internet giant collecting data about you, you're wrong. The second thing that you can do is to use Incognito Mode if you are using the Chrome web browser. To stop display advertising from being targeted directly at you you can opt out of display ad networks. You can also opt out of targeted ads in Gmail and Search.

Here's a video about privacy in the Chrome web browser.

If you want to opt out of personalized search display there are two ways you can do this. First, don't log into your Google account before searching. Second, if you are logged into your Google account when you search you can quickly disable personalized results. See the screen capture below for directions.

AudioLiterate - Stream and Download Audiobooks

AudioLiterate is a new website offering free and paid audiobooks that you can listen to online or download to listen to on your favorite device. You can locate audiobooks on AudioLiterate according to author, genre, price, or title. The free audiobooks can be streamed chapter by chapter directly from AudioLiterate. The free audiobooks come from public domain sources.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some audiobooks to support your students' reading of classics like Tom Sawyer, Aesop's Fables, or Treasure Island, AudioLiterate could be a great resource to bookmark.

Here are some other good sources of free audiobooks that I've reviewed:
Books Should Be Free
Lit 2 Go
Open Culture's audiobook collection
Open Library

The Nature of Things - Man, Dog, and Genetics

The cover story of the February issue of National Geographic is all about dogs and the genetics that create so many variations of looks and sizes in dogs. The online article and photo gallery is packed with interesting bits of information about man's best friend. Reading the article (I still get the print edition delivered to my home every month) reminded me of this documentary that I watched on Snag Films a few years ago.

The Nature of Things: Man and Dog, An Evolving Partnership is a 45 minute look at the evolution of dogs from wild pack animals to domesticated companions bred for specific purposes. A preview of the documentary is embedded below.

Seven Alternatives to Picnik

Last week Google announced another round of service and product closures. The popular image editing tool Picnik was included in the list of services that they're shutting down. I've had a few people ask me for recommendations for alternatives to Picnik, so here's a short list of alternatives to explore.

Aviary offers the most complete set of image creation and editing tools of all the services on this list. Aviary provides tools for editing the colors, size, shadows, and other effects of existing images. If creating images from scratch is what you want to do, Aviary can accommodate you too. Aviary provides tools for creating logos, working with vectors, and creating free hand illustrations. If you are a Google Apps for Education school, Aviary can be added to your suite of services to allow students to save their works within their Google Apps accounts.

Picozu is a free online image editing tool. Using Picozu you can touch-up existing images or you can create new images from scratch. In the Picozu editor you will find tools for adjusting color saturation and clarity. The editor also includes tools for creating images containing multiple layers. And if you want to include text in your image Picozu has options for that too. Picozu offers the option to register and join their community or you can use the editing tools without creating an account. If you do choose to create an account you can save your images on Picozu and add them to the community albums. If choose not to create a Picozu you can save your images to your computer, send them to your Facebook account, or send them to your Dropbox account.

Picfull is a free online photo editing service. To use the service just upload a picture and select an effect to add to it.  Picfull offers eighteen basic sets of effects. After you select an effect you can customize it to your liking. When you're finished altering your photo you can download or share it via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Pixlr offers a great set of image creation and editing tools. Pixlr offers web-based image editing tools as well as image editing tools to use on Android phones and on iPhones. Pixlr also has Firefox and Chrome browser extensions for creating screen captures.

Pixlr Editor is Pixlr's most full-featured image creation and editing tool. You can create drawings from scratch using the pencil and coloring tools that they provide. Pixlr Editor also has options for uploading images or importing images from other places on the web. The selection of creation and editing tools is huge. There are options for making multiple layer images, dozens of filter settings, and of course tools for cropping and resizing images. Your images can be saved to your computer or you can send them to Flickr, Picassa, Facebook, or you can save them in a Pixlr account.

Pixlr Express is a simple tool for quick resizing of images and color editing of images. If you already have an image on your computer or in an online album that you just want to touch-up a bit, Pixlr Express is the tool for you.

Pixlr Grabber is Pixlr's screen capture tool. You can install Pixlr Grabber in Chrome or Firefox. Using Pixlr Grabber you can capture your screen, crop the screen image, and print what you like. You can also send the image to Pixlr Editor for further editing options.

Pixlr-o-Matic is the Pixlr's mobile app for Android and iOS. With the app installed you can take a picture and apply a variety of neat effects to the image. You can also use Pixlr-o-Matic for simple cropping and resizing before sending your picture to a friend or to an online album.

FlauntR is a suite of free, web-based image editing tools. There are five tools included in the FlauntR package. In EditR you can touch-up your digital photos. StylR allows you to apply digital effects like backgrounds and frames to you images. PicasR gives you the ability to blend colors, effects, and images. TextR can be used to add text and banners to your images. And PrintR provides a postcard, poster, and printing service (you do have to pay for the printing). Once you've registered for FlauntR you can easily transition between each of the editing services within the suite. To transition between services simply click on the tabs at the top of the page, you're not required to log into each service separately. The images you edit can be sourced from your computer, Flickr, Facebook, or the web. You can also choose images from Picasa, Bebo, or use the sample images provided by FlauntR.

GooEdit is a free image editing tool that operates as a Google Chrome extension. GooEdit allows you to edit images without having to leave your browser. You can add outlines, flip images, resize images, and do other basic image editing tasks in GooEdit. If you need a simple image editing tool for your students, give GooEdit a try.

Psykopaint is an image editing tool that uses the color schemes in your existing images to provide you with a custom palate of colors for  touching-up your images. You can also use Psykopaint to draw on an image. To use Psykopaint just upload an image and begin editing. You can adjust the color saturation of an image, blur the edges of your image or the objects within your images. Psykopaint provides a good selection of brushes and color blending tools to get your image looking exactly the way you want it to look.