Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fun on Friday #61: Windows 7

Those who know how much I love my MacBook might be surprised by the title of this post. They may be even more surprised when I say this post features an advert for Windows 7.

Before I go any further though, just to put your mind at rest, I should say that I absolutely hate the current crop of Windows adverts. The "I'm a PC and Windows 7 was my idea." tag line really gets up my nose. To me, it comes across as both smug and naff.

That's why I was pleased to see that a group called College Humor have produced a spoof of the Windows advert. (Note: It includes a slightly risqué bit.):

I saw this on the Mashable site (Windows 7 Commercial Gets the Perfect Parody) where they also embed the original advert.

{In the interest of balance, I don't like the "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC" adverts either. It seems to me that the PC has all the funniest lines which makes me want to buy a PC - I guess that wasn't the intended effect!}

What is your least favourite advert at the moment? What advert would you like to see spoofed?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TeachMeet Student Edition - Glasgow

It's officially launched. #tmseg10 That is, TeachMeet Student Edition - Glasgow for 2010.

I've tried to get some interest in making up puns on my Music site but so far without success. However, people have already started adding their names to the wiki and the #tmseg10 hashtag is being used, so I think TeachMeet will be more successful than PunMeet!

I think Iain's TeachMeet research is really interesting, where he has invited people to sum up their thoughts on TeachMeet in 140 characters or less. You can do a Twitter Search on #tmtwt to see what people are saying. A few that have already leapt out at me are:
"Ordinary people talking about inspirational things in a welcoming, non-intimidating, positive, passionate atmosphere." -- From Sarah;

"Teachmeet helped me understand that you don't have to be an expert to have something to share. You don't even have to be a geek!" -- From Lisbo;
"Proof that we always have something new to learn and something new to teach… and that not all teachers are cynical!" -- From Neil.
Last year's TeachMeet Student edition went really well. I hope to see a whole new crowd this year talking, sharing... and not being cynical.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fun on Friday #60: Taylor Mali

I was surprised to discover that I have never written about Taylor Mali here before. He is a performance poet and it's probably best to let him speak for himself:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

He was (is?) a teacher and decided he would try and recruit 1000 new people to the teaching profession. This poem was a part of that campaign.

Have a look on YouTube as there are other poems of his available there including one on proofreading.

What is your favourite poem of his? Or are there any other performance poets out there that are worth looking at?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Copyright Confusion

The more I think about copyright, and in particular the use of video in schools, the more confused I get. I know enough to know that it's complicated and that I don't understand it. This post is therefore an exploration of my ignorance and I'd be grateful to anyone who can shed any light: preferably by referring me to trustworthy sources of information that can be understood by non-lawyers!

Copyright is for Losers
Originally uploaded by 917press
Using YouTube
The genesis of this post came from a series of exchanges on Twitter prompted by David Noble asking for an easy way to download YouTube videos. There are a few ways to do this and I sent him a link to this javascript solution which I think is one of the easiest: Download YouTube Videos as MP4 Files. However, just because you can downloading the video doesn't mean that you should... or that it's legal to do so.

I asked: YouTube/Copyright is tricky. If it's OK to watch YouTube online in school, is it OK to download and show to get around blocked YT?

Clearly, this is a naive view of copyright, but it feels right. If there are no copyright issues in watching it online (a big if I'll grant you) it seems sensible that you should be able to watch it offline too. Sensible perhaps but legal? Probably not. The problem is, you are making a copy of something without the express permission of the copyright holder. (Implied permission is not sufficient according to the Intellectual Property Rights guru in the university.)

Showing Movies
Even assuming you are not making a copy, or using a pirated copy that someone else has made, you could still be in trouble. Just because you have legally purchased a legit copy of a film on DVD, it doesn't necessarily mean you can show it in school. A typical warning at the start of a film says something like:

Warning: The copyright proprietor has licensed the programme ... for private home use only. Unless otherwise expressly licensed by the copyright proprietor, all other rights are reserved. Use in other locations such as airlines, clubs, coaches, hospitals, hotels, oil rigs, prisons, schools and ships is prohibited unless expressly authorized by the copyright proprietor. ...Any such action establishes liability for a civil action and may give rise to criminal prosecution."

Goodness knows what would happen if you were showing a DVD while taking a school club on a coach and ferry trip to a prison hospital based on an oil rig! Showing the film in school is specifically prohibited and yet legal, commercially purchased DVDs are shown in schools day and daily. Is the copyright law an ass or are we just choosing to ignore it because it suits us to do so?

I know that my dentist pays an annual fee to an industry body so that he can play music in his surgery. Does a similar arrangement exist to allow schools to play commercial DVDs? Even if an arrangement like that exists, is it possible to extend it to something like YouTube where, instead of a few major film/TV producers and a manageable number of independent companies, you have hundreds of thousands of individuals all posting material? I suspect it isn't.

Back to YouTube

A look around YouTube's help section reveals a General Copyright Inquiries: Permission to use videos? page. It says "The rights to any screen shots or footage of third party content on our site are not ours to grant. You would need to follow up with the individual content owners regarding the rights to this footage.", which seems fairly clear. However, Theo directed us to the Terms of Use page where to my mind, things get muddier. He specifically directed us to section 11.2 which says: "YouTube Content may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, or otherwise exploited for any other purpose whatsoever without the prior written consent of YouTube, or YouTube's licensors. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the YouTube Content." That seems clear but to my non-legal mind, it contradicts section 10.2 B: "When you upload or post a User Submission to YouTube, you grant: ... B. to each user of the Website, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, licence to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Submissions to the extent permitted by the functionality of the Website and under these Terms." It's the bit that I've highlighted in bold that confuses me. Undoubtedly, it makes sense to a copyright lawyer but to me, 10.2 says I have a licence to reproduce it but 11.2 says I can't reproduce it. Eh!? I guess it's something to do with the "to the extent permitted by the functionality of the Website" bit.

Of course it gets even worse when YouTube users post something that may not be entirely theirs to publish, for example some of the Lip Dub stuff I referred to in a previous post - their video but someone else's music. Potentially an educationally valuable experience but one that is scuppered as soon as you start worrying about copyright.

No Conclusions
Our brief flurry of activity on Twitter spluttered to a halt with the comments: "It's a tightrope, Spud" from Alan and "...there is sniff of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle about the issue of copyright in ed >how many schools prosecuted?" from John. Not an entirely satisfactory conclusion to either the Twitter conversation or to this (very rambling) post. I'm back where I started - confused.

  1. Is there a simple to understand guide for teachers that addresses some of these issues? What can I do and what can't I do? What are the risks and what are the benefits?
  2. Would it confuse things even further if YouTube was to promote Creative Commons licences for videos the way Flickr does with photographs? (See Free to use... with Flickr.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fun on Friday #59: Sketchfu

Sketchfu is an online painting package but with a twist... or even a few twists. For example, the creation process is captured and can be played back as an animation and people can collaborate on drawings.

View Face at Sketchfu
Make your own drawings at SketchfuMore from this artist at SketchfuShare this drawing from Sketchfu
Learn how to draw cartoons, comics, and anime at Sketchfu!

You don't have to leave the picture open for others to edit (like the one above). If you want, you can protect your work of art and simply let people watch the animation (like the one below).

View MrBear at Sketchfu
Make your own drawings at SketchfuMore from this artist at SketchfuShare this drawing from Sketchfu
Learn how to draw cartoons, comics, and anime at Sketchfu!

Leave comments on my pictures and, as always, if you create something yourself, share it back by letting us know here where it is.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Safer Internet Day

Heard a chap from CEOP on the Today programme this morning but I didn't catch the start and only realised it was Safer Internet Day when I read Terry Freedman's excellent online newsletter, Computers in Classrooms, this morning.

Franci plays maze
Originally uploaded by nico.cavallotto
The problems and issues are obvious (e.g. When the tech becomes unfriendly) but what to do about it isn't always so clear. The CEOP Safer Internet Day site has a number of good resources and ideas that will help. For example, there is a video competition which, apart from anything else, provides an example of the positive use of the Internet since the video competition entries will be posted on YouTube.

I suspect that online safety is an area that is worth revisiting and reminding myself about on a regular basis because, even though I like to think I am fairly knowledgeable about the pitfalls as well as the possibilities of online communication, I can still be caught out on occasion. For example, the theme of this year's day is Think Before You Post and an incident this morning shows I need to think more carefully about what I say online. I sent a tweet to a friend when he said he was at the shops. I asked why he wasn't at school and accused him of truanting... except I used a colloquialism for truanting which is in common use (or at least used to be) in the West Coast of Scotland. Unfortunately, this once innocent term has now acquired adult connotations and I received an unwelcome re-tweet as a result of this alternative interpretation. That'll learn me to Think Before I Post! What I mean to say isn't always what people read into it.

What do you think? Are regular reminders of Internet safety issues a good idea or can they be counter-productive? Are you doing anything for Safer Internet Day?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Fun on Friday #58: Lip Dub

I discovered a whole new world this week - one that I did not even know existed. Lip Dub. Mean anything to you?

I got there by a slightly circuitous route. Stick with me while I explain.

It started with an investigation of Glee. (If you have a teenage daughter, it's hard to avoid Glee.) I came across a flash mob viral advertising campaign for Glee:

In the passing, I think it's interesting that they have taken the Loser symbol of thumb and forefinger on forehead and turned it into a positive advertising symbol. Anyway, I found the video on the Transmedia site (I think a Twitter contact directed me to it). I had a look about the site and discovered the world of Lip Dub! I think this video shows what it's about better than I can explain it:

Stunningly brilliant - and done in a single take! My favourite bit is where the camerman is walking down the stairs and the students are popping up on the escalator.

If you read the post on Transmedia (New Youtube Craze: High School Students Re-dub Music Videos) it links you to a couple of other videos and there are loads out there from schools and colleges with people doing the same sort of thing. (I like the bit at the end of the Shorewood High School video where they act like they are on a roller coaster.)

Finally, I like this lip dub where a chap has gone to an Apple Store and records himself doing a lip dub to one of his own songs... on one of the demonstration laptops. Brilliant!

Do you know of any other lip dubs that I should watch? Has your school had a go?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Glasgow Gathering

I was speaking on the phone recently to Andrew Brown and a number of things came together. We hatched cunning plan but here's some of the things that guided my thinking. (Andrew can explain his own thinking if he's so inclined!)

16 DB ScotsEduBlog
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
I've been talking to people about the next TeachMeet Student Edition recently (see the TeachMeet wiki for details of last year's TeachMeet Student Editon). This led me to think about the origins of TeachMeet and in particular, the excellent summary of the history of the first few meetings that Margaret Vass put together in TeachMeet Beginings. I remembered again that first meeting in Edinburgh - "before we had invented the name" as Margaret says I put it. I had a look through some of my old photos of the Meeting in the Jolly Judge and the meal at Daniel's Bistro afterwards. What I remember most about it is not the Teach but the Meet. The chance for a blether. To meet old friends and make new ones. (For example, I think this was the first time I'd met Andrew Brown.)

I'd also been thinking about a talk Ollie Bray gave to our students recently. Despite the anonymous and ignorant comment some numpty left on his blog, this was a very interesting presentation and, as always when I listen to Ollie, I learned new stuff. In particular this time I was struck by his observation on the meaning of "friend" in the virtual world. Currently I have 460 people I follow on Twitter and apparently 511 people follow me. Some I have met and some that I will probably never meet, some I consider friends and some that are just interesting people to follow.

All this leads me back to my conversation with Andrew on the phone. I had been trying to contact him to arrange to meet him - not a work meeting but to see if he wanted to go to a concert. Unfortunately, that didn't work out but he suggested we should meet up soon anyway. This suggestion quickly grew to become, we should meet on a regular basis and invite anyone else who wants to come to join us. It's not intended as a TeachMeet (although, like that first meeting in Edinburgh, we may talk teaching) but the primary function is social - a chance to meet people face-to-face. To make "friends" just a bit less virtual.

If other people think his is a good idea, at least three things remain to be sorted out:
  1. A time/date? We suggested the last Friday in the month while on the phone but that's problematic for me because it is not always after pay day and it is also the day that my wife's department tend to have their socials! I'd therefore like to suggest the First Friday in the month making March the 5th the date of the inaugural gathering.
  2. The location? Somewhere in Glasgow is a given. Near the town centre for transport would seem sensible but beyond that, I'm open to suggestions. A pub? A coffee shop? A McDonalds?
  3. What are we calling it? My suggestions are The Glasgow Gathering (sounds a bit sinister), the MeatMeet (sounds a bit icky), the GeekMeet (sounds insulting) or I believe that BeerMeet has already been used for some social events. However, I am not the best judge of what makes a good name. I was really keen on ScotEduSlam as name before wiser heads, in the shape of Ewan McIntosh, prevailed and choose TeachMeet instead.
So, what do you think? Good idea or bad idea? Leave me your comments than tell your friends so they can chip in too. Hopefully at least a couple of you are up for it and I'll see you in March!