Tag: OpenOffice.org

A Week of Divesting: Software

N.B. If the makers of any of the software I mention are reading, this is a metaphorical post invoking artistic license…

Pirated softwareImage by ONT Design @ Flickr

I used to have an objection to people making money from non-physical things such as software programs. After all, they can be reproduced perfectly and cost virtually nothing to distribute – yet end users are often  charged a fortune. This objection vanished recently after a couple of things happened…

First, I secured my new position as Director of E-Learning. This means that my livelihood is dependent upon the work of others: no e-learning hardware and software equals no job for Doug! More than that, though, the producers of such things are dependent upon me. Without schools and academies buying their products, they would not have the money to employ staff. This got me thinking about the economy (especially because of the recession), and about whether the ‘free lunch’ we’ve been getting through Web 2.0 tools was sustainable.

Second, a couple of months ago I listened to a debate on the radio about huge pharmaceutical companies and the price they charge for drugs that treat Swine Flu. The debate included discussion about treatments for HIV and I came away realising that the pharmaceutical companies aren’t all bad. They invest literally billions of dollars into researching these treatments which, after all, greatly benefit the human race. They have to recoup these costs. Despite this, in Africa, most drugs are sold at cost price or slightly higher. That got me thinking about ‘hidden costs’ in general, and how companies that produce software also have costs that they need to recoup.

I’ve had dodgy versions of software ever since I can remember. In fact, I can remember as an 18-year-old pretty much everything on my Windows-powered computer being pirated. This has changed over the last 10 years, however: there’s only a couple of programs that I’ve refused to pay hundreds of pounds for yet enjoyed their functionality. None of the programs on the Linux-powered netbook upon which I’m writing this cost anything, so I’m alright there. However, on my Macbook Pro, I’ve substituted the following for Open Source Software:

The rest of the software I use, from CD/DVD burning (SimplyBurns) to FTP programs (Cyberduck/FileZilla) are free to use.

So really, this post is about ‘coming clean’, about getting rid of the last vestiges. As you can see, it’s not about the fact that I can now afford these programs. It’s about making a decision that it’s either worth the license or its not. And if its not, doing without the functionality. Well, at home at least – I’ll have access to more programs and licenses through the Academy… 🙂

What are YOUR thoughts on this?

If you tweet about this post, don’t forget to include a link back to it so that your tweet can be included under the comments section!

HOWTO: Present using Cooliris (the basics…)

Regular readers of this blog and followers of my tweets will be aware that I’ve recently come across (via Alan Levine 1, 2) a great way to present to an audience using a plugin for the Open Source, cross-platform web browser Firefox.* Cooliris makes your presentations look like an interactive version of this:

(examples available in the Presentations section)

Why use Cooliris as a presentation method?

  • It looks extremely cool and engages your audience
  • It generates HTML pages for your images so you can quickly and easily put your presentation slides online
  • It’s free (if you use something like OpenOffice.org to create your images)
  • It can be controlled using a Nintendo Wiimote (I use Darwiin Remote with my Macbook Pro)

The purpose of this post is to show how to create a basic presentation with Cooliris, and then how to enable the more advanced features. 😀

Cooliris: the basics

The basic steps are: export your slides as images, import them into PicLens Publisher, and then upload generated folder to web server (optional, as you can run it locally from your hard disk)

1. Export your slides as images

Keynote (click to enlarge):

Keynote - Export (thumb) Keynote - filetype (small)

Powerpoint (click to enlarge):

Powerpoint - Save as Pictures Powerpoint - Image options

OpenOffice.org (click to enlarge):

OpenOffice.org - Export OpenOffice.org - export format openoffice03_small

OpenOffice.org - HTML format OpenOffice.org - JPG quality Create

As far as I’m aware, although the options would suggest otherwise, there’s no obvious way to export all you slides to images in OpenOffice.org. Instead, we can generate them by creating an HTML version of the presentation which will also create images. As a bonus, this can be uploaded alongside the Cooliris version of the slides for those without the plugin. 🙂

2. Use PicLens Publisher

Cooliris used to be known as ‘PicLens’ – hence the name of PicLens Publisher, a Mac/Windows program that does everything you need to convert your images ready for an interactive Cooliris-powered presentation!

Simply follow the instructions given to you in the program:

PicLens Publisher

Once you’ve finished, go to the folder that you exported your files to and open gallery.html in Firefox (with the Cooliris add-on). You should see an interactive presentation like the ones I produced!

3. Upload your files to a web server (optional)

If you want your presentation to be online, do the following:

  1. Rename the folder containing your PicLens Publisher-created files to something without spaces (e.g. preso)
  2. Rename gallery.html within the preso folder to index.html
  3. Connect to your web server and navigate to where you want the preso folder uploaded to
  4. Upload the preso folder generated by PicLens Publisher to your web server

Upload preso to web server

That’s it! You’ve created your first Cooliris-powered, interactive presentation. Details on how link to websites from your slides, name them, customize the icon at the top, and use a Wiimote to present will feature in a follow up post. 🙂

* Cooliris is also available for Internet Explorer and Safari, but I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to use those… 😉

7 ways to improve your productivity as a teacher

I’m fairly productive. Not outstandingly so, but reasonably. I try to pick up tips for improving my outputs from websites such as Lifehacker, amongst others. What follows is a brief rundown of seven tips for being more productive as a teacher. 😀

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