Open Thinkering


Things I Learned This Week – #34

This week I learned that seagulls are carnivorous (I saw one eating a pigeon), that trying to escape via a nettle-strewn path when playing ‘capture the flag’ is foolish, and that this season is going to be pretty much the same as the last for Sunderland


  • Mail merging is one of those things that you have to do even if you don’t particularly want to. Here’s how to do it in Google Docs.
  • Ribbon Hero is a game that helps you learn the Microsoft Office 2007/2010 toolbar. Which is great, but it would be even better if they designed it so it was intuitive…
  • In a fairly genius move, Wikileaks has encrypted extremely sensitive files which would be accessible if a password is distributed. This gets around various ways they could be prosecuted, as I understand it.
  • I admit to only having read the abstract, but apparently the allocation of avatars has a ‘priming effect’ – e.g. giving someone a Ku Klux Klan avatar makes them behave differently than giving them a different, more neutral one.
  • I’m well into my mobile tech stuff at the moment, which is why this Mashable guide to making web apps act like native apps is right up my street! 🙂

Productivity & Inspiration


Debates over terminology and semantics are for archivists and academics. If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.

Education & Academic

  • Will Richardson is great at explaining why we need to change the way we teach. His post Unlearning Teaching is no exception.
  • Phil Beadle, the self-proclaimed “world’s best teacher” (or somesuch) reckons that the scrapping of various schemes in education is a bad thing. I fail to see how funding being cut for Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) is a bad thing, however. Many schools were using them for teachers on the cheap (even though they weren’t supposed to…)
  • Got an iPad and/or wondering how you can use it in the classroom? Check out (and contribute to) the Teach With Your iPad wiki!
  • Sometimes you don’t need to even set up a ‘strawman’ against which to put your arguments regarding technology in education. Luddites like Nick Carr actually exist. Technology makes students worse at out-of-date tests? Boo-hoo.
  • Lars Hyland claims, rather controversially, that school manages to teach only four years of knowledge in a twelve year period. I feel there’s an element of truth in there somewhere.

Data, Design & Infographics

  • Ffffound! is for image bookmarking. No, not that type of image bookmarking. Inspirational, designy stuff. 😀
  • Designing for touchscreens? Here’s 5 things to consider.


  • It’s a bit old-school, but this pseudo-Dr. Seuss explanation of computers made me laugh.
  • This also made me chuckle:

  • It turns out that if you slow down Justin Bieber by a factor of 800x it produces wonderful Sigur Ros-esque music!
  • shows the apps on the iPhone home screens of well-known designers, developers and tech writers.
  • Note and Point lives up to its strapline of ‘killer slide decks’. Not only fantastic designs but wonderful content. My favourite by far is Good vs Great Design by Cameron Moll. I learned so much by going through his presentation!


A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. (David Brinkley)

The shortest distance between two people is a laugh. (Victor Borge)

To make a mountain of your life is just a choice. (Nada Surf)

Filthy water cannot be washed. (African Proverb)

All progress occurs because people dare to be different. Harry Millner)

Main image CC BY-NC-SA Josh Libatique

2 thoughts on “Things I Learned This Week – #34

  1. Hi Doug,

    Great post. I have a copy of the Dr Seuss poem up on my office wall. It makes me laugh when things aren’t going to plan. Notational Velocity does look good – I’ve just downloaded it. Thanks for the link.

    I’ve been using the League of Movable Type for student Media projects for a year now – I can recommend them wholeheartedly.

    All the best,


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