Wednesday, September 24, 2008

using digital textbook resources

All of our new high school Science textbooks come with a digital edition of the book, available on a CD or the textbook website. These are great to have on your school computer, and perhaps your home computer. Not only can you copy text from these pdf files, but you can also make use of any tables or graphics in your class presentations and such.

I'll assume that you're using the official Adobe Acrobat Reader, even though I recommend Foxit Reader. The process is basically the same for for any pdf reader, to copy text just select the text (you may have to first choose the text select tool or the select tool). You can then paste it into whatever other document you are working on.

To copy a graphic of any sort you want the snapshot tool. With the snapshot tool you just put a box around whatever you want to copy and then paste it into your document. However I would recommend zooming in on the part you want to copy first, because the zoom level of the Acrobat Reader affects the resolution of the copied image.

Note that these tools should certainly not be used to violate copyright law.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the last lecture

You may have seen this before, but I think it's worth mentioning here. A year ago (September 18, 2007), a CMU computing science professor dying of cancer delivered his "last lecture" entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."

If you haven't seen Dr. Pausch's lecture, sit down and watch it. It is inspiring.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

embedding YouTube videos in PowerPoint

When there is an online video that I want to play during a lesson, I like to have it downloaded (or at least cached) ahead of time, so that I know it will work. Having Flash videos play in PowerPoint is very slick and not that difficult, although it does involve a few steps. Unfortunately this only works in the Windows version.

So we'll assume that you have downloaded the video in Flash format. I started to write out the steps, but then decided that the wheel had been invented. So here are instructions from

PowerPoint 2003, 2002, and 2000

To add a Shockwave Flash Object control to a slide, follow these steps:
1. Start PowerPoint, and then locate the slide that you want to insert the control into.
2. If the Control Toolbox is not already visible, point to Toolbars on the View menu, and then click Control Toolbox.
3. In the Control Toolbox, click More Controls (which looks like a hammer and wrench), and then click Shockwave Flash Object.
Note: Shockwave Flash must be installed on your computer for the Shockwave Flash Object to be listed in the Control Toolbox.
4. Draw the control on your slide.  The Shockwave Flash Object ActiveX control now appears on your slide.

To make the Shockwave Flash control play back your Flash animation file, follow these steps:

5. Right-click the inserted Shockwave Flash control, and then click Properties.
6. Click the Movie property. In the Value box, type the full drive path, including the file name (for example, C\:MyFile.swf) to the Flash file that you want to play.
7. Make sure that the Playing property is set to True.

PowerPoint 2007

Make sure that the Flash Player is installed on the computer. Then, follow these steps:
1. In PowerPoint, display in normal view the slide on which you want to play the animation.
2. Click the Microsoft Office Button at the top left, and then click PowerPoint Options.
3. Click Popular, and then click to select the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon check box under Top options for working with PowerPoint, and then click OK.
4. On the Developer tab, click More Controls (which looks like a hammer and wrench) in the Controls group.
5. In the list of controls, click Shockwave Flash Object, click OK, and then drag on the slide to draw the control.
6. Resize the control by dragging the sizing handles.
7. Right-click the Shockwave Flash Object, and then click Properties.
8. On the Alphabetic tab, click the Movie property.
9. In the value column (the blank cell next to Movie), type the full drive path, including the file name (for example, C\:MyFile.swf) to the Flash file that you want to play.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

social bookmarking (or