Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I should be studying

Yes, I should be reading from my textbook. I will, this week it is graphic file formats. I am quite familiar with .jpg, .tif and .png files. Believe it or not, I have not used .gif files very much, though that will no doubt change to a degree. But while viewing the blog on my Droid phone I spotted an older typo that I had accidentally overlooked, so I logged in to make the correction.

Now that fall classes have started I am taking formal training in MS Office, even though I have used some of the suite for a number of years. I'm learning much more than I anticipated, but doing OK. My other class is an upgrade class focusing on building an online portfolio. Since I went live with my web site in June, my portfolio is already functioning, so I am expanding mine, by adding a link to a biographical/profile page that will discuss a bit about myself, and some of my experiences both outside and in graphic design. Part of my reasoning is that at the moment I like my web site design,and want to keep the format for now. My approach will allow me to add or subtract or even delete completely if I choose, the biographical page, without forcing a complete redo of the web site.

Now I need to decide what I want to say about myself. And of course, I don't know what the ending will be like yet.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My web site is up

This week was a big week for me. I launched my first real web site, .

In a way this served as a graduation ceremony, in that a year ago I struggled trying to read and understand a Deamweaver text book. But, enrolling in a formal class headed by a very enthusiastic and dedicated instructor payed off.

She is the same instructor that taught the WEB2.0 class that resulted in my blog. I will always thank her for her help and continued support.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My spring semester ended two weeks ago, and I am happy to report that I have earned a 4.0 GPA since returning to school to study web design. I am proud of that fact, mainly because so many individuals seem to believe that those of us who would be labeled baby boomers are pretty much dinosaurs. I personally am not ready to accept that point of view, at least not entirely.

I am told a successful blogger focuses on subject matter that they feel passionate about, and that others would find interesting. So often bloggers want to make political statements. I don't care to just become one of so many others. Besides, my political views are not original. In fact I would call them traditional, and not really profound.

Since my WEB105 class has been completed it also means that the original purpose for my beginning my blog has been fulfilled. I have the choice of simply ending it now, or continuing either in the same direction, or to redirect the blog in another direction. For now I think I will simply use it to comment on subjects related to the economy, technology and my thoughts on building a small freelance business. Who knows how long I'll continue.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Podcasting - Another Unexplored Territory

This evening we explored podcasting. For a number of reasons I have not explored this area, partly because I just have not had a reason to look into it, partly because I just have been busy with other responsibilities, and partly because I am not always aware of new technology.

However, by nature I tend to become interested in new things, sometimes unexpectantly. In the case of podcasting, I would be willing to look into it at sometime in the future. As I have mentioned in the past, the main reasons I adopt new technologies, is if I see a practical need for it. But I also admit that unless I take the time to explore something new, I wouldn't know if I have a practical use.

So sometime in the future, I promise to explore and broaden my technical horizons once again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What’s New in Sites for College Students

This title is misleading, in that just about all the sites that we explored have value far beyond the scope of college students. I would say that at least one site in particular has value for grade school students, higher education students and adults of all ages.
This is a pretty interesting site. provides reviews on just about any subject for many cities and regions in the US. The reviews are written and submitted by average people, not necessarily professional reviewers. In addition, the reviews are both positive or negative.

That being said, I think that reviews of any kind can provide helpful guidance, but should be taken with a certain grain of salt. I never know for sure when a review is from a biased individual, who may be submitting a glowing report or a damning review for personal reasons. is the official website for the Newseum in Washington D.C. This is a real museum dedicated to the subject of news events. Whether it is a historical or current (soon to be historic) event, the Newseum covers it. This is another great tool for school children to learn about our past history, with a high tech 21st century approach. It seems to me that way too many people of all ages have a dislike for history. This is very sad, because the old saying that history can repeat itself is quite true. Not knowing world history guarantees that our society will eventually make the same blunders of our past over and over again.

The Newseum covers serious subjects, announcements for upcoming lecture programs, educational programs, exhibits and even a fun page. Make sure you check out "THE NEWS COMES TO LIFE", featuring the Monty Python like routine of Winston Churchill, F.D.R. and Joe Stalin conversing on a park bench.

This is a great site that I highly recommend to everyone, and I will be visiting it many times in the future.
Do you want a way to convert text files into the audio spoken word? can help you. This is not a free service, but it does provide a niche service for those who have a need of aids for individuals with vision impairment or for podcasting. and provides a free service for off site storage and file sharing of up to 5GB of information. This is a convenient way to send files to clients who do not have an FTP sits, or have e-mail file size restrictions. Just be careful what you upload, because Microsoft will also have access to the information. provides a similar service as and while it is free in a limited "Lite" version (100MB file limit) for individuals, there are business level accounts offered for professionals and corporations.

It all depends on what an individual needs. Ironically, I became aware of not long ago, while working on a freelance assignment. We had problems sending large photo files due to email limits. I had even tried setting up a wiki as a file transfer aid to the client, but they had firewall difficulties with their IT. In any event my contact mentioned it, which is how I became aware. Perhaps or could have solved our problems.

I am getting Googled out

As much as we seem surrounded by Google sites, not just the search engine or their variants of the social networking/chat/communication services, but there is even more to offer.

Last week we looked into 3 of their additional offerings, Google Translate, Google Finance, and Google Maps.

Google Translate
I had a opportunity not long ago to chat with a friend in Europe. In the process I decided to look for some online translation aids. I found an educational site that actually grouped a number of similar offerings from different providers, all on the same page, that the user could choose from. Google Translate was one. I tried a few of the others, but I thought that the Google version was the easiest to use and understand

The user simply chooses the 2 languages that they want to translate from and into, type or paste in the words or sentences that they want translated, and click to proceed. Once the first sentence has been completed, all the following is done automatically. There is a feature to allow reverse translating, for online conferences. It is a great aid for those of us who did not have an opportunity to learn a second or third language, and may need help from time to time. This is especially true these days with the www. connecting the whole world together instantly.

This system is not foolproof, but it is functional. My buddy told me that some of my translations where not entirely correct in the chosen language, so as a test I tried translating the same material back and forth between languages. Sometimes the results where pretty funny. So as a word of advice, double check your work when possible to avoid problems in international diplomacy.

Google Finance
I am a dummy in reading and understanding financial calculations, growth charts and reports. That's one reason I have stuck with the same financial counselor for a great number of years. Not only is Bill a great person to do business with, but he takes time to help explain to the lay person what is what. Every time I visit him at his office, he has MSNBC on with the business stock ticker running. Its amazing that he understands all the codes figures.

For me, I have learned enough so that every month when we get our IRA investment statements, I can go right to the bottom line and see what we are worth from last month to this month. I'm sure that Bill would know exactly how to use Google Finance efficiently to enhance his job. For me the lay person, I might use it to get a sense as to the stability of XYZ company before investing in it or its business sector. Or if I had an opportunity to work for or do business with a firm, to do research ahead of time.

Google Maps
Up to now I have used only Map Quest to map out directions to destinations that I am unfamiliar with. Google Maps goes even better. It can provide directions, by car, public transit, walking and bicycle to just about any local destination you need. In addition, through GPS, satellite imaging, and street level photo coverage, Google Maps allow the user to visit just about any well known location around the world. We looked at the Taj Majal, Mt. Everest, Niagara Falls, Vt. Vernon, VA, and 221b Baker Street, London.

Google Maps can provide not only travel directions, but as an educational aid, a way to visit famous geographical and historical locations. I wish I had had access to this aid when I was a grade school student. I am a history enthusiast, and I think my knowledge would have been enriched even more, and my grades much improved.

Some requests are beyond the capabilities of Google Maps though. Just for fun, I tried to get a map and public transportation instructions from Chicago, Illinois, USA to Bucharesti, Romania. Google Maps could not help me. At least not yet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Google Chrome

This past week in class we explored the Google Chrome internet browser. While generally it is just another browser, in the limited time I have worked with Google Chrome, it has been pretty stable on my main home computer. Of course my computer of choice is an Apple Imac, so perhaps that helps add to my sense of stability.

One of the features that we looked at the most was the map reference. There is both Google Maps, and Google World. Using both is fun, but with the integration of GPS features, and satellite photo coverage, they can be useful not only for simple way finding, or as a teaching aid in school. I think both history and geography instruction would be benefit greatly. When I was a young student, we read and learned about George Washington and his famous home. It would have been really fun and interesting to be able to see Mount Vernon via Google Wave. Or what about the Pyramids, or to climb Mount Everest, in the morning before lunch period?

I am sure some instructors are using the new technology, but many more should also start working with it. History may be history, but learning about it can be fun and interesting.

One interesting point that was made in class is that the map features have been at the base of international controversy over national security. Some countries do not like, or openly oppose the availability of satellite images of their territories. I suppose that is quite understandable. Yet today I came across a news item that The City of Chicago has a larger installed interconnected camera surveillance system than any city in the United States? That includes both private installations and public, including traffic intersections. So if it OK for big brother to watch us, who monitors big brother? And that brings us back to who owns private Internet property rights?

One other related news item that I stumbled on was from

On Tuesday, a Washington, D.C., Circuit Court unanimously squashed the current administration's attempts to control the Internet. The court "unanimously made it clear the government has no business interfering with Internet providers' network management".

"Government would love to get its hands on cyberspace. And it wants eventually to tax it, of course...... But cyberspace is also where millions exchange information and viewpoints — some of them hostile to those in power".