Category Archives: Site News

Now with fewer features!

circuit boardSteve Dembo made a suggestion, so I decided to follow through. Let it never be said that I fail to cater to every person’s whim!

So what am I talking about? I now have a “lite” RSS feed consisting of just my irregularly scheduled rants. Or, if you so choose, you can subscribe to the “classic” RSS feed that includes my Furl links and Flickr pictures.

Soda? No, I don’t drink much, why do you ask? :)

You may be missing out.

circuit boardLooking at my visitor stats tells me that I’m getting a decent amount of traffic, which is cool, but I’m not sure you’re seeing everything this site has to offer.

You see, whenever I see a cool site that has to do with art, tech, or education I add it to my Furl account. (You can see it sitting there inconspicuously in that left hand column there.) Thanks to Feedburner those of you who have subscribed to my RSS feed can also see my Furled links as soon as I add them, or you can always browse through my old links.

So I might not add full entries every day, but I do add things often. I’ll be adding more images in my flickr account soon as well, but I seem to have hit my monthly quota already.

Free Site Features

circuit boardI’ve added quite a few free things to my web sites over the years, including some new ones quite recently. As such, I decided to take the time to plug each of them for you. After all, you might want to use some if them on your own web pages.Thingamablog: This is a nice open-source blogging program. It’s written in java, so practically any OS can use it. There are some good points and bad points to it, but it creates RSS feeds and it’s customizable so I like it.

Haloscan: One of Thingamablog’s bad points is that it doesn’t support comment or trackback codes, so I signed up with Haloscan to add them.

eXTReMe Tracking: Of course everyone needs their ego inflated now and then, so I use eXTReMe Tracking to tell me from where my visitors are coming. I’ve been using this free service for years and I’m very happy with it.

TrueFresco: Another thing you can do is return the favor to people who link to you. TrueFresco allows you to do that instantly, but I only recommend it if you already have a lot of incoming traffic. If you don’t, it might be a little embarrassing.

Furl: There are a few services out there that allow you to bookmark sites for future reference – like a web browser does it, but better because you can check them out at any computer. Some people like del.icio.us more, but I like how Furl has extra features.

Flickr: A lot of the bloggers I’m reading nowadays have Flickr accounts to show off their pictures, so since I’m an Art teacher I said “Why not?” I haven’t fully integrated it into my site yet, but right now I have 22 pictures uploaded onto my account. (Sorry, no pictures of students. I refuse to do that without parental permission.)

Feedburner: This service is only useful to you if your site generates an RSS feed, but if your site doesn’t then you should really think about adding it. It allows you to maintain the same RSS address in spite of a change of web URL, track to see how many subscribers you have, and even incorporate your Furl, del.icio.us Flickr, and Bloglines Clip Blogs into the same RSS feed.

WebAlias: Sometimes, having an incredibly long and hard to remember web address can be a bit of a problem. I use WebAlias to create a new, more memorable URL and forward visitors to my site through that. It causes some slight but acceptable problems, such as a small pop-up, but you’re already using a web browser with built in pop-up blocking, right?

Bravenet: I use Bravenet for it’s free web counter service, but they’ve got all kinds of site tutorials, services, and add-ons. If you’re creating a web site on a small or nonexistant budget, then you should really check this one out.

Foreshadowing?

I’m seriously hooked on listening to podcasts, particularly ones geared towards education – Connected Learning, teach42, & Teachnology post such wonderful things. Unfortunately a 64 meg card only holds so much. Sure, I could buy a a new card for my Palm Tungsten E, but I’ve been thinking about getting a new MP3 player for a while.After a little bit of research, I found this little beauty. Not a bad price for the storage space, and get this:

It has a built in microphone.

Could podcasts of my own be in my future?

Could be.

I’m relatively famous!

Browser Window pixA while back I fired off an email to Steve Dembo of teach42.com about several things, including a mysterious person named GCPS who was posting all kinds of useful educational links on a regular basis.

At first Mr. Dembo and myself were both under the impression that GCPS was a person who was just very, very helpful, but then I got to thinking. You see, I work in Prince George’s County Public Schools, which we often shorten to PGCPS. That made me wonder if the “PS” in GCPS meant “Public Schools” as well. One Google search later and I found this site. Looks like my hunch was right.

So why am I famous? Well, that little revelation got me a mention and a link on teach42’s most recent podcast. Mr. Dembo might not think of himself as famous, but someone who has to get paid hosting because over a hundred people are downloading every podcast he does is much more famous than I am.

The term I like to use sometimes is “relative fame,” although I’m still looking for a better name. Everyone’s famous to someone, even more so in this wonderful world of education. For example: last month I covered a lunch duty for another teacher. It was Kindergarten and 1st grade. You should have seen it! Half the kids were waving and telling their classmates “The Art Guy’s here!” (As if my ego wasn’t inflated enough already.) To them the art teacher is a celebrity, more so than Dan Rather, Ted Turner, Clarence Thomas, or many other household names that we adults know.

On the other side of the coin I’m a nobody to most other people outside my four schools, but that’s ok. I don’t NEED to be famous to everyone. I don’t NEED to be a household name. If I wanted to be, I wouldn’t have chosen teaching as a career. I’m doing this because I love to do it, and because it pays the bills.

I may not need it, but I have noticed that fame can be very encouraging. The kids are always glad to see me, and I feed off of that energy every time I walk through a classroom door. I grew up a bookish introvert, but in the classroom I let my extroverted inner child out to play. I know I’ve had a good lesson when even the classroom teacher cracks a grin at my dry humor or, better yet, joins in and makes an artwork along with the rest of the class.

Well that’s enough ranting for now – I’m off to check the RSS feeds of people who may not be famous to you, but they most certainly are famous to me.