Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Goggles at the Zoo

Holding a Staff Conference in a zoo was, of course, bound to lead to a few jokes but what a great place! Whilst networking between sessions has its value, we did, actually have plenty of time to chat over lunch and on a mild autumn day it didn't seem to have as much value as wandering around and finding muntjacks crossing the path or ring tailed lemurs on the other side of a hedge. Add an ape or two, owls and some other exotic birds and some good exercise and you had a good reason to leave the discussions for a while.

Still remembering the Google Goggles presentation from a few days ago at the E-learning Forum this was also a great opportunity to put it to the test. I mean, I had no idea what the muntjack were but Google Goggles told me. This was the first time I'd used the software which had gradually downloaded itself the day before when I was in an area with a rather better connection than I have at home. It really is dead simple to get for Android users, taking care of its own download and installation with little more than the occasional tap on OK - and it's free. I had no idea how to work it but needn't have worried. You just tap the icon and it fires up instantly, presenting you with a camera like view and, assuming the camera's pointing in the right direction, another tap on an icon takes a snap and sets off the scanner. The scanner is a blue faded line that whooshes across the screen (and up and down sometimes too for reasons best known to itself). That takes a while and, once it's done you get told either that it doesn't recognise what you and it have seen or it does and then provides a bundle of similar images and some data which can be clicked to provide whatever else you want to know.

I clearly need more practice at aiming as most of my efforts, especially the ones where others were watching and I was hoping to show off , produced the unrecognised response. So more about that when I get a bit more success and maybe stop shaking when I press the buttons!

Unless I had something else running that I wasn't aware of it does seem to eat into my battery life, though and, from a full charge in the morning the bleep that tells me it's shutting down through lack of power (and, frustratingly, doesn't give me any time to grab a charger and do the decent thing to revive it) comes at about 7pm. That's not too good. Just as well I didn't make any calls or use the phone to make notes or do any research during the day or I'd have been lucky to make it home.

Something else I discovered after almost a year with this phone was that I could zoom in on things with the normal camera. I feel such a fool and must have missed, or not bothered taking, loads of potentially good snaps before! I had an ape in view and accidentally pressed what would normally be the volume control. And I'm now staring the fellow in the eye as if I'm a few inches away! Remarkable.

Some interesting developments with FE on the horizon and, for the first time for a while, I have some real hope that I may have a chance to express some views and constructive suggestions and actually have them considered. More on that another time. For now I have to deal with the problems that Staff Conference days do bring: 34 new e-mails to do something with (and that's after archiving those that are just for reading some day), figuring out what a new HNC course is all about and gathering enough information to ensure that I appear reasonably informed for a new group starting tomorrow and assorted personal matters like advising on increasingly difficult children's homework (I have already abandoned hope of being any use at all on my 15 year old daughter's Biology and Chemistry is virtually at the edge of my comprehension too). I seem to recall that the Khan Academy had some courses - looks like I'll be going back to school there again soon! Then there's the matter of liaising with the nice Edufire people who want me to do a Helping Students Succeed course soon, following up on a bundle of interested enquiries about my Staff ICT Skills Audit and then there's the E-learning Consortium to set up. Twitter and Google+ will ahve to wait another day by the seems of it. Hope I'm not missing too much. They have become my Daily News. Oh, and I nearly forgot ... dinner.

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