Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sliderocket: A PowerPoint killer?

About once a week I'll do some nternet searching for new cloud computing applications. This past week I discovered an excellent online Presentation app. called Sliderocket which is a rich internet application (RIA). In case your wondering, RIAs are apps. that are pretty close in features to desktop rivals. So, I decided to Sliderocket a try and signed up for a free account. Getting used to the layout took a while, but after ~15 mins I could locate most things. The layout of templates and presentations is done very well, the use of a black background took a while to get used to but I like it. Since there is so much in this application, I've decided to sum it up with a bulleted list:
  • Flash movies and videos can be uploaded.
  • Shape selection is limited, but they can be rotated and edited.
  • Various charts/tables can be added and edited, tables can be linked to Google Spreadsheets (super cool). 
  • Ability to adjust object opacity
  • Excellent selection of font editing options. 
  • Various effects such as reflection can be added to objects
  • Animations, referred to as builds, can be added. The selection is limited but the better ones are available. 
  • Custom bullets (excellent selection)
  • PowerPoint slides can be imported. They are working on the ability to export to .ppt
  • Editing is fast with minimal delays (done with Google Chrome).
  • Ability to see revision history (not available with free version)
  • Offline player (not available with free version)
  • Ability to share and collaborate with others.
  • Viewing/usage stats for each presentation.
  • Storage of 250 MB, paid versions increase to 1 GB
I think this can definitely take down Microsoft PowerPoint. It has everything and is done online, from any computer. All thats required is Adobe Flash Player 9, which is free. Sliderocket is definitely a hit, go give it a try and let me know what you think. 

Thursday, 27 November 2008

YouTube and the Classroom

Most of you have probably already heard that YouTube increased the page width to 960 pixels, and most are probably thinking that a lot more full length films will be available for viewing on YouTube. What I've been doing for the past3 months with this wonderful product of the web is showing videos, which may be short video clips or animations, to the group(s) of student that I teach. There is just a ton of good educational content on there, and its all free, which is much better than paying $90 for a 15 minute film through an educational science supply store. I created a playlist, which I made public, then embedded this on the course website which is done with Google Sites. Some of the videos aren't allowed to be embedded, so I just added a link to the playlist. Now the students can watch whatever videos they viewed whenever they want to instead of only being able to view it just in class. Way to go YouTube!!!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Official Google Blog: Lively no more

Just got this from the Official Google Blog, Lively will be canceled at the end of this year. I tried it when it was first released, but never went back afterwards, I guess a lot of people did the same. It was sort of slow and clunky, and maybe some "facebook-like" features should of been added.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Updates to Google Docs Spreadsheets

There has been a few updates to Google Docs Spreadsheets. These include a new View menu on the toolbar that has an option to view the Formula bar (see screen below), new options in the edit menu (move column/delete column), new color coding of cells for copy/paste, new revisions formatting, plus some bug fixes. Keep the updates coming Google Docs (we need some in Presentations!!). 

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sketchup 7 and Layout 2

Today, new versions of Sketchup (3D modeling) and Layout were released, and they look amazing. I started using Sketchup this past summer, it is easy to get started, has many advanced options, and there is a great 3D warehouse of models. If you are an educator, you maybe able to get an educational discount, which means you'll get the $500 pro version for free, which I have. I just love how Google supports the educational system. My plans for Sketchup and Layout are to create 3D models and figures for my lab manual (replace the 2D ones), and hopefully avoid the use of the advanced, but very confusing Corel Draw. Check out the video below for the new Sketchup features. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Price of Oil

I am totally amazed by the downturn in the world's economy. It is sort of like a snowball effect, when things go bad, they get really bad, when things go good, they get really good. One major part of this snowball is crude oil. The price has dropped by ~90 bucks since mid-July, and to help people keep track of this I added a crude oil price gadget that I obtained from  To install this, I just copied the code from the Oil Dashboard menu and pasted it into a Java/HTML gadget in blogger layout. I have it placed on my blog just below the blog archive. Enjoy!!!

Visit the Romans with Google Earth

Google is about to add an ancient Rome as a layer in Google Earth. This layer contains 6700 3D buildings (wowzers!!) and 250 placemarks, all created by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities!! Along with this, Google has created an Ancient Rome 3D Curriculum Competition. Check out the video below to see this in action.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Gmail Has Voice and Video Chat!!

Gmail just keeps getting better and better!! Today, Gmail has voice and video chat built available inside of it. First of all, you will need to download the plugin. After this you will need to click on the "Video and More" button, the rest of the details on actual chatting are given in the video below. It should be noted that this video chat uses standards such as XMPP and H.264, and that it should be available to all users within the next day (not available on my account yet). 

Monday, 10 November 2008

Is YouTube Going to Stream Full Major Motion Pictures?

Yes, according to anonymous entertainment execs that spoke to CNET news. Apparently, it is supposed to be very similar to the Hulu site which allows users to view ad-supported movies, note that this is only available to people in the US. The informants also hint that it may be available by January 2009, which means we'll get it up here in Canada in January 2012. 

Update (10/11/2008): MGM has just signed up with YouTube to provide films. It should be noted that YouTube already has deals with Lionsgate and CBS. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A Win for White Space

It looks like Google's rallying to open up the "white spaces" has paid off. The FCC voted and agreed with a 5-0 shutout vote that the unused airwaves between broadcast TV channels will be opened up for wireless broadband service for the public. In the official Google blog post, they mention about future Wi-Fi and how it will have greater coverage and refer to this as Wi-Fi on steroids. Hopefully we will see a similar think up here in Canada.