Archive for the ‘Instructional Technology’ Category

Before you make another purchase online, can you trust that website with your credit card information?

Here are some things to look for:

  • Check your browser’s address bar. Don’t trust the site with your personal information if the web address doesn’t begin with https. Also look for a lock symbol on the address line.
  • Did you arrive at the site by clicking on a link someone sent you via email? Before you enter credit card info, check with the person who sent you the link to make sure it is legitimate.
  • Double check the web address in the address bar. Is it accurate?
  • Does the website display information that makes it more credible such as a physical address or logos of accountability sites like TRUSTe and BBBonline.

None of these, by itself, guarantees your protection from fraud but you can minimize the chances by doing due diligence.





Browsing through computer ads, I see a lot of home computer systems are equipped with a 1 Terabyte hard drive. If you’re like me, that really doesn’t mean much. I have no sense of how much space that is.

Here is a visual illustration. Glancing on my bookshelf, one of the thickest books I own is “War and Peace.” It is availabe as an electronic file on Project Gutenberg. The plain text is 3.1 MB (megabytes). There are 1024 megabytes in 1 gigabyte. So I can fit about 330 War and Peaces on a gigabyte. There are 1024 gigabytes in a terabyte.

So a 1 terabyte drive will hold 337,920 copies of War and Peace.

For a frame of reference, the Kindle store clains to have over 950,000 books most of which are not as big as War and Peace (plus Kindle files are smaller than plain text files). So if I bought every book in the Kindle store (assuming no pictures), I could fit them on three 1 terabyte drives.

Inkjet printers are cheap. They practically give them away. But do they? Here is my attempt to discover exactly what an inkjet printer costs to own and operate:

HP Officejet 4500 – $59.99 on Newegg.

Black ink (200 page yield) costs $13.99

Color ink (360 page yield) costs $24.99

Let’s say I print 2,000 pages for the year, I will buy 10 black cartridges regardless of how much color I print because black is used every page. (10 x $13.99 = $140)

If I use color sparingly but print photographs periodically, I will likely use at least three color cartridges (3 x $24.99 = $75).

Total ink cost for a conservative year of printing on a $50 printer – $215.

Now you know why the printer was so cheap. No, they’re not giving it away.

Day 11:

Can you believe I made the nice list this year? I can prove it –  check out this video: Santa’s video

Greg’s Teacher deal of the day – Just in the Nick of time (get it? – Nick?). Finally, a netbook below $250 again. A netbook is a small notebook (not a book about nets). It has a low-voltage processor and a small screen. It’s handy for traveling, connecting to the Internet and using Office apps – what you use your computer for most of the time.

This one has the usual stuff: card reader, webcam, wireless, 1 gig of memory, 160gig hard drive. The downside is it has a 3 cell battery. That means it will last 2.5 hours between charges at best. Still, if you need to put a computer under the tree, this may be your best bet. I still think prices will come back down after Christmas if you can wait.

Lenovo netbook – $230 and free shipping at Newegg

Greg’s Teacher download of the day – You bought the computer and plugged it into the Internet with NO ANTIVIRUS? And now you’re calling me because you could build a bicycle faster than the thing boots up. (Why is it that when people describe how slow their computer is they feel the need to list all the things they can accomplish before it boots up?)

Here’s my secret to getting the bugs out and it won’t cost you anything but some time.

Download and install Avast. Answer yes to the option to scan at restart. Once it has dealt with your viruses and malware, uninstall it and install Microsoft Security Essentials. This will stay active on your computer and help to prevent further problems.

Avast download

Microsoft Security Essentials download

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – My deals today don’t really have a theme. ADD could be the theme I guess. At any rate. I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself, “Man I wish my shoe had a calendar on it.” Make that dream a reality with Calendar Tape (9.99). Make anything (yes, even your shoe) a calendar. Also, a Math Clock (26.99). Make reading time require a calculator. At least it would require a calculator for the likes of me. And now, for something completely different. A Remote Light Switch (24.95). Turn on/off anything you can plug in. It’s dimable (although I won’t advise dimming that brand new LCD TV you just got) and can attach to a wall if you feel like being pedestrian with your REMOTE switch. It doesn’t support a ground wire (aka that three prong plug thingy), so no refrigerators, computers, etc.

Bryan’s Tech website of the day – You’re staring at your computer wondering where in the web you want to go. Stop puzzling and go to Give it some of your favorite things and it’ll find websites about them! WARNING: Extremely addicting.

Day 10:

Greg’s Teacher deal of the day – Set your phasers to stun! Looking for the ultimate gift for the techno-nerd on your list. He (I’m gender stereotyping but let’s be real, the only woman I’ve ever seen handle a phaser correctly is Uhuru) has to have this for some serious street cred.

Star Trek Original Series Black Handle Phaser – $15

This is the real deal. Notice it’s a black handle phaser. Clearly superior to the blue or green handle phasers. And if you need further support of the authenticity, just read the product reviews from people who have purchased it. (Seriously – you have to read these)

Greg’s Teacher download of the day – Looking for a fun way to review a unit with your class? Trying to make it like a game show to engage the kids? What’s the game show we all try to imitate for this kind of thing? Fear Factor…what? No, no no…. think like you’re over 30. Jeopardy, of course. And I know, in an effort to integrate technology, you’d like to do this with Powerpoint. If only you had step-by-step instructions. Well here they are:

Powerpoint Jeopardy templates and instructions

No more excuses. Get busy.

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Bring a little cheer to your desk with the USB Fiber Optic Christmas Tree (9.99). Plug it in to any USB port and it glows with Christmasy joy.
Bryan’s Tech download of the day – Tired of Outlook running slowly or not at all? Try Thunderbird. It’s made by the same people who make Firefox, the second largest browser in the world. Fast, full featured, and easy to use.

Day 9:

Greg’s Teacher deal o’ the day – For those of you with a drawing hand, Sketchbook allows you to make amazing freehand digital graphics. This is a later version of the very same software that Michelangelo used to paint the Sistine Chapel. The hard part for Michelangelo was getting the printer to work on the ceiling.

Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2010 – $70 at Amazon

You can use the software and draw pictures using a mouse, but to take it to the next level you’ll need a drawing pad. Here’s an entry level candidate.

Wacom Bamboo Drawing Tablet – $59 at Amazon

Greg’s Teacher website of the day –

ToonDoo is a cool, comic-creating tool that allows you to create your own cool comic strips with just a few drag ‘n drops ‘n mouse clicks! Check out the site to see how it can be used for classroom projects, reports, etc.

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Here’s a bluetooth headset with style and function. Noise cancelling and multiple connections make this a good buy.

Samsung WEP850 – Originally $89.99 now $10 ($60 Instant $10 MIR) at Newegg

Bryan’s Tech download of the day – Aviary is a suite of applications that allow you do almost anything with any type of media. Image editing, audio editing, vector images, image effects. Everything but video editing. They also have a good number of tutorials.

Day 8:

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Want a way to liven up that boring Christmas party (besides putting on that rockin’ santa sweater)? Take a look at the Shock Ball (13.99). It’s like hot potato, but with electricity! How “shocking” 😉 ;)! In the description of this next one it says for adults to put this on a kid’s cake, but I’d love to see these on my birthday cake. They’re colored birthday candles (2.99). No, not the boring ones that are just colored wax. The flames are colored! :O. These next three are gifts for those people who are really smart. It’s a way to say, “Yeah, you’re smart, but my gift is smarter.” Put that brainiac in your life in their place. First is the Irregular IQ Cube (9.99). Basically a Rubik’s Cube with a couple of triangles thrown in. Think about that for a second. Now the Megaminx Duodecahedron Puzzle (10.99). Is your brain sizzling yet? Try the V-Cube 7 Supercube (44.99). At that price it’s honestly more of an investment than a toy, but just look at it. Ow. I think I just popped some neurons. Now for mind blowing. The 12 Surface IQ Pentagon (59.99). The picture speaks for itself. That’s what you’ll have to solve in hell.
Bryan’s Tech website of the day – Happy Hanukkah!! Here’s a Dreidel website. Hours of spinning fun!

Greg’s Teacher Deal of the Day – Nostalgic toys – remember electronic football? Not the Mattel handheld game but the Coleco vibrating football board? The one where when you turn it on, the plastic players are supposed to move forward but usually end up spinning in circles? And the quarterback’s arm has a rubber band in it so it can fling the football which you lost after playing the game twice and ended up using a spit wad? What a great toy. Here’s a video if you don’t remember – Coleco football

You can relive your glory days for only $40 – Excalibur Vibrating Football

Greg’s Site of the Day – Mind exercises keep you busy for hours and ward of Alzheimers at the same time. Find tons of brain games at this site: