Pocket PC

Tangling with another blogger in the comments section can only be beneficial, I've decided. I don't think I could ever do what Mark Ahlness has done and restrict myself to only one sector of the edublogosphere. Personally, there is too much to learn from some many angles that are outside my realm of immediate expertise - other international perspectives, tertiary and VTE sectors, life in high schools, teacher training - I just can't say that the classroom is where it is at.

So with broadening my knowledge of all technology tangled education a priority, my recent written stoush with Alex Hayes has had me looking through his more recent posts on his blog. I've read his responses to Leigh Blackall's blog before and to be honest, I was a bit scared initially of this writer who mixed insight and complex words in equal measure, and I thought his ideas were out of my comfort zone. So I didn't track down his blog which was a judgemental error on my part. But our three way and eventually, three blog conversations proved that Alex and I had a bit to learn from each other. (I was surprised and quietly flattered to find Teaching Generation Z on his blogroll.)

Now something Alex explores a lot is the concept of mobile learning (mlearning) and one great post I enjoyed greatly was IT: Internet as Medium.

Or, the world wide web is actually the collective human conciousness interlaced as electronic nodes which we sit statically attached to, occasionally claiming family time and football matches as excuse to abandon it......leaving it, lonely.

Or, the internet has gone mobile and we are wearing it, tracking our own moves, sending and receiving global transmissions, waving up to it's call, abandoning watches and calculators and cameras and other peripherals, driving through the world by its maps, finding out the latest gigs and cheap meals and where our kids are and who's meshing with whom.

I like the concept of the internet gone mobile and any excuse to make it a reality in my day to day existence. Ideally, this post could be written and blogged on my Pocket PC via a wireless connection to my online world. Reality - my Pocket PC is still running Windows Mobile 2003 and is not wireless capable.  My mobile phone is of a similar vintage and it's probably a combination of my German heritage and my country childhood that makes me loathe to retire any device that still works just fine! For me, the converged Mobile Phone PC would be the best of both worlds for the purposes of mobile professional learning. However, my mobile teaching  ard learning needs have just been bolstered. The laptop I have been sharing does have wireless and is great for working online whilst moving locations thoughout the house. But my new work machine, an Acer Tablet PC, has just been delivered and I can't wait to try out its capabilities. I almost feel a bit guilty about getting such an advanced device but its mobility, light weight factor, more compact dimensions make it ideal for my work both at school and at home. Here's the frustrating rub - I have to charge the battery for two hours before I can even boot it up! So let the age of mobile learning continue to develop - and keep reading Alexander Hayes to read about where's it's heading.

Cheers to Kevin Perkins from who tipped me off to the fact that their service, Skweezer accepts RSS feeds and reformats them for the small screen. I still have yet to work out how to set Mobile Favorites in Explorer to update it for me automatically because going to each individual blog's Skweezed page and re-doing Create A Mobile Favorite is rather defeating the purpose of saving time by offloading to my IPAQ for offline viewing. I know Skweezer will keep a list of Favorites for me on their site and they will always have the latest version of a feed but what trips me up is setting the list up once in Mobile favorites does not guarantee that Explorer will "harvest" the Skweezer mobile pages and sync them for me automatically. Maybe I just need to save my pennies for a wi-fi IPAQ. I know Leigh is in love with his.

Interestingly, maybe because I'm just not that bright, I didn't connect Kevin to his company straightaway and I did a Google search to see where he was mailing from. It wasn't until I stumbled on this link, that I realised he was from Skweezer, and his company have been copping some flak from bloggers who were unhappy with their pages being re-formatted, losing their Google ads and having Skweezer's advertising partners featured instead. There were a batch of complaints following this post where bloggers complained of lost revenue due to decreased traffic and their intellectual property being hijacked (their words, not mine). I have to admit, I had noticed advertising but I didn't really care because of the great job Skweezer did of making blogs readable offline. And tonight when I tested Kevin's tip and loaded my own feed in, there were no ads at all. So, Kevin and Skweezer, I think your service is great, I appreciate the advice and maybe these bloggers should be contacting you to strike up a deal and being proactive with their income stream instead of reactionary.

I have to admit it ~ I'm addicted to my Pocket PC as an offline blog reader. With a young family, I couldn't possibly spend the time required to get through all the stuff I want to read whilst based at a desktop PC. So I've been trialling two websites that reformat regular web pages into mobile device size. Both are pretty good with the one negative that I have to use Microsoft Explorer to sync Explorer favourites, instead of Firefox. The first tool I used was Skweezer and viewing my newest favourite blog, Artichoke, it looks like this on my Pocket PC.

However, when I use the second, MobileLeap it sometimes reformats in a non-friendly to small screens way. It is not fun to try and read by using my stylus to drag the rest of the text across the screen.

What I really need is a Pocket PC rss reader - anyone know of a good program?

One of my favourite tools in my life has to be my Pocket PC. I would highly recommend it to anyone in education as a way of organising and keeping on top of things throughout the school day. In my role as a coordinator here I am not in one location throughout the week so the mobility the PPC affords is excellent.  If you already can run Outlook on your PC at home or at work, then using the basic functions of Calendar, Tasks and Contacts is a cinch. There are reportedly better software packages out there but it came pre-installed and it works so why pay for a third party software package unless you can justify it (or claim it on tax). So it has become my diary and task planner but as Tim Shaw says, "Wait, there's more!" The Windows media player is great as I can upload mp3's and podcasts (also in mp3 form) and listen to them at my leisure with a set of ear buds. The one thing I do think is missing but will be addressed with the introduction of Windows Mobile 5.0 is the lack of Powerpoint support. I've downloaded and currently trialling a program called Pocket Slides but whether I will use this feature enough to justify the cost is still up for debate. I viewed a couple of ppt presentations from Will Richardson which was handy but they were limited when the font was too small and unless you are connected to the Web, the links don't function in a offline format. By the way, the ppts from Weblogg-ed were fantastic - would love to have been there in person to hear Will speak. Bit difficult geographically - I wonder, Will, have you ever been to Australia? Blogs focussing on Web 2.0 have really got me thinking about how I can use my PPC in this capacity and I suppose more tools that have offline / online capabilities will become available. Some tools like Skweezer which re-formats webpages for easy reading are great but still involve me doing a lot of the checking and sending to the PPc via Mobile favourites. Less enthused people might not bother but reading web content offline is a fantastic feature. I can be semi-sociable at home (not totally tied to the home PC to read posts) by reading blogs in the comfort of the lounge chair while my wife enjoys the latest episode of Lost or Boston Public (not many shows about teachers!)and create content that can uploaded later. A good blogging tool for PPC is still to be found so I'll keep looking or be open to suggestions. If I can get Inspiration for Pocket PC then I am pretty well set with a highly powerful tool that enables me to do a lot of stuff that frees me from even the weight and size of a notebook. Not that I'd knock back a Tablet PC if someone offered one to me!