ajoBlog Assignments Edtech Going Places

Managing white space!

Managing white space when writing for publication online is key to readability! Too many cluttered paragraphs (or no paragraphs!) stop people from reading on, and often loses reader interest, and eventually, less page views and subscribers, etc. Here are some tips on managing the space where words don’t go:

Paragraphs – keep them small, and separated. Try to limit your paragraphs to a few sentences, and really think about the logical places where you can break up the text. Also, add an extra line between paragraphs (just like this blog post…), instead of just enter in single space mode (like in a paper…).

Stuff – use lists, bullet points, and maybe numbered lists instead of keeping the list of items in the paragraph itself, in order to better display what you’re trying to say. So, to model, use:

  • lists;
  • bullet points;
  • and, numbered lists
to convey your message!
So, got it? And by the way, this goes for comments as well, especially when you’re writing for a formal assignment, or commenting on something multiple people will read.
ajoBlog Edtech

The Future Classroom



Dear Ohio Turnpike:

Why must you insist on switching the lanes for EZPass? I’d like to be able to predict which lane I need to get into everyday, since I’m on the ‘pike twice a day. Why not establish the left most lane as the EZPass lane. Always.

Instead, you insist on making a fool of us drivers, by switching the lanes every other minute. At the very least, only make weekly changes – not on a rolling basis!

In addition, when will we see high speed lanes? I’m getting tired of having to wait for the gate to come up or down, and perhaps strike my roof when it feels like not recognizing my EZPass! Come on, fix the system!

Thanks for listening.

Ever yours,

A Humble Turnpike User

ajoBlog Edtech

Google’s Chromebook & New Job – First Impressions

I’ve been working for a week now as a Consultant for Educational Technology Integration at the Lorain County ESC, and so far I’m loving it! My colleagues, Dave, Paul, and Polly have been really welcoming, and this week alone I’ve had more opportunities than in a long time in the classroom. For example, I’m typing this post on a new Chromebook from Google. Had I remained in the classroom, I probably wouldn’t have seen one for a long time…

So, first impressions about work? Great! I get to work with great people, fantastic resources, and can’t wait to meet some teachers in the workshops we host. I’ll give an example of resources, something that has been unheard of in the last three years: I wanted to connect my MacBook Pro up to the bigger display I have for the desktop PC they gave me, and set it up as a second monitor. No problem, right. But, switching between the PC and the Mac posed a problem display wise, and I mentioned something about “it sure would be nice if I had one of those KVM switches…” The next morning Paul had one for me, and I got all set up. Outstanding! Thanks for making me feel welcome and valued!

Now, on to the other first impression – the one about the Chromebook.

First off, it’s light. And small. Nice and thin. And kind of plasticky, if that’s a word. It almost feels like a toy, but definitely something I’ll be carrying to meetings instead of my workhorse, a 15″ MacBook Pro. I’m testing it for work, evaluating its use within education, as a possible piece in a 1:1 program at a school.

It boots up fast – got to the first prompt, out of the box, in less that a few seconds, and asked me for network info. Then it ran a system update, and we were on our way. Easy. Chromebook allows you to operate on wireless alone, or wireless + 3G from Verizon (with purchase of data plan, of course, although you get 100 MB free / month included). I did not sign up for 3G since I’m merely testing it, and won’t get to keep it (I don’t think…) after all.

The keyboard reminds me of my MacBook, although the spacing of the keys is just a hair more, and so the cumulative effect is that I keep missing the ‘A’ key… They’ve also removed some keys, and added others, but for the better, I think. For example, who uses the ‘F’ keys anymore, anyways. They’ve been replaced with hardware options like screen brightness, volume, page navigation and refresh, and volume keys. There’s also a cool button for toggling full screen, which I like. I wish they had switched the position of the CTRL and the ALT key on the left hand side – I’m used to my Mac, and my thumb now has to hunt around for the CTRL when using shortcuts like adding tabs, closing tabs, etc in the browser. No big deal, just that going from one keyboard to the next gets tedious!

There’s nothing to ALT+TAB to, at least that I can figure out. It’s only the first hour of using the Chromebook, so maybe I’m missing something. The whole idea seems browser based, but quite frankly, who doesn’t live in the cloud nowadays? I certainly take it for granted that my files are “just fine” ’cause they’re safe in my Dropbox account. Well, safe may be a relative term, but you get the drift.

The trackpad could be better. It’s definitely not up to Apple standards, and using it seems a bit clunky. The interface starts off by showing you how to use the trackpad, like moving an icon, scroll, etc (all basic stuff if you’ve been on Mac trackpad for a while), but it just doesn’t work real smooth. I’m not gonna say ‘cheap’, but maybe I will later… It allows for both physical click, as well as tap responses, by the way.

Here’s what else it comes with:

  • Power cord assembly – standard, non finesse PC like power cord that plugs in, and doesn’t release magnetically (a feature that seems common sense, right?)
  • VGA dongle – some sort of proprietary video out to VGA adapter that I’ll test later next week. I’ll be interested to see 2nd monitor capability, etc.
  • Some manuals that I haven’t read yet.
  • SD card slot on the front.
  • 2 USB ports, one on each side.
  • Some other kind of port that I don’t know what it is – looks like a sim card port maybe, or another memory card port.
  • Specs: 16 GB HDD, 12.1″ screen retail, Intel Atom processor, 2 GB memory (all from the box label)
  • Wireless only – no CAT5 slot, etc.
  • No optical drive.
I’ll keep track of how it performs in the next weeks, and report back. Feel free to leave comments below, rants and raves about your own experience with the Chromebook. Thanks!

Labyrinth @ Pennsic XL (Video)

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Pennsic XL – Our Summer Adventure

We spent a week with the kids at Pennsic XL, in Pennsylvania. We had a great time, and plenty of sun, good food, and much to do. Everything from heavy medieval combat to vagabond roadside musicians, and everything in between!

Emelie and Oskar did great, slept like champs, and held up well with camping, peeing in a hole, and napping in a stroller (for Oskar, anyways…) Emelie lit up the camp with her energy, and Oskar was never shy when handed around like a prized possession. Well, maybe a little bit…

Here are some photos of us, living in the Middle Ages:

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Pictures of the ger (yurt) so far…

Here are some of the pictures we took the other day while troubleshooting in the backyard. We had to figure some things with the roof structure, and build a roof ring support structure due to the weight of the roof ring.


Troubled pickels…

The trouble with these pickles, is that there are no pickles at all to be seen!


The Most Amazing Corn Chowder!

It was scheduled to be one of my regular “cowboy meals”, with potatoes, bacon, some beans maybe, and vegetables. Then I started cooking, remembered the dairy I had, and what Jae had been asking for… so it became, mid-cooking, the most amazing corn chowder. We couldn’t stop eating it, and had to restrain ourselves to save some left overs. Not kidding! Hope you like it, or become inspired by it, at least.


How To

  1. Start by cutting up, using scissors, the 1/2 lb bacon. Fry in separate pan, nice and crisp. Add some Knob Creek to keep it real.
  2. Cut up potatoes – they’re small, so I make 3 cuts per potato, yielding half-wedges, I guess.
  3. Cook potatoes on medium, with oil, in pan. Add Valentina according to your preference, but a little goes a long way (this produces a nice, gentle ‘bite’ to the chowder.)
  4. After a while, when potatoes are getting softer, but not mushy, and the bacon is done and drained, add the bacon, corn, and Half & Half.
  5. Season with pepper, and tandoori. Add maybe some Arizona spice, if you have it.
  6. Let simmer for a while (10 minutes). Soak up the flavor, yo!
  7. Cut up, fine, half a green tomato. Add to chowder. Get ready to serve.
  8. Final taste test, check for heat (spice), and prepare plates.
  9. Plate in bowls, finish with some garnish (slice of avocado worked well!)
  10. Enjoy!


ajoBlog Project Yurt

Yurt Research – Sharing my Evernotes

Here’s everything so far that I have about yurts and gers. I’m scanning additional notes from myself, photos etc. as I go along, but for now, here’s the Evernote folder:

Have fun, and happy building!