Where's Dale Basler? ... and what keeps me busy

Google Sheets missing full Autofill; Text Mechanic to the rescue!

March 26th, 2015

Let’s say you need a long series of numbers in your spreadsheet and you are trapped on a Chromebook. Yes, I could drag down to fill but this takes way too long if you have a long list of numbers.

I hate that Google Sheets cannot do what Excel can do below:

Excel wins at Autofill

Excel wins at Autofill

Fortunately, there is Text Mechanic- a website that provides a collection of text manipulation tools that work in your browser. I used the Generate List of Sequential Numbers tool get the series of numbers I needed.

Use Text Mechanic to Generate List of Sequential Numbers

Use Text Mechanic to Generate List of Sequential Numbers

From here, I can copy and paste my list into Google Sheets and start calculating.

Text Mechanic has some other great tools too. Take a look at Find and Replace Text and Add/Remove Line Breaks. They have been a big help.

Add QR codes to student login card at code.org

February 8th, 2015

Here is a bookmarklet that will add QR codes to the student login cards for your code.org class.

qrmycodeorg

Below is a video explaining how to use this bookmarklet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFYWeZe4ASM

Post (and host) animated GIFs in Google Sites

January 26th, 2015

Google Sites does not fully support animated GIFs. If you try to insert one into your Google Site it will not be animated.

Here is a quick html edit that will get your animated GIFs moving again.

edit html source to properly display your animated GIFs in Google Sites

edit html source to properly display your animated GIFs in Google Sites

Learn more in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrdLMqi_pO4

Prevent related videos at the end of a YouTube video

December 2nd, 2014

Do you want to show a YouTube video but hate all those ‘related videos’ that show up at the end?

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.00.47 PM

 

Sure you can wait perched over the pause button to stop the video before they pop up but who needs that stress.

I made a little bookmarklet to make things a little easier.

Drag the link below to your bookmark bar.

YouTube Cleaner

Pull up a YouTube video (like this one) and click the bookmarklet (now in your bookmarks) to see it in action.

The Internet built my daughter an app

October 5th, 2014

In May, my nine-year-old daughter suffered a stroke. The stroke weakened the left side of her body severely. However, with therapy she has managed to improve each week. Because of the stroke, she has a lot of tone in her arm. This causes her arm to pull up close to her body instead of naturally resting down and at her side. She has to make a conscience effort to put her arm down and we are frequently reminding her.

One day I got an idea. Could we use sensors to measure when her arm is up and use a vibration to remind her to put her arm down? After a little digging online, I quickly learned that the Pebble smartwatch has an accelerometer that could be used to detect orientation.

As a physics teacher, I understand accelerometers and I have a little bit of programing experience but I had zero experience with the Pebble watch. So I reached out to the community of Pebble enthusiasts and developers in the Pebble Forums. I explained my situation and asked if my idea was even possible.

Pebble app at CloudPebble

Pebble app at CloudPebble

What happened next was truly remarkable. Within a day, I had a response explaining that my idea was possible. By the next day, another user made me a working prototype app. I learned how to install the app on a Pebble watch that my good friend loaned me. I made adjustments to the code using an online development tool called CloudPebble.

Watch app triggers a vibration in this position

Watch app triggers a vibration in this position

Another user offered to merge the app into a watch face “so the watch doesn’t have to look like it’s only there for the stroke.” From here, things really took off. With my feedback, we added several other features such as a learning mode so the app could be used by others in similar situations.

Info screen gives us feedback

Info screen gives us feedback

This experience has shown my daughter the true power of the Internet. She saw that it is so much more than a place to consume media. The Internet allows total strangers from all over the world to work together. She learned that people will volunteer their time and skill to create new things and help others.

It is the best lesson about the Internet I could ever hope for her to learn.

Kids from the 1980s answer “What is a computer?”

August 7th, 2014

Watch this clip from Sesame Street where young students from 1980s describe a computer and what can be done with one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kccWna71sqk

I love their answers:

a computer is something you write on

[with a computer you can] make designs

you can make pictures with it and it helps you read

it’s not human

[a computer doesn’t have] feelings

It can think but you have to tell it what to do, we are [doing the thinking]

By now, the kids in the video are about forty years old. They are my age. We grew up working with a computer. The focus was on what we could do with a computer. What could we write, design or create with a computer.

I wonder if today’s students have the same focus? Are we shifting from a ‘what we can do with a computer’ toward ‘what can a computer do for us’ mindset?

Take math class into Google Maps and measure

July 11th, 2014

Google has brought back the ability to measure distances in the new Google Maps!

Right-click on the map to add your starting point. Continue clicking to add new points. Now your students can explore and measure places (and even some larger objects) in their neighborhood.

measure-distance-back-in-google-maps

What is the perimeter and area of a local park?

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.31.15 AM

How big is the city pool?

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.39.49 AM

How many semi trailers could fit inside the city pool?

Self-driving Cars in the Classroom

July 5th, 2014

Why not, right? It’s engaging, authentic, student-directed, personalized learning that is rich with opportunities for discovery!

Driven to improve learning

Driven to improve learning

Sure, you can try to teach with drones, Google Glass, smart watches and Oculus Rift but the future of education will have students driven to learn. (at least until our spacecrafts are ready)

Does Google hate audio?

June 30th, 2014

Maybe Google doesn’t hate audio but I certainly think they skipped it for its love of video.

With all the TV and YouTube channels at our fingertips, we tend to look toward video as the only tool for expression and communication. However, much like a good book, audio allows our students to conjure up imagery from within rather than having it blasted effortlessly into their minds in the form of video.

We can also challenge our students to create new forms of expression by restricting the use of visual elements. When students are asked to create audio works, they are given a chance to develop new ways to communicate effectively.

However, audio support seems to be missing in Google Apps for Education.

You cannot play audio (unless you get help elsewhere) in Google Drive.

no audio in Drive

Google Drive can play video but not audio?

 

Google Drive knows the audio files are there

Read on…

Embed an HTML5 audio player in Google Sites

June 27th, 2014

Want to add audio files that play in your Google Site without forcing visitors to download the files first?

audio player in Google Sites

An HTML5 audio player embedded in Google Sites

Do you need this to work on the iPad or in other browsers that do not support Flash?

Below is the URL to a gadget I made that will embed an HTML5 audio player in Google Sites.

https://sites.google.com/site/basler45678/home/html5-audio-player.xml

Watch the video below to learn how to use it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0CzF4l5IvU

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