Thursday, December 29, 2011

10 Super Geeky Tips for the New Year

I'm usually not one for new year's resolutions. If I decide to do something the calendar doesn't matter & I've blown too many good resolutions to believe an arbitrary day will make a diff. BUT...there are a few things that are easily done & feels great for a SUPER GEEKY SAFE....errm Aware! New Year. (There is no *safe* on the Interwebs, only Aware!)

(click above for a larger size or download PDF it here)
1. Change your passwords. Yes, ALL of them.
According to CNN Tech an 8 digit password can be hacked in 2 hours but a 12 character password would take 17 years. Use this handy NEW! Comic Tutorial to create a really super new password for every website....don't worry, there's a trick! Oh and in the small print I said 3 important things - Change your passwords twice a year, have a different password for Facebook that you don't use for ANYwhere else because FB's security is notoriously craptastic (and the bank, too), and as a disclaimer - I'm not a security expert and nothing is foolproof.

2. Dump your cache, cookies, & clear history
At least once a year (I try quarterly) go around to every computer you use public & private -and dump the cache, clear your cookies, & browsing history.

3. Consolidate your Flashdrives
We all have a gajillion flashdrives floating around from 128mg's to 16gb's. Lazy Way: Gather them all up and create a folder on your external HD called flashdrive backups (or one folder per flashdrive) and drag all the stuff in there. Smart Way: Go through all those flashdrives & trash anything you really don't need & save only the archive worthy stuff. While you're at it - are those drives named? Do you have an .RTF doc on it that says "If found, Please Read" with your contact information? This might be a good time to get those on there. I give every new teacher to my school a new 4G flashdrive and yeah, sometimes they lose them (I'm looking at you Justin! LOL) So, even though it's super easy to carry around & save stuff in a pinch, you wanna give yourself a chance to get it back if lost. Now... throw some of those old flashdrives away & go on to the next tip.
dropbox.JPG4. Forget the flashdrive try the cloud!
Now that you've backed up your flashdrives consider using Dropbox, Amazon Prime storage, iCloud, or Google docs to save your stuff! Don't have Dropbox? I blogged about this amazing resource a couple months ago - get it by using THIS SPECIAL SECRET SQUIRREL LINK to register for dropbox & use your school email account and you'll get EXTRA FREE SPACE! (it's a geeky pyramid scheme but so worth it!) Dropbox allows you store your files online, easily share files with others, and sync your documents with multiple computers and mobile devices. I have it on my iPad and all my Macs both home and at school! This is a must have tool for educators! It's Free, Convenient, and Saves Time!
5. Edit your privacy settings & friendships
Facebook is notoriously changing their privacy settings (that's why I've had an on again and off again relationship with FB)- Google "latest facebook privacy settings" to read blogs with advice to double check that you're sharing what you want to share. Consider what you share and who you share it with. Also, look at your friends - are you really friends with them? Do they add to the conversation? Have they contributed lately? " While considering what's private and public, take time to evaluate what a "friend," "contact" or "follower" means to you and what types of information you share with different groups." (Quoted from the super AWEsome )

6. Be Transparent
If you haven't done it already, go for it! Though some still consider it a big leap for an educator on the intarwebs, I think that horse has already left the barn. I went transparent in 2009 after being inspired at NECC-DC. Sure, it's a little scary but worth it if you're building a PLN and wanting to make a "name" for yourself out there. And really? Our names are already "out there" best to craft how it shows up yourself & be a good role model for creating your own positive digital footprint. (Search this blog "digital footprint" to read more) So yeah, now I'm gwyneth jones here and on the Twitter in addition to my and my electronic portfolio and on my wikis.

7. Buy your name.
For $10 bucks a year you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don't want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, considered it back in the late 90's - went with Angelfire instead. That was stooopid. Wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh Opera singer & the Sci Fi YA Author! Ahh well! Now I have 2 domains! for this blog and for my electronic portfolio.
8. Get Wikified
Sure there are LibGuides & LiveBinders out there but nothing is so easy to use, flexible, FREE, & just a joy as a Wikispaces! So, if you're not ready to buy a domain but don't just want a school based web page? Create a FREE K-12 Wikispaces. Learn from my mistakes, when you sign up for the first time, use your own name or a variation thereof! I made the mistake back in 06 when I joined wikispaces of making it under my school name because my intention was for it to be a prof dev wiki... so I named it mhmsmedia for my wiki account -I've since changed it to (Thanks Wikispaces!) Also, while we're talking about wikis...lemmie vent a little: you DON'T NEED TO JOIN THEM! (Oops! sorry for shouting! Eep!) Seriously though, unless you expect to contribute, edit, or add pages to the wiki site you don't need to join a public wiki to use them. So please, don't be offended if I say to nope your application to join my Daring Tech Wiki because that's just for my teachers to edit, k? Still love you, mean it! LOL
9.Build your PLN
Build your PLN! Today, having a Personal Learning Network is essential to stay in tune with the trends and what's going on. So whether you join a Ning or Twitter (even just for conferences!) Here's a getting started Flickr gallery so you can start talking to other excited educators about new ideas...crowdsource! Got a question? Pose it to the PLN and you'll be amazed at the answers you get! See a question someone else is asking that you can help with? Contribute! (I try to give 95% and only ask for help 5%) GIVE, give, and give some more! Share shamelesly! Whatever you create think of your other educators out there who might benefit from it. Add it to your blog, wiki or slideshare! No one likes to re-create the wheel. Give your greatest works to our profession - it's good ed tech karma! PS. Always give attribution! I know professional teacher thieving is par for the course, heck I do it all the time, but I ask permission whenever possible and link back and ALWAYS give attribution!

10. Back up your data.
"Hacks and hardware failures happen. Before this year gets going, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected. From calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects, more and more of us are relying on networks of servers and startups to keep us running. So, now might be a good time to download and back up files of your contacts and blog posts - anything that's valuable to you and portable." Get a big external HD but also burn to CD or DVD the really important stuff because I've had externals die on me. And yeah, the cloud is awesome, but I'm not ready to give over yet completely! LOL "Think of it this way: You - or at least parts of you - live in the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?" (Quoted, inspired & adapted from the super AWEsome )

Suggested alternative expert comic from the comments - Thanks, Colin!

(click above for full size on XKCD!)

So, Ok...some of these things are stuff I preach about ALL the time... like a flippin broken record when it comes to shameless sharing I'm that passionate about it....but what did I forget?
What are the geeky things that you do that we can learn from?
Please comment your suggestions, corrections, & additions! Thank you dear readers! Muuuwa! And......Happy New Year!
BEST Christmas Presents EVER!
Oh and though Santa got me an iPad2 for Christmas, don't tell him but here are the best presents I got this year from 2 students featuring a Ninja Squirrel & Ninja Bacon, & one fabulous kid blogger - my friend Hagan! (click for larger images)

(check out Ninja Bacon! My kids know I love Ninjas!)

Lastly, thank you to everyone who voted for this blog as Edublogs Best Librarian Blog - we were only 16 votes away from winning! Maybe someday! But seriously, having this conversation with you is the real prize! For reals! Thank you!
(not that I'm not gonna pimp my blog with those fab badges! Love me some badges!)

--Credits & Resources
Creating and Remembering Complex Passwords by Alex Jones (not my nephew!)
The Ultimate Guide for Creating Strong Passwords - Some of these suggestions seem impossible but I got great ideas here.
The top 50 passwords you should never use | Naked Security
8 Things Every Geek Needs to Do Before 2010
Five New Years Resolution Suggestions.

Baby Cthulhu Squishable a gift from my dear friend Dr. Gelving Obolensky of New Babbage. Thanks darlin! He, I will NEVER Prune from my PLN tree!

Flashdrive pic from: bamalibrarylady Tamara Evans

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Format MS Word Like a Ninja Super Hero!

View more documents from gwyneth jones
Does it ever seem that when your students go into the computer lab to compose & to write they've forgotten EVERYTHING they ever learned about formatting their MS Word documents? You get docs with wonky space bar spacing, 18pt comic sans (ick!), left justified headings, and strangely double spaced pages! Eeep! I know, right? I see proof of this working with my teachers, walking through the lab, and when kids come to me in the library to print out their work in the mornings & it's an assortment of crazy ill-spaced, scary fonted, and oddly sized docs, docx, and rtfs!
JONESing for a Rescue!
Yeah, I went there. So, one of my awesome new (to MHMS) teachers Mr. Justin Jones (no relation) came up with a comic tutorial for this! And after a little collaboration & tweaking we'd like to share it with you!
We've created both a colour version for those of you who have unlimited colour printing (yeah, not us! LOL) and Black & White versions for printing hard copies. Both are posted on our Edublog nominated (Squee!) Daring Tech Wiki. Sure there are other MS Word tutorials out there but we wanted something visual & short that hit most of the "worst offenders" and MS Word formating faux pas!
Punch 'Em For Binders!
We've printed out 30 copies of the B&W hard copy, laminated them, & are keeping them in our computer lab for quick reference! We've also made available to the staff by request, classroom sets. The B&W version also has a heftier margin than usual so that they can be 3 hole punched & students can put them into their binders.
Steal These Comics!
We've decided to (as always!) to make these comic tutorials Creative Commons Share Alike Attribution Non Commercial so that others can benefit from them. Of course any suggestions, corrections, and additions are welcome! So, I guess it's not *really* stealing but taking! All versions of these comics are on our Edublog nominated Daring Tech Wiki, they can also be found as PDF's for download on my Slideshare, and as .jpegs on my Comic Tutorial Gallery on Flickr.
Committing Formatting & Fontacide!
I'm on a personal mission to banish the font Comic Sans from use. Has there ever been a more overused, tiresome, & insidious font? GAH! I can't even look at it! The next in line for Fontacide© are the fonts Jester & Marker Felt. People! Please let's let go of these tired fonts! (ok, clearly I have font issues & I need to save this rant for a whole separate blog posting! Maybe I'll call it I Want to Lick That Font)
Another thing we gotta banish with our students is using the spacebar to move things around.'s terrible! I hate it when we have to go back and fix those broken lines... Let IT WRAP, kids! Wrap it, wrap it good!
More Comics!

So, dear readers....what did we miss on the Comic? Suggestions, corrections, additions? What EdTech conundrum drives you crazy? Would love your feedback in comments. Cheers! Oh! And thanks to all who took the time to vote for us for the Edublog Awards! Whether we win or lose I really appreciate & value our readers!...and here's my last shameless pitch for votes! LOL

If you've enjoyed this post or are a reader of this blog & find it useful please consider voting for us for Best Librarian / Library Blog - Voting Ends Tuesday 11:59pm EST.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Edublog Awards Nominations
& Shameless Campaigning!

You know how most people say about awards "It's enough just to be nominated?" Well, I think most people are fibbing! Sure, it's TOTALLY true that it's a distinct honor to be nominated! Especially for a crowdsourced award like the International Edublogs Award! I also gotta argue with the (mis)quote from the cinematic oeuvre Blazing Saddles "We don't need no stinkin badges" - because yes, YES we do! Oooh shiny shiny! Maybe it's because I was kicked out of the girl scouts for talking too much in 5th grade - I just can't help but love the monetarily free but oh so personally rewarding little square .jpeg badges that shows that my contemporaries & colleagues feel that we and what we're doing matter! So yeah, WOW! I can't help but be psyched that I was nominated for Best Librarian/Library blog! That's totally mind-blowing, humbling, and a true honor! And sure - I could be all "I don't care if we win" but that would be disingenuous, and why the heck not try to win!?? LOL Do you think that Lady GaGa doesn't want to win the Grammy? Do you think that ANYone nominated for an OSCAR doesn't wanna get that sweet shiny gold statue? HA! It's human nature!
So am I gonna campaign? Well, yes and no. I'm not gonna hire PR guru Donnie Deutsch or the Goodyear Blimp! (Cha ching!) But I am blogging saying YAY! Thank you, We're honored & please consider voting for me! Both here to you my dear Daring Librarian blog readers and to my students, family, & community at the Daring School Library Blog! Is that shameless? YES! Thank goodness I'm totally OK with being shameless!
Here's how you can vote for us! (Comic tutorial directions below for my fellow visual learners!)

Best Librarian / Library Blog - The Daring Nominated by The Library Girl, Jennifer LaGarde! Thank you!
Ms. Gwyneth Jones, your snarky neighborhood Daring Librarian, was also nominated in 3 other categories (I know, pinch me right?) If you would like to vote for her, here are the links & what to look for! Thank you!

Best Individual Tweeter -- Drop down the Category on Right to Best Individual Tweeter again & look for GwynethJones

Most Influential Blog Post - drop down last on the list Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones for Lady GaGa Librarians Unite! Nominated by The Mighty Little Librarian Tiff! - Thank you!

Best Educational Tech Wiki - Drop down & look for Daring Tech Wiki!~ Nominated by the amazing Tamara Cox – Eliterate Librarian - Thank you!

Thank you everyone else who nominated me! I'm thrilled to be considered - and in the words of the venerable Wayne Campbell "I'm not worthy!!!!!!!!!!!"

Directions on HOW to Vote:

(click above for a larger size for us visual learners!)

Now a shout out to my friends! Please consider voting for some of my Geek Tribe peeps...even though some are competing with me with the same categories :-) And some are nominated in more than one...What can I say? They're my friends! & I'm thrilled that some of my nominations (and others!) came through & they made the "short list!" Woohoo!!!! I HEART my PLN!

Lifetime Achievement - Dr. Joyce Valenza!
Come on all Teacher Librarians...this is the year our Joyce gets this!

Best Individual Tweeter - Shannon M. Miller Her useful & positive Tweets brighten & inspire me! I also have to give mad props to Steven Anderson Seriously, the guy is a rock star!

Best Audio / Video / Podcast - The Mighty Little Librarian Tiff for her AWEsome YouTube Channel!
The Mighty Little Librarian's Tech Tuesdays. I love this series because it helps her teachers learn more about technology, improve their teaching, and advocates for her role as a tech leader in her school. All around a wonderful project. I always get great ideas from Tiff! I'm flattered she considers me a mentor but honestly, it's a lovely symbiotic relationship where she takes ideas from me & expands them into new fabulousness and I take ideas from her and get continuously inspired!

Best Library / Librarian Blog - Library Girl, Jennifer LaGarde
This is the toughest one for me EVERY YEAR because within my PLN there are so many wonderful librarian bloggers, but this year my nomination goes to one of my mentees Jennifer LaGarde's blog! She has consistently inspired me with her creative ideas and passion! She is a true mover & shaker in the library world!

Best Student Blog- Hagan's World of Awesome
This kid is amazing! You gotta check out this blog! It's visual, upbeat, interesting, engaging, and very very AWEsome!

Best Group Blog - Two Blogs, One Voice
"This blog is the story of John Schu and Shannon Miller connecting their amazing students at Brook Forest Elementary in Oak Brook, Illinois and Van Meter Elementary in Van Meter, Iowa."

Thank you!!!!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Edublog Nomiations 2011

To celebrate the #Eddies this year I thought I would do my nominating both on my professional blog and on our NEW! Daring School Library Edublog! The EduBlogger award nomination process is a wonderful opportunity Pay it Forward by recognizing those in our PLN for their hard work and generosity. I wish I could name more than one on several of these categories! Gah! The Edublog awards has had a lot of buzz the last couple of years (both positive & hater) but I find the event & experience invigorating! I've been humbled & honored to be nominated a couple times (first by the amazing Shelly S Terrell! Thank you, Shelly!) and even came in second runner up once or twice! But what I get most from the Edublogs is an ever growing list of great new voices and views to add to my personal learning network.
So, to practice what I preach about educational thieving, when I like something I STEAL IT! Here are my cribbed & adapted Edublog nominations! Heh heh heh! If you recognize something that looks familiar to something you nominated or wrote, I hope you're not mad & take it as flattery!
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog - Steven Anderson & his Web 2.0 Classroom blog. Honestly, sometimes people email me asking me how to do something & if I haven't blogged about it before before I write it up for them I check Steven's blog and Voila! It's usually there!

  • Best individual blog Librarian by Day by Bobbi Newman fellow Libary Journal Mover & Shaker Bobbi Newman always has interesting information to share and a unique voice in the EdTech Librarian world!

  • Best group blog I have to agree with Steve Dembo "the DEN Global blog is far and away the best group blogs in the EduVerse. Whether you grade based on quality, quantity, or value to visitors, our Leadership Council bloggers are doing an unbelievable job and absolutely deserve to be recognized for their efforts!" So I hereby nominate for the Best Group Blog!

  • Best NEW blog: Tamara Cox – Eliterate Librarian She's another Geek Tribe shameless sharer and I LOVE that! She also was kind enough to leave a comment or two on this blog that were so spot on it drew me to her blog & I was hooked!

  • Best individual tweeter: Shannon Miller Shannon Miller has a zest for the new, the challenging, and is a true change agent in her school, district, & community! She also is one of Cengage/Gale and SLJ's 5 national new library leaders program and a Shorty award winner! Her useful & positive Tweets brighten & inspire me! I also have to give mad props to Steven Anderson Seriously, the guy is a rock star!

  • Best twitter hashtag- #tlchat, This is the hashtag that I always check to keep a pulse on library trends and news. I also like #EdChat a LOT!
  • Best Student Blog Hagan's World of Awesome @haganemiller - I'm not a little kid person...I admit it. I teach middle schoolers & find most elem kids well, a little whiny & annoying - but this kid is amazing! Sure, I'm a wee bit biased as he's the son of a friend but seriously - you gotta check out this blog! It's visual, upbeat, interesting, engaging, and very very AWEsome!
  • Best librarian / library blog- Adventures of Library Girl. This is the toughest one for me EVERY YEAR because within my PLN there are so many wonderful librarian bloggers, but this year my nomination goes to one of my mentees Jennifer LaGarde's blog! She has consistently inspired me with her creative ideas and passion!

  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series: TL Virtual Cafe The TL Virtual Cafe is such an incredible FREE PD opportunity offered every month! Participating in this terrific webinar series has helped me to grow so much as a teacher-librarian and it always leaves me refreshed and full of new ideas. Our Geek Tribe is so giving… having so many willing to share makes for something really great!

  • Best free web tool - Sweet Search for Students.
  • Best educational Ed Tech Wiki: The Mighty Little Librarian's Tech Tuesdays. I love this series because it helps her teachers learn more about technology, improve their teaching, and advocates for her role as a tech leader in her school. All around a wonderful project. I always get great ideas from Tiff! I'm flattered she considers me a mentor but honestly, it's a lovely symbiotic relationship where she takes ideas from me & expands them into new fabulousness and I take ideas from her and get continuously inspired!

  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series- TL Virtual Cafe- my source for all the latest and greatest in the library world - now co-managed by Jennifer LaGarde & welcoming new moderators Librarian Tiff, Joquetta Johnson, & Shannon M. Miller!

  • Best School Administrator blog: Eric Sheninger – A Principal’s Reflections Eric Sheninger is an inspiring administrator he's a super advocate for social media in schools.

  • Best educational use of a social network: Joquetta Johnson - The Digital Diva- Energetic and exciting - Joquetta brings it all together from blogs, tweets, nings, to amazingly inspirational sessions and presentations that make you want to jump up and drink whatever koolaid she's serving. Yeah, she's that good.

  • Lifetime achievement: Joyce Valenza Joyce is the queen of our Geek Tribe. She’s brilliant and inspirational. She’s an incredible leader and fabulous speaker. She is a shameless sharer and my official mentor. (I never get tired of typing that, right!?) Joyce is also kind, generous, and a great collaborator. With everything that she has done and continues to do to push our profession and education forward, she completely deserves to be recognized!
( If you've been following me on Twitter (or my professional blog) you know it's been a trying couple weeks for my family & my school family dealing with illness & loss. Thank you all for your kind messages, Tweets of positive thoughts, & prayers! I rushed this a bit obviously due to family obligations but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to show some love for some educators who have inspired me this year - Thanks everyone for your support & understanding!)

Why Edublog Awards?
The Edublog Awards is a community based incentive started in 2005 in response to community concerns relating to how schools, districts and educational institutions were blocking access of learner and teacher blog sites for educational purposes.

The purpose of the Edublog awards is promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media.

The best aspects include that it creates a fabulous resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners.

To nominate, all you need is to:

1. Write a post that includes your nominations on your blog, link to them and link to this site (See an example from 2009.)
2. Use the form at the bottom of this page to send us a link to your nominations


- Nominate in as many categories as you want!
- You can’t nominate yourself ;)
- Nominations must be made somewhere public – your blog, a forum on a ning, a school website, etc.
- Even if you see your favorite has already been nominated, it is best to nominate them again
- Categories are competitive, and only the most nominated will make it to the voting round
- Share your nominations using twitter (#eddies11), facebook, Google+ and email


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