October 2006


This final installation of How To Subscribe To A Blog (Part 2) will add a few minor details that you might find useful.

ADDING A RSS FEED IN BLOGLINES

Let’s start by taking you over to the newly acquired YouTube by Google. It’s a short tutorial on how to add a RSS feed in Bloglines. Yes, it’s different to the way I showed you in Part 1.

HOW TO READ YOUR WEB FEEDS IN BLOGLINES

Once you’ve a few RSS feeds added to your feed reader (for this tutorial, Bloglines is used as an example again), you’ll want to know how to read your web feeds. Click here for your tutorial.

SAVING A POST IN BLOGLINES

If you happen to like a blogpost that you’re reading on your feed reader, and would like to save that post in your feed reader, here’s how to do it in Bloglines. You should have a similar feature in your feed reader, if you’re not using Bloglines.

MANAGING YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS IN BLOGLINES

Get your feeds organized into folders. The fun in visiting your feed reader can fizzle out the moment you find your feeds piling up in all directions, and suddenly finding yourself spending more time finding your feeds, than reading them.

You can sort your feeds out at the stage of adding a feed itself, or after. Here’s how to do it after adding a feed, assuming many of you might have already added a feed without organizing them into folders:

  1. Click the feed you want to put into a folder.

  2. Now look at the right window pane of your Bloglines feed reader. Near the top-right hand corner, you’ll see something called ‘edit subscription’.

 Screenshot 1

  1. Click on ‘edit subscription’. You’ll see a pop-up like the one below. Look for the drop-down box with the title ‘Folder’.

 Screenshot 2

  1. Click on the drop-down box. Choose ‘New Folder’. A javascript prompt will ask you to type in the name you want, for your new folder. Type the name in and click ok.

 Screenshot 3

  1. Now click the ‘Update’ button at the bottom of your pop-up ‘edit subscription’ window and you’re done.

Up to this stage, you’re practically ready to add, organize and read blogs that you’ve subscribed to without worrying about anything else.

But if you’re the kind who gets a high from tinkering with added features, feel free to look all the way down the left pane of your Bloglines window.

 Screenshot 4

Click on each link to read and follow the instructions Bloglines gives. That is, if you so choose to use any of the added features. It’s there to make your Bloglines experience a little more pleasant.

Not to marginalize those who are not fond of Bloglines, allow me to take you to a great tutorial that guides users on subscribing to feeds, using other types of feed readers and browsers.

This should do it for subscribing to blogs. If you’re in doubt about anything that has been covered, feel free to post your comments or shoot me an e-mail.

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Well, I’ll be darned! I put out a post on October 6 about ‘A Peek Into The School Of The Future’ and postulated if Singapore could follow suit; and to my amusement – Singapore is. Channel NewsAsia broke the story on October 11, ‘Education Ministry to partner foreign institutions to develop Schools of the Future‘.

The similarities to Philadelphia’s school of the future is uncanny, but then again, it shouldn’t be of any surprise, considering Microsoft is one of MOE’s industry partners. I can’t lie to you. I would have loved, to have taken credit for seeding the idea (nothing wrong with the occasional ego stroking), but it’s quite obvious that MOE had already set its sights on such a move, way back, as maybe, last year. Express IT! IN2015, seems to indicate so. iN2015 is a blueprint to get Singaporeans technologically savvy in probably every aspect of their daily living. It’s a grand vision. But, impressive and exciting nonetheless. Even more consequential, is MOE’s master plan for IT in education. And going by the ideas that some students are proposing, it’s fairly obvious they’re more than ready to embrace technology in education. Take this as a barometer to gauge the level of excitement students place in technology.

If you’ve been having your doubts about using technology in education, I hope the above is proof enough of technology’s significance in Singapore’s future educational structure.  

Radio took 38 years to seduce an audience of 50 million Americans. Television took 13 years. But the Web has taken less than four years from the moment Netscape’s Mosaic browser was made available for free to attract the same number. That difference counts for something. The usage growth of the Internet throughout the world between the years 2000 and 2006, has been measured at 200.9 %. Asia witnessed a growth of 245.5%. In Singapore, with our population at around 3.6 million, about 2.4 million of us are Internet users (Source: Internet World Stats). More than half of Singapore’s population is wired to the Internet. It’s a figure I expect to see rising over the coming years. 

Let’s not kid ourselves though. The cost of living in such a technology-rich world, with information being exchanged at lightning quick pace, comes at a high price. And I don’t mean in monetary terms. I’m talking about our futures.

The simplistic plans that our forefathers laid out for their futures and for their generation, were and cannot be the same as the future for today’s generation and generations to come. A prime example is job security. A victim of today’s progress, job security, like our forefathers, has joined the annals of history. It’s not something that you should be preparing your students for. Our future is not about reacting to our past. The myth of job security should be shattered, because your students deserve to know what the future really holds for them – opportunity. And that’s what you should be preparing your students for.

A future with opportunities requires the ability to research, communicate and solve problems, skills that some of the age-old methods of learning, such as the 3 Rs, cannot support. You have to retool your classroom to support this new vision of opportunities and grasp the context of technology’s role in this. I mentioned in a previous post about the learning behaviour of kids today. It is vital you take this into consideration when retooling your classroom. To keep churning out stimulated, independent thinkers and learners, understanding their learning patterns is key towards achieving this.

Take a look at Japan. Her schools have been scrapping homework over the last decade. Why? Have Japanese schools discovered something that the rest of the world has not caught on yet? It’s a subject worthy of critical analysis and honourable debate. Lessening the load on homework could create a new path to self-discovery, mining more time for engaging your students rather than enraging them.

In an information-driven economy, information overload becomes a reality. How to manage information, feed information that matters to your students. maneuvering your students attention to focus on pertinent subject matter rather than mundane ones, becomes your responsibility. That means more is required out of you. And that’s one more reason why, you should embrace technology with open arms. It will guide you towards achieving this quickly and efficiently.

Dare I say, as an educational professional, you own the future, and you’re on your way towards helping your students do the same.

I’ve been told time and time again by my daddy, “not to make things harder than it already is.” That was during my hormonally-charged, incorrigible teenage years. Today, I find it difficult to ignore the significance of that statement.

I should not make things harder than it already is for you. You must be stretched for time. So if I’m able to help lighten your load a little, I’ll do it. I understand that some of you are still unfamiliar with the concept of syndication and subscribing to a blog. This post will walk you through the process, step-by-step.

If you’re ready to subscribe to a blog, I assume you’re already familiar with the term, RSS. If not, here’s a little refresher course for you.

Syndication, from an RSS point of view, is simply put, sending you the latest updates or changes from a website or blog. And how do you receive these updates? Through something called an aggregator or feed reader.

You’re going to need a feed reader if you’re going to subscribe to blogs. There are desktop feed readers, which you have to download to your Mac or PC, and the slightly more popular, web-based feed readers.

I shan’t go into detail about the features of each feed reader for obvious reasons, but I will point you to a resource that will (The feed readers reviewed there are only web-based).

For desktop-based feed readers, I would recommend the following:

·        FeedDemon – Windows based (it’s not free)

·        Pluck RSS Reader – Windows & Mac based (Free)

·        NetNewsWire – for Mac users. Integrates well with the Safari browser (it’s not free)

The choice of feed readers is entirely up to you. But for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to demonstrate with a feed reader of my choice, Bloglines (a FREE web-based reader). I will walk you through subscribing to a blog which, I believe to be worthy enough of sitting in your feed reader – ChalkTalk (talk about shameless!). Alright, let’s get started!

Creating Your Account With Bloglines

1.      Go to Bloglines.

2.      Click on Register.

 Screenshot 1

3.      Fill out the short form to create your account. Click Register and follow Bloglines’ directions. It will send you an e-mail to verify if it was truly you who signed up or your mischievous computer-literate cat.

 Screenshot 2

4.      Check your e-mail account now and click on the confirmation link which Bloglines had sent you. Congratulations, you’re now an official Bloglines account holder.

5.      You should now be looking at Bloglines’ recommendations of feeds, nudging you towards adding them to your new feed reader. If it’s relevant to your interest, then add them. If not, don’t clog up your reader with unnecessary feeds.

6.      If somehow, you’re not already logged into your account yet, you can do so now.

 Screenshot 3

Subscribing To A Blog With Your Bloglines Feed Reader

7.      Now let’s try subscribing to ChalkTalk.

8.      Upon logging in to Bloglines, you will see a page that looks like this.

 Screenshot 4

9.      Look at the left pane, with the three tabs. Notice that My Feeds is highlighted. You should also see a single default feed from Bloglines in your feed reader if you had not added any feeds yet.

 Screenshot 5

10.  Go to the ChalkTalk blog now.

11.  On the right, you will see a column showing Subscribe Here with four orange buttons.

 Screenshot 6

12.  Click the top most button which looks like the one below.

 Screenshot 7

13.  The next page you will see, is this.

 Screenshot 8

14.  On the right side of this page, you’ll see a box that says, Subscribe Now!

 Screenshot 9

15.  Look for the button that says SUBBLOGLINES and click on it.

 Screenshot 10

16.  It will now take you to your Bloglines feed reader with a page that looks like this.

 Screenshot 11

17.  Scroll all the way down to the bottom of that page and click the Subscribe button. For the moment, don’t worry about setting your Bloglines preferences. You can play around with that at your own leisure. But, I would suggest placing your feeds in folders; for organizational purposes.

 Screenshot 12

Voila! You’ve just completed a subscription process. You will find your feed on the left panel of your Bloglines’ My Feeds page.

Part 2 of How To Subscribe To A Blog to follow.

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Education Atlas

Education Atlas®, the World’s most comprehensive guide to the best education sites on the Web. They’re sorted by Education Index/Subject and lifestage, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for quickly and easily. Whether you’re a mother looking for the best home schooling resources for your children, a high school graduate researching colleges, a teacher in need of new lesson ideas for your pupils, or a career professional seeking continuing education opportunities, with over 8000 indexed websites, you’re sure to find the resource your looking for at EducationAtlas.com.

It’s not often that I find myself mopping up the drool originated by news that somehow, manages to titillate my salivary glands.

But that was the case after reading Reuters article on the school of the future. Everything that I’d envisioned a school to be, has apparently been made possible in the form of a public high school in Philadelphia with the help from, guess who…Microsoft. Sweet.

Bill Gates On Oprah

I had a gut feeling Bill Gates was up to something when he was featured on Oprah, discussing the future of education in America.

And now this.

School Of The Future  

This is just the beginning for what I believe to be many more of such schools. Not just in the US, but across the globe.

Singapore could lead the way for Asia in this sector and I’m hoping it would; because contrary to popular reports, Bratt Pitt and Angelina Jolie are not the perfect couple. That whiff of flattery rightly belongs to technology and education.

 Memories of stained toilet seats and grimy kitchen cabinets come flooding back when I mention Ajax to friends.

 Ajax Cleaning Solutions

“I would have lost my sanity if it wasn’t for Ajax,” Sheila whimpered to my wife, struggling to hold back a tear. “No other cleaning solution worked for me. Ajax is all I think about when it’s time to clean.”

Goodness gracious, you’d think that there would be more to life than Ajax for some folks, but apparently not. At least not until it became the buzzword for today’s trendy Internet community. You see, the Ajax I tried telling my friends about, was about the hottest Web development technique right now. How hot is it? Well, let’s just say, it gets more buzz than Paris Hilton’s debut album (which I won’t even bother linking to).

Some pundits have attributed the Web’s Second Coming to the rising popularity of Ajax. Ajax type Web applications are blooming so fast all across the Internet that it has become far easier to sit through another moth-eaten episode of ‘Fear Factor( do I really need to know another recipe for a milkshake?) than trying to keep up with the latest Ajax app. Thank God for TechCrunch.

But isn’t such applications meant to make our lives a little more significant, you ask? Well, I don’t know about significant, but this new generation of Web apps are worth keeping a look out for. And one such app, is what may be termed as, personalized start pages or Ajax desktops. Does My Yahoo ring any bells? Let me explain.   

My Yahoo Homepage

You don’t hook up to the Internet today to send out an e-mail or two anymore. I’m sure of that. If you’re like most Internet users, you’re probably digesting dollops of information, sometimes frustrated by the fact that you can’t find what you’re looking for. It’s not because it’s not there, it’s just the niggling problems of having to sift through the digital ocean of content. Then comes the organization and management of files and content that litters your hard drive. That could explain why your PC keeps crashing. You may need to upgrade your hard drive to keep up with your burgeoning content, clear out the spam from your e-mail client, ensure your software are up-to-date with the latest patches, and to top it all off, your home PC suddenly forgets how to read your office files. Day in a life of an Internet user.   

But I am obliged to remind you, that on the Web, you’re boss. You dictate how to consume the content you prefer. A good example of this is iTunes. Hardly anyone visits iTunes to download an entire CD. It’s most likely a song they’d heard on radio and then downloading that particularly song from iTunes. It’s the same with blogs. No one has the time to read an entire blog of an inspired blogger. I’m sure you’re only prepared to allocate your time for a particular post, instead of an entire blog. It’s funny isn’t it; as the range of choices expands, the less attention it gets out of you. The economics of attention, you say?

But that’s where the Ajax desktop offers to help. Think your PC’s desktop, but its online and more efficient. Features of different Ajax desktops may vary, but Scott Vine does a fantastic job of detailing the most popular Ajax desktops that are attracting legions of fans ( I would recommend you hop on over there right now to see what’s on offer and come right back after)

Okay Kevin, Sounds Interesting, But Will It Really Get My Sanity Back?

Let me put it to you this way. Does having all your content and information packaged in one centralized location appeal to you? If it does, then yes. Think about it, dumping all your data in one place and having instant access to it from any location on earth with an Internet connection. I would sign up for that. It makes more sense if you are an avid traveler. You’ll enjoy an evolving platform, one which encourages add-ons for a more interactive user experience (not every Ajax desktop supports this though). You’re bound to witness more integration with Web 2.0 type applications from word processors to widgets, inevitably creating enhanced functionalities.

This process of choosing content that appeals to you and organizing it in one location is only a sample of what lies ahead in a shift towards microchunking (more on this in a future post).

Its early days yet though, in the world of Ajax desktops. Using one now could label you a pioneer. But I reckon once you’ve tried one, you’ll never look back.

Possibilities of using Ajax desktops for businesses? I don’t see why not and as I mentioned earlier, these personalized start pages have not hit the mainstream market as yet. Only time will tell how practical incorporating these start pages into your business model can be. But, with the proliferation of social networking sites like MySpace and judging by the popularity of Netvibes, a marriage of both models can fuse a profitable explosion. The BIG THREE (Windows Live, Google IG & My Yahoo) are already in the game. It’s obvious they’ve sniffed out a money pit.

Watch this space for updates.

I will be introducing a new category for this blog called, ‘Today’s Hot Steer’. It’s not what you think so don’t let your mind wander.

‘Today’s Hot Steer’ will bring you * insert your own powerful adjectives here * tips, resources and killer apps that I know will leave you either speechless or pleasantly satisfied. You may get the occasional ‘Ah-Ha’ moment and sometimes, the ‘So What?’, ‘What Should I Do With This’ and the ‘I’m Way Ahead Of You Kevin’ moments.

Many of these resources can be for your own personal use, for work or your business. Some resources may not be directly related to the subject matter of this blog, but because not clueing you in may affect my ability to stay guilt-free, I’m obliged to share great stuff with you. Indulge me, if you may.

Alright, let’s kick this category off with something you’re already familiar with: Open Source.

I’m sending you to a website which collates all Open Source applications that work on the Windows platform (I’m sorry Mac-ites, you might wanna sit this one out). You’ve just gotta to see it to believe it, so head on over to OSSwin Project.

If you’re a home user or a small business owner who cannot afford the time to browse through OSSwin Project’s comprehensive offerings, you might prefer MozOO and TheOpenCD. Both offer a free download of their CDs, comprising of quality Open Source tools that should suit your needs perfectly. They do offer a ‘Purchase’ option of the CD, but you might want to try that option only, if you’re averse to downloading anything.

These are Open Source tools that just about covers everything you need to have a fully functional PC at absolutely zero cost. If you possess more than one computer in your office or home, and are constrained by the legal bindings of your proprietary software, you now have possibilities.

It’s worth at least a thought.

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