Connect Learning and ooVoo

July 26, 2009

Now that Connect Learning offers instructor-led, hands-on sessions in Virtual classrooms, I’m exploring technology that brings the instructor closer to participants.

Osberto Asturias of Internet Spanish

Osberto Asturias of Internet Spanish

Osberto Asturias of Internet Spanish encouraged me to take a look at ooVoo. He’s excited about it because it can record both sides of the one-on-one tutoring sessions at the heart of the Internet Spanish method.

New Drop-Dead Gorgeous ooVoo
I was not expecting drop-dead gorgeous high quality video: clear, colorful and sharp. 

ooVoo also enables you to

  • Host 6 people in a streaming video conference.
  • Share your screen.
  • Embed Video Chat in your Web site
  • Add a Video Chat room to your Web site
  • Record a video message 
  • Include text chat

Take a look at ooVoo. I’ll be interested to hear your comments about it.



Houston Rose Society Celebrates 50 Years

July 10, 2009
Is this a peace rose?

Is this a peace rose?

Last night at the Houston Garden Center, the Houston Rose Society celebrated its 50th anniversary. What a good group. They are committed to making the considerable information they’ve acquired available to anyone who shares their interest.

Past president were introduced; it looked to me like serious gardeners age slowly.

Dr. William Welch was a treat. He showed pictures of the most beautiful roses in all kinds of settings.  He likes climbing roses so we saw trellises and gates loaded with blooms. He has championed old roses and likes to find and identify roses in old gardens and cemeteries. Amazon is sending me his book, Antique Roses for the South.

I took the photo of the rose inserted above in France. I would love to have this rose in one of  the 6 pots my balcony/patio will hold.


Flash Presentations via Sliderocket

July 6, 2009

Drew Shefman teaches Flash, Flex, and AIR at Connect Learning. When I consulted him about teaching a custom class on Flash Presentations, he told me about Sliderocket. I took a look at their demo, and I am wowed.

I like the idea of lugging less equipment. It’s so cool that I can be talking to someone and have them open up a presentation online and look at it “with” me.

It’s dead easy to bring in a photo from Flickr– and I’m thinking that photos and other assets are the way to make a presentation that communicates. I don’t want to just make a PowerPoint presentation without using PowerPoint.


Acrobat Hybrid

July 5, 2009
Sally Terrell Smith, President of Connect Learning

Sally Terrell Smith, President of Connect Learning

Adobe is following an interesting strategy with Acrobat.com. They started the site with valuable free services. The elegant Buzzword Word processor, designed with collaboration in mind, wowed me at first sight.

I’ve also used Acrobat.com to distribute forms and track responses. Acrobat.com does the nagging for me, resending the form only to the recalcitrent.

All this and more has been free and still is. Really free. No video ads, no ads at all.

Now the Acrobat.com team have put together a valuable bundle of additional services:

  • competing with You Send It with a service that sends large files to those who think FTP is a federal acronym
  • competing with GoTo Meeting with screen sharing
  • going GTM one better by adding a white board and streaming video so every one can see expressions and gestures
  • Including yet unseen (by me at least)  spreadsheets and  presentation-ware  

They’re stepping on GoToMeeting’s toes by hosting meetings that include screen sharing. Their subscription prices are lower; the Premium service costs $15.95 a month; Premium Plus costs $39 a month, and you have a white board,  plus streaming video, for up to 20 people.

Skype is great; it’s improved so much that I can use it to meet with my Internet Spanish tutor, Hector Antonio Garcia Hernandez, who teaches me to converse in Spanish–  by conversing with me one-on-one.

Today I was excited about sharing a bit of what I learned from Mary Gillen’s 60 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Ideas in 60 minutes. I was trying to explain how to get a vanity URL for Facebook. At a couple of points Hector held his screen up to the camera. It would have been much easier if I could have shared my screen. 

I might not need my GoToMeeting subscription if I can share my screen with up to 5 for $16 a month or for 20 if I splash out for the $39 Premium Plus subscription.

 The Flash Player delivers all this communications power on any browser, on Macs or PCs,  without a special download. At present you have to have a north American address to buy a subscription.


The Cat Ate My Resume

July 2, 2009
Alan Grob, an instructor who inspires me.

Alan Grob, an instructor who inspires me.

Working on my resume brought back good memories. The photo shows Dr. Alan Grob the year he came to Rice. His classes were carefully prepared and memorable. He taught us to look for patterns and to notice details that disturb us.  When we read Bleak House, he quoted George Bernard Shaw, who said that Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit was more seditious than Das Kapital. That’s a useful idea. 

My experience from reading a novel and identifying with some of the characters changes the way I act and react. I was amazed by the courage of the men and women of Iran who dared to protest in the streets. I was shocked to see photos of protestors that will make it easy to identify them.

I never understood how women who had never worn a veil were made to accept it — until a novel made it clear. In Reading Lolita in Tehran, I  “experienced” the fear that overwhelmed women’s resistence.  The enforcers arrested women if a  little hair escaped their scarf, and took them away to suffer enough to intimidate others.  One young woman was eventually executed. The enforcers put her in a sack and shot her. That’s nightmare material for me.


Mary Gillen’s 60 SEO Ideas in 60 Minutes

June 30, 2009

I’m psyched to get started. Tomorrow I’ll get serious with the key word research. Tonight I helped myself to a Facebook vanity URL.

Now I’m http://facebook.com/Sally.Terrell.Smith. (Idea 47)


Learn Spanish with Pros

January 28, 2009

Two tutors from Interlangua, Hector Garcia and Osberto Asturias have started a new Web tutoring company. Hector Garcia was my first tutor. By my third session I realized I was having conversations that were stimulating. Who knew that could happen?

You can see  Osberto in action at http://www.internetspanish.net/. Click the “here” link at the bottom of the right hand column. You’ll see the video of both sides of the conference.

You don’t see how the tutors use chat right away to send you the new word you’re trying to imitate. At the end of the session you copy the chat and take it with you. The chat may also have pictures and links to stories, articles and videos- everything from the Easter alfombras * and processions in Antigua to Ricardo Arjona.**

Learn to converse by conversing one-on-one. Talk about things that interest you or topics related to your work. You learn the words you’ll need when you converse in real life. It’s a rare and delightful experience. Try it.

Here’s the chat from my last lesson, March 28.

[9:59:56 AM] hector garcia: Buenos Días Sally!!!

[10:00:32 AM] hector garcia: ¿Cómo amaneciste hoy?

[10:03:02 AM] hector garcia: levadura

[10:15:00 AM] hector garcia: de lo que esperaba

[10:18:26 AM] hector garcia: reseca

[10:19:15 AM] hector garcia: una medicina me reseca la boca

[10:20:59 AM] hector garcia: había siete personas

[10:21:15 AM] hector garcia: nos pidió

[10:24:40 AM] hector garcia: dinámica de grupos

[10:26:13 AM] hector garcia: memorias

[10:27:10 AM] hector garcia: liderazgo

[10:31:56 AM] hector garcia: un corto

[10:38:20 AM] hector garcia: el Popol vuh

[10:43:16 AM] hector garcia: está latente

[10:45:55 AM] hector garcia: no hay que dormirnos en nuestros laureles

[11:03:36 AM] hector garcia: GUATEMALA (AP) – Un friso de hace unos 2.300 años que decora unas piscinas en la acrópolis Maya de Mirador da nuevas evidencias de que las historias del libro sagrado de los mayas, el Popol Vuh, no fueron adaptadas a la religión católica por el sacerdote español que lo tradujo.

“Por mucho tiempo se dijo que (el Popol Vuh) tenía influencia europea, pero en lo que se refiere a la mitología, no es falso. Es algo que plasmaban (los mayas) desde antes del 200 antes de Cristo”, dijo a la AP el arqueólogo independiente y curador del Museo Miraflores en esta capital, Juan Antonio Valdez.

Valdez no ha visto el friso y habló sobre el valor que tendría el descubrimiento si en efecto los personajes del friso son quienes asegura su descubridor, el arqueólogo estadounidense Richard Hansen.

Hansen es director del departamento de antropología de la Universidad de Idaho y tiene más de 30 años estudiando la cuenca del Mirador. Es además el director del Proyecto Arqueológico El Mirador.

Hasta ahora ningún arqueólogo independiente ha inspeccionado el friso, presentado al público el pasado fin de semana.

*Easter alfombras (carpets)   **rock videos Ricardo Arjona sings “Mujeres” in concert