Tip of the week: Make websites more readable — from fastcompany.com by Jared Newman
How to easily hide ads, auto-play videos, and other clutter in every major browser.

Excerpt:

Ever get annoyed by the intolerable reading experience on certain websites? By activating your browser’s reader mode, you can make web pages more reader-friendly by hiding ads, menus, pop-ups, and other distractions. Some web browsers even let you switch to reader mode automatically on specific websites. Here’s how:

 

Addendum on 1/17/22:

  • Fortnite Is Back On Apple iOS, for Some Users — from threstreet.com by Tony Owusu
    Beta testers for Fortnite on streaming cloud gaming service GeForce Now will have access to the third-person shooter through Apple’s Safari web browser.
 

WWF Free Rivers puts an entire landscape in your hands. Through this immersive, augmented reality experience, you’ll discover a river that flows through the lives of people and wildlife, and how their homes depend on those flows. Dam the river to see what happens, and then try different options for sustainable development that keeps the river healthy and flowing. Collect stories of people and animals along the way!

Features

  • In-depth, educational storytelling experience for environmental science
  • Stunning, animated, augmented reality model users can interact with and learn from
  • Five distinct habitats based on real places: the Himalayan mountains, tropical jungles, African savannah, South American grasslands, and Southeast Asian deltas.
  • Opportunity to get involved and help protect rivers, and the people and wildlife that depend on them
  • An augmented reality map of the world’s rivers—and some of the biggest threats and opportunities they face.

A snapshot from the AR-based app called WWW Free Rivers featauring mountains, trees, and a river running through the terrain

 

How to Listen to Podcasts in the Classroom — from 2peasandadog.com

Excerpts:

Podcasts can be used in the classroom for a variety of purposes. They are great for practicing listening skills, listening to stories, building a classroom community, and reinforcing academic content, among many others.

Teachers can access podcasts via websites, Apple apps, and Android apps.

Also from 2peasandadog.com, see:

 

hoopla digital streaming service -- borrow books, music, movies, and more. Very cool service.

hoopla digital is a digital streaming service for library users to access eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, movies, and TV shows using portable devices like smartphones and tablets.

From DSC:
I downloaded this app yesterday and borrowed a classical Christmas album on the spot. Our local library gives us 10 items per month:

  • Books are available for 21 days
  • Videos are available for 72 hours
  • Music titles are available for 7 days

NOTE: hoopla is available on desktops, phones, tablets, Alexa devices, Rokus, Apple TVs, Fire TVs, and Android TVs.

 

The 35 Best Apple and Google Apps of 2021 — from wonderoftech.com by Carolyn Nicander Mohr

Excerpt:

As 2021 draws to a close, Apple and Google have been busy creating their lists of the best apps of the year. These lists may include apps you already have or are familiar with. You may also discover your new favorite must-have app you’ll be eager to share with your friends.

 

From DSC:
From my perspective, both of the items below are highly-related to each other:

Let’s Teach Computer Science Majors to Be Good Citizens. The Whole World Depends on It. — from edsurge.com by Anne-Marie Núñez, Matthew J. Mayhew, Musbah Shaheen and Laura S. Dahl

Excerpt:

Change may need to start earlier in the workforce development pipeline. Undergraduate education offers a key opportunity for recruiting students from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic, gender, and disability groups into computing. Yet even broadened participation in college computer science courses may not shift the tech workforce and block bias from seeping into tech tools if students aren’t taught that diversity and ethics are essential to their field of study and future careers.

Computer Science Majors Lack Citizenship Preparation
Unfortunately, those lessons seem to be missing from many computer science programs.

…and an excerpt from Why AI can’t really filter out “hate news” — with thanks to Sam DeBrule for this resource (emphasis DSC):

The incomprehensibility and unexplainability of huge algorithms
Michael Egnor: What terrifies me about artificial intelligence — and I don’t think one can overstate this danger — is that artificial intelligence has two properties that make it particularly deadly in human civilization. One is concealment. Even though every single purpose in artificial intelligence is human, it’s concealed. We don’t really understand it. We don’t understand Google’s algorithms.

There may even be a situation where Google doesn’t understand Google’s algorithms. But all of it comes from the people who run Google. So the concealment is very dangerous. We don’t know what these programs are doing to our culture. And it may be that no one knows, but they are doing things.

Note:Roman Yampolskiy has written about the incomprehensibility and unexplainability of AI: “Human beings are finite in our abilities. For example, our short term memory is about 7 units on average. In contrast, an AI can remember billions of items and AI capacity to do so is growing exponentially. While never infinite in a true mathematical sense, machine capabilities can be considered such in comparison with ours. This is true for memory, compute speed, and communication abilities.” So we have built-in bias and incomprehensibility at the same time.

From DSC:
That part about concealment reminds me that our society depends upon the state of the hearts of the tech leaders. We don’t like to admit that, but it’s true. The legal realm is too far behind to stop the Wild West of technological change. The legal realm is trying to catch up, but they’re coming onto the race track with no cars…just as pedestrians walking or running as fast as they can….all the while, the technological cars are whizzing by. 

The pace has changed significantly and quickly

 

The net effect of all of this is that we are more dependent upon the ethics, morals, and care for their fellow humankind (or not) of the C-Suites out there (especially Facebook/Meta Platforms, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple) than we care to admit. Are they producing products and services that aim to help our societies move forward, or are they just trying to make some more bucks? Who — or what — is being served?

The software engineers and software architects are involved here big time as well. “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.” But that perspective is sometimes in short supply.

 

How to Support Students and Families through Technology and Innovation — from thejournal.com by Jeremy Davis

Excerpt:

Here are just a few district-wide innovations that resulted from the pandemic:

  • Worked with our local public access television station to broadcast district updates and educational resources. We contracted with Discovery Education to post some of their content to local channel 3 for students without home Internet access, and we built a television studio where our Innovation team worked with district teachers to produce content for local cable from 8–3 every week day.

DC: Which reminds me of this idea/graphic:

  • Students were provided with Internet hotspots to ensure every student in the district could access the content and the video conferencing lessons with their teachers.
  • The Educational Services department created an amazing curriculum and summer school program where students could log in and complete curricular activities as enhancements to the curriculum and throughout the summer.
  • Created videos of “how” we could do both live and online teaching at the same time to help teachers feel more comfortable with the new way of teaching.
 

Best Wireless Keyboard and Mouse for Teachers 2021 — from techlearning.com by Luke Edwards
The best wireless keyboard and mouse for teachers can give freedom to move without losing ease of input

The following don’t focus much on Apple’s products, but you can also see:

 

A Judge Rules Apple Must Make It Easier To Shop Outside The App Store — from npr.org by Bobby Allyn
Judge Rules Apple Must Change Its Tightly Controlled App Store | The ruling follows a three-week trial in which Epic, the maker of the hit video game Fortnite, argued Apple’s App Store policies are an abuse of power and hurt developers.

Excerpt:

A federal judge ordered Apple on Friday to crack open the tightly controlled App Store and “steer” people using apps to payment methods other than Apple’s own processor, which usually collects a 30% commission on app purchases.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers is the most significant strike yet against Apple’s commission, something critics call “the Apple tax.” It could force the tech giant to revamp its entire business model for apps on iPhones and iPads.

Also see:

Factbox-Apple vs Epic case: heated arguments, dramatic calls — from reuters.com
A U.S. judge on Friday issued a ruling in Fortnite creator Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit against Apple Inc’s App Store, striking down some of Apple’s restrictions on how developers can collect payments in apps.

Apple can no longer force developers to use in-app purchasing, judge rules — from cnbc.com by Kif Leswing
The trial took place in Oakland, California, in May, and included both company CEOs testifying in open court.

  • Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Friday handed down a decision in a closely watched trial between Apple and Epic Games.
  • Rogers issued an injunction that said Apple will no longer be allowed to prohibit developers from providing links or other communications that direct users away from Apple in-app purchasing.
  • Rogers said Apple was not a monopolist and “success is not illegal.”

Tech Stocks Are Jumping as Judge Forces Changes to Apple’s App Store — from
A slew of tech stocks are rallying after a Northern California judge ruled that Apple must allow developers who distribute their apps via its store to bypass the company’s payment systems—a move that could alter which companies collect billions of dollars now paid to Apple. The decision arrives after a legal fight that began roughly a year ago.  

 

Top 300 Tools for Learning 2021 [Hart]

Top 300 Tools for Learning 2021 — from toptools4learning.com by Jane Hart

Excerpt:

2021 was the YEAR OF DISRUPTION! There were a substantial number of new tools nominated this year so the main list has now been extended to 300 tools to accommodate them, and each of the 3 sub-lists has been increased to 150 tools. Although the top of this year’s list is relatively stable, there is quite bit of movement of tools on the rest of the list, and the effect of the new tools has been to push other established tools down – if not off the list altogether. Further analysis of the list appears in the right-hand column of the table below.

This table shows the overall rankings as well as the rankings on the 3 sub-lists: Top 150 Tools for Personal Learning (PL150), the Top 150 Tools for Workplace Learning (WL150) and the Top 150 Tools for Education (ED150). NEW tools are shaded YELLOW, tools coming BACK on the list are shaded GREEN. The most popular context in which each tool is used is also highlighted in BLUE.  Click on a tool name to find out more about it.

 


Top 300 Tools for Learning 2021 -- from Jane Hart


 

 

The Hardware and Materials Innovations Enabling Consumer Augmented Reality — from luxresearchinc.com by Vladimir Roznyatovskiy

Excerpt:

Consumer mass-market augmented reality (AR) products and applications could become a fourth wave of modern technological progress, following the PC and smartphone in transformative impact on nearly all aspects of life and business.

However, making widespread consumer AR a reality will require significant innovations in optical components, light engines, and cameras and sensors to reduce size and weight while improving performance. These advances will create significant opportunities for materials and hardware developers. It will be five years to seven years before these efforts translate into viable mass-market devices, but once they do, the opportunities for consumer insights and engagement will be tremendous and a significant source of competitive differentiation.

 
 

Apple’s latest accessibility features are for those with limb and vocal differences — from techcrunch.com by Devin Coldewey

Excerpt:

Apple announced a batch of accessibility features at WWDC 2021 that cover a wide variety of needs, among them a few for people who can’t touch or speak to their devices in the ordinary way. With Assistive Touch, Sound Control and other improvements, these folks have new options for interacting with an iPhone or Apple Watch.

 

Tips To Use Virtual Training For User Education & Immersive Site Tours — from elearningindustry.com by Stephanie Ivec
While virtual reality safety and equipment training have been around the longest, more and more organizations are seeing the benefits of virtual reality for new uses, like the site tours and user education.

Excerpt:

Software tools or systems, surgical devices, and even board games commonly require end user training or customer education in order for the customer to get the most out of the item they’ve purchased. Over the years, user education and training has evolved from lengthy user manuals to online videos to fully immersive experiences. Virtual and augmented reality videos are an engaging way to make customers feel more comfortable with a new product, procedure, or system.

Addendum on 6/11/21:

  • Assessing Extended Reality’s Potential — from avnetwork.com by Margot Douaihy
    VR and AR still mystify some integrators, but advocates say the potential of extended reality (XR) solutions is staggering.

VR costs continue to decrease as processing power increases. Tethered and wireless HMDs (head-mounted displays) are becoming more compact and easier to use. From the HTC Vive Pro 2 to Oculus Quest 2, there are solutions for various budgets. VR is no longer cost-prohibitive.

The AR ecosystem is evolving, too. Apple’s ARKit and free AR mobile apps like Adobe Aero are inviting more people into the content creation space.

It’s a different calculus for adoption in commercial sectors, however. Return on investment and utilization throughout the product lifecycle are primary concerns.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian