April 28, 2009

Map on SCORM object authoring

Here is a shareable map that compares e-learning content authoring and delivery using Learning Management Systems versus SCORM authoring tools.

April 24, 2009

Screencast on Roundup

Screencast on Roundup. Roundup is customizable web based issue tracker application.

Screencast on co-ment

Co-ment is a web based text annotation application. It can be used as a service from It is also a free open source software that can be downloaded and installed on a server for an organization to be used internally. More about this option here:

Screencast on VUE - Visual Understanding environment

VUE is a mindmapping application that works well with images and includes PowerPoint like presentation capabilities.

November 13, 2008

MinneDemo 11-12-08


MinneDemo had a great get together yesterday at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. There were ten demos lasting 7 minutes each. Most demos are software demos, and made by local profit or non profit organizations. Lots of innovation going on.

1. Hardcore computer demonstrated their liquid submersion computer made for gaming. Liquid submersion addresses the overheating concern of today's computers.

2. Periscope Gadget allows Basecamp projects control inside iGoogle and in Gmail.

3. Tumblon a sharing website for parents of 0-5 year olds. Parents can mark their children's milestones, upload pictures and write a blog and then control whom they will share their site.

4. matches requests from consumers for eating out and entertainment with merchants providing specials. This works by consumers entering info of what they intend to do and merchants listing their offers. Offers are then matched by the matching engine and text message offers are sent to consumer's cell phones. Created by the UMN IT graduate.

5. Portage Interactive - creates educational games for children grades 4-6 years old. They demod their game called Team Trex. The game places students with some online characters on Glacier Bay and asks them to solve problems. Teachers control many aspects of the game and are provided with detailed reports.

6. OnePlace online collaboration and team management application. This seemed like a great application to learn more about. It breaks down barriers between work and home life and allows for greater, more flexible and more connection with people who are important to you.

7. Zanby - allows individuals associate with groups and group families. The demo was most confusing of all the apps demod. I was lost in understanding what the main problem was that the app was trying to address.

8. TryCatch games - develops flash games for "killing time". Their clients are companies who can use these games for promotianal purposes. Applications are easily skinned to customer's desires.

9. Enleiten - a project management and personal productivity tool. Ogranize your work and personal tasks and collaborate with others. This app again breaks down barriers between work and home responsibilities.

10. BannerFlow - is a service to connect banner designers with their customers. Allows easy uploading of different versions of banners and feedback from the byers of these banners.

In summary a great set of demos. It was interesting to see how people were able to use the seven minutes they had for their demo. The most common way to "move along" was to have two people present. One person was talking, the other was doing the software demo "driving". One person also used a pre-recorded movie of the software that ran and he commented on it during the demonstration. The folks from BannerFlow acted out the parts of a banner creator and a buyer and used their software to show how it helped them do their work.

May 8, 2007

Imaging dual boot Intel Macs

So, you have prepared a perfect Mac build and on the same machine, but different a partition, you have a perfect Windows XP build.  Your goal now is to clone this setup to bunch more identical hardware.  First you need to get the images from both Mac and Windows.

  1. Take an image of the Mac side.
    • Connect an external hard drive to the Mac
    • Boot the Mac with the MacOS X install DVD (hold down the C key during boot up time while the DVD is in the drive).
    • Start Disk Utility from the Tools menu
    • Select the Mac OS hard drive from the left hand menu bar
    • Choose to create an image
    • Store the image on the external hard drive.
    • Note:   Do not deny access to the root as per OIT security document on the initial Mac image.  This will make the image not functional
  2. Take an image of the Windows side
    • Run Sysprep (get sysprep.exe and pclsetup files from Windows XP OS CD  save them on the hard drive and run the sysprep as Admin user ). We noticed that running sysprep with just a Reseal command would not let us get back into Windows upon the initial boot.  We received an error saying that the Windows installation is not complete.  Before running Sysprep we ended up removing Windows Media Player shortcuts in Add / Remove programs Windows components as Windows Media Player updates were listed as a possible cause for the error.  We also ran sysprep Reseal with the mini-setup option.
    • Boot the computer into MacOS
    • Connect the external harddrive
    • Install NTFSProg software, so that the Mac OS can see the Windows Partition
    • Run NetRestore Helper
    • Store the image on the external harddrive

Once you have the images you need to put these on the new machine.  

  1. Partition the hard drive on a Mac into two partitions
    • Install Bootcamp
    • Run Bootcamp and choose to partition the harddrive
    • Insert the Windows XP CD and choose to Start the Windows Installation.  Bootcamp should recognize the Windows CD in the drive, reboot the machine and launch Windows XP installation from the CD.  We experienced that sometimes Bootcamp would not recognize the Windows CD in the drive.  In this case we manually restarted the computer and held dows an option key to boot using the Windows XP CD.  This effectively started Windows XP installation CD.
    • When presented with the partitions of the hard drive as part of Windows XP installation, choose the correct partition for Windows (in our case it was always the last partition on the list) and format the partition using NTFS.
    • Once the Windows XP installation has finished formatting the drive and starts to copy over installation files, turn off the power to the computer by holding down the power button.  At this point we have a Windows partition formatted as NTFS ready for our image.
  2. Copy over Windows image
    • Boot into Mac OS.
    • Start NetRestore software
    • Choose the image source file from the external hard drive and destination as the Windows partition
    • Set the computer to restart when done and  target as bootable partition
    • Windows image will be applied to the Windows partition and when the process finishes, the computer will reboot into Windows.  The first thing what will happen then is that Windows will do a drive consistency check.  It will then reboot and present you with the mini-setup screens where you need to enter computer name and other necessary information.  Once it is finished with mini-setup you are ready to log into Windows
    • Apply after install config changes.  We noticed that the Tweak UI setup for automatic login did not work after imaging, so we ended up re-keying the username and password for automatic login in Tweak UI.  Also, we needed to re-instate shortcuts for Windows Media Player.  We also noticed that it was necessary to launch Office 2007 once to eliminate the initial questions from Office setup.
  3. Copy over the Mac image
    • Connect an external hard drive to the Mac
    • Boot the Mac with the MacOS X install DVD (hold down the C key during boot up time while the DVD is in the drive).
    • Start Disk Utility from the Tools menu
    • Select the Mac OS hard drive from the left hand menu bar
    • Choose Restore pane from the right hand side
    • Browse to your image file on the external hard drive
    • Drag the MacOS into the target box on the right hand side of the screen
    • Choose to Erase the target and to Skip the checksum
    • Once the copying finishes, quite the disk utility and boot into Mac
    • Change the computer name in the System Preferences sharing to reflect the actual computer name.
Note:  You can also apply the Mac image to a computer before the Windows image. 


April 11, 2007

Intel Macs and Windows

With new Intel processor based Macs it is now possible to run both Windows and Mac OS on the same box. There are several options how Windows could be installed on a Mac. Let's list them here:

  1. Run Windows by booting into Windows at boot up time. This installation requires installing Boot Camp software from Apple.
  2. Run Windows as a virtual machine inside MacOS.  This installation requires using Parallels software
  3. Run two different Windows installations, one by booting into Windows and the other as a virtual machines inside MacOS.  This installation requires both Boot Camp and Parallels.  The downside of this is that you have to maintain two Windows installations on the same computer.
  4. Run the same Windows installation and have an option to boot into it at boot up time or switch to it from inside MacOS.  This installation requires using both Boot Camp and Parallels.  

The 4th option is the setup that we chose to be installed on our lab Macs.  Here are the steps to make this happen:

  1. Boot into MacOS. 
  2. Download and install Boot Camp
  3. Run Boot Camp from the Utilities folder.
  4. Create a MacOS driver disk for Windows as part of the Boot Camp's wizard.
  5. Create a partition for Windows
  6. Windows partition will be created - a regular Windows installation will start.
  7. Once Windows is installed, the Mac will by default boot into Windows.  We need to boot into MacOS for our next step.  To do this, hold down the option key at boot up time.
  8. Chooce MacOS for boot option.
  9. In MacOS, download and install Parallels
  10. Run Parallels desktop application from the application folder
  11. Create a new virtual machine and select Custom setup
  12. Choose Boot Camp partition from the Custom menu.  this will create Parallels virtual Windows OS using the same Windows installation as the one we created with Boot Camp.

To finish up make sure to install all hardware drivers on the Windows.  This is not necessary when you run Parallels from within Mac, but if you boot into Windows, the many hardware in not recognized.

 Now that I have built one machine, I need to figure out how to image it and push the image to other lab machines.  This will be the subject of my next post.

March 30, 2007


I will learn Python.

February 14, 2007

Why is Password Safe cool?

Last week I got a notice from "central" about instituting a required password change. From now on Internet passwords for the U's self service have to be changed at least yearly. It is a good policy and all, but man! How am I to cope with this increased burden? I mean life is already complicated enough. I have a family to feed, mortgage to pay,  bikes to maintain, and now this... . Fortunately there is Password Safe . For every measure there is a counter measure. I can breathe easy now. I fear not the password change.  We humans are amazing!

January 18, 2007

Why is Portable Thunderbird cool?

My job takes me around campus often not knowing where I will have to spend the extra half an hour between meetings. Logging a laptop around works, but gets heavy after a while. I found that I can leave the laptop behind, just bring a flash memory drive, and use the public computer labs. Since a lot the work I do happens via email, I need to be able to access my email reliably with the familiar interface and search functionality. This is where Portable Thunderbird comes in.

Portable Thunderbird allows you to connect to your email from the flash memory drive. Portable Thunderbird - don't leave home without it!

January 17, 2007

Why is Picasa so cool?

Ok, writing about Picasa photo editing software under "Work Related" is a bit of a stretch.  But perhaps not too big of a stretch.  Picasa is a photo indexing, editing and uploading software that many could use to simplify their image collection management.  

I downloaded and installed Picasa mostly out of curiosity.  What I found though, was a pleasant surprise.  Here are some things that make it a great application.

  • Picasa finds all images on your computer and makes them available in an easy to browse interface.   I had a problem of knowing where my images are.  I had stored them on my computers hard drive, then backed them up to an external drive. I had created many folder for my images, but I wasn't sure where I have what.  Upon launching Picasa for the first time it asks if I want to scan my computer for images.  Once you select yes, it find all the pictures and brings them into Picasa interface.  The default interface displays your images in their respective folders in a time line.  All images can be scrolled.  Images are presented with a large thumbnail that makes them easy to recognize. 
  • You can upload your images from Picasa to Google's web albums.  There you are given 250 MB of free space and more space upon paying a yearly fee.  What impressed me here about Picasa is how simple it is to upload photos and to share them someone.  There are two options for sharing your photos.  Both options would display your images publicly.  One option is to list your images under an easy to read directory.  This would make finding images simple.  The other option creates a unique code behind the URL of the listing that cannot be guessed which is only available to the account owner.  The owner can then copy this "private" link and provide it to those whom they trust.  Unlike many other online photo services the person with whom you share your images doesn't have to have web albums account in order to see your pictures.
  • Anyone can buy pictures from Google's web albums.  A person can select from two print providers and use their service to order prints.
  • Picasa allows you to create albums with your images.
  • You can easily edit, create a presentation and create a collage with Picasa.
  • You can easily include a images in Google's blogger from inside Picasa.
  • Picasa is available with an Estonian language menu!
The biggest advantage of Picasa for me was finding all my pictures and making sense out of them.