Life on the Cloud: Day 3 (or Turbulence in the Cloud)

If you’re going to live on the cloud, you’d best make sure that you’ve got all the tools you’ll need before you get up there. So far, it’s not been that bad, but this experiment is entering its third day and now all of a sudden, I’m encountering a little turbulence and the ride is a bit bumpier than what I would have liked.

It seems as if my Java installation is corrupt or malfunctioning or something. Firefox keeps spitting out errors but Chrome acts like it doesn’t notice anything. So I get to fix my Java issues… yippee. Is this stepping off the cloud? Yeah, I guess so, although I’m not really running any desktop applications, I’m still not in the cloud doing this good stuff. More updates later.

Updated 11:20am (EDT)

So my Java situation has been rectified. The problem stemmed from the fact that when Java is updated, older versions of Java are not automatically removed. After trying to uninstall the older versions, I realized that traces of old versions of Java (registry entries, etc.) remain behind after the program has been uninstalled. Oh, joy.

Rather than digging through the registry and possibly screwing things up, I turned to Microsoft FixIt. I downloaded and ran the FixIt program, it removed all traces of Java from my machine and I was able to install Java Version 7, Update 7. Ugh.

Updated 6:09pm

So after the Java nightmare earlier in the day, I was able to get back up on my cloud and spend the rest of the day without touching the dreaded lavafloor. As a matter of fact, the experiment went splendidly this afternoon as I was in a couple of meetings and used CloudOn on the iPad to take notes and jot down ideas. CloudOn is a wonderful little app that allows you to create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint presentations on an iOS or Android device and sync them to your Dropbox or Google Drive. The MS Office clone apps in CloudOn are not quite as powerful as their desktop counterparts, but they get the job done with ease, and really… would you want to create a full-on hardcore PowerPoint presentation with all the bells and whistles on your iPad?

All in all, ignoring the Java debacle, it was a successful day in the Cloud. Tomorrow is Friday and I think it’ll be a raging success… Or at least I hope it will.

~Rodney

Cool Tool – Highlight and Share Text with Yellow Highlighter Pen

In case you haven’t noticed yet, this blog is devoted to instructional technology.  From time to time, I will be showcasing various tools I’ve  which I think might be useful to instructors who use the web as a teaching platform in a fully online, hybrid, or web-enhanced course.

Today’s tool is a nifty way to highlight text on webpages and share the pages (complete with highlighting) with students.  This is a Chrome extension, so if you’re using Firefox or (heaven forbid) Internet Explorer, this won’t work for you.  I always recommend having (at least) all three browsers installed on your machine so that you can take full advantage of all the web has to offer, but that’s another story for another time.

Install the Add-On

To get Yellow  Highlighter Pen (which could use a spiffier name), go to the Yellow Highlighter Pen for Web in the Chrome Web Store.

Once the page loads, click the Add to Chrome link .

Then you’ll see the “Confirm Installation” window.  Click on the “Install” button to install the add-on.

Once the addon has been installed (which will only take a couple of seconds), the “Yellow Highlighter Pen” icon will appear to the right of the address.  To use the pen to highlight webpage text, just click on the icon and a little “marker.to” pop-up will appear.

At this point, you’ll notice that your mouse pointer has turned yellow!  Now, just select the text you want to highlight and VOILA!  Your text has highlights! To change the color of the highlight, select a color from the palette that appears.

What makes this tool particularly interesting is not the ability to highlight text. Lots of web tools can do that. Tools like Diigo (which I also like) also allow you to share highlighted pages with others. BUT, unlike Diigo, this add-on doesn’t require end users to have a login. You can share the page (complete with highlights) with anyone. Just copy and paste the text from the marker.to pop-up, and you’re ready to go. You may also wish to share the page via Facebook or Twitter.

This can be especially helpful if you’d like to send students to a webpage but want them to pay particular attention to a specific portion of the page.

To see the page I used in this example, click on the image to the right or follow this link.

Hope you find this helpful, and as always, any comments, questions, concerns or (gentle) criticisms are welcome.

~Rodney