Loopy Case – Review.

Loopy Case for iPhone 7 plus

When it comes to iPhone cases I am pretty difficult to please. I like protective covers but the also have to be light and well they can’t be ugly! Having had the snap-on hard back cases in the past I have avoided them since cracking the screen of my iPhone 5. When it came to my iPhone 6 I resorted to the full coverage 360 type covers and found them great so when I upgraded to an iPhone 7 plus late last year I automatically ordered the same type of covers.

Well….I don’t know what it is with them and the 7 plus but I cracked two covers in the space of two weeks so had to go shopping for something else. Looking for my typical light protective, stylish type cover I stumbled across Loopy cases and they had all that.  IThey were colorful and protective and the loop feature came with the promise of ‘no more drops’.  They were also originally funded through Kickstarter like a lot of great products. What more did I need? So I ordered one and waited. ….patiently!

Now the shipping did take a couple of weeks but I received updates from the Loopy team along the way. The case arrives in a nice little bag and came with a personalised note from the creators. It’s the little things that count!

When I first tried out the case I did wonder whether I would like it. The loop was a little further down that I would have liked so my first impressions were that this would never work but I was proved wrong. Less than 24 hours later and  I love my case. I don’t know how I ever did without it. It’s great for selfies, for out and about, it’s already received a lot of positive comments from others and they were right ‘no more drops’. Yep my phone hasn’t dropped and I find it’s also a lot more comfortable to hold.

I am definitely a Loopy case convert. I got the purple one but think I might have to get the turquoise one too now. When you pay out so much for a phone you don’t want cracked screens and with Loopy cases this is no longer a worry.

Oh and if you reached it this far they also sent me discount codes for friends. So if you are interested in getting a case and would like 15% off then drop me a tweet at @mircwalsh and I will send you the code.

Check out Loopycase for more info.

Loopy Cases | StoptheDrop™ from Loopy Cases on Vimeo.

Everyone Can Code with iWish and FET

This week we had the privilege of welcoming in a group of TY students to Apple RTC Cork for a morning of coding. The week was organised as part of iWish During the morning the students took part in a lot of different activities including,

  1. The Swift Playgrounds Hour of Code
  2. Coding with Osmo
  3. Coding with Sphero.
  4. Game-Design with Bloxels
  5. Augmented reality with Quiver
  6. Virtual Reality with ThingLink.

Throughout the morning the students discussed ideas they had for creating their own apps and a little bit of practice with Swift and I am sure there will be no stopping them.

 

 

My top 10 assessment apps.

Preparing for an iPad 1:1 classroom means trying to decide what apps to use. I have tried loads, some great, some awful and some I can see myself using for years to come. Below are my top 10 apps (in no particular order).

1. Socrative – iOS, web-based and free. Quiz based app

2. Verso – iOS, web-based and free. Great for peer reviews.

3. Adobe Spark – iOS, web-based and free. Great for video creation.

4. Genial.ly – web-based. Good for creating interactive CVs or posters.

5.  Seesaw – iOS, web-based. Great for student portfolios.

6. Padlet – iOS, web-based, free. Great for brainstorming.

7. Noteshelf – iOS. Note-taking app.

8. iTunes U – iOS. Portfolios, assessment hand-in.

9. Kahoot – iOS and web-based. Free. Quiz based app.

10. Post-it plus. iOS. Free. Brainstorming and note taking.

Ten years with the iPhone

So this week marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the iPhone and it’s time to reflect on how this has transformed the way we communicate so below are the top 10 ways it has changed the way I communicate. I didn’t get my first iPhone until September 2009 and it was an iPhone 3 but have had iPhones ever since and have recently upgraded to the iPhone 7 plus.

  1. The ability to communicate with friends all over the world through iMessage.
  2.  Using iOS devices in my classroom have transformed media design and development.
  3. Being able to keep in touch with others on the go.
  4. Having Siri and being able to get instant answers to questions.
  5. Having iOS devices led me to apply to be an Apple Distinguished Educator which transformed my PD and skills.
  6. iOS devices have turned me into a published author of multi-touch books.
  7. The camera on the iPhone 7 plus has released me from the heavy DSRL kit I used to carry around.
  8. How else would I have a cat called Siri!
  9. Accessibility settings have made everyday life and learning accessible for everyone
  10. Without iOS devices there wouldn’t be iTunes U which gave me an entry to a career in education.

My journey to a paperless classroom.

For sometime I had been hearing about paperless classrooms and had considered it but never knew if it would work. After speaking to so many people at last years Apple Distinguished Educators institute who had paperless classrooms I decided to give it a go.
So firstly the reasons why I wanted to do this.
1. Having to go into work an average of one hour early each day and hope that the printer and/or photocopier were working.
2. Having to constantly apologise to my class if I hadn’t have notes printed for various reasons but most often because the printer and/or photocopier weren’t working.
3. Seeing the amount of paper used.
4. Seeing notes left behind after class by people who clearly weren’t bothered if they had them or not.
5. Being the go-to person in the case of broken USB’s and being expected to recover work.

I did think it would be a challenge and other staff members looked at me in disbelief when I mentioned it and said it would never work but I was willing to give it a try and a new term was starting with new students who didn’t know better. Before starting I made two rules.
1. NO USB’s in class.
2. All notes will be uploaded to the cloud account and may be downloaded onto computers before class.

This is how it worked.
When I started a new class I set them all up with a copy account. Why copy? Well copy.com offers the largest amount of free storage I could find at the time (I have since learnt box.com is pretty good too) and since I have students creating larger files in programs like Final Cut Pro X this seemed a better solution than dropbox.
All notes were added into the copy account and each student was invited into it.
Students set up their computers to automatically save all their documents to copy and it was as easy as that. Any completed work could also be shared with me.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 15.16.56

I will admit the first class were reluctant to try and I was close to giving in and letting them use USB’s but in the end it worked out. I now have 10 different groups all using copy.com. It means no more panic for me in the mornings if I am faced with a situation like this. Which believe me was not a rare occurrence!

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With students now using cloud storage I have also avoided having to deal with broken USB’s which again is a massive weight lifted.

Some subjects do have worksheets which in the past I would have printed but now I use socrative.com to do them all online. The results are sent through in an excel spreadsheet which I can print if I choose. This means I have cut down from an average of 100+ pages per student to the length of the spreadsheet which is about 10 at most.

When it comes to the end of the year and assignment submissions they are all now organised and ready to go all I need to do is give the link and password to the external examiner and all the work is organised in folders for each student. Again this has cut out on the need to write the work to multiple CD’s which is a task I hated in previous years.

All in all it has worked out pretty well. The only paperwork printed is the mandatory paperwork required by FETAC and I have saved lots of trees and money in the process.

Taking into account the costs involved in printing at home which was often required and the cost of USB’s I have saved enough to reinvest that money into my classroom and my class have benefitted from different videos packages I have managed to purchase with that money. Each student now has a WordPress domain and hosting, Animoto Education Account, GoAnimate 4 Schools account and Powtoon account whereas in the past we had to go with free accounts and I think that in the end they benefit a lot more from those than from a few printed handouts. Not to mind the fact that I get a bit extra sleep in the morning and have far less paper cuts!

Consider giving it a go it is not as impossible as you think!

Virtual Learning Platforms.

Ok so Virtual Learning platforms are definitely being talked about at the moment. So here are my thoughts.

The main contenders have always been Blackboard and Moodle. As s student and educator over the past 7 years I have used and hated both.

In recent weeks things have changed. iTunes U has existed since 2007 but on the 19th of January the introduction of iTunes U courses made a difference as Steve Jobs would say ‘this changes everything’. I have been creating courses for over a week and find the experience so incredibly user friendly and can see the benefits. However the gigantic drawback is that unless a college makes their courses public there is limited access.

As you can imagine with FETAC guideless etc there are a lot of issues to be discussed before putting any of our own further education courses forward to be downloaded publicly so this is a big brick in the way. For private courses students need access to iOS devices. Sure about half our students do but it is still not ideal.

So in between all of that I have been busy researching and creating keynote after keynote and tweaking courses when I get a twitter notification to say that an education company called Lectrio were following me on twitter. I don’t usually take notice but I was in need of a break so decided to check them out (and you should too)

Lectrio is everything that Moodle isn’t (user friendly) and is both mobile and computer friendly unlike iTunes U courses.

The platform is currently in beta testing but allows teachers to create a course and upload documents to it. There is also a calendar option which is not available in iTunes U. iTunes U may look a little flashier but other than that Letricio has got it all.

Here is my analysis

iTunes U Courses

Pros

  • Unlimited file size.
  • Links items already in the iTunes U store.
  • User friendly
  • Can upload videos / images/ documents.
  • Free.
  • No storage limit

Cons

  • A college needs to be signed up to iTunes U
  • The use of private courses is limited to iOS devices.

Pros

  • Widely used so it’s got to be good….right?

Cons

  • Horrible interface from both a teachers and students point of view
  • Not user friendly
  • Not mobile friendly
  • Files are not organised
  • Files need compressing.
  • Expensive

Pros

  • User friendly
  • No storage limit
  • Integration with google docs
  • Works perfectly on iPad (although an app would be a bonus)
  • Has a calendar

Cons

  • Have only been trying it a couple of hours but so far none. Advantages over iTunes U Courses in access and tons easier than Moodle so I think it is a serious contender it will be interesting to see where they go in the future.

 

 

Lasik laser surgery. Is it for you?

So it had been going through my mind for years, the thoughts of do I have laser eye surgery or not. Several failed attempts at wearing contact lenses made the decision. One that could be seen as a last resort if I ever was going to get rid of those glasses that had been so big a part of my life for many years.

The final decision came a couple of months ago. My brother had opted for the surgery and having seen him before and after I figured it would be easy and why not. So a few weeks later I made my first appointment to see Mr. Hurley at Ardfallen eye clinic in the city.
After sitting there and having my eyes poked at and prodded for over an hour the good news came at last. My eyes were healthy enough and I was the perfect candidate for the surgery.

Fast forward three weeks and there I am getting ready on a Thursday morning and putting on my glasses for what I hoped to be the last time. Thoughts were rushing through my head over whether I really wanted it or not. What if I looked stupid without glasses? What if it all went wrong and I would never see again.
Before I knew it I was sitting there in the waiting room trying to fit some silly blue plastic socks over my shoes and attempting the impossible task of fitting all my hair under a stupid surgical hat.
Then it was the long walk down the hall of doom. Well not really but the hall did seem pretty long and grey.
Sitting outside the room I was handed a paper. Like I could have read it but right then I was hoping I would be able to soon. Listening to sounds of the machines creaking and moving inside I began to regret my earlier decision of not taking the valium I was offered.
And then the door opened. It was time to go inside.
“Lie down chin up”. Wonderful that is all I could think. Of course ‘chin up’ was something I was going to hear over and over and over in a tone of voice that appeared to be getting more and more angry every time it was said. Hey, what could I do. I tried!
So then the realization that my eyes were going to be sliced came. This is where you might want to stop reading if you are in anyway queasy!

Well, first of all he took this tiny scalpel shaped object and I could see it coming towards my eye. Half blinded by the light above I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to up and run but it was too late. It was happening and it was happening soon. As he made the incision there was the weirdest sensation as well as a blurred vision of white and red swirls. Believe me not as pretty as it sounds. Once the flap was cut open (as I was told and could have done without knowing) he moved the laser over my eye. It sounded a bit like a drill from the dentists. I never liked the dentist and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like this. “Chin up”, he said. Alright already!! I was trying my best. 30 seconds……….5, 4, 3, 2, 1 done finally. Now for the second eye.

Ouch! Well let’s just say I have pretty small eyes and anyone that knows me will vouch for that. What I have so far failed to mention is the fact that they pry your eyes open with this big metal object before placing this plastic thing inside to keep them even wider open. I am sure these things have names but when they are heading right for your eye they just look like big pyscho killer contraptions.
For this eye the big metal object failed terribly. And the attempts to put it in my eye hurt more than you could ever imagine so the plastic thing had to fly solo and do the job alone.
Yes it was a relief to have it done this way but the result is what the doctor has described as a not so pretty “hickey” around my eyeball. Thankfully it should disappeared within the next 6 weeks.
5,4,3,2,1 done!!!!! At last. Result; a massive sigh of relief. The torture was over and now I could hopefully see the results. Of course they gave me a massive dose of artificial tears so it looked like I was crying for the next half hour. Wonderful!

The journey home was less than pleasant. Of course it had to be the brightest day of the year and my eyes really hated that. When I got home I went into the darkest room I could find. By this stage I was scared of the fact that I couldn’t open my eyes for more than a second at a time without it hurting.

A couple of hours later and after a bit of sleep I could begin to open my eyes slowly and for longer periods of time. This became better as the day went on but I stuck to a dull room and sunglasses for the rest of the day. O
Of course the best part is the fact that I have three sets of eye drops, one to be put in every half hour. This is not so much fun but they really do make a difference and make my eyes feel better.

I had heard that the best part is waking up the next morning and being able to see clearly.
Talking to a friend later that evening he said that the next day I would be “like a puppy who had opened their eyes for the first time”. Yes I really was compared to a puppy but I will leave that one go for now.

So then it was the task of putting on the eye shields for the night. Well this was quite a task. Hand me a roll of tape and two shields and I can do a pretty good job at making myself look like a killer from a horror film and a scary one at that.

So how was the feeling the next morning. One word and one word only can capture the feeling. ‘Amazing’. It was like a whole new world for the first time in years it felt great. I hadn’t had the best nights sleep but my eyes felt good, my vision was good and apart from the gigantic red mark on my left eye there were no signs that I had had anything done at all.

So the next task was to go for a post-op check-up. I was easily amused on the way to the doctors. Challenging myself and seeing if I

Thankfully all the results were good and my eyes have already improved enough for me to drive without glasses and I can read the smallest text that can be seen by human eyes (apparently) so all in all good results after less than 24 hours. Next checkup in 6 weeks and between now and then it can only get better.

So the verdict then. Well if you are looking at getting it done it is not easy and really scary but think of the results are worth it. I would recommend Optilase to anyone. The staff there and at Ardfallen were great. The jury is still out on whether I would recommend Dr. Hurley but overall I am glad I did it.

Check out the photos below. Please don’t look if you are scared of eyes
My wonderful eye.

Sophie Lancaster Foundation

In August 2007, Sophie Lancaster was kicked to death, simply for dressing differently. Two years on, and in tribute to the outgoing, bubbly girl who was denied the chance to live life her way, cult new British make-up brand Illamasqua has commissioned a short film by award-winning French director, Fursy Teyssier.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW2ve6_BkRA&hl=en_GB&fs=1&]

http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com/

Next to Normal’s premiere twitter performance of new song Something I can’t see

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Next to Normal Twitter performance. Wednesday 28th October 2009, Tribeca NY.

Starting Just before 12am gmt or 7pm US time Next to Normal on Twitter released their new song “Something I can’t see” to a unique audience. The audience being the twitter users who helped write this latest addition to the musical.

In an intro video by creators Composer Tom Kitt and Lyricist Brian Yorkey welcomes tweeters to the event which was hosted live in Tribeca NY.

Next came a panel discussion

The panel consisted of Tom Kitt (composer), Michael Greif (director), David Stone (producer) and Brian Yorkey (Lyricist).

The panel talked about how the show was created and how it went from just being an idea in a BMI workshop to a tony award winning musical.

This discussion included playing a song called “Electricity” that was cut from the show. Other songs that were cut included ‘feeling electric’ whilst others were edited to suit the current show. All these original songs can be found here.(back then the show was called Feeling Electric)

There was also an explanation on how the new song “Something I can’t see” came to be written. During the process the twitter community voted on who should sing the song, where it would go in the show, what the motivations were and also the lyrics.

Moments later questions from twitter users were answered by the cast.

First Alice Ripley who plays the main part of Diana.

Question? “Jesse from twitter wants to know how my interpretation of Diana has changed since the beginning”?

Answer “Mmmm I would say that Diana and I have grown together in equal proportion. I think we have both become more aware of the big picture and also we have become maybe a bit crazier and maybe we both have a better sense of humour than we did a year ago”

Next up was Bobby Spencer who plays husband Dan.

Question? “I have a question here from Eric he wants to know how I cope with the incredibly overwhelming emotions throughout the show”?

Answer “Mmmm its a great question and I guess I never really think about it when I am doing the show. Dan just like comes organically it just comes with the job but when the show is done I get a little hot sockey for my throat because its pretty much an opera and its like when your in the gym working out with your muscles you like to take a hot bath, same when you sing a little hot sockey is good for the throat and other than that it’s just having fun throughout my day and laughing and being light hearted because an emotional show like this could tend to bring some people down but everyone in the cast is very very goofy, we are incredible goofballs. We all get along great and we are constantly laughing till they say places so thats how we cope with it by just being goofballs”.

Finally Jenn Damiano who plays 16 year old Natalie answered questions.

Question? “Brian Larson asked a question on twitter and he wants to know what the single hardest scene or song to perform is and why?”

Answer “Mmmm I would say the single hardest scene or song to perform is definitely “Super boy and the invisible girl”. Mmm only because there’s a lot of emotion and anger going on during the song its still you know really hard to sing so it just takes  a lot of balance and focus too because the worlds have so much weight on them and you don’t just want to through those phrases away because they seem so much and you still have to sign them pretty loud and really thoughtfully at the same time and its a challenge every night. But then the audience clap really loud after”.

Finally the show is closed by a thank you video message from Tom and Brian followed by a link to a short preview of the song.

The new song will be released soon as part of a podcast that is being created from last nights event. There are also plans for a future EP of songs that were cut from the show.

For now Next to Normal is still running in the Booth Theatre in New York.