Last Legs?

The iMac is starting to reboot often. Started this afternoon sometime. It seems to realise that it can’t wake from sleep so it reboots (and then can’t find the bluetooth keyboard). Happened about 4 times this evening.

I’ve removed the BT keyboard and I’ll see how that goes.

Next, I’m going to duplicate the Time Machine process on a new HDD.

Then I’ll look at a full rebuild, it’s probably well overdue anyway.

After that, if it is still occurring, I’ll have to consider retirement. Considering it’s a mid-2009 iMac, having lasted 8 years isn’t too bad.

Update: So after removing the BT keyboard and the Magic Trackpad (so now its the normal keyboard andMagic Mouse) the iMac has been behaving properly again. She fights on….. I wonder when the next iMac update is, 6 months away at least I expect. Not going to look at the iMac Pro, not required.

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Paperless Study on iPad

I stumbled across the following YouTube channel, Paperless Student, while I was looking for a solution to a problem with PDFs on the iPad. It inspired me to write this post describing what I do to organise and carry out my study. This is a really long post so go ahead to the next page in your RSS feed if this isn’t of interest to you.

I am studying my degree via distance learning, with all of my lectures and assessments provided and submitted across the internet. I wanted to be able to study wherever I went, without having to lug textbooks or spending much money on stuff,  like a new laptop. I already had an iPad and wanted to see if I could use that as a focus, with minimal expenditure. I generally DO NOT use the iPad when I’m at home as I use a multiscreen iMac there. Though sometimes I use both at once, you can never have too many screens!

BUT, I have not been able to go completely paperless. I am studying Teaching, so that has required me to do some things on paper, visual arts, for example. In these cases, I have had to use paper or create objects, outside of the computer, but these have ended up in videos or images which have been submitted online.

Distance Learning

In some ways, it’s a little easier than if I was attending University as all of the information is already online for me. I view and respond in my own time. The teachers have generally provided a list of readings, usually including the textbook, perhaps some links to videos or websites of interest. I don’t know how I would go trying to take notes in class, live. Though the Apple Pencil and Stylus has already worked well in work meetings.

The university uses a system called Blackboard to provide these lessons. Alongside the pages providing each week’s topic, or assessment details etc, there is also a discussion board and the provision to join live tutorials (or view the recording). It is a little behind in its design and layout, however, it is pretty functional.

 

Assessments are submitted through this portal, and it also provides access to the university’s library. Obviously, library items that are physical cannot be read through the portal, but thousands of articles and readings are available online.

My Setup

I use the following software on the iPad. I’ll list them with a brief description, then give you some more details on how I use them further down.

  • Safari – Used to read all of the lectures.
  • OneNote – This is the core note-taking software that I use.
  • Word – This is used for writing my assessments.
  • Vitalsource Bookshelf – here are my textbooks
  • Stylus – this is a software keyboard that you can write and it converts to text (OCR)
  • Apple Pencil
  • Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard.

Using this and one or two speciality applications for particular assessments I can do 90% of my work on the iPad. The little bit left, I can still remain paperless, but I usually switch to my iMac. I expect that I could get the appropriate software (mostly creating PDFs and editing video) on the iPad, but it is already on the iMac and these are uncommon tasks.

OneNote

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Microsoft provides this free. This links in well as the university provides us with an Office365 subscription and OneDrive space. I use a single notebook for each course (in this case Master of Teaching). I split that into a tab for each unit (so Practical Placement 1, Teaching Arts in Primary School, etc). Then pages as I require, including subpages. Usually each week’s notes, lectures and questions get a single page.

I copy the weekly lesson information from the Safari page into OneNote. This allows me to access it offline and it means I have it saved for after the unit is completed. It also allows me to write notes immediately alongside or below questions posed in the text. This is just copied straight from Safari. OneNote also allows the inclusion of links to videos and webpages so these are not lost when I copy.

I did use the Bluetooth keyboard almost exclusively, but since switching to an iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, I’ve started to use the Stylus system more. I will still use the keyboard when I want to do lots of typing, but sometimes I can’t or don’t want to have as big a setup as this (such as doing some study when I’m in a work meeting!), or I just have a couple of things to write I will use the Pencil.

Another advantage of OneNote is that it syncs quickly and completely across every platform I use. I can access my notes on iPhone, iPad, iMac, PC and I think even Online (but my work systems don’t let me access OneDrive at work – still I suppose I should be working anyway!)

Vitalsource Bookshelf

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WOW, eTEXTBOOKS are so awesome. So far my success in finding the correct ebook version of the prescribed text has been 100%, but I dread the day when this doesn’t work. So far they have also been compatible with Vitalsource’s Bookshelf application. Currently I have about 9 texts in my iPad and my iPhone. Imagine carrying that pile of books to work everyday! I’d need a second motorcycle (I need one anyway though!).

The next two advantages of etext are ease of searching (and Bookshelf allows you to search each book or your entire library) and highlighting/notetaking. Just as you might (I was NEVER one to do this) get out your highlighter as you’re reading – you can do just that in Bookshelf. Then you can read through the list of highlights/notes and find what you were looking for, without having to read the whole book. And these sync across devices/web access.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 09.53.06This is great for writing assignments. You can quickly find references, even across multiple textbooks. And by having other books available, you can build a better assignment by providing multiple sources. For example, even while using the Creative Technologies text, I can quickly switch into searching and referencing a text on Educational Psychology or Assessment Techniques. And I can do this even when I am not at home as I have all the texts with me.

Lastly, eTexts tend to be cheaper than purchasing new. Most are lifetime though I’ve noticed a couple are 5 or 10 year “rentals”.

Other Pieces of the Puzzle.

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The Apple Pencil was initially pretty disappointing actually. I found that I was only using it to make the selection of text in texts easier. It was also handy for sketching and brainstorming in OneNote, however by adding Stylus OCR Keyboard, it’s really starting to shine. I almost feel as if the iPad is finally as easy to use as my ancient Palm devices were (I really got used to writing quickly in Palm’s Graffiti)

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Blackboard, the system the university uses, has recently updated its applications (I suspect the impending release of iOS 11 and it’s lack of support for 32bit applications was the catalyst). I really only use it if I want to join in the online class discussions when I’m not at home (where I would do it on my iMac).

Difficulties, Current Issues

Submitting assessments – I’ve only done this once on the iPad. Blackboard’s submission portal would only accept files from the PC, or from Google’s Drive or Dropbox. Not the OneDrive that they provide for us (go figure that!). The iPad doesn’t have a “Files” (wait and see with OS11 and the Files application), but you can select things from your iCloud. I can’t remember exactly how I did it, but I saved my OneDrive file to iCloud (I think through Pages on the iPad) and then uploaded from there into Blackboard. It was complicated, but the assessment was due (on Christmas Eve no less!) and I was on an overseas holiday, so I couldn’t just get onto the iMac.

Highlighting PDFs – Currently, if I open a PDF in Safari (from the university library) I can save it into iBooks. However, once there, I can’t highlight any of the text. I’m writing this on the 17 September and on 20 September (I guess 21 September down under) iOS 11 is released and one of the new things they have added is the Markup feature. In iBooks, it appears that you will be able to highlight text. I will pause my hunt for a solution to this until after I upgrade to that.

*this is how I stumbled across Paperless Student in the first place.

Word on iPad vs Word on Desktop – There are a few formatting features that are either not available on the iPad version or just more difficult to use. Subsequently, I tend to finalise my assessments (usually it’s about formatting the reference list, they have a particular indent setup they require). This is where I also convert to PDF and sometimes put several PDF together. I think that there are probably ways I could do this on the iPad, but I don’t (haven’t yet anyway) need to. I am still paperless, but just not locked into the iPad. It also links into being easier to submit from here too.

Last words

I may not have headed down this path if I already had a light notebook but I haven’t owned a laptop for about 8 or 9 years. I’ve occasionally considered it, but I converted from Palm to iPad (long before I had an iPhone) with the release of the first iPad and haven’t really been convinced to go back to a laptop. I will admit that in some cases, if I’d had a MacBook (or Air) I would have found things easier, but then somethings, such as built-in cellular, and the stylus input are a distinct advantage for the iPad.

I store all my assessments and work on OneDrive, however I also keep a copy on my iMac (which is also backed up through Time Machine). I figure that between me and Microsoft, I’m unlikely to lose an assessment in those critical panicked few minutes around submission!

Paperless wasn’t the goal, having all my notes and references available in a small package that I could easily take to work or on travel was the goal. Paperless is a happy side-effect.

 

 

Prac Complete

Two weeks of prac are over and do I really have to go back to my real job on Monday?

Please, can I just stay and teach kids?

I was reading some of my older posts in the study category and I may not have mentioned that the degree I am studying in order to change career is to become a Primary (Elementary) School teacher.

My first prac is now done and I really had a great time. The class had its challenges. There were kids who had attitude, kids who had too much energy, kids who struggled with basic reading and maths. I helped out around the class and took some small groups for reading or writing. In the second week I took the whole class for some maths lessons.

By the end of the week, it was clear to me that I really enjoyed it. There was some tough moments, and it’s tough trying to control someone else’s class when they’ve had half a year to build a rapport.

Another thing that was clear was that I HAD ACTUALLY TAUGHT THEM SOMETHING! Even the students who struggled seem to have understood the maths that I had taught them. Very happy with that result.

The written assessments from the two assessors were very positive. Of course there are things to work on, but this is my first prac of four over the two years, I’m not expected to be perfect. Heck, all the teachers made it clear that every year their classes required different management, a different style because the kids are a different collection of personalities.

Do I HAVE to go back to work?

Prac Week 1

So the first week of my first practical placement ends tomorrow. I’ve been placed in a year 3 class. A whole class of interesting personalities! While due to whole school activities I haven’t actually seen much teaching in action I have certainly seen classroom management and behavioural management in action.

I am enjoying it which is the first hurdle over. I think I’m on the right track in my career change choice which is another plus. I can see a lot of work and a lot of love for not great pay. The school has a pretty good feeling about it. There are about 6 other prac students there, all in their last prac.

I’ve taken a group for some remediation maths which was hopefully somewhat successful but was sure hard work. I have to take 4 lessons next week which will be very eye opening I’m sure. It’s a lot easier to know what level to pitch at now that I’ve met the kids. But knowing the kids it’s also more of a challenge as I now know some of thier attention spans and capabilities.

Overall it’s been positive so far. Ask me next week after I’ve actually “taught” the class.

She wants to what?

Friday I was not going to be working and I expected that Mrs Mab was working. I had most of the day planned: drop the girls at school, head to the gym with my trainer, then head out for a few hours ride.

Then Mrs Mab mentioned she wasn’t working Friday. WHAT! I checked her roster, nope, not rostered on, oh no, been looking forward to this Friday for ages! For the ride this Friday. Of course, she wanted to go to a movie or to the city. We couldn’t really find a movie we wanted to see, though I would have watched Spiderman: Homecoming, she wasn’t interested. When I mentioned I was planning to ride she says.

“Well, drop me in the city and then go for a ride from there. Then pick me up and we’ll go home.”

My brain couldn’t really process this as I thought it meant that she would come into the city on the bike. I checked my understanding.

“So I’ll take you in on the bike?” See, checking my brain is working.

“Yes.” and I’m thinking aliens have abducted my wife and somehow replaced her (more to come on that later). And I’m also thinking it was rather timely that I had just the day before replaced the Bluetooth headsets with another dual set. See I said in my last post it was an astute decision.

So we geared up and she discovered that it was a little different on the back on the Daytona than the VFR. And considering the last time we pillioned was before Miss 10, our eldest, was born, it’s been a while.

The ride in and out were rather dull, the supersport being uncomfortable for her, and I wasn’t as keen on cutting my way through traffic two up so it did take a while. City traffic after all.

The Scala Rider worked really well, something we didn’t have 11 years ago.

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But she did finish the day leaving me with clear instructions to get a new bike that was more comfortable for her and had better storage options. Sounds like a firm direction for a VFR or Ninja 1000. So even more suspicious about alien abduction at this point.

She didn’t specify that I had to get rid of the Daytona though. Again, those aliens.

The last thing was today. A friend of hers at her work who has been on dirt bikes for a couple of years has just got her L’s and picked up a nice white Ninja 300. Liza’s said that she wants to get her licence too.

Hey look I love my wife, but I’m not 100% sure I want her back from the aliens….. ;P

 

Scala Rider Freecom4 – first 24 Hours

I have finally gone out and replaced my Bluetooth headset. I was tempted by the Sena series, however, I have seen lots of problems on the internet with them. I have used the Scala Rider, mostly successfully, for a few years now, and a quick search didn’t bring up any problems, certainly not to the scale of the Senas.

scala-rider-freecom-4-duo~699913The Freecom 4 is new to Australia – when I went looking about a month ago they weren’t in any of the stores. They are the more budget series and miss out on the Mesh grouping set up that the more expensive PackTalk and SmartTalk get. I never ride in groups, so it was of little interest. Besides, the last time I rode with someone else with a Bluetooth, they had a Sena anyway.

I think that they are basically my old Q3, repackaged. Software a little updated too. First impressions opening the box was, smaller and slimmer. I bought the Duo as it wasn’t much less than a single SmartTalk and meant I could attach it to the second helmet if my kids wanted to come riding. And with discounting, wasn’t a whole lot out of my pocket. It turns out it was an astute decision.

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The mount has changed significantly. It now just slides up into the helmet. This was super easy the old unknown brand my wife uses, but in my AGV was a little more difficult and required some cutting of the pad around the bottom of the helmet. In both cases, there was plenty of cord length and the application of a couple of velcro pads and it was installed. This setup is going to make it super easy to remove at a track (sometimes the track staff don’t like things attached to your helmet, at least at SMSP anyway). It does come with a stick on version as well, but I’m not a fan of doing that.

Switching them on and connecting them to various devices was easy, and they start and connect MUCH faster than the older ones. I’m also not required to fuss about in order to have the music play when I hit the button. I suspect that was caused by several phone OS updates with no Headset software updates, but it was nice to have that working properly.

First ride, a commute, and initially the music was very quiet. I remembered on arrival at work that I hadn’t turned up the Bluetooth volume on the iPhone, so it was much better on the way home. The speakers aren’t going to set the world on fire and do seem to struggle when the music is very full (?) like crescendos and big parts of the song. But they are clear and loud.

The next day the Mrs and I rode into the city and apart from a delay a couple of times, when the connection had gone to sleep, they worked excellently.

Overall I’m very happy and would certainly recommend them as an option. It’s also fantastic after the past 3 months of trying to keep my earbuds in my ears as I don my helmet and not being able to answer calls etc.

Let Out

The last day of the school holidays came along, and Mrs Mab had the day off. But she was sick and I think that’s why after lunch she let me out for a ride. With a couple of hours free I wasn’t able to get to the top of the Putty or Mac Pass, so I decided to head up Old Pac for a few laps south of Brooklyn Bridge. And while I actually I managed to catch one bike, I was mostly a rolling roadblock for the more skilled riders.

Even more amazing, there was a photographer out (I normally pass through the area in the week when they aren’t there). So I have photos from a rare recreational ride of mine. And I have super rare pictures of me riding AND the first photos of me on the Daytona (I’ve had this bike for 4 years).

So enjoy.

 

The slowest rider on the Old Pac!

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Special thanks to Gideon Motorcycle Imagery (on Facebook) for the pictures.

Study – a solid start

A term or so ago I was over the moon about getting 75% on an essay. The post is here

I’ve managed to top it in an essay. 78%. A longer essay as well – 2500 words. I had run out of time and while I had done the research and a skeleton of the paper it wasn’t until I took a day off work and wrote it that I managed to finish it. 

But even better that should give a high Credit for that unit overall. Pretty good. Pretty happy. 

But I topped that in the other unit. 84% on the final assignment (not an essay) and that gets me into Distinction for the assignment and maybe for the unit overall. 

So a solid start to this Masters caper.  

Next units have me doing a second “make my own lesson, recruit a few kids, and make a video of me teaching that lesson, then critique it“. I actually really enjoyed this last time and did pretty well (78%) so I’m looking forward to that one. 

This term I also have my first practical placement at an actual school. So for two weeks I’ll be a full time teacher, so to speak. Scary and excited. 

Hope it goes well. 

Sad and confused

Yesterday we had a memorial at work. Over the weekend a colleague committed suicide. She was distraught over the recent death of her boyfriend. 

I didn’t know her too well, worked with her a few times and chatted in the gym a couple of times. But knew her enough that it was saddening both not enough so it was a surprise. Equally, and I feel somewhat guilty about this, I feel a kinda mad at her. 

I’m kinda mad because I want to tell her that things get better. People get through horrifying tragedies and terrible things happening to them. There’s always a light in that tunnel even when it’s pitch black. I’ve been in a couple of pretty black places and even once I did think about suicide. But from my perspective it doesn’t  seem like an answer to anything. But I can’t tell her because I can’t bump into her in the gym anymore. 

So I’m a bit mad. Now there are two grieving families instead of one (the boyfriend was killed in a accident while at work, not suicide) and lots of people hurting. 

And all of these people would have jumped in with both feet to help and support her. I don’t know if she asked anyone. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to strangers and I know she was talking to the padre at work, maybe that helped some.  

So I’m mad, feeling guilty, feeling sad and definitely confused. RIP Aimee and Curtis. 

Ninja time

No not turtles. Oh that reminds me – I do have to sit through the latest one. 

I test rode the Ninja 1000sx this afternoon. I really wanted to like it, it was smooth, plenty of power. Nice seating position and I can’t see it struggling with full panniers or two up. Brakes seemed good too. 

But I found that the seat had two creases that I found quite uncomfortable after only a few short minutes. Even after I got off the bike I still was a bit uncomfortable for at least a half an hour. That really made it hard to like the bike. 
The VFR moves back to the top of the list and I’m considering that the newer one is the better choice. Revised and refreshed with some better technology. And available at some reasonable prices second hand.