Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chronicle of buying an Apple iphone from chronochrono.

Last update of this report: Feb. 1, 2008.

This is the story of my attempt of buying an iphone from a small Boulder based company called chronochono ( It might be of interest for other people considering to to the same.

Chronochrono sells iphones with several options (locked, unlocked, activated with a stealthsim).

On Dec 13 I bought an iphone with a stealthsim from them. On their web site they wrote they would be shipping within the day, but my unfortunate experience is that after several days they kept saying that they were waiting for the stealthsim to arrive (therefore at least their statement about immediate availability is not true!).

On Dec 19 I had a mail exchange with Chris Wentz (probably the only person behind this company) and he tried to reassure me. We agreed that he would have shipped the iphone immediately, and the stealth sim when available. On Dec 20 I did get a message form USPS - but it was only to say that Chris had requested a shipping - I never got the confirmation from USPS that they actually got the shipment.

On Dec.23 still the USPS site did not give any sign of having received the shipment (you can still see here the current status...). It might be that USPS is sloppy in updating its site, but that's a bit hard to believe... Chris sent me an email: "I don't know what else I can do to convince you it was sent. I will try to have usps cancel the shipment. If you get the phone please send it back to me. I gave you a refund through Google Checkout so you would not be worried, and I don't want to risk any legal hassles.".

On the evening of the same day Chris sent me another mind-boggling message: "Marco, I wanted to make sure you have your USPS #- ec 930 079 600 US. It should update with new information once your package is in Greece at customs. One of my assistants put in the wrong number when entering it into Google. I guarantee it will be there By new years, and if not I will refund you $40 for the delay. I appreciate your business and if there is anything I can do to make it better please let me know."
Now - if he actually sent me a refund - and requested to cancel the previous shipment as he said in the morning - why was he shipping once more? (btw, I'm not living in Greece...)

I had another element of suspicion: on their home page they have a PayPal logo. However when you buy from them , you do not really have the option to go through PayPal, but can only go through the Google Checkout option (which does not really fully protect you from fraud like Paypal does). Unfortunately I did notice that only after buying, when I became suspicious... I also told Chris that if that's the case he should remove the Paypal logo - but he never did. (Note: after the whole story ended I've got an explanation for this - see the Addendum below).

January 6, status update, end of the story. After coming back from a short ski vacation (Jan 2-6, in Stubai Tal, Austria), I had the news from our offices that Chronochrono fully refunded us on Dec. 24. That's good. About the shipments of Dec 19 and Dec 23, there are no other traces on USPS, you can check on your own by using the link above and the code.

What did I learn?

All is well that ends well. Well, sort of. I did not get the iphone but
at least I've got the money back.
It looks like some people have been luckier:
I found a forum where a French guy says he bought an iphone from them. On the other hand, if you take a look at the comments to this posting, and you'll find that other people went through the same troubles I had (they did not get the iphone - but in the end both of them had their money back as I did).

Well, I might have been paranoid. But to me, the bottom line is that if you write "we ship the same day" you have to do it. Or at least, you should immediately take the initiative and explain to your customer why you did not. Especially if you run a small, little know business without an established reputation.

February 1, 2008 - Addendum

I've got an e-mail from Chris:
At your suggestion I have done two things- I have added a current stock status to the top of most products. Also, I have added a business line for customers to call and ask questions or leave messages.
I looked into having the paypal logo removed, but since the webstore is made with a template, it is there permanently. Paypal pays my hosting company to put it on all the webstores. Because of this I am unable to edit the logo from the site. I would also ask you to remember my communication with you and prompt refund when I realized I could not deliver the product well.

Good to see that things can somehow improve. The text on the chronochrono's website is also clearer now about the fact that the you can only pay via Google Checkout (or bank transfer for larger orders).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Trieste, Workshop on Rich-Media Technologies for Science Dissemination

Ismael Peña-López presented hiw view of how to use Web 2.0 tools:
I learned about Scott Wilson and his Personal Learning Environment.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ffmpeg on Mac OsX

ffmpegX is a nice solution - but if you need to use ffmpeg from a script or from the shell, then yo must install ffmpeg and probably also lame. See Stephen Jungles blog.

Friday, October 12, 2007

e-learning conferences - calls for papers


Algarve, Portugal, 11 to 13 April 2008

Deadline for submissions: 16 November 2007

EISTA 2008
June 29th to July 2nd, 2008
Orlando, Florida,USA
Submissions: November 14th, 2007

International Technology, Education and Development Conference
3 to 5 March 2008
Valencia, Spain
The deadline for abstracts/proposals is 15 November 2007.

International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies
Full paper submission: November 2, 2007
Funchal, Madeira, 4 - 7 May, 2008
(has a track on e-learning)

Friday, October 5, 2007

TechCrunch40: Lots of new ideas...

Benjamin Dandoy pointed me to techcrunch40 : it's a mine of new ideas! A series of really innovative services.

Friday, September 28, 2007

ICL conference in Villach - part 2: Talks

The talks were organized in parallel sessions - although the organizers did their best to make sure that all the papers were presented there was a non negligible number of no-show, which messed up the program by changing the timing mand making it difficult to jump from one session to the other. So I surely missed many good talks - parallel sessions are always a problem. Of those I attended to, some did not give me much, others were interesting. Here is a short note of those that I found worth listening.

- Claudia Steinberger from Klagenfurt gave a nice talk on her experience in running a course using web 1.5 (i.e. some web 2.0 techniques without a complete and satisfactory integration). I heard her talking about mobile learning a few years ago, I always like her talk. Simple stuff but well grounded, without nonsense.

- Matjaz Debeve, a slovenian PhD student, presented yet another system for recording videolectures. he mentioned a number of commercial system, I have to look at them in detail:
The main point of his work was to have a cart with all the necessary mounted on it (Camera, pc, microphones) and to provide subtitles and gesture language for deaf people.
He mentioned that they plan to conduct a usability evaluation using SUMI questionnaires and semistructured interviews (see also the FAO site on this).
They also plan to be compliant with the EBU reccomendations, event though they are for TV.

- Frantisek Schauer and Miroslava Ozvoldova presented a system for accessing and steering physics experiments on line. Experiments are built with the ISES system. Cute, but I'm not so convinced of their advantage with respect to real experiments or simulations.

Someone (maybe Balacheff?) mentioned applications of neuroscience to learning - Natural learning by Zulls - also quoted here: it looks like a theory that describes learning as a process that (to me) sonds very similar to the scientific method. Also Kolb's learning styles is something I should look a bit into (see also this).

BTW, following some pointers on Web 2.0 I found a site that looks juicy: social computing magazine.

The whole special track on Schools and ICT was good. Here are the talks:

Erika Hummer presented a report on supporting the introduction of ICT (and in particolar LMS) in Austrian classes ( One of the points in the project was to allocate money to teachers for doing extra work in the form of pairing to coach and mentor a colleague ( Another point was trying to relief the problema connected with the management of HW and SW by hosting Moodle instances in a centralized location (

Anton Knierzinger and Marianne Ebenhofer presented their initial work on intercultural integration in the primary schools. It seems that ICT can be really effective on this crucial issue.

Then came my talk on Interactive Whiteboards. The slides are available on Slideshare: Introducing interactive whiteboards in the schools: an experience report (paper written together with Benjamin Dandoy).
Unlukily my talk was at the same time as the one by Enrique Canessa and Marco Zennaro, that presented their fully automated lecture recording EyA system that I saw last week in Trieste, but we had the time to talk and exchange ideas couple of times in these days.

Stevens Scott (Carnegie Mellon University) presented a work aimed at helping novice Physics teachers.: the PATHWAY project. It is based upon the informedia project that extracts metadata from movies by creating transcripts and analysing them. They also have a question-answering system that analyses the query and provids a pre-digested response in the form of a movie (

Thursday, September 27, 2007

ICL conference in Villach

Villach, Kaernten, Austria. ICL conference (Interactive Computer-aided Learning).

Running a conference (or better, many) can be a business. There are associations that charge you a lot for participating and then they give you minimal support. I remember going to a IASTED conference, and for 600 Euro we almost did not even have coffee during coffee breaks. They had promised printed proceedings - but then they discovered that shipping them to a Greek island (the conference was in Rhodes) coasted too much - so we never got them. The conference was good - in the end a conference is as good as its participants make it - but I felt ripped off. (BTW, there were also "special" hotel prices that were higher than I could find - in the very same hotel - in a travel agency...).

This conference is not of that sort. The organizers made a remarkable job in finding sponsors and covering some lunches and dinners, even at a lower-than-average participation fee. I do have some experience in organizing events, and I know how that can be difficult.

I wish they did the same good job in the selection of the keynote speakers. Well, on paper they made reasonable choices, but in practice the start wasn't that good, and the end was even worse..
The first three keynote speeches were... well, depressing. I’ll omit their names here.

The first stated that XML allows to address the issue of having semantic indexing of the content, and to make the content machines understandable. Well, maybe if you add a couple of other layers on top of XML it might be true… Embarrassing, maybe he should go back and take a look at the layers of the Semantic Web. He also said that with mathML you can do calculations - e.g. take derivatives of a function. I believe it's only a markup language, not an engine...

Another keynote gave a talk about the evolution of e-learning, from web pages to Learning Management System (LMS), to Managed Learning Environments (MLE), to Personal Learning Environments (PLE) to a future Collaboration Environments. These last should be based on the emergine of web applications (like the google office suite). Well, the whole issue was very much technology-oriented and rather blurred . He did not comment on the how and why this technology should deliver more efficient collaboration models, and spent his time demonstrating that you can edit a document, or even open a browser, in a browser's window. Well, fun and exciting, we know that network computing will probably be the next big thing, and that Bill has nightmares about that, but terribly out of focus.

The third keynote was supposed give a talk on how Web 2.0 will enhance e-learning.
The first statement was a sign of the confusion that is often present when people speak about Web 2.0. When comparing the two approaches, he mentioned that “Web 1.0 is static while Web 2.0 is dynamic”. Ouch, CGI? He continued saying that “Web 1.0 is based on client-server paradigm, and Web 2.0 is based on Web Services”. Irritating, why do people talk about things they do not know? And this nonsense was more or less all he had to say about Web 2.0. The rest of the talk was a quick run through what they do in their labs, including an applet-based (web 2.0?) collaborative environment and a virtual reality system (in a joke (?) defined as Web 3.0).

Luckily then the series of weak keynote speaches was interrupted. Nicholas Balacheff gave a good talk. among his points was that learning is a change of behavior, but real learning is in the rationale of the change of behavior. Among the things he has worked on there is Aplusix , an Algebra Learning Assistant.

The fifth keynote, Di Paolo from Stanford, gave a very good talk about the transformations that a University has to go through to support LongLifeLearning. His slides are available at The parameters that are important according to him are:
  • provide a quick response
  • students expect to work in a workgroup
  • availability 24/7/365
  • learning by searching
  • from connectivity to collectivity
  • provide customized learning
  • be aware that there is a strong interest in international interactions
  • provide challenges
  • give the prossibiliy to preview courses and read students evaluation before registering
  • view students as customers: eliminate delays and inefficiencies
  • be ready to deliver technology smarter,smaller, faster, anywhere
  • always give up-to-date information (time stamp every token of information you provide)
Next a movie about shifthappens ( was given. It was of the "Information Anxiety" series :-) but it was certainly interesting.

On the following day, the next keynote was for me the worst surprise (but wait, read also the long discussion in the comments to this posting!).
Taisir Subhi Yamin’s talk (Ulm University, Germany) was pushing the idea that e-learning’s mission is to help the “talented and gifted students”. There is even a pedagogical method and a system that has been put in place to pursue this idea: the Renzulli Learning. Sounds odd to me… My experience is that (at least at the University level) there is not much you can do to help very good students: they find their own way. Sure, advising helps, but I do not believe e-learning can effectively do that. And after all it’s only 10% of the students, and it is a joy to wok with them…
Also with very bad students (e.g. students with serious problems in their background knowledge) there is little hope to have an impact. Where the teacher (or e-learning) can really make a difference is in between: with the large mass of average students.
Ok, things may be a little different in primary and secondary school, BUT Yamin pushed his argument to say that “gifted students should be grouped in special classes”. I VIOLENTLY OBJECT TO THIS VIEW! The next step would be to create special classes for students with problems, and it took us the last 50 years to understand this is WRONG. The road outlined by Yamin is more than wrong: it’s frightening, and to me it even evokes bad memories from the fist half of the last century…

The last keynote (Ulf Daniel Ehlers, Vice President of the European Foundation for Quality Elearning) was -of course- on quality in e-learning. Good part of Ehlers' talk was on serendipity, continuous innovation, perpetual beta. Most of the content of the talk can be found in form of a summary here. It wasn't the kind of talk that changes your life but it was a honest and reasonable talk. Among the things I found interesting was the notion of transition from Transmissive Learning (distribution of learning material) to Expansive Learning (collaboration and reflection). Kind of obvious but nicely wrapped!
On the same line, he was quoting Schulmeister 2005 - but I was not able to find document he was referring to, not even through Schulmeister's home page. During my search through Schulmeister's publications however I found an interesting classification of Interactivity in Multimedia (in German!).
Later on I discovered that Ulf Daniel Ehlers maintains a blog on quality in e-learning.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Teaching a crash course on Java in Trieste

Last friday and saturday I was in Trieste to teach a quick course on Java (11 hours). I was invited by Giorgio Pastore and Maria Peressi of the Università di Trieste.

My appox. 20 students were high-school teachers. Their background was some programming in other languages (mostly Delphi-Pascal, someone C, someone FORTRAN).
The challenge was to give them the main concepts of Object Oriented programming, programming with events, and to give them the basic ability to write some Java and hints about how to proceed on their own. Their final goal was to use the language to build applications useful for teaching (e.g. some simulated experiment).

The lectures were video-recorded with the EyA system built by Enrique Canessa and coworkers at the ICTP's Science Dissemination Unit, and were available on the web.

NOTE ADDED LATER: After a few days a student complained because the system had recorded also the breaks, and asked the videos to be removed from on-line access. It's a pity...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Recover lost administrator password on Mac OsX

Easier than I expected...
Use the installation disk, and reboot the machine pressing the the C key whet the machine starts.
Proceed to a new OS installation, but not all the way! just go ahead until you have a menu bar on the top. In the menu bar choose "Utilities" and "Reset password".

Adding a user to a group on a mac

Mac OsX does not use the usual Unix user and group administration tools. It has it's own application - called netinfo (see man netinfo) and a gui for that, called Netinfo Manager and located in /Applications/Utilities. You need to have administrator privileges to use it for modification.

When you open Netinfo Manager, you can browse a set of items, among which users and groups. When you select a user or a group, you'll see a set of properties and values. Each grup is identified by a gid number, and each user by a uid number - and a gid that refers to its default group.
If you want a user to belong also to other groups (say e.g. to group www), you need to add the name (not the gid) of the user to group www's "users" propertiy. If the "users" property (in groups -> www) does not exist - by default it's not there - , you need to create it by using the "new" icon top left.

If instead you want to do it from command line, take a look here. An example is
dseditgroup -o edit -a username -t user groupname
(you may have to sudo this!)

Friday, September 14, 2007

MySQL, Apache2, PHP5 and Tomcat (with mod_jk) on Mac OsX

For MySQL, Apache and Php5 there are a couple of web pages describing how to do it, and some package does automagically everything (e.g. MAMP). However, in such way you are bound to certain versions - sometimes old.
A better option is to be able to do it yourself, so that you can upgrade when you want and choose the version you want. Avery good description of how to do that is given in Richard Valk's blog.
Here are the links:
What is really good in these pages is that Richard describes the way to install these softwares in a way that is somehow independent on the actual version.
For instance, by carefully following step by step the instructions, I was able to successfully install the current versions: httpd 2.2.6, mysql 5.0.45, php 5.2.4 even though his instructions refer to earlier versions.
At the end of the process described in these pages you'll have Apache and MySql starting automatically at boot time.

Delicate points in the process are:
- make sure that you choose the script for the right architecture (ppc or intel)
- make sure that you carefully read and follow the section about the MySQL libraries.

One point not mentioned in Richard's php page is the fact that probably you also want to add index.php as a file automatically used when you access a directory (as index.html is). To do it you have to edit Apache2/conf/httpd.config, and modify the DirectoryIndex statement as follows:

DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

To check that it works, create the file index.php in your deployment directory (default is the Apache's htdocs) with the following content

<html><body><h1>It works!</h1>

echo("php also works!");


and then point at http://localhost/index.php.

Another point is that when you invoke apachectl (to start and stop Apache) probably it still resolves to the preinstalled Apache (try to issue the which apachectl command in a shell, you will probably find out that this points to /usr/sbin/apachectl). This can generate problems. I solved this by renaming /usr/sbin/apachectl to /usr/sbin/apachectl_orig (just to be able to restore the original setting if needed!), and creating a link from /usr/sbin/apachectl to /Library/Apache2/bin/apachectl:
ln -s /Library/Apache2/bin/apachectl /usr/sbin/apachectl

Let's now move on to Tomcat: its installation is very simple, and is well described on the apache wiki: essentially you download, unpack, and set the JAVA_HOME environment variable. I easily installed 5.5.25 ( I unpacked it in /Library/Tomcat - note that later there will be references to this directory - so if yours is different adapt the commands to your configuration).

At this point Tomcat responds on port 8080 while Apache responds on port 80. It would be better to have both of them responding on port 80. This can be done by registering Tomcat as an Apache service, so that Apache recognizes certain URLs and forwards them to Tomcat. Doing so (through the mod_jk module) is a bit more complex - because I was not able to find reliable instructions, and the official documentation page does not describe clearly all steps.
So here is how I did it:

1) define the TOMCAT_HOME environment variable pointing at the place where Tomcat was unpacked;

2) get the mac binary (the actual name will be something like from the Tomcat site, rename it and drop it into APACHE2_HOME/modules, where APACHE2_HOME stays for the place where Apache2 was installed.

3) edit conf/server.xml in your TOMCAT_HOME, find the line
and add right before that:
<Listener className="org.apache.jk.config.ApacheConfig" modJk="/Library/Apache2/modules/" />
(assuming that /Library/Apache2 is your Apache2 home).

4) Create a new file containing the following lines:

# Setup for Mac OS X
# Define the homes

# Define the file separator

# Define the worker's names

# Definition for worker

and save it with the name in the directory TOMCAT_HOME/conf/jk (if the directory does not exist, create it).

5) edit conf/httpd.config in Apache2, adding at the end of the file:
# Tomcat bridge auto configuration
Include /Library/Tomcat/conf/auto/mod_jk.conf
(assuming that your TOMCAT_HOME is /Library/Tomcat)

6) restart Tomcat (sudo $TOMCAT_HOME/bin/ an then sudo $TOMCAT_HOME/bin/ At this point the file called /Library/Tomcat/conf/auto/mod_jk.conf is automatically created.

7) restart Apache (sudo $APACHE_HOME/bin/apachectl restart)

8) open a browser, and point it to
You should see page coming from your TOMCAT_HOME/webapps/servlets-examples. You can try to execute the hello world, everything should be now fine.

The next problem is what happens if you want all this to work with your machine name instead of localhost.
In fact opening
http://your_machine.your.domain/servlets-examples/ in your browser will give a "Not Found". To fix this, you'll have to change in conf/xml the following lines:

<Engine name="Standalone" defaultHost="localhost" jvmRoute="jvm1">
<Engine name="Catalina" defaultHost="localhost">
<Host name="localhost" appBase="webapps"
unpackWARs="true" autoDeploy="true"
xmlValidation="false" xmlNamespaceAware="false"

In all three cases you need to change "localhost" with "your_machine.your.domain" where
your_machine.your.domain is of course the name of your machine.
Restart Tomcat first and then restart Apache: point at
http://your_machine.your.domain/servlets-examples/ in your browser and it should work. Note that now will give a Not Found!
If you want both localhost (127.0.01) and
your_machine.your.domain, you'll have to go though the Virtual Hosts setting - but I'll not cover that here.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: when you deploy a new webapp, always first restart Tomcat and then restart Apache (so that the automatic configuration is first regenerated by Tomcat and then read by Apache).

The next step would be to have Tomcat starting automatically at boot time.
An example and some explanation can be found here.
In short, here is what is needed (assuming that you already have Apache starting at boot):
a) create a directory Tomcat in /System/Library/StartupItems/
b) create a file called Tomcat in that directory. This is its content (of course reference to the directory where Tomcat is installed should be modified according to you system):

. /etc/rc.common

StartService ()
if [ "${TOMCAT}" = "-YES-" ]; then
ConsoleMessage "Starting Tomcat Servlet/JSP Server"

StopService ()
ConsoleMessage "Stopping Tomcat Servlet/JSP Server"
echo "Stopping Apache web server"

RestartService ()
ConsoleMessage "Restarting Tomcat Servlet/JSP Server"
echo "Restarting Apache web server"

JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/Home; export JAVA_HOME
RunService "$1"

and make it executable
(sudo chmod a+x

c) Next create a file called StartupParameters.plist into the same Tomcat directory. The content should be:
Description = "Tomcat Servlet/JSP Server";
Provides = ("Tomcat");
Requires = ("Resolver");
OrderPreference = "None";
Messages =
start = "Starting Tomcat Servlet/JSP Server";
stop = "Stopping Tomcat Servlet/JSP Server";

d) The last step is to make sure that Apache will wait for Tomcat to start. We can do that by changing the
StartupParameters.plist in the
/System/Library/StartupItems/Apache directory in the following way:

Description = "Apache web server";
Provides = ("Web Server");
Requires = ("Tomcat");
Uses = ("Disks", "NFS");

(essentially we added the line that declares that Apache "Requires Tomcat").

For further info on Tomcat and on how to deploy servlets and JSPs. see the article on Apple Developer's Connection.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Some Mac tricks

Changing the default app on a Mac

I needed to change the default app for a certain file type on Mac. Found a good guide here.

Changing the default mail reader/writer on a Mac

see here (Google notifier) and here (changing e-mail preferences on the Mac)

Lots of hint

in dave taylor's site.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

ED-MEDIA 2007, final day

Today's keynote was also excellent. Bebo White from Stanford (alias Santa Claus :-) ) presented a view on the so-called Web 2.0. Very nice! (I'll point here to his slides when they'll be available).

It was nice to hear the talk by Miriam Judge (Dublin City University) on the Interactive Whiteboards (IWB - Clair Bhana Idirghniomhacha in Gaelic...)

The work by the Leuven group (Erik Duval, Michael Meire, Xavier Ochoa presenter ) on their SAmgI system for automatic metadata generation for LOs was damn good! Exactly what I wanted to do - made in a better way than I had probably done it!

ED-MEDIA 2007, act III

June 28, 2007

The keynote speech by Terry Anderson, Athabasca University was quite good: Teaching and learning in a networked world. He made it available on, so here it is. Main concept: the taxonomy of the many, with transition from group to network to collective - see also communities of inquiry.
Interesting the Avanoo idea of asking info to the user as a return for users inquiries.
Among other examples of networking sites he mentioned
  • citeulike (A free online service to organise references to academic papers of interest and share them with others),
  • technorati (Real-time search for user-generated media (including weblogs) by tag or keyword),
  • slashdot (Source for technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues),
  • meeting wizard (Online meeting and event invitation hosted software program).
  • Facebook (a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them).

The rest of the day I was busy with my talks:
- Searching information in a collection of video-lectures,
- C3PO: a domain-aware course planning and publishing tool, presented by Joe Sant
- Case study: evaluation of a tool for searching inside a collection of multimodal e-lectures.

So I missed the talk by Li-Ling Chen on IWB and the one by Sandy Schuck and Matthew Kearney on the same topic.

Joe pointed me to the S5 system: a set of CSS for running a PPT-like presentation out of XHTML - cool. Thanks Joe!

ED-MEDIA 2007 - part II

June 27, 2007

Not a great day at the conference.

A few things to be remembered.

The CD-LOR project aims at identifying and analysing the factors that influence practical uptake and implementation of learning object (LO) repositories within a range of different learning communities.

Had a nice talk with Mike Wald, who had a presentation on using Speech Recognition to caption multimedia.


June 26, 2007

So I'm in Vancouver now. Beautiful surroundings - for what I've seen from the airplane. Unfortunately no time to visit them. Thanks to Joe Sant, I found an incredibly nice, good and inexpensive sushi place, called Tsunami (it's at Burrard and Robson). Joe also showed me downtown Vancouver. We had a nice walk on the west part.

I'm here for a conference - ED-MEDIA 2007.

First impression: lot of emphasis on Blogs and Podcasts as educational tools.

Best thing was a two-hours symposium on "Getting beyond centralized technologies in higher education", organized by Sebastian Fiedler.
The main issue was the death of Learning Management Systems (LMS), since they replicate functionalities that already exist on the web in a clumsly and closed way. The idea was that students should be able to use whatever tool they like. No more university-provided e-mail accounts and sites, but aggregation of several heterogeneous sources - see e.g. the concept of mesh-ups in the presentation by ??.
George Siemens made several good points: among them "the LMS should explode into a L + MS" separating the administrative management from the learning.

I learned about ManyEyes, Worldmapper, Quintura, Tagclouds, Elgg, Teqlo. Following that up I found a nice Web 2.0 tools list, and then a second one, then a third... how many are out there?

Learned the concept of "advance organizer" (Ausubel, D.P. (1960). The use of advance organizers in the learning and retention of meaningful verbal material. Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, 267-272.)

Other things:
- Found a neat tool for creating educatonal podcasts: Profcast (shareware for mac). Camstudio can be useful on Windows for recording whatever happens on screen and replay it later, or cerate a podcast out of it.

- A symposium on creating podcasts in courses was held by Li-Ling Chen. It was informative. Tools suggested were Audacity and Garageband to create audio mp3, movieMaker or iMovie to create .mov or .avi, xilisoft (shareware) to convert into mp4 (ffmpegX might do the same). Quicktime professional was also used. feedburn might be useful in the process. During the symposium Damien Koemans mentioned a new service by Amazon to create a transcript of a speech. It is done by a mix of machine and human processing (

- I also went to a symposium on Second Life as educational tool: too many people, too blah blah. Did not like it.

- Had a chat with German Nemirovskij - he has a project on using Semantic Web techniques to extract info from study module description (Bologna-agreement compliant description of university courses) for automatic comparison. Interesting, maybe overly ambitious?

AJAX frameworks

Got an e-mail from the Server Side with a list of Ajax frameworks - I'll keep a note here since they might be useful for some student projects in near future.

** Dojo 0.9 - Get an overview of the recently released, leaner, faster version of the Ajax powerhouse framework directly from the co-creator;
** DWR - Hear about advanced features for Reverse Ajax programming in the new release and more from creator Joe Walker;
** jQuery - Get information on how jQuery can specifically assist designers, and get both an introductory overview and an advanced session from creator John Resig;
** Prototype - Hear an overview on Prototype, and learn how to take full advantage of Prototype's unique features;
** Scriptaculous - See first hand how this framework can be used to help build larger Ajax applications;
** qooxdoo - Not ringing a bell? Only TAE features a session on this innovative new open source - and well documented - framework;
** Google Web Toolkit - Learn about one of the most popular frameworks for developers looking to build Ajax applications with Java - yes, Java;
** sympfony - Learn about rapid application development with this PHP5 platform;
** jMaki - Sun's Ajax architect dives into this client-server framework and how it can help build more extensible applications that are easier to integrate with your current environment;
** Xaja - Get insight into the first PHP Reverse Ajax framework from Xaja's lead developer;