Friday, December 30, 2011

Facebook Activity Log

The latest major change to Facebook is the new profile look, called the "Timeline." Being careful about the content you post, and monitoring what others post to your wall, has always been important. The Timeline makes this monitoring process even more important.

On your Timeline, the "Activity Log" is a complete list of your photos and activities you have posted on Facebook. You have the ability to hide content or specify who sees certain items. Going through the Activity Log to tweak what is appearing to others is a good idea, especially for those who are prone to posting pictures they may not want coworkers or potential employers to see.

This video demonstrates how the Activity Log works.

What are your thoughts on the new look brought about by the Timeline?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Change...and Learning to Dial Your Rotary Phone

Wouldn't you love to have heard the comment when this "modern technology" was about to replace the comfortable routine. And how impersonal it is! No longer would Andy pick up the receiver and say, "Sara, would you ring over at Floyd's Barber Shop?"

Looking back allows us to look forward. What practices do we cling to because they are familiar, yet years from now, people can hardly believe how we resisted the change?

In a wonderful book entitled Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers, author Debbie Silver included the following quote that so eloquently goes to the heart of why change is so difficult:

It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to.

—Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy
It's a reminder of one of my favorite quotes:

When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and you are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.
-Richard Bach in Jonathan Livingston Seagull

As a new year approaches for us all, change is a given. There will be those times when you feel you are between trapezes. There will be those times when you feel you about to step off into the darkness. In no time, you have learned to fly!

What worries you about the year ahead? What excites you?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Eye on Education Interviews

As we approach a new year, not to mention "Get Organized Month," today's post recalls a two-part interview with Eye on Education published in March, 2011. Part 1 focuses on the collision between organization and technology in my career. That interview can be read here.

In Part 2, we look at my favorite on-line tool, the battle with procrastination, and student memories from my days as a band director. That interview can be read here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Celtic Woman-"O Come, All Ye Faithful"

Celtic Woman and "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

Play from Your Strengths: The Magic of "Appreciations"

In Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky talks about master storyteller Jay O'Callahan and the workshops he would conduct. Following each participant's presentation, the other participants would, in turn, talk about the things they appreciated most about the presentation they had just heard. "Appreciations" provides feedback which focuses on the strengths of the presentation rather than the weaknesses.

Belsky said of his own experience in O'Callahan's workshop, "And I noticed that a natural recalibration happens when you commend someone's strengths: their weaknesses are lessened as their strengths are emphasized. As my storytelling compatriots recounted their stories a second and third time, the points of weakness withered away naturally as the most beautiful parts became stronger." (page 197)

In a post called "Play From Your Strengths," I talk about authors such as John Maxwell and Peter Drucker whose philosophies are much the same as what Belsky articulated. In a society that tends to focus on shoring up weaknesses, here is a philosophy which asks us to focus on taking what is strong and make it stronger.

What would happen if we spent more time focusing on our strengths? Would we be better off? Or, are we escaping reality? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Magnum Mysterium

Here is a rendition of one of the season's more beautiful works performed by a truly spectacular group. Enjoy the King's College Choir.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Top Four Uses for Vlingo

In November, I posted this information about Vlingo.The best way to describe it to someone who has never heard of it but has been watching the television since the release if iPhone 4S is to say, "It's like Siri." In fact, on December 15 and 16, I posted videos to my Facebook page which provide side-by-side comparisons of Vlingo with Siri. If you would like to visit that page, and hopefully "Like" it while you are there, go to

Here are the top four ways in which I have been using Vlingo that make increase productivity:
  1. Dial phone numbers through voice commands. I push one button and say, "Call John Doe cell phone," and Vlingo places the call.
  2. Compose e-mail by voice. I can push one key and say,"E-mail [person's name]...subject [I speak my desired subject line]...message [I speak the body of the message]." When I stop talking, Vlingo composes the e-mail and presents it to me for verification. If there is mistake, I can use the keyboard to make corrections and send.
  3. Leave myself a reminder. For a couple of years, I have been a heavy reQall user. Vlingo gives me the same capabilities. I press one key, say "Note to self," and speak my reminder. Vlingo composes an e-mail message to me. I can examine it for accuracy before I hit "send." My reminder is there in my e-mail for me to handle as I am handling other e-mail messages.
  4. Performing searches. Pressing one button and saying, "Pizza" returns a list of pizza parlors in my vicinity along with phone numbers. I can perform similar searches for such things as movies. More importantly, I can perform a Google search by voice. I press one button and speak whatever I would normally type into the Google search window. Vlingo returns the Google search results.
I have described four uses; however, there are quite a few more. You can update Facebook or compose a Tweet through voice commands. You can set Vlingo to read new e-mail messages aloud as you are driving. You can also open allocations on your phone through voice commands.

Vlingo is available for BlackBerry, Android,iPhone, Nokia,and Windows Mobile. If you are a BlackBerry user, you will want to grab this app by December 31, while it is being offered for free! It normally sells for $19.99. On your BlackBerry, go to the BlackBerry App World icon and search for "Vlingo."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Google Mobile App

The advertising surrounding Siri has certainly created interest in the voice recognition capabilities of smartphones. Other apps also use the power of voice recognition. You recently read on the blog about Vlingo, a program which allows you to use voice recognition to do anything from creating e-mails to searching for the nearest pizza parlor. Vlingo is normally a paid app. It is being offered free by RIM for the remainder of December.

Today's post is about Google Mobile App. It is a free program available for BlackBerry, Android, and iPhone. In short, Google Mobile App allows you to speak into your smartphone and have it perform a Google search.

This video shows how the app works.

Personally, I feel if you have Vlingo, you do not a need for Google Mobile App. Vlingo does everything Google Mobile App does plus more. If for some reason you are not using Vlingo, Google Mobile App is a great second-best tool to have on your phone.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas Darling

I have always been a Karen Carpenter fan. As a band director, I closed my first Christmas concert with "Merry Christmas Darling." Little did any of us know that Karen Carpenter would pass away shortly thereafter. Throughout my career as a band director, closing the Christmas concert with this beautiful selection became a tradition.

Last year, after posting this video and making mention of it on my Facebook page, I received this comment on that Facebook entry:

I love that song. Dawn and I were background singers on that recording, vocals on September 17, 1978 and video for the first Carpenter's Christmas Special on Sept. 24 (four days before Erin was born).

The comment was left by Dr. Brad Logan, a good friend from many years ago when he was choir director at the University of Montevallo. Brad has been the director of the Bemidji State University Choir since 1998. His daughter, Erin, is now grown with children of her own. It's amazing how relationships intertwine. It is also amazing how much time you can spend face-to-face and then learn something new once you are separated by hundreds of miles.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review of BlackBerry PlayBook

Research in Motion's (RIM) First BlackBerry tablet reviewed by Jon Rettinger of TechnoBuffalo.

I have owned a PlayBook since the spring. The smaller size allows me to fit the Playbook in the outside pocket of a sports coat. The BlackBerry Bridge allows me to see all of my Outlook data on the PlayBook. A Bluetooth connection allows the BlackBerry smartphone to communicate with the PlayBook. When I am on the phone and need to access my calendar, this feature is extremely handy.

This review is very extensive and is one I would recommend anyone watch before making a decision to purchase or not purchase a PlayBook. With the reduction in price, we can expect the PlayBook to receive some much-needed attention.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Email++ for Your BlackBerry

During workshops, I routinely talk about getting e-mail from "In" to "Empty" every day. The practice is made easy though the "drag and drop" feature on Outlook. Much of our e-mail contains information about places we have to be or things we need to do. The ability to get calendar-related e-mail on your calendar and to-do-related e-mail on you to-do list is huge. When you drag an e-mail to the Calendar or Task button, Outlook create an appointment or task, and it includes the entire body of the e-mail in the note section of that appointment or task.

I found an app for the BlackBerry that does the same thing. It is called Email++, and it's the best $4.99 I have spent in quite a while. Reading the instructions will help you as you make your decision to purchase and getting started after you download it.

For me, the best thing is the ability to take an e-mail and put it on the calendar or to-do list.

An added bonus of the app is its ability to identify your "free" time. Let's look at that one. An e-mail is from someone trying to set up a meeting. He wants to know what days and times are available for you. With Email++, you simply click "reply." Select the "Location and Availability" icon. Choose a day and indicate whether your interest is in that day or that week. You will see a list of all of the blocks of time during your workday(s) you are free. With one click, you copy that list. Now you can paste it in an e-mail response and send.

Yes, the icon was called "Location and Availability." If you want to e-mail someone to tell them exactly where you are, the GPS function of your BlackBerry, together with this app, makes the task easy.

You can get this app by clicking BlackBerry App World icon on your phone and searching for "Email++."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Straight No Chaser 12 Days of Christmas

Straight No Chaser performs 'The 12 Days of Christmas" at their reunion show at Indiana University!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Enjoy Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughn Williams

For the younger readers, here is an activity which will give you more information on the piece and the composer.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Take Time to Save Time

If you want to "get organized," plan on spending a little extra time now. The time you save comes later. Maybe that's why so many people avoid getting organized. It's easier to leave things in disarray...right now anyway. But, we pay the price later. So many people are so hard pressed to simply get through the day, working a little harder now to make things easier later is not a concept they want to hear.

At this time of year, one small example comes to mind. Our Christmas decorations include the "Sheltie Tree," a metal tree on which we hang a collection of decorative Shetland Sheepdog ornaments. Each ornament fits into its own particular cutout in a Styrofoam container. Putting the ornaments on that was always a breeze. Taking them down and putting each ornament in the correct place in the Styrofoam holders, now that was a different story! I would spend for what seemed like an eternity turning and trying to fit an ornament into this hole or that until finally I got it right. I always dreaded that part of the process.

One year, I got smart. As I was taking the ornament out of their containers, I took the time to write the description of the ornament beside the spot where it would be returned. When Christmas was over and it was time to pack it all away, the job I had dreaded was a snap. The Sheltie holding Santa's list went here. The Sheltie tangled in the Christmas lights went there. The annual ornament for 2007 goes here and 2009 goes here.

When all was said and done, the Sheltie ornaments were back in their protective boxes in a fraction of the time I normally spent. The time I had spend on labeling had been more than recouped.

Every year when I take those Sheltie ornaments and look at the hand-written description of the ornaments, I smile, knowing that the time I spent on the front end several years ago now saves me time each and every year.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Paper Planner Pages

If you use a paper planner to organize your life and have not found a format you like, this post is for you. The Free Resources page of my website lists four forms you can download, print, and use. And it's all for free.

Paper Planner Daily Page
The layout for this page matches the concepts we teach in my workshops. Items should be worded clearly. Like items should be grouped together. You will find a space to list your "Fab 5" for the day. Of course, the page provides a space for appointments. Finally, you have a dedicated space to answer the all-important question, "How did you make today count?" The page size is 8 1/2 X 5 1/2, meaning you will get two pages per sheet.

Put the pages on a paper cutter, punch holes, and you are ready to go. The back of the page is intentionally left blank. This page is where you take notes from meetings, phone calls, etc. Documentation is easy when you have this space available.

Montly Calendars
Click the tab for each month and print. Put the pages on a paper cutter, hole punch, and insert them into any notebook designed for pages which measure 8 1/2 X 5 1/2. Use the back of each page for additional information related to that month.

Goal Planner 
 Goals or projects are different, in that they are accomplished through a series of tasks. We need a place to house all of the tasks and related information for the projects we undertake. We then "farm out" the specific tasks to specific days. Having some Goal Planner sheets in the back of your book gives you control of the big picture.

Master List
We all have those tasks we want to accomplish "sometime," but do not want to assign a specific date. The "Master List" is just such a parking place. Put some of these sheets in the back of the planner, and you will never be at a loss for a "parking place" for the random tasks which come to mind. You can access any of these forms directly by clicking on the links. You can also check out all of the items on the Free Resource page by clicking here.

You can organize your life a good digital system. You can also organize your life with a good paper system. I long ago realized a person must be comfortable with a system for that system to work. Whichever your preference, this blog strives to be a place whee you can find answers.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Monday, December 05, 2011

Update for Those Who Attended the "Called to Be Exceptional" Conference

I had promised you a document on the subject "Handling Multiple Projects." I have prepared and uploaded that document. You can click here to download. The password is the same as the other handouts from the conference.

Trio of "Must-Haves"

This post rounds out the spotlight on the BlackBerry apps I use. The three apps in this post are all free.

Quick Pull

Simply rebooting your computer is often the answer to a host of problems. Likewise, restarting your BlackBerry recaptures memory. Restarting can be accomplished in several ways. One way is to physically remove the battery. If your BlackBerry is in a protective case, removing it from the case may be a hassle. You can also reset the device by holding down the "ALT" key, the right shift key, and holding the "Delete" key at the same time.

If that combination is tough to remember or tough to perform, try "Quick Pull." You can schedule this app to automatically perform a reset at a certain time each day. I prefer to simply run the app manually one each week.

On your BlackBerry, go to BlackBerry App World and search for "Quick Pull." It is a free download..

QR Scanner Pro

Everyone needs a good QR code reader, and "QR Scanner Pro" is quick and easy. Open the app, point, and click "Scan QR Code." When the software has recognized the code, it vibrates and shows your results. That's it! On your BlackBerry, go to BlackBerry App World and search for "QR Scanner Pro." It is a free download currently with an average rating of 4 1/2 stars.

Air Browser

The PlayBook does not allow for a good file structure. Air Browser lets you to cut, copy, and paste files. You can create, rename, and delete files and folders. On your PlayBook, go to BlackBerry App World and search for "Air Browser." It is a free download currently with an average rating of 4 stars.

Create Your Own Apps

During November, we looked at the apps I use on my BlackBerry and PlayBook. You can, however, take any website and turn it into an app.

You must be running OS6 or OS7 on your BlackBerry for this procedure to work. On your BlackBerry, open your browser and navigate to the desired website. Look just to the right of the URL window. There will be a circular icon. When you click it, select "Add to Home Screen." That's it! You will now see an icon on your home screen. When you click it, you are at your desired website.

You can do the same thing on the PlayBook. While at your desired website, click on the white star to the right of the URL. Select "Add to Home Screen."

Similar techniques will work for turning URLs into apps on other platforms.

On my devices, I have an icon for TV Guide online, a Classroom Walkthrough, and a group of math calculators

What websites do you use so often that you have created icons on your device that make them "apps"?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sleigh Ride

Enjoy this rendition of the Sleigh Ride performed by the Boston Pops.

Friday, December 02, 2011

JSU Follow-Up

Welcome to the JSU students that are visiting after the SETS (Special Education Tracking System) training! This post is the perfect example of why I started this blog over 6 years ago...when the face-to-face workshop is over, the contact does not have to be over. The learning does not have to be over. In fact, it may be just beginning.

As we came to the end of our session, I wanted to be able to give you some way to obtain documentation on the SETS program. While all of you took good notes, this documentation will take you beyond what we discussed. The screen shots will further clarify much of yesterday's learning. The following two links will open documents which you can in turn save on your own computers:

SETS Student Desktop

SETS Processes and Forms

While you are here, I invite you to look around at over 6 years worth of posts. If you would like to bring new posts straight to your e-mail, you can subscribe by clicking here.

For those with Twitter accounts, I invite you to follow me on Twitter. For those on Facebook, I hope you will "Like" my Facebook page. (When we reach 200 "Likes," I will be giving away a copy of one of my books.)

Now that you have had an introduction to SETS, I would welcome your thoughts. Feel free to leave me a comment.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

During the Christmas season, you will find a mixture of stuff about being productive along with some of my favorite Christmas music. To start things off, folks my age remember when Andy Williams had his own variety show. Nobody sings this one like he does.