Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

This is the first post in a series I intend to publish on NovaNews.  For ease of access over time, these posts will be listed on a separate page – see page tabs above.

The idea to incorporate Stop-Look-Learn on NovaNews is born from the notion that visuals – especially when used to inspire and educate senior students – is a very powerful tool.

The many videos/thought ideas that are to be included on this page are powerful and beautiful.  They provide stimulation to think outside the box.  They provide inspiration to see our world differently.  They provide opportunity to think about topics that may otherwise pass us by.

While I discovered some a few years ago, others are more recent discoveries.  The common theme of them all is that they contribute to my personal mantra of constantly

Experimenting, discovering, lifelong learning …..

Check out this, the first in this new series.   May it inspire you as much as it has inspired me!


Ideas push the world forward

Even though this is an ad published in 2016 for the new MacBook Pro, the video encapsulates some of the most revolutionary ideas that have been developed by man.

How many revolutionary ideas can you spot?!



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Apple’s latest “baby” –  iPhone X went on sale in Melbourne this morning.

For my Apple addicted family, this is really HUGE!!

Needless to say, one of the family got up early enough to see the long queues snaking their way around Chadstone and was in the Apple store, ready to purchase, just after 9.00.  I’ve just come from seeing a live demo of just how good it is and well ….. the story goes on from there of course!!

A few days ago I had a look at a pre-release review by Engadget which by and large gave it the thumbs up!


Pretty impressive!

I’ve just gotten home from a coffee/chat with one of my sons for a real-live-look-see though and can confirm that like other Apple products, the iPhone X is indeed very sexy and beautiful.  The design and look, with its glass front and back and silver trim edge, really is an impressive creation!  Lots of other features, including it’s full screen, add much to the appeal of what is already a very ‘un-put-downable’ product.

I’ve been reading  lots lately about the impact of iPhones on our lives and indeed on our society.  I just look at my own behaviour and can see the incredible shift in how I think and operate – and realize that my iPhone is centre-stage of all my daily activities!!  I literally don’t move around the house without having it near me!  Is this compulsive or obsessive behaviour?!  Ye gads!  I never imagined I’d be like this!

But then – have a look at this incredible statistic about our smartphone use!

People tapped, swiped and clicked a whopping 2,617 times each day, on average.

Dig the last two words: on average! 

If you happen to be in the top 10% of users, that figure doubles to 5,427 touches a day! 

Hard to believe?  Research reported on this dscout article: Putting a finger on our phone obsession paints an incredible picture of our use of phones.  Some of it is outright scary.

Hmmm ….. Definitely food for thought!

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Even though this is an ad published late last year for the new MacBook Pro, the video encapsulates some of the most revolutionary ideas that have been developed by man.

Quite literally

Ideas push the world forward!”


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Soon after its publication, I read ‘A letter to our customers’ written by Apple CEO Tim Cook.  Since then, a flood of articles, posts and discussions have followed.  Why should any of us be interested?

Quite simply, the implications are far reaching and scary.

Triggered by the FBI’s need to access the content of the iPhone of one of the key San Bernardino killers, a fight has erupted between Apple and the FBI.  A court order activating a law written in 1789 is poised to force Apple to assist it’s investigations.

For most of us, we have, in a reasonably short time, become complacent about the enormous wealth of data innocuously stored on our smartphones.   Tim Cook reminds us

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

If you’ve ever misplaced your smartphone or worse lost it, you’ll be very familiar with the overwhelming physical and emotional anguish which engulfs and grips you. Even though most of us don’t understand how, we know that our data is protected and safe.  Data is encrypted.

The right to privacy, the encryption of data on our smartphones is the root of Apple’s concern and is the reason for going public with this open letter.

In short, the US Government is demanding that Apple create a backdoor to the iPhone by creating a new version of the iPhone operating system that circumvents several important security features.

This demand began with the FBI approaching Apple to help them access data on the iPhone of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook.  Apple, for reasons outlined in this open letter, have refused to cooperate.  The FBI has now pursued court proceedings to force Apple to help them with their ongoing investigation of Farook’s involvement.  The Apple CEO is refusing to comply.

Cook’s fear is basic:

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again (to open) any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

Cook has exposed the demands being placed on Apple for the simple reason that he believes that an open discussion needs to be held.  The issues are complex.  A simple explanation can be found on this post: Apple vs the FBI – a plain English guide.

Scroll to the end of an op ed written by John McAfee, a member of the Libertarian Party, who is running in the US Presidency campaign, to see a short excellent video which captures the argument very succinctly.

FBI vs Apple

This sounds like a David and Goliath kind of battle, one which reminds me of the fight against Internet censorship which was famously waged by Aaron Swartz in 2012.  Swartz, who sadly lost his life during this ongoing battle, was a brilliant contributor to our world.

So ….. are we now staring down the barrel of a government ‘gun’ forcing its demands upon a company to comply on the premise that this will be in the best interests of the people?

Your thoughts?

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A newly opened library in the Carver County city of Victoria is being touted as a prototype for achieving the maximum amount of community benefits from a minimum amount of space.” (Star Tribune, May 14, 2015)

I found myself intrigued by some of the ideas noted in this and another article about the Carvery County Library in Minnesota, USA.

Carver County LibraryWhile there are some pretty cool libraries out there, when faced with only a tiny space and an enormous need, challenging issues revolving around use need to be tackled in an innovative way.   And I really like some of the solutions adopted here:

  • flexible design allowing use for varying purposes without the need to rearrange furniture
  • introduction of a ‘digital-in-person’ concept: using library space for people to interact with each other
  • providing a delivery service link from a nearby library in place of storing expansive books collections
  • computer stations in the library to allow patrons to easily browse our eBook collections
  • long, farmhouse-style tables equipped with power and data connectivity which can be used by individuals and small groups to classes of up to 24 students; space is “flipped” without any rearranging
  • using colourful furniture to create zones and define spaces
  • adaption of the Apple stores’ Genius Bar tech support counter to assist library patrons navigate the digital library

The notion of adapting ideas from Apple into our schools and libraries is something I enthusiastically blogged about some time ago: What Apple can teach us about learning! so, as you can guess, I’m a big fan of the idea of introducing the ‘Genius Bar’ as a tech support counter to assist library users.

Being able to teach patrons how to better use the library in a ‘spiced up’ manner has to be a win-win for Teacher Librarians. Imagine teaching a dedicated/attentive small group

  • how to search the catalogue
  • how to download e books and other materials
  • how to use e-resources
  • how to effectively run a search
  • ensuring patrons feel ‘at home’ and comfortable in the library

Yes – I know this is what we do now, but giving the process a ‘facelift’ can go a long way.

Guess it’s time for a change!

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It’s the end of the school year at this end of the world, so it’s kind of natural for me to be reflecting on times been and times to come.

Watching this recently released video of Steve Wozniak talking about his role in the revolutionary change brought about by the development of the Apple computer is both beautifully filmed and fascinatingly informative.

Who could have dreamt of the developments that followed that momentous design?  The pace of change is indeed very fast.  How many of us could have predicted that today we would be debating the merits or otherwise of computers being able to think and act on their own?

When I read a report last week in which the pre-eminent scientist Steven Hawking warned that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race, I found myself sitting up and listening.  The article from BBC News: Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind is well worth a read.  If you know little about AI, this report includes a brief, easy to understand, introduction to AI by Prof Murray Shanahan.

Stephen Hawking is not alone in voicing his concerns about AI.  Elon Musk, chief executive of rocket-maker Space X, also fears that AI is our biggest existential threat.

The question of whether or not we should be worried about the development of Artificial Intelligence is heavily debated, but this recent CNN broadcast (December 2, 2014) in which James Barrat, author of “Our Final Invention”  discusses the issue, left me somewhat disconcerted.

AI - James Barrat on CNN

Contemporary discourse, which recognizes the incredible speed of technological changes, indicates that it’s not possible for educators to plan detailed educational programs beyond five years.  With an eye on where we are headed in the future, discussion, debate, exploration and questioning are behind most everything we put in place in our schools.

Over the last 12 months, I’ve learned and explored much.  Lots of opportunities, for which I am very grateful, have been thrown my way allowing me to grow, learn and explore more than I ever thought I could.  While I look forward to the end of year break over summer, I know that in between reading and relaxing, I will also explore interests which I regularly add to my never ending ‘to do’ list.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts in future posts after the break.


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With new design features aiming for simplicity, style and attention to detail, this newly released promo video explaining the many new features planned for iPhones certainly builds excitement among Apple devotees.

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Tomorrow marks a milestone in the computer world.

In case you’ve missed all the hype – tomorrow – October 26th – is the day that Microsoft unveils its new state of the art tablet and will for the first time go into head-to-head competition with Apple in the market it has dominated to date.

Microsoft, which from its inception has been a software and services company will, with the launch of the first tablet it has designed and built itself, now enter the competitive league of tablet computing .   Reported to be about the same size as the first iPad, Surface will run the new Windows 8 operating system which is optimized for touch.

Although there are some negatives as reported in this in depth review by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, a real plus is that for the first time we will be able to manage files on a tablet as well as plug in a usb for the easy movement of files.  Another downside he reports is that initially far fewer apps (a mere 10,000) will be available on Surface compared to the 700,000 currently available for iPads.

From a user’s perspective though, the launch of Surface provides an alternative to iPads.  With the new challenge of mastering Windows 8 awaiting us on both Surface and PCs from tomorrow, this is certainly not a time for complacency.  I wonder how long it will be before my workplace makes the shift to Windows 8.  Hmm ….. and I was finally just getting comfortable with what we have!

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Up until about three weeks ago, I’d never heard of Kickstarter.com  but, as often happens when you hear of something new, you suddenly start hearing about it from a range of sources!

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects.  If you have an idea, develop it, but don’t have the money to manufacture and market it, then Kickstarter is a great platform from which to seek support.  Most of the projects I’ve looked at have created a video to demonstrate or explain their product.  With absolutely stacks and stacks of ideas sorted into clearly labelled categories, it’s possible to peruse and find an amazing range of ‘would be’ products.  In exchange for monetary backing, the products’ creators will reward  you with the supply of a part or all of the product.   With a minimum funding target set by the creators, many projects garner far more support well before the close date.

Just yesterday, I saw this video of an amazing accessory for the iPad.  Being a typist, I’ve already discovered that while the iPad’s virtual keypad is really cool, it is not comfortable for the kind of extended typing I do on a regular basis.  Size wise and ergonomic wise, it just isn’t right.   Without even physically playing with The Brydge, you can see that it addresses many shortcomings of the iPad’s virtual keyboard.

So, when I went to check cost and availability, lo and behold, I discovered that this was a Kickstarter project.   Having already exceeded the funding required, it’s clear that many, like me, agree that this is a product that’s going places!

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The new age of textbooks has been in development for a while now.  Just a couple of days ago I read a Mashable article: Interactive textbook makes reading social, bracess for Apple annoucement about the development of Bio Book.

BioBook, created by Jed Macosko and Dan Johnson of Wake Forest University under a grant from the Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenge – a site well worth the couple of minutes it will take to read about initiatives being promoted – is an interactive tool aiming to spark the interest of college students in their pursuit of knowledge.   Recognizing that the “one size fits all” model of education no longer holds true, the aim was to break the mould of the “one textbook for all, chapter by chapter, topic by topic” approach to teaching and learning.  Instead, the BioBook, an interactive iPad biology college textbook, allows students and professors to create their own customized learning experience.  Brett Eaton, of the Office of Communications and External Relations of Wake Forest University, says:

With a traditional book, content is read in the order prescribed by the publisher.  With BioBook, readers can personalize the order in which information is absorbed. In BioBook, Learning “Nodes,” or connection points, let student’s accomplish one or two well-defined learning outcomes with links to supplementary material and challenge questions. Students can read and complete Learning Nodes in any order that engages them and strikes them as logical. Students can create Connection Nodes to link topics, make notes or aggregate and annotate information. Instructors can use Organizational Nodes to connect information and create explanations of larger concepts and principles, and to ask higher-level assessment questions. Unifying Principle Nodes connect multiple areas within a subject for novice learners.

Another article on FastCompany describes how BioBook as an iPad, web-enabled interactive biology textbook, has created a fully customizable experience for both students and educators.

While BioBook seems to approach interactive textbooks from a different angle to recent Apple initiatives, it is clear that Apple’s launch, late last week, of iBooks 2, a new version of its digital books format which includes new features to make textbooks interactive, is set to revolutionize education, reignite student engagement and fire a new passion for learning.  Features such as videos, 3D modelling and multi-touch functionality, as demonstrated in this Apple video are very exciting.

Partnering with publishers Pearson, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and DK Publishing, who already dominate the textbook industry, Apple also announced that it is making an iBook textbook authoring app available for free – an action which will no doubt kick start the availability of interactive textbooks around the world.

I was taken by the closing words of the teacher at the end of this video.  They ring true to me.

Learning opens eyes, opens minds, and it opens windows into places that you never dreamed of before …..”

Focused as I am upon the power of reading, I have to say that ‘reading’ can easily be interchanged with learning in this quote!

Having just spent the last little while downloading iBooks 2 and playing with the free intreractive textbook Life on Earth, I can vouch for the appeal of this new development!

For those schools hesitating to get onto the bandwagon of introducing iPads into their schools, Apple’s latest launch may certainly act as a trigger.  It’s an exciting and challenging time to be either a teacher or a student.   Education is about to dramatically change!

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