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Showing posts from 2012

Spotify on Chromebook

Web Version of Spotify If you want to use Spotify in a browser - so on a Chromebook or just don't want to install the local app, then there is now a beta web app. You do need a Facebook account to access it - but once in you can use you regular Spotify App. Follow this link: Sign in with Facebook. You should then be able to switch to your Spotify account. Bookmark the page. Then enjoy browser based Spotify. There is a thread about this in the Chromebook group forum , which I would recommend to any Chromebook users out there. Don't know how long it will be in beta - but appears to work well on my ARM based chromebook and PC. Update: You can now get Spotify as an App in the Chrome-web store. So no need to do any of this now.

Editing and Creating Videos in Google Drive

How to edit Videos in Google Drive A lot of people in our Apps domain have found how easy it is to upload videos straight to their Google Drive. However, it would be nice to be able to edit them. Well, you can. You need to add a app called Pixorial to your Drive and then you can: Edit videos Add captions and credits. Add transitions. Add audio tracks. Add images and much more. I've tried to illustrate this in a little video:

Fusion Tables

Fusion Tables Fusion tables have finally come to Google Apps for Education. These are quite cool and allow data sets - both private and public to be merged and visualised in a number of ways. You can make a Fusion Table by going to your drive and clicking on 'Create' 'More' and Fusion Table. You can also add it as a Chrome App. This is still in beta, so some of the features could well changes. You can add data-sets from Google Sheets or csv files. You can merge Fusion Tables, specifying the fields to match - essentially creating a relational database. The data can then be displayed in a number of way. Note the options differ if you are using the new or the old look. One I did earlier - oil production by country - not perfect - but only took a couple of minutes! If you want to know more go to the Google documentation on this .

Google+ Andriod App update

Google+ Android App Update This Apps has just updated on my phone. You now get all the functionality more or less of the web based version. Most notably for me is the ability to start hangouts from the phone. This would be good if you wanted to have a live feed of an educational visit for example or any event and you just wanted to have a phone - not a laptop or tablet. Tested with a few private hangouts - works well and very easy to use. Also works fine on 3G.

Using Google Research Tools

Google Research Tools Research tools can be found in Google Documents and Sllides (Presentations). It allows you to do the following things: Add images from Google image search without having another browser tab open and automatically reference then. Add references to web searches automatically. Add whole webpages to documents. Add links to webpages automatically. All useful stuff if you are doing a project or just making a presentation for a class. Brief video of the key features below.

Realtime Board

Realtime Board This is a cool Chrome app that creates a realtime board that you can share with other people. You can save your boards and save them as image files if you want. Screen shot below:

Self Marking Google Form Tests

Self Marking Google Form Tests This is a quick demo of how to use the great MCQ script in Google Forms to make self marking tests with Google Forms and provide students with feedback.

How to re-size Videos in Google Sites

How to re-size Videos in Google Sites Lots of people at school are building Google Sites. Its really easy to add YouTube videos and videos from your Google Drive. However, re-sizing them is a little tricky. Here is one way of doing it. Step 1 Select 'Insert' then 'More Gadgets'. Add Gadget by URL. Paste in: Step 2 Add the sharing link for the YouTube video - see bit highlighted as e.g: Paste this into the Document box in the Gadget: You can now select the exact size you want with the height and width options. Step 3 Select OK - your video will be in your site at the size you want. Longer than simple insert - but you do get the size you want.

Google+ is here for Education Apps users!

Google+ Lands at Last for Education Users Logged into my management console today and there was the link to enable Google+. I've enabled this for staff quietly for now - just to have a play around. Student have to be at least 13 - so thats going to be Y9+. Some education about how to use it for education rather than just fun is going to be needed. But the potential for virtual classroom (via Hangouts) and groups learning via Circles seem great. Could have some highly creative and collaborative online work.


Sparklines - create trend lines in cells The sparkline functin in Google Spreadsheets allows you to plot trendlines in individual cells. Basic function: =sparkline(cell range) - see below for e.g You can also do the coloured bar charts using the additional parameters: =sparkline( E30:I30 ,{"charttype","bar"}) This make the blue and orange bar chart in a cell.

Data Validation and Cell Protection Google Sheets

Data Validation and Cell Protection Google Sheets  This is a brief video on how to do the following: Cell validation - limit what a user can add to a cell - say a range of grades.  Protect sheets.  Protect ranges and cells.  Any questions - please ask.


Play audio straight from your Google Drive. Just found this one. If you go to Create in your Google Drive and then More, Get More Apps - look for an app called Drivetunes. This adds Drivetunes to your Google Drive and allows you to play common audio files formats straight from your drive. No need to download. Now I just have to upload all my music so I can play it on my Chromebook.....

Linking Google Spreadsheets Dynamically

How to link Spreadsheets Few people have asked me how to link spreadsheets. Say someone has a spreadsheet you take data from. They update their sheet and you have to then update your one. You can link the two dynamically using the importrange function. So for example: =ImportRange("0AkvcQ- UNCMvIdDF5ZDhOYVlXb0drcW1zNTMy RjNvVkE","sheet1!A5") The first bit in quotes is the "id" of the source spreadsheet. You can copy and paste this from the spreadsheets url. The second bit in quotes is the name of the sheet in the spreadsheet you want to take data from and the data you want. So sheetname followed by ! then the cell or cell range e.g A1 or A1:A100 - all in quotes as the example above. This will pull in data from the source sheet. Change stuff on the source sheet and this will update. If you are doing this more than once in a sheet it is a good idea to put the sheet id in a cell - say A1. The the formula becomes: =ImportRange(A1 ,"sheet1!

Chromebooks - new Samsung Series 3

Chromebooks - new Samsung Series 3 Samsung have just released a new Chromebook and my resolve was weak so I bought one. For those of you who don't know these run Chrome OS, not windows. This is a browser based OS - so its essentially Google Chrome with a few addons. You sign into the device with your Google account. If you are a Google Apps user, the device can be configured in your Google Apps Admin Centre. A couple of picts: This model is the Samsung Series 3 WiFi. Costs £229 inc vat. There are reviews online - but some brief observations: Startup in seconds and login is about 2 seconds.  Power down in a second or two. Silent and next to no heat. Battery seems to last forever - I'm sure it does not - but I've yet to see it go down. You get HDMI out so with the right cable can connect to most things. I've had it doing HD iplayer on a 37" 1080p TV - no issues. There is on SD card slot. You can download stuff to this as well as downloading s

Start Button for Windows 8

Windows 8 Start Button Some people complain about the lack of a start button on windows 8. While I like 8, this can get a little annoying if you work on a desktop. Stardock Start8 is a simple way around this. Cost me £2.80ish from the Stardock site and works a treat. You can start straight to the desktop and have a classic 7 start menu or a windows 8 menu. Windows 7 Start Menu Windows 8 Start Menu

GMaiI - Some Tips

Some Tips for GMail I see a lot of students and staff with very vanilla GMail setups. There are a few quick things you can do to customise your experience. Have a look at the vid below - I take a vanilla setup to a more personalised look in a few minutes. Just an update to this - a new 'compose' window was launched yesterday. I'd suggest you go with it when prompted. Quite slick. It adds an 'add picture' button - so the addin is not really needed any more.


OpenClass - VLE extension for Google Apps I've been looking for  way to have true VLE functionality in Google Apps without having to resort to another platform - e.g. Moodle. OpenClass may be the answer. I have just added this to our domain. Its free and is in the store for Apps addons. I allows you to make sites that have assignments and markbooks attached to them as well as being alble to upload content packs. It appears in the 'More' section in Google Apps. It sync with Apps for user creation and seems at first glance quite easy to use. Will trial with some students sometime soon.

Useful Chrome Extensions

Three Useful Chrome Extensions G New Doc - two click creation of Google Docs Terminal for Chrome - adds a Google Apps control panel to Chrome Save to Drive - adds a save to drive link to the right click context menu in Chrome. See vid below for demo:

Server 2012 as Terminal Server

2012 RDP  We have just deployed a Server 2012 Terminal Server. We had a 2008r2 box that was giving issues and needed a rebuild - so thought - lets give 2012 a shot! The Server runs a classroom of 30 Axel M80G thin clients. The benefits so far: It works! So all the group policies seem to apply reliably for all users - this was an issue on the old install. Logon and off times are much faster.  General video performance is better.  Applications load a lot faster.  The install takes up much less hard drive space.  The students like the funky user interface.   The challenges: Had to create a new mandatory profile. Did this on a clean built Win 8 Enterprise VM.  Deploying the classroom Ricoh printer via Group Policy did not work. Every time a user went to print the spooler crashed. This was resolved by manually doing an admin add of the printer via IP address not name.  The Axel Thin Clients needed a firmware update. The mouse pointer got stuck in one shape or simply disa

Using Evernote

Evernote - an alternative to Onenote  Evernote has been around for a while and is an alternative to OneNote. So you can use it for personal organisation or working on projects together. There are apps for all the main mobile platforms or you can access it in a web browser. There is also a windows app. You can import OneNote notebooks using the Windows app. Did a brief video to show you what it looks like:

Editing Office Files Directly in Google Drive

You might want to edit Office files directly in Google Drive - this is how: This added to my previous post about handling Office files and demos the Office version of Nexus. I would encourage our users to just use Google Docs files - simpler and easier to work with. However, if you want to use the full blown version of Office 2010 on anything with a browser watch this:

Mail Merge in Google Apps

Mail Merge I get comments that you cannot do mail merge in Google Apps. In fact the opposite is true - there are loads of ways to do it! Most require you to add a Script into Spreadsheet. Do this by going to Tools and then Script Gallery. My favorite i s 'Yet another mail Merge'. Just type this into the search and add it. You will get a couple of little popups asking for permission - just allow. This one allows you to create the message to be created straight into Mail. Merge fields are in the form $%merge field% . These merge field names should be the same as the headings in the Spreadsheet where you put the data.  Once the script is added - you will see a Mail Merge option in spreadsheet. Click on this - select the message you have saved and the column that contains the email addresses and that's it. Short video below:

Adding Animations to Google Presentations

This is a short video on how to add animations to Google Presentations. You can make stuff appear, disappear, fly in and so on as you can in PowerPoint.

Using Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is an update to instant messaging.  It allows you to have up to 9 way video/voice messaging . All you need is a webcam and mic and the Google Talk plugin add in into your browser. You can start a hangout if the person does not have a webcam - they will see you - but you won't see them. To start just choose hangout when you IM someone. Have fun.....

Beginning with Google Drive

Just a little video I did looking at how to switch from Google documents to Google Drive and some basic functions: You always want to use Google Chrome signed in - watch this short video to see what this means....

Using Google Drawing

Want to put complex layout, diagram and so on into you Google Docs - then use Google Drawing This is a good intro video from Google: Well that shows you how to make an android! You can put Google Drawings into your docs by using the web clipboard or creating a drawing while in spreadsheet or documents. This is how to make a seating plan:

Notification Rules in Google Docs

Do you want alerting when someone edits a doc or fills in a form? You can turn on notification in Google docs and setup a variety of rules: You are then prompted for the type of notification you might want to receive....  Useful if you don't want to keep checking a doc.....

Fun, Useful and plain Silly Chrome Apps

Just thought I'd share some of my favorite Chrome/Google Drive Apps Webcam Toy Make silly faces and have fun with your webcam - what more could you want..... Nexus Libre Office Edit Office files in a browser window and save directly back to your Google Drive. LucidChart for Education Create organisational diagrams with ease and save them straight back to your Google Drive. An alternative is Lovely Charts - but Lucid has full integration into Google Drive and more features. Loupe Collage Create funky interactive collages with photos. Dead easy to use. Example from the school site below: Pixlr Editor - Now a Google Drive App Who needs Photoshop? Pixlr offers high end photo editing online. Can link directly to your Google Drive, Picasa, Facebook and Flickr accounts.  Loads of tutorials on YouTube - but a good one is: There are lots more - will update in due course......

OneNote for Andriod!!!

I'm a OneNote convert - probably the best thing that MS ever did. Organise lesson plan, class info all in one place. Now there is an Android App on Google Play - great way of looking at and editing your notes on the move. Its almost the same as the OneNote app for Windows 8. Ditch those paper files and Get OneNoting today.......

How to handle MS Office Files on Google Drive

You might wondering how to manage Office files in your Google Drive. There are a few ways: Upload revisions. Use Nexus to edit in browser - update - Nexus have not made any money - so have dropped this project. Good idea while it lasted. Use Google Drive Desktop Tool. Little video of the first two: The last one you can install at home if you want. If you want it at school - raise a support ticket and it will be installed for you. Hope this helps.....

How to do vertical text in Google Spreadsheet

After many years of waiting, this is now a feature of sheets - so this little hack is no longer needed. Options now are: One limitation of Google Spreadsheets is the lack of a vertical text option - handy if you have very wordy headings to columns. This is being worked on - but a little work around for now is the use of the following formula: =ARRAYFORMULA(CONCATENATE((MID( "English Lit"; ROW(INDIRECT("YY1:YY"&LEN( "English Lit" ))); 1)&CHAR(10)))) Don't worry how it works - just copy and paste - change both english lit's to whatever you want.

Windows 8

Windows 8 is coming.... We have access to Windows 8 from the middle of August as part of our MS Agreement. Lots of interesting comments on the web about it. It looks quite cool and the Server edition is very powerful. Would you like to trial it? Let me know...... Little vid below (not mine):

Flash Content not working???

There has been a flash update (to 11.3) that can break flash playback - so iplayer, YouTube and so on. If you are using IE or Firefox you can uninstall flash and install an earlier versions. In Chrome (this happened to me with Chrome 21) do the following: In the address bar type:  chrome://plugins/ Click on the details button (blue and top right). Click disable on the first of the three flashplayer entries - the one called pepperflash Should work now. Adobe are working on a fix....... update - was only an issue for multichannnel audio - has been fixed in the latest version of Chrome. Update - this has been fixed now.

Using the web clipboard in Google Docs

Using the web clipboard in Google Docs. The web clipboard allows you to copy and paste whole Google Docs or part docs from one file to another in a couple of clicks. Suppose you want to put a spreadsheet into a document - use the web clipboard. Button show below: You will get a history of the stuff you have copied appearing until you clear all items.  I find this particularly useful for putting Google Drawings (if you have not used this them do - create organisational charts, diagrams, funky pictures and so one really easily!) into documents. With a combination of the web clipboard, document and drawing there is not much you cannot do! Have a go...... 

Use of Google Calender

Use of Google Calender - do you know that you can sync you calendar with most phones and tablets easily. you can also use Google tasks. Gtask is a good app for Android - no more scraps of paper for to do lists. Why not get students recording their HW on their calender? Might be a useful use of their phone? Cooper school is asking students to do this.....

Picasa Web Album

Did you know you have a Picasa Web Album for storing and editing your photos as part of your Apps account. Sign in at . The photos you put in you can embed directly into any Google Doc, share with people without having to send enormous email attachments and edit you shots on-line. You can also embed whole galleries into other websites - e.g. Google Sites and spaces on the LP. Need help - just ask! Some shots straight from my album of the site.....

Raspberry Pi

Any one else got a Raspberry Pi? Pict of mine below: Popped a 4Gb SD Card that I put a lightweight Debian Linux distro on. Used an HTC phone charger as a power supply and a regular USB KB and mouse. Plugged into my monitor with a HDMI cable. Web browsing worked OK. Has a few programming tools - something to play with over the summer. I plan to turn it into a LAMP server and host some sort of website for experimenting with. Watch this space for a url...... OK - here is a little video of it being used as a thin client. Might be a cheap option for a school rdp client?

revision history

Do you know about revision history in Google Docs? If you have a shared document - click file and revision history and you can see who has done what and when to the document. You can also revert a document back to an earlier start if you don't like the changes. See below for the screen shots.... File menu.... The version history

Thin PC

How does a Thin PC work? We have recently started recycling old PC's as Thin PC - using Windows 7 Embedded. So basically using them as terminal to a remote desktop server. Gives old machines a new lease of life for no cost (assuming you have a EES agreement with MS). The trick is to get the Thin PC to go straight to the rdp to the server you want. So key steps if you are interested are: Put the Thin-PC in a OU where there is a group policy that auto logs on a standard user. Change the shell from explorer to %windir%\system32\mstsc.exe I have one script that calls a vbs script that runs the rdp session and loops to re-run it on exit or if the user tries to close the session. Key thing is to run the scripts silently so the user cannot close them. Lock Crtl-Alt-Del down with gpo so user just gets Cancel as the only option.  Anyone wants to know more - let me know.


This is how you can use Templates - bit brief - but saves a lot of time if you use the same style doc all of the time:
Just started using Google Docs for my forms Personal Statements for UCAS - comments is great for giving them ideas and correcting stuff. Also get an email when they correct stuff.
OK - so just started using Blogger as part of Google Apps for Education at Wheatley Park School.  I'll try to post IT ideas for staff students and other IT expert over time here. Lets see how it goes. So there is one to get started - how to use comments in Google Docs....