December 2010 – Top 10 posts

December 2010 has seen a few changes to One Foot In Reality. This month I have changed the focus from Special Education to reviewing software/web applications and how they work in my classroom.

  1. MY NEW TASK MANAGER – Dec 25, 2010
  2. BLOGGER – MANUALLY IMPORTING BLOG POST PROJECT – Oct 31, 2010
  3. OFFICE SUITES I USE DEC 2010 – Dec 14, 2010
  4. CHANGING MY BLOG FOCUS – Dec 12, 2010
  5. START PAGES – THAT I USE DECEMBER 2010 – Dec 29, 2010
  6. PAPER AIRPLANE LESSON PLAN 2010 – Sep 4, 2010
  7. GOING BACK TO GMAIL.COM – Dec 18, 2010
  8. December 2010 – Blizzard Photos – Dec 27, 2010
  9. IS BLOGGING THAT IMPORTANT? – Dec 18, 2010
  10. FLUID – SITE SPECIFIC BROWSER CREATOR: REVIEW – Dec 26, 2010

Only two posts in this month’s top 10 is not related to my new focus on technology and one of those had images of the big blizzard that happened last week.  8 of 10 were related to technology and in keeping with with my new blog focus (including #4 which announced the change).

I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my posts and who have been so patient with all the changes my blogs have undergone during this last month and past year.

MY GOALS FOR 2011

As the new year approaches, each year I put together my goals for the next year (in writing) so that I can refer back to see how I am doing and if I made very much progress towards the direction I want to be going.#1  Determine whether or not I want to remain in Special Education as a teacher.  This is something that I do every summer – take a good long look at the job I am presently in and decide whether or not to stay.  It is very stressful being a Special Educator for a variety of reasons (which I have documented in other blog posts) and I have to determine if that stress is still worth it to me or not.  I won’t make any rash decisions or anything like that, but I will look at whether I am still enjoying my chosen profession and make my decisions during July of this year.  If I do decide to no longer be a Special Education teacher, I do plan/want to remain in education in some capacity, preferably in Education Technology or some other role.  Time will tell.

#2  Enjoy writing more at One Foot In Reality.  Writing about what I do for my day job (Special Education) was getting very tedious for me – it was just too much of something. I needed to be able to take off my Special Education hat much more than I was.  Changing my blog’s primary focus to doing reviews on software/web applications is something that I always wanted to do, but in the past always thought “who am I” and there are so many other people out there already doing that, who would want to read what I have to say?  If I don’t do this now, I am not following one of my dreams and giving it a chance to see where it leads me.  I am very passionate about using technology and believe that I have some unique perspectives on how software/web applications are or can be used, so we will see how this change pans out.

#3  Prepare for a reduced income over the course of the next couple of years.  I have a feeling that education is going to go through some tumultuous times over the next few years in the State of Maine and throughout the Country.  I am still at the bottom of all the lists and am probably in a better position weather the storm than some others, but at the same time it doesn’t hurt to learn to live on a reduced income.  This goes well with my last year’s goals of being less materialistic and more self-sufficient.  Hey who knows, maybe I will decide to leave teaching, become a freelance writer and finish writing the book that I have started and stopped so many times.

#4 Get myself back in reasonable shape.  My knee is balky at best, but it doesn’t bother when I lift weights or use a recumbent bicycle at the gym.  There are some lower body exercises I will have to stay away from, but other than that I don’t have any limitations other than what I can do.  My definition of reasonable will be walking over 1,000 miles (logged), getting my weight back to 170 or lower (lower is better) and not having the doctor bug me too much when I visit him in May.

#5 Let go of things that I can’t control.  I have a difficult time with this, I want to do so much, but I have come to learn that I can’t fix or help in every situation.  Sometimes you just have let it go and move on.  Don Quixote is not my alias but I have the belief that Don will ride again, but just not as often.

#6 Be positive as possible in all my personal and professional relationships. This is a carry-over from last year and believe that it helped to look at this every so often.  If I am positive good things happen and relationships improve, it is when I get negative…well we all know what happens then.

#7  Say “no” and mean it.  Often I say yes to things that I can’t accomplish or don’t really want to do, but say I will because of who is asking or some other reason.  Saying no is not part of my usual “can do” attitude, but with the demands of home, work and other things I like to do, taking on even more is not something that I want or should do.  This will be something that I do more often this year – just say no.

#8  Take the Google Certified Trainer series of tests and finish them by the end of April break.  I started going through the trainings last summer and completed them, but just haven’t taken the tests.  Completing this would be good resume material, if I need it and will help me gain more self-confidence that I do know something about what I am doing with technology other than in my own mind.

#9  Attend one of the #edcamps in the area.  I really love to meet the people that are in my Personal Learning Network and see them face to face.  I have come to rely on my PLN for ideas, support and comments to help me improve as an educator.  I plan to continue to participate in the #chats that are on Twitter and MLTI webinars whenever it is convenient to do so, but they are on the calendar as probable, not definite.

#10 Make sure that I stop and smell the roses.  I get so wrapped up in getting school work done, trying to figure out how to interest my students, playing with the computer, participating in #chats, webinars and all the other things that happen my day-to-day world that I forget to stop and just enjoy my life.  I need to remember I have a life beyond school/education or my laptop and need to enjoy that part of my life more.  The work-life balance that I sometimes forget about.

Again this year, I have written my goals and all but a couple of them are difficult to measure.  I am tired of people saying that we have to continually measure everything in order to know whether or not we are making progress or not.  That is the mathematician, engineer, manager or politician wanting data to measure artificial progress that may not really occur, but can be shown as evidence of how much we are doing. I am none of those and don’t believe more data or measuring everything is appropriate for every situation. These goals are mine and mine alone, I will know whether or not I meet them, writing them as measurable goals does not serve all that much of a purpose to me.

I hope that you have written down your goals for the next year and that you do as well in reaching yours as I will be in reaching mine.  The most difficult one will be getting back in shape, but I will do it.

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HOW I DID ON MY 2010 GOALS

This year has been a tough but mostly good year for me personally and professionally.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I write down some goals that are important to me and then review them at the end of the year  So here we go.

Last year I discussed how only we can control our reactions to situations and still believe that is true.

What do we have control over? Only our reactions to what is going on around us, which can be positive or negative, but most of us have the ability control how we react (if we choose to).  So my resolutions are going to focused on things I can influence or control.
#1 – Stop and smell the roses more. I tend to get too involved in things and then I let life pass me by.
I did okay on this one, but not enough to say that I was successful, being a teacher makes it difficult when school is in session to stop and smell the roses and that is just the way it is.  However, I didn’t do as good job of this when school was not in session – okay#2 – Be positive as possible in all my personal and professional relationships. If I am positive good things happen and relationships improve, it is when I get negative…well we all know what happens then.  I did really good on this one until a bunch of family medial issues came up and took over what I was thinking about, during September/October, but I think that I am back on track and back to being the positive me – pretty good

#3 – Train for the Maine Marathon. Just doing this will take care of all those eating right/weight related resolutions. My only concern is that my body might betray me, but I can try until it does. I just have to go slow and steady and not attempt too much too soon.  My right knee acted up and I haven’t able to train or even run since about April, my weight has gone up more than I want to admit.  I went to the gym, but not as consistently as I should have – not so good

#4 – Do the work as it arrives and touch things only once. I was able to this in the office atmosphere, now I have to translate it to the classroom and special education. This one will be tougher, but I have to make it a priority. If I do, I will become more organized and be less stressed about getting my school-work done. Which in turn will make teaching my students easier.  I have been working on using this system and for the most part have done this, although once in a while I have let things pile up a bit and have had to go back and do over work that should have been handled only once – pretty good

#5 – Be less materialistic. Do I really need all the stuff, I have accumulated, as I get older I find that I want/need less to be happy. This year I plan to buy less “stuff” and focus on things that I actually need. Boy am I glad I got my Mac before I made this one.  I actually did quite well on this goal, I bought a lot less “stuff” than I did in past years and believe that I can do even better this year.  Now if I could just figure out how to stop buying apps and software, that would be a huge thing 🙂  overall – good

#6 – Be more self-sufficient. I am not a survivalist, doomsday buff or end of the worlder. At the same time I believe that being able to be self-sufficient in as many ways as possible is a way to save money (which is a good thing) and if our infrastructure continues to deteriorate at its present rate, it will affect us less. Being able to grow food, hunt, fish, cut/burn wood, etc. are skills I need to maintain and improve upon. I live in the country so it is easier for me to develop these skills and use them.  Again my wife and I (her more than I) did quite well on this one, if we had to we could go a couple of months or so without to much disruption to our lives.  Very good

#7 – Last but not least enjoy life. It may sound a lot like #1, but we all have a limited time on this earth and it is mostly up to us whether our life is miserable or if we enjoy what we have available to us. I choose to enjoy my time here.

I did okay on this goal, some big family health issues got in the way in the fall and I have been letting little things at work bother me more than they should, but overall I know that I have a very good life and that I am grateful for all the things that I do have. pretty good.
I know that most of these goals were very general and mostly not measurable (heaven forbid that I a Special Educator put together goals that can’t be measured), but is it really necessary to measure everything? I think that all too often we put way too much emphasis on the end outcome and forget that sometimes the journey is just as important – maybe more important.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

What Information to Include in a Review?

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to change my blog’s focus to reviewing more software/web applications and how they are used in my Special Education classroom.  As part of this change I wanted to develop a list of things that I want to make sure that I cover this information in each review.

  • Brief Product Description:
  • How much does it cost?
  • Do my students have easy access the product?
  • Licensing restrictions:
  • Do I currently use ______ in my classroom or personally? Why or Why Not
  • How does ______ apply to or used in my Special Education classroom or for as a Special Educator?
  • Is ___________  intuitive and easy to use or is there a learning curve?.
  • Any student comments about _______
  • Does ________ sync with my iPhone or does it have an iPhone application?
  • What are the other options that do the same function as _____ that I have used, how does _______ compare to those?
  • The reality is _____ (my comments)
  • Closing thoughts

Do you have any other information that you would like or need to know about a piece of software or a web application, that I should include when I am doing a review?  I don’t want to do the same thing that everyone else seems to do and just give a generic quick overview.

The reality is that I want to provide a bit more in-depth and useful information to other educators on what or how software/web applications can be used by them in their classroom or personally.

Thank you for taking the time to give me your suggestions.

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START PAGES – THAT I USE DECEMBER 2010

When I was going through my What am I using now series, I forgot to include a very important category that I use almost every time I go on the Internet – what I use for a start page or homepage. To me a start page is a very important part of my online experience, it is the hub of where most of my actions online begin and I go back to it over and over again. Like everything else I have used online, my start page has been a series of evolving steps and searching for the “right” one for me.

Symbaloo – This is my current start page. I found out about it at the ACTEM10 conference in October during the TechShare lunch session and have been using it as my primary start page since then. I am a very visually oriented person and simply having to click on a tab to go to a webpage just seems very intuitive for me. I like the ability create my own tabs for websites that do not have a pre-made tabe and being able to share/use other people’s tabs is a great way to find new resources. Symbaloo is more a visual bookmarking service than a start page, but I like that quickly links you to where you want to go, so I use it as my start page. It is also a webpage, so you can set it as your homepage in whatever browser you are working in.

iGoogle – I used iGoogle as my start/home page for almost 2 1/2 years and was very happy with it until I started using Symbaloo. iGoogle provides more actual information than Symbaloo, was flexible and can give a great deal of information in a single page. You can rearrange where your information is and iGoogle is more text based than Symbaloo and but is not as intuitive. It is very powerful, just in a different way. iGoogle in my mind is more like a personal website that has your interests in one place and if you want more information you have a link to easily go to a different site. Since I have made the switch to mrshaw.org, I have only created a basic iGoogle page and didn’t bother to download my gMail.com page and transfer it over. iGoogle is a cross-browser start page, but is not icon based.

Chrome New Page – Another option that will be more viable as Chrome becomes more mature is the “new tab” in Chrome, in the preferences box under basics there is already a check box to make it your homepage. This seems to be the direction that Chrome is heading, but until they allow you to add your own “webpages” that are not part of the Chrome Web Store and manually re-order the icons to where you want them, it doesn’t work for me – yet. However, when they allow those customizations, it will be a much more appealing option. Although it will not be cross-browser which limits it use to Chrome only, which might not be the direction I want to go with my start page. I like having the ability to use the same (consistency) start page no matter which browser I am using.

There are other start pages that many people use, but that I just never worked for me: Netvibes, PageFlakes, Yahoo, Zoho, and many others. The above are what I am using now.

Another option is to just use the start page that comes with your browser for a minimalist one or if you have the time and ambition create you own custom start page that meets your specific needs. I have often thought about doing this, but never seem to find the time with all the other projects that I have going on at the same time.

Review questions that I try to answer at the end of each review.

  • Do my students have access the product? Yes, Symbaloo and most start pages are web based and need an email address to register. But as 7th graders many students are too young to use legally, so that is a consideration to make when recommending a web application to younger students. The Chrome browser is not part of the MLTI image, so the students do not have access to this software.
  • Is it intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? All the above start pages are fairly intuitive, once you learn how to create your links, which is usually straight forward and simple process for most start pages.
  • How much does it cost? Free.
  • What are the other options that do the same function? There are many different start pages, which one you use depends on your personal preference.
  • Whether it synchs well with my iPhone? I just set Symbaloo as the home page in Safari on my iPhone and it worked like a charm, but the icons are a bit small to press, so I would recommend that your most frequently used links be on the outside of Symbaloo or if you have big fingers, it probably will not work for you in a small touch screen environment. Maybe this change will cause me to use my iPhone a bit more.
  • Does it actually get used in my classroom. I use Symbaloo as my start page daily in the classroom and several students have asked me what is I am using. However, I have not yet shown them how to make their own, because of the age issue. Start pages are something I believe that more students should use and but most don’t know they exist or how easy they are to use. Perhaps this is one of those things that I need teach my students as a time saver, but getting around the age issue is problematic, unless I send a note home and have my student’s parents do the sign-ups (something to ponder further). Start pages are a real life tool that people use every day at work and personally.
  • On occasion what students think about a particular tool: Not applicable.
  • Will I use this web application? I have been using Symbaloo since October 2010 and start pages for several years and find them invaluable for quickly accessing sites that I visit everyday or having information come to me, instead of going to find it.
  • How does it apply to Special Education? Teaching students how to use a start page would cut down on time typing in URL’s on a computer or searching for frequently used information, thus allowing them to be ready for class more quickly. They can also have RSS feeds of the teacher’s assignments or blog page updates come to them, so they don’t have to remember to look for them. Special Educators can use a start page to have new information come to them from the Federal Government, State or even the Special Education Director of their school. Start pages are a one stop kind of shopping and quick access to get to your frequently used webpages.

Using Symbaloo may not work for everyone, but it works for me and I can then go to my gReader, newsfeeds or other web sites quickly and easily. I do miss the “pushed” information that I had in the iGoogle start page and may create a tab in Symbaloo for iGoogle just so I can go there when I want to. Now if there was a way for Symbaloo or iGoogle to be have both an icon interface and the other half “pushed” feeds, it would be the ideal solution. I guess that I would have to create a custom start page in order to do that. Now if I could only find the time.

One Foot In Reality – 2010 In Review

BIOGRAPH; picasa web albums /waldemar smolarek...

Image via Wikipedia

One Foot in Reality was created back in August because I was frustrated with WordPress and had deleted my original Blogger blog. This blog has evolved a great deal since it was created and I reflected on the direction that I want take with it. The theme has been simplified and just recently I decided to focus on reviewing technology (something that I have always wanted to do and just didn’t have the confidence to do previously) and how it relates to my experience as a Special Education Teacher.

This has been an interesting year personally and professionally for me. I have learned a lot about what I am passionate about, what I love to do in my “free” time and that family comes before anything else.

Below are the posts that have the most pageviews since One Foot In Reality was created:

  1. PAPER AIRPLANE LESSON PLAN 2010 – Sep 4, 2010
  2. SPECIAL EDUCATORS-DO WE DO TOO MUCH? – Sep 4, 2010
  3. BLOGGER – MANUALLY IMPORTING BLOG POST PROJECT – Oct 31, 2010
  4. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF RE-POSTING OLD POSTS TO BLOGGER – Oct 27, 2010
  5. IMAGINE HATING YOUR JOB THIS MUCH – Sep 28, 2010
  6. 25 GOOGLE CHROME EXTENSIONS I USE – Sep 6, 2010
  7. PERSONAL APPEARANCE MAKES A DIFFERENCE – Aug 28, 2010
  8. ACTEM 2010 REFLECTION – Oct 17, 2010
  9. EDUCATION REFORM – 2010 – Oct 17, 2010
  10. MY NEW TASK MANAGER – Dec 25, 2010

Looking back at the Top 10 posts September 4th through 6th were really good days for me. It is interesting that the post with the most page views is a low-tech lesson plan, but I do notice that 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are basically tech reviews, so changing my focus is where it seems more people were wanting to read anyways.

Thank you again everyone who has stuck with me through my blog butterfly days and I hope that I provide you with a more stable experience here at One Foot In Reality.

What have you done to make a difference today?

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

December 2010 – Blizzard Photos

So what does a sort-of tech savvy teacher do on the Monday after Christmas?  Sit back and watch a blizzard go by and dreading using that high tech machine called a snow blower.  However, it is a lot better than shoveling a 320′ driveway by hand.

The Blizzard of December 2010 is going on around us right now, we continue under a Blizzard Warning until 3:00 P.M. and they are predicting another 3-5 inches of snow between now and then.  The snow amounts have really been quite low for a major blizzard, “up heah”.  There are only between 8-10 inches so far, but the issue is the wind, it is blowing between 20-40 mph.  I apologize for the quality of the photos, they were taken with my iPhone 3G, but the give you an idea of what is going on in my neighborhood.

A picture from the top of the hill toward one of the old houses

Looking down towards the house, I live up around the corner. It was down around that first telephone pole that I was startled one morning by some kind of a critter as I discussed in my “Is Blogging that Important” post.

My neighbor doing what I will be doing in about an hour.

I will be joining my neighbor very soon outside snowblowing my driveway.  It will take a couple of hours to do it and all the paths to bird feeders, sheds, and everywhere else that we wander around the yard and don’t want to wander through snow.

As long as we keep electricity and don’t have to go anywhere, this storm is not that bad for up heah in Maine, it’s just another winter storm.  However, while walking on the roads, they were very icy and slippery, the snow is what my we call crystal snow which forms into white ice on the road.  While the road crew is doing a great job keeping the snow off the roads, the white ice on the roads make it so that I wouldn’t want to have to drive too far, unless there was an emergency.

Everyone stay safe and enjoy the snow.  Who knows maybe I will get out the snowshoes and try them out.

MY FIRST YEAR AS A MAC CONVERT

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I had thought about buying a Mac quite often, but I had always been in a Windows-based environment at work and it always seemed easier to stay with the same thing at home. However, many people that I knew were very surprised that I wasn’t using a Mac already, they usually told me they just assumed I was an Apple kind of guy. I didn’t seem to fit the stereotypical PC image. When I began working in a public school where all the students had MacBooks, I decided that I would finally make the leap and buy a Mac.

  • WHY I AM BUYING A MAC
  • I USED MY ISSUED MAC ALMOST ALL WEEKEND
  • WHY I DON’T LIKE MY MLTI MACBOOK

If I had only had been limited to using my issued MTLI MacBook, I don’t think that I would have been nearly as happy with switching to the Mac. I enjoy experimenting and being able to change or add software too much and wouldn’t be satisfied with what the MLTI image lets a non-administrator do. So just using the MLTI MacBook wasn’t an option for the way that I use a computer.

So on December 29, 2009 I became the proud owner of a brand new MacBook Pro from the Portland, Maine Apple Store. Buying my new Mac at the Apple store became very important, as the first MBP did not work correctly and as I explained in my A ROCKY START TO JOINING THE CULT OF MAC post that I took it back to the Apple Store and exchanged it for a new one (without any problems).

I have not had any issues with my MacBook Pro at all, l have been extremely impressed with its reliability and ease of use. As they say “it just works”.

During this past year I have done a great deal of experimenting with different settings and Mac Software. I have found something that is counterpart to almost everything that I used on the PC. The only things that I really haven’t found that is a better replacement for than what I used on the PC are Windows Live Writer and OneNote.

I have kept some of my PC games for the day that I go out and find a version of Win7, so I can put them on the Mac. This is the one area where the Mac is a bit weaker than a Windows machine, the game selection, but even that is improving. I can’t wait for the new Mac store to open up, so I can see what different software will be available. The biggest difference is that you pay for Mac software more often than you do for a PC and with the Mac store I believe that this trend will continue.

Much of what I said in my CONVERTING TO THE CULT OF MAC WAS THE RIGHT DECISION on 1/2/10 still holds true. Below are the major things that I commented on in that blog post and how I feel about those comments today:

  • Trac Pad: I still really like the new track pad and hardly ever use a mouse or rollerball even when they are connected.
  • Maintenance: I don’t do a lot of maintenance other than what I do with CleanMyMac and re-doing the disk permissions when I get reminded for some reason or other. I don’t spend a lot time on that side of using my Mac.
  • Office Suite: I was one of many former PC types that evidently liked the Ribbon, because in Office 2011 for Mac has the Ribbon and they listened to enough whining from us to include it in the newest version. For my office suite I now use a combo of Office/Google Apps.
  • Productivity: Combo of Apple/Google with Hiveminder as my task manager. However, since finding Fluid I might be using more Google and less Apple. Fluid has made that much of a difference.
  • Browser: Big changes here, Chrome has become my primary browser and Safari 5+ is my second choice. Firefox is not even loaded on my Mac right now.
  • Music Player: iTunes – I am still not that crazy about iTunes. The interface itself is not something that I like, but it works and you pretty much have to have it to use an iPhone, iPad other Apple products.
  • Photo Manager: iPhoto – I don’t like it as much as I originally did, but it is simple to use, but at the same time powerful enough to do what I want. I now use a combo of it and Picassa, because I use Picassa to for my online Photo storage/management.
  • BlogWriter: This still is what is missing – a blog writer that I like for the Mac. Right now I am finding that ScribeFire is working for me better than the other options that I have tried…now if ScribeFire would just allow easy integration with Zemanta, I would be happy.
  • Buttons: I have gotten used to the red, yellow, green buttons and how they operate, at first it was hard to accept that just because I used the red button the program is not closed, now it is just second nature.

In all my explorations of software or webapps over the past year and experimenting with different setups, I have only had to re-image the Mac twice, once 2 weeks after I got it and then again in June to clean up the system after making a mess on a failed experiment. I have been doing less experimentation lately and am focusing more on learning the software and applications that I use at a higher level than I have in a long time.

I still don’t know that much about Scipts, Automator or using the Command Line, but I don’t know if I really want to go down those roads too far anyway.

Am I satisfied with my change over to a Mac and would I do again – a year later? Absolutely.

So speaketh a happy convert to the Cult of Mac.

I wonder what my next MacBook will be? That 13″ MacBook Air looks mighty tempting, but very pricey. We will see what happens.

DISCLAIMER – No I have not received any money, product or other incentives to do this review. I paid full price for my MacBook Pro less the educator’s discount. The above review is simply my thoughts on converting from a PC to a Mac.

FLUID – SITE SPECIFIC BROWSER CREATOR: REVIEW

Fluid (browser)Image via Wikipedia

Last January when I first got my MacBook Pro, I was searching for free software that I could use and I came across one that really intrigued me called Fluid. What it does is creates a Site Specific Browser (SSB) out of a website or web application, so you can add it to your Dock and treat it more like a desktop app.

With my limited knowledge of how a Mac ran at that time, I didn’t figure out that I could use other images for my shortcut (alias on a Mac) and didn’t like the resultant very blurry icon that I ended up with on my dock. So I put Fluid down as something interesting, but didn’t work for me. This year while I was searching for a different task manager, I came across Fluid again and remembered how I had tried it and didn’t like it before, but was still intrigued enough to look at it again.

This time when I tried it, I noticed the “other” and tried it. It gave me access to my computer’s files, so that I could use different images/photos as my shortcut image. Figuring out this simple function made it so that Fluid suddenly was a tool that I could use. I have downloaded several icon sets for my Mac and Picassa had saved all of them for easy access. After a bit of playing around, I found that a 256 x 256 pixel image works really well and created several shortcuts (alias) for the web applications that I use the most. Below is a copy of my Dock this morning:


Tools in my Dock: Finder, Hiveminder, Chrome, TweetDeck, NoteShare, Preview, Apple Mail, gMail, gCalendar, gDocs, Blogger, gReader, gSites, Word, iTunes, iPhoto, Photobooth, QuickTime, CleanMyMac, Stuffit, Picassa, Safari

There are a couple of more web applications that I want to add to my dock, like my school’s gDocs site, Infinite Campus and probably my online Picassa or Google Bookmarks.

Below is a screenshot of what the Site Specific Browser looks like with four of them open.

They open just as though they are an application and don’t take up one of your tabs in the browser, so you can quickly go back to the website or web application you want without having to find it in your open tabs. If you are like me usually there are too many tabs open at a time and it becomes a pain in the butt to find the one you want quickly. I am finding having my applications in the Dock is more of a time saver than I could have imagined.

One thing that I do like is when I create a Fluid shortcut (or SSB) is that when I click on links they open up in my browser or another SSB window (I just wish I had a bit more control over how that works, but that is a minor issue).

Review questions that I try to answer at the end of each review.

  • Do my students have access the product? No, they are not allowed to download software and put it on their MLTI laptops without special permission.
  • Is Fluid intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? Once I figured out that the “other” took me to the files on my Mac, it became very intuitive and easy to create shortcuts (alisas) for use in my Dock. There are videos I could have watched, but I tend to just try something to see how it works for me.
  • How much does it cost? Free.
  • What are the other options that do the same function? I haven’t found anything, that is similar in function.
  • Whether it synchs well with my iPhone? Not applicable
  • Does it actually get used in my classroom. It is a personal use item on my personal Mac and I will use it that way, but unless I decide to download it and get it installed on my MLTI machine, (which might happen if I find it useful enough non my MBP), it is not really for classroom use.
  • On occasion what students think about a particular tool: Not applicable.
  • Will I use this web application? I have used Fluid for a couple of days now (I got to experiment with it a little once school break started) and now that I can use the icons that I like, I will be using it quite a bit.
  • How does it apply to Special Education? It really does not do a lot for a Special Educator, unless I create an alias to a specific Special Education related website that I use a lot i.e. the Maine Special Education Law/Regulations website. Other than saving a couple of keystrokes and quickly finding a specific application, I don’t see any big benefit for using Fluid in the world of Special Education.

The reality is now that I have figured out how to change the icons, Fluid will be in my toolbox. Fluid gives me the option to create a Dock Icon so that I can quickly and easily get to the webapps that I frequently use. Which will in the long run save me a bit of time, which is always important to me.

I know that Fluid has been around for quite a while, but it is definitely worth taking a look at and I am glad that I gave it another try.