Friday, September 21, 2012

To signature or not to signature

Since the inception of mobile mail applications, we started to see things like this show up at the end of emails:

Sent from my iPad
Sent from my Blackberry Wireless Handheld
Sent from my iPhone

This is called an email signature. Many of us have used the email signature for a long time to include details like contact information, title, etc. Many mobile devices default the signature to something like those listed above - I think for obvious advertising space.

If you're like me, the first time you saw something like "Sent from my iPhone 4S," you probably thought of many adjectives to describe the person that sent said email - namely: smug. However, I'm convinced that this appears at the bottom of most emails because many people 1) Have no idea how to get rid of it, or 2) Don't want to spend time figuring out how to get rid of it. Rather than spend time teaching you how to get rid of it (you could find a link from Google in 3.4 seconds), this post has more to do with the philosophical side of signatures. When I first got into the iPad game, I immediately took off the signature to eliminate the smugness factor. Then I heard some reasons (that you'll see below) that made me rethink it, so I put it back on.

About a day after adding the signature, it was included in an email to a family member. At the end of his reply to my email he inserted the following:

Sent from my laptop

- confirming my initial thoughts on the whole subject. I then sent this email back to him:

All right...the "Sent from my iPad" takes a little explanation (and I deserve a "Sent from my laptop"). I had taken that signature off for a long time because I was always a little annoyed when people had that on the bottom of an email - somewhat braggy. Or I just thought that perhaps they didn't know how to take it off of there. I later heard someone say that there is some etiquette when emailing from a mobile device. If you leave that on there, people are slightly more forgiving on spelling/punctuation errors. They also know that you may not be able to respond quickly because you sent it "on the go." I thought those were reasons enough, but after your response, you've confirmed what I've thought all along. I'm taking it off again. Thank you,

To which he replied:

People should never be forgiving about speling / punctuation errors:
I thoroughly enjoyed your well-rounded reasoning...

To which I replied:

Eye ugreee aboat knot forgiveing spehling airors...
Sent from my Dell Latitude E5520

So if you agree with some of the reasoning stated above to include a signature, perhaps you could consider changing your signature to "Sent from a mobile device" (a colleague of mine does this). Or perhaps you believe that the ten hours you spent waiting in line for your mobile device deserves the reward of including the device name in your signature. So be it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Google Documents Picture Problems

In an attempt to move most of what I did in the classroom over to Google Drive/Docs, I decided to start creating quizzes in Documents. Things went fine until I needed to start inserting pictures all over the page. For those who have been using picture functionality, you know that Documents can be frustrating/infuriating at times. There are times when you can't even click on the image you've inserted, but have to click where the image used to be, etc. There are other times that you can click on the picture, but can't move it at all. Then when you spend way more time than you'd like to admit, you finally have things in place (like this):

But along the way, things can go crazy like this:

I've found that this issue (which is getting considerably better all the time - thanks Google) has everything to do with the menu options that you see in both screenshots above - the "In line with text | Fixed position" options. If you have some of the issues I mention above, I've found that choosing "In line with text" and then choosing "Fixed position" again (which is what I wanted all along) gives me the ability to select and move the picture. Not always, and there may be more formatting to do, but this usually gave me the ability to move pictures again.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chromebook VGA adapters

Have you recently opened your new Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook only to be surprised that you couldn’t hook it up to your projector? That’s because Samsung/Google decided that they would only allow output through a little connector called DisplayPort++. The older Chromebooks had an entirely different port for output. If you go to amazon today and search “chromebook VGA adapter,” you will get a page full of items you aren’t looking for. What you need to search is “DisplayPort to VGA adapter” or “DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.” If you do this, you will get many options that will work with your chromebook, but plenty that won’t. The issue is that Apple calls their output a Mini DisplayPort, which is different than the DisplayPort on the chromebook. To simplify the process for you, I have tested three adapters that will be compatible with your chromebook:

Dell DP to VGA Adapter - This is a DisplayPort to VGA adapter that worked flawlessly with the chromebook. When refreshing the output (Ctrl + full screen function button), it even cycled through the normal options for outputs (1. just projector,2. just monitor, 3. both). A very nice option.

Cables to Buy DP to VGA Adapter – This is another DisplayPort to VGA adapter that worked flawlessly. Even with shipping, this is still less than half the price of the first adapter. So now the obvious question: Why would I buy a more expensive adapter (i.e., number 1) if they do the exact same thing. Here are two things to consider: 1) The VGA cable connects directly to the adapter, which can weigh it down and loosen the connection, which may cause the adapter to fall out of the port. 2)Because it is rather wide, the two ports next to the DisplayPort (USB and Ethernet) are tricky to access. The Ethernet is still accessible, but the USB port is impossible to use. There is still another USB port available on the other side of the Chromebook.

Cable Matters DP to HDMI - This adapter is DisplayPort to HDMI, which is nice because it brings sound with it through the connection. The problem is that this connection had the most troubles interacting with the projector. The first time it was plugged in, the screen on the chromebook flashed repeatedly and would not stop. The second try worked fine until I tried to refresh the output; then the screen started flashing again and wouldn’t stop until I unplugged it.

Summary: If you want to spend a little more money to have access to a second USB port, go with number 2. If you want to save money (like me) and still be able to project your chromebook, go with number 1. If you really want audio running into the projector, go with the HDMI and number 3, but prepare to deal with screen refresh issues (I would avoid this option). Conclustion: I’m going to recommend number 2 to anyone that asks.

Happy Chromebooking!