Category Archives: Technology

Memory lane: always nice to come across work we’re proud of.

While looking for some notebooks that I simply can’t find, I came across an old copy of the Canadian Journal of Educational Communication I kept as it contains a paper I co-wrote in 1994 with probably the greatest boss I ever had, Dr. Arto Demirjian, and my then thesis director and now dear friend, Steven Shaw.

This paper, entitled “A Case Study: Development of Interactive Multimedia Courseware“, was a very big deal to me. It was a culmination of a venture I had undertaken in a completely foreign domain, which was actually foreign to most people at the time: interactive self-pace learning.

Back then we called it CBT, or computer-based training. I wonder why my title says Interactive Multimedia Courseware… who knows. These CBTs were first produced to be delivered on… diskettes!  Yes diskettes, a great technological advance from… floppy disk. Those under 30 or so… ever wondered what that Save icon is?   😉

Now we would call it elearning.

Anyway, it was a magical time for me, as I was given basically anything I wanted to work with:

  • The biggest bad-ass Mac I could find
  • Two monitors!  …with 256 colors!!!!!
  • A PC (which I had to care about as my boss wanted it to be… cross-platform!!!!!)
  • An external hard drive with a few hundred megabytes (NOT gigabytes)
  • A tape back-up with 8mm cartridges (I think…)
  • A lab with 7-8 Macs to test with dentistry students
  • And then some…

It was cool! I also had the first digital camera: a Nikon F3 (I think) with a 80 megabytes hard drive attached underneath it… Can’t remember the resolution but it was top notch for the times (probably 1 MB or so). I also got my hands on one of the first digital projector. Actually it was a digital plaque that with put on the… OVERHEAD PROJECTOR!!!!!

I was in heaven!

Anyway… enough reminiscing.

Here’s a link to that paper… page 189… Maybe you’ll smile when you read it. Too bad it’s in black and white, very low quality for the figures and pictures.

Thanks for reading up to here.   🙂

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iPad: is it worth its weight in gold?

Good question! And as I hear a lot of answers that seem based on tests more or less realistic, I’ll share mine.

First, I must say that I’be been using an iPad (with 3G) since last August. The initial idea of getting iPads was purely for demonstration of our work (and even that was only to show pictures and videos of our work done in Flash!). Whether through casual encounters or during a trade show, we thought it would be very useful to rapidly illustrate what we were talking about, without having to start an application, navigate through the OS, to risk having error messages, etc.. Result? Very positive! We do find (after a few months and three trade shows) that the iPad does the job!

In addition, the iPad is a very useful tool… for what it does best: consume information. I must say that I also have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro, and a shared data plan. The three complement each other (and sync) very well. And after a few weeks of use, I quickly realized that the iPad could do more, the trick is to always keep in mind its limitations.

Of course I used it to check my email, my calendar and my contacts, but I quickly got used to take notes freehand with a very simple App, Penultimate, in conjunction with a soft tipped pen (Griffin – http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/stylus). There is of course an enormous amount of applications available, which makes it difficult to choose the ones you “really” need.

Some criticize the lack of features, such as a USB port, a keyboard, a video camera, telephone, etc., etc., etc.. The reality is that there will always be room for criticism, human nature being what it is. No tools (even the Swiss knife) is capable of doing everything. We’re moving to a new era of streamlining functionalities. Whether buying one song at a time instead of a CD, or purchase an App that does little but does it very well, it seems that many of us appreciate simplicity over versatility. I would like one day be able to buy only the portion of a software that interests me instead of having to buy all of its features.ç

Like it or not, the iPad changed the world. And we’re already seeing how other manufacturers will flood the market with their vision of what should be an electronic tablet. Ultimately, I sincerely believe that yes, the iPad is worth its weight in gold. And I look forward to seeing the next generations.

Twitter in 2010… what will it be?

I had a very interesting conversation with a good friend of mine yesterday, about Twitter.

First, let I’d like to say that I consider myself a newbie in Social Media. This good friend of mine actually introduced me to it early last year, and it took me until the fall to really get into it.

Like a lot of people, I quickly became excited about it, as I realized how valuable these little ‘tweets’ can be. And I am not talking about those that state someone’s current location, what they’re eating or doing in the privacy of their home. I’m talking about the real valuable stuff: news, factual information and Opinions. Notice the capital “O” of Opinions. We’re all entitled to state our opinions, as long as it’s presented like that.

Some say that 2010 will bring, among other things, Social “Fatigue” and “Social Shakedown” (or purge). I guess it’s normal with any trends, after their initial burst in popularity. But most importantly, I hope [valuable] Twitters will refine their writing skills.

I do my best to write something meaningful in those 140 characters. I came to hate tweets that have too many ashes at the end, ashes in the tweet, and even worst, more ashes than text! I also hate straight retweets: there are too many of them! They become noise, and you know what happens when there is too much noise, right? People stop listening!

I actually am still guilty of straight re-tweets. But I do my best to re-write each one of them with something meaningful, at least to me, hoping that it would mean something to someone else too, which is why I tweet them. Please note that I believe a rewritten tweet should still mention the previous sender (and even better yet, the ORIGINAL sender – but that is sometimes impossible due the multitude of retweets..).  To make it easier to read, I really like when people put the tweet’s sender at the end of the text, in brakets, like “(via @…)”. So I do it too.

To me twitting is about two things: sharing [value], and (gulp) promoting. I gulp at promoting because it can easily get out of hand (but at least here is the possibility to block senders and report spams…).

Anyway, we’ll see what 2010 brings…

Augmented reality for training… get it out to the masses!

Augmented Reality… Taking off like you wouldn’t believe because of the advancements in consumer-level technologies (read mobile devices). For example:

So where are those training applications (do tell me if you know of any)… Instead of the road, you’re looking at a control panel, or a broken piece of equipment…  Instead of a just a phone or mobile device, imagine it with connected goggles (wirelessly f course), with a camera and an ear piece…

You start the app, tell it what the problem is (by answering some questions), set a reference marker (visual cue on the subject, or even better, it knows already what you are looking at because of a RFID!) and let it guide you!

Wouldn’t that be cool! On your phone!

What about manufacturers? Forget about the user manual!  😉

+ A little update… found this podcast produced by “La Vitrine Technologie-Éducation”…

+ Another blog entry by Richard Nantel… Augmented Reality Apps Gaining Adoption

+ WOW!!!! The Real Future of Augmented Reality: SixthSense Demo at TED