Washington Post Peep Show

It’s that time of year again! Washington Post publishes the entries in its annual Marshmallow Peep Diorama competition.


There are a lot of good ones this year, but my personal favorite is the DC Rollergirls diorama. If you’ve never seen a Roller Derby bout, you should check it out!

Un-Social Networking

I love Facebook, but I know it’s bad for me. Like cake. Still, plenty of people start out using Facebook and then, for various reasons, decide it’s not their cup of tea (or slice of cake). If you are one of those brave souls, here’s an article from Mashable that describes 6 steps you should take before you delete a Facebook account. Because you didn’t think Facebook would let go of you THAT easily, did you?

6 Things to Do Before You Delete Your Facebook Account

And the FSRC released the March training schedule today. We have the usual Blackboard trainings, plus cloud computer, tech survival skills, Smart Notebook and Prezi. Sign up now:




Happy Valentines Day from the FSRC!

Since today is all lovey-dovey and stuff, I’m featuring an article in the New York Times about couples who met on the internet while playing the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is a video game that is hosted on the internet, which means that millions of players from all over the world can come together to play, collaborate and socialize. I actually have two very dear friends who met through World of Warcraft and married about a year ago.


The internet isn’t always a scary place!

A Meandering New Year’s Post

Well, it’s taken me nearly the entire month (it gets kinda busy around here at the beginning of the semester, as it turns out) but welcome back everyone and I hope you had a nice relaxing break! Today’s post will reflect my mental state, in that it will be disorganized and touch on only loosely related subjects.

1) Spam email. NOVA’s IT has been working overtime to advise us about the many dud emails showing up in our boxes. This is called “Phishing” and is something I covered in this blog a few months ago. Here is the link to that post: http://blogs.nvcc.edu/fsrc/?p=84. If you’re not feeling up to another post, here’s my helpful checklist for spam emails:

  • If someone asks for personal information via email, do not email it to them. If you think it might be a real request and it’s from a business, call. Even if it’s from your friend, call. Like, on the phone.
  • If there are typos or bad grammar in the email, that is a big red flag indicating it may be a scam email.
  • Just because there’s a company logo in the email or you click on a link that takes you to a website, doesn’t mean it really comes from that company. Just because the email address looks like it comes from a legitimate business doesn’t mean it does. All of these things can be easily faked in an email.
  • Be suspicious of generic greetings like “Dear Customer”.
  • Most businesses will not threaten to close down an account if you don’t provide them with personal information. They WANT you to keep your account!
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • If you feel weird about an email, even if you don’t know why, trust your instincts and don’t reply. Better safe than sorry!

2) Copyright. Shirley Nuhn and I did a training on copyright for educators during the Power Up Your Pedagogy conference in early January and hope to offer it in more venues in the near future. The original blog post is here: http://blogs.nvcc.edu/fsrc/?p=41. I also found this cool resource today: http://nationalparalegal.edu/public_documents/courseware_asp_files/patents/menu_patents.asp

3) Lastly, a good article on the top 10 good tech habits everyone should have. Developing these habits can save you from the many pitfalls of computer use and ownership. And yes, the last one is true! http://lifehacker.com/5978861/top-10-good-tech-habits-everyone-should-have

Non-Top-10 Post of the Year

By all Internet standards, I should jump on the bandwagon and post a top 10 list of my favorite tech stuff this year. But I just spent a week in Disney World, and I’m having a bit of trouble adjusting to the real world here at the office again. Also, here’s a tech secret: Don’t do the work over again if someone else has already done it. So I’m posting my top handful of top lists of tech gadgets (if you have a geek around that you haven’t shopped for yet) and some other lists too. Because.

GeekMom’s Gift Guide: Toys, Games and Apps. I only found Geek Mom today! TODAY! But I’m not a mom, so maybe that’s an acceptable excuse.


Boingboing.net’s list of great tech gifts. Be warned; this page reorders on reload. In English: Open links in a new page (right-click on the hyperlink for the option) or you’ll think you’re going mad.


Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2012 (the link opens to Amazon, trust me)


Smashing Hub’s Tech Gifts for Under $10


Fort Hunt Patch’s Holidays on a Budget





Happy Thanksgiving Break!

It’s that time of year again, gentle readers. Since I already gave you a dancing turkey video (see previous post), I’m keeping this post on the short side. Here are two sites for which I am thankful:

Copy Paste Character

I think I may have covered this in the New Horizons rundown (wow, that seems like ages ago!) but that was before I realized its true value. One of my weaknesses as a tech-type person is my inability to remember how to access special characters in MS Word (or any other application). With this site, I can continue on in my ignorance. You can choose any special character you need from this site’s comprehensive lists, click on it, and paste it into any application you like.


Want to know what’s on sale on the internet (or in stores, if you actually go to malls and stuff, which I don’t)?. Check out Dealnews every day. Want to know what’s on sale for Black Friday? Check out the Black Friday section! I’m hoping for a cheap off-market tablet that I can mount in the kitchen, because I use my iPad right now to access recipes but I’m always worried I’ve left it on the burner or in the fridge.

So have fun, be safe, and enjoy the holiday!


Who Trains the Trainer?

Hello gentle readers! Once upon a time, my father told me, “If someone in a job interview asks you if you know how to do something, always say yes. Then you have at least a couple of hours to learn it”. Note to anyone reading who may have been on my NOVA hiring committee…I DID already know how to do that stuff!

We all know how quickly things move in the tech world, and as an instructional technologist, I spend a lot of time learning new things. It’s not unheard of for me to have an hour to learn something before teaching someone else. So today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite training resources.

Atomic Learning

I’m only putting this one first (actually, at all) because everyone at NOVA can access it for free. It’s worth checking out, especially if you absolutely need to go the free route, but I’m not that impressed with it. Content is okay, but the site is ugly and hard to navigate. Go to http://www.nvcc.edu/about-nova/directories–offices/administrative-offices/ithd/students/onlinetraining/index.html. Yes, it’s a student page, and you have to click on the STUDENTS link to log on, but it’s for faculty and staff too. Sign in using the login/password you use for MyNOVA.


Lynda and all training resources mentioned here on out have my hearty endorsement. Lynda is $25 a month for a regular account. You can view some videos for free, but they usually just make you want more (curse you Lynda, you smart marketers you!). You can pay more to be able to download handouts and other materials, but I get by okay on the standard plan. They cover all the tech topics/software/hardware/anyware you can imagine, and their video tutorials are fantastic. If you had to pick one training option, this would be the one I’d recommend.


I pay $17 a month for this one, and it’s tied to Sitepoint, which is a site that is chock full of useful tech news, tutorials, support and resources. Also, you have access to read any Learnable ebooks online (they’re pretty good, and cover all kinds of topics) and download 1 ebook a month. Learnable focuses on web technologies, though they do sometimes stray into other areas, like lockpicking(!). I mostly stick with their web design resources. Courses generally consist of videos, readings and tutorials. You can download the materials for no extra charge. I’m doing some CSS trainings through Learnable right now that I like very much.


I’m not going to go into the politics and vagaries of online learning because lots of other people go there, and while I can do pedagogy, I don’t. According to their site, Coursera “partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free”.  These are online university courses, so they’re a bit different from what you can get on the other sites I mentioned…the information is more in depth and the courses are usually more of a time commitment. You can not earn a degree doing these courses, but there are tests, quizzes and homework assignments you can complete if you want the pretty paper certificate at the end. However, if you’re someone who just loves learning, jump in and enjoy the video lectures.

There are other training sites out there, and I’ve visited a lot of them, but these are my favorite. Perhaps I’ll post another handful in another blog post.