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Friday, March 2, 2012

Shifting Images: Reduce Eye Strain

I have resisted wearing glasses much of my life. Yes, I know I am getting older, and my eye sight will change. I finally have resorted to "arm stretchers" (reading glasses) for my book work.  I also realized that spending a considerable amount of time on the computer will cause additional eye strain. Looking at the computer screen for long periods of time can cause your eyes muscles to tire and become over-used. There are a number of things you can do to reduce "computer related eye strain" (CRES) or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

  1.  Take a break every 20 minutes and look away from the computer screen and into the distance, out the window, for example.  (Consider Workrave to remind you.)
  2. Your computer monitor should be 20 to 24 inches from your eyes.  [I just measured mine.. exactly 24 inches!]
  3. Older CRT computer screens are harder on the eyes and contribute to eye strain. Consider upgrading to an LCD screen with anti-glare.   If you use a CRT at work, set the set the display settings to the highest possible refresh rate. LCD screens don't flicker like CRT screens, so the lower refresh rate is not a problem with LCD.
  4.  Yes, you can adjust the text size on your computer.  (CTRL/+ to increase the text on most browsers.)
  5.  You might consider a pair of "computer glasses".  They aren't cheap but a great help in reducing eye strain headaches.
  6. Be sure to blink.. alot!  Studies show that people that are on the computer tend to blink less than normal leading to dry eye issues.
  7.  Walk away!  Take regular breaks from the computer will reduce muscular issues in your eyes, shoulders and back.
  8. Be sure to have regular eye exams and discuss your computer use with your optometrist.
Be proactive in protecting your eyesight and reducing or eliminating serious side effects that come from eye strain. ☺

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's a Wiki? - More than an Encyclopedia!

Wikitravel - David, Panama
So, what is a Wiki? Well, first we should look at a little bit of history which will explain the term.

In 1995, during a trip to Hawaii, a website idea was created by Ward Cunningham. It was to be called WikiWikiWeb (a computer programming collaboration). Wiki means fast or quick in Hawaiian but also seems to have a second meaning of "what I know is". How appropriate for a online collaborative website. 

So basically, a wiki is an online website that allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser. This collaboration allows users to share their knowledge, research and experiences. So most people know Wikipedia.. but what other wiki sites are out there? According to WikiIndex, there are 5,587 pages about Wiki, Wiki people and Wiki ideas! I will only highlight a few today.

Wikitravel - Want a place to get travel information from other travelers and not just a series of commercials? So far, they have 25,695 destination guides! Another source is Travellerspoint, a social network wiki where members discuss their travel experiences.

Wikipedia - Well know as a good source of general information. Although not recommended for most academia, the references may be a good source. 

WikiEducator - A fantastic resource for open source learning and educational projects. Along the same lines, WikiBooks is a source for open-content textbooks including WikiJr that is creating age-appropriate non-fiction books for children from birth to age 12.

WikiHow - Want to know how to poach an egg?  Check out the how-to manual that can be edited!

So it you are looking for a well rounded source, consider checking out a wiki and maybe even get involved in the development of collaborative websites.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's it called? Keyboard Punctuation Marks

So,  the curly line is above the tab.. the star is on the 8 key.  What are those obscure symbols on your keyboard actually called? Some of the symbols, like the slashes, have various applications (and thus, names) but when referring to the keyboard, this should help you identify the keys and not use the catchall 'whatyamacallit' identifier.

~ is called a tilde.These can be found in some website urls, so knowing the name could be helpful.

< > These are brackets if used in pairs. Often called angle brackets but also can be called chevrons.

^ This is called a caret.  (to show the place where something is to be inserted.)

[ ] These are called square brackets or closed brackets. 

/ This is a forward slash or slash. You will find this one below the question mark.  


{ } Again, a lot of different names but usually curly brackets, curly braces or gullwings.


*  An asterisk is used in many ways: mathematics, technology (your phone, for example), and a wild-card in computer science. It can also be used to identify footnotes. 


Another one with a variety of names but you can call it a vertical bar or a pipe.

&  Most of us know that this is used in place of  the word 'and' but did you know it was called an ampersand?

\   This is a backslash, reverse solidus or a slosh. This is found below the vertical bar on the keyboard.


So now you know.. Happy Leap Day!  ☺



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lazarus: Reviving your Submissions


The other evening I was taking a test for one of my courses and all at once the server crashed and I could not submit my test!  I panicked.. how do I save this information? Will I have to take it all over again?  Thankfully, the test actually did save, so the fears didn't come to fruition, but it did make me start thinking about my options.

Lazarus, a form recovery browser add-on, gives you some peace of mind when it comes to saving your perfect words in the Facebook response or blog post.

Lazarus works with Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. The best part of all is that is is free, although they would appreciate donations if you find it to be beneficial to you. (Even a small donation helps these companies to continue to offer products for free. Don't take them for granted.)  What a great online tool that makes our lives just a little bit easier! ☺


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Perfect Image: Public Domain

1913 - Cover of program for women's suffrage procession.
 So, you need an image for that school project,  or want some vintage images for that craft idea?


The public domain refers to works whose intellectual property rights have expired, or been forfeited.  Just because it is "old" does not mean the copyright has expired. Some works may never fully lapse into the public domain. For example, A perpetual crown copyright is held for the Authorized King James Version of the Bible in the UK. So, let's just focus on public domain images available online here in the USA.

Give credit where credit is due, proper attribution to the author or source of a work, even if it is in the public domain, is still stated to avoid plagiarism. ☺

Did you know that works of the United States Government and various other governments are excluded from copyright law. That does not mean that all images found on .gov websites are public domain since the government may use copyrighted works. State and local governments usually do retain a copyright on their works.

So, here are a few image sources to get you started: