Information in the Personal Cloud (Part 2)

There are a number of plug computing devices on the market, some specifically do this kind of function commercially. These small form factor devices are Linux server computers running on ARM processor architecture, and consequently only draw between 4W and 13W of power. They have an Ethernet socket and from 1 to 4 USB sockets. Once you couple an external USB HDD and plug into an Ethernet socket you have a Network-attached storage (NAS). This can then provide secure cloud backup, remote access and collaboration services, and allow sharing and synchronize of files on your local network.

The options include:

  • Pogoplug v2 Pink
  • Tonido Plug
  • Seagate Dockstar (based on Pogoplug software)
  • Iomega iConnect WDS
  • CTERA CloudPlug

I’ve gone out and got a Pogoplug v2 cos it was the easiest and cheapest route for me at the time. I coupled a Western Digital 1TB HDD to it and plugged it into an ethernet socket. The setup was relatively straight forward, and didn’t take very long at all.

There are three options for access with the Pogoplug:

  1. Web access via the security  https://my.pogoplug.com login
  2. Download a small desktop client for Windows, Mac OS or Linux
  3. Install a mobile app for iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Palm.

You can manage, access, upload and download content from anywhere. You can view your images, even as a slideshow, and stream video (you need to have the videos transcoded first or you’ll only see the first 10 sec by default).

Here’s a video of me streaming a video from the external HDD via Pogoplug simultaneously to a laptop and an Android mobile:

You can backup and synch folder.

You can share your content with other people by allowing access to specific folders and inviting them using the email invite option. Alternatively you can open the content of a folder completely and have a URL allocated. From your logged in access side it might look something like:

Setting up sharing folder on Pogoplug Then from the open web side using the supplied URL you’d see:

Open web side view of folder via Pogoplug(This folder isn’t open any longer, so the URL doesn’t work.)

By default security isn’t set, but you can optionally enable SSL, though this will slow down access.

I must admit that for about the first three days following setup I did experience some difficulties. Uploading files wasn’t working successfully; they would hang or bomb out. I resorted to plugging the HDD directly into my PCs to transfer files across. Then accessing these files was a little slow via the Pogoplug interface. However, following this initial period, things have gone much more smoothly.

Interestingly, the Seagate Dockstar also uses the Pogoplug service.

If you have any worries about the longevity of Pogoplug, they have said that if the company does dissolve then the code will be made available via SourceForge so you’d be able to continue using your Pogoplug.

I think the Tonido Plug runs all open source so that might be an area to consider further.

I intent to write another part in this Personal Cloud series of posts soon.

Additional information:

  1. Tonido – Run your own personal cloud – http://www.tonido.com/
  2. Tonidoplug – TonidoPlug is a tiny, low-power, low-cost personal home server and NAS device powered by Tonido software that allows you to access your files, music and media from anywhere for just $99 – http://www.tonidoplug.com/
  3. Pogoplug – http://www.pogoplug.com/home-en.html?
  4. Seagate Dockstar – http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/network_storage/freeagent_dockstar/
  5. Comparison of hardware specs http://plugapps.com/index.php5?title=Portal:Hardware
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British Library Sound Map – Sheffield

The British Library has a project just started where the general public can record short soundscapes to be kept and archived for posterity. The pilot phase is happening right in the gorgeous city of Sheffield.

There was an article about it on BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight yesterday (listen via iPlayer from 39min42sec to 44mins) plus an article in the Sheffield Telegraph.

I spent my lunchtime recording some soundscapes in town, geo tagging and uploading them. By the time I got back to my desk they had already made it onto the British Library Sound Map.

Here’s my tweet about it. Follow the #uksm on Twitter.

Application of this concept has some great potential for education. It also shows what a multi-tool the smart phone has become.

So if you want to be a little part of history, get recording sounds to Audioboo. More details are on my previous blog post about Audioboo.

Quizlet ™ Flashcard based memory testing

Quizlet™ is a rather good flashcard based learning tools.

Screenshot of Quizlet flashcard

You can create your own set of flashcards or use the large library created by others and made public.

The flashcards allow you to learn subject terms in a number of ways, and test yourself or your students also in a number of ways, including quiz questions and a couple of game based tests.

Quizlet screenshot of study and game options

I personally particularly enjoyed the scatter game, where you have to drag terms onto their definitions, or vice versa, against the clock. You can then repeat the game and try to beat your best time.

Screenshot of Quizlet Scatter game

This demo screencast explains Quizlet™ nicely.

Existing flashcards you can use to learn with are categorized into:

  • Arts & Literature
    • Literature
    • Authors
    • Books
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
    • Performing Arts
    • Others
  • Languages & Vocabulary
    • Parts of Speech
    • English and European Languages
    • Asian & Pacific Languages
    • Chinese Languages
    • Japanese Languages
    • Indian Languages
    • Middle Eastern Languages
    • Slavic Languages
    • Others
  • Maths & Science
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Health Sciences
    • Life Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
  • History & Geography
    • Anthropology
    • Civics
    • History
    • Religion
    • Countries
    • Regions
    • Cities
  • Standardized Tests
  • Professional & Careers
    • Business & Financial
    • Computers & Engineering
    • Healthcare & Medicine
    • Law
    • Others

Digital Storytelling – Bubblr

I’ve started to become interested in digital storytelling. So when I found Bubblr by Pimpampum recently I was very interested at the possibilities. Bubblr is a comic strip based services that uses the Flickr API to allow you to search for and pull in Creative Commons licensed images to tell a story. The interface is pretty intuitive; do a search via the text box, choose images you like from the returned results and drag them onto the strip. Add an additional image by simply dragging another and dropping it to the right of the last image, and so on. (You can also add them before the last image by clicking the appropriate option.)

Once your strip is in place, you can add comic strip like speech bubbles, thought bubbles and narrative bubbles. When you’re happy, you can publish your strip to the archive. You just then need to put a title to your composition and add your name. (There’s an interesting warning – your boss might see your composition so be careful.)

screenshot of Title and Name input box for Bubblr

Writing this post, I have realised some similarities between Bubblr and Vuvox Collage. So Bubblr not only has a digital storytelling use, but could be a presentation tool as well.

I’ve quickly created a Bubblr strip, Shots of Sheffield UK by Markuos.

Bubblr digital storytelling in action

There’s an archive to look through other people’s creations using a useful search facility.

Block Posters

I was immediately impressed with Block Posters.

You can take any of your images and then decide how you’d like it sliced up. Download the pdf file and each of these slices can now be printed out and put together to create a great big poster.

This can be used to create artworks around your home, blow ups of your favourite photos at a fraction of the price, etc. Also, it can be used in the classroom for displaying material to students, or by students to display their ideas and emphasis their points. Extending that idea, when university students have to produce posters this could be an alternative to expensive production via professional printers; I’m all for reducing the cost of education. But for an alternative approach remember Glogster.

Infographics via Spectives

I’ve been looking at infographics; graphic representations of statistical information. I recently came across one of the tools on Smashing Magazine titled Data Visualization and Infographics Resources. Here there’s a list of links to some great infographics sites.

Then today I found Spectives.

What Spectives does is create visual galleries aggregated from other websites of your deciding. Once registered it is relatively simple to create a ‘collection’, adding additional feeds. Note: to add the feed you simply paste in the required site URL and Spectives identifies the feed. If there are multiple available feeds on a page then you are offer the alternatives and just click on the one you want to use; I tend to choose the RSS 2.0 and that always seem to work fine.

I like the way Spectives works, and the way it displays the information. Hover over an image and if there is associated text it is displayed. Clicking on the image loads up the appropriate page. It’s an interesting way of finding information. It’s a nice way for those who tap into visual cues, (I know that isn’t for everyone). Then you can squirt out the feed of your aggregated collection using the RSS link on the right of your page.

Infographics are by definition very visual. What a perfect subject for a Spectives collection. So I thought I’d combine the two and use some of the links from the Data Visualization and Infographics Resources list and put them into the Spectives feeds to create an ‘infographics images’ collection.

GRPHICS

Diigo link: My infographic bookmarks

Follow that conference – Twitterfall – following Twitter with hashtags #

Hashtags are commonly used within Twitter tweets when a comment relates to a specific subject that other people might want to follow or participate in the discussion. It is often used at conferences; to follow the conference generally, or particular sessions within the conference. This practice allows people outside the actual ‘physical’ location of the conference to participart in some way with the delegates and sometimes the presenters, especially if the tweets are projected real time within the session, or questions from those using Twitter are being taken by the speaker.

Perhaps the best know service to allow this to take place is called Twitterfall.

A quick rundown of Twitterfall is presented in this video: