Friday, June 13, 2014

Internet troubles - DNS settings

If you are using DSL and sometimes you just cannot get any websites though you are still connected then this advice may help you.

The problem is often that your browser cannot reach the GTT-provided name server (DNS) which is required to translate the website name into the internet (IP) address needed to reach it. The permanent solution is to provide a public name server address to your computer to meet the need.

A commonly used public name server address is that of Google: or
To add this name server address to your computer please see one of these tutorials below. Note - this needs some experience so ask for help if you are unsure. You can cause more trouble if you make mistakes.

How to change DNS Servers in Windows 7
How to change DNS settings in Windows 7 | 8

You can diagnose the problem more accurately by pasting the following address into your browser where I use the IP address directly not the name so DNS is not used:
If you get a webmail login site (this is just a random site to use as a test) then you do have an internet connection but the DNS may not be working so try the above solution. If you get nothing then you have some other problem or GTT does.

Another, temporary, solution is to close down your PC and modem, restart and hope for the best...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

About lecturing

Firstly it seems that taking notes longhand helps us remember the subject while typing on a laptop is no help in that respect. So get out those pens...

From an article in The Atlantic:
"...this might be the key to their findings: Take notes by hand, and you have to process information as well as write it down. That initial selectivity leads to long-term comprehension."

Secondly getting the active participation of students is more effective than long lectures. No surprise really, the trick is how... the article does give some clues. One more thing - putting the lecture on a computer does not improve learning. From the article in Science :
"A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report 2014

It is way past time to get serious. Governments need to act together in the interest of mankind. According to a BBC news item:
"The world needs a Plan B on climate change because politicians are failing to reduce carbon emissions, according to a UN report.
It warns governments if they overshoot their short-term carbon targets they will have to cut CO2 even faster in the second half of the century to keep climate change manageable"

And the Washington Post reports:
"At a meeting in Berlin, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Sunday released a report that found that nations still have a chance to fulfill the goal but must aggressively turn away from relying largely on fossil fuels such as coal for energy and replace them with cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power. To reach their target of 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) over preindustrial levels, nations must work together to lower emissions 'by 40 to 70 percent' of what they were in 2010, the report said."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Using tablets in school - pros and cons

There has been a move to use tablet computers in schools. Having been a tablet (android) user for the past year or so, for 5 plus hours a day,  I have given some serious thought as to the pros and cons of tablets. After some research I have yet to find a good evaluation of the tablet in schools. Anyway here are some thoughts on the subject. Note that this post applies also to the more capable smartphones.

Lower cost
Free or cheap apps
Wifi built-in
Good for browsing, multimedia
Good for reading ebooks and other content
Useful sensors (much potential here, see here)
Android OS also widely used in smart phones

Limited battery life and charging issues
Keyboard (pop up) inadequate for serious text entry
Copying and pasting not easy
Graphics creation limited
Designed for personal use by one user, not multiuser
Apps and environment not designed for group/corporate use
Repairs more difficult than for PC
Security issues

Some of the problems are due to hardware limitations such as battery life, pointing inaccuracies and limited processing power and will mostly resolve. Others are software issues and fixable. For example there could be special accounts at Google for android systems that are used by multiple users and belong to a school or business. May be these could use facial recognition or fingerprint to switch users and wipe user data. Apps could store work online in individual accounts.
The difficulty of composing text for reports or assignments is not easy to solve without resort to full size keyboards (e.g. using bluetooth). I do not think using voice to text is ready yet or appropriate for class use.

There is no doubt tablets/smartphones will be used in schools, it is a case of making the best use of them but I do not intend to get into that complex subject here. I would just add that the rate of technological change is high which makes it difficult for teachers to keep up and for institutions to get a return from the funds spent. Change has to be planned for.

Many of the articles and evaluations found on the net are already out-of-date. No doubt this post will be out-of-date soon too...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Global Forest Watch & our forests

Technology is catching up with deforestation. According to this BBC story, Global Forest Watch makes this possible through their website:
"A new global monitoring system has been launched that promises "near real time" information on deforestation around the world.
Global Forest Watch (GFW) is backed by Google and over 40 business and campaigning groups.
It uses information from hundreds of millions of satellite images as well as data from people on the ground.
Businesses have welcomed the new database as it could help them prove that their products are sustainable."
A quick look at the website shows Guyana with only scattered instances of deforestation - along the Demerara River for example. A variety of information can be had but the website responds somewhat slowly.