My Top 10 learning tools for 2016

Jane Hart has a long tradition (10 years, congrats!) in gathering the world’s Top learning tools and I am happy to contribute again this year.

Some changes: there will now be a top 200, and a split on education, workplace learning, and personal and professional learning.

Here we go, in random order:

  • Twitter: the best way to generate your own “information streams” about various subjects. (personal & professional learning)
  • Microsoft OneNote: still the best note-taking application on the Windows platform. Unbeatable in combination with SharePoint or OneDrive, and a tablet pc with a digitizer pen (like the Surface). It is fully cross platform with a nice and stable client for OS X! (personal and professional learning)
  • Office Lens: a Microsoft mobile app (Windows, iOS, Android) that “scans” about everything with the camera of your phone. I especially like the way it “straightens” pictures of documents, whiteboards, flipcharts…
    Invaluable for capturing the notes of a meeting. (personal and professional learning)
  • Office Mix: the top tool to “convert your PowerPoint to e-learning” (even if that is not always a good idea), almost dropped out of my list because Microsoft suddenly removed the support for SCORM export. But I give it the benefit of the doubt for another year, there is still LTI compatibility. (workplace learning)
  • Pocket: with the “read later” button in your browser toolbar, you can save interesting articles for later, and read them afterwards. Love the fact that it is available on and syncing with my e-reader. (personal & professional learning)
  • WordPress: excellent blogging platform. Recent releases have been focussing on the usability for the writer, and it is setting the standards for usability. Administration is now a piece of cake, even for non-tech users, with e.g. the auto-update feature. (personal & professional learning)
  • Fever: this “self-hosted Google Reader” is still my main information hub, gathering hundreds of RSS feeds that would otherwise be impossible to follow. Fever is exceptionally easy to install and very stable. (personal & professional learning)
  • WebEx: a very reliable, easy to use and complete web conferencing tool.  An international company could not do without it. (workplace learning)
  • Microsoft Snip is a “garage project” that goes beyond the functionalities of the traditional “screen capture” tool. Love the fact that you can easily annotate your screen captures to document your findings, and the idea to let you record voice annotations is very useful for support purposes. And it is free. (workplace learning)
  • Office 365: the “swiss army knife” of productivity tools: enterprise-grade e-mail and calendar, SharePoint sites for collaborating or storing knowledge, and OneDrive that has 1TB of storage and that is a serious competitor for tools like Google Drive and DropBox.
    Some nice extensions became available, like Sway and Flow, but for me it is too early to mention them separately …(workplace learning)
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Snip, a free screen capture tool

If you occasionally need to take a screenshot (or a screen capture of your screen), recent versions of Windows provide you with the Windows Snipping tool. It works well for simple jobs, but a recent Microsoft Garage project called Snip takes it to the next level.

snip

It offers a number of advantages:

  • it runs in the background and is always available
  • it stores your screenshots in a “library” without having to save manually to a file
  • you can annotate your screenshot with various drawing tools. Especially useful when you are using a tablet
  • you can save your annotations in a video file and add voice-over to it (very handy for describing an issue)

 

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TomTom device reboots continuously after update

If you have a built-in TomTom GPS in your car (Carminat – Renault), you might experience that the device reboots continuously after updating the SD Card with TomTom Home.

The device shows the startup screen, a black-and-white hourglass, and then the startup screen again, it continues endlessly.

Two actions might solve your issue:

  • the support site of TomTom suggest you delete the mapsettings file. That did not solve the issue for me;
  • mounting the SD card on a computer and deleting the loopdir folder in the root of the card solved the issue for me, as suggested here. Personally, deleting that folder did not delete my favorites, the only thing I had to do is set my home location again.
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Edit your hosts file quickly

edit hostfileEverybody who has ever migrated to a new hosting provider, purchased a new domain name or made DNS changes has done it: adding lines to your hosts file to “hard code” the ip address of a server host name on the workstation you are working on.

On Windows, this has become a pain since the UAC feature was introduced. In order to modify,  you need elevated permissions, so you need to start your favorite text editor as administrator. On top of that, the file is buried somewhere in the deepest cave of your c-drive (C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\).

There must be an easy way to do this. I managed to reduce it to two clicks via a shortcut on my desktop, with the procedure below. Who can do better? One click only?

  1. Right-click your desktop
  2. In the context menu, select New > Shortcut
  3. In Type the location of the item, enter C:\Windows\System32\notepad.exe C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts
  4. Click Next
  5. In Type a name for this shortcut, type any name you want (I used Edit hosts file)
  6. Click Finish
  7. Right-click the new icon on your desktop and select Properties
  8. On the Shortcut tab, click the Advanced button
  9. Check Run as administrator and click OK
  10. Click OK

Seems to be a lot of work, but it will save you numerous clicks whenever you need to edit the file again.

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iCloud shared streams not shown after upgrade to Photos

The Mac OS X 10.10.3 includes the new iPhoto replacement called Photos. My upgrade experience was not very positive: I could no longer connect to the various albums I shared on iCloud. The albums were still there, they were showing up on other devices, but in Photos they were not visible. The Shared section of Photos showed the message “Connecting to library… Retrieving latest photo sharing activity” but after that, nothing happened.

After trying various things, this is the procedure that fixed it for me:

  • Close Photos
  • Repair disk permissions via Disk Utility
  • Restart
  • Don’t start Photos, but go to System Preferences, iCloud, Photos and disable iCloud Photo Sharing
  • Enable it again
  • Start Photos. After a while, the activity stream will update and the shared photos will start coming in.

 

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