All Things Reconsidered

"I want to Make a Dent"

Archive for the tag “reviews”

Three Very Cool Avatar Creators

Recently, I was working with some students on autobiography projects. Although we can’t publish the students realistic image, since their stories about the students themselves, we’d like the students to be able to show their creativity and personality.  I found many sites, but these three seemed to meet our needs most, because of their ease of use, the fact that students don’t need to log in to create them, and the quality of the avatar.

Dopple Me

–  Dopple Me

Of these three sites, this one is probably the most basic.  It took a little bit of tinkering to get it to create this avatar.  Plus, sometimes when I made a choice, it didn’t let me take it back.  So, of the three, this would probably be my last resort.

However, what I did like about it was its simplicity.  This would be a good choice for a quick avatar, if you just wanted to get in and done

Buid Your Wild Self

Build  Your Wild Self

What a beautiful tool!  The site itself is linked to the New York Zoos and Aquarium.   I was really impressed with the artistic quality of the site.  This site provides  a little more customization to the avatar.  The students were able to choose facial features as well as clothing styles for the avatar.

The only problem I saw with this site is the inability to download the finished product.  We got around this problem by “printing” as a PDF and then saving the it that way.  When the students need to embed this avatar into their project, we just will save the pdf as a jpg.  This is a lot of steps, and I walked the kids through it.  However, with younger students it might pose a problem.

Toy Story Toy Creator 

Toy Story Toy Creator

I saved the best for last! This by far was my (and the students’) favorite avatar creator.  Again, the students didn’t need to log in in any way, and they were able to customize many elements of the avatar.  Not only did they get to choose the eyes, nose, etc, they could also further customize by moving them around, changing the color, etc.

The site itself was fun to use and had some “bells and whistles” that enaged the students, but the bells and whistles didn’t bog down our network.  The students were able to create a personalized avatar  within twenty minutes.  Plus, the site allows to students to download the avatar in many different formats…again without requiring any log in of any type!

Sure, it’s a commercial site, but I have to say—way to go Pixar!!

I’d love to know any other sites you could recommend, but these three did the trick for us!


My thoughts about IOS5- from an average Jo-di!

Approximately two weeks  ago, I ran home from school to upgrade my Iphone have only had it for less then a year, so I wasn’t about to go and buy the new phone.  It seemed , Siri was the only feature worth mentioning that I couldn’t get with just the update, so it wasn’t worth the money.

Before I begin this “review” I should acknowledge that my only credentials for writing this is that I love my iphone and use it all the time.  I use it for work, I use it for fun, I truly don’t know what I do without it.  Most people who know me know that, so recently I’ve had a lot of people ask what I think of it and what features I like or don’t like.  This is not a comprehensive review, just a list of the things I’ve noticed so far.  So, here it is….

What I like: 

Easy access to the camera feature:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the perfect shot, and lost it due to having to open my phone and find the camera app.  Now, all I have to do is double click on the home button and it pops up, even if the phone is locked.  Also, I’ve noticed that after you take a picture you can go right back to the camera when viewing a picture you just took.  In the last operating system, if you took a picture and then gone to look at it in the pictures app, you’d have to double click and return to the camera.  Now, it’s right there ready to go if you decide you didn’t like your picture and want to retake it. Makes it easier to get those Karate pics!


I can’t believe I’m saying this, but at this point, about 90% of the people I text are (or could be, once I upgrade them) on iOS5. I love the fact that I can send them messages, photos, videos, etc without worrying about texting charges.  The truth is that the texting was never very expensive, but who doesn’t like a “deal”?  I like the little …’s that let you know they are writing back and I like knowing a message was delivered.  

Notification Center : 

I really have been enjoying the notification center.  I like the fact that I can glance at my phone without unlocking it and see what messages I have from all my different apps, missed calls, etc. It also like pulling down the “movie screen” to see what i have missed.  It really is convenient to see everything in one place.  Even cooler is that when you receive a notification while your phone is “locked” you just slide the little slidey thing to the right and it will open directly to that email, voicemail, text, etc.

As my boys would say “loooove it!”

Safari Fun 

I know there are tons of improvements to Safari, but the ones I have been enjoying the most are the addition of Safari Reader and Safari Reading lists.  

Since I have put my purchase of an Ipad on hold for right now, I find myself reading a lot on my iphone.  Sometimes the small screen can become cluttered, and the option of open articles or stories in reader is very convenient.  It is much easier on the eyes and less busy for me.  Likewise, I have been enjoying the ability to save pages or articles that catch my attention for a later time.  Sometimes I follow a link from a tweet only to find that it is a rather long article that I don’t have time to read the whole article. I like the ability to save these types of articles in a reading list that I can return to at any time. It’s kinda like a mini- version of google reader that is even more convenient!  Also, I like how twitter is integrated right into the browser so that I can easily tweet whatever resource I find.

More control over email formatting :

This one, actually I haven’t played with much yet.  But I like the idea that is possible.  Now, you can correct spelling, format (bold, italics, underline) and indent the emails while you type them.  I think this would be something I might use more on an ipad because most of the time when I’m sending a message on my iphone it’s a quick one that I just what to get out.  

Multiple Map Options 

This is a feature that the phone desperately needed!  I hated when I would put addresses in and I knew there was probably a better way but couldn’t remember the exact street names.  I also think the design of the maps is sharp and easy to read.  

What I wish would get better: 

Location Based Reminders 
When I first heard about the location enabled “reminders” feature, I was super excited.  I liked the idea of setting a reminder to do something when I left school, or when I got to the grocery story. But, here’s what they don’t tell you: The location has to be stored as one of your contacts.  So, if I want to have a reminder to buy certain things from Dominick’s, it has to be listed as one of my contacts.  To me, this seems silly.  Google Maps is already embedded in the OS, so I don’t know why they couldn’t just have the two apps talk to each other.  I am hopeful that this will be updated/changed soon.

I am pretty sure that this is different, but not better or worse.  In the past, if you wanted to zoom to shoot a picture, you would use the slider at the bottom.  Now it seems you can pinch to zoom, which is OK, but doesn’t really add anything (for me).  One thing I really wish would be added (unless I am missing it) is the use of zoom on the video camera.  I really hate the fact that I cannot zoom with the native camera app.  I know that you can add an app like VideoZoom 2, but if this truly just a $.99 app, why doesn’t Apple just include it in the OS?  

Twitter Integration 
As I mentioned above, I really like the idea of being able to find a resource and automatically tweet it out.  However, I wish they had a way to shorten the links.  With only 140 characters to use, each one is precious. I think this might be more twitter’s issue than the IOS, but it would be nice! 

Stuff I haven’t played with yet…..

I do have a full time job and three kids, so once in a while I can’t be playing on my phone.  However, clearly there are people who can 😉

So, here are a few resources that I’ve found to learn about some of the other cool stuff the phone can do….

30 of the Best iOS Features – This page hits a lot of the ones I talked about but goes even further.  Since I have only an iphone (for now), those of you with an iPad might see some of these features more useful.

Hidden iOS features:  There are tons of these and you can find everything from LED alerts to creating your own keyboarding shortcuts.  Again, I haven’t played with all of these, but I’m sure some of you will, let me know what you think! Here are some of the sites that have a good collection

Oh….one last thing for you lucky ones who did buy the Iphone4S (or even for us peons who are waiting) , this hilarious site called ShitSiriSaysthat will give you a few laughs!

So, for now that’s all I got!  I’d love to know what your favorite features or tips/tricks are.  I love my iPhone and it has become more and more essential to what I do

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