Friday, December 13, 2013

Rihac - Continuous Ink System - A review after a year and a bit.

So you are probably aware of how your printer stores and uses ink and how to refill it. And you probably wonder why it costs so much for an ink cartridge... It is generally the most expensive liquid you will buy in terms of dollar per litre - including designer perfume.

Our epson printer is an older wireless epson T40W - it was costing approx $60-$70 for a full set of Epson cartridges or about $40 for a full set of 3rd cartridges. Considering that I like to print photos and my partner is a relief teacher and tends to print out school worksheets by the 30's as she has no access to a photocopier at the school. We tend to go through ink a bit....

I think the worst part is running out right in the middle of printing something at 1am or having to brave the weekend shops only to find they don't have that cartridge... aside from the exorbitant price...

So I did some research and this Australian company RIHAC makes a continuous ink system. Continuous ink systems are a 3rd party add on system that pipes ink from ink tanks outside of the printer to replacement cartridge heads.

My printer was out of warranty anyway so I decided to give it a go and bought the System on special for @$100. including the ink

The T40W is one of the harder ones to set up - and took me about 2 hours to get set up perfectly - mostly running the piping so that it didn't catch on anything as the printer head moved back an forth - the instructions were pretty clear but it was still a bit of a challenge.

Brother printers seem to be the easiest to set up - literally plug in and go so if you are buying a new printer have a look at the Rihac website to see which ones are the easiest to install.

So it has been well over a year and a half since I put in the system - and I have just bought my first refill pack for $50. And although there have been times where the printer needed cleaning or the system needed a prime or head cleaning, it has been fantastic. There has been no difference in print quality for the work we do with it.

I think I have saved at least $400 in ink cartridges for my printer - and running out of ink mid print is a thing of the past as I can see how much ink I have left (not some software thing that can't be checked).

If you do a lot of printing - or if you print your own photos, have a look at a continuous in system for your printer. If you are at a school and you do art prints either on a A3 or large format printer this could save you a bundle as not only do they have the dye based in but also pigment ink for high quality photo work.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Google Apps - free apps for education

Google Apps looks like it might be one of the winners from the google lab.

With an easy to use interface and a great range of "apps" this could be the new way I get things done. It's like the app store or google play.

What is it? - Google apps uses the chrome web browser as a base and apps are downloaded into it the browser. These apps are sometimes online websites but can also be stand alone of line applications using Chrome as their base.

What is on it? For educators and students... Quite a lot, from on and off line note taking, to classroom management tools to on line IWB software that allows you to collaborate in the cloud. A couple on my starting list include - Biodigital, realtime board, gynzy and Google Drive. There are few that have been ported over from android but most are specifically for full computers. To honest there is more than enough for education, looks like I have a lot of material to review - and most will work with IWB's and Touchscreens.

How do you get it? First download and install google chrome, then once you are up and running go to the far right hand side near the top and click on the 3 bar icon, head down to settings, then click on extensions and scroll down to "get more extensions" - to make it easy to get to your apps you can also install the Chrome App Launcher which makes it easy to get to your apps on your has a shortcut to all the downloadable apps.

Or just go to:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Free eBeam software upgrade

Well it has been a long while since my last post....

Several things have happened in the interim including big projects both professionally and personally, and I've been on extended leave as I've travelled through eastern Europe - so the blog got left for a while.

One of the great things about a blog is that you can just pick it up again and start writing - there is no need to start a new one or feel embarrassed about taking an extended break.

OK so here is some good news if you use ebeam scrapbook as your daily teaching whiteboard software on your PC. New updates have been released over the last two months that add more content to the library (especially things people have been asking for like a scientific calculator). Plus an annoying text box problem has been fixed.

Go to the eBeam portal to download and update 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Epson DC20 Review

This is the new DC20 from Epson and on the surface it doesn't look much different from the DC11 That came out a couple of years ago- click here to see my review. Except it has a massive lens on it - which I later find out is for the exceptional optical 12 x zoom.

We had to open one of ours to show a customer - and so we set it up and put it through it's paces using a 55" screen to see the imperfections...

Man there was a real difference there - the image going from the HDMI output to the TV was amazing, and the optical zoom was smooth and fast. The lag time was minimal and it just worked straight out of the box with no real set up.

Unlike the DC11 the unit folds up quite small and has a twist joint that makes it very flexible.

Just like the DC06 and the DC11 you can hook up the camera to your computer for more control as well as recording and snap shooting.

If it were me - I'd go for the DC20 over the DC11 for image quality and Zoom, and there is not much of a price difference. I'll do a proper review when I have one for demonstration purposes and can spend more time with it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Free Classroom Management and Recording

This was one of my stumbles last night...

Classroom management is a real challenge for some teachers, I find it difficult to objectively assess students  behaviour, because so much is tied up in my emotional investment in the class.

This looks like a good option - ClassDojo, it's both an app and a website that helps you collect and visualise student behaviour data.

You can also have a live behaviour chart up and running on your IWB.

The interface is easy to use and the App for your smart phone means you can take it with you for sport and out of classroom activities. With an easy way to record both good and bad behaviour, and a great visual way to report on each student, you can start to manage classroom behaviour issues.

You can customise behaviours and the students can change their avatars and track their own progress.

It is much easier to manage what you can measure.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Interactive floor projection... on the cheap

This week I'm at the Australian Special Education Conference here in Perth. Keepad Interactive is a gold sponsor at the event and we have been using TurningPoint ARS every day.

As a way of getting people to come and have a chat to me at my stand, I set up a "garage" interactive floor projection.

Interactive floor projection is not new, and is based on movement within a video stream. But for most system there is considerable expense and most of the companies in this area charge a fortune for software and systems as if it were "magic".

Last week I found a  cool piece of software call Po-Motion - it just uses a standard web camera and a projector to create stunning floor based interactives.

It is not by any means a replacement for an interactive whiteboard - it works on motion rather than objects in this mode - so you actually have to move to make it work - stay still and nothing happens even if you are standing in it.

This kind of sensory experience is fantastic for special needs kids for cause and effect simulations, motivating kids to move and if you include music it turns into a multi sensory experience.

Just watching adults muck around and play with it just shows how much kids would love it - I had several games of virtual soccor going on over the lunch break period.

You can use the same system on a wall.

Just one more thing you can do with your data projector.

If you are wondering why I'm not using the Epson Ultra Short Throw on the floor projection - that's an Epson  485Wi - it is already interactive so I'm showing how the two technologies are similar by projecting onto the table and using the interactive pens.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Middle School Science Resources

It is amazing what a dedicated teacher can do.

My Science Box - is a fantastic resource for middle school science teachers. Developed by a Californian teacher, these lessons and resources are gold standard, and getting bigger.

With lesson plans, learning programs and guides this is a great help to any teacher who wants to make science that much more interesting.

Aligned to Californian state standards (referenced) it shouldn't be too hard to match them to either Australian or other science curricular. Resources are mainly in word format so that you can adapt them to your classroom requirements.

I also have to applaud the website design - simple, clear and easy to use - many commercial sites should have a look at this.

All resources are creative commons - non commercial so you are authorised to copy and reuse.