I’m trying to breathe some new life into this old blog. Maybe I’ve been inspired by some of the older competitors at the 2016 Olympics, like the 35-year-old Anthony Ervin who just won Gold in the 50 meter free style. Or maybe I’ve been missing technology a bit, focusing as I have, recently, on graphic works, neurodiversity, teacher preparation, and other issues. Whatever the case, I’ve been playing around a bit with this old horse of a blog, and the result is a new, responsive look that is a little Pinterest inspired. Now this site looks good and works well on all devices (see especially the new Multimedia page).

I’m also returning to the practice of using this blog more frequently, even if it means just jotting down ideas as a kind of backup brain. I’ve worked out a couple of solutions to some nagging problems. And here they are:

  • Exporting hyperlinked documents to PDF without losing hyperlinks. If you are a Mac and Adobe user, you know there is a long-standing issue with with way Word for Mac (even the 2016 edition) exports to PDF. You can nicely add all of your hyperlinks to your Word document, but when you save as PDF, they disappear. I realized this as I was creating an interlinked application with multiple documents. That this issue remains a problem in 2016 seems crazy. But before you even consider adding the links by hand in Adobe Acrobat, there are two workable solutions: first, you can upload your Word document to Google Drive, open it in Google Docs, and then save as a PDF. When you open the PDF, your original hyperlinks should be in place. You may lose some of your original formatting, however, especially margins and page breaks. The second solution is to use a Microsoft Office Online account. Fortunately, my U gives me access to a free account. So, I uploaded the Word File and was ready to save as a PDF . . . when the problem set in. To do this right, I had to try to print as a PDF. After a few attempts, I managed to download the PDF. Then, I used Adobe Acrobat to make a few adjustments, like removing the default javascript that makes the document open to print, and setting the document to open with the tool pane in tact. After all of this, I had a document that looked and functioned like I wanted it to. Or, you could just use Windows. Nah.
  • IFTTT.The second problem has to do with keeping in touch with a group of students via text. I use GroupMe to do this, though I know I could start a group chat using my Android phone. GroupMe has the advantage of being easy to set up, and it automatically stores the text transcript online for easy access later. You can also set up event notifications through GroupMe. But I never use GroupMe as a calendar–I prefer Google Calendar, which plays nicely with my Android phone. So, how to get my Google Calendar to talk to my GroupMe group? Enter IFTTT, a web-based service that aims to connect all of the devices and notifications in our lives. IFTTT stands for If This Then That. Using this basic formula, you set up what IFTTT calls recipes. So, if an event is approaching on my Google Calendar, then my GroupMe group gets a notification. Simple. There are hundreds of possibilities and combination, depending on your needs. Right now, I’m working on a simple recipe to send a transcript of a GroupMe chat to a Google Sheet, for example. Check it out for yourself.