Amazon just announced the availability of a new service called Simple Workflow Service (SWF), which allows developers to define a series of complex steps in carrying out a business process, then implements and monitors those steps all together, as a service. “This new service gives you the ability to build and run distributed, fault-tolerant applications that span multiple systems (cloud-based, on-premise, or both),” writes Amazon’s Jeff Barr. SWF can also work across mobile devices.

The technology is similar to Beanstalkd, which describes itself as “a big to-do list for your distributed application.” Leena Rao at TechCrunch first reported on the existence of SWF two weeks ago when one of her readers saw it and sent her screenshots. Tonight the service was formally announced, complete with high-profile case studies, infographics and multiple blog posts.

Amazon Web Services customers get a limited number of free workflows they can allocate and Barr’s post discusses pricing at the very end. For example, “You pay $0.0001 for every Workflow execution, and an additional $0.000005 per day if they remain active for more than 24 hours.”

The company launched the new service tonight with three early testimonials, including from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs. They are, as Netflix’s Adrian Cockcroft said on Twitter tonight, “very cool examples.”

As Reto Kramer, General Manager, Application Connection Services, AWS, said in the news release: “By relying on Amazon SWF to handle the coordination of distributed task execution, developers can now focus on building the differentiating aspects of their applications and leave the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building and managing workflow engines to AWS.”

In an article last week called NoOps, AppOps, DevOps, & More – Removing the OS Barrier with PaaS, Part 3.1, Adron Hall references companies like Opscode and Puppet Labs that exemplify a broad shift towards systematic abstraction of business processes. “Improvement of these complex systems is almost always done through abstraction of the complexity and simplification of the creation or deployment of these systems,” he writes. AWS SWF may require an expansion of our understanding of the opportunities available for abstraction.

Automated workflow management, across multiple environments, as a platform for innovation and value creation is a very exciting prospect. It abstracts a layer of detail in order to facilitate the expansion of a developer’s ability to create value on a higher level of abstraction. There may be no higher calling, as platforms go.


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[unable to retrieve full-text content]Tips And Guide To Keeping Pet Birds Safety At Home. 22 Feb 2012 by Tom, No Comments ?. Many people have heard tales about birds outlasting their owners. This can be a surprise to many, contemplating the fragile appearance of most …


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ScienceDaily (Feb. 22, 2012) ? Fallout from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power facility in Japan was measured in minimal amounts in precipitation in the United States in about 20 percent of 167 sites sampled in a new nationwide study. The U.S. Geological Survey led the study as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). Levels measured were similar to measurements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the days and weeks immediately following the March 2011 incidents, which were determined to be well below any level of public health concern.

Many NADP sites are located away from major urban areas so that they are more representative of the U.S. landscape as a whole. This study is complementary to EPA results, and together these data will allow for a better picture of the deposition of radioactive fallout across the United States.

“Japan’s unfortunate nuclear nightmare provides a rare opportunity for U.S. scientists to test an infrequently needed national capability for detecting and monitoring nuclear fallout over a wide network,” explained USGS director Marcia McNutt. “Had this been a national incident, NADP would have revealed the spatial and temporal patterns of radioactive contamination in order to help protect people and the environment.”

Precipitation was collected at monitoring sites within the geographically extensive NADP network. USGS scientists detected Iodine -131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137, the primary radioactive products released during an incident such as this one. These detections were most frequently found along the West Coast, in the central and northern Rocky Mountain States and the eastern United States where precipitation fell most heavily in the weeks after the Fukushima disaster.

The study released February 22 adds important new information from NADP’s network and provides a more detailed picture of fallout in precipitation over most of the Nation. The EPA had used the rapid-response RadNet to monitor network fallout from Fukushima immediately following the incident. RadNet sites provide information about levels of radiation in the Nation’s air, drinking water, precipitation, and pasteurized milk. The levels of radioactive fallout measured at RadNet and NADP sites were similar, and while the USGS does not assess human health risks, the EPA RadNet monitoring confirms that radiation levels were far below any level of concern for human health in the United States. More information on EPA’s findings is available online.

This is the second time samples from the NADP network have been used to measure radioactive fallout. The first time was after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The NADP network allows scientists to sample fallout at a wide range of sites, including rural and isolated areas.

“This analysis provides scientifically valid measurements of radioactive fallout in precipitation over North America, which helps add more details to the picture of fallout in the U.S in the weeks following the Fukushima incident,” said Greg Wetherbee, USGS chemist who led the study. “NADP and USGS demonstrated that this network enhances national capabilities to monitor radionuclides in precipitation following releases to the atmosphere.”

The release of radioactive elements occurred in mid-March, 2011, following the T?hoku earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged the Dai-ichi nuclear facility. Gases and small particles (in liquid or solid form) can be transported very long distances in the atmosphere. Many agencies and organizations worldwide detected radioactive fallout in air and precipitation in the days and weeks following the nuclear power facility incident and explosions, even in regions far away from the Japanese facility, such as over North America and Europe. Radioactive fallout in areas far from the source of the release can be detected and quantified by analyzing environmental samples, including precipitation. It is estimated that it took 18 days for the radioactive particles to circle Earth.

The USGS is the lead federal agency within NADP and was responsible for the detection, identification and analysis of levels of the three radionuclides in environmental samples collected by the NADP.

NADP, originally established in 1978 to measure acid rain, is operated by more than 100 federal, state, and local agencies and organizations, including the USGS and EPA, and is housed at the University of Illinois. NADP monitors and regularly reports on the air and precipitation quality related to nitrogen pollution, acidity, plant pathogens, and mercury deposition to lakes, rivers, and streams.

A USGS report and article published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, as well as a map of NADP sites with observed fallout can be found at

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by United States Geological Survey.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Gregory A. Wetherbee, David A. Gay, Timothy M. Debey, Christopher M.B. Lehmann, Mark A. Nilles. Wet Deposition of Fission-Product Isotopes to North America from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Incident, March 2011. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 120222083231003 DOI: 10.1021/es203217u

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Since 2008, most of us have been walking budgetary tightropes — cutting a piece off of this, snipping some off of that. For a significant percentage, it’s been a steady slide into fiscal chaos, foreclosures, and fear. For some, it’s just the luxuries that have been eliminated: No more the extended vacation, the new car lease every year or two, or the $400 handbag spree. On all counts, it seems that we are a culture moving from decades of “Want It!” to the more realistic “Need It?” Coupon clipping is in again and most people are more worried about whether they’re going to have a roof over their heads than whether they’re sporting the latest Uggs. It has properly affected every aspect of our lifestyles and, hopefully, our values and priorities. But, inevitably, a change so vast has also affected our relationships.

There seem to be two trends at the same time:

On one hand, with less expendable income, there are less expendable marriages. Our new economic realities may be forcing yet another belt tightening — or heart tightening — process: People can no longer afford to get divorced.

One attorney in White Plains, N.Y., Joy Joseph, Esq., has been a specialist in matrimonial law for many years. In the last six years, she has seen a very clear downward trend in the number of divorces:

“For people of moderate means, the economy has had a big impact. It is very expensive to get divorced. Only a part of it is attorney’s fees. The bigger part is that the assets are split or devalued in the process. Usually that’s the house, in which they have very little equity. Plus there’s the risk of losing the partner’s health benefits. They’re afraid to live uninsured. So, they cling to an unhappy marriage because they can’t afford to leave.”

The statistics support her observations: A new paper in the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy shows that as unemployment rises, the divorce rate goes down: For every 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, the divorce rate goes down by 1 percent.

On the other hand, the NPR-Kaiser Family Foundation survey suggests that while divorce is down, discord is up. They reported that high unemployment has contributed to ruptures in many families around the country. They state that more than 20 percent of all Americans who have been without work for more than a year claim that their close relationships have suffered. More than 30 percent say their financial difficulties have had a profound negative impact on their partners’ health and well-being.

What does this mean for marriages?

Unfortunately, for the truly horrible marriages, it means a forced choice between one hardship and another. I know one woman who has no money, three children, no extended family, and no friends because her violent husband has sequestered her. He has gained control of everything, including the children, through both stealth and steady emotional manipulation. He has made her afraid of leaving even though staying will eventually mean her death. She has begun investigating shelters for her and her children and a life she will have to recreate from the very fundamentals, knowing he may still hunt her down. She stands at this crossroads and trembles.

For others in less dire circumstances, it gets complicated by other matters — both material and immaterial. A woman I know says it’s about money, but as it turns out, she has about $30,000 in a bank account, a good getaway car, jewelry, and a small, discreet dog she can easily take with her in a carrying case. She knows people in other states. So why does she stay with a man who hates her, berates her, and beats her? I asked her point blank and she said it was because she likes her furniture. She’s attached to her stuff.

While I know that can be true, I think it’s more.

In my experience, a lot of people — both men and women — who suffer in abusive relationships do so because they don’t know anything else and have no vista for hope. Often they were so painfully damaged by earlier relationships, they were made to feel as if they deserved no better. I think in her case, it is that she truly feels unworthy and doesn’t trust her own ability to step away, make new friends, get work, and survive in the world on her own. The stuff is little more than a ready excuse.

Another couple — two women who have lived together for fifteen years but have nothing between them but a mortgage — stay because they can’t sell their home. It has been on the market for two years and they have lived utterly separate lives during that entire time.

Some experts say that this may be a situation that bodes well for couples whose marriages are in the borderland between functional and finished. Necessity is the mother of invention and, they suggest, the necessity of living together can force people to find ways to do so companionably, work out issues, and perhaps find it in their hearts to love one another in ways they had not imagined before.

I think of the few moments I was angry and fleetingly considered bailing on my marriage –probably the same time my husband considered a similar solution. What made us stand still and work it through? Admittedly, besides occasional pride and obstinacy, our marriage is very stable. Was it just love, then? Surely love was a good part of it, but I don’t believe it was all of it. I believe the commitment and the difficulty of feathering apart two completely interwoven lives overrode the momentary instability. In being faced with staying, we had to work at it. Easy? Far from it. Humbling. Frustrating. Wearisome. Not easy.

But eminently worth it for us. The process brought us to an entirely new level of intimacy, validating everything the optimists hope for and all that clergy argue: that most of us take the easy way out far too easily and leave before the miracle happens.

However, the data does not support the optimism when it comes to marriages that are fundamentally unstable or violent. To the contrary — the current situation should make advocates of domestic violence prevention quite concerned.

If the Great Depression was any indicator, the divorce rate went down, but incidence of violence in the home went up. According to Stephanie Coontz, a historian and professor of women’s studies at Evergreen State College, when states began to permit no-fault divorces, domestic violence dropped by 20 to 30 percent and the rate at which husbands were murdered by their wives was significantly lowered. According to her, divorce provides a very necessary “safety valve.”

Joy Joseph stated that her experience supported Coontz’s conclusion: “As a result of their inability to afford full divorces, people are going to mediation, which can be good if there’s something to be saved. But a lot of women get hurt in the bargain because they don’t hire their own attorney. They’ve often stayed home to take care of the kids and the husband is generally the main provider and wields the most power. Despite the social changes of the last 50 years, there’s still a great deal of disparity.

“It’s not good,” she adds. “Financial stressors are one of the biggest reasons people split up. Then couple that with the bad relationship and you’ve got a real problem.”

Coontz and others predict that as the downturn resolves, divorce rates will quickly go back up again, which make some people hopeful.

That statistical prediction strikes me as sad, even if it is necessary or inevitable.

Is it wrong to hope that collectively we can learn something terribly important from this recession? Is it wrong to pray that we begin to realize we are not the things we own, rather the relationships we have and the love we give? While I am certainly not in favor of someone staying in a marriage that puts him or her (or children, especially) at risk, I think it might do us all a bit of good to slow down, to take a bit more time between the fight and the time we scream, “I’m outta here!”




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[unable to retrieve full-text content]Reuters – U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday dropped a drunken driving charge against Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who instead pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to probation.


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By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

The second edition of the AACE Global TIME online conference took place from February 7 to 9, 2012. The annual event aims to connect and engage educators, researchers, consultants, trainers, policy makers, curriculum developers, entrepreneurs, and others. Sectors covered include adult learning, higher education, informal learning, K-12, libraries, and museums as well as vocational education and corporate training. It was my pleasure to cover the second edition of Global TIME for the Educational Technology and Change Journal on behalf of AACE.

Global TIME 2012 hosted attendees from 28 countries, 34 presentations, 44 additional ?asynchronous? papers, 3 excellent keynotes, and 4 workshop sessions. Even though the program was less packed than the usual week-long AACE conferences, the following overview is still necessarily a rather idiosyncratic collection of my manifold personal impressions and encounters.

Day 1 ? Getting Started: Cultural Change in Workplace Learning

?We are having a PowerPoint war.? With these words from Sarah Benson, member of the AACE organization team, the conference started on February 7 at 4 p.m. GMT. Benson?s comment referred to some initial technological hiccups with loading the keynoter?s slides ? fortunately, one of the very few problems with the Adobe Connect virtual conference space.

Program chair Theo Bastiaens, director of the Institute of Educational Science and Media Research at the German ?Fernuniversit?t Hagen? and professor at the Open University of the Netherlands, officially opened the conference with a short welcoming address, greeting everyone from a freezing Europe. Approximately 20 participants from all over the world joined in ? and immediately started to compare notes on their local time, weather, and physical location. Penelope Neuendorf said ?Hello? from Canberra (Australia) at 3 in the morning, Luigi Riscaldino from the University of Calgary (Canada) sipped his coffee at 9 am, Manar Hosny logged in from Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), and Mark Curcher said ?Hi? from Dubai (Arab Emirates).

They all wanted to hear about the latest trends in social technology use from Jane Hart, founder of the Center for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), a? website that attracts 100,000 visits per month. Hart is also part of the Internet Time Alliance, a prestigious international consulting group. In her keynote, she addressed cultural changes in workplace learning that allow organizations to move from ?try and force people to learn? to ?allow people to engage in meaningful social interactions about how to do their job.? Not only organizations face change through social media. To learn in the new social workplace, employees will have to change as well. They have to get used to not being spoon-fed through training but embark on a continuous self-motivated learning journey, e.g., by building a trusted personal learning network, acquiring new collaboration skills, filtering and sifting through information overload. This requires skillsets that have to be addressed in higher education. ?Many young people have the social media skills to organize their personal lives but will need help to use these skills in their professional life,? Hart argued. ?Knowing the tools is not enough. We use tools like Facebook and Twitter different in the private setting and in the workplace. Ask yourself: What will your Facebook profile look like to an organization that is trying to recruit you??

The keynote?s topic tied in nicely with the workshop that Bernard Robin and Sara McNeil, two researchers from the University of Houston (USA), offered later that day. Their presentation explored Web 2.0 applications as tools to support the teaching and learning of 21st century skills across content areas in K-16 classrooms. An online version of the skills map can be found at

Fig. 1: Workshop on 21st century skills and Web 2.0

The workshop focused on a hands-on presentation of tools and services. Thus, it was extremely interesting when you did not know the respective Web 2.0 application but a little dull when you were familiar with the tool. All in all, the talk offered a well-structured tour d?horizon through social media applications. My personal favorite was the website ?poll everywhere,? which can be used to replace electronic voting systems (e.g., clickers) through cell phones and web interfaces.

Between the keynote and the workshop, attendees could choose from parallel presentations in three virtual rooms. I listened to two about iPads. Both talks gave interesting insights on this addition to the realm of mobile and ubiquitous learning devices. Whereas Doug Reid and Nathaniel Ostashewski presented case studies on the use of iPads in two sixth grade classrooms, Bulent Dogan presented a pilot at the North American College where all freshman and sophomore students were given iPads in the fall 2011 semester.

Reid and Ostashewski received a best presentation award for their work, which focused on teaching strategies and the implementation of constructionist principles through iPads. Their presentation asked the challenging question ?Is it worth the effort??? According to the teachers involved in the case studies, iPads were a great tool for empowering students and meeting curricular demands. The researchers will expand their work in the future: ?It will be interesting to see how the iPad2 with the new camera and video editing capabilities will support digital storytelling.?

Bulent Dogan discussed the results of two online surveys that were distributed among students and faculty during the iPad pilot. Out of 164 students, 86 participated in the survey, equivalent to a 52% response rate. Dogan?s study revealed some initial trends on iPad use in higher education. Among the students who owned iPads, 48% indicated that they used specific applications (apps) for studying and learning. Popular educational apps include notetaking, e-book readers, dictionaries, and math apps, e.g., calculators. Of the students surveyed, 65% indicated that ?iPads help them to study? rather than being a distraction. On the faculty side, the survey identified needs for training in the educational uses of iPads.

Another award-winning presentation I watched as a recording was the PhD thesis work of Sarah Bryan on informal communication in a geographically dispersed, virtual setting. Her presentation, ?Finding the Water Cooler,? described a model for communication among virtual instructional design teams. Bryan?s work, based on the theory of social presence, comprised a qualitative, participatory study on the collaborative efforts of four instructional designers: ?Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta.? Bryan developed a guide for virtual team communication protocols that comprises five recommended practices: Frequent contact, Acknowledging communication, Closing the loop, Establishing the culture, and Training the team (FACET model).

Day 2: Immersing in Adventure Learning, Designing for Authenticity, and Learning About Aesthetics

The second day started with my personal conference highlight ? the keynote by Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, both professors of educational technology at the LT Media Lab, University of Minnesota (USA). Throughout their talk, Doering and Miller argued that the most important goal when integrating technology into education is to design for authenticity. To foster this design goal, they presented four layers of authenticity: content, context, narrative, and shared experience. The audience, tired of run of the mill learning environments, greatly appreciated instructional design ideas that followed new and exciting approaches off the beaten track, as these comments illuminate: ?I have to say I find all of this so inspiring !? (Mark Curcher), ?Takes experiential learning to another level. I love it!? (Linda Brawner), ?I?m blown away! Very inspiring!? (Jordan Reiter).

Fig 2. Layers of Authenticity: Keynote by Aaron Doering and Charles Miller from LT Media Lab.

Content: ?Authentic content? means the use of timely, real-world problems, media (e.g., photos, video, interviews) scenarios, and case-based examples to guide instructional presentation. To exemplify their ideas, Doering and Miller presented two learning environments for users with special needs. AvenueASL is an e-assessment environment for American Sign Language (ASL) for K-12 and postsecondary ASL learners, used at 18 universities and 27 high schools throughout the US. In a deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) learning tool, which is currently under development, the researchers implemented a gaming type environment to improve reading and writing skills.

Context: Designing for authentic context means to immerse students in real-world, ill-structured problem scenarios, based on genuine, valid, and legitimate needs specifications, data, and expectations. As an example, Doering and Miller presented ?Geothentic,? a training environment for geographic knowledge, where learners have to solve realistic problems like ?Where is the best place to build a new hospital in the San Francisco area?? Situated Movies serve as motivational prompts to solve the task.

Fig 3. Where is the best place to build a new hospital in the San Francisco area? Visualization of students solutions in the teacher?s? view.

Narrative: Designing authentic narrative means to ?create a place, rather than a space,? Miller explained. To foster a sense of belonging, the researchers argue for real-world, meaningful stories that make learners feel as if they are part of the narrative and, as a result, reference their experiences outside the classroom. This idea guides the ?adventure learning approach.? ?The ?GoNorth!? adventure learning program was developed for the K-12 classroom. Between 2006 and 2010, a team of educators, scientists, and teachers embarked on annual excursions, traveling on dog sleds to five Arctic locations. An international audience around the world followed the excursions on the web. A similar idea is implemented in the project Earthducation, a series of seven expeditions to every continent, designed to create a ?world narrative? of the intersection between education and sustainability. The field sites for the expeditions comprise climate hotspots, which are particularly vulnerable to environmental issues and climate change, as well as regions with general current struggles related to sustainability. Teachers, students, and the general public are invited to share their thoughts on education and sustainability in an online community that documents the excursions.

Experience: To allow for shared experience means to reframe learners as the experts who communicate, collaborate, and share their experiences with others working around the same issue. ?Explore 15? is a platform that allows students to create their own adventure learning environment. The online community framework allows students and informal learners to propose projects. Elected teams will receive an ?expedition kit? ? including, among other things, multimedia equipment for recording their experiences. ?Explore 15 is the first I have seen that truly breaks down the barriers between experiential education for teens and ?formal? education,? was one of the comments from the audience.

Fig. 4. ?Explore 15? ? Design your own adventure learning expedition.

As in day one, the keynote theme was again mirrored in the workshop topic and took up the thread of aesthetics and compelling learning design. Catherine Fulford, professor of educational technology at the University of Hawaii and a distinguished member of the AACE community, provided the audience with useful, hands-on tips on designing visual material for learning purposes. The centerpiece of her talk was a quote from Lloyd Rieber (1994): ?There are times when pictures can aid learning, times when pictures do not aid learning but do not harm, and times when pictures do not aid learning and are distracting.? Another noteworthy advice for educators from Fulford?s presentation: ?Take your own pictures instead of violating copyright. You cannot just use anything from Google images!? She referred to the website publicdomainsherpa for further information on copyright, copyleft, and the commons.

I especially enjoyed the effort to make the workshop format interactive and engaging through various polls. Fulford?s presentation was also a great source for further readings on visual design.

Fig.5. Catherine Fulford?s reading recommendations on visual design

I used the time between keynote and workshop session to review the asynchronous presentation by Deborah Heal, ?Crossing the Digital Divide,? a case study on implementing technology in a small rural school in Nepal. Heal, instructional designer at the University of Oregon (USA), shared her lessons learned on how to bring computer based learning material to a classroom without Internet connection ? or even electricity.

A very interesting live session featured Elaine Huber from Macquarie University (Australia), who presented the research design of her PhD project, a meta-analysis of learning technology evaluation. Given the multitude of approaches, methods, and frameworks for evaluating e-learning, there is no standard way and most institutions do not provide suitable guidelines. Hence, the evaluation of instructional design projects is often times carried out in an ad hoc fashion, not planned and integrated well from the beginning. Huber?s ideas resonated with the audience, as Manuel Frutos-Perez observed, ?It?s curious that we tend to be quite methodical when we teach our students research skills, but then we don?t apply that to our own practice.?

A research team from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) received a best paper award for their presentation ?Listening to an Educational Podcast While Driving a Car: Can Students Really Multitask?? In an experimental study with 112 participants, involving Spanish language podcasts and a driving simulation, the researchers tried to answer if multitasking affects learning performance. The analysis showed that students in the multitask condition did not learn less than students in the single task. However, in the multitask condition, the best learners were the worst drivers. ?Within the context of this experiment, it was rather the driving performance than the learning performance that was affected by the multitasking.?

Day 3: The Virtual, the Augmented, and the Real Deal

The goal of Craig Kapp?s presentation on Thursday (Feb. 9) was to infuse a sense of ?the recently possible? to the last keynote of the conference. His topic, ?augmented reality,? was well suited for this purpose. As opposed to reality, a world that is unmediated by technology, Kapp defined virtual reality as an attempt to map as many of our human senses as possible to a digital input, e.g., goggles to remap the sense of sight or gloves to mirror haptic sensations. Kapp gave compelling examples for current practical uses of virtual reality, e.g., a fire drill simulation in a multi-story building or a therapy environment for PTSD patients. Between the poles of the real and virtual space, Kapp positioned augmented reality as ?a predominantly real space where virtual elements can be inserted in real time. It kind of sits between these extremes, it?s not quite the real world, it?s not quite the virtual world, it?s the merging of the two.? A familiar example, at least for the US-audience, was the virtually enhanced data display at football games. To further spur the audience?s imagination, Kapp gave a live demonstration by showing an augmented reality hallmark greeting card through his webcam.

Fig. 6. Augmented Reality Example

?These cards have the ability to interface with the real world and the virtual world in real time,? said Kapp, ?placing a virtual world on top of a physical item. It seems like magic, so how does it really work? We can locate an object in space using a camera ? either a camera built in a mobile device or a computer camera. Once we can load an image of the world around us, we can look for some specialized content. Once we see this content, we can load a virtual world on top of it and then render it in real time.? Kapp introduced two different forms of delivery. The ?magic mirror? lets users see themselves in a virtually enhanced environment; the ?magic lens? allows them to see the surrounding world in a virtually enhanced way. One of the? most promising uses of AR for educational? settings leverages GPS and compass data through mobile devices. ?Imagine taking students on a nature walk and being able to place virtual annotations on the objects they are seeing,? Kapp explained. Other examples for educational uses are augmented reality textbooks (e.g., from LarnGear Technoloy), mixed reality simulations, e.g., Sim Snails for biology, a mechanical drawing simulation by the HIT Lab in New Zealand, and medical visualizations.

For educators intrigued by the possibilities of augmented reality, the presentation comprised helpful suggestions for getting started: AR sights is a free, downloadable app for Mac/PC that allows users to view Google Earth 3D models as augmented reality. ZooBurst, a free AR-tool developed by Craig Kapp, focuses on digital storytelling. The environment is designed for K-12 as well as higher education users and attracts a growing international community of 65,000 people around the world.

The Good, the Bad, and the Better

A truly remarkable and, to be honest, somewhat unexpected feature of Global TIME was the collegial atmosphere that corresponded to similar face-to-face AACE events like ED-MEDIA and E-LEARN. Program chair Theo Bastiaens opened each keynote and workshop session with knowledgeable and warm remarks, thus setting the stage for friendly and discursive online discussions ? not only in a synchronous manner during the sessions but also via comments on the AACE community platform Academic Experts.

Fig. 7. Example of asynchronous discussion in Academic Experts

A drawback of the conference was the tendency to have low attendance rates for the paper presentations. Sweeping around my own backdoor, the knowledge that everything was recorded did not help in fostering the discipline of real-time attendance. However, being in the same virtual room at the same time allowed for deeper conversations than merely watching the recorded version. On several occasions, I realized in retrospect that I would have benefited from a synchronous backchannel. I personally learned the lesson that online conferences are more productively attended from your home office rather than trying to blend in the conference schedule with your busy work environment.

For future TIMEs, I would suggest that the organizers provide more time for questions and encourage presenters to use interactive elements such as polls to foster discussion during the online sessions. For the asynchronous papers, I missed multimedia elements such as pre-recorded presentations, videos, or audio downloads. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to Global TIME 2013!
Update 2.15.12: See Stefanie Panke?s ?An Interview with the 2012 Global TIME Program Chair Theo Bastiaens.?


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by David on February 21, 2012

Silver, for many it is the next smartest thing to gold. For people who get pleasure from silver, it is the best metal among all the precious metals available in the market Its refined color is a little bit subdued than gold and that?s what people love regarding it. To secure the future, experts consider that investing in gold and silver is definitely one of the wisest move one can make. Nevertheless, it is a fact that not everybody is able to afford such an investment.

Are you knowledgeable that other than the expensive silver in stores there is a thing called scrap silver? Yes and it is growing its popularity at present. Lots of individuals currently have turned their interest in investing on precious metals particularly on silver. You may be interested to know why many people are investing in scrap silver. Following are the reasons why.

It Is Still Silver

Tend not to belittle scrap silver or gold whether or not there is an affiliated word ?scrap?. Though they are scrap, they still contain the equal amount of silver and gold. The purity of gold and silver are the same.

Silver Is An Affordable Investment

by Toula Mound


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A woman walks past a damaged building after a bomb attack in Baghdad's Karrada district February 23, 2012. Simultaneous early morning attacks on mostly Shi'ite targets across Iraq killed at least 60 people and wounded dozens on Thursday.   REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)AP – A rapid series of attacks spread over a wide swath of Iraqi territory killed at least 50 people on Thursday, targeting mostly security forces in what appeared to be a vicious strike by al-Qaida militants bent on destabilizing the country.


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