Tag Archives: molenet

If you don’t mind can you leave my wireless on please!

I have been playing about with evaluating a Samsung Q1 Ultra over the last couple of weeks. I was trying out Internet Explorer and was surprised to find that the Q1 was not connected to my wireless network. After some investigation I found out was disappointed to find that Windows Vista decided that the best thing it could do was disable the wireless adapter as it had a found a problem with it.

Initially the problem I was having was that the device failed to connect to my wireless network, which surprised me, as I hadn’t really done very much with the Q1 except switch it on! I hadn’t installed any software (or even uninstalled software).

The wireless was on according to the Samsung software, but as far as Windows Vista was concerned there were no networks to connect to.

Very strange, after checking device manager (something I doubt any general user would do) I found that Vista had disabled the wireless adapter because it had found a problem with it. It didn’t tell me what the problem was, but was willing to go online to find a solution (well I would have gone online, but the wireless wasn’t working was it).

There didn’t seem to be any way of re-enabling the wireless adapter. I could have uninstalled it, but I wondered if Vista would let me reinstall the wireless adapter, I was pretty sure it might have got pretty obnoxious about it.

In the end I went with a system restore, something I do like about XP and Vista and restored the Q1 to this morning’s configuration which I know was working, and is working now.

I wonder if it was a Windows Update that caused the problem, I am not totally sure of the cause.

And a day later…

Windows Vista did it again…

Annoying to say the least. Windows Vista on my Q1 Ultra discovered a (so-called) problem with the wireless adapter on the Q1 and decided (without telling me) to disable the wireless and not allow me to renable it at all (well not easily).

In the end I decided against doing a system restore (like what I did before) as obviously some kind of Windows update was causing the problem. This time I removed the adapter from Device Manager and rebooted the Q1 and let Windows reinstall the drivers, which it did without finding anything wrong!

Then it disabled the adapter once more!

If you don't mind can you leave my wireless on please!

I wouldn’t mind so much, but this is a new Q1 and I haven’t done anything except install updates…

Finally a solution which seems to be working, change the drivers for the wireless adapter, I am using version 7.4.2.15 of the Atheros Communications driver which I believe is different to the supplied Windows Vista driver.

Hopefully this will keep the wireless adapter enabled, the Q1 Ultra connected to the internet and me happy.

Keyboard or no keyboard or “call that a keyboard”?

One of the key issues with any mobile device is text entry, even if all you are entering is a URL.

People seem to be able to use a mobile phone keypad for SMS messages, but more often then not we are talking about phone numbers (easy) and text speech (u no wot i mn). Using any kind of mobile phone keypad for entering an e-mail address or an internet address (URL) can be fraught with difficulty and complexity.

Using a variety of mobile devices recently I have encountered a variety of interesting solutions to the problem of entering text.

I (and the Guardian) weren’t too enamored with the keypad of the Sony VAIO UX1XN but compared to some it’s lovely and really easy to use.

Keyboard or no keyboard or “call that a keyboard”?

The split keyboard of the Q1 Ultra is in my opinion almost unuseable in comparison, though the tablet entry is much better than the UX1XN – could that be down to the bigger 7″ screen I wonder? The buttons are very small and it’s easy to hit the wrong key.

Q1 Ultra

One of the problems I have with a lot of UMPC devices is when using Tablet PC text entry and handwriting recognition. Whereas most (full size) tablets use a tablet pen and a screen, the UMPC devices use a stylus touch entry.

What this does mean is that if you touch any other part of the screen as you write with a stylus, then that touch counts as a click and your handwriting goes all over the place. With a tablet pen, the screen only responds to the pen, which is nice until you lose the pen (they can be expensive to replace).

After much usage, I have to say I much prefer to use a tablet pen over a stylus.

Text entry on the PSP is to be brutally honest only something you want to do only on the rare occasion. I find the mobile phone type entry somewhat comple, more so if you need to enter numbers at all.

Using the keyboard on the iPod touch (and I guess the iPhone as well) is an interesting experience. It certainly works much better than the dialkeys available on some UMPCs, but again it is all to easy to hit the wrong key as you type something in.

Overall entering text on any mobile device is fraught with difficulty and complexity and the more you use a device the more familar you get with it, the easier it gets and quicker you become.

However if you are using mobile devices with a group who only use the device rarely, then you should consider alternatives to text entry directly onto the mobile device otherwise you may find that your learners start to hate the device rather than use the device for learning.

Use the device where it has strengths such as audio and video, and use other tools such as pen and paper or a computer with a full size keyboard when you want the learner to create a lot of text.

This means that learning scenarios need to be designed to avoid excessive text entry onto a mobile device, and often that means that traditional learning scenarios will not translate easily and simply to a PSP for example.

Think about replacing text entry with an audio or a video recording – the UX1XN and Q1 Ultra both have cameras and microphones which can be used for that, you can also get a camera and microphone for the PSP as well.

It is not essential or necessary for the learner to complete a learning scenario solely on a mobile device, let them use other tools to complete the learning activity, the mobile device should be just the one component that helps build the activity.

iPod touch, impressions

Gloucestershire College is undertaking the Glossy project as part of MoLeNET and as part of that I am evaluating and reviewing mobile devices that we may use as part of our project as well as seeing how they work so when we create (and convert) content for use on a mobile device we can ensure that it works on the majority of devices that our learners actually use.

Well I now have an iPod touch, and though I have touched one before, to actually use one for quite a bit of time, is a different kettle of fish. I am very impressed still with the device. Apple have done an excellent job.

The touch interface is very impressive and compared to the typical Table PC or Archos touch interface, the iPod touch interface is more fluid and responsive, and though I don’t like the fingerprints all over the device, the use of the finger is very intuitive.

It is these fingerprints which will probably mean that the device is not suitable for use in a classroom environment with the institution providing the devices. Learners will more thank likely look after their own iPod touch, but a class set would soon get very grimy and would need to be cleaned on a regular basis. That’s not to say this would not happen to other mobile devices, I only need to look at my phone and my iPod to see fingerprints all over them, but there is a difference when you are using your finger to poke and swipe to actually use the device.

Having said all that I can certainly see learners been able to use this interface quickly and easily, more so if webpages (ie web content) is designed for the interface.

The screen quality is excellent and images and video look excellent.

iPod touch

Syncing took a bit of time, it’s just an 8GB device, but I did put over five hundred photographs on the device as well as 4Gb of music and podcasts. This is something to consider when first using the device, it will take time to initially charge and synchronize.

The browser is probably the best I have seen on any mobile device, the way you can intelligently zoom in and out makes browsing webpages really nice and you don’t feel you are losing out with the small screen (well it’s a lot smaller than my 20″ iMac).

Overall I do like the iPod touch. it is one of the best mobile devices I have ever used and I have used a lot.

MoLeNET Projects

The colleges who were successful in securing MoLeNET funding have now all been announced.

The Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET) is a unique collaborative approach to encouraging, supporting, expanding and promoting mobile learning, primarily in the English Further Education sector, via supported shared cost mobile learning projects.

There are fifteen large (in excess of £130,000) projects and sixteen smaller projects.

Large projects – lead colleges

Matthew Boulton
Weston
Stockport
Norwich
Stratford
New College Swindon
City of Wolverhampton
Gloucestershire
Eccles
Cornwall
Bourneville
Worcester
Oaklands
Kingston
Huddersfield

Smaller projects – lead colleges

Cardinal Newman (6th form – Preston)
Bolton
Gateshead
East Berkshire
Lowestoft
Havering
Chichester
Aylesbury
Brockenhurst
Regent
Accrington & Rossendale
Boston
Lewisham
South Thames

MoLeNET Launch Conference

Today I was at the MoLeNET launch conference at the Oval in London.

I did Shozu a few photographs to Flickr and the blog, but unfortunately connectivity was poor and time was limited for writing blog entries.

My workshops went well, though it was a struggle to cover what I wanted to cover in only fifteen minutes, I would liked to have had more time to allow more discussion, in a similar way to the way I ran my mobile learning workshop at ALT-C.

Quite a few people came up to me to ask about various things I showed we are either doing at Gloucestershire College (the college formerly known as Gloscat) or in the process of planning how we can implement them.

I enjoyed Mick Mullane’s presentation about podcasting and texting (sms), which was illuminating.

Other parts of the conference were interesting and informative

I was disappointed with the connectivity, but it is a lesson for all of us, the wireless network failed to cope with the sheer number of wireless clients in attendance. Not only did we get a large number of mobile and e-learning enthusiasts together (most with laptops) we also had exhibitors with their wealth of wireless devices. My 3G connection was less useful for basically the same reasons, lots of people with mobile devices.

It was certainly worth going to, lots of useful networking, and nice to see a lot of colleges looking at mobile learning.