Monthly Archives: February 2013




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Feeding from Twitter into Evernote again

So, after talking with @IanYorston at BETT2013, I was once again determined to see whether I could get my workflow of posting my favourited tweets into EverNote. The problem being Twitter having shut off the part of their API that easily allowed such things to happen.

After only a short time Googling, I discovered this page which talked about using RSS feeds from your Twitter account. It also (if you read it) goes on to mention about Twitter shutting off their support for RSS feeds in favour of JSON by the end of this month.

Further research led to this article which posited the idea of creating a mini-app on the Twitter side to allow easy access to your account feeds and even gave a simple PHP script to access them.

“Aha,” thought I, “that should be easy!” You would have thought after 13 years of commercial development experience that I would have learned not to assume such things…

After much muttering, I do have a solution working, for free. I probably made things a little harder for myself by only working from my iPad, but I’m kind’f deliberately seeing how much I can actually get done without a laptop just by way of an experiment.

So here’s what I learned:

    • not all free hosts support curl, even though they support PHP scripting

    • online documentation is invaluable

    • once a developer, always a developer – even though I’ve never used PHP before (I was a JSP boy) I found I could follow things enough to get by

    In short, I now have a simple Twitter app registered for my web-site which allows the script to connect using OAuth, then GET my most recent favourites using the 1.1 API, converting the returned JSON to RSS so that my IFTTT recipe can trigger and store those ideas in EverNote.

    Any questions, you know where to find me 🙂




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    Same pastures, new challenges

    So I’m still here, still teaching ICT to pretty much the whole school pus a little maths too, now. Still looking for ways to expand and improve the curriculum I teach, using coding wherever I can. But I’m now facing up to (well, more than just that now, I’m quite the convert – not to Apple wholesale, but to the opportunities that iPads bring to the classroom, computing excepted) the fact that our school is looking likely to adopt an iPad 1:1 stance from next academic year (we’re in the midst of a trial, with 45 Y8 pupils) and I’m beginning to question just now appropriate the ICT side of my lessons are, to be delivered in the way they currently are.

    With this in mind, I approached my head of department and expressed concerns about the validity of the current approach, touting ideas of breaking ICT out of the lab and into other subject (either defraying my classroom time completely, or making me a “department for hire” to the subject that needed me most at that point). These ideas seemed well-received in that the next icing I know is I’m to put the thoughts down in writing for the head to consider. The passed, and when we came back in January, the head asked to speak to me about the ideas and essentially said that he agreed and now he needed me to figure out how that would work in terms of our current timetable regimen.

    Hmm… still working on that one – any ideas, folks?

    Our timetable is organised around fortnightly blocks of lessons, apparently, with subjects pairing up to make chunks of 10 lessons a fortnight, so if ICT were to need less of the allocation, in terms of computing lab time, how would the system balance? Eep! At this point in the conversation with the deputy in charge of time tabling, my brain started melting and I’ve yet to make and inroads into how this more “itinerant” approach might work in practice.

    The way I see it, though, particularly in an iPad environment, rather than yet another ICT “research this topic and then create some kind of document to present your findings” whether Word, PowerPoint or Publisher project we need to be fully embedding the creation/communicating/presenting side of the equation with core subjects where there are more “real world” topics to be studied.

    This is not to say that there aren’t some topics that bear investigation from a computing perspective – the history of cryptography is a great topic I’ve done before, which gives a real chance to bring in the work of “greats” like Turing – but too many times I’ve tried standing in front of a class, saying how important it is that they now use these skills whenever they think of doing a presentation, only to see the output from other subjects and think “ugh!”; now I’d like to take the opportunity to embed that teaching at the point where they’re doing the work, make it much more of a case of the ICT supporting the learning rather than the ICT being the learning.

    And, regarding the computing side I’m mindful of the CAS curriculum recommendations, but I have to say that even as an ex-developer there is some stuff in there that would question the usefulness of, for the majority of pupils, especially if we’re trying to convince them how much fun there is to be had in programming. Things like sorting algorithms, for example, strike me as a suitable topic for perhaps maths – structured logical thinking is just as much a part of that discipline as it is computing.

    What say you all?