Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tux Paint Stamps and Starters

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm not happy with the way Kid Pix is behaving on Mac OS 10.6. I do not have funding at the moment to switch to the MacKiev version or Pixie. Two outstanding issues in Tux Paint were saving to unique folders and what to do about the Idea Machine that I really like in Kid Pix. I have an answer to the Idea Machine today.

Thinking About Stamps
This morning, I started thinking about the stamps in Tux Paint. I knew from the support materials that I should be able to add my own, but I never took the time to think it through. It turns out that it is SO easy.

I will add a blog post next weekend for Windows, but today I had my MacBook Pro out and started hunting around.

The first important note in Mac is that the folder for stamps is hidden from view. To unhide the folder, go to the Applications folder and then to the Tux Paint folder. Find the Tux Paint icon and right (or control) click. When the contextual menu opens up, select Show Package contents. This is something I really never think about. Many program icons are really folders.

Inside the Tux Paint folder is a subfolder called stamps. There are two ways to go about adding images as stamps. They can be placed in separate folders, for example, Kindergarten, first, second, third or placed in one folder such as saintmichael.

The difference is that if you have one folder (saintmichael) every stamp is in the same group. If you have multiple sub folders you can use the arrow key to click through the different stamp sets.

The Difference With Starters
Starters are like a blank or coloring book page. The starter will work better for me in projects in which I want to control how large the initial image will be. This will be the case with my ABC stamper chart project.

Again, I had to go look at the Tux Paint package contents. The folder is called starters. I took my Kid Pix ABC chart and saved it as a PNG image. I moved the ABC.png into the starters folder. Now when I start Tux Paint and choose the New button, I can scroll down to my ABC chart and have the students start their project.

I used Jing Project to create a little screencast. If you cannot view it, let me know and I'll upload a different file format. You can view the video full screen although it's a little blurry that way. If you want the original video, let me know and I will send it to you via email. I've also posted the video on Vimeo.


The Final Frontier
If I can figure out how to create folders to save student work, I'm golden! I know it has to be do-able. I just have to think it through.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Computer Lab Handbook

This year I'm working hard to document what I've been doing in the lab and around the building to keep the Apples and Windows XP tablets in working order. So many times I'll catch myself trying to remember it all and drawing a blank for a bit so I've started a Computer Lab Handbook.

Keeping Track of IP Addresses
One of the biggest hassles is that over time the IP addresses had gotten out of control. We have under 200 devices, but over the years there have been IP address issues. This summer, our tech support company took a look at our main router and changed the IP address system to give out all address. Since we were only distributing a limited number of IP addresses I started getting many conflicts as we have more Internet capable machines than ever before. Some machines are running DHCP, others have static addresses. An IP address consists of four digits separated by periods. For example, Address is reserved for the router. You can assign numbers from 0 to 255.

If a device is going to be accessed by multiple devices, it is better to have a static (unchanging) address. For instance, the file servers have always had static IP addresses. When the wireless internet routers were installed, they were given DHCP addresses. When a device uses DHCP the address may change from time to time. The printers were a mix of DHCP and static addresses.

I've been slowly going through all the routers and printers and assigning addresses backwards from 255. As a result, I am finding it easier to set up printers with the OS 9 Apples. I was having a really hard time getting the tablet PCs to connect to any printer in the building wirelessly. Now that there are static addresses I am going to be able to have the tablets print without a USB cable for the first time in three years.

Start of the Year Tasks
I do not have disk cloning software, so everything I do is a very manual step-by-step machine-by-machine process. I remove documents from the hard drives in the lab and on the tablets. I empty the download folders and remove names from Kid Pix and game software. We run several Renaissance Learning programs: Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math, STAR Early Literacy, and Math Facts in a Flash. I update the school year information, promote students, add new students, update class lists, and remove students. The machines need to have software updates applied.

I perform all these tasks from memory, but if someone else ever needed to do it on their own it would be difficult at best. 

If you'd like to take a look at the document in progress, let me know. I'd be happy to share a copy with you.

Image Citation:
Ann Oro