Hello, new world. Hell froze over.

If you read the blog rather than an RSS feed, you’ll notice that I FINALLY changed the theme. I’ve used Very Plain Text for 11 years. It served me very well and I send many thanks to Scott for the serviceable and timeless theme.

You probably recognize the new theme as the standard twentyeleven. I haven’t customized it much yet. I went with the idea of a child theme for customization. I spent some time getting things I wanted into the sidebar. (Gotta get that BlogHer Publishing Network stuff in there first thing. You know how that works.)

I hope you find it readable. I’m not sure that I like having an image at the top of the page – I may get rid of that, but in the meantime may I suggest the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as one of the most fun things you’d ever do in your life.

Thanks for looking. Feedback is welcome.

New Page on the Blog for Curated News

I added a new page on the blog called Curated. It was mostly a way to get some slow loading widgets out of the sidebar and push them off to a separate page. The main page should load a little faster.

The three items I put on the new Curated page:

  • The Women in Tech slideshow from the Flickr group I administer
  • a badge and slideshow for the HTML5 News from scoop.it which I constantly updated with new articles pertaining to HTML5
  • the Women in Web Education Daily from paper.li which shows tweeted links and articles from women in web education

They were nice to have in the sidebar in case you might take note of something interesting in one of the widgets while reading a blog post. I’m hoping this will fulfill a goal for a slight increase in loading speed, and that you won’t forget to take a gander at the Curated page now and then to see what’s new.

Dear Subscribers

Dear Subscribers to this blog,

Thank you for being interested in what Web Teacher has to offer. I really appreciate it.

Are you reading Web Teacher posts in a feed reader of some sort? Perhaps Google Reader. That’s what I use to subscribe to the many, many blogs I read daily.

The benefit of a feed reader is that it’s a simple thing to get all your blog posts in one place each day. The drawback – at least for people like me who allow the full post to be read in the reader – is that folks don’t click through to actually visit the blog very often. Anything not in a post – for example, items in the sidebar – don’t get seen. Since I’m not eliminating everything but the posts from this blog like Jeffrey Zeldman, I’d like to remind you of some of the goodies available in the sidebar.

First, there’s a link to HTML5 News. I know you are interested in keeping up with that topic. I spend time each day making sure you have the latest information about HTML5 in that news report. You can keep track of it by visiting this blog, or by subscribing to the HTML5 News.

The sidebar also shows the latest tweets from the Twitter list The Women in Web Education Daily. The tweeters on this list can help you stay up to date on each days hottest web education and tech news.

The last thing I want to remind you about that sits in the sidebar is a link and slideshow to the group on Flickr called Women in Tech. Readers of this blog attend many tech events each year, and take many photos at those events. I hope you will remember that this Flickr group pool of photos of women in tech exists, and that you add your photos to the group pool.

Drop by once in a while. See what’s going on in the sidebar.

Thank you so much for reading this blog,



Photo Editing in Flickr Goes to Aviary

Flickr recently announced that Picnik (set to disappear completely from Flickr by April 19) will be replaced with the HTML5 based image editing tool Aviary. In case you missed the subtle nuance of the phrase HTML5 based, I remind you that means it will work in iOS.

Aviary is a plug-in that works in mobile devices and in the desktop browser. Aviary also works with Facebook. Flickr promises it will be faster than Picnik.

Some Flickr accounts can see Aviary in place right now. Using it is similar to the way Flickr worked with Picnik. Here’s a look at how to use Aviary from inside Flickr.

Step by Step with Aviary in Flickr

Here’s a photo I took of Leslie Jensen-Inman and Jeffrey Zeldman on the stage at SXSW in March. It’s on Flickr and ready to edit with Aviary.

Step One: In the Actions pull down menu, select Edit photo in Aviary

Edit Photo in Aviary menu item
Image ©Virginia DeBolt

Step Two: Agree to give Aviary access to Flickr

agree to aviary
Image ©Virginia DeBolt

You’ll only have to do this the first time you use Aviary.

Step Three: Edit

edit window in Aviary
Image ©Virginia DeBolt

The image opens in Aviary’s editing window. You see a row of tools across the top of the window. The options include such things as enhance, crop, and brightness. Note the arrows. Click the arrow and you find additional editing tools.

menu 2 in Aviary
Image ©Virginia DeBolt

With these tools you can do things like hide redeye or blemishes and sharpen.
You can even draw.

Step Four: Save

save in Aviary
Image ©Virginia DeBolt

When you save, you can choose to change the photo’s title, add new descriptions or tags, determine who can see the photo. Most importantly, you decide whether or replace the existing photo with the edited one or to save a new copy of the image.

After you click Save, you are right back in Flickr, ready to move on.

Are You Happy with the New Photo Editing Tool?

I’ve used Aviary for a long time and watched it grow. I’m happy to see it integrated with Flickr. It’s a good replacement for Picnik – easy to use and robust enough to do the job. I’m pretty happy about this development. Are you happy with it?

Note: This article is cross-posted at BlogHer in a slightly different form.

A Privacy Win

Transparency is everything in the world of ones and zeros where data can be collected and used in hidden ways for not-always-helpful purposes. Sometimes revealing what an app is actually capable of doing – is doing – with your data results in a happy ending.

girls around me screen capture
Girls Around Me screen capture

The story starts with Cult of Mac revealing the truth about an app in This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy. The app is called Girls Around Me. You should read the full story for yourself, it has several screen captures of interest. I’ll give you a highly abridged version. Girls Around Me gives you a map showing where girls are nearby. These are women who checked into locations using Foursquare. Based on that, the app shows their Facebook profile image, tells private details about likes, friends names, jobs and more. The story concluced with tips about how to manage privacy settings.

Creepy is right.

The Cult of Mac story was so creepy that it garnered a lot of public attention. That’s where the good part of the story begins, a turn of events that we can thank Cult of Mac for igniting. (Or, more precisely, we should thank the girlfiend of the writer John Brownlee at Cult of Mac for insisting he write about Girls Around Me.)

Tech Crunch publicized the story in “Girls Around Me” Creeper App Just Might Get People To Pay Attention To Privacy Settings. The story at TechCruch focused on the privacy settings issue, but ended with a short but important update:

Foursquare has reached out to say that the app was in violation of their API policy, so they’ve revoked access. I feel safer already!

Kudos to Foursquare, right?

But that isn’t the end of the story. The Sydney Morning Herald in ‘Stalker’ app pulled after ‘tool for rapists’ outcry, tells us,

An iPhone app that in effect allowed users to stalk women nearby using location-based social networking service Foursquare has been pulled from the iTunes app store by its developer after an outcry.

According to The Wall Street Journal’s ‘Girls Around Me’ Developer Defends App After Foursquare Dismissal, the app is useless without Foursquare integration, which is why it was pulled from the app store. The creators of the app, a Russian company called i-Free Innovations defended the app to the WSJ, calling it,

. . . “unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns. We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.”

You can read the I-Free developers’ full statement in The Wall Street Journal’s story. Even though Girls Around Me is no longer available in the app store, it had already been downloaded 70,000 times. Those versions should not work now because Foursquare cut off access.

We Won One

Privacy for women won this one. Yea.

Yet we still have to struggle weekly with protecting our privacy online, with changing settings in Facebook and in apps, with constant vigilance to protect our vulnerability.

One victory isn’t enough. How can we use the momentum of this victory to create changes that will be more useful and long lasting?

Note: This story is cross-posted at BlogHer.

When someone reviews your work

There’s no manual for behavior on the Internet. Most people behave well without it, but not all. I’m observing an incident at another site involving a review.

I publish many reviews here. Most of the time the people whose work I’m reviewing are pretty quiet about it. They may stop by to say thanks for the review or tweet the URL to the review. But they aren’t spamming the review with fake positive comments. That’s what’s happening at the other site. Bad behavior, bad judgement, bad idea.

Don’t try to make yourself look good with comments you try to disguise as being from someone other than yourself. Instead, take some time to review the basics of successful social media and interaction on the Internet. Then behave accordingly.

Faked self-promotion is just sleazy.

If you type so damn much, why aren’t you good at it?

If you met me in person you would find me very quiet, especially in social situations. People often have a first impression of me as standoffish and unfriendly. If they stick around long enough, they find out I’m not. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who grows on you slowly. This characteristic is my downfall as a schmoozer at conferences.

Put me in front of a keyboard and something different happens. Not counting places where I blog only sporadically, here’s what I’ve typed of late, by volume.

webteacher posts on Web Teacher.

first50words posts on First 50 Words

blogher postson BlogHer

twitter postson Twitter

Add to that the 8 books I’ve written, the other writing I’ve done like curriculum, teacher’s editions, poetry, crappy fiction, etc., etc., you end up with a lot of typing. Well over the 10,000 hours needed to achieve expertise. So explain this: why am I such a lousy typist?