Thursday, November 22, 2007

Reasons to rationalize iPods and Home Theater PCs

The kids both want iPods this year. So far, I'm the only family member with one and there have been some pretty nasty fights over sharing. Sometimes even the kids get into it ;-)

Now, my oldest is 9 and my youngest is 6. Ipods aren't the cheapest toy around, but I found that I can play the "it's an educational tool" card and feel a lot more comfortable laying out the cash.

One use my youngest likes my iPod for is watching video. She'll spend hours on it watching Cyberchase, short stories, and Magic School Bus. Now, we have a lot of that already on the DVR for TV, but for some reason she likes the teeny screen and headphones. We get Ed Video Online, so I download the content in Quicktime format to my Mac, import it into iTunes and then convert the file to iPod video format. Details on that here.

My oldest wants an iPod nano, but the old style without video. He likes to have a soundtrack going as he plays games or reads. We like having that soundtrack going into headphones and not blasting on his iMac speakers in the loft - with an open floor plan and hardwood floors it gets a little overwhelming for the rest of us.

While Apple does offer education discounts to homeschoolers, the iPods are not priced differently than in the regular store. So, I like to buy refurbished, directly from Apple. My iPod video (5G, black) was a refurb purchase, and it arrived in gorgeous condition and has never given me any problems. Inventory changes regularly, so if you don't see the one you want, always check back. All Apple refurbs have a 1 year warranty, and you can even buy Apple Care extended warranties.

DH and I have been looking at flat panel TVs for a few years now. I just never felt that spending $2k on a TV would make a lot of sense, even if we had it to blow I could think of lots of other things I'd rather have since I'm not a huge TV fan. Enter rationalization tools for home theater!

In researching home entertainment pcs, such as Apple TV, I found myself getting pretty torqued up over all the little "catches" attached. I considered our needs, and wants, for the new living room setup and couldn't find one box that'd do everything we needed - until I realized a Mac Mini would do the trick.

Here's what we'll have it for:

Networked to our wifi for streaming directly from whatever source we want. You Tube, Ed Video, iTunes, NBC, everybody!

Dual Core Intel for Windows-only applications that DH wants for flight simulator program, and for Netflix downloads

Download, play and store BitTorrent files directly

I'm still in the research stage, and am wondering if I can use ElGato's Eye TV well enough to make it worthwhile purchasing or not. We'll also have to figure out the speaker issue - I truly loathe wires (and our cats love to chew them) so that's pending.

Not anymore - was: NY State students, teachers: free Ed Video online access

Update: Looks like the grant ran out, and the link for Ed Video Online through WMHT is kaput.

Because of a state education grant, all New York state students and teachers have free access to Ed Video Online. You can stream and download video and audio content, as well as have use lots of other onsite features for lesson plans, ratings, etc. Download formats are in both Quicktime and WMV, so all platforms can use the service.

We download everything from Standard Deviants math, Cyberchase to Liberty's Kids. There are tons of resources at every age and grade level, and you can search by subject, grade, etc.

Contact your local PBS affiliate for more info. In the Capital Region, our station is WMHT.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cool used book store discovery - links updated 2/24/2011

Today I finally figured out what to do with some stacks of books that we'd read and liked, but didn't need to keep permanently - trade in for credit at Tattered Pages, a neat little used book store in Glenmont NY.

It's a small space, but very tidy (no dust or mold issues!) stacked full of great stuff. They have comfy couches and chairs up front, and there's even a kitty who purrs and likes to get pats (they foster for AnimaLovers rescue, so you may want to consider adopting a lovely cat along with your used book purchase). Saturday mornings offer a story time for young children and their parents.

I managed to score some gorgeous DK Eyewitness books, young adult fiction, early readers, along with plenty of good grown-up fiction for myself. And since I'd de-cluttered by trading in our previously read books, we actually have shelf space for the new aquisitions :-)

Tattered Pages


Monday, November 19, 2007

So that’s the difference…

Gee, is this what Abeka and Bob Jones University math curricula teach?
Mathematics is an Atheist Lie

If not, then how are they bible-based?

Update 8/7/2012 - I'm sad to say this site is no more - too bad, as it was hilarious!  Here's a discussion of the bible verse that was used as a reference in that lost piece.

BoingBoing's Maggie Koerth-Baker has a great post about k-12 homeschool and Christian fundamentalist maths text publishers Abeka and Bob Jones University rejecting set theory as ungodly - satire turns into real life again.  Terrifying or hilarious?  I say both.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Someone please think of the children!

The new Sesame Street DVD collection volumes 1 & 2 has a warning for us all: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”


If only we'd known back then!


Slashdot has some fun discussion about this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Where the heck did we go?

Nowhere interesting!  Just dealing with some protracted health issues that made my schedule NOT conducive to posting very much.

Onward and upward, I'm back and ready to get cracking :-)

Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op: free, easy, not krazy!

I recently joined the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op after hearing about if from a few homeschooling friends. They do group buys on curricula and other materials - Lego Robotics and Logo software is one that's currently going - and offer other things like a free ID card printout, other discounts negotiated with suppliers, etc.

It's free, you just sign up with your email, and you get access to the deals. Most of the group buys are for a limited time, but if you opt in for communications from the co-op, you hear about them early on.

Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op