• RSS - Do You Know What It Means?

    Posted by Robin Smith at 5/11/2012 11:00:00 PM
    RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. This allows you to subscribe to content on blogs and other social media and have it delivered to you through a feed.  By using an RSS reader, a subscriber can be fed content from a variety of sources and view the content in one place at his convenience.
    This solves a few problems.  Most people are interested in many websites whose content changes on an unpredictable schedule. Examples of such websites are news sites, community and religious organization information pages, product information pages, medical websites, and weblogs. Repeatedly checking each website to see if there is any new content can be very tedious.

    Email notification of changes was an early solution to this problem. Unfortunately, when you receive email notifications from multiple websites they are often mistaken for spam, sometimes disorganized and can get overwhelming.

    RSS is a better way to be notified of new and changed content. Notifications of changes to multiple websites are handled easily, and the results are presented to you well organized and distinct from email.

    How does RSS work?

    RSS works by having the website author maintain a list of notifications on their website in a standard way. This list of notifications is called an "RSS Feed". People who are interested in finding out the latest headlines or changes can check this list. Special computer programs called "RSS aggregators" have been developed that automatically access the RSS feeds of websites you care about on your behalf and organize the results for you. (RSS feeds and aggregators are also sometimes called "RSS Channels" and "RSS Readers".)

    Producing an RSS feed is very simple and hundreds of thousands of websites now provide this feature, including major news organizations.
    RSS aggregators

    Think of an RSS aggregator as just a web browser for RSS content. RSS aggregators automatically check a series of RSS feeds for new items on an ongoing basis, making it is possible to keep track of changes to multiple websites without needing to tediously read and re-read each of the websites yourself. They detect the additions and present them all together to you in a compact and useful manner. If the title and description of an item are of interest, the link can be used to quickly bring the related web page up for reading.

    Here is a screen shot of an RSS aggregator in action. On the left is a list of the RSS feeds being monitored, along with an indication of the number of unread items in each feed in parenthesis. On the right are the details of the most recent items in a selected RSS feed (in this case, the New York Times).
    Other uses

    In addition to notifying you about news headlines and changes to websites, RSS can be used for many other purposes. 

    Some commonly mentioned uses are:

    • Weather and other alerts of changing conditions
    • Notification of additions of new items to a database, or new members to a group
    •  Notification of the arrival of new products in a store
    • Listing and notifying you of newsletter issues, including email newsletters
    Watch this video on YouTube to learn more.

    A single RSS aggregator is all that you need to read all of the RSS feeds, be they headlines, alerts, changes, or other notifications. Do you use an RSS feed?

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  • Infinite Campus Training Dates

    Posted by Robin Smith at 5/10/2012
    In a previous post, I discussed the new student information system, Infinite Campus that we are implementing.  This month lots of training is taking place.  Additional training will take place during the week of July 18 and then again the week before school starts.  Below is a schedule of all the training taking place.  Please be advised that you must be invited to attend any training. All training after July 15 will have access to HASD data in the system.
    1 - Building Coach
    2 - Building Coach
    3 - Building Coach
    4 - Building Coach
    8 - System Administrator
    9 - AM  Registration
       - PM Secondary Curriculum
    10-AM Counselors (Group 1)
        -PM Clerical (Group 1)
    11-AM Elementary Curriculum
        -PM Clerical (Group 2)
    15-AM Behavior (Group 1)
        -PM Counselors (Group 2)
    16-Teacher Coach (Group 1) 
    17-Teacher Coach (Group 2) 
    18-AM Special Education   
         -PM Behavior (Group 2)
    22 - PM  Policy and Procedure Meeting
    June -   TBA
                   Misc. Secretarial 
                   Human Resources
     16 - Go Live Date
    17 - System Admin Training
    18 - AM Ad Hoc Training
         - PM Building Administrators Training
    Read Only Training
    20 -AM Building Coach Refresh
          -PM Registration Refresh 
    21 - AM Teacher Coach Refresh
             PM Counselor Refresh
    22 - AM Attendance Clerical (Group 1)
             PM ? 
    23 - Teacher Training
             AM  Attendance Clerical (Group 2)    
             PM  Read Only
    January 15 - Master Schedule Prep
    January 16 - Master Schedule Prep
    March 5, 6, 7, 8 - Master Scheduling   (One day out of this stream)
    Additional classes may be added, so feel free to check back or to suggest training that you feel is needed.
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    Posted by Robin Smith at 5/8/2012
    I promised Prom pictures of my son.  The evening was exciting for him and fun for us to see him all dressed up and looking so mature.  They had pictures taken at the springs at Roaring Springs.  What a great place for picures.  His date, Erin, looked absolutely beautiful! They made a cute couple.   We took close to 200 pictures.  I will spare you viewing all and just post a few.
     Erin Pinning on Neal's flower.
    Full Length
    Erin and Neal, the full length view 
    The guys
    Neal and two of his friends, Richard and Brett.
    The group
    The whole group!
    Neal, Erin, Brett, Lauren, Richard, Madison
    Up close  
    Neal and Erin - Closeup 
    Prom mom  
    And here I am....PROM MOM with my son! 
    Notice he doesn't have as big a smile as when he was with his date!
    Enough of my Prom pictures.  He had a great time and I had fun taking pictures!
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  • I'm a Nervous Mom

    Posted by Robin Smith at 5/4/2012
    My son that turned 16 in April, and got his permit last week is growing up on me.    He is going to the Tussey Mountain Prom on Saturday.  He is a 10th grader and was invited by a junior girl.   
    He picked up his tux last night and he looks great in it. 
    The flowers are ordered and he will pick them up around noon tomorrow.  He was very specific with the florist about what kind of flowers and what colors he wanted in the arm bouquet to carry.  Anxious to see what they look like.
    They are meeting at Roaring Springs for pictures by the springs and fountain at 3:30 PM.
    Longhorn Steak
    Since he doesn't have his license yet, she is driving.   We wanted a group of them to get a limo, but they didn't want to.
    They are meeting up with four friends for dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.
    Then to the prom, where they will dance the night away.
    After the prom they are going to a friends house to sit around a campfire for a while.
    Being the photo crazy mom that I am, I will be taking lots of pictures.  So my next post will be devoted to PROM pictures.
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  • Grad Class Video

    Posted by Robin Smith at 5/3/2012
    I previously wrote about a graduate class I was teaching.   During the class we created some educational videos.   Several times during the semester I took video while they were doing their projects. On the last night of class I recorded them and combined with pictures and created the following video.   Enjoy!
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  • Grad Class

    Posted by Robin Smith at 4/27/2012
    Since January, I have been teaching an "Integrating Technology Into The Curriculum" graduate class for Wilkes' University.    I have five fantastic students. Two work at Altoona, one works at NBC and two work here at Hollidaysburg Area School District.
    Grad Class
    Some of the topics we have covered include Web 2.0 sites,  Social Media, Blogs, Online Survey's, Web Pages, Podcasting, using video and much more.  For an assignment, each of them created a blog.   I wanted to share their blog sites so maybe you could go out and have a look and leave a comment or two.
     They will appreciate knowing someone else is reading and following their progress.
    This semester has gone fast.  Our class ended on April 26.  
    If you were taking this class, what would you want to learn about? 
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  • Recovery and Reflections

    Posted by Robin Smith at 4/26/2012

    In the past I have posted  about my illness, Hyperparathyroidism. Not many people know about it and it often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. You can read my previous posts, by clicking on the links at the right.


    Twenty-five days after Parathyroidectomy

    My recovery has been going well.  You can see by the picture my scar is healing nicely.  I visited the surgeon last Thursday and at this point I am to start massaging the scar on a daily basis with Vitamin E and in a year it will be barely noticeable.  I am taking two Ultra Tums per day.  One in the AM and one in the PM for calcium.   I take 2000 mg of Vitamin D per day to try and build up my bone strength.   It may take a year till we can build them back to where they should be after the parathyroid leached all the calcium out.

    How am I feeling?  Much, much better.  I’m not completely recovered yet, but WOW, what a difference!   No heart palpatations, my blood pressure is back to normal, I can walk much better, my joints still have some pain, but nothing like before. (I may indeed have a touch of arthritis), the bone pain in my shin is almost completely gone, every once in a while I get a pain, but not constant like before.   I’m going up steps so much better.   Still having some problems going down, but every day I see improvement.   I’m not forgetting as much….in fact I think I am remembering too many things!   I am able to focus and concentrate so much better.

    I have noticed an improvement in some things I didn’t even know were affected till after the surgery.   For instance I don’t have to go to the bathroom near as often, my digestive system seems to be working better too and my skin isn’t as dry.

    I asked my husband if he noticed any difference and he said, “Oh my gosh,  YES!  You are moving around so much better, you are not wincing in pain, and you just seem to feel a lot better!”   Being the nice guy that he is, he didn’t say it, but I’m sure he could have added, “You are not as grouchy either!”

    I just feel so much better, mentally and physically.  It is hard to describe.  Of course I am not back to work yet, and once I can’t sleep in, have to go to work and juggle a schedule again, I might not be as chipper.   Time will tell.   But I am so happy I had this surgery.  It has made a huge difference for me.


    Parathyroidectomy Recovery Reflections  - Robin Smith

    My Medical Team

    Quite a few people have asked about my medical team, and I wanted to share with you who my doctors are.

    My Family Doctor – Dr. Ernesto DelasAlas MD  in Bedford.
    My Endocrinologist – Dr. Heleh Haerian-Ardakani, MD in Altoona
    My Endocrine Surgeon – Dr. Kelly McCoy, MD at UPMC Pittsburgh

    I am so thankful for them and their expertise in identifying my problem and going above and beyond to remove the parathyroid.

    We have come to the end of my story.   I will probably write another post in about six months to let everyone know how I am doing and if all the symptoms have disappeared.   I just want to thank you for taking the time to read about this and I hope you found it helpful and interesting.

    If there is one thing I have learned from this whole experience, it is “Don’t take your health for granted.”  We all do it, but once you start to lose your health you appreciate it so much more.

    If this has made a difference for you or you learned something new, please comment below.

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  • Back to Work Overwhelm

    Posted by Robin Smith at 4/25/2012
    I have been back to work a little over a week and already I'm feeling overwhelmed!    So much stuff to catch up with from when I was off.   So much going on in our department.  Not sure how I will ever get caught up and next week I'm out of the district for Infinite Campus training every day.  
    I'm taking each day at a time and trying to focus on the most important things that need to be done.  I'm fortunate to have such a great group to work with.  They have taken care of all the routine things in my absence and even some of the issues that I normally handle.
    One thing I am trying to do is limit my time at work even if I am behind.   In the past, I would have stayed and worked till 9 or 10 at night to try and catch up.   I am not doing that.  I can't wear myself down, I need to pace myself for the long haul and get sufficient rest and down time to finish the marathon that is ahead.
    So if any one is waiting on something from me.   Please be patient, I welcome gentle reminders, but be aware if it is not an emergency, it might have to wait.
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  • Secretary Day

    Posted by Robin Smith at 4/25/2012
    Today is Administrative Assistant Day.  It is a day when we honor our secretaries or administrative assistants.   I honor all secretaries in our district.  These ladies are the ones who keep our buildings organized, our schedules updated, work with our students, parents, and community, and do it all with a smile on their face.
    My secretary is the best.   Our department would be lost without her.   Karen Weise is always willing to go the extra mile in helping others and keeping our department running efficiently.  Karen is my right hand and sometimes my left hand too!  I often tell her if she leaves, I'm going with her!  I know everyone can be replaced, but I can't imagine anyone doing a better job for our department.  She is a keeper and we love her!
    Happy Administrative Assistant Day to everyone!
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  • Creating Your Own Facebook Cover

    Posted by Robin Smith at 4/24/2012 10:00:00 AM

    Are you on Facebook?  Do you have a cover photo on your facebook page?

    Did you know there are some rules you need to follow?

    Rules for Facebook Cover Images:
    It needs to be an image....not just text or primarily text.  You can have some words, but focus needs to be on the image.
    It cannot include your contact information.  That is clearly against facebook rules!
    You cannot put a call ot action on the cover. (such as "visit me at...." or "click to like" or follow me!")

     Promotions are not permitted. (nothing indicating "Save 20%" or "buy this" )

    * Check out Facebook’s official rules for the specifics, this is my summary as I understand them. 
    Cover images can be found at many sites for free as I indicated in my previous post, some people just upload a regular picture, but if it is not the right size, facebook automatically will stretch the picture if it is too small and that may cause the picture to blur or be out of focus, or crop the picture if it is too large, and you may lose some important parts of the photo.   The best way is to create the correct sized image so that it looks clear and fits correctly.  I have included instructions below
    How to Create Your Own Cover Image
    • Go to www.Pixlr.com and click “Open Photo Editor”
    • Choose “Create New Image” and set your image to 851px wide by 315px tall
    • Now add whatever you’d like to your image
    • Save your image as a jpg
    • Upload to your Facebook fan page and set as your cover photo
    Do you have a favorite cover photo.....type the address in the comments so we can all check your favorites out.
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Last Modified on May 15, 2012