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Grew from an acorn [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Sat, 07/18/2020 - 13:17

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

Day one of the transplanted oak seedling.

Ultraviolet Knits – Elara Shawl

Evin O’Keeffe - Thu, 07/16/2020 - 13:09

To celebrate summer, I’m focusing on one pattern from my latest book, Ultraviolet Knits, each week all summer. Today, it’s all about my Elara Shawl. You can access a list of all the related posts HERE!   Elara is the eighth-largest moon...

The post Ultraviolet Knits – Elara Shawl appeared first on EvinOK.

Now Automating Checklist Reminders h/t @tinnion #GTD

Bernie Goldbach - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 11:59

I'M TRYING TO IMPROVE my productivity by automating a series of important reminders, some stemming from a daily task list and others related to a lifelong goal of finishing critical tasks on time. As the above image shows, I've been checklisting from before touchscreens. It often helps me to talk to myself about my progress, as I did during Topgold Audio Clip 531.

Listen to "Echo Show and Bixby Checklists E531" on Spreaker. Hands-free wireless recording with Sennheiser

I've discovered that I get some of my most lucid thoughts while away from distractions and that's certainly true when I walk and talk with my dog in the mornings. I put my phone in my pocket and clipped the Sennheiser Memory Mic on my collar and just started thinking out loud about checklists, on-screen reminders, spoken challenge-response lists with Alexa, and routines.

One of the remarkable things about this short little morning routine is that I can create a casual recording while in open space and that that recording uploads to Otter where it's converted to text for my blog and it also uploads to Spreaker where people can hear what I'm saying.

It's a big deal having a speech-to-text option that's better than 90% accurate when created on a wireless mic that is smaller than a cigarette lighter.

Why Checklists?

Checklists are important for me because they help me sleep better. When I look over what I've done during the day--and consider what might be there the next day--a simple thing like looking at the Amazon Echo show will tell me what's ahead. I set up our home's Amazon Echo Show's eight inch screen to see the next day's calendar.

Checklists on screens

My son Dylan (he's nine) has put things on his calendar by telling his Echo Show what he's going to do for the next day. He sets reminders, but he also sees our shared family calendars appearing on that Echo Show. It's a bit of a checklist to see what's up the next hour, or the next day, or the next week. I think these kinds of events-based activities are really important. For a nine year old, it's the birthday or it's the trip away, or it's the start of the new school year. It's a calendar of events based on a rubric of a checklist asking relevant questions. What are you going to be doing? On what day? With who? Where?

Making A Checklist Skill

There are ways of integrating an Alexa Skill onto the Amazon Echo Show. I've gained tips from Brett Bell about Amazon Alexa Skills. I'm looking at a skill that offers young Dylan a chance to run a checklist simply by asking his Echo Show to "run the nighttime checklist" or to "run the Dylan Go To School Checklist". Dylan has already told me the stuff he wants to do and how he wants to do that stuff. And what we've used a little bit of computational thinking with the Alexa Library to carve out some simple skills based on existing design templates. So now when Dylan uses a voice command, he can activate a checklist. This little checklist has helped restore some order in a busy home that has two kids, two adults and three animals. Checklist by voice using the Amazon Alexa series. We also can activate a checklist using Bixby on my Samsung phone. So just by a voice command, I can tell a phone to prepare for "recording" and "driving" or "at home". And when I call out these words to Bixby, my Samsung Note activates or deactivates services.

Sketchnoting Checklists

Mike Rohde takes the concept of checklists and bullet lists, and makes them into sketch notes. He activates a series of thoughts by sketching them as Mind Maps, simple illustrations or bullet lists. Mike Rohde will tell you his sketchnoting isn't bullet listing--but to me, it's similar. It's a checklist based doodling system that helps you get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper in a playful way. I like it.

You and Checklists

How about you? If you've heard me talking to you during my walkabouts I wonder if you can easily rewind your previous 10 to 12 hours and say, "Yeah, I follow checklists. I like list-based activities. They work for me." It's actually pretty simple. You can use a record card, an index card, a piece of paper, an on-screen tick-off list like Trello or Notion or Roam Research. Or you can use a voice challenge system like Dylan does on the Amazon Echo Show. Let me know because these little checklist efficiencies are interesting to me. And I'd like to share with you how you're doing it.

Feedback @topgold

Do you have an idea to share about how you've automated your checklists? You can contact me with feedback--just look for @topgold on all good social networks.

[Bernie Goldbach teaches checklisting as part of a creative media for business programme on the Clonmel Digital Campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology. More than 80% of the words in this blog post were copied directly from the transcript rendered for free by Otter.ai.]

On the calendar [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 11:41

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

You can update the Amazon Echo Show's Calendar with your voice.

Recorded with Sennheiser Memory Mic [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 07:23

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

The magnetic clip attaches to any metal rod.

Spice Bag Recipe

Caitriona Redmond - Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:42

If there’s one takeaway meal that has an addictive moreish quality to it, it’s the Spice Bag. It’s actually incredibly easy to make at home and this version serves a family of 5 hungry people. Leave out the chicken to make it plant based.

Due to the magic of the internet. I filmed myself making this live on Instastories. I’ve compiled it into a video and you’ll find it here:

Caitríona Redmond Instagram

Ingredients (Serves 5)

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3 breasts of chicken, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 peppers, sliced
  • 75g frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, salt and chilli flakes
  • 1 small chilli, sliced (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat a fan oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Chop the potatoes into chips and place on a non stick baking tray. Use 1 tbspn of sunflower oil to coat the chips and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Once the chips are cooked, leave them in the oven to stay warm. Place a large saucepan or wok on a high heat. Pour in the sunflower oil and cook the chicken first, then add the garlic and onion, finally the peppers and frozen peas. Toss until everything is cooked through.

Add the chips to the cooked chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle in the spices and toss everything together so that the chicken, chips, and vegetables are coated in the spices. Serve with slices of fresh chilli and season to taste.

The post Spice Bag Recipe appeared first on Caitriona Redmond.

Clafoutis – Equally Good for Breakfast, Brunch, or Dessert

Evin O’Keeffe - Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:17

Clafouti or Far Breton is one of my favorite French treats. Easy to prepare, delicious to enjoy, and good for breakfast, snack, or dessert. Like most French dishes, it is best created using full-fat ingredients and will not be the same if you opt for margarine and skim milk.

The post Clafoutis – Equally Good for Breakfast, Brunch, or Dessert appeared first on EvinOK.

Learning from Laura [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:05

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

Speedtest 75 Mbps Eir [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 13:40

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

During COVID-19 in Clonmel.

E530 Shownotes Please [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 10:58

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

It's simply good practice to spin up an agenda with shownotes before a recorded conversation.

Sennheiser Memory Mic Charges Fast [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 09:53

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

But actually, the fast charge is for my Samsung Note 9.

Continue to be impressed by @otter_ai

Bernie Goldbach - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 08:30

I KNOW IT'S important to offer more than one way of consuming educational material and that's why I'm trying to perfect a workflow that ensures I've a quick-hitting text version of my course materials.

I've discovered it's important to use a good microphone if I want to ensure better than 80% accuracy when getting a transcript from my spoken content. While a studio mic works well, it's also handy to record on the fly in the classroom and that's where the Sennheiser Memory Mic performs brilliantly.

I made a Topgold Audio Clip to show how this process works in real time. I think I need to make a video tutorial of the same process because I know several colleagues who would like to see how my workflow might complement theirs. My workflow succeeds when it integrates with my mobile desk.

This entire process is grounded in my belief that I need to offer four lanes leading into my educational material. Lane One is text.

To get the text from the clip in this blog post, I started with a Sennheiser Wireless memory mic clipped to the collar of my shirt. I recorded the clip in a garage filled with echoes.

The Memory Mic can produce content for Lane One (text from the speech) and Lane Two (audio for podcast consumption). For the record, lane three is rewound video and lane four is live video.

If you tap into the audio recording and it sounds legible, it means both Lane One and Lane Two of my production have worked out. If you want to see what the uncorrected transcipt for Lane One looks like, you need to tap into the info section of the audio clip where you'll see the transcipt is better than 90% correct.

Listen to "Perfecting Speech to Text E530" on Spreaker.

My goal is to extract my audio podcast material from my video recordings and the to create a separate five minute teaser with the Sennheiser Memory Mic. If you want to see how this unfolds during our upcoming fall semester of blended learning, feel free to subscribe to my Topgold Audio Clips or to follow my Inside View blog.

[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Digital Campus of the Limerik Institute of Technology. He has been using Otter.ai for free for nearly a year.]

Using Sennheiser Memory Mic [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 06:06

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

Seamless way of creating text from speech.

Self Acceptance

Caitriona Redmond - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 14:09

For years I sat on the beach and watched as the boys splashed in the surf with my husband. On holidays we’d go to waterparks and I’d brave a slide or two but mainly sit by the pool and keep a watchful eye on them.

It’s not that I wasn’t willing to go and join in but I was wary of myself. Of how I looked in swimming togs and being conscious of other people looking at me.

Recently it’s not that I had an epiphany, far from it!

We were on the beach with the kids during the lockdown and they wanted to go sea swimming, something we normally reserve for very warm Summer days. We are going to be spending an awful lot of the year based from home and are privileged to live by the beach so I got wetsuits for the lads (boys and their Dad). My husband suggested I find one for myself and I decided not to.

The wetsuits arrived and the 3 lads got into the surf together and had an absolute ball. I stood on the beach watching them splash together and had a yearning to join in. I realised that I would have to get one for myself.

At that moment I decided that I wasn’t going to stress about how I looked. I was going to stress about not being part of the fun.

Reader. I bought a plus sized wetsuit. It wasn’t as horrendously expensive as I thought it would be.

I am wearing it to sea swim. Something I did a LONG time ago and stopped doing because of my self doubt.

I feel more confident in myself. I’m more body confident. I have borne 2 children. I’ve run a marathon. I am who I am and more comfortable in my own skin.

No longer will I stand to one side because of my own inhibitions. The boys will remember I’m there and part of their lives.

Just one of the wonderful changes that happened in our house during lockdown.

The post Self Acceptance appeared first on Caitriona Redmond.

Ultraviolet Knits – Altair Cowl

Evin O’Keeffe - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 14:04

To celebrate summer, I’m focusing on one pattern from my latest book, Ultraviolet Knits, each week all summer. Today, it’s all about my Altair Cowl. You can access a list of all the related posts HERE! One of three cowl patterns in...

The post Ultraviolet Knits – Altair Cowl appeared first on EvinOK.

An Unexpected Dimension of Distance Education

Bernie Goldbach - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 07:11

ON HER FINAL DAY of primary school, Mia (12) joined with 30 other classmates in a surreal setting that typifies the way her life has been for the previous 15 weeks. She stayed two metres apart from friends she has known throughout primary school. I watched the setting and wondered what lies ahead in what may be a hybrid form of education for our two school children.

Ireland is moving forward with reopening businesses. Talking heads on the radio offer commercially driven messages forecasting economic suffering ahead for everyone. I believe if we prioritise businesses, we waste an opportunity to ensure a better fall for children and families. We need to do everything in our power to make a return to school possible in the fall. We need to explore how to do this for younger children first. They must be the top priority.

For this to be a realistic goal, case counts of the COVID-19 virus must continue downward. Since COVID-19 is spread by groups, we need to restrict international travel, require universal mask wearing, and offer easy access to hand santisation. And we need to be acutely aware of the local incidence of outbreaks.

When Ireland first battled this pandemic, we sacrificed school, closed child care facilities, and asked families to join a nationwide surge of emergency remote teaching and learning. This strategy cannot sustain Ireland into the future but it seemed logical since we assumed COVID-19, like many other respiratory illnesses, would be spread by children. We still don't know if that's a viable assumption since there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence to disprove the premise.

We still don't know how this particular virus works. We do know that a second wave is very probable and that if it happens, many will die.

Listening to teachers and principals in my local area, it seems that Boards of Management want to figure out how to reopen in the fall. Policies such as social distancing for five year olds and deep cleaning of shared assets are major challenges. If management wants to continue the status quo of minimising the number of times large groups of students mingle in the same physical space, it means means school in the fall semester of 2020 will follow a hybrid learning model with students taking classes in school part-time only a few days a week and online every day of the week. If this happens, my workday productivity as a third level lecturer will decline. Moms across Ireland will be asked to step back into their roles with generous amounts of maternal sacrifice. Plus, we need to plan for the inevitability of sick days due to seasonal influenza.

I've set up electronic alerts that uncover emerging evidence showing that younger children are at lower risk of getting COVID-19 and are not a major source of spread. However, nothing I've read suggests a no-risk scenario. Children could be asymptomatic and then bring COVID-19 home to their parents and grandparents.

So for the remaining months of the summer break, I hope we can continue to see days of zero COVID-19 deaths and no more than a dozen new cases across Ireland. We need to start a new school term with low transmission rates, clean physical spaces, and treat the daily school attendance roll as an effective contact-tracing system.

Do you have any other suggestions?

[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Digital Campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology.]

Fighting Social Isolation in Clonmel [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Wed, 07/08/2020 - 14:27

Bernie Goldbach posted a video:

Recorded with Dylan (9) during our 17th week battling COVID-19 in Ireland.

I improved my baking skills while locked down. [Flickr]

Bernie Goldbach - Wed, 07/08/2020 - 13:39

Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:

But haven't mastered banana bread.