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Monday, March 26, 2012

iPad Productivity Apps (for Principals & Administrators)

I am going to be training our principals (and other administrators) on productivity apps for better utilizing their iPads.  I have talked with several people, who have given some great ideas and many people across the state have contributed ideas through the TECSIG email list.   So far, here is the list of iPad apps for productivity (this list would probably work for more than just educators):

iPad Apps for (Principal and Administrator) Productivity
Stock iPad Apps
Web Browser
Included with iPad
Syncs with Exchange (Outlook)
Included with iPad
Syncs with Exchange (Outlook)
Included with iPad
Syncs with Exchange (Outlook)
Included with iPad
Takes pictures
Included with iPad
Email, tweet, your photos..
Included with iPad
Real time video conference with other iOS users
Included with iPad

Notetaking Apps
The e-filing cabinet of choice – use as your memory.  Stores emails, text notes & audio.  Syncs across many devices and web.  Great search!
Any easy to use simple text, written, audio and photo note app – email or PDF notes
Great PDF annotation and reader software
PDF Expert
Simple PDF annotation with WiFi transfer and Box support
Audio Memos Free
Voice recorder, email up to 3mb files, WiFi download
Dragon Dictation
Voice to text transcriptions

Office Apps
Pages, Numbers, and Keynote
Apple’s GREAT office apps for Word Processing, spreadsheet, and presentations.  These are the apps to use if using iPad for content creation.
$9.99 each 
QuickOffice Pro
All in one office suite – edits Microsoft Office docs and syncs with and WiFi file transfer.  This more affordable suite is geared towards just editing.
Cloud-Based MS Office with Box synchronization
Digits Calculator
Great desktop calc with editable, comment-able eTape that can be emailed
Great dictionary and thesaurus

Book  Apps
iBooks, Nook & Kindle
eBooks from the big three.

News Apps
Incredible customizable news aggregator
Another great customizable new aggregator
Texas Tribune
Stay on top of Texas news and the legislature

Other Useful Apps
App to synchronize files to the cloud and web browser..use to move files between PC and iPad
Get a JISD Windows desktop and use MS Office,  access your H and T drives, etc
Great social networking tool to expand your PLN
Easy mind mapping with Image & PDF export and Box synchronization
Simple annotation app – take a photo and mark up ideas and notes (syncs to Evernote)
Explain Everything
Annotate and narrate on screen then export video – great way to narrate presentations then share

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tech & Learning Magazine - How We Developed A Mobile App for Our School District – You Can Do It Too

Tech & Learning magazine published my article on how we developed our Judson ISD Connect! mobile app for iOS and Android.

The article cover how we used Conduit Mobile to easily create a published app for our community.  The article is more in depth than the prior CTO Technotes blog entry.

The T&L article is available on their site at:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Judson ISD Featured in Cover Story of THE Journal with feature on "Ease the Budget Burden"

Returning from Spring Break, I was surprised with the latest issue of THEJournal, which featured Judson ISD in its cover story "Ease the Budget Burden..and Regain Control of IT Costs."

While we are far from the only district with great ideas and keeping costs under control and/or cutting them, it is nice to see our great Technology Services' team get some press for some of the things we are doing.

There are many great ideas from several districts featured in the article, which is available on THE Journal's web site at

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Taking a break from nerding out: My recipe for turkey & chorizo stuffed poblano peppers with cilantro pepper cream sauce

As I am on spring break and wanted to get back into the kitchen where I used to spend more time, I have decided to change things up and actually try to make a recipe for what I just cooked.  Here is my recipe for poblano peppers with turkey & chorizo, with a cilantro pepper cream sauce

 turkey & chorizo stuffed poblano peppers with cilantro pepper cream sauce

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 tube turkey chorizo
  • 7 large poblano peppers
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 medium zucchini (not in picture but should improve the dish - other vegetables could work, such as mushrooms or potato)
  • 8 oz half and half
  • 2 T butter
  • 1-2 T of flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  • Cotija cheese to crumble over served dish  (not in picture but should improve the dish)

To get started, was and core the poblanos, then boil only six of them for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Dice 3/4 of an onion, four cloves garlic and two jalapenos and cook until softened in a skillet with light oil.  Add  diced zucchini, ground turkey and chorizo, breaking up to cook evenly.  Add all the spices, including salt and pepper to taste to the mixture.  Once cooked, spray a glass baking dish with cooking oil, stuff the poblano peppers with the meat & vegetable mixture.  Lay the stuffed peppers in the baking dish and place in over for 45 minutes.

Ok - time to get saucy. Start this with about 15 minutes left in baking. For the sauce, dice remaining jalapenos and one poblano (would be awesome if this one was blackened), remainder of onion, one clove garlic, and place in lightly oiled skillet and cook until softened. Place the mixture in a blender with the milk, cilantro and blend until smooth.

Melt butter in skillet and add about one and half TBSP of flour, then add blended mixture, half & half, and stir until thickened for nice rich sauce texture. Salt to taste.

Remove baked poblanos from the oven.  Plate one per plate with copious amounts of the sauce (us Americans are way to afraid of good sauces - drown them.)  Sprinkle with crumbled mexican cotija cheese and some fresh cilantro sprigs.  Enjoy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Department Productivity Enhancer - Using an Electronic In & Out Board

Our department had been using a rather old school system for knowing where our fellow staff members are: We had a white board that staff members wrote where they were going and marked themselves as out.  But with a fairly dispersed number of staff and ones that often get pulled for emergencies to 30 remote sites, we often ended up with a board of largely inaccurate data.

We investigated some options and ended up demoing and installing a product called EIOBoard.  With this our staff has a convenient icon residing in their system tray where they can click to see a fellow employee's status and find out if that person is available at the moment.  There is also a very useful version of the client that embeds directly in Outlook, which really enhances Outlook as a center of communication.  At any time an employee can quickly see if their co-worker is available, initiate a quick chat, or send them a text message.  This can really speed up workflow and allow for much quicker synchronous communication.  

We also extended the system to allow persons visiting our department, a screen which shows all of our employees and their current whereabouts and status.   Being an IT department, people often come searching for assistance, and this should make it easier for them to find someone available to assist them.  This screen also doubles as a quick badge in/badge out station for our staff.

For our mobile staff, they will be able to update their status & location from a web browser or from an iOS or Android app.  This will help keep the EIOBoard much more accurate and should help us know where staff are located and who is nearby to handle emergency requests.