All web browsers do not suck equally. Some suck more than others.

Microsoft announced on Sunday that there is a vulnerability in Internet explorer that is actively being exploited. It affects everything from IE6 to IE11. That represents about 26% of the browser market out there. That’s pretty huge since there is no fix right now.

Active 0day attack hijacking IE users threatens a quarter of browser market

The reason I find this interesting is that while 26% of web traffic is using IE, that’s clearly not the case here at ND. I’m conducting some surveys about the use of lecture capture. One of the questions I ask is which browser they use. The results are pretty atypical from the rest of the internet.

  • Chrome – 57%
  • Safari – 24%
  • Firefox – 12%
  • IE – 7%

If I’m Microsoft, I’d pretty scared at this point. Chrome is clearly winning the browser market among college students. College students that will fix their parent’s computers.

Additionally I ask the students which OS they use. The results are about what I’d expect.

  • Apple -50%
  • Windows – 50%

If I break browser numbers down further, among PC users the browser usage is even more depressing:

  • Chrome – 65%
  • Firefox – 22%
  • IE – 14%

On the Apple side it’s very encouraging, if you’re Apple. Or Chrome.

  • Chrome – 49%
  • Safari – 49%
  • Firefox – 2%

I’m glad to see that students are using a browser with more features and better security. Now if I could just get my in-laws to switch. They “just click on the blue E” or “the thing that says internet”.

There’s a thought! Rename the icon to read “The Internet” and remove the IE icons. If only there weren’t still so many websites that only work with IE and a specific Java version.

Free stock photos. Free is good. I like free.

If you run a blog, stock photography can be pretty important. Last week Getty images announced that they’re allowing you to embed almost 33 million of their images on a blog, tumblr or twitter for free. Considering that they would normally charge hundreds of $$$ for this sort of use, that’s a pretty nice deal.

Just use this link, Getty Embed, to show only the images for which this is available then search as normal.

Click on the image to bring up the preview window. Below the image you should see links for twitter, tumblr and embed code.

While not all images are available, they doing this for over half of their catalog. They’re not fools and they realize that most stock photos are ripped off. This at least gives them credit.


It’s like YouTube. But nerdier.

Echo360 recently introduced version 5.4 of their software. Best software release ever. Seriously. It’s washing my car and picking up my dry-cleaning right now.

OK. It might not be that good but it is pretty nice. One of the options it introduced is the ability to embed a recording (an Echo as they call it) in a blog. I can easily see a number of faculty wanting to do something similar if they wanted to show content on their professional blogs or if they ran a blog with Sakai and just wanted to re-use some content.

The one rather obvious catch is that the content has to be publicly accessible. Duh. If you want everyone to see it, everyone must be able to see it. Not sure how that is easily accomplished in our existing environment. Faculty have their classes recorded and can create their own content but they don’t have rights to copy and move that content around. Also, I’m not sure if you can get any real analytics about who’s been watching the video since it’s anonymous.

Anyway, the ability to do this at all is pretty neat and could have some potential use cases in academia. Nice to see it at all.

I love it when people share their ideas!

Often times you want to make a video to illustrate a point. Ideally it would feel like a discussion. You’re facing the viewer and explaining something to them. You’re not facing a chalkboard or a whiteboard and turning your back to them. It feels natural.


Let’s state right off the bat that this is not our idea. It’s called the light board and it came from Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University. The Lightboard Home Page is really incredible and gives you all the details you need to make your own copy. Parts list with numbers and links, diagrams, technical details, etc. It’s open source hardware so he encourages you to make your own, experiment, etc. Just share what you’ve done.

This sort of thing would never happen in the corporate world!

We’re kind of space constrained and there’s very little available space on campus. While we think this is a great idea, we’re going to need to be able to show people how this works in order to get the funding and square footage required to make it a reality. Instead of making a 4×8 board, we made one that was 3×4. Still big enough to be useful but small enough we can find a place to demonstrate it. It’s also cheaper than a full size unit.

Ordering the glass is pretty easy due to the well detailed specifications. To build the frame we worked out a design and ordered a bunch of 80/20 aluminum. Assembly took a couple hours.

2014-03-13 09.57.31 copy
The box actually said it was an erector set for adults.
We were too excited to worry about the crappy lighting!
We were too excited to worry about the lousy lighting!

There are LED lights underneath the edge of the glass that cause the text to really pop out of the glass. Since it was a 16 foot roll, I had about 12 feet extra. Part of the challenge in this project is to illuminate the presenter and not add glare. I took the extra 12 feet and stuck it on the glass.

2014-03-14 14.35.56
I’d say it does a great job of illuminating the instructor.

I also took a few accent lights we had laying around and used them as a key light.

2014-03-14 14.36.24
Obviously we need to work on the ambient light…
Not bad for a beta test!
Not bad for a beta test!

Overall, we’re thrilled with the effect. It’s really much more pronounced than it appears here. We still have a lot of tweaking and testing to do but I think we’ve established the feasibility of the system.

Now we start showing this thing off and we’ll see if we can get a 12×15 room to really do this right!

Thanks to the following people:

  • Michael Peshkin at Northwestern University. Obviously!
  • Our colleague David Seidl for bringing it to our attention. He’s really interested in that whole maker-space culture thing. Apparently he saw it as a post on Hack A Day.
  • Tim Cichos in Notre Dame Learning Spaces who helped us engineer the frame.