On My To-do List

Windows Live Writer 2011

At last I’ve put Windows 7 on to a PC in the office for me. (Think cobbler’s shoes).


This means I’ve now got the new version of Windows Live Writer – 2011. On first view, it looks fantastic.

The user interface is much cleaner and crisper


The improved Preview is very powerful –


To-do ..

Use Windows Live Writer to produce blog post comparing Teach Meet Stoke 2010 and the South Leicestershire Branch meeting of the Federation of Small Businesses the following night. (Watch this space)

Update my Live Writer user guide for 2011


Microsoft Teacher Boot Camp

Better Late Than Never

I managed to get along to the first day of the teacher boot camp in Reading in August. I’ve been meaning to write something about it since then.

In addition to the specific materials, ideas and products which  we worked with, there were a few technologies also added in during general discussion. Here are just a few of them.

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Future of Technology in Education 2010

A Report from the Ministry of Truth*


The Future of Technology in Education meeting gave some great insights and ideas into – well – the future of technology in Education! (Some of the sessions were quite heavily focussed to Higher Education and didn’t appear to fit too well with primary schools, so this is a summary of a summary).

For some time I’ve felt that the lines between IT in the commercial sector, voluntary sector and education are blurring. The speakers today confirmed this – and also added the home sector in the mix.

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Using Autocollage to Make a WordPress Heading

Make the header bar stand out


Many of the themes in WordPress allow you to add your own image bar to give the site a feel to better suit you.

Autocollage is a great tool for making those image bars. I cover how to get Autocollage free if you’re a teacher here (and there are some instructions there at the same time).

The task is easiest broken down into 3 steps – get the pictures, make the collage then make the heading bar.

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WordPress and Free Software Session

Part 2 – The Free Software Bit

I intended to run through some of the free software and ideas I’d picked up at the Microsoft Boot Camp and from one of the delegates from the Google Teacher Academy. It didn’t quite work out that way.

During the Microsoft Boot Camp, we were reminded of some of the free stuff available when you become a member of the Partners in Learning Network. I’ve subscribed to it now for over a year and in my experience have received very few follow on emails (maybe one a month)


We looked at this during our session, and I’ve covered it in some detail in a previous blog post – Initially here with add on notes here and here

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WordPress and Free Software Session

Part 1 – The WordPress Bit

We had a great session today looking through some features from WordPress.com and free utilities and ideas from Google and from Microsoft. To round off a very useful session we got a dormant twitter user up and running 🙂

Here are the links and notes from the session. (Some of these are elsewhere on my blog, and some go out to other web sites).

Blogging in school?

Make sure you check this box – someone needs to be in charge of comments. On the dashboard, select settings, discussions and tick this box-


Want your blog to look like a web site?

For your blog to have a ‘static’ front page, and still be able to your blog posts, make a new PAGE called Posts then select this option in dashboard –> settings –>reading


I don’t want search engines to find my blog

Dashboard –> settings-> privacy


Use the second option and simply give your blog address to people. if you use the third option remember that you’ll have to define the users to WordPress (may take a bit of effort).

How do I get that Tweet button on the blog post

The new sharing option appears to have replaced this (in the time between showing it today and writing this blog!).


In the dashboard below the settings menu there’s a whole tab called sharing. Please could someone look a this post and tweet it!

Convert Blog Posts to Pages

And, convert blog pages to posts.

Cool tricks with Windows Live Writer.

In your haste to get the information into your blog, then information goes down without thought to the structure. (Sorry, this is quite a long post – there are a few steps involved,and it’s essential that they are carried out otherwise you’ll have strange errors and mysterious problems :()

The introduction of drop down menus of pages for some of the wordpress.com themes now lets you change the way you want to present the information. The built in editor in WordPress doesn’t make this easy.

(Sorry, this is quite a long post – there are a few steps involved,and it’s essential that they are carried out otherwise you’ll have strange errors and mysterious problems :() 

What’s the benefits? (These answers apply to WordPress – I haven’t tried them with other platforms)

Posts – allow you much greater control of the information you add related to the post – as this display from Windows Live Writer shows.

post options in wordpressSome of these help the blog visitor (categories, tags) and some help your blog to be found more easily and accurately on the internet (tags and excerpts).

wordpress drop down menus

Pages – allow your information to be published in a structured, managed way. In addition, as your blog develops, you may find that information you placed in ‘time based’ blog posts is better served in organised pages. This is particularly true now that stacked menus are available in wordpress.com.

So – you (yes, and me!) – need to make the change over – how do you do it?


Windows Live Writer to the rescue

Firstly – prepare the Windows Live Writer way of working and knowledge of your blog. You must be online for this.

Windows Live Writer blogs menu


It’s essential that Windows Live Writer knows the current settings for your blog. Since you last ‘synchronised’ Windows Live Writer with your blog you may have renamed pages, blogs and restructured drop down lists.

In the Blogs menu (left) – ensure that your required blog is ticked then click on ‘Edit blog settings …’ 



image On the next menu – click on the ‘Update Account Configuration’ button – this will now make Windows Live Writer aware of what your blog now looks like.

Windows Live Writer Options

On the tools drop down, select options and select single window as shown here


The reason for this is that you’ll be opening Windows Live Writer a few times, and you will move material between different Windows Live Writer ‘instances’. This works okay on my installation on my Windows XP Pro PC.



At last – something starts to happen!

Now – start Windows Live Writer again – important – make sure that you do NOT have your blog open in the admin page in your browser. If you do, you may receive the user error messages from hell. On your task bar you should see


Let’s copy a chunk of a post into a page .. (I’ll make a new page in www.mikemcsharry.com called ideas and I’ll start it with a post from my www.eolat.wordpress.com blog).


So – Open the blog post from eolat in one instance of Windows Live Writer



And make a new page called ideas in www.mikemcsharry.com in the other instance


The page title in the blog will become the title you enter on the header line. When you ‘save draft’ this goes to your computer, and you can see the change on the bottom bar of Windows.


Now – go to the ‘donor’ Windows Live Writer instance – in this case the blog post in eolat. Place your cursor somewhere in the body of the text and press ctrl-a to select everything. Then press ctrl-c to copy it to the clipboard.

Next – go to the ‘receiver’ Windows Live Writer instance – in this case the blog page in mikemcsharry.

>>>>>> Place tour cursor in the text space – not the header bar! <<<<<<<< and click ctrl-v to paste it all back!

In this situation, don’t save the ‘donor’ blog

You may need to do a small amount of tidying up. Then publish your new page. Like this – http://mikemcsharry.com/ideas/

Has this post helped you? Have you tried this trick with other bloging platforms? Did it work?

Windows Live Writer

By Windows Live Writer (ably assisted by Cropper)

How to download Windows Live Writer – download live writer

WordPress is one of many blogging platforms. I currently use it for this blog and work with schools on 5 or 6 others.

It’s a fantastic facility and has some real strong points, but the editor really is basic.

wordpress editor display

This is where Live Writer comes in.

Live Writer provides a clean, crisp interface which allows you to create posts and pages off line to upload to your blog when it’s convenient for you.
Most of my blog about the Computing at Schools Conference was made on the train on the way home.

There are a number of good documents out there showing the more powerful features in LW.
This post will introduce it a bit slower.

Posts AND Pages?

WordPress blogs can have a page full of posts – these are the entries in the ‘newest first’ order, typically on the home page of a blog. They can also have ‘static’ pages as other tabs in a WordPress Blog.

On my blog – here’s what a post looks like

crop of apple wordpres post

The pages are seen here

heading from mikemcsharry website on wordpress.com

So – as I’m busily making this ‘off line’ – will it be best as a post or a page all of it’s own? I’ll make it a post – because the more feature will let users read it only if they want.

more button windows live writer

This is the more button on the Live Writer toolbar – and when I click it, you’ll see the ‘more’ broken line below this text

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That’s Right – Children Want to Programme

They certainly want to make games.

kodu start screen microsoft labs
Kodu Welcome

Matt Maclaurin ran a fantastic workshop on Kodu at CAS10 on Friday. Whilst I watched what he was showing – I couldn’t help thinking –

Is this the answer to the teachers who say – "After MyWorld, what now?"

Some quick notes from Matt – Kodu is a completely new language and is free to download from http://fuse.microsoft.com/kodu

The design philosophy behind it is that it can be teachable by anyone – it’s very creative and visual. Usage so far suggests it’s a great tool for storytelling, and looks like it could be great for literacy.

Kodu example text

My experience of it so far is that it looks a bit sensitive to the PC spec. / graphics card and RAM and you may need to tweak the settings to get the best out of your PC.

But – wow!

Google and Microsoft share the stage

Google and Microsoft at CAS
I was lucky enough to be along at the Computing at Schools Teacher Forum at Birmingham University on Friday.

Amongst the fantastic workshops and presentations, Andrew Herbert from Microsoft Research and Peter Dickman from Google were superb and ran a great Q and A session.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 They were followed by a very jet lagged Matthew MacLaurin from Microsoft Research who not only showed us Kodu in the main hall, he also ran 3 brilliant workshops (then presumably went for a well needed lie down somewhere).
Kodu is amazing and I’ll be covering it soon on my blog.