With $3.6M, TreeRing revives the yearbook for the Facebook generation

TreeRing, a San Mateo, Calif.-based company that brings social networking into the creation of school yearbooks, has raised $3.6 million in Series A funding from Flipboard CEO and co-founder Mike McCue, Second Ave Partners, Cedar Grove Investments and other angel investors.

Estonia’s plan to get 6 year olds coding is a stroke of genius

When should children learn to code? Estonia’s Tiger Leap Foundation wants children as young as six to be enrolled in coding classes — all part of a national program that has already turned this tiny country into a technological powerhouse.

Pros and Cons of the iPad in Education

While Liam opined about the challenges an iPad can face in education here, I thought I’d tackle some potential real-world pluses and minuses from the viewpoint of a college student. I think the iPad is going to succeed in education marvelously for students and teachers.

Back to School As a Web Worker

18636595_f09160199cMany web workers welcome August and September because their kids head back to school, making work a little easier. But some web workers are excited about the fall for another reason: because they’re heading to school themselves.
Advancing your education can often make sense: you can learn new skills, earn more money and even add a couple of important-sounding letters after your name. But it also requires an ability to balance your responsibilities at school and at work. Read More about Back to School As a Web Worker

Academic Appeal: Comparing Pages and Word 2008

pages_vs_word

This time of year, it seems almost inevitable. There’s a forum post somewhere, a plea for help in the middle of the night, asking a time-honored question. No, it’s not “the answer to Life, the Universe, Everything!” It’s more profound than that: “I’m starting school this fall and I want to know what to get, iWork or Office. I’m going to be writing light papers.”

So, I’m going to compare the two programs when writing a research paper to MLA standards. While there are a plethora of other options — I can see the “use LaTeX” comments in my head now — I’m focusing on Word and Pages. Word and Pages both support EndNote X2 and Math Type 6, but since I’ve never used Math Type, I’m not going to be able to comment on it. Read More about Academic Appeal: Comparing Pages and Word 2008

Apple Tablet Rumors: Could It Change the World?

I know, I know, I’m sorry. Yet another tablet rumor report. This time, however, there’s more meat to it, and Business Week’s Peter Burrows is so confident in information coming from sources close to its development he’s now “convinced.”

OK, so what? Some people were convinced all the way back in 2003. But at that time, there was far less to go on than we supposedly have today.

Burrows doesn’t name his source, only describing his mystery informer as someone “familiar with Apple’s product plans” who says the company expects to introduce a tablet-based device early next year. Nothing new there, right? We’ve heard that rumor already. But Burrows’ confidence in those claims is bolstered by a report from Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster, who writes:

Between indications from our component contacts in Asia, recent patents…relating to multi-touch sensitivity for more complex computing devices, comments from Tim Cook on the April 22 conference call, and Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi along with other recent chip-related hires, it is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise.

Specifically, we expect this to result in a larger (7”-10”) touchscreen tablet that will launch in 1H CY10. Additionally, Apple’s consistent message that it refuses to launch a “cheap” portable netbook, and its desire to differentiate itself in a maturing market before it’s too late (similar to the timing of iPod and iPhone), plus its gradual addition of multi-touch technology to all of its core products (iPhones, iPods and Macs) leads us to conclude this product will be a touchscreen tablet (not a netbook).

Certainly sounds convincing, right? It does to Burrows, who adds:

All the talk of midsized devices that are smaller than a laptop and larger than a cell phone strike me as wishful thinking by vendors. But who really needs one, and for what? I know I don’t.

Good point — at this stage, it’s somewhat unclear where the demand for this device will come from. We can only speculate. Sure, it’s easy to talk about instances where such a form factor, married with an iPhone-flavored Mac OS X platform, will be well-received. Hospitals, schools and universities are obvious candidates. But I’m reminded of the heady days of 2002 when there was tremendous buzz around tablet PCs. Sure, they were underpowered things, but they were useful. I carried one with me around the world, and although it died quite spectacularly two years ago, I still miss it. But it seems only the tech-enthusiast and geek crowds really embraced them. Read More about Apple Tablet Rumors: Could It Change the World?

Apple Updates the iMac: Big Screen, Small Dollars

newimacs

In marked contrast to the disappointing Mac mini update today, the iMac’s upgrades make great strides in keeping the value proposition for this excellent desktop system.

All the Basics

First, we get all the stuff we expected:

  • Newer Core 2 Duo processors w/ 6MB L2 cache
  • Front-side bus speed of 1066MHz
  • Fast DDR3 memory
  • NVIDIA 9400M graphics

Even the Mac mini updates included the above. These were obvious and well-known. Where Apple (s aapl) departed from the Mac mini updates, however, was in the rest of the package. Read More about Apple Updates the iMac: Big Screen, Small Dollars

A Field Trip to the Apple Store

Apple Store Field Trip

Apple have recently announced a new field trip scheme, encouraging youngsters to visit their local Apple Store. The aim is to either let children use the hardware and software in the store to create a new project (likely using different iLife packages), or to turn the area into a theater to showcase a movie or production to the children’s teachers, families and parents.

A field trip lasts one hour, and Apple have created a package around the event offering a free t-shirt to children and a complimentary year long One-to-One membership to the event organizer. It’s a great idea, but does raise a few questions about the motives behind the promotion and whether it can really add much value to education.

Ripe for the picking

Children soak up information like a sponge at a young age. Apple is definitely portraying the field trip scheme as something which will be a fun and creative event, but it’s clear that their main aim is to have young minds exposed to their products and software. They will like nothing better than a class of 25 kids to go home and explain in animated and passionate voices to their parents the virtues of being able to run iLife.

Apple already have a very high brand recognition with teenagers, as surveys illustrate. They need to be very careful when moving into the territory of younger minds that they don’t push their products too hard.

Is it a sign of our material times that children will be taken to an Apple store on a field trip rather than a beach, park or museum? It’s a great idea from Apple, but one that generates a lot of potential debate.