Virtual Teacher Newsletter  November 25th 2006 No. 136 – JOHN DOBSON




1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy


4. New Printables -  Christmas Star

5. Technical Stuff – More on SONY HD Camera DCR-SR40 IS A DUD

6. Web Site Focus – CHRISTMAS

7. Cathy’s Forum – Inspiration – John Dobson

8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE. Christmas will soon be upon us,
so I have included Christmas activities and websites
in this newsletter. Do try taking a photo and using

Photoshop to make the children’s stars from
the printables templates. Thanks for all the advise about the
Sony HD Camera, basically it’s a dog. It fails the basic tenant
of technology, making things simpler and easier to use. The
Dobsonian Telescope and the enthusiasm of John Dobson is
an inspiration, he’s just the sort of teacher I would love to have.

Take some time to read his ideas and philosophies.
Have a great fortnight.



Hi Cathy,

I found this  quote on a recent email from Jamie McKenzie.
Quite timely!


"...  good teaching blends four elements: science, craft, art
and alchemy. As teachers proceed through their careers,
they deepen and extend their repertoires of effective teaching
techniques in order to orchestrate and inspire student learning."

Sue Piggott

Rlg Quality Teaching Consultant: Literacy K-12

Bourke School Education Office


Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no
Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa
Claus? Virginia O'Hanlon
"... in the winter of 1813 & '14 , during my first College vacations, I

attended a mathematical school kept in Boston by the Rev. Francis Xavier

Brosius . . . On entering his room, we were struck at the appearance of

an ample Black Board suspended on the wall, with lumps of chalk on a

ledge below, and cloths hanging at either side. I had never heard of

such a thing before. There it was-forty-two years ago-that I first saw

what now I trust is considered indispensable in every school-the Black

Board-and there that I first witnessed the process of analytical and

inductive teaching." [Samuel J. May 1855] sent in by Wayne Gibcus

Nothing is quite a spectacular on the Internet for
Christmas as as jsmagic.  The Emissary is a spectacular
animated gif representation, everyone will love.  Younger
children will enjoy the spectacle. Older students can use the
images to create their own versions. The clipart here is free,
so long as source is acknowledged. Most images can be dragged
directly into PowerPoint, so students can develop their own stories
and ideas using this clipart collection. Show it using I digital
projector if you have one. Click in active image area to progress.
And this year new one - A Whisper of Wings
4. NEW PRINTABLES Christmas Star
Download the pdf and either draw or put an image in the
centre of your children
5. TECHNICAL STUFF – Readers Responses to the article on the
 The New Sony HD Camera DCR-SR40 IS A DUD

Hi. I have been playing with this camera for about three

weeks. The PC software, Pinnacle Studio will not import the

mpg file if it has been recorded in 5.1 even though it should.

Multiple emails to Pinnacle have not got them to understand

this. Windows Media Player and Pinnacle's cinemagic play

the file nicely in 5.1 on my PC. Decided to get a MAC as I

was attracted to Final Cut Express. I added support for mpeg

in quicktime but I get no sound from the 5.1 files. If I record in

stereo it works. Pixela makes the software that comes with

the camera and is good for making a DVD if you do not

want to edit it much. They also have a MAC program

capty mpeg that will edit the stereo file but not the 5.1

encoded one. If you come up with a work around,

I would dearly like to know. Also tried MPEG2 Works.

It will decode the DVD I burn on the PC back onto the

MAC and make m2v video and ac3 files but nothing

seems to be able to put them back together.

ALso tried the ULEAD product on PC - it worked.


Another person indicated that he had some success using

MPEG Streamclip available at


Pixela, the company that supports the Sony camcorder

 has now released the software for the MAC. It has the

same elementary editing as the windows version. Suggest

getting the bundled version with DVD support.

The MPEG Streamclip while free only supports a stereo

production. It will import the Dolby 3/2 channels (three front

and two surround) but will only create a stereo dolby pro logic output.

So at least its a start... Now if only Apple would get support

in Final Cut.... I cannot understand how they are handling

HD video as it also is 5.1 Dolby


Come to find out, I need the QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback

Component. Available at Apple for $20.

So I get the 'component'.

Oh...dear...THAT doesn't work. I need to get updated version.

So...back to the Apple Store.

Come to find out that in order to get the updated 'component'....

I have to own their high-end software, e.g.,

DVD Studio Pro or Final Cut Pro.

I call tech support and ask them about this 'business' practice.

They can't help me. I must deal with the Apple Store.

I've sent them an e-mail using their on-line form.

We'll see what develops....



I feel your pain with Sony's propriety hardware and software.  You

mentioned that Sony uses a non-standard MPEG2 codec
and that the sound doesn't work.  I had a similar experience
when I was working at Melbourne Uni with some proprietry
MPEG1 hardware.  I found that a free utility called MPEG
Mediator (Windows only) works well for sorting out

issues of this nature.  You can download it here
You can use this app to transcode the audio stream using a
codec that is compatible with

Quicktime (Xvid, 3ivx etc.).


I know you use a Mac so you might have to use something
like Virtual PC or Parallels to get this to work.  You could also
try the free Mac version of ffmpeg

although it is much more difficult to get working and use than
MPEG Mediator.   This program converts one video and audio
format to another in a similar way MPEG Mediator does.


Handbrake is a great utility for converting MPEG2 to MPEG4

(  While this is not

ideal, you might find that iMovie can handle the mp4 files better than

Sony's crappy format.  There can be quite a large amount of loss in the

quality of the video and audio in this process.


Give me a buzz if you need a hand - this is a bit of an area of

expertise for me.  If you like, you can email me a small sample video

file and I can see what works from my arsenal of free video converters

Have a good one and keep up the good work!

Wayne Gibcus

Technical Solutions Specialist

Thomson Learning Australia



Thanks Wayne and everyone who wrote in about solutions.
It is certainly true that there are work arounds for this problem.
However these are too complex for teachers to use.  In the
end you can either import great video footage without sound
or use the proprietary Sony software on PC – which is a very
poor program.  Responses from the Sony minions have been
basically unhelpful, no-one is actually offering a solution, and
I can only reach none executive technical support. THEY SHOULD
DON’T DO THE JOB THEY SHOULD.  Which is make it easy to
and edit video.  It’s a DUD and Sony should have the guts to
admit it. 


6. WEBSITE FOCUS – Christmas

These links are great for Christmas



Ask John Dobson how he became interested in astronomy,
and he‘ll answer, “I was born!” People have a natural
fascination with the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. I recently saw a
TV program about Side Walk Astronomers, and it was amazing.

On these sites there is information on how to build your own
telescope from odds and ends.


If you’re lucky you will be able to get onto this site
bandwidth restrictions often seem to prevent loading.

Plans for Building a Dobsonian Telescope
Check  out the MPEG Movies and Quicktime movies on the

Transit of Venus
The study of the Transit of Venus is what enticed Cook
to the south seas and the discovery of Australia.

7b. Responses from Last Forum CHANGE IT FOR THE BETTER

Through discussion and identification of the problems, things

can be improved.  What are your suggestions for DET, how can

we get a better deal with our computers, internet and email,

List the 5 things in order of preference you would like to see happen.


There were no responses to this FORUM.  This is where
we really need to be pro-active if things are to change.



Human Anatomy Online
Best of History Websites


Hi resolution images of endangered tiger and the works
of Leonardo Da Vinci



Hi Cathy

This is a presentation by John Pearce for the k12online.conference.

He tells the story of his journey through developing blogs, wikis  

and podcasts with his grade 3/4 students.

Well worth a look/listen - and a cool way of turning a PowerPoint  

presentation into a flash file - using a product called Articulate.


Muriel Wells

Faculty Of Education

Deakin University

Geelong Victoria


Hi Cathy

Re Adrian Bruce's assertion. I use 'title pages' as an assessment task
on completion of a topic.

We leave a page and come back to it as the topic concludes.

Each student needs to orally explain their choices re pictures, diagrams,
colours, even lettering style & borders which are all meant to reflect
the topic - especially new learnings.

Students can present their work as part of a 'speaking' task,
or individually as a reflection. It's amazing what you can learn
about your students' understanding of the topic!

 Sandy Ellem



10.  NEXT ISSUE – More about Christmas – send in your best ideas
and sites, also anything else you find inspirational, it’s the right
season for it. ciao Cathy


11. Code of the 'Netizens'

This Newsletter is not free, despite the misleading advertising

above. The Fee is now due. Each week you must help one

colleague on the Internet who has less knowledge than you.

Help that person even if you have to visit their classroom or

do a little research and get back to them. Trust me, this will

help a lot of people get their computer classrooms running better.

OK I'm trusting you!!!


12. TIPS

1. Double click on highlighted URLS to open in browser.

2. Send in your Questions, Questions will be published with

Answers, send in your Answers, if you have expertise to share.

3. Nominate a brilliant site for review and inclusion in this


4. Nominate a fantastic school site for review and inclusion in

this newsletter.

5. Make contact with other schools using fantastic programs.

6. Prepare and innovative article for this newsletter.

7. Tell 2 colleagues about this newsletter.


The opinions expressed here are purely those of the editor,

Cathy Brown. All other small print clauses apply. Such as:

Use at your  own risk. Nothing in life is guaranteed. If it doesn't

work for you send me an email.

Editor: cathy brown


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