Have you ever felt like your students know all of the “techy” tricks and you don’t? Have you ever wanted to have a few techy tricks of your own to show them? If so, this blog post is for you!
Today, I have some fun and practical “techy tricks” to impress your students, your colleagues, and anyone else who comes to you for tech help.
On a Windows or Mac computer the command terminal (find it by typing “cmd” in the Windows start menu or by typing “term” in the Mac search spotlight) provides a place to enter some simple commands that are quite useful in determining if a website is down or if it’s just you who can’t reach it.
The ping command will show you if a website is responding to your computer’s request to reach it. On both a Windows computer and a Mac computer simply type ping then the domain of the website you’re trying to reach. If you get a “request timed out” message you’ll know that the problem is with the website you’re trying to reach. A demo of running a ping on a Windows computer is available here. A demo video of running a ping on a Mac can be seen here.
The traceroute command provides a little more information than a simple ping. Running a traceroute will show you all of the connections between your computer and the website that you’re trying to reach. It’s a command that is helpful in determining if the breakdown in reaching a website is on your wireless or wired network or is outside of your network. Additionally, this is an interesting way for students to see where in the world web traffic is going to and coming from. Here’s a demo of how to run a traceroute on a Windows computer and here’s a demo for Mac users.
For a more in-depth explanation of ping and traceroute commands, watch this explanation from PowerCert Videos.
There are two little “tricks” in Google Chrome that I frequently show and use. The first is to simply make Chrome run faster. The second is to manipulate what’s displayed on a web page.
If you feel like Chrome is bogging down the performance of your computer, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a common complaint about Chrome. You can make Chrome run faster by going into the advanced settings and disabling the options for “use hardware acceleration when available” and “continue running background apps when Chrome is closed.” How to make those setting changes are demonstrated in this short video.
Chrome’s Inspect tool lets you see the code that is behind any web page that you visit. That’s great for seeing how a web page was constructed. But it is also useful for manipulating how a page is displayed on your computer. I use the inspect tool to make changes to the headlines of news articles then ask my students whether they think the headline is real or fake. For example, in this video I changed the headline of an ESPN article about the Dallas Cowboys to make it read, “Jerry Jones to Sell and Become Llama Farmer.” Watch the video to see how the inspect tool works.
All digital images have a lot of “hidden” information behind them. That information includes things like when and where the picture was taken and the original file name. It’s rather easy to find that data by using online tools like Jeffrey’s Image Metadata Viewer which I demonstrate in this video. Most social media sites remove sensitive image metadata, but not all of them do. Showing students how easy it is to find the “hidden” information behind their digital pictures can be useful in teaching or reiterating lessons about managing their digital footprints.
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