Cool Cat Teacher’s Top 100 Tools, Tech, Books, and Apps of 2010

Thought I'd give you a round up of some things that are fun, fascinating, free, and thought inducing. I'm separating these by categories and will let you know if they cost money or are free. These are things I've used and enjoy

Cool Cat Teacher's Top 100 Tech Gifts of Christmas 2010

Hardware
Just because they are not on this list doesn't mean they don't rock – it just might mean I haven't tested it to give it my recommendation.


10- m90z Touch Screen Computer
I put this in the kitchen and here is what I like about it. The monitor is HUGE. At breakfast, I fire it up and play pandora. Then, I've centralized all of our pictures on that computer. During breakfast, I have it play slideshows of memories during the year and we laugh and talk about this and that. Memories give meaning.

After school it is a study center where the kids write papers or study. It is really convenient because if they are using flashcards at proprofs or playing math baseball at funbrain, they can just use the touch interface to study. I have wireless headphones so they can work from just about anywhere. Also, the monitor being large is great because they don't take it and hide it like they used to when they were using my laptop.

It isn't really a “computer” per se but more like a hybrid television, entertainment, multitouch center that kind of is the driver for our home. We all sync itunes to it and my family no longer has to wait for me to be home with my laptop. I think this sort of “command central” makes a lot of sense and I plan to use it to run the x.10 sensors that I'm planning to get for Christmas to control the lighting, etc. Additionally, because it is in the kitchen it is well monitored and I feel comfortable having them OFF my laptop. I highly recommend this device as a “family center” type device. (Full disclosure, I do have one of these on long term loan from Lenovo.)

9- Garmin 
I have an older version but this means that I can go to football and basketball games without my husband and still feel safe. The drawback is that I have an older one and some of the maps are outdated – additionally, the update process is cumbersome on this older model, however, my husband has a newer one and doesn't have these problems. A GPS of some kind is so important. I love that after ballgames that we can find places to eat without getting lost. With my 6'5″ fifteen year old boy and 6′ fourteen year old daughter keeping them fed is challenging and the drive home is much quieter with food in their tummies. (Don't tell them I said the word tummy, OK?)

8-Nike+ Sensor
This shoe monitor tracks how far I run or walk and keeps me honest with myself as I progress and work to stay fit. It is only around $24.95 but is such a handy tool. On the negative side, it would not be a good pedometer to use all day as it can drain the battery life of your itouch if you used it all day. Great tool for anyone who wants to stay fit and it interfaces with sites like Nike, Daily Mile, and others.

7-The Second Monitor
 If you have a laptop for work, then you're missing out if you don't have a second monitor and perhaps a docking station. I am much more productive with that second monitor. Although it freaks out almost anyone who comes by my desk (they really don't get that the two monitors are ONE computer) it is still incredibly useful and I have the same set up at home as at school. Even a desktop benefits from more than one monitor. If you have the cool, Windows 7, snapping the windows is a very useful skill to know with the second monitor in place.

6- The PowerMonkey
 This handy multi-purpose charger is great and lasts an incredibly long time. The biggest drawback is that sometimes the switch can get flipped in my pocketbook and discharge. The green blinking light is a bit annoying as well, but overall, the adapter kit means that I can charge anything anywhere I am. (mifi, Kindle, iTouch) If it doesn't have a charge, then it doesn't work. For those without a lot of access to power, I recommend the Solio I bought to charge my husband's cell phone in case of a power outage – now that is a handy device.

5-MiFi Card 
This card is with me everywhere and lets five devices hook up over the Internet. I'm using it right now to write this blog post as we drive back from Atlanta. For those of us who cannot afford to make all of our telephones a smartphone, this is an affordable solution to let those who are with you use the wireless. It is also indispensible for road warriors or conference presenters. It has saved me many times on trips.

4- iTouch 
We are a 1:1 itouch family. Now that the microphone and camera are there, it is really a cell phone killer if you carry a mifi card like I do. The only drawback is that the last OS update really devoured the battery life, but a quick trip into my many apps to turn off push notifications helped that. When I go on trips, I rent movies to watch and sync important books from my kindle so I can have the notes if I need them. Just make sure that everyone uses a screen cover and good, rugged, case, as all three of my children have cracked the screen. There is a place out of california that will replace the screens for around $75, however, it means they will be without them. We all have google calendars and can see and add to one another's calendars. The calendaring feature alone makes it worth going this route.

3-Roku Box 
This $99 box is a must-have for anyone with high speed internet. Especially if you have Netflix and/or Huluplus – preferably both. For the $24.99 of netflix and $7.99 of hulu plus you can basically build your own cable tv network. I watch Twit TV (This Week in Tech with Leo LaPorte) on Saturday mornings, the Today show when I come home from school, have attended classes at Yale and Dallas Theological Seminary and enjoy the Tonight Show every morning. Pandora streams as I clean the den and my son picks movies off Netflix. I think Google TV died because it just couldn't compete with Roku. Oh, by the way, those who are on vimeo already can syndicate to Roku – I'm waiting for the k12 online channel to come out.

2- Kindle 
This could mean the free app for your phone, the free software program, or the actual kindle ereader. Just the volume of free e-books on this platform means you need to have it on something you own. Last time I checked it was the #8 free app on the iPad. I love how it sync's between platforms and it has become indispensible in writing books. The books are less expensive and if you watch a website like Kindle Nation Daily, you can get books for free when they are first released.

The biggest drawback is that location numbers aren't really accepted for citations so I end up in Google booksearch to find the actual page numbers.  Additionally, I think it is worth it to pay the extra and have universal coverage. Although AT&T is not so great in my area – it doesn't seem to impact my book and blog downloading.

1- iPad 
This game changer has men talking about wearing murses just to keep it on them at all times. From flippad to the new Twitter app if you are a tad geeky and don't want this, you might be a bit disconnected or just in denial. My Dad has one and I've been asking for one forever. The remote control app that let's one log into the server remotely makes this tool worth the price for me. This means I could just log into the server to fix an issue or reset a password without having to boot up a computer and do remote log in. So many reasons to use the iPad, but I am already in love with the iPads midget sized big brother – the iTouch so this will be a good fit for me.

Apps for the iTouch/ iPhone

10-Grocery IQ

9-Amazon

8- Facebook

7-Hootsuite – Echofon, Twitterific, Tweetie

6-What's On

5-Evernote – egretlist

4- TripIt

3-Weight Watchers
For those who want a free weight app -LoseIt is a great alternative although it just counts calories and doesn't factor in nutrition like Weight Watchers. I used Loseit for a year and lost 8 pounds. I used the WEight watchers app religiously for six months and lost 30 pounds.There is a subscription fee monthly to access and use this app – $24.99 a month and includes online etools and a month of weight watchers membership.

2-Mail

1- Calendar

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