April 11th, 2012

Firefly: Josh Whedon

I need to step away from the computer....

because I am spending WAY too much time (and money!) on eBay. It's not my fault - honestly! It's just...

It started a few weeks ago when I decided to replace all our Shakespeare VHSes with DVDs. I got FANTASTIC deals on them.....and then I got a catalog from The Teaching Company (aka The Great Courses). Wow....LOTS of educational DVDs there - but the prices! Even on sale - I can't spend $69+ on DVDs, no matter how educational they are. (And most of them go on "sale" at $119+. Yes, they're college-level courses. No, I can't afford that.) So....I idly put "Teaching Company DVD" in eBay's search box.....and hit the jackpot.

Meteorology. My Favorite Universe (taught by Neil DeGrasse Tyson!). History of the English Language.....and a handful of others in the $10 range that I am watching. It's......I gotta stop. (Amazon also has some...but nowhere NEAR as cheap. I've looked.....if I wanted VHSes, I'd be set - but we don't have a VCR any more, so I'm kinda stuck with DVD. :sigh:)

After I score "How to Understand Great Art". So far, the cheapest I've found is $80 - and I'm not paying that. I can wait. :shifty eyes: Oh, and "Basic Math" for Herself - she's very very bad at basic addition and subtraction, and multiplication is hit-or-miss. I can't get her to watch Khan Academy - it's on the 'net, and it's basically 1-on-1. She doesn't think she has a problem with Math.....so we have to do something we ALL can watch, or she won't. It's not worth the battle......so I am looking for cheap. If I can figure out how to watch it on the TV, we'll be set - but AppleTV doesn't web surf, and - so far - I can't get the iPad to "share" video with the TV (and we have the cable-thingy. I just....don't understand how to get it to work. It's on the list....)

Of course, I really need to schedule time to *watch* the courses we already have. We had started "Mental Math"...but dropped it because we got a bit busy. I need to make sure we do it.....

I need to quit looking at the catalogue, too - I get in trouble that way. :lol: Physics, anyone? How about History of the US, as taught by *3* professors? Or World History? Statistics? Understanding Great Music? OOOOOH - how about the Operas of Mozart? Art of the Louvre? I....never mind - I don't NEED them. :lol: (I think it's because I didn't go to college, so...I am trying to cram all the education I'd like into my head. And I'm dragging my kids along with me. :snicker:)

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me: portrait

Praise for a Developer

I HAVE to give a shout-out to the developer of PlanBook. It's a Lesson Planning software (for both Windoze and Mac - with apps for iPad as well!) that does a good job. ALL it does is lesson planning, but it does it very, very well.

Yesterday, I sat down to plan out our next 2 months (or so). I ran into a problem - it wouldn't let me plan after May 11. I shot off an email, not really expecting more than a "dummy, do this" sort of reply. Instead, Mr. Hellman explained that it is automatically set up to run 1 year (52 weeks) from the "start date" that the user sets up. I could easily go into Schedule and extend my school year by 1 week at a time, until I reached a "good" end date.

I shot off another email - saying "Thanks, and....can this go on indefinitely, or is it better to start a new file for each year?" (Answer - it probably *could* go on indefinitely, but it would start to bog down after a while. :shrug: New year = new data file. I can deal with that. :grin:)

While waiting for his reply, I went in and extended my year.....and decided that June 1 was a good "end" date to the current school year. No biggie - I extended it by the 3 (or 4 - whatever) weeks I needed, then went in to add the plans.

Problem: It decided to insert 4 "No Lessons Entered" days. :scratches head: I have NO CLUE. So, I fiddled with it; I tried changing those days to "custom" days, I tried changing them to whatever week day they were - nothing changed. So, I shot off another email, and closed the file without saving.

I re-opened it (because I am an optimist!)...this time, I only got 2 "No Lessons Entered" days. I saved it - 2 is better than 4, after all! - and noticed a new email from Jeff.

He requested my data file, so he can look at it and see what it's doing. This man is busy, I have no doubt, and he's taking the time to look at my piddly data file to see if he can help me fix it.

I gotta tell you, this makes me happy. I was beta-testing another planner program (this one aimed specifically at homeschoolers)...but this? Has pretty much ensured that I won't switch. (I wish PlanBook tracked grades, as well...but I can live with using a separate program. In TX, I don't NEED to track grades - I do it so I know that the kids ARE learning. SG likes the solidity of *grades*. And...laws change. I'd rather be in the habit of grade-keeping instead of it being dropped on me unexpectedly.)

So. If you're looking for a program to help you plan out your school day/year, I HIGHLY recommend PlanBook. It wasn't that expensive, and the developer is VERY helpful. There's a yahoo group for it, as well - and he's on there all the time trying to help people with problems. I haven't had any until now, which is fabulous. It's VERY intuitive, and it's easy to bump lessons if life intervenes and you have to drop school for something else (it happens.) You can also save lessons from 1 year to the next (like...our Torah-reading schedule. That repeats every year, in the same order.), and you import plans if someone else has set up something you use. (I haven't done that yet - since we do a 3-day/2-day schedule, I figured it was just easier to set them up myself.)

I was going to finish out May, but I think I'll wait until I hear from Jeff again. That way, I'll only have to type stuff in 1x. :lol:

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