Well, so it has been quite some time since I was very vocal in Twitter. I didn't have any motivation to tweet, since I couldn't promote myself there and mainly because people were migrating to other social media sites (such as Pinterest). As you can see above, my last  post was on November 13th, and it was a retweet. Lame, I know, but starting tomorrow I will be posting more and more. No, I don't want to become some sort of Twitter Star, I want information about things I care about, such as implementations of FOSS in government agencies or ways to improve the educational system.  Twitter had some financial problems two years ago. It couldn't turn a profit yet and advertising was not fully implemented yet. Worst, Twitter stars were getting paid for promoting brands for a lot of money, but unfortunately Twitter wasn't seeing a dime of it. So, I left because I didn't want to spend time on a social media site that wasn't to stay around for long. However due to its changes, I'm making a Twitter comeback. I lost some social media exposure but that doesn't keep me up at night. Nevertheless, Twitter will become a more useful tool for my job. 


Al trabajar con Frameworks, es necesario aprender como manejar correctamente los paquetes que vas a utilizar en tu proyecto. Incluso, para descargar un Framework (Como Symfony o Laravel), es necesario tener instalado Composer, además de saber como utilizarlo. En este blog les mostraré como instalar Composer en Windows 7



Si desea desarrollar un sitio en PHP, se debe tener todas las herramientas instaladas en su computadora. En esta entrada les mostraré como instalar PHP 7 y MySQL en Windows con XAMPP


Would you like to have a way to communicate with students, provide an effective document sharing and robust assignment tools? PiGo LMS does exactly that and even more! This is our more ambitious project aimed to enhance online education by making classrooms anywhere not only paperless, but also easier to use. PiGo LMS is available as Managed Service. PiGo can be deployed in academic institutions as well as for corporate training. In this article, I'll share 10 advantages of using PiGo LMS

10 PiGo LMS Advantages

Better Privacy Policies
Wouldn’t be awesome that the information stored on a virtual learning environment was yours? With PiGo the information uploaded, shared and implemented is yours. Not ours, yours. If ever decide to stop using our services, we provide a “Nuke ‘em” button that will let you remove anything, no leaving trace of the information stored on the platform.

PiGo LMS is easy to use and accessible from any device.
PiGo LMS layout is based on common components found on social networking sites. If you ever use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+, you will find extremely easy to use PiGo. Besides that, it is accessible from all computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Sending messages, documents, assignments and reports is extremely easy to use. 

Messaging and Document Sharing
One of the greatest advantages of PiGo LMS is its compatibility with common Microsoft Office documents as well as OpenDocument files. Any document can be saved online and shared with virtually anyone. Each student and teacher has a virtual locker where files and documents can be stored. If you need to send a message to students of one of your classes, you can do it right from the classroom Dashboard and your students will receive an instant notification on site. All of this will make your class go paperless, besides providing a great tool to keep everything organized.


Speeds up the assignment process.
Teachers can create assignments in seconds. The assignments module lets you customize any homework in any way you want. You can even display documents right on the assignment page, if that’s what you want.




Go Paperless

Grading tests? Don’t waste time on that, just create an online test and students will be graded automatically. How about turning in papers? Just create an assignment, let students upload their work and read them! By the way you don’t need to download anything, you can read it right on the platform from any device! How about documents or PowerPoint presentations that students are required to read? Students can view documents and PowerPoint presentations on the site. No need to print it, carry it wherever you go!


Clean and user-friendly interface.
PiGo LMS uses a simple, intuitive, and user-friendly user interface. Thanks to the elgg engine, PiGo is able to provide a layout that will be familiar to students and teachers. We built it keeping key social components that make it easy to use.

Outstanding commenting system.
Again, thanks to the fact that PiGo LMS is powered by the elgg engince, we are able to provide a great way to comment on anything you want. We enhance discussions to provide a more interactive way to communicate with students. Enrich learning by creating online debates with your students. Share ideas on the go. Make your students feel like you are in a real classroom.

Low Cost
PiGo LMS lets you host up to 4,000 students at an unbelievable affordable price: Free. Oh, if you pass the “Up to 4,000” number, don’t need to worry about, the price WILL NOT MOVE. That’s something that we guarantee. No hidden fees and no sketchy contracts. Our goal is to provide the best LMS at an affordable price so that we can benefit as many students as possible.

Lightweight and Modern
There are some platform that I shall not name, that require to “Upgrade Your Browser or ELSE!” At PiGo LMS we don’t do that, simply because we understand the struggles that a student faces while going to school or college. We use the most modern technology to deliver the best tools for e-learning without bloatware. PiGo LMS is compatible even with Internet Explorer 7!!

PiGo is for everyone.
College? High School? Junior High? Private Corporation? Mom and Pop shops? PiGo LMS is for anyone. You can deploy it on any place you want. Take advantage of the latest technologies and improve your teaching or training environment!
Y así empieza la travesía....


Hace apenas una semana regresé al gimnasio.  Como usualmente hago, me subí a la báscula para calcular mi peso actual. Fue algo impactante, debido a que descubrí que peso 235 libras. Eso es demasiado para alguien de mi edad. Hay personas mayores que yo que lucen mucho más joven porque se mantienen delgados, además que se mantienen realizando actividades físicas constantemente. Mi trabajo no demanda mucha actividad física, y había agarrado una maña de dormir al regresar del trabajo. Prácticamente una vida sedentaria. Desde que regresé al gimnasio, decidí ser más activo, salir más e incluso evitar el consumo de cualquier bebida que afectara el rendimiento de mi organismo. Pero eso no era suficiente para ponerme en forma, y fue por eso que decidí hacer las cosas diferentes.

Como han visto en mis otros blogs (Duolingo por ejemplo), me gusta cambiar la manera que hago las cosas en mi trabajo. Siempre reviso las cosas que hago y si por alguna razón no funciona o no veo resultados de lo que he hecho, pues analizo los datos y cambia la manera de que hago las cosas. Con el proyecto de Duolingo Challenge, cambié totalmente la forma en que las clases de inglés se impartían, además de hacer que los estudiantes usarán diariamente las tecnologías en sus clases, cosa que no pasaba con anterioridad. Lo que había hecho en años anteriores y no funcionaba lo cambié y logre todo eso. Pero no solo cambio las cosas en el trabajo, también en mi vida. Estos últimos meses cambié el estilo de vida que llevaba, ahorro mucho más, y pues como lo dije anteriormente, volví al gimnasio. Pero algo faltaba, algo que nunca había hecho: Cambiar mi dieta alimenticia.

A pesar de que en años anteriores salía a correr o a jugar soccer, no veía resultados en mi físico. Obviamente no los iba a ver si siempre me comía seis pupusas revueltas, comida chatarra como hamburguesas o hasta cinco piezas de pan dulce. Por lo tanto, la semana pasada puse los pies en la tierra y me dije a mi mismo que si no cambiaba mis hábitos alimenticios, nunca iba a ver cambios. Eso era obvio a simple vista, pero no tenía ánimos de hacer ese esfuerzo. Fue entonces que decidí de una vez por todas hacer un esfuerzo constante para cambiar mi dieta.

El cambio de dieta vino de forma inesperada. Gracias a mi otro empleo fue que descubrí la dieta que estoy iniciando hoy: Ketogenic Diet. Como hago todos los días en cada momento, estaba ayudando a usuarios de Reddit de la comunidad de /r/WordPress/. Siempre salen anuncios a un lado, pero nunca me había fijado hasta ese día de análisis. Me salió un anuncio de la comunidad /r/Keto/ y el nombre me pareció interesante. Entré, leí un poco y me dí cuenta que era una comunidad relacionada a una dieta conocida como Keto. Encontré el One-Week plan en la menú lateral de esa comunidad, decidí leerlo y me gustó mucho esa dieta. Me gustó tanto que al día siguiente compré los ingredientes para hacer esa dieta, que se trata de hacer desayunos-almuerzos-cenas para seis días, baja en carbohidratos y alta en grasa/calorías. Todos los ingredientes los encontré en la despensa de Don Juan, a un precio al alcance del bolsillo y ayer me dediqué a realizar esa receta.

El día de hoy, inicié la dieta Keto.  Comí mi primer desayuno y pues se siente el impacto. No, no hablo de que me veo más flaco, habló de que siento demasiada hambre y un poco raro. Eso es normal, ya que usualmente comía tres piezas de pan dulce en el desayuno y tres pupusas revueltas de arroz (Sí, ya iba a bajar de peso). Pero es parte de los cambios que me gusta hacer. Siempre estoy reinventado las cosas que veo que no funcionan. Eso es lo que todos debemos hacer cuando vemos que las cosas van mal o no avanzan. Es necesario sentarnos un momento, mirar atrás y ver si es necesario realizar un cambio en la forma que llevamos nuestra vida para alcanzar las metas que nos hemos propuesto. Es mi primer día. Mi meta no es solo seguir la dieta y bajar de peso. También es llevar un registro del avance de la dieta. Me he fijado que nosotros los salvadoreños no escribimos nada de lo que hacemos  o lo que nos pasa. Peor aún, ni siquiera tomamos fotografías de acontecimientos importantes en nuestra vida. Por tanto, decidí llevar un registro diario de esta dieta, para acostumbrarme a llevar un registro de todo lo que hago. Es poco pero ahí vamos.

I work in a public school, which is located in a rural town of El Salvador. One of my goals was to implement projects that would benefit students. Ever since I was assigned to work there, my priority was to teach everything I know. You see, right after high school I was awarded a full scholarship to attend a college in the United States of America. It was the most amazing experience in my life. When I finally returned to my home country, one of my goals was to help my country become a better place. That's the main reason why I started the most ambitious project of this past year: Duolingo Challenge

What is the "Duolingo Challenge"? It was a project which involved 160 students from seventh grade to ninth grade. The aim was to improve their English level, by integrating Duolingo to the learning process. I didn't intend to replace regular classes with Duolingo. The purpose of the project was to use Duolingo alongside regular English classes. So, in essence, students were going to attend the Duolingo classes for an hour a week. I've read several threads on Reddit about replace regular English classes completely and just use Duolingo. We need to understand that people don't learn at the same pace we do, and need extra help to understand things. If we were to teach only with this platform, we will see a performance decrease because of the complexity of some of the Duolingo classes.

The project started in May. The first three weeks were extremely hard, because the majority of the students did not know how to use a computer, let alone open a website or how to use a username and a password. So, before getting into Duolingo, 160 students had to participate in basic IT training that was done by me. It was an exhausting job, but after two weeks they were able to do basic computer tasks.

Three weeks after the project started, we were right on board using Duolingo. There were some minor issues, such as one time Duolingo was down, or when we didn't have an stable Internet connection thanks to the storms. Just regular problems that you encounter when you start any project, nothing that would stop me from continuing teaching using Duolingo.



Two months later, I decided students were ready to test everything they learned using Duolingo. I co-developed a learning platform called "PiGo LMS", which I used to create an online courses for each grade where they were going to be tested. I created a multiple choice online test with 50 questions to evaluate the first three lessons. I was extremely surprised by the results of the first test, because 90% of the students evaluated got an A, 5% got a B+, 4% got a B- and just 1% got a C+ 

After making students take three more online evaluations, I sat down with the regular English professor to discuss the progress and compare grades from this year and last year. After graphing grades, we came up with the conclusion that Duolingo made a positive impact in the learning process. Not only that, we were able to bring innovation  and technology to the classroom, something that was never done before.



Do I recommend Duolingo for your school?

Yes and No.

Even though we had a very positive experience, you cannot just force Duolingo into the classroom. You need to be aware of the computer skills of your students. Besides that, one of the things that Duolingo lacks is a "Super Extra Beginner" lesson. The first three lessons students are bombarded with new words that are hard to understand. Not only that, numbers and locations are not listed as an independent lesson, so the student must have some sort of English knowledge.

If you have students from Jr. High or High School, go ahead and use Duolingo right now! It will be the perfect addition to your regular classes and you can actually see the progress of the students. Duolingo will help your students to become more knowledgeable of the English language (or any other language).  It will not make them fluent, but it will help them built an excellent foundation to become fluent in another language.

Got any questions? Ask!
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In his book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education.” Karl Kapp said: “The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments”. 
In El Salvador, the Education Board is trying to push Gamification as an empowering tool for the democratization of the access to information technology services. This is a very good initiative that I have been implementing for the last two and a half years in a school of a rural town called Quelepa. My Gamification strategy is simple: Let students play in the computer for thirty minutes every Friday.
Back in August 2013, things were a little bit challenging at the beginning of this experiment. One of the main challenges was the lack of modern hardware in the school. All of the computers were over eleven years old, running Windows XP, had an Intel Pentium 4 processor and only 512 MB of RAM. All those gaming sites were off the table, and I had to look for the right software to start this experiment. Thanks to Google and the good friends at www.miportal.edu.sv, I found two educational gaming platforms: ChildsPlay and GCompris.
Linux offers a wide variety of Educational Games for Free
 The next challenge that I had to face was finding time to implement this experiment. Take into account that in El Salvador, from First grade to Ninth grade, there are no IT classes. So, for good nine years, students are not being exposed to the correct use of information technology resources. So after some research, I realized that the best time to let students play was during each recess of every Friday, to avoid making students bored of the games.
Then the next challenge was to at least teach some students about the computer’s peripherals. As I stated before, none of the students of this school have been exposed to the latest technologies. Even worst, according to several testimonials made by students, the previous person that was in charge of the IT lab only taught them “how to draw with Paint”.  The younger students from second, third and fourth grade were not even able to tell where the “ON” button was. So, with the help of several teachers that gave me a portion of their class time, I took the task of teaching them the basic parts of a computer. A month later I was able to start the gamification experiment.
After barely a month and a half of playing, students could use the mouse and keyboard without problems. They knew the difference between “right click” and “left click”, and also learnt how to “drag and drop” elements. It was a huge accomplishment for me and for them.  The young students from third and fourth grade did not realize that by playing games, they were learning the basic skills to work in a computer.
In El Salvador the school year ends in mid-November. When it ended, I kept using ChildsPlay and GCompris during the Free IT Classes I gave during Christmas Break to any student in Quelepa.
The next year, 2014, more and more students came to play games each Friday. But now, instead of me teaching them how to turn the computer on, or how to open the program, I asked the students already involved in the experiment to teach them how to do all those things. All of the sudden, not only they learned, but they shared their IT knowledge to their classmates without realizing about it.
Two and a half years later, this experiment helped me to launch the most important project of 2016: Online English Classes with Duolingo
Later on, I will write a review for ChildsPlay and GCompris, that I hope it will help you to launch more “Gamification” projects/experiments
 
Elgg is not in a healthy position right now. Elgg usage has been declining since 2014, and there is no sign that it will rise up. What can be done? Do we need to worry about elgg? In this article I share with you some thoughts about what can be done to improve elgg and hopefully increase usage.

Roadmap For Elgg  

The people in charge of developing elgg should go back to the drawing board. Sometimes you need to take a break. What is the strategy for elgg? Which features you want to add? Which features need to be removed? What needs to be rewritten? Each one of you would have to sit together and draw a road map, for the sake of the script. Elgg is a robust engine, but it takes more than being robust to be popular.

There has to be a sort of "Elgg Core Council" that will review and decide changes for the engine and also discuss release dates. From the outside, it seems like only core developers call the shots. There has to be some sort of consensus on what it has to be done before a new release.

Roadmap for the Elgg Community 

Let's be real, there has to be a clear strategy for the elgg community. You can also take the Post-2013 Kubuntu approach. We can form a sort of "Elgg Community Council" that could be in charge of reviewing developers that want to sell plugins here.

Yes, I said sell. It is 2016, and we need a commercial plugins section. I know how some are strongly opposed for a commercial section, but there has been several voices wanting to have a place inside the elgg community where you can sell themes and plugins. This could increase interest in developers, which is in heavy decline as of now.

Besides that, an "Elgg Community Council" could decide and develop the design and layout of the elgg community site. I know it looks better now, but it doesn't look modern nor appealing. So yeah, someone has to work on that, but the "Core Developers" cannot do everything. They need help.

Roadmap for a Commercial Section

If (a big "If") a commercial section is created, someone has to decide how to implement it and what you want to accomplish in few months. There has to be a clear strategy built around this, so that we could all benefit from it. It is not just having a plain page for "paid plugins". This is something that both the Core Council and the Elgg Community Council can decide and develop.

These are just some thought. Could elgg improve with these recommendations? May be, but it will take a lot of work and effort to make this happen.
If you own an elgg powered social networking site, you know how hard is to find a responsive and attractive theme. In this blog, I'm going to share some themes that I consider the best themes of 2016...



Time Theme
This theme delivers a peaceful and smooth design. One of the main advantages of this them is the complete rework of the "Navigation" menu bar, which has been transformed into a responsive menu. It also optimizes the river by integrating an "Infinite Scroll" feature.

Download: Time Theme for elgg




Clean Elgg Theme
One of the main features of this theme is that it provides a clean user interface, as well as a nice navigation bar. What makes this theme really good is that you can change the colors of the site with few clicks, which is something that most themes don't offer.
Download: Clean Elgg Theme




Landr Theme
Landr is a modern, sleek, sexy, and responsive template for your landing page. Packed with tons of features and user customizations so you really don't have to code anything.

Download: Landr Theme for elgg



Hexagon Theme
Its design will impress users and visitors. 

Fully Responsive Design  
The design of Hexagon Responsive Theme will scale to fit on all browser widths/resolutions and on all mobile devices. Go ahead and scale your browser window and see the results. 

Unique & Modern Design
Hexagon sports a modern design. It has an unique and amazing design that will make you feel you are not using elgg. Go ahead, download Hexagon now!
Download: Hexagon Theme for elgg
 
 
 
 
Liberation Theme
Clean. Modern. Smooth Design. Impressive. It is a free theme, and you can modify it in any way you want. The design of Liberation Theme will scale to fit on all browser widths/resolutions and on all mobile devices.

Download: Liberation Theme for Elgg

Bonus Themes!!!!

 
Bonus: Academia Theme for elgg
Academia is a modern elgg theme, with a fresh and smooth design that will impress your users. The theme is responsive as standard, and comes bundled with plenty of options. Unlike regular elgg themes, Academia is designed with a modern layout and conservative colors.  Academia is suitable for any kind of social network.

Download: Academia Theme for elgg



 Bonus: Droid Super Responsive Theme

Droid is a clean, lightweight elgg theme, with a fresh and smooth design that will impress your users. It comes bundled with plenty of options. It is a commercial theme, however you can modify it in any way you want.

Download: Droid Super Responsive Theme
 
The iBook G4 is my most beloved computer. Since I bought it, I used it for my blogging job at a hosting company. It was the perfect tool, because of its portability and its robustness. Last year, the hard drive died on me, and I left it sitting in the corner.

After one year of being put away, last night I decided to test if the battery was good or not so that I could go out and get a new hard drive. While testing the battery, I decided to turn it on just for fun and to see what happened. Out of the blue, the iBook started working. OSX loaded with no glitches and I was introduced to the login screen. I was shocked. The iBook refused to die, and decided to give me an opportunity to fell in love with it again, as well as recover all the files and pictures that I didn't get the chance to save on Google Drive. So there I was, at 3:00 AM downloading the new version of TenFourFox, uploading documents and checking my email.

This upcoming weekend, I will get a brand new hard drive and install OSX again! or Debian, perhaps?

Anyways, feeling the iBook G4 keyboard is a nice experience. I still use my main x64 computer for some heavy tasks that my job requires (Visual Studio, PhoneGap) but it is nice to have my good old iBook back!

BitOfNews and AutoTLDR are automated bots that "summarize" articles in the comments section of Reddit. Those bots are useful when you don't want to leave Reddit to read an article. Lately I've been thinking that such bots are hurting online newspapers and magazines, because they are not summarizing or giving an opinion of any given article. Those bots are doing a "copy/paste" of parts of any article without written permissions from the authors. You might be thinking "No since those bots analyze and post the most important sentences", but guess what? Still copyright infringement, since the bot isn't creating new content, just copying and pasting sentences. Automated bots are hurting authors and publishers.

Some may argue that the bots are doing a "fair use" of the content posted on Reddit by them. However, to be classified as "Fair Use" the purpose and character of the use of the original copyrighted work has to be "criticism, comment, research, news reporting or teaching". The main purpose of those bots is to "avoid sites with so much advertising" or to allow users to read news behind a paywall. If that's not clear enough, the bots are not creating new content nor analyzing news, those bots are just copying and pasting the articles.

Even though the bots "analyze" the most important sentences, when summoned, the bots copy and paste the sentences exactly as they were posted on the original article. And to make things worst, the bots don't even link the original author, which to me is insulting. In conclusion, Article Summary Bots are doing copyright infringement and Reddit should be held liable for all the damages, unless of course they do a site wide ban on article summary bots. 
I've been talking a lot about how you should embrace the Open Document format and how awesome Kubuntu is. However, in the real world, there are several things that we have to take into account before making key decisions, such as changing the operating systems of your computers from Windows to Linux. In this article I will discuss if switching to open source applications is an smart decision.

 I live in El Salvador. About two and a half years ago, the Education Ministry released shocking news: Schools nationwide had to remove Microsoft Office and switch to LibreOffice. It was a huge deal. No one was trained in how to use LibreOffice, but then it got worst because it was also required to remove Windows and install Linux. This switch was done in less than two weeks, mainly because schools faced legal actions if they kept using Microsoft Windows and Office, since the licenses allowing public schools to use Microsoft products expired. The switch was successful because it was aimed at schools, not government institutions. Wait... What? It is a shame that the Open Document Foundation doesn't talk about how we use LibreOffice in every public school in El Salvador. But that's a topic for another article.

Anyways, this success was due to the fact that it was aimed to young students and IT teachers. El Salvador didn't make the same mistake that Munich did. The Munich government decided a couple of years ago to go full open source by replacing Windows for Linux and Microsoft Office for LibreOffice in every government office. Huge mistake, since they had to write all their custom applications from scratch, and also had to spent time and money training all personnel in how to use Linux. Don't get me wrong, I love when people switch to open source alternatives, but I know how to recognize bad decisions. El Salvador in the other hand didn't invest much money training, since kids and teenagers are more open to try and learn new things. Most IT teachers spent around one hour in teaching how to open each LibreOffice application. Students didn't feel the switch, not even when writing reports or creating Slideshow presentations.

 So what's the verdict? Should companies and public institutions switch to open source applications? In my humble opinion, I strongly recommend companies and government institutions to fully embrace the Open Document format by using LibreOffice (or any other similar application) without removing Windows. I know it sounds crazy but you have to make changes slowly. Keep in mind that people are used to the Windows user interface, and you will have to invest time and money in training how to use Linux. If you follow my recommendation, you won't need to spend time and money, people will adapt and you will save thousands of dollars in expensive licenses. Just don't make the same mistake that Munich did. Now, if you want to deploy Linux in schools, go for it. I've been using Linux with 8-12 years old students and they didn't even see any difference, which is surprising.


On a previos post, I talked about embracing the ODF file format. PiGo LMS is doing the same, and now users can upload ODF files and also view them right on the platform. How did we accomplish that? Which ODF files support? Keep reading to find out!

At the beginning of 2015, I was trying out a script called "WebODF", which allowed to preview ODF files in your website. PiGo had support for previewing several file formats thanks to the Google Docs integration, which was good but I didn't like the fact that I had to give access to documents hosted in the platform to Google. You see, privacy is a big concern for us. While developing PiGo, we made sure to keep all privacy options that the elgg engine provides, because we strongly believe that the only person that owns your data is you, not some company. That is also one of the main reasons that we restrict access to the web services API, but that's a discussion for another blog.

So, we went back to the whiteboard, and made a roadmap, in which we made a compromise: By 2016 PiGo LMS would support ODF documents across every module. In January we reached that goal  and now you can share, download and preview ODF files. 


Instead of using WebODF, we decided to integrate ViewerJS, a project based on WebODF and the PDF.js Mozilla Project. We were able not only to display ODF documents, but also able to display PDF files. In other words, we don't need to rely on external services anymore. With this, you can deploy PiGo LMS in private environments without losing key document sharing features. 

Don't waste time and use the best low-cost LMS platform now!

Over the last couple of years, we have been developing PiGo, a lightweight and low cost Learning Management System. Our goal is to deliver a product that is easy to use. The idea behind this project is pretty simple: Take social networking components, e-learning tools, mix them together and create a fully fledged social e-learning platform for schools, colleges and private institutions that need a virtual learning environment.

What is the current status of PiGo LMS?

Ready for production. That simple. Over the years, the platform has been deployed in a local public school that needed a better way to evaluate the progress of enrolled students. In the past, such evaluations were done in paper, but it had its limitations, such as each test had to be graded individually and the amount of paper and ink used to print the 20 pages of each test. Even though the school tried to implement Moodle, it didn't work as expected. Teachers and students found Moodle complicated to use, and it was dropped after three months.

Due to the integration of social networking components, PiGo provides an intuitive user interface that it is not bloated nor complicated. PiGo provides a better module management for teachers. The teachers of the school where we deployed PiGo LMS complained about the way Moodle nest each module of a class, and also how difficult it was to upload documents to a class. In PiGo, each classroom has a Dashboard that displays in a graphical way the components available for each class, so teachers and students can easily find a document, a homework, a quiz or a test without problems.

There are more things that I want to share about this neat project. Stay tuned for more updates! 




On a previous post, I talked about how LibreOffice was a great alternative to Microsoft Office. This time I want to encourage you to fully embrace the Open Document Format. Why? Well, read on…

What is the OpenDocument Format?

The OpenDocument file format (ODF) is a standardized file format used by many software applications. It is an open source file format for storing text documents, spreadsheets, graphics and slideshow presentations. 

The ODF format is cross-platform. You can open, edit and save any ODF document without losing its layout and without compatibility issues. For example, our school made the switch to LibreOffice. I’m a Mac user, and one of the things that had me worrying is compatibility issues within documents. When we were using the Microsoft Office file formats in our school (Before the PRIL expired), students wanted to print text documents, and of course I was using my good old iBook G4 with Mac OS Leopard. Man, that was a pain, mainly because that even though I was using the “same” version of Microsoft Office, the layout of every document was a mess or the margins were all wrong.

On the other hand, now that we all use the ODF file format, I have not seem those compatibility issues anymore. A file created with LibreOffice 5 with Windows XP, can be easily open in Mac OS Tiger or Leopard without layout problems. Even the images are aligned where they are supposed to be, which I think it is marvelous. I have to point out that I am using LibreOffice 4 with PowerPC Macs, and still no layout or compatibility problems when opening ODF files. In fact, even ODF documents created with LibreOffice 5 for Kubuntu open smoothly.

If you still have doubts, ODF is free to use. Using free formats is one of the easiest and most important things we can do to defend software freedom. Proprietary formats from Microsoft Office and Apple's iWork requires to buy commercial software to open and edit files in their format. By using ODF documents, you save money and don't have to worry about paying for productivity software anymore!



Popularity is hard to earn. If you like to shoot things, and I you want to show the world your skills, there are several things you need to do. Don't expect people to just find you and don't expect that only having a website will help you to get in the spotlight. Those days are over. In this article I will explore some ways that will help you improve your social exposure.



Carry a  cellphone with a great camera

You might be wondering would you need a cellphone if you have this awesome Pentax Camera or you are probably wondering if whether I'm crazy or not. Just get a cellphone with a great camera. I'm not gonna list which are the best, there are several reviews out there that will help you with this. I'm just gonna tell you to completely avoid the Alcatel cellphone line. Those things have a horrible white balance, so horrible that you might want to rip the creator’s heart out. 

Back on topic, you will have to do shots with your main camera and then with the cellphone. I strongly recommend you this so that you can easily upload your pictures to social networks, while you can upload your main camera pictures later.



Get Instagram

Instagram is a good place to let people see your work. You cannot upload pictures straight from the computer, you need to use you cellphone for that. Now you understand why I said carry a cellphone with a great camera? Even thought you can transfer your main camera pictures to your cellphone to share them in Instagram, the process is long and tedious. Instead, take pictures with both and upload the cellphone pictures to Instagram and your main camera pictures to Flickr, Getty Images or whichever service you use. What I'm trying to say is: Share normal pictures on Instagram and your best work elsewhere. The places where you share your best work moves more slowly, because you only want to show your best work. However  this makes you seem like you don't shoot very often. Instagram fills this void and helps you stay on the radar.


Define where you will show your best work

Don't upload your party pictures to the same place where you supposedly have your best work. Define the purpose of your sites. Don't pollute your best work site with unnecessary shoots, because it makes you look unprofessional and amateur. Avoid mixing family pictures with your shots.



It has been three months since I decided to go full Open Document. The purpose of this switch was to find out whether or not LibreOffice is a real Microsoft Office replacement or just another lame office suite. I have being doing presentations, letters, reports, and charts using only LibreOffice for the past three months. I was reluctant to made this switch, mainly because LibreOffice still requires Java for its database application instead of a more lightweight alternative such as SQLite. However, I took the bullet and I uninstalled every copy of Microsoft Office and made the total switch to LibreOffice. This is what I found...


Speed

LibreOffice is fast, not blazing fast but it is getting there. I remember the days when OpenOffice took almost a minute to load (and almost a minute to load the Spanish dictionary). Those days are over, and you can instantly open Writer, Impress and Calc at the same time. Daily tasks such as save a copy, export as PDF, insert images, insert tables, etc,  are performed at an amazing speed. Even when I was working in a document with 30 images (a tutorial guide), Writer performed flawlessly. 


User Interface

Excellent interface. Menus are where they are supposed to be. Buttons are placed where you can find them. Luckily, LibreOffice hasn't followed the “ribbon style” menu, which I find annoying and confusing  for beginners.  What I really like is that “Tables” has its own menu, and believe me, this is a must, specially for new LibreOffice users. 

Nevertheless, LibreOffice needs a graphic designer to improve the buttons and icons. I know “shiny things” don't help to make things faster, but it wouldn't hurt to have better graphics.

Stability

It was surprising to see the stability of LibreOffice, in both Windows and Linux. When I used LibreOffice for the first time, it kept crashing or it failed to save a document properly. Now, I've been working on several presentations for the LibreOffice training for teachers that I am implementing in my school, and I didn't face issues. Even when the teachers practice creating documents with LibreOffice Writer, it has been remarkably stable. No crashes, no unexpected errors. The experience has been delightful. 

I faced issues with LibreOffice Base. Sometimes it crashed or didn't save the data. Also the “recovery screen” can be a little bit annoying. Sometimes I opened LibreOffice Writer and it offered to recover some Calc or Impress documents. I mean, if I open Writer I should be offered to recover Writer documents only.

Also, what if Writer, Impress and Calc were independent applications? I know the way LibreOffice works doesn't hurt performance nor stability, but I think more features could be integrated into LibreOffice if it were treated that way. Why is soffice.exe and swriter.exe running at the same time? That doesn't make sense. Look at Calligra Office Suite, each application works independently and you can even choose to install just one application.

Format Support

This is a bit tricky. I can open Excel Spreadsheets without problems, however I had several formatting issues with .docx files. It wasn't  a deal breaker for me. In my humble opinion, I think the Open Document Foundation is doing a lot of progress in this particular area. As for me and my school, we adopted ODF format and we are happy with it.

Overall, using LibreOffice has been a wonderful experience. I must accept that at first I didn't want to use LibreOffice because I was a Microsoft office user for quite some time. After three months I'm glad I made the switch. Go ahead, give LibreOffice a try, you will like it!



Disclosure: I am NOT certified by the SEC to give financial advices. However, I do have a Bachelors in BA that I obtained in the United States. As of the moment, take this blog entry as an opinion based on personal experience.

It is 2016! What a wonderful year! Yay!!! Anyways, back to the real world. So, one of the things that the majority of people struggle in January is the lack of money. Probably due to excessive spending during the holidays, however the majority of time is due to a lack of control of where the money goes. Do you have to keep a track of your money? Or you just need to save money and stop worrying about expenses. In this blog I will explore this situation.

Long story short: You must track where your money goes, always. When you are young and you start earning money, it will seem easy to spend money on clothing and footwear because we all like nice things. Nevertheless, if you don't learn to save your money while you are young, you might struggle in the future. Starting this year, I made a chart in Excel using my iPad. Yes, I am aware that there are Financial Apps, however it feel so much better to have control of the chart. Besides that, since the file is on the cloud, I can update it even if I don't have the iPad with me.

Back on topic, the reason I made this chart is for see how much I save in a year, and to see in which areas I can reduce spending. If I start the year the same way I started last year, I will wind up complaining about lack of money or without backup money for emergencies. Same as me, you should start tracking your money, so that you can find the specific areas in which you can reduce spending. As you might see in the chart, there's a "Beverages" field, and I made that to keep track of how much I drink with my friends and if by doing that affects my economy and thus my future. I also added the phone bill, cable bill and also a small loan I made back in December. Below the "Earnings" and "Expenses" charts, I made a "Savings" chart, which will serve to keep track of how much money I put away every month.

Then again, what is the purpose of this? I live with my parents, I have an stable job and no kids. I made this because I am planning to live by myself by May in the house I purchased more than a year ago. Without financial statistics, I won't be able to predict whether I can live by myself or not. I am finally listening to my father (who is an accountant).

I know that tracking money is not very popular in my country. Most of the people live by some bad financial lifestyle called "Coyol quebrado, Coyol comido". It doesn't have to be like that, and you don't have to live like that. I know the majority of my friends come from a good family with good financial background. What I don't know is if they keep track of where the money goes, which is extremely important if you are thinking about your future.