BeSmartOnAir #38: Calling Finland

A good laugh, or two – with some friends – is what it takes to lead a long, healthy life!

Somehow, it was a typical (late) afternoon at work: I was feeling really tired when I noticed that it was time to set up StreamYard YouTube Live streaming and get Tiina from Finland on board – it had been way too long since we connected last time. Getting together in the physical world, previously? Heavens, it must be many years but I think I do remember where I met Tiina the very first time – and we were speaking English! Weird, huh, us two Finns?! Somehow, strangely, that has kinda stuck.

Anyway, now when we got the distance-tech-stuff all set and said ‘hi’ I was all of a sudden fully awake again :) Works like magic, meeting with fellow-educator-friends! Tiina was using her iPad, I believe, and the microphones in those devices are not tailor-made specifically for video conferencing so our audio levels didn’t quite match. However, afterwards I ran the extracted mp3 audio through the completely phenomenal Auphonic web service and the result was way better than the YouTube version. Hear for yourself in this corresponding podcast episode.

Tiina has a very special viewpoint into education and the way teaching and learning works in an international context so it’s always extremely interesting to hear what she is up to. Lots of teacher training going on, it seems, so I’ll do my best to give her a proper advance warning later on when we’re planning to go On Air! It sure would be fun to run a roundtable edu discussion forum – a very international one, of course – in (almost) regular fashion. BSoA could do the trick for sure. Want to be a part of this, have some ideas? Do get in touch!

We got into the ‘EdTech weeds’ a bit as well, especially at the very end when Kim jumped in from southern Sweden – super fun! – using his cell phone. Congrats to your Google innovator certification, Kim! That’s not a piece of cake, I believe.. Did I get it right, Kim, you were connecting straight from the (Android) phone browser?! I’m impressed for sure, the way it works. Looking forward to trying this out with some other colleagues – and students!

See you guys On Air soon again!

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BeSmartOnAir #37: Long Distance

On Monday, October 12, it was time for another of our BeSmartOnAir Live YouTube sessions: I was lucky to get Zack Gilbert and Bjorn Behrendt to join me in the StreamYard studio. Both of these guys are definitely quite aways from my own, very Nordic European location but actually not very far from each other in the US.

It was super interesting to hear about the work – and, in general, life – situation of both Zack and Bjorn. So very different from Sweden! Zack has been doing the remote-education-thing full blast at the Thomas Metcalf School in Illinois and Bjorn is helping the teachers cope with the tech side of the pandemic situation at the Fair Heaven High in Vermont. The overall challenges in education are, of course, huge and sometimes the social part might be way more important than the formal curriculum.

Quite a few tech related tips whizzed by during our meeting and here are some quick web links: – formative assessment made both effective and fun – one of the most talked-about video meeting platforms today; the local recording thingy supports separate audio tracks for each participant – communities for gamers – extremely easy podcast creation and publishing; you might not get the best support, stats or control (yup there is a bunch of negatives here) but you do get free service! Sometimes, of course, you get what you pay for.. A side note: Spotify paid USD 150 million for Anchor, if my memory serves me right. Congrats!

Towards the end of this episode we also got into discussing podcasting a bit; something that I find super interesting and rewarding. Both Zack and Bjorn are seasoned ‘indie podcasters’ so this part sure gave me additional food for thought. Podcasting – and especially the live stream & podcast combo – has definitely great potential in education.

You can find the audio-only podcast version (without my super cool and very visual green screen backdrop, unfortunately!) of our discussion here.

See you folks On Air!

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BeSmartOnAir #36: The (New) Normal

Hey Bjorn, hope you don’t mind me stealing your tagline :)

There has been lots of water under the bridges since the previous BSoA episode; however, the ongoing pandemic is still very much dictating the way we work, play and learn. Perhaps all these three now also overlap more than ever – a good thing for some and most probably completely the opposite for others.

It was super interesting to get the viewpoints from our friends both in the US, UK and Italy; the situation in Sweden is still obviously very much different from most other countries. At work, it’s basically been ‘business as usual’ all the way for me and my closest colleagues – with some modification in accordance with the social distancing guidelines.

As to the bright side of things: it was really great to hear the way virtual collaboration and sharing has almost become the norm – at long last! – in many areas within education. Somehow it seems that the whip can ge a great motivational force, especially for us old folks :)

One way of trying to wrap up our meeting would be something like this: there will perhaps never be anything called ‘back to normal’ – whatever lies ahead will be ‘the new normal’. Will that be better or worse? For the most part, I’d guess it’s up to us.

As usual, the whole shebang is also available as a audio-only podcast episode – now through the bought-by-Spotify-with-huge-money Anchor. Why did I change hosting from SoundCloud, is Anchor so much better? Well, I don’t think so – but, for better or worse (probably worse) – it’s free! You’ll find the podcast version here.

Tons of thanks to Marilina, Lisa (yay, at last, wonderful!) and especially Bjorn – time zones are notoriously very hard to beat – for joining in. Alastair has always valuable insights and the tech advice from Kim is what keeps my stream going. I must say that I had missed our ‘fireside chats’ a lot. Also very cool that my colleague on the home turf, Johan, jumped in with zero notice. Much appreciated!

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BeSmartOnAir #35: Strange Days

It’s been ages – more than a year, I believe, while I’ve been working in the chaos of a constantly changing building site with no chance to stream or podcast! – but now is definitely time to relaunch. We’re not in the best of times anywhere on the globe and that’s why it’s even more important to connect with other educators and friends.

This was also my first try using StreamYard to live stream through YouTube; the podcast episode below is the corresponding audio version of the live stream. StreamYard is very easy to get started with and it worked fine, even though I still lack a wired Internet connection. Super convenient to invite the guests into the ‘studio’ (discussion panel) just by sharing a link! The free alternative should also be generous enough for most (non-pro) streamers.

It was great to see Alastair smiling by the way, even though it might have been brief; not always easy to keep a positive tone these days. One thing is for sure though – meeting with friends does you plenty of good. Apart from the ‘old crew’ – special thanks to my old friend Michael from Scotland, UK, for his insights.  I’m looking forward to our next meeting and also seeing Marilina there!

Want to just listen? As usual, you can choose the audio only podcast version. I’m leaving SoundCloud and presently looking around for a new podcast home; Anchor (owner: Spotify) is not a great favorite of mine for several reasons but hey – right now it’s better than nothing! At least that’s what I hope.. You’ll find the podcast audio here.

Panel participants:

Niilo (host), Tiina, Alastair, Kim, Michael– see you next time!

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DViSonAir Intervju: Jack Werner

Blev detta den allra tråkigaste YouTubeLive-videon någonsin? Chansen finns, för det enda som syns i videon under hela intervjun är – jag! Det var faktiskt inte riktigt meningen men Jack Werner råkade befinna sig på ett tåg och det trådlösa nätet höll helt enkelt inte måttet för bra YouTube-streaming. Då blev det plan B: ett vanligt telefonsamtal som jag routade in i vår YouTube-streaming-HangoutOnAir (snacka om ordmonster). Otroligt men sant: det fungerade och (ljud)inspelningen var räddad! Stort tack som vanligt till Kim Nilsson som på nollvarsel återigen hjälpte till och testade ‘phone-in’ med mig.

Jack är inte precis lastgammal men har ändå redan hunnit med mycket – bland annat att kamma hem Stora Journalistpriset, anno 2014, och skriva (minst?) två böcker: Creepypasta: spökhistorier från internet (2014) och Jag skiter i att det är fejk det är förjävligt ändå: om myter på nätet, fejkade berättelser och vikten av källkritik (2018). Om jag idag skulle vilja höra några visdomsord kring källkritik, sociala medier – och kanske också spökhistorier! – så skulle jag nog allra först försöka få tag på Jack. Det superroliga är att jag nu faktiskt har lyckats med just det!

Trots att det visuella i min YouTube-video inte är mycket att ha – annat än för någon självplågare möjligtvis – så var det högintressant att höra Jack berätta om sin egen gärning, sin syn på journalistiken och vad sociala medier möjligen kan tänkas bidra med i vår värld. Det kändes också riktigt skönt att prata med en erfaren journalist som inte alls har en nattsvart syn på sakernas tillstånd idag och på det som kanske komma skall.

Såklart var jag också på jakt efter tankar och idéer som möjligen skulle kunna fungera som grund till olika insatser i min egen arbetsvardag och jag tror faktiskt att jag fångade in några stycken!

Min podcast som också speglar materialet från DViSonAir – se iTunes-katalogen: OnAirWithNiilo (passa på och prenumerera så får du alla avsnitt automagiskt till din smarta lur!) – lägger jag ut genom SoundCloud. Det går såklart bra att lyssna på Jack och mig direkt här på webben:

Tack för att du gästade DViSonAir, Jack – vi hörs och förhoppningsvis framöver också syns On Air :)

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DViSonAir Intervju: Agnes Lindholm

I dessa dagar när det mesta ibland tycks handla om snabba textmeddelanden och korta YouTube-klipp är det riktigt skönt att upptäcka en toppenfin blogg – som fokuserar på böcker! Jamen, du vet, den där gamla fina uppfinningen som kan ge många, många timmars oavbruten underhållning utan att den någonsin behöver laddas. Bokbloggen jag hittade heter Agnes bokblogg och den drivs sedan några år tillbaka av Agnes Lindholm som vid skrivande stund går andra året i gymnasiet i Eskilstuna.

Agnes blogg är en fröjd att läsa och minst lika trevligt var det att prata böcker och läsande med henne. Att snitta tre genomtänkta blogginlägg i veckan är verkligen inte dåligt – i synnerhet med tanke på att Agnes (förstås) också läser mycket och dessutom hinner med en hel del annat. De kontakter hon har med författare och förlag är jag lite avundsjuk på; otroligt imponerande att ha ett sådant nätverk redan i ung ålder.

Det var supertrevligt att få en pratstund med Agnes som lägger ut texten ledigt och tydligt som ett proffs – vilket hon kanske redan är. På andra försöket lyckades vi få i ordning tekniken som först ställde till det för oss. För egen del upptäckte jag att min superbilliga mixer (som har alltför dåliga knappar..) inte gillar att bara stå och samla damm, då beckar den ihop sig! Frågan är nu om den alls går att lita på framöver.. suck. Det verkar som att jag måste ta ett snack med chefen!

Min podcast som bygger på materialet från DViSonAir – se iTunes-katalogen: OnAirWithNiilo (passa på och prenumerera så får du alla avsnitt automagiskt till din smarta lur!) – lägger jag ut genom SoundCloud. Det går också utmärkt att lyssna på min pratstund med Agnes direkt här på webben men spola fram till dryga 03:30 för att skippa försnacket:

Tack Agnes för att du tog dig tid! Jag tror att du också (nästan?) lovade att bidra med ytterligare boktankar och -tips framöver On Air – det ser jag verkligen fram emot; jag hör av mig om detta mer lite längre fram. Vi ses On Air!

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BeSmartOnAir #32: Being Evil – or Not

At long, long last it was time – once again – for another brilliant episode of the BeSmartOnAir goodness. The theme was a given, considering what has been bubbling up in the social media madness lately, and the recent earthquake-like piece of European legislation (yes, that four-letter-word) was also definitely begging for some expert comments by the esteemed panel.

The first couple of minutes are most probably completely impossible to make any sense of, especially if you skip the video and go straight to the podcast. We were quite simply overjoyed by being together again and the very special attire sported by the panel members triggered almost constant giggling that just would not stop! Later on, we did get serious though (just kidding).

One thing from the more serious (Dark) side I never got the chance to say, with Tiina and Alastair stepping on me all the time as usual: Facebook – and pretty much all the other main online actors, too – are constantly tracking us, from site to site, everywhere on the web, and changing your user settings really does not change things much. There is an easy fix though; you could go the same route as this Bad Facebook User.

Again, all of this live action is also available in the canned audio-only format – through my superb OnAirWithNiilo podcast (thanks to my ‘pro’ SoundCloud account!) that is easy as pie to subscribe, preferably through the corresponding  iTunes entry. I know it’s hard to believe but you really can get each and every episode automagically to your super smart phone! For completely, absolutely free! You can also choose to listen to the current episode right here:


Anyway, I had a whale of a time and I did also totally forget that a running nose and a headache were making my life slightly miserable. Thanks Alastair, Tiina and Jonas – let’s see if we can skip most of the Dark Side stuff next time :)  I still have grand plans for (yes, even more) frequent YouTube + podcast combo action, preferably with you guys included.

Have a great summer now and see you On Air!

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My Google+ F-bomb Woes


‘Bomb’ graphics by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

UPDATE2: So far, no additional Google+ warnings for me and my public posts seem to go through the machinery as well. Apparently, I’ve stopped violating Google+ policies; it sure gives me a very warm and fuzzy feeling – even though I don’t know just how I pulled it off. Even more strange, there was an earlier Google blog post where they stated that is one of the link shortening alternatives to (that will be discontinued). Go figure.

UPDATE: I got another warning(!) from Google+ so it seems my woes are not done quite yet. After talking to some people ‘in the know’, it seems very unlikely that profanity alone would have automatically triggered the warnings I’ve got. A couple of possible scenarios are spam-flagged links or someone quite simply reporting me to Google, for whatever reason. Still: there seems to be no way for me to find out why I was hit with the warnings, meaning in turn there is no way for me to make amends and make sure I’m not violating the Google+ policies. Hello there, Captain Yossarian!

Guess what – the social network (no, not The Social Network!) called Google+ is still around and it’s not a total ghost town, either. Oh, when I come to think of it, I’d guess the proper expression for G+ would probably be ‘a social layer across all of Google’s services’.  I’ve been using Google+ since the very beginning in 2011 and one of my main reasons is that it’s been kind of a gold mine for me when needing assistance and information about various Google services. During the last couple of years I’ve also been posting publicly quite a bit on G+ (and, full disclosure, auto forwarding my posts through the excellent Friends+Me service to Facebook and Twitter which I hardly ever use separately) – that is, until recently when I dropped a slightly accidental f-bomb that apparently ground my public posts on G+ into a screeching halt.

Let’s go back a bit. To start with, there are some very obvious questions you might be thinking of, as to the background to all this – something along these lines, perhaps:

  • Just exactly what did you do to unleash the wrath of Google?
  • How could you possibly be so stupid – never read the Google Terms and Policies?!
  • So you are in the habit of throwing around f-bombs in your public writing?
  • Google didn’t even shut down your account – what are you whining about?

What did I do? Well, this a perfect illustration of Catch-22 since I really don’t have a clue what I’m guilty of but it seems to me I did a very bad thing: there was profanity in one (1) of my public posts. One word – the Bomb. First one ever, I believe.

It’s easy to be stupid when you’re a bit tired – not intoxicated, just tired, I promise! – and citing another post. I must also confess: no, I’ve actually never read the Terms and Policies properly all the way through (I wonder if anyone, apart from some lawyers, has ever done that?) but I was definitely aware of the fact that profanity is not a good idea on Google Plus. It’s not a good idea on Facebook either, by the way, and just naked skin(!) – in any shape or form, no matter the context – is definitely widely known to get people in trouble there on the Dark Side. It’s interesting to notice that my tweet with the Bomb is still available on Twitter, by the way, without any reaction from their High Command:


I repeat: no, I’m not in the habit of throwing Bombs and profanity is extremely rare in my writing, to the extent that I’d say it’s non-existent until proven otherwise :) I don’t think I’ve ever been guilty of hate speech and harassment either but that’s probably, at least partly, in the eye of the beholder (or, perhaps more correctly, in the personal views of the reader).

I’ve still got my Google+ account, that’s right, it’s just the public posting part that has been blocked I believe. Actually, I’m not whining much at all about this: of course Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the other major players in this game can – and do! – shut down a private user account for pretty much any reason they see fit (or, as it seems, without any reason at all). Most often, the informed consent thing is like a bad joke but, yes, I was totally aware of the fact that profanity on (most) social media platforms is not a smart move in case you’d like to keep using the services in question.

The thing that’s really interesting about my microscopic Google+ kerfuffle is the way it illustrates how these tech giants act: it’s all about algorithms – just like the warning, without any feedback loop, I got from Google after my disastrous mishap: ‘This is a warning, and your access to Google+ should not be currently impacted’ – even though it was. Of course, there is no way (that I can find) to ‘appeal’ decisions like these; with a bit of luck, you might find a web form to report the issue and ask for mercy but I doubt the Google+ AI customer user service is aware of the notion of mercy in the first place.

It will be interesting to see if my G+ ‘publishing ban’ lasts a week, a month, a year or if it might possibly be permanent. And yes, I did find the web form to address my Bomb woes but I doubt my posting through that channel has any effect. I’d guess Google can’t have millions of flesh-and-blood reps just going through the complaints from us mere mortals but, shoot, an additional ‘if-this-then-that’ line of code would be really neat for us first time offenders!

I don’t want to get into yet another extremely tiresome tirade about ‘You-Are-The-Product-blah-blah’ but, especially considering the recent developments involving Facebook – and also those involving Google – it’s an interesting question to ask: what is our data worth? I find it impossible to deliver a good answer, except that it seems to be worth quite a bit more than most of us ever thought possible. Nope, we are definitely not having one of those very rare free lunches here. Hardly even a free snack.


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A Bad Facebook User


I have a confession to make: I am a bad Facebook user. At least from the Facebook point of view, because they want me – and you – to stay on the platform as long as possible and click as many ads as possible. The way I use Facebook is pretty much the opposite of all this.

I elaborate a bit since my Facebook use is apparently quite a bit different from how most folks play it. Here is my main Bad User framework:

  • Ads  don’t bother me at all and I never click them –  mainly because I never see them
  • I tend to almost forget the infamous News Feed, simply because I hardly ever check it
  • I do read some posts and even interact a bit within a couple of Facebook groups
  • I do use the Facebook Messenger (Light!) app occasionally
  • Nope, I do not have the main Facebook app installed in my phone and I never will

Let’s dig deeper on the five points above.

The ads are one of the main sources of revenue for Facebook and targeting users in an extremely granular fashion is the cornerstone of the Facebook marketing offerings. Part of this deal is the constant, global tracking of each and every one of the Facebook users from site to site on the web; another part is a kind of a huge scale social profiling called (you need to scroll down a bit)  Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences. I don’t much care for any of this so I block the ads, with some pro help from uBlockOrigin, and also throw a big monkey wrench in the tracking machinery by using PrivacyBadger.

News Feed is all the rage these days, especially since there has recently been some tweaking of the algorithm as a response to the claims that several (bad!) actors have been heavily gaming the system. Well, I mostly ignore the News Feed; I do not consider Facebook a relevant news source and it’s been rare in the past that there has been anything of real value for me in the Feed.

Groups can become tiresome echo chambers but there is also tons of knowledge available and a huge number of experts involved. At its best, Groups is a super cool source of information and a platform for interesting conversations.

Facebook Messenger app – if you can use the ‘light’ version instead of the horribly bloated, standard Messenger – is definitely handy when you need to get in touch with pretty much anyone with an internet connection (you might count out most of the young folks though and definitely the 1.4 billion Chinese). It doesn’t much matter if the person you want to reach belongs to the Google, Apple or Microsoft camp; chances are that you’ll get through anyway.

The main Facebook app is pretty big, sometimes uses tons of bandwidth in the background, adds considerably to the notification spam and might drain the battery of your device. Most probably there is also lots of information gathering going on, on top of everything else, so I sure don’t want to have it in my phone. If I need to check my Facebook account on the phone, I’ll do it by using Firefox which also offers decent privacy protection switched on by default.

That’s it for now from the Bad Facebook User. And hey, feel free to join the not-so-fierce but extremely determined Resistance!

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DViSonAir #33: Ovan där med GDPR

Vad bra det var att Bo Kristoffersson och jag lyckades hitta en lucka i (jul)kalendrarna; det började verkligen dra ihop sig till julfirandet när vi lyckades komma On Air, tillsammans med Kim Nilsson som är magiskt bra på att hålla flera bollar i luften samtidigt! För egen del brukar simultanförmågan tryta väldigt snabbt..

Jamen, GDPR är en av många förkortningar som det gäller att hålla koll på också inom skolan – förutsatt att man arbetar med molntjänster och det gör väl nästan alla i Sveariket i dessa dagar. Bo har varit en av dem som har ordentligt drivit på arbetssättet ‘ovan där’ och Simrishamn blev också 2015 första kommun att uttryckligen få tummen upp av Datainspektionen – då gällde det utbildningsvarianten av Google GSuite.

Såklart är det i allra högsta grad av intresse för teknikjättarna Google och Microsoft att deras tjänster håller måttet när den nya europeiska lagstiftningen – Dataskyddsförordningen (=GDPR) – i maj träder i kraft. Allt är också klart på deras sida men minst lika viktigt ät det att också huvudmännen gör sin hemläxa.

Min podcast som bygger på DViSonAir YouTube-episoder – se iTunes-katalogen: OnAirWithNiilo (passa på och prenumerera så får du alla avsnitt automagiskt till din smarta lur!) – lägger jag ut genom SoundCloud. Naturligtvis går det också utmärkt att lyssna på det här avsnittet direkt här på webben:

Stort tack till både Bo och Kim för en mycket intressant diskussionsstund och nu passar jag på att önska alla en riktigt skön och avkopplande jul. Vi ses On Air!

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