MindMapper Collaboration Released

I have worked with MindMapper 2009 for some time now and did a review of the product in an earlier post. Today I had a chance to catch up with Patrick Koh from SimTech and had the opportunity to try out their new product called MindMapper Collaboration. With MindMapper Collaboration it is now possible to host a live session over the web and host your mind maps that can be simultaneously worked on during the session.

During this morning's session Patrick hosted the session and sent me an invitation via an email. Once I clicked on the Join Session button, my instance of MindMapper 2009 opened and I was able to work on the mind map with Patrick as if it was on my computer. MindMapper Collaboration was very fast when I was entering information into the map and it was hard for me to believe that I wasn't working on the map from my standalone application. All of the features that I have in the desktop version are there and now when I am collaborating, within MindMapper Collaboration, I have access to a Chat and Polling feature. Unlike some other collaborative tools you can invite MindMapper 2009 users and non-users to your session which is a big plus. There is no need for your client to have access to MindMapper 2009 in order to participate in the session. At this time users will need to use Internet Explorer to access the session. Using MindMapper Collaboration, hosts can schedule and set up meetings ahead of time that are sent to the collaborators via an email. For individuals who participate in the meeting who don't have access to MindMapper 2009 there is a small application that will need to be downloaded in order to participate. Once the application is downloaded, guests will have all of the functionality as that of an individual who has a standalone version of MindMapper 2009. During the next couple of weeks I will have some time to test MindMapper 2009 on my own and will give you my impressions. The trend is clear- more users want to be able to use their mind mapping tools to collaborate and all of the publishers are listening and chart a course to make this happen. For more information about MindMapper Collaboration click here.

Skype Comes to Blackberry on Verizon Network

Verizon released today Skype for select Blackberry's that are running on the Verizon Network. Skype for Blackberry's will run on the following Smartphone:
  • Tour 9630
  • Storm2 9550
  • Storm 9530
  • 8830 World Edition
  • Curve 8530
  • Curve 8330

Features include:

  • Skype global rates
    The same Skype rates to global landlines and mobiles. No extra cost.
  • Stop counting minutes
    Skype-to-Skype, IM and global calls from Skype mobile™ don’t use your wireless plan minutes.
  • Free calls included
    The same experience on your Verizon Wireless 3G smartphone means free Skype-to-Skype calls and IM
I just downloaded the Skype App and am up and running connecting to all of my Skype contacts. I have started to Instant Message with it but have not made any phone calls just yet. It is great to be able to access my Skype contacts and use the service on my Blackberry Curve 8330. I will let you know how the voice portion of the service works when I give it a try. This certainly opens up some more doors to each out to my friends and colleagues over the Skype network. Happy Skyping! Brian

MindGenius 3.5 -Gantt View

Last week I downloaded MindGenius 3.5 which added support for Gantt Charts right within the application. I have had the chance to develop some Gantt Charts using MindGenius and wanted to share my ideas about this new feature with you. Overall, you will find the implementation of Gantt Charts in MindGenius 3.5 to be easy and straight forward to use. Most of us who have been following the mind mapping arena have seen that almost all of the major applications have moved to including Gantt Charts as part of their solution. Mind mapping applications are a great tool for brainstorming and sharing information about new projects that are coming on-board. The visualization of the project makes it easy for everyone involved to see the project from another perspective by literally putting everyone on the same page. Likewise, mind mapping applications like MindGenius 3.5 makes it easy for the team, when you are ready to develop the Work Breakdown Structure.

In MindGenius you would build your project in the mind mapping view and then click on the Tasks Tab on the Ribbon to access the features associated with the Gantt Chart. You will find it easy to assign Start, End, and Due Dates for each task in your mind map by selecting them from the Calendar. You can also record what percentage of the task is complete, the priority for the task as well as the status for each of the tasks. You can also record the duration of the work completed and estimates for the how long the task will take to complete. If you intend to use your mind map to track your costs you can include a Cost and Quantity for each item in your mind map. If you decide to include the Cost and Quantity in your mind map you can then export and generate reports in Excel. Once you have entered Start and End dates and the other information you can view your Gantt Chart by clicking on the Gantt View Button from the Tasks Ribbon.

MindGenius displays a very traditional Gantt Chart with with your tasks listed down the left side of the page. If a task has multiple items associated with it, MindGenius treats the higher level task as a Summary Level task and each item under that a child task. Tasks and subtasks can be linked using the Linking tool that is provided. As far as I can tell MindGenius 3.5 only supports Finish to Start Dependencies and does not allow for lag time. The Gantt Chart is MindGenius 3.5 clearly shows what percentage of the task is complete and can be manually changed by the user as they update the progress of the project. I would have like to be able to change the color of the bars in my Gantt view but I did not see this as an option. Assigning resources to a task is rather easy in MindGenius 3.5 you simply select the person from the Resources pane. One of the strengths MindGenius 3.5 is the ability to quickly generate a Resource map by Tasks with a click of the mouse. This helps to quickly visualize who has which task assigned to them and the responsibility for the completion of the task.

Probably one of the most powerful features that is found in MindGenius 3.5 is the ability to filter the information in the Gantt Chart. There are some Quick Filters that let you quickly see the status of your project when you select one of the filters. If you find that the Quick Filter does not meet your needs you can open up the Filter panel and begin to customize it for your needs. There is also a Filter Builder for building more sophisticated filters if you need it.

All in all, if you have MindGeniu3 you should download the free upgrade to MindGenius 3.5 and begin to explore the Gantt View. For small projects MindGenius 3.5 could be just what you need to keep tabs on your projects. If you need to, you can quickly generate reports from within Excel or export you projects to Microsoft Project. Having access to the Gantt View is certainly a welcome addition to MindGenius 3.5 and one that users will find considerable value in using.

Kidspiration 3 Workshop

This past Friday I spent the entire day working with elementary school teachers in New Jersey showing them how to use Kidspiration 3 in the classroom. Within a two hour period all of the teachers were introduced to the Picture, Writing, and Math View. The teachers were quick to learn how to use the program and the intuitive interface found in Kidpsiration 3 which really helped them along. With the addition of the Word Guide and the Math manipulatives, Kidspiration 3 is clearly an essential piece of software for the elementary school classroom. Many of the teachers were excited to explore the Activities and Online Lessons to get more ideas on how this tool could be used in their classroom. With the text to speech support and the graphic representation of information Kidspiration 3 is an ideal tool for students whose learning preference is visual. Kidspiration 3 is also ideal for use with interactive whiteboards- and remember if you are working with young children you can move the tools to the bottom of the screen. Many of the teachers were really excited with the possibilities and thoroughly enjoyed using the Math tools that are now built into Kidspiration 3. If you have not taken a look at Kidspiration 3 in awhile, I would urge you to take a look at it and download the Trial version that is available from the Inspiration web site.

Tether for BlackBerry

Just the other day I was doing an observation in a school and so I decided to take my Acer Netbook with me to capture the teacher's lesson. While doing the observation I wanted to access some of my files on my GoogleDocs account but was blocked from using the school's Wi-Fi network. Having been aware of Tether for BlackBerry, I decided to do some research and see if it could help me to get on the web using my Blackberry. Tether for BlackBerry is an application that lets you use your smartphone to access the web from anywhere that you have cellular coverage. So when I went to the Tether home page as saw that they were running a promotion of $29 dollars for the application so I jumped at the opportunity. In order to use Tether you simply download and install the Tether application to your PC and your BlackBerry. Once the installation is complete you run Tether from your PC and then connect your BlackBerry via the USB cable to the computer. Now simply run the Tether application from your BlackBerry. That's all there is to do. Now you can start surfing the web without any additional charges. If you do have a computer with Bluetooth that is another option to consider. Getting up and running was effortless and for the price, I now know that I can get on the web whenever I have my computer and my BlackBerry at my side. The connection was fast and was quite reliable. I will be visiting the school again tomorrow and I'm ready to surf the web with Tether for BlackBerry. So give Tether a try is a great application to have to ensure that you can get on the web wherever you may be!

MindMeister Revisited

The more I use the web, the more I am moving my documents to the cloud and relying on these services to host my files. Being able to have access to my files from anywhere that I am connected to the web is invaluable to me. More importantly, having the ability to work collaboratively with my colleagues and partners is equally important and a key feature that is generally built into the hosted online software applications. I have used MindMeisiter for several years now and really enjoy its host of features that allow me the flexibility to do my mind mapping quickly in the cloud.

MindMeister works quickly in the cloud and is very easy and straightforward to use. It provides me with a way to add graphics, pictures and clip art into my maps to helps add to their visual appeal. MindMeister comes with a library of clip art but it is very easy to upload your own graphics to your map should you decide to go this route. Adding notes to an idea is easy to do with lots of formatting capabilities. Likewise, I can attach links, files and tasks to any branch in MindMeister. Being able to embed files makes MindMeister a great repository when I am working on projects and have related files that I want to database. Similarly, if I am working on a project with my partners it is easy to keep track of tasks and have MindMeister automatically email notifications when tasks are upcoming or overdue, from my mind maps. Notifications can be set up from within MindMeister to automatically email any collaborators that have tasks coming up or are overdue. It would be great if there was a way to export the Tasks and timelines into a project management software application. Or better yet MindMeister should consider having built in Gantt charting capability. You can always be hopeful!

Certainly the feature set that I really enjoy is being able to share my maps with others as I am working on projects and here is where MindMeister really shines. It is very easy to invite others to either "collaborate" or "view" my map which is done by sending an invite from within MindMeister. Since I am a blogger the one feature that really stands out for me is the ability to place a mind map on my blog. MindMesiter makes it very easy for me to publish my maps when I am done to my blog by providing me with the embed code. But more importantly I have a high degree of control as to what users who view my map can do. If I choose I can allow "copy and export," or give my viewers the opportunity to edit the map. In the same vein I can also password protect the map by adding a password into the equation. You can see an example of a mind map I created below by simply pasting in the embed code that was supplied by MindMeister. The mind map is fully interactive and you can expand and collapse branches and zoom in and out. Give it a try and let me know what you think. if you like there are also options for printing and exporting your maps in various formats. You can currently export your MindMesiter maps in the following formats: MindMeister, MindManager, FreeMind, PDF, JPG, and RTF.

MindGenius 3.5 Now Supports Gantt View

MindGenius Ltd are delighted to announce the upcoming release of MindGenius 3.5, which has been developed as part of our ongoing commitment to product development and response to customer needs. This release of the mind mapping software contains an integrated Gantt view, providing extensive project management capability within MindGenius without the need to export to other applications and is free to all existing MindGenius V3 customers.
A unique and powerful feature of the MindGenius Gantt view is the ability to use the map explorer to focus on specific areas of the project plan. Since it is not unusual to have a project plan of a couple of hundred lines or more, this makes it much easier to plan and schedule projects, easily switching back and forward between the map and Gantt views which are continually in sync with each other.

The Gantt view also integrates with the MindGenius quick filters, simplifying project management by allowing you to quickly identify tasks assigned to each individual, tasks due or overdue, milestones, critical path and status.

MindGenius 3.5 is free to all current V3 customers and will be available next week, look out for our announcement email which will also contain details of upgrade pricing for V1 and V2 customers.

The Gantt view further extends MindGenius’ reputation as the mind mapping tool for business. We have also added the Gantt view to MindGenius Education as a cost effective solution for the management of student, school, college and university projects.

If you have any further customer enhancement requests, please let us know at For more information on MindGenius, please visit

PS: Look for an upcoming review shortly of MindGenius 3.5 and the Gantt View

NJECC Presentation: Reading & Writing Supports

This Tuesday, March 16th I will be presenting at the New Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative Annual Conference which is held at Montclair State University on the topic of: What's New in the Area of Reading & Writing Supports. My session is from 2:30-3:20 pm and if you are planning on attending it would be great to see you. A lot has happened this year in the field of assistive technology and in the field of technology in general which has resulted in some new and updated technologies that I'm sure you will want to find out about.

I have been busy this year publishing some new materials which can be used to support assistive technology in the schools. I recently released a new video called: Assistive Technology: Powerful Solutions for Success which is a wonderful tool for teacher in-service programs. Likewise, in this age of information overload I created a four page laminated reference guide called: Assistive Technology: What Every Educator Needs to Know, which is chock full of resources and information about the use of assistive technology in the classroom. I will have both resources available at my workshop for you to take a look at. The session will be fast paced as we delve into some of the new tools and trends to support students in the area of reading and writing in the classroom. I hope to see you there- but just in case you can't make it here is my presentation deck that I will be using.

PS: You can now purchase my video and laminated reference guides right from my blog by clicking on the individual pages on the right side of the navigation panel.

Using Context Organizer within Comapping

I have been using Context Organizer for the past year or so and was very excited to see that it is now integrated with Comapping, a web based collaborative mind mapping tool. Context Organizer can quickly pull out keywords and summarize information from URL's, Word documents, and PDF's. I have created a short video tutorial showing you how Context Organizer works within Comapping. If you like what you see go to Comapping and set a free trial account to get started.

Importing a List of Images into PaperShow

For the past year I have used PaperShow extensively in my teaching and when I am doing workshops and presentations. I have primarily used PaperShow as a digital flipchart which has really worked out really well. Recently, I have begun to use PaperShow when teaching my graduate course in Action Research to make my PowerPoint presentations more interactive and engaging which has put a whole new spin on how I am using this innovative and exciting product. Having said this, there may be times in the classroom or in your training session that all you want to do is to be able to show and annotate images and don't really have the need for a full blown PowerPoint presentation. So the question is- is there a way for me to bring in just a list of images that I can then show and annotate? Of course the answer is a resounding yes! In fact you can import jpg, gif, and png files into the PaperShow application and then print them on the 8 1/2 x 11 PaperShow paper so that you can annotate on top of them. If you plan on importing a series of images I would recommend that you place all of the images that you want to use in a folder which will make it easier to import as you will see in the video below. So go ahead and feel free to use PaperShow just with a list of images. This technique works equally well on the Mac and on a PC.

CS Odessa Announces ConceptDraw MindWave


CS Odessa announces ConceptDraw MindWave a no charge mind mapping add-in for Google Wave

San Jose, California, on March 1st, 2010 – CS Odessa released a version of its mind mapping tool for Google Wave. This is a no charge add-in to Google Wave that can be used as part of Google Wave to map out a strategy rapidly or brainstorm on a critical topic. The ConceptDraw MindWave for Google Wave tool allows teams to collaborate on a mind map in an interactive flowing manner building a map structure that represents the planned work.

The map add-in supports Google Wave playback that allows one to step back through a map. Once a mind map is has the contents from the interactive session the mind map file can then be downloaded to one’s desktop to be further developed using ConceptDraw MINDMAP for Macintosh or Windows.

Olin Reams, General Manager for the Americas at CS Odessa, states, “We hear from our customers that collaboration tools are critical for team communication today. It is what gives them the competitive edge needed to maintain flexibility. Google Wave and ConceptDraw MindWave are free tools that deliver seamless communication inside or outside your organization”.

Yuriy Varbanets, Product Manager for ConceptDraw MINDMAP, adds, “We feel that Google Wave is a great collaboration backbone for us to support with our collaboration tool. Beta customers have been talking up about how well suited it is to their planning process.”

Learn more about ConceptDraw MINDMAP add-in for Google Wave on the ConceptDraw


Founded in 1993, Computer Systems Odessa supplies cross-platform productivity tools and graphics technologies to professional and corporate users around the world. With headquarters in Odessa, Ukraine and an office in California, CS Odessa sells products internationally through resellers in over 25 countries. The ConceptDraw Productivity Line of products has won numerous awards and is used by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.