🙋‍♂️ Bard for Teens, terrible technology, news from Tik Tok, and more – Of bits and bytes for November 20, 2023

For all of the US readers, here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be taking the rest of the week off, so there won’t be any posts for the rest of the week. Take some time off, relax, and enjoy your family.

Internet Travels

Of bits and bytes is my weekly round up of interesting links and ideas I discovered on the internet. It is published on Mondays for the previous week

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Google is opening up access to their AI Bard to teenagers. From the post it looks like they’ll be putting a bunch of guardrails in place, especially around’s AI’s ability to hallucinate. No mention about Google Workspace accounts, so it looks like this is only for personal Google accounts for the time being.

There are new features coming to Google Search. First up is the ability to follow topics in Google Search. When you search for something Search will allow you to follow that topic and send you notifications when it thinks it found something that may interest you. We’ll have to wait and see how annoying that gets. Second is Notes. This is an opt-in experiment that allows you to add notes to a website or read what other people have written about that website. This could be pretty cool, but it’s only available in the Google app for Android and iOS for right now.

Finally, Google is adding the ability to search by who a file or folder is shared with. You can use this to find files and folders shared with a specifc user or group.

Geez, I didn’t mean to make this into an all Google news channel! As always, feel free to send me any other news, apps, or tips!


The hallucinations of AI is one of my reasons for having a wait and see attitude toward using AI with students, so I agree that if you are going to be using ChatGPT with students that you’ll probably want to have permission from the parents. Like every other web service, users have to be 13 to use it, so not even permission forms will work for 7th grade and under (and half of the 8th grade).

If you’ve seen me at a conference, you’ve probably seen my LED name badge. I don’t know why it’s gotten so expensive, but it is fun enough that it’s worth it to me.

Amazon Links contain affiliate codes. They don’t cost you anything, but do help the site if you end up purchasing on Amazon.


Does technology work? People’s expectations are pretty low. Part of the problem is bugs in the hardware and software. There isn’t much users can do about that. After that you move on to the users, and there is something you can do about that. I find myself working around issues pretty quickly, which comes back to bite me when I’m working with students and staff. They’ll constantly stop and ask how I’m doing something, which is usually a task that I got fed up with the process so I dug in and learned how to do it better. One of my Rules of Technology is the rule of 3: There are at least three ways to do almost any task on the computer.

Will AI make programmers obsolete? One coder thinks so and I may have to agree with him. I’ve been using ChatGPT to write scripts for Google Apps & the command line, and it is pretty incredible how well that has worked. However, they still have required a little human interaction. For example, one of the scripts was failing due to faulty logic. It had a comparison of greater than or equals two where it needed to be only greater than. Since I have experience programming I was able to fix the bug pretty easily, but someone without that experience may have taken a long time or never been able to fix it.


In our district we were trying out Slack for a long time as our messaging client of choice, but a couple of years ago we switched to Google Chat. It works quite well, and Google is constantly improving it. Google has now added a bot that allows you see sharing requests and comments right in chat. If you’re looking at moving beyond group texts with your team (and I recommend you do it sooner rather than later), check out Google Chat. Create a Space for your team and send a few animated gifs.

On mobile Google allows you to use Google Chat in the Gmail app or in a standalone app called Google Chat. Using the Chat app is almost always going to be better than using the Gmail app for the simple reason of notifications. Since most people aren’t at inbox zero, it gets confusing whether you have new Chat messages.

Pop Culture

Interestingly TikTok is gaining viewers who get there news from the site unlike other social media sites. Is this a good thing? Society needs a well informed population, but TikTok can become an echo chamber. Always look at multiple sources if you want to really know what’s going on.

I used Delicious for bookmarking for several years, but the idea of social bookmarking has been on the decline. Because I like to be difficult, I use Shaarli, an open source self hosted app for bookmarks. This won’t work for most people, so check out Raindrop. It looks pretty awesome, awesome enough that I may switch. It’s free for unlimited bookmarks and $2.33/month (when you purchase it for a year) for the Pro version. The Pro version adds a permanent copy of the website that is bookmarked, which could be very useful.


Ars Technica has a new daily telescope page, showing off some of the amazing space imagery from NASA.

Extra Credit

Here are extra links that I found interesting that may or may not be education related or interesting to you and I didn’t want to lose them.

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