Where I've been: I'm now a proud Dad so I've been busy of late. A friend asked if I'd produced a map of where my son was born, sort of Angela Jolie tattoo style. The answer is no, to quote Steven, 'not all data should be mapped' :)
Simple Mapping (applying palettes to points): One of the things I learnt at the recent Cloud Mapping event I helped run was that Google have been working on tools to make creating simple maps from spreadsheets. As an example of web based, simple GIS I run a practical for undergrad students which uses Google fusion tables to apply palette files to data. I'm planning to rewrite it to use the more elegant Google Maps Engine Lite (GMEL). You can get an idea what GMEL is about from this video:
It is from Google's recent MOOC Mapping with Google, (course materials are still available). I think a number of people used the MOOC just to learn about this tool.
GMEL is definitely a tool worth a look for teaching simple map making and simple GIS. I'll post more thoughts here when I've had a proper go with it.