Sunday, November 16, 2014


But we shouldn't be OK with the unacceptable bargain that football has become. If kids are risking traumatic lifelong consequences to get a shot at an education that the school isn't really giving them, that's crushing hypocrisy for a university whose mantra is "leaders and best."
From Stephen Henderson


Ok. How is "smoke" part of the weather. Weird. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Back in the day, I remember being amazed when I saw the bat-computer in "Batman Returns" (The picture is from the Tim Burton's "Batman", which I was just too young to see when it was new). Batman had a computer that could search through all sorts of records. It had dozens of monitors. Wait, wait. Not only monitors, but color monitors. It was amazing. At the time, we had a computer that looked something like this.
I still remember monochrome computer monitors (mono = "one", chrome = "color"). The internet was years away. Our computer games were on these big floppy disks (the ones that were actually floppy). We used "Word Perfect" to type documents. There was no mouse!
A couple weekends ago, I took a look at my computer set up. I was working on some files that were saved on my old personal laptop. I pulled out the iPad just to make the picture complete. I'm catching up to you Batman.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The bag #hashtag

I read this article and was not impressed. So, I took out the contents of my travel laptop bag and spread them out over the floor to take an inventory.

Here is everything that I have in my laptop bag, going from left-to-right and top-to-bottom.
  • Generic 6-plug power strip.
  • Kindle Fire video kit (Micro HDMI-to-HDMI cable and Micro-USB cable for power)
  • White Monster Microfiber screen cleaning cloth.
  • Apple Laptop power adapter.
  • Blue USB 3.0 cable in bag.
  • iPad 2 with green cover.
  • Black HP Laptop power adapter.
  • Black Mini HDMI-to-HDMI Cable in bag.
  • Black Micro USB and white Kindle Power Adapter.
  • Mini DisplayPort to VGA converter in bag.
  • 'Stardust' DVD.
  • Kindle Fire with stylus and case.
  • 100 Index Cards.
  • Powder blue javelin pen.
  • VGA and 3.5 mm audio cable.
  • Green HDMI cable.
  • Female 3.5 mm audio to male stereo RCA cable.
  • Male 3.5 mm audio to male stereo RCA cable.
  • 3 sets of plastic silverware, napkin, salt and pepper.
  • If... (Volume 2)
  • JVC earbuds.
  • Roll of pre-1982 pennies.
  • Smooshed bite-size Milky Way Dark.
  • 1GB SD Card in case.
  • Peter Griffin USB drive.
  • 8GB Sandisk flash drive.
  • 4GB Geek Squad flash drive.
  • 2GB Sony flash drive (compatible with Windows 98).
  • Sandisk MobileMate (SD/Micro/mini Card reader).
  • Green Lighting-to-USB cable.
  • White Apple 30-pin to USB cable.
  • Gray Mini USB cable.
  • Black Ethernet cable.
  • 15.6' HP Laptop.
  • Logitec corded mouse.
  • Star Wars playing cards.
  • Empty Altoids container.
  • 12-inch ruler.
  • Compass.
  • Bag spare styli.

Typically, I don't take the Kindle Fire and the iPad with me when I travel; I take one or the other. Sometimes my Sony Camcorder gets wedged inside the bag, too. Not pictured is the iPhone 4s and Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic that I carry around in my pocket. For a while, I also had a Kill-a-watt and a sound pressure meter in the bag, too.

On a completely unrelated note, my laptop bag is falling apart. I have looked for replacements, but I have yet to find one that is sufficiently large.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Know thyself #hashtag

I came across this article about Google Now and the power of digital assistants and predictive algorithms. The theme is about how big data is used to find patterns in our life that we neglect to see. It asks an interesting question: does Google know us better than we know ourselves? The idea of self-deception is presented and it reminded me of a thought from C. S. Lewis. When writing in the Problem of Pain, he writes:
We imply, and often believe, that habitual vices are exceptional single acts, and make the opposite mistake about our virtues — like the bad tennis player who calls his normal form his 'bad days' and mistakes his rare successes for his normal. I do not think it is our fault that we cannot tell the real truths about ourselves.
While the article focuses mostly on a positive self-deception, like the player Lewis describes, I am reminded of the continuum of possibly misguided self evaluations. In the light of Robin Williams departure, there has been a renewed public focus on depression. The other day I came across a text-based 'game' (think "Choose-your-own adventure" book) called Depression Quest. The game is rather emotionally challenging. It does remind me that for every tennis player who over-estimates his greatness there is someone struggling with a crippling sense of failure and self-loathing. That makes me wonder about the effects of predictive algorithms on the depressed mind. I wonder if they have the effect of sometimes deflating our opinions of ourselves or whether they merely pull people back to reality, which would actually be an improvement for the depressed individual.

Changing topics and building off the idea of analytics, I wonder which data collector knows me best.
Firstly, there is my bank. I use my debit card more than cash, so the result is that the bank knows when and where I spend my money. I do a lot of shopping at Meijer (A million reasons in a single store), so that does not give them insight into what products I am buying. However, they could probably tell how often I have left my house just by looking at how often I go to the gas station.
Secondly, there is Amazon. Not only does Amazon know what I actually spend money on, they have an idea about those aspirational items that I read about. For example, they know how many times I've looked at the specs of the Onkyo TX-NR626. They could probably use that information to make some predictions (At some point in the future, I hope to be living somewhere so that I can make use of a dual-zone audio receiver).
Thirdly, there is Goliath or rather Google. Not only do they know what I search for, but they have my emails. That's a big deal since I am not one for making phone calls. If you want to know what Google thinks about you, try signing into your Google account and going to Google's Ad preferences to look at the 'interests' category.
Fourthly, there is the Facebook. For a while, I would say that Facebook knew me best. However, it's been about ten months since I signed on to Facebook and over a year since I regularly visited the site. I wonder if robo-Zuckerberg, or whatever you want to call the Facebook algorithms, ever figured out why I stopped checking in with them.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Traditions #hashtag

I am surviving DB fest '14. If I had a dollar for every guy I saw wearing a wife-beater and smoking a cigarette I would be a millionaire. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blogging via an app #hashtag

This is my first blog post submitted via the Blogger app for iOS. 
I am a few sentences in and I am already seeing some of the shortcomings. Firstly, as one might notice from the included picture, I haven't found a way to rotate pictures taken with the camera.  Secondly, the iPhone keyboard is missing one key item: commas. Surprisingly, typing standard text is simple even on the relatively small green of my iPhone 4s. This is largely a result of the power of autocorrect. At this point, I would share with you an interesting article about the history of autocorrect. However, according to the reviews there is no way to insert links. The irony is not lost on me. The Google search engine is built to look for which websites are most linked to.

Let's try this writing out the link in HTML. 
<a href="">wired</a>

We'll see if that works. If not just search for Wired the history of autocorrect.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Go blue #hashtag

Saw part of this on Sportscenter. Go Blue.

Sequel #hashtag

I found this.

I wonder how long my students would tolerate me starting each day with the learning objectives written in the crawl. . . "Episode XCVII: the Inscribe Angle Theorem"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wiles Tangent #hashtag

Andrew Wiles quotation:
This [Fermat's Last Theorem] was my childhood passion. There’s nothing to replace that. I had this very rare privilege of being able to pursue in my adult life what had been my childhood dream. I know it’s a rare privilege, but if you can tackle something in adult life that means that much to you, then it’s more rewarding than anything imaginable. Having solved this problem there’s certainly a sense of loss, but at the same time there is this tremendous sense of freedom. I was so obsessed by this problem that for eight years I was thinking about it all the time – when I woke up in the morning to when I went to sleep at night. That’s a long time to think about one thing. That particular odyssey is over. My mind is at rest.
Good advice for life. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Organizing my digital life 2 #hashtag

In an earlier post I wrote about the overflow of technology surrounding me. Having spent more time with thew new Windows (8.1) I have come to a conclusion. Windows 8.1 isn't bad. I've gotten used to the start screen and I like it better than the start menu of the past. That only problem with it is apps. The problem isn't with the third party apps. It's the Microsoft Apps that are terrible. The combination of Internet Explorer and the Reading List app make a great combination. Everything else is garbage.

Aside from games and news apps which occasionally freeze (see video), there is the hugely disappointing Mail and Calendar apps. Firstly, the calendar app does not synchronize with Google Calendar, which makes in completely useless. Secondly, the mail app just stops working. Every couple of weeks Mail will just stop receiving new messages. I have to wait a few days for the the app to start working again or try deleting and adding my account anew. The frustrating part is that my Google Account works flawlessly with the native mail and calendar applications on my iOS devices. It is a strange world we live in in which Apple plays well with other companies and my PC has become tied to one monolithic corporation.

Here is some video of the Bing News App and Bing Sports App not working. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rise of the Machines #hashtag

Pre-reading: Wired: The Bro App and Buy the Bro App (This is not an endorsement)

One of the benefits to a slow job hunt and a lack of graduate level classes is the freedom to read for pleasure. I cam across this article while trying to get the "Wired" App to work on my Kindle. Technology affects that way that we live and interact with other people. The way that it affects us is still difficult to evaluate. As I see, there are two possible scenarios. Firstly, technology helps us create more connections with people. Conversely, technology has the potential to replace connections with other people.

The latter idea is described in the article. In my own life, it reminds me of Facebook birthday reminders. Back in the days of my youth, when I was a regular Facebook user, I felt guilty wishing people a happy birthday on Facebook. If I didn't remember your birthday without prompting, aren't I just faking it? If I don't care enough about you to actually remember your birthday why should send a message? In this case, there is the idea that I am using technology to perpetuate the lie that someone else matters to me.

On the other hand, sometimes I forget birthdays because I don't know what day it is. When prompted, I can remember an important person's birthday. That problem is that I don't know what today's date is (This is a more common occurrence during the summer months when entire weeks blur together). There is also the matter of precision. There are a few friends of mine whose birthday I sort of know. I have a friend whose birthday is at the end of February. I know what week it is. I know that I will have dinner with that person to celebrate that person's birthday. However, the exact date is something at which I would have to guess. Now, traveling back to the circa 1970 technology, I could get by mailing a birthday card. If it arrives a few days late or a few days early I can blame it letter carrier. The instantaneous travel of text messages is less forgiving. Perhaps there is room for some electronic reminders.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Wayne plan for countywide school tax divisive

I really thought that this was a good idea until I read the line where one administrator said money would be spent on ". . . security measures such as structural changes to windows and doors and adding locks and cameras. . ." What a waste.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 1 - No syllabus

Today is my first day without a syllabus in a year. I had no idea how to spend my time.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Organizing my digital life #hashtag

I have too much stuff. I think that I am making up for not having the newest and best toys as a child by buying things now as an adult. Worse of all, I refuse to be a fan-boy. So, I have a Windows XP Desktop, a Windows ME Laptop, a Windows 7 Laptop, a Windows 8 Desktop, a Kindle, a Kindle Fire, an iPod, iPad and an iPhone.

Thinking about hardware for a moment...
I have my Windows 8 desktop because I was tired of having to unpack my laptop all of the time. Plus, on the off chance that I break my laptop, I still need a computer. It's the back-up. Furthermore, I want to learn the new software so that there is less of a culture shock when I eventually have to replace my laptop with a device running Windows 9.
I have my Windows 7 laptop because it is my portable office. I use it as my primary computer at school and at work. I used to play games on it, but now it is my e-mailing and document creating device.
I have my Windows ME Laptop because it is the only computer that I own that will run "Lords of the Realm 2".
I have my Windows XP desktop because it reminds me of the idyllic days of my youth.
I have a Kindle because it is the best device for reading books.
I have a Kindle Fire because it was on sale. It's a great device for watching media. It's portable enough that I can carry it around easily.
I have an iPod because I like to listen to music and, in particular, the radio.
I have an iPad because I use it to teach when using Doceri.
I have an iPhone because I wanted a small smartphone with a good camera and I didn't want to learn a new OS (Sorry Android).

I also have five e-mail address, four of which I use on a daily basis. I have an Apple ID, Microsoft Account and a couple of Google accounts. I have a Dropbox, Skydrive and an Amazon Cloud Drive.

Returning to my purpose for writing this document, does anyone have software suggestions for a new Windows 8 PC?