I took a rather unintended two week hiatus. While my daily-posting streak was broken by a lack of connectivity in the dorms at the University of Iowa, my post-Iowa absence was due almost entirely to non-technical reasons. I spent the better part of a week packing up my office, followed by several days of settling into a new (but temporary) office—I’ve stepped out of the classroom and into the realm of textbook publishing for the next two years. The poor functioning of the air conditioner in my home office also didn’t help to encourage me to spend time at the computer writing blog posts.
So, while I’m not going to be in the classroom, I’m still very much involved in the educational community. As I’d said in my previous post on breaking the daily-posting streak, I intend to continue to post with some frequency and I hope that this will still be of use to people. Also, thanks to axelnielk88 for expressing a desire for me to continue posting.
Today is the 106th consecutive day on which I have posted in this blog (if I counted correctly… there are three types of mathematicians: those who can count and those who can’t). Had I had a less hectic week last week and/or had I been paying more attention, I might have posted this on the 100th consecutive day.
I think my stated goal of posting at least once a day has gone well and I hope this blog has become a useful resource. While I know that there are days when my one post is really bare-bones minimal and days when my one post is very late (today being an example of both), I believe that most days have had at least one thing worth knowing or seeing or otherwise of interest.
As always, if you have any comments or if you are interested in contributing to this site, please contact me.
Having played with Vista for a few days now on the X60, there are a few things that stand out. First, I’m starting to be really annoyed by the lack of wireless connectivity since Vista isn’t compatible with the authentication/encryption in place at my school—this is probably more than half due to the infrastructure scheme in place here, but it works on XP and doesn’t on Vista. Also, in the vein of annoyances, I thought that the Apple “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads were silly exaggeration, but the allow/deny dialogs are as annoying as suggested in the ad. Startup/shutdown/sleep/hybernate aren’t as smooth or fast as on the X41 with XP, battery life seems shorter, but no scientific comparisons yet, and I spent a good half-hour trying to figure out how to connect to a WebDAV server because Vista has hidden the “Add a Network Place” wizard.
On the plus side, Vista is a bit quicker to decide that a program isn’t responding and to do something about it, the handwriting recognition seems to be much improved, and there are some aspects of the completely redisigned interface to file browsing that are interesting.
More to come when I’ve used Vista some more.
Though I’ve been terribly tempted to spend entire meetings posting making blog posts, I’ve thus far managed to hold back the urge. jkOnTheRun’s Stealth Blogging Primer is a pretty good indication that I’m not the only one multitasking with my tablet and others have put a lot of thought into it:
Stealth blogging is blogging from any location where you typically are not supposed to blog. For me that usually means long, boring meetings where my presence has been requested but in reality is not required. So for me, lots of boring dead time Tablet PC EV-DO = Stealth Blogging.
One of my ‘must-have’ programs on mobile computing devices is Notebook Hardware Control, which we’ve pointed out many times prior. This free application provides a solid tool-set for monitoring or tweaking performance and battery life on a notebook, Tablet PC or UMPC. Previous versions didn’t work too well with Vista since the new OS wasn’t supported, but I’m happy to share the good news: there’s a pre-release version of NHC available that does support Vista right here. Although it’s ‘pre-release’, I’ve used it for the past two days in Vista without any issues. As always YMMV or ‘your mileage may vary’…..
Having just installed it, I can’t give too much of a review, but it certainly gives a lot more information and options than the default WinXP or even the IBM/Lenovo software. So far, so good. I have a strong suspicion that this will be a utility that stays on my tablet.
Originally, I thought I was going to post about an interesting article. After a careful read-through, I’m actually posting about an obnoxiously uninformed article and picking apart some parts that I find especially irritating. This article, Lansing State Journal: Teachers say tech enhances learning, is all hat and no cattle. I apologize in advance for but this extremely snarky off-topic post.
Kinawa Middle School teacher Josh Coty has a SMART Board.He touches the interactive screen, barely moves a hand along its surface and – voila! – there’s a geometric shape.
“To show this stuff has always been a difficult thing,” the Okemos math teacher said.
Whatever pops up on his computer monitor appears on the SMART Board screen, which makes a visual statement measuring about 3- 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
I don’t really think showing geometric shapes has always been a difficult thing. In fact, I know of only a small handful of things of that ilk that can be done on a SMART board that can’t be done on an overhead projector. How exactly a large SMART board makes a “visual statement” much less what that statement might be escapes me entirely.
Morell Boone, dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Technology, has a fourth-grade grandchild who already did a PowerPoint presentation for the Chelsea school system.
“Whether we agree with it or not, it’s there,” Boone said of technology.
“We owe it to the children to stay up with what the world is expecting.”
Is it too cynically for me to ask “if the world were expecting our kids to jump off a bridge…”? A PowerPoint presentation is not likely to be an appropriate medium for a fourth-grader.
Haslett Middle School teacher Reid McGuire’s classroom has an interactive white board, Tablet PC and a set of small handheld key pads resembling TV remote controls for immediate feedback from students.
It’s not the same ol’ smart kids answering questions.
“Participation has gone up exponentially,” McGuire said.
“I can get 100 percent participation stress free.”
I really hope this teacher isn’t teaching math, since it’s not possible to have participation go up exponentially in a population of fixed size. Perhaps he meant logistically?
On Thursday, April 26, 2007 at 10:54am in a court in the Eastern District of Virginia, Project Honey Pot filed the largest anti-spam lawsuit ever. Seeking more than $1B in statutory damages, the suit was brought on behalf of our members. It targets a huge swath of spammers. If you’ve harvested email addresses or sent spam in the last two years, chances are you’re on our radar screen and we’re coming after you.
In my various technology reading, this jumped out at me because I’ve been increasingly hearing and reading about the use of online course management tools and particularly Moodle and Blackboard (from Vista is here – wow or whoa?)
Colleges offering online classes over the Internet using Blackboard, a widely distributed e-learning software package, have experienced functionality problems with systems running Vista. Although most of the problems have workarounds or temporary fixes, some academic IT departments are recommending that students and administrators delay installing Vista until the Blackboard issues have been resolved. And while Vista alone can be problematic, there are well-known compatibility problems with Blackboard and student systems that use both Vista and IE7. Many academic IT departments are recommending that students and teachers use an alternative browser, such as FireFox or Opera, which are available as free downloads.
I’d have to strongly recommend using FireFox regardless of any other situation. For the one in a few hundred web sites I visit that doesn’t render properly in FireFox, I have the IETab extension installed so that I can have an IE-rendering tab embedded into FireFox.
Off-Topic Isaac on 26 Apr 2007
At least, I hope I’m not a pointy-haired boss, but today’s Dilbert was about blogging…
Ubiquitous broadband may not be as out of reach as I’d once thought. Spurred by the death of my mother’s ancient Qualcomm phone, I found myself at a Sprint store yesterday working on getting my parents a new family service plan to try (their current service, as well as mine, is from Verizon, but choices in mobile telecom providers is a whole separate off-topic entry). Somehow, the sales guy talked me into a Novatel U720 USB and a broadband account—attached to a family account and loaded with special discounts, it added a net of something like $30/month to the bill (it’s really more like $50-$60, but there are combination discounts with the other wireless accounts and some percentage discounts for employees of certain companies, etc.). Even at $30/month, I’m not sure it’s something I can justify, but I’ve got thirty days to try it and see if I feel like I can’t live without it. At the moment, though, I’ve got it running in my bedroom, providing me with internet at a slightly slower rate than if I’d just turn on the WiFi in my tablet. The demo machine in the store registered about 1.8 Mbps download and about 200 kbps upload (both about 1/3 of the speed of my home DSL). I’ll have to write more as I actually use it.