General 3 Comments

Today I received the following e-mail and I don’t know if it is spam or not. It looks like spam but when you read it there is no advertisement. I include it here for your opinion:

Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 23:52:16 +0200
From: [name removed] < []>
Subject: My lecturing style is very porous; I expect interruptions and sideline discussions.

On a pragmatic side, I see that I should identify myself as the advisor to the campus litmag, as well. But if we have our final division meeting at the Red Star instead, all the better. Order that makes room for chaos.
But we veer chaotically off-topic quite a bit, because of competing desires for the floor. Sometimes I’ll write their answers on the overhead alongside my own.
Not only do students tune out once that “dead” period is reached, the energy level of the class also flags.
Also, maybe a little warning that I was going to be “shaken” up would have been nice. So I might use a pen or some other device as a pointer, or use a laser pointer on the screen. This approach does not just espouse the Socratic method. Out of fairness, if I do this again I will do it for everyone, right from the start. Time management needs to become a bigger concern.
It’s not a good idea to invite open “dissent-o” too often, if you want workshops to run on time and avoid “herd mentality” agreement. ” and “hey, is there any more champagne in the fridge?
These devices are fantastic for visual aids, but I haven’t seen professors using them very creatively, let alone with much expertise.
I will often, as I said above, twist the camera head to point at the students en masse, showing them what the class looks like from my perspective. So, instead of blaming and patronizing students, how about making lectures more interesting? It also helps to save time, since the primary points that have been “ditto’d” are ostensibly already clear, and there’s no need to repeat that point when it becomes your turn to offer feedback. For more tips on using the ELMO, I refer to Ray Moses’ advice for lawyers on how to present evidence in the courtroom using a document camera.
I then “attempt” to steer their ensuing discussion towards whatever point it is I am trying to make today.
There definitely appears to be a relation between the amount of time in class and the amount of time to prepare for that class.
PEDABLOGUE – How do you challenge and motivate gifted students?
Let’s call it a learning “recharge” instead. Return papers as quick as I can before the next teacher comes in the room weilding a machete.
I try to remember to ask for questions routinely after each main idea that I have to communicate, not just at the end of the hour. “Is it the things the character does, or the type of person the character is?
I also notice that it’s organized in a very linear and orderly fashion.
Still: if you post a photo, leave a comment or send me an e-mail. However, anything that involves class discussion on top of exercises and critiques almost needs to be an hour and a half.
When you let the other person pay, what are you assenting to, passively?
I’m happy to do a demonstration, John. At Seton Hill University, our “smart classrooms” are equipped with these wonderful document projectors, called ELMOs.
I wish my school had one of those in the classroom.
A former professor of mine wrote a recommendation letter on my behalf for a graduate scholarship application. Teaching wihtout a doubt is a gift and not everyone possesses it.
“, but it might still be fun and informative. This approach does not just espouse the Socratic method.

Getting Back At Annoying People on Trains and Planes

General 1 Comment

I cannot take credit for this at all. I think the original comes from But this would be extremely funny.

1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.
2. Remove your laptop.
3. Boot it.
4. Make sure the person who won’t leave you alone can see the screen.
5. Close your eyes and tilt your head up to the sky. Perhaps pretend to pray.
6. Then hit this link:

Take note: Please take it a joke, it is a joke and has absolutely no evil intent. Peace to the world! ;) Do not try this, we are strongly against it in real life, might get you in some legal issues! Virtual Computer

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I’ve looked at several web-based operating systems and I’ve never been very impressed. They are fun to look at and fun to mess around with but I’ve never considered using one.

I ran into Virtual computer tonight and I tried it out. I’m not sure what there is about it but I really like it. Do I like it enough to use it all the time? Maybe–and that is saying a lot. Try it out! (the URL is

I like how it came pre-loaded with some shortcuts that I use every day like Pandora and Meebo. By the way, I have now been using Meebo exclusively for about a month now as my primary IM client. I don’t even have any other clients installed on my work computer. I like the centralized chat history. Of course, it doesn’t transfer files (something I’ve never had work reliably anyway) and doesn’t play those wonderful (read annoying) MSN animations. I like Meebo… I’m sticking with it.

Looking for Online Contact Manager

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Since Google doesn’t seem to see the obvious need I’ve gone looking for an online address book. I spent a bit of time tonight looking for different sites and found some hopefuls.
This site is still kind of in beta but is oriented toward real-time tracking of your friends on-line. You can track blogs, pictures, and more like RSS feeds. Interesting, but not for me.
This site (or service) has been around about 5 years and I remember when they started up. They were mainly a way to store addresses centrally and access them through plugins to e-mail clients such as Outlook. It seems they have a web interface now and it might be worth going with a company that has been around a while. They are also working on an API to work with Gmail.
This site is like a web-based SugarCRM (which is also web-based so I’m making a distinction here without a difference) except you don’t have to host the code or pay them to host it for you. It seems pretty solid and allows custom fields to be defined (something I like).
This site allows you to build whatever kind of list you want so it is kind of spread-sheety but a definite step up from So you could build any kind of list you making it fairly custom and lean but not really a contact manager.

Google Spreadsheets
This one might be obvious but you really can use the spreadsheets from Google to create a table of contacts. But it’s not sexy and not as functional as other sites.

Like most sites none of them do exactly what I want to have done, but I guess I’ve been spoiled by having awesome developers who can turn my visions into products. Sometime you all should see my task managment software called N2O that we built from scratch using REST, AJAX and a lot of nice looking graphics… it’s a real Web 2.0 application!

Why Doesn’t Google Have a Decent Address Book?

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Ever since the loss of my 1FN PHProjekt database I no longer have an on-line repository for address and contact information. Strangely, as Google continues to forge ahead in creating business-capable web applications the address book (let alone a contact manager) is sorely lacking.

What I’m looking for is not just storing someone’s name and photo (which you can do in Gmail) but their address, phone number(s), title, etc. You know, the kind of stuff you need to keep track of people. This supper address book could then be made available to the calendar, groups, mail, etc. as a centralized repository for contact information.

If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. I still don’t have a good way to store this stuff online.

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