Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
I've also misplaced my camera's connection cable and am having to borrow the school's card reader to do my 365 project. I missed Saturday because basically I was inside staring at a computer screen all day. Sunday, it occurred to me to snap a photo of the screen. I took one when the computer crashed (as a result of rearranging figures), and another one after the documents had been recovered. Luckily, I save often, so I only lost a couple of sentences.
The 365 project has made me realize how much I stick to a routine and similar surroundings every day. Partly, that's due to the dissertation project which has kept me at home inside. Partly, too, it's the weather. I'm not a cold weather person, so I haven't been outside much. By March, I think the outlook will improve. The dissertation will be out of my hands; the weather will be improving; and I'll try to do more interesting things.
Friday, January 26, 2007
- Notional Slurry » Digitization access licensing and scholarship’s “best before” date
I changed the link to #4. It allows you to access the article via your own library. May not work for everyone, but it's worth a try.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
- A variety of software applications, including but not limited to:
- Word Processing
- Camtasia (screen recording)
- Cleaner (video and audio file conversion)
- Audacity and/or Garageband
- Acrobat professional
- iChat and AIM
- A variety of web browsers
- Blackboard and other course management systems
- Drupal and other blogging platforms
- CD and DVD burning software
- FinalCut pro
- GIMP (linux-based photo editor)
- HTML and CSS
- An understanding of how our Student Information System works (PeopleSoft)
- A general understanding of databases. I have actually created a simple database-driven web site, but I wouldn't want to do that on a regular basis. It's harder than it looks.
- Knowledge of the field of educational technology. I need to know the latest research and understand what experts say about the effects of technology on learning. Best practices in integrating technology into different disciplines
- Basic understanding of instructional design. People get whole degrees in this, but I understand the basic principles. We don't actually do instructional design, really, at our institution.
- Understanding of web design principles and standards.
- RSS, XML
- Some system administration skills--modifying the apache configuration, setting file permissions.
- A smidge of php.
- How to use search effectively. I can't tell you how many times Google has helped me solve a difficult problem.
- Various web 2.0 applications
- An understanding of how above applications are affecting education and learning
- Excellent writing and communication skills, especially the ability to communicate technical information to non-technical people.
- All three major operating systems--Mac, Windows, and Linux
- Streaming media creation and serving
- How to connect various hardware--digital cameras, scanners, palms, iPods--to various kinds of computers.
- How to scan slides, photos, and documents into appropriate formats and at appropriate quality levels.
The buzzword in the trade is "information literacy," a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books.This is the common framing of technology vs. books, as if understanding and appreciating technology naturally precludes a love of reading. In the eyes of people like Mr. Washington, he's in a zero-sum game where books and computers can't *really* live side by side. It's why someone in my position is looked at with skepticism because I'm one of those people who wants to take away books and make everyone read everything on a computer or better yet, watch the YouTube version. This is all completely untrue. I certainly don't think books are going anywhere. I'm an avid reader myself. My whole life I've been an avid reader and a technophile. However, I will say that you can't ignore what's going on with technology. More and more people, especially high schoolers and college students, are getting their information on the web. Librarians are uniquely qualified to help students sort through all that information. If they just direct students to books, then students will be missing out on a lot of information, information that may very well be more relevant and more recent. Is it really a librarian's job to inculcate a love of reading in students? Isn't that a parent's job? Or maybe an English teacher along the way? And is it the end of the world if someone doesn't want to read Bleak House? I've known lots of people who don't read "literature," including most of the people in my family. They still read. Mostly they read mysteries and popular fiction, magazines and a daily newspaper. Yes, the NEA report says that reading is declining, especially among the 18-24 crowd. Many people in this group are required to read for school, much more than I remember being required to read when I was in college. I also remember not having time to read for pleasure in either college or grad school. I'd like to see another study about reading online. Do people now read more online? And maybe this whole thing isn't a problem with technology, but a problem with our society generally not encouraging leisure time. I'm willing to join the fight to encourage more reading when librarians (and I know many who already do) will admit that navigating and being critical of web-based information is equally important.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
One thing I did that usually works for me was to actually schedule a couple of tasks I had been putting off. I have a lot of semi-ongoing projects that if I don't make time to work on them, I will ignore them. They have no end date and very little impact, but they still have some importance to someone--things like documentation.
Though I managed to stave off panic yesterday, still it sometimes seems like I have way too much to do.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Perhaps the reason I didn't like this book is because I am not its target audience. The audience seems to be business leaders, ceo's, pr and marketing people and mostly people who don't really understand what blogging is. Since I know what blogging is and how it's changed a lot of what I do, I obviously didn't need the information the book provides. So maybe someone who's clueless about blogging might get more out of it. However, I also didn't find the book very well written. First of all, it has two authors but it tries to have a single voice. In a book that's supposed to be about conversations, it's ironic that it has no sense of conversation. In trying to have a single voice, it has no voice. At the beginning of the book, the authors reference Cluetrain Manifesto, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. CM also has multiple authors. Rather than trying to mesh the voices together into something monolithic, each author gets a voice. I think NC would have benefited greatly from this approach. I want to hear Shel and Robert, not "The Author."
The best section of the book is the "Doing it Right" section. Here there's a list of ways to blog effectively. The suggestions offer here make sense but won't be new to anyone who's been blogging.
If you're in business and want to blog, rather than reading this book, I'd suggest just reading a bunch of blogs and getting a sense of blogging that way. If you want to understand the foundation upon which the idea of business blogging is built, read Cluetrain Manifesto instead. It's a better read and more effectively conveys the change that the Internet has had on business.
Most of the reviews at Amazon are positive, but here's one that echoes my own thoughts:
"This book falls in the category "airport literature", i.e. written for managers who like to be updated on topics and lingo."
Technorati Tags: naked conversations
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Maybe I need to move on to a different conference. I'm skipping a session right now because there was nothing of interest to me and I'll probably skip the next one. The teaching and learning track is offering something on using an intelligent agent to provide Blackboard help. I don't really want to know about that.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I'm looking forward to the conference where I hope to have some good conversations and hear some interesting presentations. And there will also be good food and drink.
I'm sure there will be 95 emails waiting for me when I return, but that's okay.
*This is something that people can do themselves, but the same people every year forget and ask me to do it. Or they wait until it's too late to do themselves and the material is only available on DVD.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I guess that's the way academics are. There are stretches of time with no specific obligations but plenty to do during which the things that need to get done don't quite get done. And then there are the stretches of time with too many specific obligations, plus the leftover stuff that didn't get done before. I suppose every industry has its busy times, but I think I'm getting too old for this roller coaster ride. Partly, it's my own fault for signing myself up for these things, but life would be boring if I just sat back and coasted, wouldn't it?
Monday, January 15, 2007
Although, I'd love to be able to throw together the things in my cabinets to make something tasty without following a script, I think much of the pleasure (and the stress relief) I get comes from the focused attention on the recipe. I rarely have a recipe memorized and so I must concentrate on what it tells me to do. While I'm concentrating on the instructions, I can't really think about anything else. Any worries I've had disappear as I rush to get onions chopped or carrots peeled or find the curry tucked away in the cabinet.
There's the added pleasure, too, of watching everything transform. I love watching onions soften and broccoli turn bright green, sauces thicken and butter melt. And the colors of things mixed together, of broccoli next to carrots, of tumeric turning everything yellow, of tomatoes mixing with cream to be almost (but not quite) pink. It reminds me of being a kid again, when I would mix play-dough colors together or paint and I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. And it really didn't matter. I was delighted nonetheless.
Friday, January 12, 2007
- Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
Technorati Tags: recipes, technology
Thursday, January 11, 2007
powered by performancing firefox
Technorati Tags: project365
I honestly feel pretty bad that we haven't done a better job of instilling the importance of schoolwork in Geeky Boy. I believe we've instilled the importance of learning and education, but we haven't really explained that to get that learning and education, there are hoops to jump through. And sometimes those hoops aren't fun and are quite difficult, but you have to do them anyway. Geeky Boy feels pretty defeated right now, like there's just no chance of pulling it out. School, which used to be easy for him, has now gotten difficult.
I remember when school first got hard for me. It was math. I'm actually very good at math, but when we got to trig, I was so confused. And I was afraid to ask for help. I sat in class, feeling stupid and just muddled through. But, when the final came around, I did some math and figured out I could pull out an A if I got a 98 on the exam. So, I went to my teacher and I explained that I'd let myself fall behind because I didn't always understand what was going on. So he worked with me for about an hour or so and I got it. And then I went home and studied my butt off and I got the 98. Wherever you are, Mr. Chandler, thank you! A similar thing happened again in calculus and I got a friend to tutor me. Somewhere I found the motivation to do better. Now, I need to help Geeky Boy find his.
I'm still on the fence about homework. In elementary school, I think it's superfluous. In middle school, though, it's obviously laying the groundwork for high school and college. Here in the northeast, academic competition is fierce. This is where some of the extra work comes from. People want to make sure their kids get into the best schools. Public schools compete with private schools, wanting to prove that their kids are just as smart as the ones in private schools. This puts a lot of pressure on the kids. It's my job, then, as a parent, to help alleviate that pressure, to support my kids in their work. It's a harder job than I thought. We want our kids to be independent and we want to sit back and watch them become independent and cheer from the sidelines, but sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes we have to dig in with them, show them the way, and do more than cheer. It's not what we remember as kids, but this is the way it is now.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I honestly do my very best to respond to people quickly, but, I, too, have had a number of times when things have slipped through the cracks or I've gotten backlogged. We have a system for keeping track of our work. Whenever someone calls or emails the help desk, they enter the information and assign it to the appropriate person. If I get a phone call or email, I enter it into the same system. Recently, I checked to see how many of these incidents I've logged in the system and it's well over 200. That's an average of about 3 a day since the beginning of school. Typically, of course, the issues don't trickle out at 3 a day. Usually, there's a day where there's 25 issues sitting there for me to deal with and I have to decide what's most important to handle first. I actually follow a lot of the GTD principles when dealing with these things. I set aside time at least once a week, but during busy times, it's often every day, to go through these and handle them. Anything that takes 5 minutes or less, I handle immediately, including letting the person know that the situation has been taken care of. Often there are issues where I need more information or that I know are complicated. Sometimes I divvy these tasks out to my student workers. At the beginnings of semesters, however, I don't have workers around, so it falls to me. It's very easy to get overwhelmed pretty quickly between what's already sitting in front of me to be dealt with, long term projects, and the panic-stricken phone calls and emails. In theory, things that sit in the system for too long will get picked up by your work group or a manager. There are a lot of things that only I can handle, unfortunately and that's true for others in my group. Also, from what I understand from those in desktop support, everyone has so much on their own plate, they can't possibly take on anyone else's work.
And then, you get delays. I don't know what to do about this. My strategy works for me, though it's not perfect. A lot of the desktop people have to go visit people whereas most of my issues can be handled remotely. During those visits, things can bog down. The problem can be bigger than they anticipated and then they get behind. Personally, I think we need more people, but I've been told that that's not in the budget and faculty often complain then that "we're spending all their money." I'm not in a position to view the problem from 10,000 feet. I see it at 10 feet and what I see is some good people working hard, but maybe not efficiently enough or maybe without enough help. I would really like for our department to be viewed as a well-oiled machine. I would like it if people felt that we provide reliable service all the time. I know some people feel that certain individuals within our department are efficient and reliable, but as a whole, not so much. And unfortunately, that hurts all of us.
powered by performancing firefox
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I have a couple of theories about why MG behaves this way. One theory is that she has an older sibling in high school and she must hear her and her friends behave this way. The other theory, more likely I think, is that she's not adjusting to the new school very well and her way of dealing with her insecurity is to try to control the one thing she can: GG.
We've explained to GG that she doesn't have to be friends with MG and that we'd be happy to have anyone else from her class over for a playdate. We're also trying to help her come up with what she can say in response to the mean things MG says. The teacher has encouraged us to role play with GG so that she feels confident saying what she needs to to MG. The thing is the meanness is subtle most of the time. She uses a quiet and pleasant voice when she's being manipulative. So I think that GG has recognized that she's not on the up and up, but hasn't been able put her finger on what's going on and hasn't really known what to do about it. I had some very unpleasant mean girl experiences in middle and high school. It seems it's a rite of passage, but I really don't want it to be. I hope we can give GG enough confidence to deal with these situations and not feel beaten down by them. I can't believe we're dealing with this at the tender age of seven! On the bright side, it gives us time to deal with it. On the down side, it could be a looong road to the end of high school.
Monday, January 08, 2007
I'm supposed to set goals for myself for the coming year. I'm thinking surviving might be a good one. I've done so much in the last couple of years that I'm thinking it might be time to sit back and just do the minimum to get by. That's not really my style, but maybe I'm feeling worn out and tired. Maybe Monday came too soon.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
I don't know Chris Carney, but I've seen Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak several times up close and personal and I wouldn't characterize either one of them as macho. Sestak is rather small in stature and a bit soft spoken and both Murphy and Sestak seem to think with their hearts as opposed to other parts of their anatomy. Those are not negative qualities in my mind, but I think saying that because someone served in the military or likes football makes them macho is a mistake. There's more to a personality than past work experience.
The fruits of those efforts arrived in Washington last week. Take, for example, three House freshman from Pennsylvania. Patrick Murphy, the son of a Philadelphia police officer, was a West Point professor, a prosecutor and an Iraq war veteran before he ran for Congress. Chris Carney was a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserves. Joe Sestak is a former Navy vice admiral whose last job was commanding 15,000 sailors and dozens of ships and aircraft for operations in Afghanistan.
“Joe Sestak — that guy’s muscular!” says Mr. Lapp. “He’s a vice admiral. I’ve told him to spend a lot of time going on the national talk shows. He can really do a service changing the mold and the way the Democratic Party is viewed.”
Lizza thinks the predominance of macho men might be a problem for women's issues. I don't think this is necessarily the case. Murphy and Sestak both ran on issues important to women such as health care and pro choice. Maybe most of their issues weren't specific to women, but I don't think we need to worry too much about these macho men inisisting women stay at home.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
The first book they recommended was The Kite Runner. So far, I'd say they're one for one. This was a good book. The characters and the story hooked me almost immediately. The story begins in pre-war Afganistan when the narrator is a young boy of about 9. I was fascinated by the setting, knowing nothing of Afganistan before the Taliban took over. How accurate the descriptions were, I don't know, but they were certainly compelling. The narrator, Amir, is the son of an influential and wealthy father. His best friend is the son of his father's servant, a Hazara named Hassan. Their friendship, however, is conflicted (at least in Amir's mind) by the difference in their status. This relationship is the anchor of the story. It is the conflict the narrator can't let go, even after he leaves Afganistan. The relationship is also a touchstone in many ways of the relationship Amir has with his father.
The narrator ages more than twenty years during the course of the book, and I was impressed by the way he seemed the same boy we met at the beginning of the book and also a completely different person who had been through two wars and a gruelling move to America. Also impressive were the descriptions of Afganistan during the reign of the Taliban when Amir returns to take care of some business of his father's (so as not to spoil the whole book for you). Amir remembers the tranquil Afganistan of his youth and seeing so much destruction and violence is heartbreaking. As a reader, I, too, felt the sadness of seeing something that was described so beautifully at the beginning of the book completely destroyed.
My only problem with the book, really, was the resolution. It's not that I didn't like the way it ended, but it was painful getting there. There were so many mini-conflicts at the end, I felt like I was in a bad action movie at times. The conflicts make sense, but I think at least one or two could have been left out and the ending still would have worked.
I would recommend the book wholeheartedly. It's a good read. You won't be disappointed with the story or the writing.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
So, this evening mistakes were made. Tonight's meal, Pork Roast with Three-Mushroom Ragout, was quite tasty despite the mistakes. First mistake, should have deboned the roast. Okay, before that, I should have checked the recipe more carefully to see that I needed only 1.75 pounds of meat and not the 6.5 pounds I ended up with. And I could have had the butcher debone it. What I need it one of these. But, I managed to cut a third of the roast off with a little help from Mr. Geeky. I froze the other two thirds and will do something else with it. Second mistake, wrong kind of crushed tomatoes. Got the kind with Italian Seasoning. Didn't seem to matter that much, though. Third mistake, no cremini mushrooms. Fourth, no sundried tomatoes without oil. This is what I mean about ingredients. If the store I frequent doesn't have these things, I'm not running all over creation to find them. I just added a few more shitaki and button mushrooms and lived with oil soaked tomatoes. Didn't seem to affect it much. Fifth mistake. The timer didn't set correctly (i.e. I failed to push the "start" button) and so, my noodles cooked a little longer than they should have. Still the meal was good and I would definitely eat it again.
The lessons? 1) Read the recipe carefully before going shopping. 2) Make do with what you have.
- I used to sing in a church choir. I even sang a few solos. It was the one thing I liked about church. I still enjoy singing in my car and in the kitchen while I cook. I used to sing the kids to sleep. They still remember it.
- I have a teddy bear that's 37 years old. I used to bring him out every year for Christmas to celebrate his birthday. I haven't done that in about five years. He's alive and well (though decrepit) in the attic.
- I was once part of an all-women's Quake team. I was 28 or 29 at the time. All the other women were 19-22. We used to regularly beat teams made up of teenaged boys. It was a great stress reliever.
- I had a dog named Boo (just like the song). Boo was an avid car chaser and was hit by a UPS truck when I was 11. Ten years later, my dad got another dog and named him Boo II.
- I changed my major 8 times in college. I started out as an English major, but I considered French, Business, Economics, International Studies and various combinations of those before returning to English again. At one point, I wanted to be an International Business Lawyer. Sometimes I wish I had majored in Computer Science, but they didn't even have that as a major then.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
- I want to get back to exercising, at least three times a week. I was doing pretty well with this last year, but by summer, had quit keeping up with it. I have to think about when to do this. Right now, either in the morning or at night, it's dark out. I could certainly do something indoors, but walking is the easiest exercise I can do, which makes it more likely I'll keep it up. I'd like to do some yoga with that. Once the weather gets better, I can play tennis and do other outdoor activities.
- Along with the exercise, I'm planning to eat better. This past semester has been one of convenience foods. And most of those have been fairly unhealthy. I'm sure there will be a few of those still, but if it's only every once in a while as opposed to every day, it won't be a big deal. Mr. Geeky has resolved to cook more, so we'll see how that goes.
- Reinstitute family game night. We have a ton of board games and got some new ones for Christmas, and it'd be fun to get back to having at least one day a week when we do something together as a family.
- Reinstitute date nights. Mr. Geeky and I were going on a date twice a month, but in December, we just couldn't get it together since I was working constantly on the dissertation and we just generally had too much other stuff going on. I just don't want this to fall completely by the wayside.
- Quit complaining about work. I think this is going to be a hard one. I have had some frustrating things to deal with at work. It's hard not to let that stuff get you down. Plus, two of my favorite colleagues resigned just before the winter break. Mostly, I just want to focus on constructive solutions as opposed to railing against perceived injustices.
- Related to the above work resolution, I want to follow my passions at work. I have enough freedom in my job that much of the time I can pursue my interests as I see fit. For me, that's going to mean more reading and research and more writing about that research. It's also going to mean finding a way to share my knowledge and expertise with my immediate community as well as the broader community. And, I want to find ways to connect people who are interested in similar issues.
Update: One other resolution I had was to make some blog changes. As you can see, I've upgraded. Mainly I was waiting for haloscan. Finally, they have got it working with the new blogger. There will be more changes later, but I need to run off to the grocery store for some healthy food.
Monday, January 01, 2007
I'm returning to work on Thursday, so I get to slide into it slowly. I still have grading to do and calculating, but I suspect I'll be done with that fairly quickly. Grades are due Wednesday. I do have resolutions and some reflections on the past year, but no energy to deal with those for now. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday and I wish you all the best in the new year.