7/29/2004

On my way!

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:48 am

A quick entry from the free wireless hotspot (what a civilized amenity! :-)) at the JetBlue terminal in JFK.

Beam me up!I’m on my way to Long Beach for the MERLOT International Conference in Costa Mesa next week (adding a few days early to the trip for vacationing and visiting purposes). I’ll be doing some blogging from the conference, I expect.

I sure do hate air travel, though! Where is my transporter?

7/26/2004

Dia Beacon

Filed under: — Joe @ 11:36 am

Dia BeaconA really great trip yesterday to see (for my first time) Dia Beacon. They really have a fantastic collection–and the space for the installations is perfect. It was completely worth the drive out of the city, which I enjoy anyhow. I was especially impressed by the Robert Smithson pieces, and (of course) Richard Serra and Louise Bourgeois. But I really liked discovering the people whose work I hadn’t seen before–like Donald Judd‘s wooden boxes and Dan Flavin‘s fantastically beautiful flourescent light sculptures.

7/24/2004

The non-debate about Online Learning

Filed under: — Joe @ 3:28 pm

The Chronicle of Higher Ed is continuing their uninformed, inaccurate, crusade against online learning, with this interview (probably not a good permanent link–unless you’re a Chronicle subscriber) with historian (and major technophobe) David Noble.

Noble is pushing his usual line, the line that the Chronicle pushes over and over again–that online teaching is worse than face-to-face teaching (and thus doomed to fail) because it includes no “real” interaction.

Yes there is something more authentic about the classroom because it allows for genuine interpersonal interaction. And this is not a controversial issue. Ask anyone to tell you about what they remember about their education and they will talk not about courses or information imparted, but about the people they encountered. Especially the teachers who changed their lives.

Of course, Noble pretends not to know that this is a fundamentally flawed premise, since in almost every case, and certainly in my experience, students report more “genuine interpersonal interaction” and more quality in that interaction online than in a traditional classroom. The interaction can also be (as I have reported on my VKP Poster) deeper, more significant, more challenging intellectually, more open to productive digression, and more persistent (thus available for review, re-thinking, and criticism), than face-to-face interaction.

Noble’s point of view is not only inaccurate, but willfully inaccurate–ignorant, in fact. Not only does he have zero personal experience in this issue (he’s never taught an online class, he’s never taken an online class as a student), but he seems to have never read a single one (of the literally hundreds) of widely available studies of online learning. The No Significant Difference homepage would be a good place for him to start–he’s got a long way to go before he’s ready to move Beyond No Signicant Difference.

Noble does what these critics do so often–he looks at the worst examples of online teaching and compares them to the best examples of f2f teaching.

My CUNY colleague Steve Brier, and my VKP colleague Roy Rosenzweig, do an excellent job of debunking Noble’s nonsense in their review of his recent book in The Nation (thanks to BMCC colleague Barney Pace for the link!).

Noble’s position is useful, in a way, though–it shows us how far we have to go in informing even our fellow academics (although non-academics may actually be far ahead of the trend in this regard!)

7/23/2004

Word Press Post by Email

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:22 pm

I just can’t seem to get it to work. There’s a way to do it, and some cool features in one of the versions (inline image attachments, no access for users not in the database), but I keep getting these errors (Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in blahblahblah/wp-includes/template-functions-category.php on line 90 ) and if I keep trying, the email account I’ve set up for this totally stops accepting email at all. This is way beyond my php ability, and I see others having the same problem, too.

Maybe in a while somebody will figure it out!

It seems WordPress is working on it–it’s bug #0000167 on the wordpress mosquito.

7/22/2004

USB 2.0

Filed under: — Joe @ 4:48 pm

USB 2.0I finally found a reason to need USB 2.0. I was trying to transfer a movie (made with Pocket DVD Studio–watch out for the automatic Star Wars movie on their website!) to my SD card so I could watch it on my Palm. I put the card in the USB card reader, dragged and dropped, and again and again I got “device error” or “device not ready” after about three minutes of copying. These were big files, about 200 MB, and I had never had problems using this card reader for smaller files.

I began to be suspicious. Tried transferring the same file to the card using the built-in card reader on my laptop (which is USB 2), and it worked perfectly the first time. It seemed the transfer was just going too slow over my poor sluggish little USB 1.0 connection on the desktop computer, so it was timing out, or something.

Quick check to newegg, and a combo USB 2.0/Firewire PCI card is only about $20 (I couldn’t get a USB only card–had to replace my firewire card, because I didn’t have a PCI slot to spare!). Popped that one in, and voila! Not only will my movies go successfully over to my SD card–they’ll go in only about 2 minutes, instead of six minutes.

Now I just need to sell off my old Belkin Firewire card, and rent and rip me some DVD’s for my next plane ride!

7/19/2004

So that’s how he knows!

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:07 pm

My colleague John’s blog onReligion.com alerts me to this very interesting snippet (which he got from The Revealer, via AKMA):

President Bush met last week with some Amish folk in Pennsylvania, and he reportedly told them that he couldn’t do his job if he didn’t trust that God speaks through him.

I’ve been trying to get to the newspaper site, Lancaster Online, where this quote can be found in its original context, but the site is “currently unavailable. Please check back in a few minutes” for the past two hours–I guess getting hammered by people who want to read this story. After all the times I’ve read that Bush really doesn’t believe that he speaks to God, or that God speaks to him, this statement, “speaks through him,” is even worse! It could be one of the famous Bushisms…but then what did he mean?

Picasa

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:54 am

Everybody in the world probably knows that Google has purchased Picasa, and made it available for free. The Picasamarch of Google continues. In this case, I have some real knowledge of the implications, because I’ve been using Picasa for over a year, and it’s a really nice program. In fact, it beats Adobe Photoshop Album (the closest competitor) hands down. I actually paid for Picasa, I liked it so much, and I bought Photoshop Album, too. When my hard drive died, though, I re-installed Picasa almost immediately, and Photoshop Album never made the move. Gmail, Picasa, what will Google give us for free next? I think Adobe is going to be losing a bit of income, this time! Now the only question is, can I get a refund from Picasa, since it’s free now? 🙂

7/18/2004

The Elephants on Neptune

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:30 pm

Elephant I read an excellent Mike Resnick story last night, “The Elephants on Neptune.” It won a well-deserved Nebula last year. Resnick is really amazing. He writes and publishes so much, and so much of it is good, and every story is so different. Just when I think I’ve got him pinned down, and think “OK, so this is what Mike Resnick is like,” he comes out with something else entirely. This story is dark, and funny, and beautifully written, and perfectly paced. The review at Best SF compares it to Golden Age SF. That’s high praise, and not inaccurate…but to me it really reads like Vonnegut. What a little gem!

7/16/2004

New Palm Case

Filed under: — Joe @ 4:34 pm

Sena CaseAfter resisting for a long time, I switched my pocketsolution (which they no longer make anymore) completely minimalist Palm flipcover (just a velcro-ed aluminum flap) for a very nice leather case from Sena. Mainly because I wanted something with pockets for extra SD cards (the duct tape arrangement I tried earlier was just ugly and ineffective). This is very nice. That brand new leather smell, a soft smooth feel, and a much more “executive” appearance. It adds a little more pocket bulk than the aluminum flipcover (more than triple, I’d say), but there’s no free lunch, is there?

Palm Charging

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:56 am

the right chargerSince I’ve been reading so many ebooks on my Palm Tungsten T, I really wanted to take it on vacation. So I loaded it up with a couple of books, and some Audible recordings of Science Friday. But I was worried about the batteries–they’re notoriously short-lived on the Tungsten T. I had a AA-powered “emergency charger” that I bought on Ebay, but if the batteries in there aren’t absolutely fresh, it just draws the charge down! So I bought one of these nifty retractible Zip-Linq sync and charge cables on Tiger Direct–thinking I could just plug in to my laptop’s USB, or even the car adaptor (sitting in the glove compartment). I tried it first in the hotel room in Groton, left it plugged in to my laptop overnight, and in the morning it was only at about 85% charged. That’s funny, I thought. But I stopped thinking it was funny as I watched the charge drop literally before my eyes from 85% down to about 6% (less than where it was when I had plugged it in).

I couldn’t figure it out–I thought it might be because my laptop’s USB port was unpowered–but it had charged my cellphone successfully. I thought it might be because I was charging the cellphone at the same time, but a second test ruled that out. Luckily, at the last minute, I had thrown the AA emergency charger into my bag, so I was able to survive. I finally did some webchecking, and discovered that there are two ziplinq chargers for Palms with universal connectors, an A and a B. The one Tiger Direct had sold me, even though their website claimed it was compatible with the Tungsten T, was actually an A which is not compatible with my Palm. Ziplinq’s website makes this clear. Tiger does not. Did a little more searching and finally, happily, found that Cables4Computer.com is one of the only places to carry the B cable I needed. And now I’m charged, charging, chargable.

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