Filed under: — Joe @ 10:04 pm

Thanks to Alex King‘s site and his very handy WP Grins plugin, I now have a choice of smilies to use in my posts, just by clicking on them, and if I did it right, commenters should have them available, too.



Filed under: — Joe @ 8:37 pm

I feel very clever to have figured out, not only how to use that hack (AuthImage) to eliminate the comment spam (I hope), but also how to have a cron job go in and delete the little images it creates once a day in the middle of the night.

(Luckily, my totally excellent webhost TotalChoice Hosting provided some easy tools, but I still feel a lot geekier than I used to!)

Chess is one thing–torture is another

Filed under: — Joe @ 5:48 pm

Spent the day today in an elementary school gymnasium, from 930 AM-330 PM. My daughter was playing in a chess tournament, and rather than giving the parents and coach a classroom for waiting and coaching between rounds, as most schools do, this school decided that everyone could just wait in the gym.

No chairs (well, they rounded up a few plastic ones), and literally a hundred or so (but it seemed like 6,565) screaming, running, elementary school chess players.

They sit quietly and concentrate during the games (in another room), but between games, they have to run, scream, wrestle, squeal, chatter, whine, fall, jump, and create agony in any adult in the region.



Upgrade plus improvement

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:26 am

Upgraded to WP 1.2. That seems to have gone very smoothly indeed. My response was “that’s it? How simple!”

But I also noticed my first comment spam today 🙁 .

So to deal with that, I’ve required an entry for name and email address, and installed a neat little hack from Gudlyf called AuthImage. It means that now, when people try to leave comments, they’ll have another step to go through…but it’s an easy one. Just enter the text that appears in an image (not machine readable!), and the comment should be accepted.


Sad Day

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:05 am

RIPA sad anniversary today.

R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.


Eminem Does it Again

Filed under: — Joe @ 2:18 pm

Eminem's Mosh Eminem’s new anti-Bush, pro-voting, rap Mosh has been getting a lot of attention, very well-deserved. Eminem’s been a high-ranker on my Muvo for a long time. Now that I’ve seen the video of Mosh, I’m even more impressed. It’s powerful, innovative in its look, and extremely effective. Thanks to onegoodmove for the streaming links!
Realplayer or Quicktime.


What kind of keynote?

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:27 pm

Next week I’m leaving for sunny Florida (yech!) to present a paper at the 2004 Conference on Information Technology of the League for Innovation in the Community College. The conference begins on November 7, and on November 8 the keynote speaker will be Jeb Bush.

It’s not easy to think of a worse choice for a keynote at a conference on higher education, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers, and my policy is to try to avoid keynotes, anyhow. The only one I’ve ever attended that was worthwhile was Edward Said’s standing-room-only talk at the MLA some years ago.

But now I’m thinking–by November 8, will the election even be decided? Will Jeb Bush even be able to take time away from fighting lawsuits to come to the conference? (the program says he’s confirmed, but who really knows?) Will he be the brother of a lame duck, or the awarder of Florida to his greatful re-elected brother (shudder!).

The talk is scheduled for 1:45-3PM. Sounds like an excellent time to be sipping a seltzer with lime at the poolside!



Filed under: — Joe @ 8:45 pm

My favorite art history teacher had been asking me about what kind of software, or web service, she could use to post an image, and have students (easily, with simple instructions) annotate the image–not just posting comments underneath, but actually writing right on the image, focusing on specific areas or details, and having their annotations show up for everyone to see, preferably as little popup windows, with their names (or at least nicknames) attached.

I remembered that a VKP colleague had mentioned Fotonotes at some time in the past (although I misremembered it as “Footnotes”). But that didn’t quite satisfy–not clear enough in the documentation, buggy in the implementation, and generally lacking in the UI (as too often happens with open source efforts).

I figured that a good programmer could easily whip Fotonotes into shape–but I’m not a good programmer, and don’t even have easy access to one. Besides, my favorite art historian wanted to be able to use this for her class now, like today, or sooner.

In looking around the Fotonotes website, we happened to see a line that said “try Fotonotes at Flickr.” I remembered reading about Flickr, in a very positive light, on boingboing, and I remembered that I’d really been wanting to try it.

So I showed it to her, and she gave it a try, and with a few iterations of writing the specific, step-by-step, hand-holding instructions for students…what a great success. Her students are doing real, active, looking and thinking about the images, zeroing in, adding their annotations, making connections and asking questions–and they can all (easily) see and benefit from each other’s ideas.

The odd thing is that neither Fotonotes, nor Flickr, seem to have really thought of the educational uses this tool can have. For art history, of course, it’s excellent, and my VKP colleague was using it for (I think) a history or American studies course. But I’m sure there are many more. Part of what they seem not to have been seeing (ironically) is that a “photo-sharing service” is really an image-sharing service–it’s fine for baby photos, or cool phonecam shots of Tokyo storefronts in the rain, or Toronto graffiti, but it works even more marvellously for the Merode Altarpiece.


The informed electorate

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:00 pm

PIPA–The Program on International Policy Attitudes (a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland) has released a study that lets us know just how well-informed one portion of the electorate (the portion that supports Bush) is these days.

72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

But it’s not just Iraq.

Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush’s international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues–the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)–and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

There’s more in the study, too, and it’s just as disheartening.

Bush supporters, it seems, just like that Bush. They really, really like him. Anything he says, they think it’s good. And anything good, they think he must say it.


Obstinacy and indignation

Filed under: — Joe @ 11:04 am

The perfect description of work by committee in a bureaucracy–(From Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World):

But more than one apparatus of His Majesty’s Government had become interested, and so it had waxed cumbersome, and been both over-and under-planned. There had been meetings; that much was obvious. Bright young things had attended them, shaped the agendas, had their say, been noted down in the minutes. Someone had anticipated a need to remove the doors of the Vault by main force. Petards, winches, ox-teams had been concatenated to the Bill of Necessaries. Delays and misunderstandings had propagated. No one had showed up at exactly the right time. Important men had missed opportunities to see the humorous side. Obstinacy and indignation were the order of the day.

Sounds like the story of my life, sometimes!


Straight? Would you have a gay marriage? 76% say YES…

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:33 am

….to get better health care.

I knew there was something I liked about Indiana, although I imagine the percentage might be even higher in some other states!

You are a straight man. You like your job but your cheesy company has a terrible health benefit package with poor coverage. A single male friend of yours works a job with excellent benefits. You could be on your friend’s health plan for the same price you are currently paying, if only you go down to the local courthouse and get legally married. Would you do it?

In a recent Gallup poll, over 76% of single Hoosiers polled said yes, they would participate in a civil union with a person of the same sex if it meant they would have a better health plan.

I wonder if there’s a way Kerry can use this to his advantage? 😉

I wonder how many of that 76% may be (in fact) thinking of some added advantages, like Indianapolis steamfitter Bryan Overton, “I don’t see anything wrong with it…Just because you have a marriage certificate doesn’t mean you have to be in love or bone each other.”

No, Bryan, it doesn’t mean you have to….but if you want to…


no fireworks

Filed under: — Joe @ 12:04 pm

No fireworks–very little passion–but Bush still fumbled. And a beautiful sight it was! Now, on to next week, to put him down and out once and for all.
The thrilla in vanilla!

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