Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mini Lesson 0: I owe you an explanation


This is the introduction for a series of videos where I show how to create a variety of art projects.

File size: 1.4 MB

Length: 2:39

(There's also an iPod version if you're interested, but that's 14 MB)

Lessig and Laporte

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I'll admit I'm a total Lawrence Lessig fanboy.

I'm also a Leo Laporte fanboy.

So when Lawrence Lessig showed up on this past Sunday's This Week In Tech I was ... very, very happy.

You may want to check that podcast out for yourself. Trust me, it's some good conversation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Podcast 37: Podvangelism and Movies

Click to play or download.

In my
37th podcast
I say "podcast" a lot. I can't help it, it rolls off the tongue.

Show Notes:

  1. What does my nickname have to do with podvangelism? You may not know as much about podcasting as some people, but if you're hearing my podcast now you know more than most people.

  2. The 5th & 6th grade members of my Art Club are going to be making short movies, and so far things are working out well.

  3. I feel inspired to make little movies of lesson ideas/instructions. Look for them soon.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Ad supported service providers like Bravenet are often ok, because the ads are often not too intrusive while the services (like showing me who visits my site here) are great.

Unfortunately, Bravenet took a turn for the worse. At first I thought it was a fluke. After a restart I visited the same Bravenet page a 2nd time and got the same problem - 94 .exe files downloading themselves onto my desktop (It would have been more, but I eventually geve up trying to hit "cancel" or "quit" and just used the "force-quit" command). How they managed to do this while I was using a Mac and running a Firefox based browser (Camino) is beyond me, but needless to say I was very annoyed. I'm just happy that .exe files won't run on a Mac so I don't have to worry about any spyware infections or the like.

Free is good, but it's not worth that. I filed a complaint with Bravenet but since they allowed this to happen I've decided to remove all the code from my webpages.

UPDATE: One thing in Bravenet's favor is the fact that their tech support responded to my complaint faster than any online company I've seen in a long, long time. I don't mean a computer generated something, I mean a living human being asked me to clarify some things and then responded again once I did so.

Bravenet might yet redeem themselves. We'll see.

Saturday, October 22, 2005 2.0

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At long last, has released version 2.0 of their impressive office suite. (Of course the Mac version isn't fully debugged yet, but it hopefully won't be long now. Until then NeoOffice J still rocks.)

If you've yet to download OpenOffice and try it out, then now's a good time to do so. It does 90% of the stuff that Microsoft Office does, and a few things that Office has never done to boot.

Oh yeah, and it's free. Free is good.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Welcome back, Steve!

Steve Dembo, one of my main inspirations for starting this site, was going through a bit of a dry spell so far as blogging and podcasting were concerned. Mind you, I'm not complaining - analog life must often take precedence over digital life.

But no matter, he seems to have returned to the Read/Write Web. If you've yet to check out, then you really should go there to browse through his blog and listen to a podcast or two.

Hey, if he's good enough for Apple to feature his podcast when they rolled out iTunes 4.9, then he should have some great ideas, right?

As a side note, a big hello to everyone over at the Shanghai American School Blogs! They were kind enough to add me to their blogroll.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Going Shopping

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After being used VERY hard, my current MP3 player (A Creative MuVo TX FM) is giving up the ghost. I'm looking for a replacement, but I'm not so sure I want to buy the exact same brand again.

What I want is something that ...

... holds at least 1 gig.

... can record audio.

... can double as an external drive.

... will run off of a standard battery (AAA, etc.)

... will work with my Mac.

... and ...

... is less than $200.

In addition to the kind I already own I also found this, but I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The basics?

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David Warlick was recently interviewed on a talk radio show. I won't go into all the details since I can always just link to his account of the experience, but I do want to cover one question that was asked of him:

"Why should we be bringing technology into our classrooms, when our kids aren’t learning the basics?"

To anyone who is an advocate of technology in the classroom, this question should irritate immensely. As someone who is also an Art teacher, this irritation is an all too common experience.

We (and by "we," I mean everyone - teachers, administrators, parents, students, the list goes on...) tend to value some aspects of education more than others. Administrators tend to focus on standardized tests, since their jobs often depend on those test scores. Teachers focus on their own subjects, since ... well ... they did spend four or more years in college devoting themselves to those areas. Students will focus on whatever they don't find to be boring.

But most of all, society seems to focus on Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Science and Social Studies will often be thrown in as 2nd class citizens, but the so called "Three Rs" are what we usually think of when someone refers to the "basics." This is no doubt an ego boost to the teachers who teach those subjects, while the rest of us feel inferior in comparison.

This should not be the case. The basics, after all, should be whatever students need to know to survive in the real world. I'm not saying that the "Three Rs" are unimportant - they're more important now than they were 100 years ago. What I am saying is that there are other subjects that are equally important. Those who fail to know history are doomed to repeat it. Science is what keeps us from reverting to the fears and superstitions that ran rampant in the dark ages of Europe. Art helps us to develop our creativity - something needed in every well paying job. (And don't forget about expression, communication, and abstract thinking skills.) Technology is so ingrained into our society that I can't think of a profession that isn't impacted by computers in some way, shape, or form.

And yet we still refer to only three subjects as "basic," and then wonder why our children are falling behind.

It's not just certain subjects that are basic. Our educational system is supposed to prepare our students for the real world. That preparation should be the true basic, to which every teacher should adhere.

Let's stick to the basics.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Camino Rocks

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For a while now my favorite browser's been Camino, which is a side project from Like Safari and Firefox, it's a free browser that works on Mac OS X. However, it's faster than Safari and integrates with OS X's GUI better than Firefox.

But now I've discovered a new feature: The Ad Blocker.

No, I'm not talking about the Pop-Up Blocker - that's something already in every browser worth taking up space on your hard drive (read: NOT Microsoft Explorer). Instead, the Ad Blocker goes after banner ads that have been imbedded into a web site.

As soon as I turned it on I started going to as many of my bookmarks as I could think of that had banner ads on them, and it worked pretty well. Google Ads, Double Click, and even some ads that I thought were hand coded into the web pages all succumbed to the might that is Camino. A few things slipped through on my Yahoo! Mail page, but I hardly go there anyway.

So why post this here? There are some people who vehemently oppose any kind of advertising in school. (I myself am neutral about ads in school, since that's another way we can teach students about weighing information based on it's source, but I see the point of keeping ads out of school as well.) A browser that blocks more kinds of ads than others can free up even more web sites for school access.

That, and if I see another "Punch the monkey to win a free X-Box" animated ad I think I'm going to scream.