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Showing posts from February, 2009

Everyone Fights Technology

Sometimes the technology wins.

The reality of computers is that they are still machines. This means that parts wear out — hard drives certainly come to mind. We rely on fragile little boxes, in my case a MacBook Pro, to store our daily work, our family memories, and much more. Even the "non-moving" parts are technically moving on an atomic level, with heat slowly taking a toll. Memory chips start giving "exception errors" and video cards make abstract art of our virtual desktops.

This is why I make lots of backups. It is why I have three external hard drives, and hope the digital demons never cause all three to die at once. One drive is a clone of the MacBook Pro's drive, so if disaster strikes my current work is ready to be revived on another system. The other two are archives, saved for those "I think I did something like that before" moments.

With the preceding in mind, I now admit that even following good, defensive habits is not enoug…

Learning Web 2.0

My students are not as tech-savvy as I assumed. No only are they not on the bleeding edge of technology, they suffer from the standard inattention that all students have.

Online courses aren't as forgiving as "traditional" courses, which means the normal problems students have become more serious. For example, not reading an assignment calendar in a "physical" classroom can result in a late paper, but the student generally has several ways to at least get partial credit. Online, my course accepts late papers for two days... and that's it. Done. The paper is no longer merely late -- it is a zero.

In a traditional class, my reminders would be verbal. Online, they are "announcements" that most students don't seem to read. Reminding students to check the calendar doesn't seem to take hold. Assignments are missed anyway.

The online system requires Java for some features. When a student was having problems uploading files, she waited…

Social Networking and Facebook

Visalia Direct: Virtual Valley
March 2009 Issue
Feb 2, 2009

Social Networking and Facebook

The “Mommy Revolt” on Facebook earlier this year was evidence social networking has gone mainstream. Members of the social networking site were upset when Facebook employees deemed photos of mothers nursing inappropriate. It was a case of original intent versus user desires.

The mothers ended up forming a Facebook group of angry nursing mothers and their “fans.” I’m not sure anyone would claim not to be a fan of motherhood. Facebook certainly didn’t like being perceived as “anti-mom” and soon relented. These women had learned to use Facebook’s social networking features against the company.

Facebook’s executives have said they don’t want to lose any “mature” and “responsible” users. The problem is, users have a way of not being serious all the time.

No matter what a company might intend when it creates a Web site, visitors tend to determine how the technology will be used. And so, what was origi…