laurion: (Default)

Having been almost completely off the grid for two weeks means coming back to a lot of email, blog posts, webcomics, and other sources of news and information.  Some people declare ‘information bankruptcy’ as a way to deal with it, but I’m slogging through pretty well on a priority scheme.  You’d think this is a problem of information overload, but I like Clay Shirky’s thought process on the problem, so I’m going to look at the problem from a different angle; it’s not that I have too much information, is that normally I filter this information on a real-time chronology so I get it in small chunks.  Taken that way, I don’t generally need to institute a prioritization scheme, excepting a very high level (work e-mail and voicemail first, other email and voicemail second, blogs and twitter and other time-sensitive items third, webcomics and other cruft last).  When the filter of chronology breaks, as it has for no, I need to handle things differently.  So, apologies if it takes me a little while to get around to whatever it is.  It’s on my queue, but now I have to do OoOE instead of FIFO.  Here’s Mr. Shirky’s discussion of the issue:

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

What I do.

Apr. 25th, 2008 10:43 am
laurion: (Default)
I often get questions from people wondering why it is I'm paid to sit in front of a computer and play around on the web much of the day, why I make a point of joining facebook, myspace, twitter, livejournal, etc, why I've installed and tried dozens of wiki engines, blog engines, rss agregators, audio, video, and other content creation software. I often sum up my job as straddling the divide between teaching and technology, that my job is to support faculty in bringing technology into the curriculum. But along the lines of show, not tell, I present to you the reader, a set of links to important and relevent works that sum things up nicely.

First, a YouTube video on the life of the current student. Technology is such a big part of their lives, it has to become part of their educational infrastructure as well.



Next, an article on the challenges of integrating technology into pedagogy (the art of teaching). This is an excellent article that sums up a lot of my daily frustrations, hurdles, and goals.

Educause Review Article (Educause is a great resource)

Lastly, another YouTube video, from the same group at KSU, about some of the results of technological integration.

View this post on my blog

laurion: (Default)
A 20% win ratio on a *four* player game is not good. Still climbing the learning curve.

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Wild Cards

Nov. 3rd, 2007 10:29 pm
laurion: (Default)
Last night was the first time I sat in on the new Wild Cards game.

This is going to be fun.

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laurion: (Default)
So, my office has carpet now. It was a hack job, put together out of remnants. In a 6' by 10' (approx.) room, there are at least 6 separate pieces. And the seams are more Joan Miro than Piet Mondrian. Still, the carpeter did a pretty good job given the limitations at hand. And it didn't come from my budget, so I can't say too much.

I can't move in yet. I have a work order in to have the furniture moved into the office, no idea when that will happen. I'd do it myself, but the desks that are going in are ridiculously solid steel. My coworker almost threw out his back moving the desk _out_ of there.

The job itself is going well, but my mind is slagged with other things going on. Until I can settle into the space it's going to be tough for me to really focus on anything more than learning the ropes. So at this point I'm still more reactive than proactive.

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laurion: (Default)
Survived the first day at the new job. Spent time filling out paperwork, getting parking sticker, campus ID, tour, lunch, desk, laptop, e-mail, phone, and all sorts of fun new things like that. Even did some official job function stuff, because even on the first day, I figured it was best to do some real work.

Upside: Campus is really small, and I should get to know most everyone pretty quick.

Downside: There's nothing in the middle of Weston. Food options scarce.

Upside: I have my own office! With a window! And a door that locks!

Downside: I'm in the basement, so the window starts at head level when standing. I don't expect much view. Plus, the office isn't in good shape at the moment.

Upside: Shiny almost new laptop!

Downside: They're PC-centric, with an Exchange server.

Upside: My building is one of the few on campus with WiFi!

Downside: See above. Plus, I get *zero* cell signal. See prior comment on the middle of Weston.

Upside: The College is at a turning point, really starting to make forward momentum.

Downside: Objects at rest, Newton's laws, must put up with the past while reaching for the future.

Upside: Better commute, shorter hours, more flexible time, more holidays.
Downside: Fewer sick days (but I don't use too many), longer lead times on picking vacation, going back to 3 weeks/year vacation.

Upside: Being very in charge of my own day to day.

Downside: I suspect the increased quantity of cycles used in the scheduler queue will slow down simple multitasking in favor of complex multitasking. We'll have to see how various algorithms perform under real world load averages.

Upside: New and exciting things to do!

Downside: New and exciting policies and procedures and cultures and politics to have to learn and adapt to.

Sometimes it is as hard to let go of the tiger as it is to hold on...

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laurion: (Default)
It's been a while since I last updated. Life has been turning itself inside out, and change has come at me from all directions:

  • I turned 30 recently. This doesn't yet feel any different from 29, or even 25, or even 21, for the most part. But then again, I live in my skin every day, and so the changes are so small to me as to be imperceptible. Still, because of this, it doesn't strike me as a big change.

  • In a few weeks I will no longer be a member of None Of The Above, the A Cappella ensemble I've been with for three years. This was a bit sudden to me, and emotionally, it feels like a breakup. It wasn't my choice, but I'm coming to accept the decision, and it has freed me up to take some ballroom dance lessons, so it's not all bad.

  • The biggest change is that as of October 1st, I'll be working at Regis College. After 7+ years without much growth, I'm stepping out of the comfort zone and into a new role. I'll be their new Instructional Technologist, which is sufficiently different from m past experience that I'm sure it'll be a struggle at first. It's also a small cut in pay, which is going to make things exceedingly squinchy for me for a time, but he opportunity for growth and future advancement outweighs the downsides. this is the change that has me the most nervous, although it doesn't hurt as much as I thought it might. Yet.

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laurion: (Default)
In the past week I've:

  • hacked the router and installed DD-WRT

  • upgraded and migrated dokuwiki

  • solved my backup/sync problems with unison

  • set up my own OpenID server, and successfully logged in with it


And so far, none of it has blown up in my face....

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*nudge*

Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:55 am
laurion: (Default)
Just a reminder, that if you've nothing better going on tonight, you should come to http://noneabove.org/sf/ at 8pm. Great music, concessions, casual fun, and requires very little on your part beyond being there. I'll be there either way, but the more, the merrier!

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laurion: (Default)
Ankle update: Still tender, but good for everything but sports. Been walking on it without anything but the occasional Tylenol for 3 or 4 days now.

Weather update: sunshine has arrived along with television season finales. Good timing.

Work update: AAAAH! Phones! Hundreds of phones, everywhere! Goodbye students, hello slogging through rollouts. Desperately hoping for something more interesting/rewarding to do.

Gaming update: keeps going. Room for more with summer here. Minor boardgaming and LARP planning happening.

Social update: need more. Anticipate hearing about an upcoming event. Contact me if you have ideas or want in.

Music update: Still love singing. Lots of work to get ready for concert in under three weeks. Glad to be with a group that enjoys, rewards, and displays hard work. Sometimes stressed by it though.

Weekend update: spending much time on the road helping my brother pack up and move back to Ithaca. Must hide opinion that he is dismantling his current life piece by piece and trying to go back to an earlier time. If it works for him, that's cool, but expectations are low. Glad to help out though. It's his life and he gets to set the direction.

Other updates: will come later, out and about I go.

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Ow, ow.

May. 17th, 2007 12:43 pm
laurion: (Default)
Tuesday night while playing squash, I rolled my foot over and twisted my ankle. Ow. In my defense though, it was the last game of a 5-game match, and I was up 10-4, and it was my serve, so I probably would have won. Stayed home yesterday, but did go to rehearsal. Up and about today, but taking it easy, as there is still some pain.

And while there are still a few weeks before people's schedules completely fill up, I'd like to point people to http://noneabove.org/sf/ .

June 2nd, 8 pm., three great a cappella groups, $10.

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laurion: (Default)
Mother's Day festivities went rather well. The house was appropriately cleaned, and put into very good shape, the food was excellent, and everyone seemed to have a good time. That said, having 9 humans at one time means we went through a lot of dishes, prepware, servingware, utensils, etc. Someday I'll have the kitchen back.

Oh, and for anyone with an interest in acting, role playing games, improv, larping, those sorts of things, let me point you over to Paul Tevis and Have Games, Will Travel. Episode 3 of his sub-show at http://www.havegameswilltravel.net/index.php?post_id=213395 is a nice reflection on some of the topics, and discussions like this can help to make better gamers and game masters.

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laurion: (Default)
Yeah, I don't know what that title means either.

There's a new coffee machine in the break room [1] . The fridge there dispenses ice. I've figured out how to make ice coffee. *grin*

Last weekend was the first BSCF Games Day. It was sparsely attended, which wasn't a surprise, but there were always enough people there for me to play a game, and attendance picked up as the night went on.

Like the Angel of Death, Spring Cleaning is upon us! Ahhh!!!!!

[1] It's a Flavia system. I had nothing against the old Keurig unit, but this one does have some interesting choices, and an LCD screen. Hmm. Should talk to the guys across the wall about hacking that....



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laurion: (Default)
This past weekend I took off and drove close to a thousand miles all said and done. I went down to the DC area for the East Coast Acappella Summit, a weekend long conference with seminars, concerts, a party, charity auction, chance to meet and greet, and a lot of other pretty cool stuff. I mostly went for the networking, and I got to do a lot of that. The kickass concerts alone were worth it too, although I only got to see two of the four (missing both matinee concerts for various reasons). I gave a seminar on podcasting and how it can be used by groups for promotional purposes, attended seminars on digital music distribution, barbershop basics, vocal percussion, the legalities of cover songs, etc. I got to have long conversations with Freddie Feldman (producer of Dark Side of the Moon A Cappella), Wes Carroll (Mouth Drumming), and Barry Carl (former bass for Rockapella of Carmen Sandiago fame). I also got to meet people from other groups like a-cappella.com, The Chromatics, Men In Black, and InPulse, as well as solo artists like Adam Matta and Yo Yo Beats. I did some audio journaling of the trip, so now I get to pull those together and splice them, and if it comes out well, I'll link it here.

I drove down Friday, and there was rain for almost the entire 10 hour drive. I stopped by my hotel just log enough to pick up the keys, then went off to the friday night concert. Afterwards int he hotel room I found that I'd screwed up about half of friday's journal recordings. *sigh* Saturday started early and went late with the afterglow party saturday night,which included an absolutely smoking improved rendition of Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman. Sunday wrapped things up with some business talk, good byes, and the long drive home. This time, with pleasant weather! (always makes the drive better) I got to clear out most of the backlog of unlistened to podcasts with all that driving, and had a really good time. The car, with its new transmission, performed very well. Now I've got another half-dozen plus albums to rip to iTunes, and some great ideas.

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laurion: (frustration)
Transmission is shot, and has to be rebuilt. I'll be without a car until tomorrow at least,
and it doesn't look happy for the wallet either.

Bugger, bugger, bugger all this for a lark.
(Or if you don't like that reference, try this one: Buggerit millenium hand and shrimp!)

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laurion: (Default)
Recently I started reading the works of author Steven Brust, and tearing through them at a fairly rapid rate. They're light, and entertaining enough to keep me going. Towards the end of the second book, I come across this small exchange:
"Vladimir," said Cawti, "how should we approach them?"
"Yes," said Morrolan dryly. "You wouldn't want her to turn you into a newt."
"I'll get better," I said.

I got a few odd looks when I burst out laughing at that point.

(I'm sure there's at least one of you out there who is scratching their head at the moment. It's a Monty Python And The Holy Grail reference. No one make fun of that person for not getting it, ok?)

P.S., the recent 2.1 update to WordPress? Me likey.....

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laurion: (Default)
On of my goals this year is to be more organized. I don't necessarily mean organizing all the physical stuff I have around (although that's part of it), but to improve the organization, and thus, the efficiency, of all the things in my life. I have a _lot_ of hobbies and activities and commitments (some would say too many) and over the past few years I've been slowly building up efficiency in managing them.

Many of you have heard of the GTD (Getting Things Done) methods. A lot of people swear by it, enough so that a couple years back the CIO gave everyone in the organization a copy of the book. Recently I went through it (in audiobook form, because I had more time to listen to it in my car than to pick up the actual book), and while I think most of it requires a rather difficult shift in lifestyle that I'm not sure is worth the payout, there are several points that I do agree with.

One of the big ones is that if you have a commitment, or a thing to do, or a place to be (or whatever else is in your mind that the book calls 'stuff'), and you don't get it out of your head and into some trusted reference place, it'll either be lost, or rattle around your head taking up brain cycles and causing the feeling of too much to do. Trusted in this sense doesn't really mean something you trust to not lose your data (although, again, that's part of it), but trusted in the sense of something you'll have regular access to, and you can rely on to be up to date, able to show what you need to remember, and that you'll actually use regularly. A sort of external brain, or a vm swap page that you can use to get things down while you're thinking of them so you can stop thinking of them. In years past individuals may have used a variety of tools, like a blotter calendar, rolodex, appointment book, in tray, dayrunner, secretary (a real external brain!), etc. But I'm a believer that technology should make our lives easier, so I favor the newer electronic options. There are also newer non-electronic options like the Hipster PDA. So far it's working.  Much of this could be done with a wiki, but I'm also keen on not having to build the tools unless I have to.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Find the tool that does the thing and does it well. Here's what I like:

Google Calendar. I actually prefer Apple's iCal, but I'm regularly not in front of my own computer, and Google's access from any station is the tipping feature. GCal looks and feels a lot like iCal, and rightly so: things work well in that model, at least for me. Gcal does a pretty good job of offering up access so I can sync it with my iPod, or my phone, or otherwise get it out and into a portable format, as well as being able to e-mail or SMS reminders for information push instead of pull.

Tasktoy. I'm a list oriented person. I make lists for lots of things. Last year I was using Remember The Milk, which has a very slick interface, but I found it to be too slow, and tasktoy has some really nice features, like setting a cookie for location awareness. If I log in from home, it shows me tasks and lists designated for achievable at home. Similarly if I log in from the office. Tasktoy is also a lot faster. The one think I miss from RtM is shortcut keys so I don't have to use the mouse as much. Maybe I'll look into building some of those with greasemonkey. (*adds that to a list...*) Again, the key here for me is that I can access it from any internet connection. I used to use my palm pilot for this function, and it worked great, but I've moved away from carrying that with me everywhere, because of battery life problems and the desire to simplify the physical stuff in my life (another big theme in my organization). I look forward to the day when my iPod is also a decently functional PDA. For those who are not as list oriented, and those who are, there's a ton of options out there for dumping and remembering those to-do's in your life. Zirr.us looks interesting, as does Stikkit.

Information management. I am a voracious consumer of web based information. I have hundreds of bookmarks, and read dozens of incoming news sources on various topics. For a few years I've been completely sold on RSS and getting everything to come in that way. It's not strictly speaking a push technology, but it does let the computer pull the information without me having to pull it myself. Again, I'm lucky enough to be looking at a world where more and more of these things can be done online, making for access from many places easy. I aggregate everything from computer news sources, word a day, gaming news, software updates, newspapers, music news, and even all my webcomics. I even have a custom LJ layout that turns my friends list into an RSS feed so I can aggregate that. Typically anything which is transitory in nature I pull through RSS, excepting e-mail and IMs, as those are more interactive mediums. This lets me rapidly scan through 200-300 items a day, discarding most, and opening into tabs (I love tabs!) anything which needs more than a cursory glance. The two big RSS aggregators online right now are Bloglines and Google Reader. Both of them are good. Neither of them works for me. I want my feed items sorted by feed, not by time, I want to be able to quickly mark something as read and to get it out of my sight, because I am ruthlessly discarding anything which no longer needs to be read, or has already been opened in a new tab. And on top of that, I like projects that are under my control and that I can customize (why I use WordPress for my main blog, instead of LJ, e.g.), so I use a project called Gregarius, and a plugin that lets me double-click a feed item to mark it as read and hide it from sight.

I've also gone back to del.icio.us to help manage my information content. They have a new firefox extension that takes over the local bookmarks, and routes everything into del.icio.us. This makes it _very_ easy to keep things in sync at home and the office, and to not have to make a local toolbar with my most used links. It gives you a toolbar that can display different groups of links, and makes it very easy to record and tag link for later retrieval. Previously I used Spurl, but the sheer number of tools that enhance the functionality of del.icio.us brought me back to it.

Wishlist's are a specialized list, because it fills with things that aren't to do, to get at the grocery store, or to pack for a trip, but are items I'd like to have some day. This list also has to be public to a certain extent, so others can find items at gift giving occasions. Amazon.com provides an excellent service if what you want is on Amazon.com. Over the past year I've moved from Giftbox to MetaWishlist, and now to GiftHat, because of various features, and developer responsiveness (MetaWishlist, excellent as it is, does not seem to be under development any more). I want a list that has a bookmarklet to make it easy to enter items I come across, and like a registry lets gift givers "reserve" items. This past Christmas and the one before I received too many duplicate gifts, prompting the move to GiftHat.

There are a large number of tools that I use to organize my computer usage and to streamline that, but this post is about the external brain tools, so I'll save the others for another post.

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laurion: (Default)
Where else can you catch 6 diverse A Cappella groups and support charity at the same time?  Come out to Framingham on January 28th and see Slapdash Graduate, In The Moment, Firedrill!, Lowell Gentlemen Songsters, Boston Jazz Voices, and None Of The Above.  Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. An absolute steal for this much music.  Go to http://www.noneabove.org/fcl/ for full information.

I hope to see some of you there.

If $12 is too much for you, but you'd like to go anyhow, there's some opportunities to help us out and see the show for free.  We need a few people to help with tickets at the door, and perhaps to help with refreshments as well.  Let me know if you are interested.

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laurion: (Default)
Welcome to 2007 everyone, get used to writing it on your checks.

It's a new year, the days are getting longer again, the holidays are over and people are getting back to work and in some cases, school. In general, it is a time of new beginnings, and turning towards life again.
I guess this is part of why people make resolutions now rather than at other times of the year. If it were me, I'd do my annual review and goal setting on my birthday. Maybe I should do that this year, as it's a big birthday coming up. (30, for those of you playing along at home)

But how could I not make a few internal resolution at this time of year? I'm not public about them usually, maybe because if I fail I have fewer people to answer to, maybe because I don't make much of myself overly public. But getting them out there makes them more of a promise, so maybe that'll help keep me honest. One of those resolutions is to post more often, as part of not shying away from openness. So if you see me, or talk to me, and I haven't posted in a few days, feel free to give me a verbal kick in the pants.

The holidays were a jumble of family, and more family, and friends, and more family, and friends. And cats. And despite the uphill battles and stresses of figuring out how to make all the holidays work, it went pretty well. Plus, I got double aces around in Pinochle, so that's a good thing! One of the new toys (and the biggest new toy) is an 80GB iPod. It's replacing the old 40GB, mostly because I need the larger capacity to actually carry my whole music collection, but it's about 2 generations newer than the old one, with a color screen, photo capability, and movie capability. Last night I started playing around with converting some tv episodes to see how it handles video on the go, and the tools out there for the Mac make it a dead simple operation. But it takes a _long_ time to convert a 700MB DivX file to iPod capable MPEG4 on this underpowered PPC mini in the office. Heck, it takes about an hour on my MacBook Pro. Price to be paid in going from one highly compressed format to another. So I'll have to see about batching things up and letting it run overnight. And maybe stepping up to the Core Duo mini.

Our apartment now has a functional fireplace, and I like to make use of it. So one of my wishlist items this Christmas was a decent set of fireplace tools. That translated into my fireplace receiving almost as many gifts as anyone else this year. Not only did it get the 5 piece tool set, it also got a large bag of fatwood kindling, a basket with various toys to make the fire blue, or smell good, a canvas log carrier bag, and a small load of wood from my parents. My fireplace feels loved.

Remember when USB thumb drives were new technology? And how the prices were exorbitant? I remember paying over $150 for a 1GB drive. I was looking online today and saw that the 4GB version of what I think is the best drive out here (the Sandisk Micro Cruzer) can be had for around $80. The ever quickening pace of technology leaves even me dizzy.

I've got the Atari now, but the games did not reveal themselves, so I have a copy of Donkey Kong winging its way towards me. This is for the Intercon G InterKong themed party at Arisia. You should all come and play! I'm thinking of raffling the system away to some lucky partygoer. What do you think? P.S., I also have an original NES dug up from the basement, with a couple dozen games if someone is interested.

Yeah, that's a pretty good start to posting in 2007.

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laurion: (Default)
You scored as Baritone. As a Baritone, you are a background character. However, just because people don't notice you doesn't mean you don't notice them. You have strong passions for single things. You are stealthy and in the know, and when you want something, you know how to get it. Just take care not to get too obsessive!
Alto
 

64%
Baritone
 

64%
Soprano
 

54%
Tenor
 

54%
Bass
 

50%
Mezzo
 

46%

Which Vocal Range Suits Your Personality?
created with QuizFarm.com

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