Monthly Archives: February 2012

Collected Quotes Feb 2012

Think before you speak. Read before you think. — Fran Lebowitz

We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read. — Jules Verne

Americans today probably belong to the first generation on earth that looks at a pain-free life as something like a constitutional right. — Lauren Slater, Welcome to My Country

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ― Malcolm X

There is something beautiful about all scars, whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with. ― Harry Crews

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him. — Galileo Galilei

In the computer, man has created not just an inanimate tool but an intellectual and active creative partner that, when fully exploited, could be used to produce wholly new art forms and possibly new aesthetic experiences. — A. Michael Noll

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Solving Internal Communications With Blogs

I'm blogging this.

I'm blogging this.

Through the grapevine, a coworker heard in another organization a top administrator wants the rank and file to start blogging. My coworker was opposed. I thought it could be a cool way of internally communicating. Though the conditions to make it work very much depend on the organizational culture:

    1. Encouragement not forced. Managers are asked to pay attention to the things about which the rank and file are proud or excited. Encouraging employees to post about how they created or solved things provides an outlet to express good pride. Something arbitrary like everyone must post something every week will become forced and a drain on morale.
    2. No rules or judgement from on high. The more rules there are around what employees should say or how will stifle them offering real ideas. Instead, only regurgitated ideas from managers would be offered. An echo chamber of everyone imitating each other becomes boring really quick.
    3. Peer judgment is not discouraged. Knowing my peers throughout my organization read this blog cause me to delete about 30% of the potentially work-related posts I start. I value what they think. When I realize what I wrote is not good enough, I am willing to dump it in favor of a complete rewrite or more time to think more to maintain my reputation. Self-editing to make sure I present only my best work requires me to understand myself.

Writing is a good skill to have. Writing for a blog is different than writing an email, a web page, a report, or a presentation. Like presenting, blogging is a useful way for an employee to grow in interesting ways. The hard part is the readiness people have and growing into becoming bloggers. One especially does not want them to become discouraged early. Because then you end up with a morale problem.

At work, we have a blog built into Sharepoint. While the CIO uses it, I am not sure it is the place for me. The audience there is internal to work. My audience is both internal and external.

There is also the idea getting the rank and file to blog is some kind of weird study in improving internal organization communication. Walking around to find out what everyone is doing takes too much time. Regular reports become, “I am working on exactly what I think you want me to be working on,” regurgitation. Blogging is an interesting and difficult to pull off right idea.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Happy Ayyam-i-ha

Baha’is around the world are celebrating the intercalendary days starting today. Our calendar of 19 months with 19 days leave a 4-5 day gap.  Rather than make some months longer than others, we have a period to fill the gap.

Tim & Deb's family Ayyam-i-Ha 007

Tim & Deb's family Ayyam-i-Ha 007

Following Ayyam-i-ha, Baha’is will observe the Fast. We will abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset for 19 days. Then it will be our new year, Naw-Ruz.

When I attended mass as a Catholic, Christmas and Easter where the big observances where there was standing room only. Naw-Ruz is the equivalent in the Baha’i Faith (here anyway). Not so much that this is the only event which brings out certain Baha’is, but that we as a community reach out to our non-Baha’i friends to invite them to Naw-Ruz.

Photo: Tim & Deb’s family Ayyam-i-Ha 007 by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie on Flickr

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

iPad Helps Kindergarten Literacy

iPad Learning

There is a story circulating that the iPad improves Kindergartners literacy scores. This title implies the hardware device or iOS is responsible for the improvements when much more likely there are specific applications responsible. After all, putting an Mac in a classroom with software designed to help literacy is more likely to improve literacy than an out of the box one.

A quote in the article confirms that the apps are the critically important factor over the hardware:

“The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there,” said Muir. “We are paying attention to app selection and focused on continuous improvement — we aren’t just handing equipment to teachers.”

Yet, it does not go into what are those apps. Or the efficacy of certain apps over others. Otherwise, we will head down the rabbit holes of the past of buying technology that is supposed to improve learning, but not seeing good results because people bought hardware and random software.

Back in February, President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams of the Georgia General Assembly wanted every middle schooler to have an iPad to replace textbooks. His Senate just passed a bill to mandate high school students take at least one online class. An online class could be good for students, if it is the right class for the student in the right format by the right teacher. The wrong class could turn off the student to online classes forever. These are interesting mandates to push technology into the classroom. They just ignore that content quality is what is important (and expensive).

Photo credit: iPad Learning on Flickr by Aaron Hufnagel

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Weekly Roundup Feb 24, 2012

  • Acad sounds alarm about fragility of digital prod’n – Sadly I had this conversation with my mother back when I bought my first digital camera in 2002. One of my reservations about going digital is the fragility of formats. Of course, a few years earlier I worked in Government Documents and file formats created a huge headache as there was no true standard. I am actually surprised JPEG has lasted this long. Though, I doubt many non-professional photographers understand every save at lest that 100 quality has the photocopy effect of amplifying information loss.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Check Your Google Web History

The EFF posted an article with screenshots on how to remove your Google web/search history. This is because their new privacy policy exposes what you have searched for in the past to your connections. They say to use the Remove all Web History button. Instead, I am using this as an opportunity to learn about myself. Not only does it have my searches, but it also has the sites on which I clicked.

    • My web /search history goes back to Nov 20, 3007.
    • Wikipedia is a common click.
    • I suck at spelling.
    • I search about myself.
    • Pretty sure this history is missing quite a bit.
    • Expanded search has no entries; Limited has too much to review everything.
    • If at first I do not find something, new variants pop up over several days.
    • About a tenth of my listed searches were in support of an active conversation.
    • Surprised my phone searches were not included in this history.

Responses to my Facebook post about this earlier today were a couple friends who found it already turned off. I found a number of 2007 and 2009 articles advocating turning it off. Even Google’s help on Basics: Web History says:

When you create a Google Account, Web History is automatically turned on.

I’m thinking more and more I need separate Google accounts for work and personal lives.

If Google is going to publicize what I search for to my friends, then it would be nice for me to have filters. Maybe I want any clicks I make to to be private? My vulgar vocabulary is weak, so it is a good source for understanding what a few friends mean. But I would be mortified for Google to tell my Mom to go there because I did.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Posts From Non-Friends

Facebook seems hell bent on making itself no longer just a place for interacting with friends.

Facebook prefers the Top Stories sorting of the Newsfeed. I prefer the Most Recent sort.  So naturally I end up changing the setting back to Most Recent a few times a week. Lately, even while sorted by Most Recent, I am seeing older status updates and photos pop-up my Newsfeed. They have a recent comment added to them.

Even worse, some of these status updates and photos are by friends of friends. Because we are not friends and they only allow friends to comment, I can see their content my friends like but not interact with it. This was odd with the Ticker, over half the entries I saw were from friends interacting with people I do not have as a friend. These stories by non-friends appeared at the same time I hid the Ticker, which suggests the activity is Facebook trying to get around my attempts to ignore.

There is a sweet spot in the morass that is Facebook privacy where some non-friends allow Facebook to share their posts with me. It feels like they have no understanding where their content is going. Facebook should work harder to help users understand the effect of the choices they make. The alternative is the Myspace Effect where people feel there is creepy sense of not knowing who is seeing what and migrating away from the service.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

50 Years of Americans in Orbit

Space Ship One Fifty years ago today, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. For some reason, Alan Shepard, Jr. being the first American in space did not impress me as a kid. Going up and coming back down did not count. Achieving orbit was realer space. Glenn was the American response to Yuri Gagarin being the first human to orbit the Earth on 12 April 1961.

Well. To me Glenn was the hero.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4