Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thomas Hawk's nightmare on discount street

In this post [Link] Thomas Hawk details an experience he had with a seemingly dishonest New York camera vendor. What a nightmare! I have never had such an experience, but I almost bought my Nikon D2H [Link] from a vendor I had never heard of that offered a fantastic price. Then, at the last minute I decided I would research them and I found horror stories similar to Hawk's. I ended up buying from a local vendor, Keeble and Schucat [Link] for not much more.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Brian and Lynn Have Baby Boy

Baby Alexander Blake Johnson

Brian and Lynn Johnson [Blog Link] have had their baby. He is a handsome baby boy. When I met Lynn she was almost a kid herself. Then she was named Lynn Benson and was a photojournalism student at SJSU. She was not yet 21 I was in my mid 30's. We became great friends. She and I took a country western dance class together at the Campbell Community Center. Some of the older women (my age) assumed we were more than friends and really looked down their middle aged noses at me, especially when the dance teacher Dave Coffman announced that the graduation dance was going to be at the Saddle Rack to which Lynn said out loud that she couldn't go because she was not yet 21. The glares we both got crack us up to this day. Lynn's husband Brian is a really great guy. Susie and I got to spend some great time with them a little over a year and a half ago when we visited them in Chico. We are very happy for them and their growing family. Here is the email we got from Lynn last weekend:

Hello all,

Brian and Lynn Johnson (nee Benson) are pleased to announce the birth of their son, Alexander Blake. He arrived two weeks late at 3:04 a.m. on Saturday, November 19th, tipping the scales at 9 pounds, 4.5 ounces, and measuring 22 inches long.

Lex is a very sweet baby, and the cutest infant that the good people of Massachusetts have ever seen. Baby and mommy are fine, and daddy is over the moon. It will surprise none of you to know that he has already said his first words: "hi" upon his arrival, and "me" the other day. We'll start the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing exercises next week.

I have attached a picture for your desktop viewing enjoyment. :)

Happy belated Thanksgiving, Lynn

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fun with Flickr

Okay, I promise

Here is a couple of cool cats from the recent CFA International Cat Show in our area. These are done using fd's Flickr toys [Link].


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Help Desk Thanksgiving

Help desk thanksgiving

Sorry about the lousy quality of the picture from last night. This morning it is just me and the kitties. I am going to start working on the turkey soon. Sue took her mom to the hospital at about 4:00 am. and they are still there. Sue's mom got ill in the middle of the night. Other than that things are good. I threw my back out the other day but it is much better.

We had a great experience last night. It was wonderful actually, we took my 8 Indian (as in India) student assistants out to dinner. Picture this: Sue and I telling a group of foreign students the story of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving and the other Indians.

It was too cute!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Emerging Pedagogy Tools: RSS

"What blows me away is RSS," Om Malik
In a recent podcast with Steve Gillmor [Link]; Om Malik [Link] said, "What blows me away is RSS. It allows me to create my own New York Times every morning." Gillmor replied, "And, it allows us to create our own Howard Stern." Malik then said, "Yes, and our own NPR, even our own television network." I was so blown away by this that I wrote the exchange down on my grease board where it remains.

RSS is big, very big. What we have seen so far with RSS is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now when a lot of people think of the Internet they think of just two things, Web and E-mail. RSS is neither of those things. That is a good thing because E-mail, thanks to spam, is broken and the web only works if you can get somebody to your Website. RSS combines the best of both the push nature of E-mail and the pull nature of Web. With RSS we see the convergence of push and pull and it adds a whole new dimension, that dimension is time. RSS is time based and it enables the concept of the real-time Web. RSS can turn the static Web into a conversation.

A great definition of RSS can be found here on Wikipedia [Link] and here on [Link]. I don't need to repeat that. RSS is the digital dial tone (there is that term again) for delivering changing real-time content on the web. It is the XML [Definition Link] based engine behind Podcasting and Videocasting and it enables blogs and wikis to be so much more than they are as mere Web destinations. RSS changes the Internet paradigm. Just look at the explosion of podcasts we have seen in the last year. RSS is being incorporated into everything from browsers to E-mail readers. RSS aggregators are everywhere, in stand alone applications and web applications and the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds is being put into portable devices like cell phones. RSS is download based, so it doesn't demand high bandwidth between the source and the receiver. So, RSS can extend the Internet beyond the network. Creators of RSS feeds are able to shape and manipulate them as are consumers of them. It was the power of RSS that led me to create what I believe to be the first podcast in higher education. To not understand the profound impact of RSS, and how to use RSS in education will soon be to be obsolete.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Emerging Pedagogy Tools: Wireless

Ubiquitous wireless
Q- How is collaboration like basketball?
A- It is a game you cannot win if you have problems getting to the Net.

Yea, I know, you have heard this before [Link] and [Link]! But in a world that is being described as flat [Link], collaboration is everything. The Internet, and the network that gets you to it, is the medium of collaboration. The wireless network, increasingly for our campus, is the digital dial tone of the global collaboration conversation.

Simplicity is the key to wireless. Using 802.11 "Wi-Fi" compliant hardware and software, ideas can flow from people to the Internet and then to other people. It is not just about computers, PDAs and even VOIP phones allow for thoughts and ideas to flow seamlessly. The need to authenticate to the network adds complexity to this process.

Complexity adds a layer of specifications and compliance that must be met. Complexity makes it so that good people and productivity enhancing devices that could play, will not be able to play. Complexity is the enemy of utilization of the medium of collaboration. Complexity disables our students, faculty, staff, industry allies and our partners. In my opinion, anything that adds complexity and blocks access to that medium of collaboration better have a damn super vital reason for existence!

The goal needs to be to enable anybody who is on campus to be able to participate in collaboration in as many ways as possible, with as many types of enabling devices as possible, as long as their participation does not negatively impact others. Wireless has to be everywhere and accessible any time. The idea we stop from getting on the network, may be the idea that changes our campus and the world for the better.

According to SJSU Professor Steve Greene, when Robert Scoble came to our campus to speak to the Journalism and Mass Communications faculty, one of the peolpe in attendance had to provide him their own user name and password so that Scoble could access the wireless network. They should not have had to do that.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Emerging Pedagogy Tools: Tablet PC

The Student Tablet
In this Channel Nine Video Blog Conversation [Link] Microsoft Evangelist Robert Scoble [Link] talks to Bill Gates about a number of technologies including Tablet computing. What makes this conversation special? You have likely heard plenty about Tablet PC's from both Scoble and I in our blogs. What makes the Gates and Scoble conversation special is that here they talk about the "Student Tablet." The student tablet is a $500 Tablet PC that has been talked about as being available very early next year.

The utility of Tablet PCs has been discussed in many places. There is a blog called StudentTabletPC [Link]. The benefits of Tablets, in education and otherwise, are many and are also discussed here in this Tablet PC blog [Link]. Malu Roldan has led a a Tablet PC project here at SJSU. Here are links to the video that SJSU Media Producer Bob Reynolds produced on SJSU's Tablet PC usage.

The links (you will need real media player:)
Broadband | Medium | Small (dial-up)

Tablet PC's have been available awhile. For some reason they still haven't taken off. In my opinion that is partly because it seems neither Microsoft nor their OEMs seem able to decide who should market them. Unlike Apple's Mac computers you cannot find Tablet PC products in our University Bookstore (where student focused products and student focused financing available for Macs.) The Internet also was slow to take off and existed for a long time before being discovered thanks to enabling technologies like the Web and email. Hopefully, Microsoft will come out with a reasonably priced Student Tablet PC and this will be the gas on the fire the platform needs in education. To me this is the point the Gates and Scoble conversation seems to make.

This may be what it takes to unleash the potential of this technology. Meanwhile, I am test driving an HP Compaq tc4200. This Tablet rocks!

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Jack Quinton is gone

Jack QuintonJack Quinton died
I may work in Academic Technology now but my heart is, and will always be, in Journalism at SJSU. I worked there for the better part of 17 years, I graduated from that department. It is the reason I came back to SJSU twenty years ago to get a job.

I just learned that Jack died when I subscribed to Cynthia McCune's JMC Journal RSS feed [Link]. Oh man, this was one of the happiest guys I have ever known. He was so young, only 62. In this picture he has a smile. He almost always had a smile. I can't remember him not smiling. It is so hard to believe he is gone. You know, you work so long with somebody and share so many happy memories of them, it is hard to imagine them as being gone. Jack's death is like that.

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Scoble's visit pictures

Just a couple of pictures from Robert Scoble's recent SJSU visit:

Bob and I

Scoble and SJSU Faculty

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Scoble returns to SJSU

Scoble talks to facultyScoble talks to SJSU J-school faculty about future of Mass Communications
Today, my long-time friend, former student employee and current Microsoft Tech Evangelist & author Robert Scoble [Link], a former student of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University, returned to our school. Faculty member Steve Greene, who Scoble described in a recent email as, "my favorite professor at SJSU (was always pushing the edge)" introduced Scoble to the assembled faculty.

The school is considering a reorganization to better prepare students for a the changes emerging technology is bringing to the field of journalism and mass communications. As he spoke to the faculty he showed the faculty examples on the Internet of what he was talking about using his Tablet PC. In his candid talk he told the faculty about how Mass Communications has changed since the years he was a student in our school and about how this new technology evolved and is continuing to evolve. He answered the faculty's questions. Professor Cynthia McCune recorded his presentation and the audio of that is here: [Link]. Student Ryan Sholin was also at the meeting and he offers a student's perspective. On his blog Sholin [Link] provides links to many of the sites that Scoble showed in his presentation.

This was a great moment and the audio is well worth listening to, a couple of times in fact, I think. It is like getting a private lesson from Robert Scoble.

To liten to audio, click here--> 66 min, 15.4 MB MP-3 Audio File

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Bloggers as good employees

Bloggers are loyal employees
I wrote a blog post [Link] that led to a story in our campus newspaper and also was run in a union newspaper called the University Employee. That story was about the authentication mechanism that will be used to authenticate users of the new Comcast wireless network that we hope to have in use at SJSU next month. That wireless network will be connected to the Internet, not our campus network. Users of the new Comcast network from on campus will be treated as off campus users. They will only be able to get into the campus network through our normal firewall to the Internet.

Even with the authentication mechanism in place, this new network will be a huge improvement to Internet access for members of the campus community over the existing network which only covers parts of the campus. The questions I had, and still have, is why not go all the way and make this network open and easy to get to by anybody without authentication? We are spending a lot of money on SJSUOne authentication to the wireless network. I believe complexity is the enemy of utility. Any layer of complexity we add will keep people we want to use our network off our network. Every layer of complexity we add had better, in my opinion, have value. Since all these users will have to go through the campus firewall anyway, what are we protecting, the Internet? Where is the value? I also questioned the surrendering our digital dialtone to an off campus provider.

I have received negative comments from peers to my posts, my story and the posts and stories that came from them. Some folks have been questioning my loyalty. In my opinion my questioning the wisdom of doing something I think is a mistake is a positive not a negative for the university. If it makes folks think about what we are doing, even if it does not bring about a change I think that is a value to SJSU. In my opinion, that is the power of cluetrain. It is the power to stimulate conversation and in my opinion that is good.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sunday in the south land

We worked on our sunshine proposal
The rest of the weekend went great. For most of Saturday and Sunday we worked on the union's contract proposal for the new contract coming up next year. This is called the sunshine process where both sides say what they would like to see in the next contract. Negotiations then start from there where both sides work toward a meet in the middle. Saturday evening we had a dinner and a party. Working on the sunshines is very intense work. It takes a lot of input. Not only do we try to improve wages, hours and working conditions for employees, the union strives to improve contract laguage to provide better protections for workers rights. At the dinner CSUEU union president Pat Gantt presented awards to good folks in the union who have made special contributions to our cause. Many of my friends were recipients. I think we have an excellent statewide team!

Pat Gantt and award recipients

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Russell Kilday-Hicks

Russell Kilday-Hicks

I cannot say enough great things about Russell. He is from San Francisco State University and the chair of our union's communications committee and is editor of the newsletter, the University Employee. What great words can I associate with Russell. Integrity, commitment, intelligence, passion for a cause, honesty, humility, devotion, drive, ethics, all these are traits I readily associate with him. In short he is my hero. Nobody could find a better role model than him. He is the consummate labor activist. And, I have known a lot of labor activists. I am proud to be associated with him and anything he does.

CSUEU Division Council in Manhattan Beach

Shannon Staley at DC

SJSU Chapter 307 Highlights
Our great unit seven rep. and statewide vice-chair of unit 7, Vera Acevedo, introduced chapter Vice-President Shannon Staley to the delegates and guests at CSUEU’s division council the weekend of November 5 thru 6 at Manhattan Beach. This is Shannon’s first Division Council. Staley received a warm round of applause! Vera also introduced me.

Gus sings, we sing to Gus!
CSUEU President Pat Gantt introduced Gus Lease and noted his years of service to CSEA. He also told the delegation it was Gus’s birthday. Gus is a music professor at SJSU and a very talented singer. He often sings the Star Spangled Banner at CSEA events. This time the tables were turned for Gus and the university delegates sang happy birthday to Gus. He also received a warm applause and many well wishes.

Gus Lease

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I found one more roll of Kodachrome!

BNSF7740 at Bealville

One more roll of Kodachrome 25 slide film
I was going through my closet and I found one more roll of Kodachrome 25 slide film today. So, I did not shoot my last roll earlier this month chasing trains on Tehachippi. It took almost two weeks to get my last roll back. So, should I shoot this roll or save it? The slides were great, when I finally got them. I bought 3 rolls of Fuji Provia, thinking I was switching.

Our wireless destiny

Today the Spartan Daily ran a story [Link] about my blog post [Link] on the SJSU wireless network. (This blog post is also being ran as a story that will be sent to 15,000 university employees in the CSUEU union publication The University Employee [Link].) The crux of my blog post is that the direction of wireless networking is to provide open access in metropolitan areas, like downtown San Jose. If you go to the WNN Wi-Fi Net News Blog [Link] you find a lot of evidence that this is the industry trend. As the web matures and applications move increasingly off the computer and onto the Internet, uninhibited Internet access is mandatory. Where security is needed it can be placed at the firewall and does not need to be placed where it blocks access to the network as SJSUOne does. Why are companies like Google offering to provide cities free wireless? Because their bread and butter is having as many people as possible get on the Internet. I think this is in our best interest too. Otherwise in a few years there may be easier wireless access off campus than on. If university employees manage the wireless network and it is offered with open access, it is our network. When we own the network we control our own wireless destiny. In my opinion, that is the way to go.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Here's looking at yourself, kid

Me at 50

In the end you have to look at yourself in the mirror
It is written, "what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?" Being committed to doing the right and honorable thing and helping people as much as you can is more important that getting ahead, getting your boss's approval and perhaps getting a promotion. The most important relationship we have is with ourselves, I think. If we can respect ourself, what else matters? When the time comes to step up to the plate, how can you live with yourself if you do not? That is my opinion, anyway.