Friday, March 30, 2007

Herding Cats: Friday Funnies

Herding Cats

Herding Cats Ad
The first time I saw this ad it made me think of my first experience teaching faculty. This is a great ad!

Josh Leo, vlogger

Josh Leo

Josh Leo's Vlogiversary Video
Josh Leo is a wonderfully gifted filmaker, story teller and vlogger. Here is his two year anniversary vlog post. Prepare to be inspired, I am!

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Blograge; Harassment

Blograge: The darkness among us
I do not go to many conferences. This is because it is hard for me to get time off work and I usually have to pay for the conferences out of my own pocket. One of the conferences I have and am willing to pay to go to and take vacation time to attend is the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference a.k.a Etech. This year Etech and CATS2007 was scheduled at the same time. That and the fact that my employer paid me to go to CATS caused me to miss Etech this year.

Prominent female blogger getting death threats
Kathy Sierra writes the popular blog, Creating Passionate Users. She was scheduled to present a workshop at Etech this year. She did not go and canceled her presentation due to death threats she has been getting from within the blogging community. These threats have been in the form of both comments in her blog as well as hateful posts on other blogs. The sexual harassment nature of these has been so personal and so outrageous she is now afraid to go outside her house. She is not the only prominent female blogger who has been harassed. Prominent male bloggers have been trolled and harassed as well.

Scoble and other bloggers react
A-list blogger, podcaster and SJSU Alum Robert Scoble said, "I’m physically ill after reading what happened to Kathy Sierra. Maryam and several others here at PodTech asked me about it and are concerned since the same sites that are attacking Kathy also mentioned me and Maryam. Maryam is really freaked out about it. So am I." He said, "I’m going to stop blogging in support of Kathy, who I consider a friend and someone who’s voice would be dearly missed here. I’ll be back Monday."

What do we do about it?
As Sierra said, "death threats against bloggers are NOT 'protected speech.'" This is not the first time Scoble has taken time off due to harassment. He has been the target himself of vicious trolling. As Scoble said, "We have to fix this culture." There has been talk of a blogger code of conduct. If we don't find a way to fix this we could loose this. Harassment is not free speech and we cannot allow it to continue.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Podcasting Meetup

The Silicon Valley Podcasting Meetup Group has an event in two weeks!

What: The Silicon Valley Podcasting April Meetup
When: Thursday, April 12 at 7:00PM

Where: Bennigans
4150 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara CA 95054

Event Description:

February's meetup was a great success! Let's keep the vibe going.
The March Meetup will focus on Wordpress, and how it can help us as podcasters. Who should use it, and why. Followed by a question and answer session.

Then we'll have a good ol fashioned meet and greet, so you can get to know your fellow podcasters.

If you are interested in using Wordpress, or want to know what this great blogging/podcasting platform is, and how it can help you, this is the meeting to attend. If you already use Wordpress, come out and help the organizer answer any questions the group might have.

For more information on this checkout

For more information about Wordpress, go to

We are currently looking for a new venue to host the event. Any ideas?

Paul Puri

Strike dates for SJSU

April 18 & 19, From CFA:
By now most of you know that a 94% vote to authorize rolling strikes has brought the CSU administration back to the bargaining table. Your participation in the strike vote helped make this happen. We have extended the contract by 10 days to see if we can negotiate a fair contract based on the very favorable fact-finder's report.

As all of CFA's leadership has said, we are cautiously optimistic that a deal can be achieved. While somewhat hopeful, we have been disappointed before and we believe that it is only prudent for us to continue to prepare for a strike should the administration waver in its commitment to settle. For nearly two years we have been pushing this rock up a very steep hill; we are now just 10 feet from the top. If we stop pushing now we could find ourselves back at the bottom of the hill with no momentum and no leverage.

If the administration wavers, we must be prepared to shut the campuses down. And if thousands of faculty sign up for picket duty, that also will stop any wavering by the administration.

Should we fail to achieve a settlement by the end of the 10 day contract extension, our campus will be going out on strike on Wednesday and Thursday, April 18 and 19.

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Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset from the top of Tunnel Two
Less than a week ago I watched the sunset from this hill in the high desert. It is a place I have come to many times. It is a hill pierced by a railroad tunnel. Slow heavy trains growl under your feet here. From this hill you can see the desert mountains. It is a place where lizards and and the animals of the desert mingle.

It's a desert because
Because it's a desert

-Rickie Lee Jones, Flying Cowboys

I have been coming to this same desert, this same hill and have watched many sunsets here. I have come here to look into the desert, to take pictures and to smell the desert wind. I have come here with friends and loved ones who are now gone. I have come here with my babies. But mostly, I have come here alone. Mostly it is a place of solitude, a place for looking into the face of the desert.

But the world is turning faster
Than it did when I was young

- ibid

When I am gone, you can leave what is left of me here. Here in the open where the desert zephyr can pick me up and I will disappear and become the desert and I will be in many photographs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Last CATS day

Joshua Archer

Joshua is one sharp guy
Joshua Archer, from the CSU Center for Distributed Education is presenting again. This is the last day of CATS and I am presenting in about 40 minutes. I have enjoyed all the presentations Joshua has given at this conference. Unfortunately the most exciting of his sessions is at the same time as mine. If I had a choice I would go to his rather than mine.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Net-generation Instructor

Carl Berger

Carl Berger keynote session
The Net-generation Instructor is the topic of the presentation that Berger is giving at CATS2007. Berger is an engaging speaker and is talking about issues affecting faculty adoption of Web 2.0 technology. He opened with an exercise in cognitive dissonance, he had everybody count back from 100 by sixes as he whistled. He presented some very interesting statistics on new media literacy among students and faculty and attitudes toward new technology adoption and the Net-Gen Instructor. This session is available on Elluminate.

Characteristics of a Net-Gen Instructor:

  • Younger, but not exclusively
  • Perception that their expertise is strong in all areas
  • Preference in how to learn, they prefer to learn by experimentation and consulting with friends.
How do we guide them?
  • Get out of their way
  • Meet their special needs
  • Recognize their efforts (in RTP)
His Presentation is Here [Power Point]

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Things managers can do for IT workers

A list of things CSU managers could and should do. These suggestions do not cost any budget dollars and encourage productivity:

  • Encourage Staff Mentoring. Provide mentoring opportunities for staff with other staff. Encourage staff to find mentors. If a staff member wants a mentor and does not find a mentor managers should make it their job to find a mentor for the staff member.
  • Build a sense of career rather than just providing a job. Reward and encourage upward mobility. Let your staff members know their careers matter. Encourage upward career development, offer such opportunities to staff. Make this part of counseling of staff.
  • Recognize Human Limitations. Don't task staff with impossible missions and especially do not punish staff for their inability to perform them.
  • Make professional development a part of change management. Do not task staff with rolling out a technology they are not trained in supporting. Training costs but ignorance costs a lot more than training. You pay for training once. You pay for ignorance on an ongoing basis every time a task is not performed efficiently or correctly.

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Open Source Session

Another Great CATS Session (Updated 3-26-07, 19:00)
Joshua Archer, from the CSU Center for Distributed Education, led this great session. Also speaking was Kevin Kelly from SFSU. They talked about the state of Open Source technology in the CSU system. SFSU is moving to Moodle, an open source alternative to Blackboard and WebCT. Still, there is a reluctance to adopt open source solutions in the CSU system.

The focus of the conversation seemed to be on back end, server side, open source solutions, but discussions also included desktop software like Audacity and Open Office. It was decided to create a Google Group for CATS members who wish to keep abreast and share resources of Open Source projects in the CSU system.

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Blogs in the CSU

This was a really cool session! I will have to write more later. A lot of good ideas and great conversations came out of this. I wish it was podcast. Why aren't these sessions being podcast? I brought my gear to podcast MY session!

On to the open source session!

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CATS from Fullerton

I am at Fullerton:
This week is the tenth CATS conference. CATS stands for the Community for Academic Technology Staff. Right now we are going through the keynote presentations. David Ernst of the Chancellor's Office is presenting. He is focusing on what has happened over the last 10 years, with an eye on the future. His presentation is talking about leveraging collaboration with other campuses. He says there will be greater emphasis of this.

Focus On:

  • Technology Initiatives
  • Best Practices In Teaching and Learning

He said, "information literacy is no longer a goal because most people are literate, at least as we defined it ten years ago." I think he is wrong, because the vision of information literacy we had ten years ago is obsolete in this Web 2.0 world.

I am rooming with Wes Logan. We are staying at the Embassy Suites in Brea. It is very convenient to this campus.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Photoshop User Group Meeting April 11

The next users group meeting will be on Wednesday, April 11. We will have presentations on Photoshop CS3, CS3 Extended and (time permitting) Lightroom. It's not necessary to RSVP now, we'll ask a few days before the meeting.

We'll have pizza and drinks at 6:30, and the meeting will start at 7:00. The meeting will be in the Park Conference Room, so come to the lobby at Adobe Systems' East Tower, 321 Park Avenue, San Jose. To park underneath the Adobe building, use the Almaden Avenue entrance, under the East Tower. If the security guard at the parking entrance asks for an Adobe contact, use John Nack's name.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you know who might be interested. If they would like to be on our email list, have them respond to:

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Train action - Union Pacific

UP train at Bealville

UP Train at Bealville
I did not get a suitable video today so here is my Video Blog entry, featuring another train I shot yesterday. This was shot from a hill I have been photographing from for probably 30 years. It has great light and I love the way the shadows stretch out in the afternoon behind the train. I especially love the green grass and how it blows in the wind. The clicking sound you hear is the lens cap flapping in the wind. Yes, I learned to secure it better. Listen especially for the birds in this video. They are loving the Spring too!

Today, I shot around Mojave in the morning and in the afternoon I drove over to Cajon Pass. Then, I dropped down to Brea. I am now at the Embassy Suites in Brea for the a work related conference.

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Strike news - From Management

To the Campus Community --
California State University's Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Samuel Strafaci sent this update on contract negotiations with the CFA to presidents of the system's 23 campuses today, following publication of fact-finding recommendations and a meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees. President Don W. Kassing asked that it be shared with all SJSU faculty, staff and students.

March 25, 2007

CSU Presidents:
The CSU Board of Trustees today deferred a decision on fact-finding recommendations. The contract has been extended until April 6, 2007, to allow the parties to use the fact-finding panel's report as a basis for settlement. There will be no concerted strike activity during this period.

Samuel A. Strafaci
Assistant Vice Chancellor
Human Resources

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Strike news - From Faculty Union


The administration must now face the facts and settle a fair contract

The fact-finding report recommending how to end the bargaining impasse between CFA and the CSU administration became public on March 25. CFA immediately called on the administration to Face the Facts, accept the report's recommendations, and settle the contract.

"We call on the Chancellor of the CSU to return to the bargaining table and settle an agreement now based on the fact finder's report," said John Travis, CFA President. "If he refuses then he forces us to proceed with a strike. That is not what we want and it's not what the CSU needs."

To view the fact finders recommendations as well as the fact finding reports from both CFA and the CSU administration please visit:

More news to come on this developing story in Tuesday's regular edition of CFA Headlines.

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Fun with trains and light

BNSF Train at Tunnel 2 Tehachapi

Train approaching Tunnel Two in Tehachapis
March 25 7:34am -- I am in the Tehachapi Mountains on my way to Fullerton going to a conference. I have been coming to the Tehachapi Mountains to photograph trains for many years. This video was shot in a location I have been trying to catch a train in for awhile. It requires just the right light, a train at just the right time and is best this time of year when the hills are green. Saturday evening, March 24, 2007 the timing was right on! I shot it on Kodachrome 25 film (yes I found another roll) and on video. I edited the video at my room in the Mojave Motel 6 as other trains rolled by. I asked for, and got, this motel room in their little used wing facing tracks. I even opened the window so you can hear the trains really well. It sounds like they are running right through the room. Too cool! This is my favorite motel!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Staff crossing picket lines?

The Staff Union Contract Requires Crossing Faculty Picket Lines
Article 6.2 of the new California State Employees Union (CSUEU) support staff contract says, "The Union shall not promote, organize or support any strike or other concerted activity, including sympathy strikes, which would interfere with or adversely affect the operations or mission of the CSU." This is why in my role as a staff member I voted against the ratification of this staff union contract. I do not think any union should sign a contract with a clause like this in it. The thought that it is in our contract just makes me sick. This may cause bitterness between university support staff and faculty that will last for many years.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

AFL-CIO Stand On Strike

From the South Bay AFL-CIO to area labor activists:

Looming Crisis in Our State University System
Urgent Action Needed!
Click here to send a message to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.

Nearly two years after the contract affecting more than 24,000 California State University (CSU) faculty members expired, CSU faculty - represented by the California Faculty Association (CFA) - have overwhelmingly voted to strike. If an agreement is not reached soon, a series of two-day rolling strikes will hit the 23 CSU campuses as far north as Humboldt and as far south as San Diego. This will be the first-ever system wide strike against the CSU, and the largest university strike in the history of the United States.

The key issue holding up an agreement is faculty pay. CFA members make on average 18 percent less than their colleagues at other universities and colleges, making it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the quality faculty members that working class students need and deserve. We are also extremely concerned about unrestrained workload increases, reductions in job security, and expanded use of temporary and non-benefited faculty.

In addition to these traditional labor issues and the anti-union attitudes displayed by the California State University administration, there are larger issues in the CSU that affect all working families and reflect the leadership's corporate mentality. These issues include:

  • Huge student fee increases;
  • Reduction in course availability;
  • Larger class sizes; and,
  • Less faculty time for non-classroom interaction with students such as advising and mentoring.

While the CSU administration is increasingly starving students and faculty members, they have granted huge executive pay increases and paid departing executives and administrators enormous sums for frivolous no-work projects.

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New Sloans Coming

Big news about little packages
A few weeks ago I mentioned on this blog that my oldest son, Steve Jr. and his wife Luci are expecting a baby. Well, that was only half the story.

The other half is that middle son Jeff and his wife Nicole also are expecting! That means we have two new grandchildren coming. They both are due in the September - October time line. So, Christmas is going to be very fun this year. Two new babies!

It seems so amazing looking back. It does not seem that long ago that these kids, now parents themselves, were little. I guess that is life.

Leopard Late?

New version of Mac OS X to be delayed?
According to digitimes Mac OS X 10.5 is going to be delayed until October to facilitate better Vista support. This will make it too late for Fall 2007 deployment:

I am mad as hell! - Friday Funnies

Network Mad As Hell

I am mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore!
Historically individuals had few choices in expressing their frustrations and anger with injustice. Folks might have been able to get the attention of the media, or organize unions, but that left it to others to convey their feelings.

Or, they could go to their windows, but their voice would only carry so far. Now we have the Internet and we have blogging, podcasting, video blogging and all the other associated technologies. Our voices are now global.

Thirty years ago Peter Finch won best actor due to this speech in the movie Network.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sigler on the strike

Provost's Position on Pending Strike at SJSU
This document was sent to me [PDF]. I was told it was sent to all SJSU faculty with this explanation:

Enclosed please find a message from Provost Carmen Sigler regarding campus concerted activities.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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Strike News!

March 21, 2007 • SPECIAL EDITION


  • 94 percent vote to support a strike
  • Voter turnout is 81 percent
  • Bargaining crisis inspires 1,300 new members to join the union.

Any lingering questions about the solidarity and resolve of the California State University faculty were answered resoundingly Wednesday by the results of the first strike vote in the history of the California Faculty Association.

A stunning 94 percent of the voters agreed that the CSU’s professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches should initiate rolling walkouts if the CSU administration continues to reject bringing their salaries in line with their peers across the country.

More than 8,000 voters—an extraordinary 81 percent of the CFA membership—turned out to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

Here’s how CFA President John Travis summarized that message: “Faculty don’t want to strike, we want to teach. But in my 30 years at the CSU I’ve never seen us more united. Faculty members are taking a stand and it starts with insisting that the chancellor make us an equitable salary offer. We won’t settle for less.”

The pro-strike-authorization numbers rang across all 23 CFA chapters. On only one campus was the vote in favor of striking as low as 79 percent.

An equally telling number is the 1,300 faculty who have been moved to join CFA during the recent months of the bargaining crisis and impasse. Taken together, the landslide strike authorization and the union’s growing ranks leave no doubt that faculty have the capacity to shut down the university if an agreement cannot be reached, and reached quickly, said CFA Vice President Lillian Taiz.

“There will be hundreds of faculty and supporters from other unions on the picket lines,” predicted Taiz, a leader of CFA’s field operations, “and we think they will be joined by students and staff who are as fed up as we are.”

Chancellor Reed blasted at Capitol hearing
There was great symmetry in Wednesday morning’s historic events. Even as Travis, Taiz and other CFA leaders were announcing the League of Women Voters-certified strike-vote totals at Dominguez Hills, Charlie Reed was getting grilled at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

At a special hearing of the Senate Education Committee’s subcommittee on the budget, legislators pressed Reed about his scandalous “Executive Transition Program” handouts to CSU executives, and the chancellor struggled with evasive and incoherent responses.

But when the hearing ended, Reed got no relief: he was immediately encircled by scores of reporters insisting on his reactions to the strike announcement just issued in Southern California. The San Francisco Chronicle called it a “one-two punch.”

A sampling of the media coverage of today’s historic developments can be viewed at

CFA’s news release about the strike vote is at

Clearly, Reed’s policies and style have united CSU faculty as never before.

CFA Board votes to implement rolling strikes on all 23 CSU campuses as 10-day “quiet period” ends
On Wednesday evening the CFA Board of Directors met and, by unanimous vote, made it official, turning the strike authorization into a strike plan with teeth.

The Board empowered the CFA officers and Field Team (who organized the strike vote) to make a final decision on which days and which campuses will begin the two-day walkouts in the initial round of job actions. Out of necessity, planning has been under way for months.

The first walkouts are expected in April but may occur sooner. Once the fact-finder’s recommendations are made public this Sunday, at the conclusion of the 10-day “quiet period” mandated by state law, the faculty are legally entitled to undertake job actions—to go on strike.

The expectation is that Chancellor Reed will ignore the recommendations of the fact-finding report and quite possibly attempt to unilaterally impose working conditions on the faculty.

If he does either, a strike will begin shortly thereafter.

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Campus Rot

Are we going downhill?
I have been here well over 20 years. I started as a student in 1979. It seems to me things have never been as bad as they are now. Student fees continue to go up, the faculty is on the verge of a strike (that is not going to be good for anybody), parts of the campus are dangerously understaffed, morale is low and we can't even keep the windows clean in parts of our campus. (Photo, March 2007 in DMH building SJSU)

I have seen really good staff leave the university due to stress and low pay. I do not see much hope on the horizon. Something seems seriously wrong at this university to me and nobody seems to be seriously working to fix it.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Akshay presenting to JMC163

Akshay Vyas

Akshay Vyas Presenting to JMC163 [MP3]

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Hope: By Akshay Vyas, SJSU Student

Hope by Akshay Vyas

Akshay Vyas makes great films featuring Help Desk Staff
SJSU student and Help Desk staff member Akshay Vyas has made several short films. He has been working with other students, including student assistants from the University Help Desk, such as Rahul Jain, Nupur Sinha, Nirav Patel and Diwakar Mani. In my opinion, these are wonderful short films. They are great examples of what students can do when they apply their own talent and passion despite having limited resources.

Last night, Akshay came and spoke to my class. All the skills used making his short films apply directly to what we are doing in Journalism 163. Akshay is an Electrical Engineering graduate student. I hope he does well with his studies and that he also continues with film making.

The dedication, passion, skill and experience at film making Akshay and our other help desk staff are showing and gaining is available to other SJSU students who need help with their own films and video blogs. This help is available at the help desk located on the first floor of Clark Hall at San Jose State University.

Akshay and all the wonderful students at the university help desk, are an absolute pleasure to work with.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

History of campus poverty

Poverty at SJSU

History of Poverty at SJSU
As we ponder the history of our campus for the 150 year celebration I think we should also consider our legacy of poverty on campus. Yesterday I saw a woman and a child rummaging through garbage cans for bottles and cans and I have seen folks that appear to be homeless eating out of garbage cans here. Of course this is an area problem, as well as being a campus issue. But, it has been going on as long as I have been going here. When poverty is on this campus it is a campus problem at SJSU. It is a problem we have done nothing about. It is a problem that has been historically ignored. We need to ask, why?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Four years of blogging

Information Kiosk at SJSU

My fourth anniversary
On this day in 2003 I started blogging. That is four years of telling stories with words, pictures, audio and video in a way that is global, personal, conversational and sometimes controversial.

Visual phone number

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One Year After Hamas's Victory

Palestinian Affairs: Khaled Abu Toameh
Khaled Abu Toameh, senior Palestinian affairs correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, will discuss "One Year After Hamas's Victory, Where are the Palestinians Headed?" at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, in the King Library, Room 225. Toameh's journalistic credits include serving as Palestinian affairs producer for NBC News since 1988, writing for "U.S. News and World Report" on Palestinian affairs since 1989, and producing British Broadcasting Corp. documentaries. His appearance will be sponsored by the history and journalism departments, the Jewish Studies Program, the Jewish Student Union and Hillel of Silicon Valley. For more, see

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It's The Canyon

Me in the canyon

The Canyon
I have been coming to the canyon since I was a child. My father used to bring me here. Over the years I have come here with my own kids, grandkids, wives, friends, I have even brought dogs to the Feather River Canyon! It is "the canyon," a river canyon with a railroad. This was once the home of the Western Pacific, then called "The Feather River Route." Now the tracks belong to the Union Pacific and it is a busy railroad. But, to me, it is more than a place where cool trains run. It is a place with many memories and a place that I love.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Made tracks home

Susan in Susanville

We are home
Sue and I are home. We had a nice day today in the canyon. We went to the Portola RR Museum and then drove to Quincy where we had a nice lunch at the Courthouse Cafe. We stopped several time down the canyon and went to the river. We shot a train at James.

Binney Junction

Then went to Marysville where the Union Pacific is putting in a connector track from the northbound former SP line from Roseville to the southbound former WP line to Sacramento at the place the two lines cross that is called Binney Junction. When this is done it will facilitate rerouting of trains around the burned trestle near Sacramento.

Feather River Canyon Escape

Chalet View

We are in the canyon
This weekend Sue and I are enjoying a leisurely escape up the Feather River Canyon. We are staying just west of Portola. Yesterday we went to Lake Almanor and Susanville. We came back along the back side of the Sierras via 395 and had a great dinner at the Beckwith Tavern near Portola. We have seen a lot of trains and I have taken many pictures. It has been amazingly warm and sunny with just a bit of left over snow it the dark shady spots under some trees. This is amazing for mid-March!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cyclist riding across SJSU

Riding Tandem on a Single

Camera Phone Post: Morning Cyclist at SJSU
To most folks all bicycle riders are the same, are cyclists. In the morning I often see a couple of guys riding kids across the San Jose State University campus on bikes on their way to places unknown. The other cyclist I see actually has two kids on his bike, one on the top tube, the other standing on the chain stays. None of the riders wears a helmet. This morning I was able to grab a shot with my camera phone. Note the almost flat rear tire. Beware of potholes, bumps and the ides of March!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

JMC163 Podcast: March 13 Class

Daniel Sato on New Media and Photojournalism
In this unedited raw audio podcast [MP3 here] SJSU photojournalism major Daniel Sato talks about how photojournalism has been changed by new media and Web 2.0 technologies. Sato is a photoblogger and a regular user of Flickr. Sato talks about ethics, tools and the changes brought about by the increasingly pervasive Internet. He also talks about how new media is changing the nature and needs of journalism education and how photojournalism students use new media to build a community that extends beyond the boundaries of the campus.

After Sato: The Joy of Analog & Vblogging with iMovie
This is the balance of the class, presented as an unedited MP3. Included here is a conversation about analog photography and a presentation on using iMovie to create a short video.

Sample Movie

The video we created in class
Here for you to review is the video created in the class as recorded in the previous audio. It is shown here for reference only. It should open in Quicktime player.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

STEM is Wednesday

STEM meeting

You are invited to STEM
The Student Technology and Emerging Media (STEM) club meets weekly on Wednesdays in Clark Hall 116 at 4:30pm. All SJSU students, faculty and staff are invited to attend!

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The Last Waltz: The Reverence of Film

The Band

The Band's Last Performance
We mentioned this in class this evening.

The Last Waltz was a concert by the rock group, "The Band", held Thanksgiving Day 1976, at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom. It was billed as a "farewell" concert after 16 years of touring. The Band was joined by artists including Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters and Neil Young.

The Band made this last performance years before digital video. This whole concert was filmed in 35mm movie format with professional motion picture equipment. The cameras were not designed for continuous running. There were scores of technical problems. Despite the problems, the event was filmed as it happened with no pausing or retakes. It was released as a feature film by Martin Scorsese in 1978.

This was an amazing achievement considering the limitations of the equipment and the expense of the medium. The specialness of this shows not only in how the medium rendered the event, but in the reverence shown by everybody in its filming. This was a special and rare recording and everybody knew it. That specialness would not exist in digital media where all kinds of events can be economically and casually recorded. It is just not the same medium. I really recommend renting the movie, The Last Waltz. If you do, pause to reflect how different digital and analog photographic media really are and how this affects the final product we are watching.

Inkscape: Free Illustrator Substitute?

Open Source Illustrator Substitute
Yesterday The Gimp, a possible Open Source (free) substitute for Photoshop, was mentioned on this blog. Business student and local entrepreneur Lambert Lum followed this up with a plug for Inkscape, a Vector Graphics Editor, similar to Adobe Illustrator, that strives to be SVG Compliant, open source, responsive and extensible. Lambert said:

I see you like gimp. Don't forget about inkscape. Inkscape is the open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Inkscape is also quite easy to use. After eight hours with the tutorial, I had a full grasp of all the major features.

Like The Gimp, Inkscape will run in Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. Unfortunately for Mac users, (also like the GIMP) it runs in X11 (not for the non-Geek Mac User.) It is sweet for Windows users and I have installed it! I have Illustrator, but often it is too complicated. Inkscape is just right.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Great weather in San Jose

Great weather at SJSU

GIMP: An open source photo editor

An alternative to Photoshop
So, you want the power of high-end image editing programs like Adobe Photoshop (or Corel PaintShop Pro) but have zero money to spend. The GNU Image Manipulation Program (a.k.a. The GIMP) gives you professional-level image editing capabilities at a budget price. It's free! And it's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Find out more at the GIMP website. The Mac GIMP version runs on the UNIX sublayer of MacOS and requires X11 (a version of Xwindows) which may be a deal breaker for all but the Geekiest of Mac users (not your typical Mac user can work in X11). Supposedly, the Windows version is not so constrained and would be easier on the casual user. There are tutorials to using GIMP on their Website and elsewhere on the Internet.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Looking back on Winterail 2007

Winterail 2007

Winterail 2007 Reflections
The Bill Darrough Show was very well received. Putting together that show has been on my mind for over ten years. My son Ken and I wanted it to be a fitting tribute to Bill. Twenty years ago, I spent well over a year printing the over 3000 negatives in the box and came to feel I knew him from the pictures he shot. Working with his negatives was like seeing through his eyes. Erik A. Young, a railroad enthusiast of Jamestown CA, wrote about the Bill Darrough Show on Train Orders:

...the Bill Darrough story was pure grandeur. I can't even begin to imagine taking on such a task at such a young age and accomplish so much. His legacy will live on despite his unfortunate battle with cancer at such a young age. I think Vic hit the nail on the head, as did the show's narrator, with this young man possibly having had the chance of being in the same class as (great train photographers of the twentieth century) Link, Stein, Dunscomb among others. I feel privileged to have been able to see even just a small portion of Bill Darrough's work.

It really, REALLY meant a lot that son Jeff came to the show! It was great having two of my sons at the show.

I got some contacts from this year's show and hope to follow up on these to do a possible sequel show. One very intriguing lead is the possibility there is someone still alive who may have known Bill.

It was great that Ken Rattenne and I showed at the same Winterail as he has been a friend for years and was one of the Kens son Kenneth was named after.

One big change is the step-by-step migration to an all digital Winterail. This year we were able to put up the digital three favorites, complete with title slides with the photographers names and also to be able to put on the screen digital copies of the contest winners moments after the contest was judged. We are working on improving that work flow.

We had photos from that day's breakfast. Also, Ryan Martin shot this photo of the crowd and it was on the big screen the day of the show, shortly after it was shot. I think that was very cool.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Funnies: Old Time Help Desk

Old time help desk video

Friday Funnies: Courtesy of Steve Greene
This Norwegian video, here with English subtitles, is something most folks who have done desktop support can relate to.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Andrew Venegas on Vlogging

Andrew Venegas in JMC163

Andrew Venegas talked to the class about Vlogging
Last Tuesday Andrew Venegas spoke to the class about Video Blogging. The conversation is recorded and is available here as an MP3 download.

Podcast: 01:08:12 duration, 15.6 MB MP3 - Posted March 8, 2007 Raw audio, recorded March 6, 2007.
To listen to lower quality, smaller file size, audio, click here –> MP3 File Here

Signs of a strike at SJSU

Strike Signs at SJSU

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Strike info from CFA

Strike Update From the California Faculty Association (CFA)
As most folks on campus hopefully know by now our faculty union is preparing to go on strike at this and all other universities in the California State University system. What follows is from CFA, our faculty union:

On Monday morning faculty across the CSU state began casting the first ballots in a vote to authorize job actions by faculty. This vote by the members of CFA sets the stage for an historic, first-ever work stoppage by the CSU faculty, if a fair contract settlement is not reached with the Reed administration.

Every member of the California Faculty Association is entitled and encouraged to vote. If you are not a CFA member you may join at the voting location and cast a ballot. This is the time for the faculty to let their sentiment be heard.

If you have not yet voted, it is not too late. Every vote is critical to the faculty cause and will help settle the contract.

For details on how to vote on your campus, look for the “Strike Vote” posters on your campus, or call your campus CFA chapter office. Get contacts and other information at

Statewide news media coverage of CFA’s historic strike vote is unprecedented. For an in-depth survey of primary links to TV, radio and newspaper stories about our impasse with the CSU administration and the possible consequences, be sure to follow the In the News page at CFA’s website (, which is updated regularly.

This collective news judgment is eminently justified. Nearly two years of negotiations for a contract in the nation’s largest four-year public university system have been fruitless. Teaching conditions continue to decline while the faculty’s compensation falls further behind inflation and those of faculty at other institutions of higher learning.

The strike vote kicked off with simultaneous news conferences Monday on four of the campuses: Los Angeles, San Diego, East Bay (Hayward) and Sacramento. These events included statements by faculty and regional labor leaders from the California Teachers Association, the Firefighters Union and leaders of Central Labor Councils who pledged support if a strike should occur. TV news broadcast widely images of faculty members at the polls.

As the cameras rolled, CFA leaders spoke passionately to the press about the issues that have led us to this impasse. In reports whose accuracy is universally acknowledged, the neutral and authoritative California Postsecondary Education Commission notes that CSU faculty are paid 18% less than their peers at comparable institutions across the country. Since 2002, faculty salaries have remained stagnant—just one 3.5% raise—while the administration, enabled by a rubber stamp Board of Trustees, has bulked up its own salaries by 23%.

A walkout by CSU faculty would be the largest such action in American public higher education history.

“The media coverage is significant on several fronts,” said John Halc√≥n, the statewide CFA Secretary. “The accuracy level of the reporting, both on TV yesterday and in the newspapers today, has been very impressive. This is a sign that our message—about our members’ interests and about the public’s—is getting through.”

Don’t forget to chime in with your comments, both positive and negative, in letters to the editor. These keep the media on their toes and give us another opportunity to reinforce our message in our voice, with concrete examples. For tips on getting letters published, see:

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Strike vote next week at SJSU

Labor action at CSU

Strike vote to be taken at SJSU
This is the text of an email sent by the California Faculty Association, the union that represents faculty in the California State University system to CFA members at SJSU this afternoon.

A historic vote of the CFA membership on whether to authorize strike action, including a two-day rolling strike, will take place on our campus during the week of March 12-15.

All CFA members will be able to vote in-person at polling places on the campus or by email.

The in-person polling days, places, and times on our campus are as follows:

10:00am to 6:00pm, at Table C next to the Student Union/Outdoor Amphitheater and across from the Art Building

An announcement of email balloting and explanation of procedures will be sent out (to faculty) on Monday morning, March 12.

Any faculty member who is not yet a member of CFA and wishes to vote may join in person at the polls or as part of the email balloting process. Any eligible faculty member on our campus who joins before the end of the voting period on Thursday may cast a ballot in this election.

If you have any questions, please call the CFA chapter office 924-6501 or by email at

We urge you to vote in this historic election--your future and that of the CSU depends on it.

Thank You

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Contractor Cars on Campus

Scared campus lawn

Contractor's cars make for an ugly campus
When contractors park on campus, literally on campus, they do more than make SJSU look junky. They make it impossible for emergency and other traffic to move without driving over landscaping.

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A new grandchild is announced

Sloan Baby Ultrasound!

A new grandchild coming!
Eldest son Steve and his wife Luci have announced her pregnancy and posted ultrasound pictures on their blog! How cool is that. We knew already, but I did not want to say anything until they did. We are very happy for them.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Funnies: Internet Help Desk

Internet Help Desk

Internet Help Desk
This video, by Dead Troll, is about six years old, but it is still very funny. I consider it an essential video for anybody who does phone support. I love showing it to the SJSU Help Desk staff. It is very funny!