Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MacWorld on Film

MacBook Airs in the Air

MacWorld 2008 on Black and White Film
Even though I have a great digital camera I still like to shoot film. I do not know why, I just seem to see that way. Black and white film has a timeless look about it. My camera is 25 years old and it still takes pictures I like. Since I am no longer a pro, I am the only one I have to please. So, here are my film camera photos of MacWorld 2008.

[Click here to see photos on Flickr]

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Google Docs Offline

Your Google Docs to go!
One of my biggest complaints about Google Docs is that their strength is also their weakness. The cool thing about Google Docs is that you can access them everywhere there is an Internet connection. This really enables collaboration on a global connection. The problem is you cannot access them when there is not an Internet connection. Now, according to Tony Ruscoe, Google is soon to release off line access to Google Docs. Now, if they can make that work with my iPod Touch...

Rainy days and Mondays...

Wet sidewalks

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Reflections on a wet Friday

Tree Reflections

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MacBook Air Impressions

People Looking at MacBook Air

MacBook Air; a hit or a miss?
After my house was burglarized last year and my nice 12 inch PowerBook was stolen I purchased a MacBook computer. I choose the MacBook, rather than a MacBook Pro, because of its smaller size. I loved my 12 inch PowerBook and miss it. When Apple came out with the Intel processor equipped MacBook/MacBook Pro line to replace the PPC processor equipped iBooks/PowerBooks there was not an Intel powered equivalent to the 12 inch PowerBook G4. The MacBook was the smallest portable and it has a 13 inch display. The MacBook Pro is 15 inches minimum. To me portability was everything. Immediately after I got the MacBook I decided that I needed to upgrade the memory, which I did. Recently I decided I needed more hard drive space so I could also run Windows, so I replaced my 80 GB laptop drive with a 160.

Of course a year ago the 13 inch MacBook Air was not an option. It is much lighter and much thinner than the same sized MacBook. If I were making the decision today I might maybe consider buying a MacBook Air. Maybe I might, maybe not. It is almost impossible to upgrade anything in this machine. As a user you cannot replace the memory or the hard drive, you cannot even replace the battery in the MacBook Air without shipping it to Apple. It is like a cross between a laptop and the worst features of an iPod. You only have one USB slot and no firewire! For me, I think that would be too high a price to pay for the lighter, thinner, but not much smaller footprint of this machine. I wish they had come out with a 12 inch MacBook Pro.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Openings in an important class

From Harvey Gotliffe: I have many former Japanese American internees and Holocaust survivors willing to be interviewed by students in the MCOM 136 class, "How the American Media Covered the Holocaust and the Japanese American Internment during World War Two."

Since both the internees and survivors are getting older — my youngest contact is 79 and the oldest 97, I would like to have our students benefit from the chance to meet with the last remnants of WWII living history.

MCOM 136 can substitute for MCOM 103 or 104; MCOM 70, 105 or 106; or can be used as an elective.

If you have an overflow in any of these classes or know of any good students who may be interested in the subject, have them contact me by e-mail, phone, or stop by my class next Tuesday at 130 PM in DBH 213, or see me in my DBH 220 office that day from 1030 until class time.

The Mac OSX Leopard Blues

Can't wait for Leopard 10.5.2
I am having significant issues with Mac OS X 10.5.1 and Photoshop CS3 Extended. These problems have rendered the cropping tool virtually unusable. According to Mac Fix It, "There exists a significant issue in Photoshop CS3 when running under Mac OS X 10.5.x (Leopard) where the crop tool does not work properly." Based on my own experiences they are understating the problems.

I know, it is my own fault. I adopted Leopard far too soon. You should never introduce a new version of Mac OS X in a production environment until at least the 10.x.3 release. But, frankly, I am having better luck with Vista than with the new Mac operating system. That is not good!

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Raccoon Riles Pixel

Raccoon in our yard

Raccoon at home in our backyard?
Last night Sue and I were sitting in our family room when our brown indoors only Burmese cat, Pixel, got very agitated. Pixel puffed up (related picture) and went near (not too near) our back door and hissed. Sue said, "what is going on, is there a Raccoon in our back yard?" She went to the back door and screamed, "oh my God! It is at the back door!" This is not the first time time Pixel has seen a raccoon, we had them in our house once (related story.) This raccoon seemed quite at home. The critter stuck around with plenty of time for me to go get a digital camera and take its picture. Then, when it was ready, the varmint climbed one of our redwood trees where I suspect it lives.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Message from the President

This was sent to the campus community yesterday:

Welcome back, everyone. As we begin the spring semester, I am writing to give you an update on several important issues.

First, the budget picture: The Governor announced his proposed 08-09 budget on January 10. Due to the state’s fiscal environment, with California facing a projected $14 billion shortfall, the Governor’s budget cannot fund the plan approved by the CSU Board of Trustees last November. In fact, the proposal includes a reduction of $312.9 million or 10 percent in state general fund support for the CSU.

In addition, the Governor’s budget does not include $73.2 million that is needed to avoid an increase in undergraduate and graduate student fees for 2008-09.

As we deal with the uncertainties of this budget, San José State will continue to be guided by our strategic plan and Vision 2010, and as in the past, will draw on the best thinking of the campus community to minimize the impact of any cuts. We will give close attention to the Legislative Analyst’s Office review of the Governor’s proposal in February and the legislative hearings on the CSU budget in the first week of March.

We have joined with many CSU campuses in moving up our application deadlines, given the limits on campus capacity that the proposed budget cuts would impose. The application deadline for fall 2008 first-time freshmen has been moved to Friday, February 1, and the deadline for transfer students is Tuesday, April 1.

This university has weathered many budget crises and, working together, we will come through this one. Our overarching goals will be to provide quality education for our students and to create and maintain the environment ideal for delivering that education.

We are coming off of a wonderfully successful year, with a multi-faceted 150th celebration, record-breaking enrollments and fundraising, high praise from our academic accrediting agency, and athletics on a new level of financial stability, which spells good things for the support of all our sports. Men’s basketball is providing excitement this month—the team already has more wins than the total of any other season since 01-02!

Our students continue to make us proud. For example, 30 students from our Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism Management will serve as a special event management team for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am in early February. This is the third year our students have partnered with Pebble Beach Resorts to host this world-class event, and some graduates of the program now work in Pebble Beach.

With the great momentum generated by all of last year’s successes and our ongoing commitment to Vision 2010 goals, San José State University is well positioned to welcome a new president later this year. Meanwhile, we have a full agenda for spring semester – and we’re moving full steam ahead on achieving our strategic goals. This is our time—I ask you to join with me in making this another outstanding semester at San José State.

Don W. Kassing

Puddle Season

Rain puddle

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How SJSU Faculty Get University Email

A public service announcement from SJSU Tech Support:
With the start of semester, we have been asked to share how new faculty and staff receive their official e-mail address. The process is outlined below.

In cooperation with the President's Campus E-Mail Committee, University Computing Systems is distributing official campus internet addresses.

This process happens daily (Monday-Friday):

  • SJSUOne receives a list of new employees from CMS at noon.
  • An automated process creates e-mail addresses for the new faculty/staff.
  • Security mailers are generated with initial account information and usage tips.
  • The security mailers are mailed via interoffice mail to the employees' office locations.
  • E-mail accounts can be accessed using a Web browser or using e-mail software installed by your desktop support team.

Although SJSUOne receives updates daily, it may take up to 3 days for recent CMS changes to be reported to SJSUOne. If you need your employee's workstation set up before their first day of work, you may contact your desktop support technicians to have them submit an on-line account request. The technician will receive the setup information and can set up your employee's workstation in advance. A security mailer will also be interoffice mailed to the employee at his/her office location.

You can verify an employee's e-mail address by looking in the Domino Directory "Internet Address" field, or the Campus Directory Web page.

New improvements this semester: With the help of Human Resources and CMS, SJSUOne is now notified of new faculty even earlier than before. Please ensure that new faculty have their "Preferred Name" recorded in PeopleSoft so we can generate addresses using the preferred version of their name.

Feel free to share this information with your colleagues.

Thank You

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Old trains new venue

SP RSD15, DL600B, Alco Gator shoving up the Eugene Hump

Old trains on Flickr
I love trains! I have been scanning some of my favorite old train photos and placing them on Flickr. This is a slow process as each photo has to be scanned and then spot removed, color balanced and exposure adjusted in Photoshop. It is worth it to be able to share some of these gems. They don't serve much purpose sitting in boxes!

[Click Here to see more on Flickr]

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The MacWorld Edge

MacWorld 2008 photo

The interesting stuff is often on the edge
Last week I had a great time at MacWorld and I have not even yet began to write about it. One of the things I have learned about this show is some of the most interesting stuff is on the edge, or in the "other" hall (this year that was Moscone West.) This where some of the folks with great ideas but little money hang out looking for angels. I like to spend time here because here is where you hear of ideas that have not yet made it to the mainstream. The guys at this booth were making software to use Macs with telescopes to guide and image with.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Dan Rather Coming to Silicon Valley?

Dan Rather Reports on Politics: The California Primary
According to information distributed by the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley, broadcast journalist Dan Rather will be joined by campaign strategists Mike Murphy and Donnie Fowler at a location to be announced on February fifth to discuss the California Primary. The event will be free but it will require advance reservations.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blogging from portable devices

I need to log into my account to fix some garbage put here from trying to post from my iPod and my Treo. What a pain!
Sent from my iPod

Friday, January 18, 2008

Touchy Buggy Blogging

I am at the microsoft blogger lounge at Macworld. I was unable to log onto their free wireless network with my iPod. Logging onto secure wireless networks with an iPod touch is not easy.

This mobile text message is brought to you by AT&T

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Apple: Thin & UMM

Macbook Air

Thin is in ag'in, umm's the word
The new MacBook air, the worlds smallest notebook computer (shown above) is wicked cool. But, some of the most exciting news to me is how they enabled their other smaller, cheaper and more portable thin machine: the Ultra Mobile Mac (UMM, also known as the iPhone/iPod Touch platform.)

Now they are putting a couple of much needed apps on UMM and Google has enabled their apps to work with the UMM. With locally cached Email this little gem starts to shine and is starting to break free of the chains that had held it down. What I call the UMM platform, consisting of the iPhone and iPod touch, has huge potential. I don't mind the $20 early adopter tax. Teamed with Web apps (that work) the UMM has the potential to be a great thin client! But, we are not yet always connected to the Internet. Even where there is WiFi sometimes it does not work well with devices such as these. For example, SJSU's wireless network is almost useless with this. So, given we are not always be connected, what are the next few things UMM needs?

  1. A real RSS client that enables me to take my RSS feeds to go
    I mean this seems too obvious, but then so did Email and they left that out at launch.
  2. A text editor
    We need to be able to take notes in the field and then word process them later, either after we sync the UMM to the mother ship or can use a web app like Google Docs when we have WiFi reach.
  3. A PDF Client/E-Book Reader Client
    Hey, this can be a great book reader platform! It has a very readable screen. With paperback book chapters delivered in an RSS feed, who needs that Amazon thing...

But, I am happy. My UMM (aka iPod Touch) is an ideal portable thin client tablet Mac platform to build upon. I hope they continue. The upcoming release of a software development kit should encourage new apps. Thanks Android, er, I mean Apple, for making this happen.

Today I am off to MacWorld. To me this is like Christmas, my birthday and Winterail all rolled into one! This year Apple got thin in a big way! I think I can safely leave my MacBook at home. I do believe my UMM can do almost everything I need to do. I can use a reporter pad to do the rest, at least until I get that text editor. Ciao!!!

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rick Steves

Vernazza Italy, Cinque Terra

We saw Rick Steves
On Saturday travel writer Rick Steves spoke at a talk hosted by the Commonwealth Club. It was a great presentation. We were in the second row. He spoke about the politics of travel. We really enjoyed the talk. He is a very articulate speaker. After his talk, the local PBS channel had a Rick Steves marathon. Part of the marathon showed Cinque Terra, Italy. I took this picture in Vernazza, Italy when Sue and I went there in 1999. We celebrated our fifth anniversary there, Ciao!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Budget cut for state and CSU

Huge state budget cuts coming
According to the Sacramento Bee, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today will propose a spending plan that cuts virtually every function of state government to close a $14.5 billion budget gap. Reportedly the governor's plan asks lawmakers to close state parks and beaches, release prisoners, dramatically pare school funding, reduce Medi-Cal health services to the poor and reduce aid to the low-income blind, elderly and disabled.

According to the Bee, the University of California and California State University systems would be cut under the governor's plan, but by less than 10 percent because the administration attempts to make good on a long-term "compact" with higher education that promises funding growth each year.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stephen Johnson Photographer & Author

Johnson: The Ansel Adams of Digital Photography
Johnson started taking digital landscape photographs in 1994 and is a pioneer of the medium. Last night I went to the most recent meeting of the local Photoshop User Group. The meeting was at Adobe Headquarters in San Jose not far from SJSU. It featured Stephen Johnson and it was a real treat. Johnson blew me away. He is to digital landscape photography what Ansel Adams was to black and white film landscape photography. I was not prepared for the awesome quality of his work. I was amazed. This guy really knows his stuff. I learned so much from his free talk:

  • He talked in depth about the Camera Raw format and what it really is. He said, "a RAW file is not a photo it is a data stream." His comparison of Camera RAW, film and the Zone System (made famous by Ansel Adams) was something I have never seen before.
  • He talked in depth about camera sensor technology and particularly the Foveon X3 sensor, how it compares to Bayer sensors (and film) and what makes it so special.
  • He brought huge photos taken with his BetterLight scanning camera, talked about his decade long photo project and his new book.

Johnson's work is lovely, it was almost melodic. His work has a masterful combination of art and craft that is magical. I do not know if Johnson is a musician like Adams was, but his photographs were like a song, like Adams's are. I am not a landscape photographer. That is not what my heart and my eye see's. I will never shoot like Johnson, and that is okay. His book by O'Reiley , Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography, is a must buy for me. Just listening to him has changed my photography. That was a real treat!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Kenneth is 21

Kenneth at Christmas

I can now go out a bar and have a beer with all my sons!
Yesterday Kenneth turned 21. He is a fine young man who has a heart of gold. All my kids are quite grown up and the little ones in my life are grandchildren now. We have not yet been able to celebrate with him. He has a cold and we hope to be able to celebrate with him soon. We are lucky to have such fine sons!

Monday, January 07, 2008


Lick Observatory in Snow

The lovely storm
Today the storm broke. We had scattered showers but nothing like the high wind, the heavy rain, the lightning and the snow seen in our area the last several days. This photo is off one of the webcams on Mount Hamilton. The mountain and surround hills got a dusting of snow.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Vista and Office 2007 at home

I have installed Vista and Office 2007 on my home computer.
This is part of my effort to keep current and to produce documentation for my students, most of whom are using Windows systems. Last semester the biggest complaint my students had was that I prepared documentation on Macs and subtle differences exist between the Mac and Windows versions of the same application. I plan to rectify that this semester. Being more Windows literate will also help me with my help desk day job.

A Great Technology Workshop at SJSU

Three day CFDS workshop wraps up
Yesterday was the last day of the three day technology workshop for SJSU faculty I have been attending. I was very impressed both with the quality of the presentations and the great pedagogical applications the faculty attending the workshop either are, or are planning, to make of this technology. This focus on assessable learning outcomes was likely the most important part of the workshop. It forced us to think of how we will apply the techniques to improve the learning of our students. It has been a concentrated few days! I think Mary Fran Breiling and the staff at the Center for Faculty Development and Support deserve recognition for their fine work. Here is how I am planning to apply what I have learned.

One of the other attendees also has been blogging about this workshop.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Good Night, and Good Luck

Edward R. Murrow
My wife Sue and I just watched the prescient 2005 movie Good Night, and Good Luck. This movie is about Edward R. Murrow's battle with Joe McCarthy. Despite the fact that the movie is set in the 1950's it seems quite timely given our so-called battle against terrorism that has led to suspension of privacy and including, especially, the so-called Patriot Act. The movie opens and closes with Murrow's speech in 1958 to the Radio and Television News Director's Association convention in Chicago. The speech makes timely reading today.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.

I recommend this movie to all students of Journalism, Political Science and to all students of our times. To all America, good night and good luck.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Microsoft Live Spaces Beta

Microsoft Live Spaces

Microsoft Live Spaces Beta
I use Google Docs, but sometimes it isn't enough. I need to be able to share presentations, documents and spread sheets with students and colleagues regularly. If like me, you want the power, elegance and off-line usability of genuine Microsoft Office product documents plus the online storage and collaboration capability of Google Docs, but do not have a Microsoft SharePoint Server, the new Microsoft Live Spaces (currently in Beta) may be an answer for you and those you wish to share with. The Live Spaces development team has a blog and Scoble recently did a podcast about it. I signed up for the Beta, I can't wait to try it!

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The best video podcast I have ever seen

Stewards of the Valley, Grape Radio

If you do not take video podcasting seriously, think again!
This is the best video podcast episode I have ever seen. It is lovely and succeeds on so many levels. This episode of the Grape Radio Podcast shows what happens when folks who are working in this medium take their medium seriously and make a commitment to quality. In a word, it is lovely. This video podcast episode tells a story elegantly, throughly, romantically and accurately. It is a fine example of new media journalism, as fine as I have ever seen.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Technology Innovations Workshop

Center for Faculty Development Workshop
Today I am in a workshop being put on by the Center for Faculty Development at SJSU. This is a great workshop covering topics like Blogs, Wikis, Second Life, Pocasts and other Web 2.0 and distance learning technologies. Right now Debbie Faires is putting on a session about Wiki's which has led me to create a Class Wiki for my Spring class.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Make Vista Like Windows 2000

Make Vista Like Win2K
I just installed Vista on my Intel equipped MacPro. One thing I hate is operating systems that get in the way. I want to be anle to get to my applications fast! For doing that nothing for me beats the work flow made fast by the way the start button and menu was implemented in Windows 2000. I even like to emulate that behavior in Mac OS X. Windows XP deviated in large measure the fast to use Win 2K "classic" interface. Vista took the interface farther away in my opinion. But, you can get it back!

  1. Right-click on the Start button, select Properties, then choose Classic Start Menu. After doing this you get a Start menu that's composed primarily of cascading menus that lead to programs. But, it still is not labled Start. The next step will fix that.
  2. Right-click the desktop, select Personalize, and double-click Theme to choose the Windows Classic theme. This does away with much of Vista's (ugly) slickness and provides a Start button labeled "Start," like God and Bill intended.

If you take both of these steps Vista will have a decidedly old-school, Windows 2000-like "classic" flavor. Vista doesn't seem to have a way to make its Start menu behavior and other aspects of the OS behave more the way they do in Windows XP. But, since I do not like Windows XP's interface that much this is fine with me.

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