Friday, August 29, 2008

Androids are coming

Android Developer Contest Winners Announced

Remember Android?
Android was announced an Internet eternity ago on November 5, 2007. According to Wikipedia, "Android is a software platform and operating system for mobile devices based on the Linux operating system and developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance. Google has pledged to make most of the Android platform available under the Apache free-software and open-source license, once it is released in 2008." Android has been heralded as an open source alternative to Apple's iPhone platform.

Well, we are approaching Q4 of 2008. There was a contest, called the Android Developer Challenge, to design applications for this platform. Does the Android platform measure up to the iPhone platform? Let's look at some of the winners of that contest.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

SJSU President's Blog

Whitmore's Lame Blog

Why am I calling Whitmore's Blog Lame?

In my opinion:

Companies Don't Blog - People Do
As Mike Sansone said, "One of the challenges a company faces when launching a blog, is making the leap from corporate-speak marketing lingo to a more personable message." Whitmore's so-called "blog" fall's far short of that goal. It is pure corporate-speak marketing lingo and is virtually devoid of a personable message. You can hardly even call it Whitmore's Blog as it is obviously not written by Jon Whitmore. Some flack in marketing is obviously writing this and is throwing in selected quotes from Whitmore. That, my friends, is pure corporate-speak marketing lingo, otherwise known as bull shit.

Is Whitmore's Blog even a blog?
The minimum requirement for a web site to be a blog is that it have content, and that it be sorted in reverse chronological order. But, I expect more than that from the president of a university claiming to power Silicon Valley. To quote Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, "I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume. We’ve allowed comments here on TechCrunch since it started. At times, user comments can be painful to deal with. But they also keep the writer honest, and make the content vastly more interesting."

Here is a short shopping list of what I expect from a genuine blog from the president of my university:

Permalinks (See UPDATE 2)
Other bloggers should be able to link to posts in Whitmore's blog. As it is now, they can't.
Comments (See UPDATE 2)
Whitmore should allow his readers to post thoughtful comments on what he has to say. Yes, comment moderation is okay to prevent comment spam.
An RSS Feed (See UPDATE 1)
Hello, as SJSU alum Robert Scoble said, "if you do a marketing site and you don't have an RSS feed today you should be fired." He went on to say, "Saying that RSS is only for geeks today is like saying in 1998 that the Web was only for geeks." One more thing, Scoble said that in 2005. In my opinion this applies much more to blogs. But, it is hard to do an RSS feed without permalinks.
A personal voice
This brings us back to "Companies Don't Blog - People Do." When I heard our new president was planning to do a blog I got excited. I thought, wow, the president of my university that is located at the core of Silicon Valley is really going to embrace transparency, embrace Web 2.0 and is going to enter the conversation. I did not expect PR bull shit.

But, I have found a real use for Whitmore's blog.
I use it in my new media class as an example, an example of what not to do with a blog. In my opinion Whitmore's so-called "blog" is worse for SJSU than no blog at all. It makes us all look lame. Where should my university start if they really want to do this right? I suggest starting here, with Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto.

UPDATE 1, Mon Sep 1 16:11:43 PDT 2008: As of this time; Whitmore's blog does now appear to have an RSS feed!
(That must have been a lot of fun to make without permalinks for the posts? It possibly was a very manual process of hacking XML code)

UPDATE 2, Tue Sep 2 06:25:59 PDT 2008: The blog appears to have been done in what we call WEBCMS7, this is a content management system (CMS) we use to provide accessible Web page content to folks with disabilities on SJSU Web sites. It is a decent tool for that, but WEBCMS7 is not (normally) a blogging tool. I do not know of any way to provide permalinks to or commenting on a page in WEBCMS7. That brings up another question, is there an accessible blogging tool? I do not know the answer to that one.

Here is more information about accessible blogging tools, IMHO we need this at SJSU.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still 1000 steps to print in SJSU lab

Pay for printing machine

Out of order for two years!

When the Academic Success Center opened two years ago it had a serious flaw. Users of the computer lab on the first floor were unable to pay here for printing except by using value added to their tower cards. But, there was no station to add value to their card in Clark Hall where the lab is located.

The nearest "add value" station was located elsewhere. As noted in a previous post, "the place students have had to go to get to a machine to pay to be able to print a page in the Academic Success Center was five hundred paces away in the King Library. Then they have a five hundred pace walk back to Clark Hall to finish their job." That is a one thousand step round trip just to pay to print!

About six months ago an add value machine was added to Clark Hall. Problem is, it has never worked, never, ever. Two years after this lab has opened, it is still often a one thousand step round trip to pay for printing in Clark Hall.

My understanding is that it is not Academic Technology that is to blame for the printing problems. Hopefully, somewhere, someone will take ownership of this problem and it will get fixed. Two years is too long to wait to get this fixed.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Students doing rush

It's insane busy at SJSU

Yesterday I worked 11 hours straight. It is crazy busy at the help desk. It is RUSH in more ways than one. Tomorrow is my first class.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

UNIX e-mail for students is going away

Tech Tip: UNIX e-mail for students is going away

Currently enrolled students at SJSU who have paid their fees are the only people who are eligible for a new SJSU Student E-mail account. If you are not a current student you will not be able to use the new SJSU Student E-mail system. This is true even if you are a graduate who has been using an old SJSU student UNIX account.

SJSU does not currently offer e-mail to former students, including graduates
Student UNIX accounts (student e-mail accounts that end in are going away as of the last day of October. After that date you will not be able to get an e-mail sent to any account from SJSU that ends in If you have had a Student UNIX account, your account will be disabled and all mail on the server will be deleted as of the end of October. There is no ability to forward e-mail from the old Student UNIX account to any other account after the last day of October. All e-mail sent to that account will bounce as undeliverable after that date. You need to establish an e-mail account somewhere else and tell all the people who have been sending you e-mail that you have a new e-mail address.

If you have a Student UNIX account, and would like to save your e-mail from your Student UNIX account, you should use an e-mail client like Apple Mail, Outlook, Eudora or Thunderbird to download your e-mail from the UNIX server. All mail on the server will be be deleted as of the end of October. You cannot save your UNIX e-mail on a student account using just web-mail. Again, this will only allow you to save e-mail sent to a Student UNIX account before the last day of October 2008. All e-mail sent to that account will bounce as undeliverable after that date.

How to save your old e-mail
The process for configuring an e-mail client like Apple Mail, Outlook, Eudora or Thunderbird is detailed here:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New SJSU Student E-mail is Coming Monday

Fahed activating e-mail

San Jose State University, through partnership with Microsoft Live Edu, is providing a feature-rich, intuitive electronic mail environment to the Student community.

Important Point:
The new SJSU Student E-mail is only for SJSU students and NOT for faculty or staff (unless they are also students at SJSU). SJSU Student E-mail does not change anything with Blackboard, Peoplesoft, CMS or MySJSU. It is only student e-mail!

Popular features of the new SJSU Student E-mail include web and POP3 client access, online file sharing and storage, blogging, 5GB of storage, and account pickup and management through SJSU's SJSUOne application.

August 25, 2008 is the launch date for this.

The new SJSU Student E-mail works with SJSUOne
Every active SJSU Student has an SJSUOne account, University Computing and Telecommunications (UCAT) Systems Group has also generated a SJSU Student E-Mail address for each active Student.

You may view information about the new SJSU Student E-Mail system on the Web at:

There are 3 steps for a student to pick up and begin using their new SJSU Student E-mail account. This is detailed at the Web site above:

  1. Pick up their SJSU Student E-Mail Address. This is done by signing onto (or Activating) the student’s SJSUOne account after the system is active. Once signed on, the Student may be prompted to change their SJSUOne password. This will synchronize the SJSUOne password to their SJSU Student E-Mail password. (they will use their SJSUOne password for Student E-Mail)
  2. Sign onto the Student E-Mail system (Microsoft Live@Edu) The student will enter their full Student E-mail address as their User ID, and their SJSUOne password as the password.
  3. Complete the setup of their Student E-Mail account. This is simply filling out one page of information, and accepting the Microsoft agreement.

If you have a Student UNIX account and would like to save your e-mail from that account you should use an e-mail client like Outlook, Eudora or Thunderbird to download that mail from the server. All mail on the server will be be deleted as of the end of October.

The process for configuring an e-mail client is detailed here:

A related handout is available for download, on the SJSU Campus Wired Network only. If you are SJSU faculty please feel free to distribute this to your students. This document is in PDF format and is here:

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Interested in working at the help desk?

SJSU Student Assistant Applications Being Accepted
To apply for work at our help desk please bring a copy of your resume to the help desk, located in CH102 on the first floor of Clark Hall, and fill out an application as well as a cover sheet for employment. Your resume should be stapled with your cover sheet, application and all should be submitted together.

On your application be sure to note any work experience you may have involving customer service, software applications and/or computer support. Be sure you have your Tower Card Number on your application if you have one.

Feeling kinda analog?

An old fashioned drop in darkroom
The Silicon Valley De-Bug Center offers a drop in darkroom for folks who might like to do photography the old-school way. The lab has four enlargers and can accommodate film up to 120 (6x9) size. For a fee, they provide all the chemicals. You will need to bring your own paper, negatives (of course) and maybe your own easels. They have a glass for making contact sheets. You can also develop film there. Oh yes, there is a radio in the darkroom!
Cost is $5 an hour but you can do monthly memberships to bring the cost down. They are located at 701 Lenzen Avenue in San Jose.
[Their Web Site]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Help Desk end of Summer Lunch

Help Desk staff at Silk Road

Summer is ending at SJSU

This time next week school will be in session. To celebrate the end of the summer the help desk staff went to lunch on Saturday with Sue and I. We went to Silk Road, which is a nice Indian Restaurant in downtown San Jose. It was a lot of fun.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

September 2008 Bike Club Newsletter

September 2008 ACTC newsletter

The September ACTC BBB Newsletter

Here is the September issue of the Black and Blue Bottom, the Almaden Cycle Touring Club newsletter. These are in PDF format:

I publish this monthly newsletter for my bike club. It is due at the printer tomorrow morning. So, this is one of the things I did over the weekend.

Friday, August 15, 2008

India Independence Day

India Indepence Day

It is India Indepence day
Today is the 61st anniversary of the independence of India from Britan. Last year we celebrated the 60th anniversary at the Help Desk by wearing Indian clothing and had a big lunch of Indian food. This was great fun!

[More Pictures Here on Flickr]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Middle Son Jeff is 30

Jeff Sloan

Thirty Years Ago Today, Jeff Was Born

Today is my son Jeff's birthday. Thirty years ago today he was born in Sacramento, CA. He was a helathy boy, the healthiest of our babies. Today Jeff is in Florida and so we are not able to celebrate with him. Jeff is the second of my sons to turn 30. Steve will be 32 in October.

Gaurdian: Are Photographers a Threat?

From the Gaurdian: Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harrassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We've been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones.
[Read More]

Cnet: Model Railroad Ruling Favors Open Source

From CNet: A legal dispute involving model railroad hobbyists has resulted in a major courtroom victory for the free software movement also known as open-source software.
[Read More]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My three sons

Jeff, Kenneth, Steve and I

My three sons, together again

Having my sons together is a rare event. The last time it happened was in December 2005. On Sunday evening we had a great time hanging out and talking and visiting. They are all fine men. On Monday Jeff flew out of town on business.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Family Matters

Baby Solomon

Family Matters

Oldest son Steve, his wife Luci and grandkids Cazden and Solomon are visiting this week. Yesterday sons Jeff and Kenneth and their families came to dinner at our house, along with their families, as well as my sister, her husband and Sue's mom. It was a great get together and it was the first since December 2005 that all three of my sons have been together again.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What is better, film or digital?

Answer: Neither

As many analog (film) photographers can be smug, saying film is better than digital, so can many digital photographers be smug, saying digital is better than film. Each thinks their medium is better. I say they are different, neither is "better".

When you use film to capture light you are using a different palette than when you use a digital camera. Film sees light differently than a digital camera sensor does and reacts to light differently. A digital camera, with a digital sensor, has the film built in and it will always see the same light the same. A decent digital camera delivers that image (hopefully) in a data dump we call a RAW data file and you add interpretation later in software programs like Photoshop.

An analog camera, with removable film as the analog sensor, will see the same light differently depending on the material loaded in it at the time of exposure. The type of film loaded in the camera changes how the camera captures light. Then, before the film is processed, the film image is a latent undeveloped image that holds the potential of an image. How this image is manifested is subject to a layer of chemical interpretation in the developing before the image itself is delivered. Then the negative or positive can be further interpreted by either analog or digital means, through printing in an enlarger or scanning and then using digital software like Photoshop.

Isn't digital cheaper?
I say, depending on your volume, analog cameras can be cheaper. You can upgrade your analog camera's sensor by buying the latest new film. A 50 year old film camera can use the latest and newest film. A five year old digital camera is a door stop.

To realize the value aspects of a digital camera you got to shoot the crap out of your camera. With digital, film is free. You do not have to buy film. But, your digital equipment is rapidly depreciating in value. Low volume shooters may find the cost of film is a better value proposition than the cost of upgrading your digital camera as well as your computer hardware and your software in a 36 month refresh cycle. I can buy a lot of film for the cost of a Nikon D3 plus buying computer hardware, Photoshop etc.

Film can be cheaper than replacing your digital camera, computer and software every three years for some folks. For others digital is hands down cheaper than buying thousands of rolls of film a year, plus processing.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The City of San Jose

Downtown San Jose

San Jose is Growing Up

Today I walked downtown to have lunch. When I did I took a film camera and shot some black and white film. It occured to me that San Jose is looking more and more like a city. I guess it is about time.

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About University E-mail (Lotus Notes)

Tech Tips: Lotus Notes is a campus-wide e-mail system and it is also referred to as "University E-mail."

University e-mail (Lotus Notes) accounts are for employees of San Jose State University. E-mail addresses for these accounts end in "" (without the quotation marks.) These accounts are typically a user's first name and last name separated by a period. So, for a hypothetical user named Jane Doe the e-mail address might be "" (without the quotation marks.) The Lotus Notes team in the Systems Support Group in UCAT provides support for and administers the Domino servers that are at the core of University e-mail (Lotus Notes).

More information on e-mail at SJSU is here:

Here is the Team (all this information is from public facing university servers):

  • Victor Van Leer is the current Manager of the University Computing Systems department of University Computing and Telecommunications (UCAT) at SJSU that oversee's Lotus Notes. Victor's phone is 408/924-7828 his e-mail is:
  • Vivienne Ralls, 408/924-3324, Title: Notes Operating Systems Analyst, UCAT Systems Support e-mail:
  • Andrew Trembley, 408/924-3326, Title Notes Architect, UCAT Systems Support, e-mail:

UCAT's Systems Support Group provides server related Lotus Notes/Domino, NT, Unix, and Linux services and serve as 2nd level support to the campus help desk on these systems.

In addition, the Systems Support Group provides server management services, central backup and hosting (NT, Unix, Linux), Campus Lotus Notes/Domino services (Administration, e-mail, calendaring, 3rd party Domino groupware extensions, and custom Lotus Workflow application development).

More information about the Systems Support Group is here:

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Tech Tips: What is SPSS and how do I get it?

SPSS is a computer program used for statistical analysis. SPSS (originally, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) is among the most widely used programs for statistical analysis in social science. It is used by market researchers, health researchers, survey companies, government, education researchers, marketing organizations and others. In addition to statistical analysis, data management (case selection, file reshaping, creating derived data) and data documentation (a metadata dictionary is stored with the data) are features of the base software. SPSS is developed by SPSS Inc. The latest release is 16.0 (Win), 16.0 (Mac), and 16.0 (Linux). It has a proprietary license.

SJSU has a site license for SPSS and all SJSU Faculty, Staff and Students can use it. Install media and activation codes are provided by the SJSU Help Desk for the latest Mac and Windows versions to university students, faculty and staff when they verify their standing with the university. There may be a modest cost for the installation media. For more details contact the University Help Desk at 408/924-2377 or by e-mail at

The SPSS Web site is:

More information is here:

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Staff Employees Union Seeks to Block Governor

According to the Sacramento Bee:

The largest state employees' union (SEIU) filed a motion this morning in Sacramento County Superior Court attempting to stop Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's executive order laying off thousands of temporary employees and reducing pay for 200,000 workers to the federal minimum wage.

[Read More Here]

The California State University Employees Union, which represents staff employees in the California State University system, is Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2579

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How we use Google Docs

Tech Tips: Google Docs and the Help Desk

About Google Docs
According to Wikipedia, "Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of two services, Writely and Spreadsheets, which were merged into a single product on October 10, 2006. A third product for presentations, incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems, was released on September 17, 2007."

Google Apps @ SJSU
According to a Web page maintained by the SJSU Web Services team (at the time of this writing), "San Jose State University is in the early stages of using Google Apps Education Edition. Currently only faculty and staff are given access. We hope to include students at a later time, when technical challenges around associating student email addresses with Google Apps is resolved." Currently this is being called, "Google Apps @ SJSU".

Known Issues
There are issues using Google Docs if you are intending on inviting university employees into collaboration with people with e-mail accounts. A person with an e-mail account cannot be invited into collaboration using Google's own brand of Google Docs. We have found, at the help desk, that the best bet is for all parties involved in collaboration to have e-mail accounts that are not in the domain. We have found, Gmail accounts work best. If you have an e-mail address and you try to access Google's own Google Docs after being invited by a person not from an account, you will be forced into an SJSUOne authentication. Even then, you will not be able to get to the document you have been invited to edit. The best bet is to stay off the reservation, for now!

Help Desk Google Docs Work Flow
At the university help desk we use Google Docs extensively for preparation of documentation. This way teams can collaborate on our documentation easily. Because we invite students to collaborate on our documentation we are using the Google's own version of Google Docs. Our work around has been to ask our help desk entire staff to get Google Gmail accounts and to issue invitations to the Google Gmail account for the users we wish to invite to collaborate on the document. We may, as an option, invite them via a seperate e-mail to their or other e-mail address telling them, "please check your Gmail e-mail account for an invitation to collaborate on a Google Doc."

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