Friday, December 31, 2010

The year end at SJSU

Click on image to enlarge

The year ended quietly at SJSU. The campus was open for three days between Christmas and New Years and a few of us, myself included, worked. It was a day of updating our Web site and knowledge base, tasks that are hard to do when we have customers.

I took a walk across campus and enjoyed the rare solitude. That was nice.

We reopen Monday, January 3, 2011 at 8 a.m.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

SJSU Help Desk is Closed

Due to the end of the term and campus closure we are closed. We reopen on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 8 a.m. The photo is of the College of Engineering Graduation where many of our staff graduated.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There's an app for that

Are you a trucker or a cheating spouse or a...? There's an app for that!

In my mind; it is hard to imagine going to Motel 6 so often that I would want an app for it, unless I was a..."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Proof IBM has a sense of humor

Click on image to enlarge.

Proof IBM has a sense of humor. The install dialogue says to "Click OK." But, there is no "OK" button. You guys kill me, LOL.

MORAL: You should always have novices test products. They will catch things subject matter experts do not see. Like, where's the "OK" button? I do not use this product. I was working on installation guidelines. A subject matter expert would just click right through this dialogue, not read it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Beware of spoofed e-mail

Spoofed e-mail appearing to be legitimate. Click on image above to enlarge.

In the context of network security, a spoofing attack is a situation in which one person or program successfully masquerades as another by falsifying data and thereby gaining an illegitimate advantage.

The sender information shown in e-mails (the "From" field) can be spoofed easily. This technique is commonly used by spammers to hide the origin of their e-mails.

E-mail address spoofing is done in quite the same way as writing a forged return address using snail mail. As long as the letter fits the protocol, (i.e. stamp, postal code) the SMTP protocol will send the message. It can be done using a mail server with telnet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Huge SJSU security hole remains open


I have just returned from being on workers compensation for almost three months and am surprised (putting it mildly) to learn the security hole that gives student assistants access to the e-mail of every student, counselor, faculty, staff and administrator at SJSU is apparently still open. I posted about this in early August and have spoken to management, and been speaking to management, about this since issue since about March.

Why is hole still open? [See related post]

Sunday, November 07, 2010

EPUB for documentation

I think a very useful case for the EPUB eBook format is for developing documentation. Documentation is more than telling people how to use computers.

PDF is good and useful, but one problem with PDF is that it is limited to a computer or paper and there are plenty of instances where that is less than ideal. For example, an owner's manual for a car. Who wants to carry around a huge book in their car or have to drag their laptop to their front seat to be able to figure out how to program their navigation system. With EPUB you could put your owner's manual in your smart phone in a way that has a table of contents and is searchable.

Monday, November 01, 2010

KGO TV practicing irresponsible journalism

Click picture to view video

Commentary

I just posted variations of this to the GoPro camera Facebook Group and have written GoPro and KGO about the following:

I am a road bicyclist and I am livid.

Tonight (11:00 pm Oct. 31) I saw the clip on Channel 7 featuring KGO TVs Richard Hart and GoPro founder Nick Woodman. Woodman was taking Hart on a high speed drive. They drove a Lotus Exige at very high speed around Half Moon Bay on some of the back roads we ride our bikes on. They were showing how the GoPro camera can be used to record such activities. They were driving like idiots and talking about the camera. Every time they raced around a curve I was cringing and thinking what if one of us had been around that curve!

That is not okay!

I told my wife and she said, if they had hit a bicyclist, at least they would have had good pictures of it!

We are GoPro's potential customers and KGO's audience and we deserve better.

In my opinion it is really bad for Woodman and Hart to have been smiling and driving like that and putting our lives, and the lives of others, at risk. Hart is a professional journalist and this was on a news program. In my opinion it was irresponsible for KGO to have handled this story this way.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time to give up on XP

Unless you are using an old computer that you are not planning on upgrading, it is time to bury XP. Even some enterprises are still loading XP images on new hardware, but in some cases it is just not working. For example; the Ati2dvag problem where some video ATI chipsets cause persistent blue screens in XP that cannot really be fixed in XP. The solution, upgrade your operating system. I have had good luck with the latest service pack of Vista, but I would also recommend Windows 7. It's good.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scotland Yard Reportedly Investigating Google

Last summer our university migrated its employee e-mail to Google. According to a post in the Science and Tech section of Mail Online by Vanessa Allen, "The internet search giant was forced to confess it had downloaded personal data during its controversial Street View project, when it photographed virtually every street in Britain." Allen said:

In an astonishing invasion of privacy, it admitted entire emails, web pages and even passwords were 'mistakenly collected' by antennae on its high-tech Street View cars. [Read More]

Because university e-mail between faculty, counselors and students is often very confidential this may be of concern to some university employees and students. According to Allen "Scotland Yard is already considering whether the company has broken the law."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Good deal on EPUB book this week

EPUB Book by Castro

Peachpit Press's eBook Deal of the Week, for this week, is EPUB Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders, by Elizabeth Castro. This book is recommended. It has a great introduction to EPUB as well as workflows for creating EPUBs from Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign.

Normally $23.99 it is on sale this week only for $9.99.

I strongly recommend checking this out if you are interested in producing books, documentation, course readers or other eBook type content in EPUB format. It does not cover the Sigil workflow, should you choose to go that route. But, there is still plenty of useful information here, especially at that price point.

More information on EPUB is in this post.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Adding EPUBs & PDFs to iBooks App for iPhone or iPad

Have the EPUB somewhere on your computer where you can navigate to it. This may require downloading it from an external source.

In iTunes, select the file menu, File > Add to Library

Adding an EPUB to an iPad

This then opens up the Add To Library navigation box:

Select the EPUB to add.

Select and Choose the Title you wish to add.

Now be sure the Books > Sync Books setting for your iPhone / iPad is either set to All Books or Selected Books with the title you wish to have on that device selected.

Now, Sync your iPhone / iPad

New Adobe suite for moving publications to iPad

According to a post written by Terri Stone on Creativepro.com, "you can go from InDesign to iPad using tools that are now available in beta form on Adobe Labs. The full suite will ship next year, but be warned -- it won't be cheap." Stone said:

It's no secret that the iPad versions of Wired and The New Yorker were created using private, prerelease versions of Adobe software. The prerelease program wasn't limited to big corporations; CreativePro.com's sister publication, InDesign Magazine, used the prerelease software for its iPad app, too. But details about the process have been sketchy -- until now. [Read More]

Adobe estimates that it will release the full Digital Publishing Suite sometime between April and July of next year.

EPUB3; The evolution of the EPUB standard

The EPUB (short for electronic publication) format is evolving. The next iteration of EPUB is called EPUB3, by Liza Daly. Listen here to her presentation at the O'Reilly Tools of Change Frankfurt 2010 conference on October 5, 2010.

According to Daly, topics covered in the talk include:

  • The current state of the EPUB3 working groups and overall schedule.
  • Enhancements to worldwide language support, including vertical text.
  • Native multimedia and HTML5 video/audio.
  • Interactivity, and the UI and accessibility challenges it imposes.
  • Improved styling and layout via CSS3 and media-query.

Listen here to her presentation if you are interested in the direction this format is taking.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is a trade and standards organization dedicated to the development and promotion of electronic publishing and content consumption. The IDPF develops and maintains the EPUB content publication standard that enables the creation and transport of reflowable digital books and other types of content as digital publications that are interoperable between disparate EPUB-compliant reading devices and applications. EPUB is a free and open e-book standard by the IDPF. Files have the extension .epub.

Liza Daly, of Threepress Consulting Inc., is a member of the IDPF Board of Directors.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Commentary: Books, paper vs. electronic

I am a lover of the printed page. Yet, I have many eBooks and have read several novels on my iPad. I am reading one now. I find reading an eBook to be equally satisfying as reading a print book as far as book as a reading experience.

Bookstores? I love bookstores, Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Powell's in Portland, Elliott Bay Books in Seattle are all places I can get lost in.

But, let's not talk about paper books and bookstores; let's talk about film photography and camera stores. I love film photography. I have old press cameras that are older than I am. I love being in darkrooms and going to camera stores and talking about film and developers and photo techniques that do not involve computers. But, despite that passion; camera stores are almost gone. Film is not dead; but it is not mainstream either.

You could also say similar things about vinyl record stores. To be sure, vinyl records are not dead and there are still vendors that specialize in meeting the needs, wants and desires of those folks who prefer the old ways. But, to most people camera stores and records shops are just plain retro.

I prefer eBooks to printed books for technical publications. For reference books I find eBooks have it all over paper. I resent technical books that are not available electronically; I find them to be so inconvenient. I can have my whole technical library with me on my iPad, iPhone and all the computers I use; all at the same time. Paper technical books go out of date in two years and are virtually worthless. To me, that is really a waste of good trees.

So, in my opinion, for novels either paper or electronic is fine, for technical books I prefer electronic, for art "coffee table" books I prefer paper! I could go on. I think in ten years we will be looking at paper books like we now look at vinyl records and photo film. They will still be a passion for some; but for most they will just be a retro decorating accessory. Most folks who have them will have maybe a few around, just to impress our friends.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking about the future of publishing

In my opinion, to quote Stewart Brand at the first Hackers' Conference in 1984, "On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

What we are going to be seeing with EPUB as an open format, the Internet as a distribution method and iPads and other devices as consumption devices is a huge push toward the free side of the equation in the book industry. Making and distributing a book is going to be dirt cheap compared to traditional paper based publishing.

The question is establishing value. This is the challenge to journalists already, and will be to book publishers and librarians. In a sea of free information and the potential for that wave, that has already hit newspapers, to start washing over the book publishing industry the whole idea of monetization has to change. To make money you will have to be really, really useful. If you are not you will be routed around. You will have to find another monetization strategy, a way to embrace free.

EPUB vs. PDF on a Mobile Device

Focusing on the iPad and iPhone, EPUB is only one of the two formats Apple's iBooks application supports. The other is Portable Document Format (PDF). PDF is an open standard for document exchange. PDF was created by Adobe Systems in 1993. PDF is used for representing two-dimensional (2D) documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout 2D document that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2D vector graphics, which compose the documents. Lately, 3D drawings can also be embedded in PDF documents.



Image: PDF on an iPhone (Click image to enlarge.)

PDF is designed to reproduce page images. PDF text traditionally could not be re-flowed to fit the screen width or size. As a result PDF files designed for printing on standard paper sizes are less easily viewed on screens with limited size or resolution, such as those found on mobile phones and PDAs. Adobe has addressed this by adding a re-flow facility to its Acrobat Reader software, but for this to work the document must be marked for re-flowing at creation, which means that existing PDF documents will not benefit unless they are tagged and resaved.

PDF documents can be read on an iPad. That is great for access to legacy and transitional documents. But, if you are hoping to have your eBook reach a larger audience, consider EPUB.



Image: EPUB on an iPhone (Click image to enlarge.)

A great source for much of this post and recommended reading is Elizabeth Castro's great book, EPUB Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders, published by Peachpit Press in both print and electronic editions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Introducing EPUB

Yesterday I posted my cookbook for using the free EPUB creator Sigil to produce eBooks in the EPUB format. But, why would you want to produce them in EPUB format. Indeed, what is EPUB?

The EPUB (short for electronic publication) format is a free and an open standard for e-books. EPUB is the most widely accepted format for eBooks. The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is the trade and standards association for the digital publishing industry that developed and maintains the EPUB standard. You can find the official specifications for EPUB documents on the IDPF website.

In essence an EPUB document is a specially constructed zip file with the .EPUB extension. You can reflow the content of an EPUB document into any size display screen, from a phone to a tablet to a desktop monitor. EPUB also allows for the generation of a navigational table of contents.

The content of a book formatted with EPUB is contained in XHTML and CSS files, which may reference images and embedded fonts, and can be encrypted with DRM.

The pages in an EPUB document are written in XHTML which is a special flavor of HTML. The EPUB file also contains a series of XML files that help format the book so that it can be properly read by an eReader.

There are a number of tools that can generate EPUB files for you, either from plain text, from XHTML, from Microsoft Word, or even from Adobe InDesign. The tool I use for creating EPUB eBooks is Sigil. Sigil is a basic WYSIWYG EPUB editor that works for producing basic EPUB eBooks. If you want to go beyond basic, in these early days when EPUB tools are less than perfect, it's a good idea to know what's going on under the hood so that you can go in and make necessary adjustments.

For example, Word doesn't export drop caps, but you can edit the XHTML files by hand to allow them. InDesign doesn't export text wrap with its EPUB documents, but you can set up the files so that a quick edit to the XHTML achieves that aim. Just like working on a Web page, the more you work using any tool to generate EPUB documents, the more you will want to be able to get to the code and be able to tweak it.

Besides the iBooks application that Apple provides for the iPhone, iPod touch and of course the iPad. EPUB is supported by other devices and client applications including the Barnes and Noble Nook, and the Sony Reader. The Amazon Kindle, at the time of this writing, does not support EPUB. EPUB is supported on desktop and laptop computers using Adobe Digital Editions (which is free) and on various platform smart phones including Android and Blackberry using products like Lucidor, Stanza, Ibis Reader, Aldiko and Mobipocket. EPUB can be considered a write once read on (almost) any device eBook format.

A great source for much of this post and recommended reading is Elizabeth Castro's great book, EPUB Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders, published by Peachpit Press in both print and electronic editions.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My eBook cookbook for making eBooks

Using Sigil, a free EPUB editor, to make an eBook

What is Sigil?
According to the Sigil Website, "Sigil is a multi-platform WYSIWYG ebook editor. It is designed to edit books in ePub format." Yes, it is all that, and it's free!

Why would you want to make an eBook?
Well, imagine being able to do a course reader, documentation, a family history or that novel you have been wanting to write (and have no publisher for) and being able to distribute it yourself to the world in a format that can be legibly read by almost all computers, tablets, iPads, eBook readers (except Kindle) and smart phones including iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Why would I make an eBook about how to use a computer to make eBooks?
Because it can be hard use your computer to read an online Website about how to do something with your computer, when you are trying to use that computer to do that something. Now you can use your iPhone, Android or Blackberry, iPad or other device (except Kindle) to read the cookbook.

Here are links to my eBook Cookbook and to some Sigil and EPUB resources:

Comments and corrections are greatly appreciated and can be emailed to me at s_sloan@mac.com or posted here on this blog post.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Gmail users no longer forced into threaded mail view

In a September 29, 2010 Googlewatch post, Clint Boulton explains that now Gmail users can turn off threaded view of their Gmail. Boulton said, "Hewing to its pledge to provide choice for its 180 million or so e-mail users, Google has backed off its adherence to its beloved "conversation view" by allowing users to receive e-mail messages in chronological order."

In another post TothePC offers detailed information on how to turn off the feature:

You can easily turn off conversation view in Gmail settings and get each reply listed as separate message in the inbox. [Read Detailed Easy Instructions]

Boulton said, "The thread, which Google calls conversation view, makes it super easy for users to find entire message exchange sessions between users. Ideally, this saves time. Still, enough people used Outlook, or Eudora for enough years to become comfortable with the traditional chronological view."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Google introducing new photo format for Web

According to a post on Mashable by Jolie O'Dell, "Google is introducing a new format for images: WebP." O'Dell goes on to say:

Images on the web in this format will have smaller file sizes, load faster and relieve a lot of overclocked networks. They won’t necessarily look better — WebP images are as “glossy” as JPEGs — but the files might be around 40% smaller than JPEG files. [Read More]

If Google can convince browser manufacturers and Web designers to support this format this could be a big benefit to folks downloading graphics over cell connections, especially as carriers have been stepping away from unlimited service plans.

Monday, October 04, 2010

I have moved my SJSU Twitter Feed

My train feed as seen on an iPad using Flipboard, delivered via Twitter, click on picture to see related Twitter feed.

In the past I used the following Twitter feed for passing along news related to SJSU:

http://twitter.com/stevesloan

Well, that has changed. With tools like Flipboard (for the iPad) now being available, I am now seeing and using Twitter in a whole new way. To quote Flipboard, "Flipboard is a fast, beautiful way to flip through the news, photos and updates your friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter."

Scoble has a great post about Flipboard. I am passionate about my work at SJSU. But, I am especially passionate about trains! After speaking to Scoble, I realized, using Twitter, I could launch my own personal train picture magazine.

I am using Twitter as the conduit for my photo stream. This is very cool! So I decided that I wanted my name to be address of this train photo magazine. So, I have moved my SJSU related Twitter feed. My SJSU feed is here:

http://twitter.com/sloansjsu

I hope this does not cause confusion. I will continue posting news related to San Jose State University. I will just be doing it from this new Twitter account. You are invited to subscribe, or stay subscribed, to my Train picture feed and subscribe to the new SJSU Twitter feed.

Oh, and do check out Flipboard. It rocks, and is a great example of why I think the iPad is so cool!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Still off work

Click on photo to enlarge.

After seeing the doctor today he decided to keep me off work for awhile longer. I can walk with my boot and a little with my Sketcher shoes. It is healing slow though.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Understanding Disintermediation

Click on image above to view video.

David Houle is a futurist, strategist and keynote speaker. In this video he clearly describes the concept of disintermediation.

In short, disintermediation is eliminating the middle man:
For example, historically newspapers, through classified advertising, connected sellers to buyers and charged a fee for doing this. If you wanted to sell a piano, a car or a cat you took out a classified ad in the newspaper.

Classified Ad revenues once were a significant source of newspaper revenue. I remember visiting the San Jose Mercury in the 1980s and an editor telling me Classified Ad revenues paid for all the costs of producing the newspaper and display advertising sales in the newspaper were pure profit.

Ebay and Craig's List came along and came up with new ways to connect buyers and sellers and newspapers were disintermediated. Buyers and sellers no longer needed newspapers to connect to each other. That is when the decline of newspapers really began.

Typically technology provides the means for disintermediation and it has been happening for a long time, as Houle explains in this video.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Free eBooks Make Sense

A printed book requires a considerable investment in printing, binding and distribution. Since costs are high to get products in the hands of consumers, authors have to either spend a lot of their own money to get titles to market, have backers or have to get publishers to be willing to take a chance to print the books. Risk is involved, all parties proceed with hopes of making enough money off book sales to recoup printing costs and, hopefully, make a profit.

The barrier to entry is much lower for authors of eBooks. Using commonly available computer tools it is viable to print and distribute your own titles directly to readers over the Internet. eBooks can be consumed on devices ranging from cell phones to eBook readers to desktop computers. This can be very empowering for niche publications. Yes, Digital Rights management (DRM) is possible with EPUB formatted content, but like open source software, it may be preferable to make money off of free distribution of open source eBooks by making money off of related products or services.

There may be other business models where it could be advantageous to give the books away rather than charge for them. Since the production and distribution costs can be so low, it may be possible to profit through ad revenue. Author/publishers could include pages of advertising in eBooks, targeted to the reader demographics of a particular eBook title. If such a book proved popular it may be possible to gain further revenue by marketing spin-off merchandise.

Imagine, for example, an e-publisher giving away Harry Potter type eBooks and making the money off of movie sales, toys and related goods. That is not that hard for me to imagine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tablets to outsell eReaders

Flipboard on an iPad. Tablets do a lot more than eReaders and folks seem to get that!
Click on photo to enlarge.

According to James Kendrick on Gigaom:

Tablets that serve multiple purposes are going to see tremendous growth according to UK analyst firm Informa Telecoms and Media, as consumers choose them over dedicated e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle. Tablet sales are projected to hit 50 million by 2014, a whopping increase of over 1200 percent over the 3.65 million to be sold this year. [Read More]

As more people have them and use them. Thanks to great device specific applications and Twitter as a content streaming and shaping tool, I predict the emergence of these devices as a whole new tech tool will really be understood and appreciated.

Commentary: The true cost of contracting out

Rich McGee, the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) Unit 9 (Technical Trades) Bargaining Unit Chairperson, is among the many union activists in our union who are worried about outsourcing. We are not talking just about the kind of outsourcing we commonly see, where work is transferred off site and in-house staff is eliminated. In addition to outsourcing of major services and the visible loss of large numbers of jobs, McGee is worried about what he calls the micro-erosion of jobs.

"The micro-erosion of jobs is where little bits of our worker’s jobs are taken away, and soon we have no jobs left," said McGee. A good example of micro-erosion of jobs occurred at San Jose State University. Last Spring SJSU laid off about five percent of its CSUEU represented university employees, while at the same time outsourcing its e-mail services to Google.

When the e-mail system was in house CSUEU represented employees maintained the servers and protected the security of university e-mail. A common task done by CSUEU represented staff was password resets for users who lost or forgot their passwords. Many of the staff who did this were classified as Information Technology Consultants (ITCs.) These ITCs had other duties, few if any of them had resetting passwords as over 50% of their duties. None of them had campus wide ability to reset passwords. This work was distributed. Staff reset passwords only for the employees they themselves supported.

As part of the migration to Google the password reset function was taken away from long-time university employees and transferred to student assistants. These student assistants were given the ability to reset the passwords, and possibly access the e-mail accounts of every student, faculty member, counselor and staff employee at the university.

The “cost” of Google migration for CSU campuses was theoretically zero. But, the real cost as measured in training, lost productivity, weakened security and support of the Google migration has been far from free. In the SJSU example, the CSU system may be saving a few staff jobs and eliminating a few servers while incurring all the expenses listed above and concurrently sacrificing the security and integrity of university e-mail.

The true cost of contracting out state workers jobs, when you add in all factors, has cost our state dearly. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 which also represents state employees has reported, "By our estimates, the state could save approximately $350 million annually by utilizing state workers to cut unnecessary and wasteful outsourcing in IT, medical services and architectural and engineering contracts."

The micro-erosion of jobs is especially dangerous to us. There is language in our collective bargaining agreement offering some job protection for university workers when their jobs are eliminated due to contracting out. But, it has been harder to fight the loss of our work when the work being eliminated is spread among a pool of workers. In the SJSU example you had maybe 30 or 40 staff performing these functions as a percentage of their work. The work was contracted out, three workers in the classification that did the work were laid off and the university has argued there was no impact to CSUEU staff of the contracting out.

The micro-erosion of jobs does not even have to result in layoffs to be a threat. Attrition alone can take a toll, as jobs are not refilled as the work is taken away. Less staff paying into the retirement system threatens retirees as well as staff.

Not only does outsourcing take jobs out of the CSU system, it can take them totally out of the state and even the nation. Google has tens of thousands of oversees workers in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Hyderabad, India as well as other nations like China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. This is only one company. The CSU is outsourcing our jobs and off shoring our tax dollars.

"The state has been unwilling to collect information on private contracts and make it publicly available," said Marie Harder, a senior information systems analyst and member of SEIU Local 1000's Outsourcing Task Force. "We need to hold the state accountable to how much tax payer money they waste each year on outsourcing projects that could be done better and cheaper by state employees."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When the Scobleizer was a Student

Click on photos to enlarge

According to Wikipedia:

Robert Scoble is an American blogger, technical evangelist, and author. Scoble is best known for his blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. He is married to Maryam Ghaemmaghami Scoble. He has three children; one from a previous marriage and two with Maryam. He currently works for Rackspace and the Rackspace sponsored community site Building 43. He previously worked for Fast Company as a video blogger. He is also the co-author of Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers with Shel Israel.

These are photos from the days when Scoble was a student at SJSU. That's where I remember he got Scobilizer nickname. He worked for me as a student assistant in the SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He would sometimes load up computers with fonts, buggy beta software and other fun things as a favor to the users that would bring these old (Pre Intel, Pre Mac OS X) Mac Plus and SE computers to their knees. One of our staff let out a holler one day that could be heard down the halls. She said, "help, I have been Scobelized!"

The name stuck!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My Jones Fracture





Click on images to enlarge them
About 25 years ago I worked as a photo lab tech at UC Med Center in San Francisco. I never thought then I would be scanning my own X-rays. But, here they are. This is of the fifth metatarsal in my right foot. This is the bone that leads up to the pinkie toe inside my right foot.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Unexpected purchases

Click on image to enlarge.

Event though we had been planning on doing a remodel. We had not planned on the sudden changes we have had to make to our shower. Besides the purchase of a transfer bench and a knee scooter. We have also had to buy a hose shower head and a grab bar so that I can shower standing on one foot. None of these have our worker's comp provider said they are willing to pay for.

Let's be clear about this, had my employer not decided to hold an event in a field where put holes had been allowed to fill with grass, and were not marked off as hazard, none of this would have been necessary. Had I had such a hazard in my yard and had a guest tripped and broken a bone in his/her foot I would be libel for damages, including lost wages and all related expenses.

These are related expenses; but, this is workman's compensation...

When we do the remodel all this will be ripped out. These expenses are solely related to this work injury. The pain and the hassels do not end at the end of a work day. I am looking forward to surgery. This is a 24/7 reality for me.

Yes, I expect compensation! You betcha I do!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Learning to live differently

Click on photo to enlarge.

Yesterday, despite the worker's compensation claim's administrator's assertion that I did not need the doctor proscribed knee scooter, I got one anyway. It has made a huge difference. Not only has it improved my mobility it has reduced my pain. With my crutches, every time I came down on my good foot I felt a rush of pain in my bad foot. I think it was from the sudden stop in motion causing a swelling of blood in my lower part of my body when my good foot lands using the crutches. Kind of a secondary impact.

My pain is reduced and I am using much fewer pain killers. That alone is worth the cost of the knee scooter, to me at least.

Yesterday I went in and delivered some forms to my manager. The outing was exhausting. I slept several hours after getting home. So did my Susie. She has been working and taking care of me. That's like working two jobs! She has been tired too.

Besides learning to do things differently we are having to adapt to the adversarial relationship with the worker's comp provider. It shouldn't be so, my injury's pretty clear cut, but it is. I am keeping a journal of everything and asking in writing for copies of everything.

It seems, that's just what you have to do if you work for SJSU/CSU and get injured on the job. I am glad for my union rep who has been there for me and given me some great advice.

More great advice: Read this PDF formatted Guidebook to Worker's Compensation in California.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sedgwick CMS Sucks (in my opinion)

I had the first conversation with the claims manager for Sedgwick CMS, the company that manages worker's comp claims for the university. In my opinion she had all the charm of a bill collector for a collection agency.

She challenged that I was injured on company time. She said she thought the meeting I attended was on my lunch hour. I told her I was injured at 10:15 a.m. She said she would have to check on that. I told her I had a doctor's prescription for a knee scooter so I could get around. She said crutches were all I needed, and they would have to review and consider any prescription before they can approve it.

My doctor (a worker's comp doctor no less) had warned me their review process takes so long that approval, when it comes, is sometimes made months after the patient had healed.

I got a scooter today anyway. I guess we will have to fight for reimbursement instead. Thanks to the friends who recommended it, by the way, the scooter is wonderful!

So, for those of you who like to rag on trial lawyers, this is why we need them. If the attitude of the person I talked with at Sedgwick CMS is any indication; it looks like a worker's comp attorney may be in my future.

Isn't it wonderful our CSU system chose Sedgwick CMS to "manage" workers comp for the CSU system? Nice to know they are looking out for us!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Fall at SJSU

Click on photo to enlarge.

At 10:15 a.m. Tuesday August 24, 2010, I was attending the Welcome Convocation on the Tower Lawn at San Jose State. It was a very hot day and the actual convocation was being given on the lawn between the library and Washington Square Hall. I wanted to hear SJSU President Don Kassing speak because I had missed his speech on Monday due to needs at the Help Desk. I was walking on the lawn and suddenly I fell, twisting my foot underneath me.

There was a hole in the lawn that grass had grown up into. I did not see the hole.

It hurt and I thought I had sprained it. Sprained it badly. I attended the speech limping along. But, it hurt; badly! I limped back to the help desk and reported the injury to my supervisor. He called one of our staff who had a cart. They wheeled me over to the health center where they x-rayed me and said I had a Jones Fracture and an Avulsion fracture.

Information about that is here, and here, and here.

They were not able to give me pain medication as the university pharmacy was closed due to our recent layoffs. I was sent to the university's worker's comp provider where I waited for what seemed like forever. Finally we were seen and I was given some medication and referred to see the podiatrist (who comes in Thursday.)

Research on this has indicates this will be awhile. According to one source, "You won't be able to put weight on the leg, and will not be able to move the foot for several weeks, usually 6-8."

This is my new reality!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Giant turtle at SJSU

Click on image to enlarge.

On Friday morning a giant inflatable Sea Turtle was inflated on the tower lawn.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Installing KompoZer


Click on video to view.

KompoZer is a free, open source, what you see is what you get, HTML editor. KompoZer is maintained as a project on Sourceforge.

KompoZer is a complete web authoring system. KompoZer also provides web file management.

KompoZer is designed for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive, professional-looking web site without needing to know HTML or web coding.

KompoZer is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

In this demo we will be showing how to download and install KompoZer on an Apple Macintosh computer running Mac OS X. We will be using the also free Firefox Web browser.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And the Old Cafeteria (and pub) comes down

The old cafeteria at SJSI

Click on image to enlarge

The demolition of the Old Cafeteria building is proceeding. I remember when the area where this truck is sitting was "The Pub." When Jack Elway was football coach at SJSU you would often see him here with players relaxing and drinking. I remember one time when his son John Elway was here with them. John was playing for Stanford at the time.

After the pub it was the Market Cafe, kind of like a Peet's Coffee. We went there many times in the morning.

There was a lot of parties, dinners and awards ceremonies in the University Room here. Many happy memories.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Labor Media Skills Workshop

I am at day two of the Media Skills Workshop at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Former SF Chronicle reporter Rob Collier just finished a talk about how to work with the news media. This is a great workshop and I am very happy to be here. Andrea Buffa, to the left of Rob is one of the facilitators of the seminar.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

March mornings in August at SJSU

Click on photo to enlarge.

This morning as I drove to work the thermometer said 56 degrees (13.3 C.)

For California in the dog days of summer that's fracken cold! It has been warming up in the afternoon, but nothing like what we would normally see. While the rest of the country is sweltering; we are wearing sweaters and jackets in the morning.

I guess March is being rerun over and over again this year, kinda like Groundhog Day. Go figure?

Monday, August 09, 2010

SJSU systems problems on Aug. 9, 2010

UPDATE: Systems seem to be working normally as of 8:55 a.m.

As of about 8:30 a.m. there is an SJSU systems outage affecting multiple systems and we do not know when these systems will return to normal. Affected systems include:

  • SJSU Lotus Notes E-Mail
  • SJSUOne portal for changing SJSUOne passwords
  • SJSU Google Provided Gmail.
  • SJSUOne authentication based services for authenticating other services.

Systems that were working last time we checked include:

  • MySJSU
  • SJSUOne based wireless authentication
  • Legacy UNIX authentication

At this time we do not have information regarding the cause or the time of return to service of these services. It is possible some services may be restored intermittently. Full stability of services can not be assured at this time.

Systems can be returned to full or partial functionality without notice, so the best advice is to keep checking.

UPDATE: Systems seem to be working normally as of 8:55 a.m.

Friday, August 06, 2010

That's me

Click on image to enlarge.

This morning at 9 a.m. my friend and SJSU ace photographer Robert Bain was scheduled to do a photo shoot. So, I went over to see how it was going. He used me to check his lighting (that's Tower Hall in the background.)

It is wicked cold for August in California and I was wearing a heavy sweatshirt Susie and I bought in Quebec City, Canada last June.

I was not dressed for a photo shoot. I did not shave this morning and I had my own camera over my shoulder. But, that's me! It was really nice of Bob to share the photos with me.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

We need a security audit, now please

Audits are not the most welcome thing. Nobody likes an audit. But, with SJSU in the midst of a huge migration from proprietary e-mail systems like Lotus Notes and Exchange to Google Provided Gmail there have been some major changes that should be looked at. The user authentication method (UAM) used by the old systems was distributed and administrated by staff employees in organizational units (OUs) who had administration capabilities limited to employees in their own OU. The UAM for Gmail at SJSU is SJSUOne.

Password resets for SJSUOne campus wide are routinely done by student assistants. SJSUOne is the same UAM that has been used for the SJSU wireless network and the current security protocols were designed with less secure needs in mind (like the wireless network) than authentication to every employee at SJSU's e-mail.

Somebody who has expertise and real authority (and ability to change things if they need to be changed) needs to take a hard look and decide if SJSU's SJSUOne security protocols are tight enough to be used for a system that will authenticate the e-mail of the university president, the head of HR, SJSU's counselors, deans, managers, faculty and every other employee of San Jose State University.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fire Season

I can tell you why I think about Janet Fitch this time of year. It's because of White Oleander. In that novel Fitch so eloquently describes California's fifth season, fire season.

Summer in California is short. It lasts maybe a month, between the solstice and the ides of July. Then comes fire season that runs through the dog days of summer into late October. The California fire season forms a backdrop for much of her novel, White Oleander. It's when the Santa Anas blow. That's where we are now. Fitch captures the brutal heart of this season:

The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I.
— Janet Fitch (White Oleander)

Janet Fitch is an intense writer who wields worlds with amazing efficiency. Sometimes, I get the feeling she is a writer possessed by a thinking, creative and hungry demon. Her demon can only be satiated by writing. Getting paid for writing for Fitch, I suspect, is a side benefit. Her passion for writing seems so intense to me. I think she would write no matter the compensation.

I suspect if intelligence were (formally) recognized in this country as being evil, if intelligence was made illegal, if thinking writers were being burned at the stake along with intellectuals and other enemies of the state for practicing their witchcraft, if Fitch survived the first pogrom; she would still be writing.

I can see Janet Fitch working midnights at Denny's and writing on the back of napkins. By day she would post her writing on public bathroom mirrors, if she had to; to feed the demon.

Fitch wrote:

I regret nothing. No woman with any self-respect would have done less. The question of good and evil will always be one of philosophy's most intriguing problems, up there with the problem of existence itself. I'm not quarreling with your choice of issues, only with your intellectually diminished approach. If evil means to be self-motivated, to live on one's own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil. Because we dare to look through our own eyes rather than mouth cliches lent us from the so-called Fathers. To dare to see is to steal fire from the Gods. This is mankind's destiny, the engine which fuels us as a race.
— Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
[More quotes by Janet Fitch.]

I am glad Fitch is blogging and we can read her blog as well as her books. It is good Janet Fitch has to feed her demon.

White Oleander and Paint It Black are powerful books. If you want to read some of the best contemporary fiction writing there is. Start there!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Google Apps Security Problems for LA

Like SJSU, the City of Los Angeles has been migrating to Google and, at least for LA, there have been some major problems. According to an article posted in Network World by By Tony Bradley of PC World magazine, "project delays resulting from ongoing concerns prove that the cloud still has some security growing pains to get through." According to Bradley:

Vendors of all shapes and sizes--including powerhouses like Google and Microsoft--are aggressively pushing the cloud as the next great frontier in computing. But, as the first major implementation project for Google Apps, the LA project illustrates that there are still some hurdles to cross before the cloud exodus can really occur. [Read More]

Bradley goes on to say, "All of the promises, commitments, and security measures, though, can't undo a security breach." Bradley's post said:

Companies fall under a wide variety of state, federal, and industry compliance mandates requiring that data be processed, stored, and protected in certain ways. As of yet, the cloud does not provide sufficient controls to meet many of those compliance requirements, and the regulatory bodies that govern the compliance frameworks have not issued addendums or specific guidance for securely processing and storing sensitive information in the cloud. [Read More]

As SJSU migrates to Google, I wonder if all the security issues we face have been adequately addressed? I sure hope so, but I do not think so...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why I still like film

I like film because I like film, that is reason enough after all. Since I am not photographing for an employer anymore; I owe nobody any more explanation than that. So, I still shoot slide film and black and white when I shoot trains.

What do I like about film? I like that slides are tangible, I can scan them to a 16 BIT Tiff and do everything with it I can do with a camera RAW file and still have my slide. Slides have value, you can trade and even sell them. I like the discipline of shooting film. I like not having to worry about dust on my sensor if I change lenses in the field. I like that if I want higher resolution I can rescan my slide again. I am not locked into the resolution of the camera. I like that I can use my camera even if the battery dies. I like not having to worry about recharging my camera.

I like the way film sees light. I like that I can change the personality of my camera by changing the film I put in it. I like that bright red railroad signals stay red and do not turn white if I am shooting into them with film. I also like the smell of film and the sound of a Nikon motor drive.

I like that once the picture is on the wall it really does not matter if it was shot in digital or analog anyway. So, even though I have and use a sweet digital camera, I find a lot to like when I shoot film. So, I still do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SJSU Google Support Structure

Support for SJSU Google Apps and Mail is structured in the following manner:

  • First Level : Calls go to the Department and Division IT Techs. (The folks who fix your computer the same way you do it if your computer is broken.)

  • Second Level : University Technology Services (UTS) will troubleshoot problems that the IT Techs are still having issues with. The IT Techs will call UTS (to escalate to level 2.)

  • Third Level ; Google, this is in the event e-mail, google docs or the calendar are totally not functioning. UTS will make this call.

If that is not good enough...

Thanks SK for this information:
On UTS' home page under the active projects tab. It says that they are migrating to a unified e-mail system (Gmail). However it does not say who will support the migration process.

On http://mail.sjsu.edu, it only states that if you have problems logging in (SJSUOne), please contact the University Help Desk. But it does say that San Jose State University e-mail is provided by UTS. If you click on UTS, which redirects to http://uts.sjsu.edu, you can see that their number (408) 924-2340

Summary:
The help desk is only authorized help with login issues via SJSUOne but not with migrating to the new e-mail system. According to the mail.sjsu.edu website, the e-mail system is provided by UTS and their number is listed on UTS' page. Specifically:

"According to the public facing website I'm looking at, the Google e-mail is provided by UTS and this is their number, 408 924-2340. If I were you and I did not have a Desktop support person around, and needed help, I might want to call UTS. But, don't tell them we (the help desk) told you to call them. We are not authorized to tell you to call them."

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Invitation to participate in Web site survey

Fred Najjar, SJSU's VP of University advancement, sent an e-mail invitation to the campus community to participate in a survey. Najjar said:

You are invited to share your opinions about the SJSU.edu website in a brief, 12-question survey. This survey should take approximately five minutes to complete and will provide valuable insight as Public Affairs looks for ways to improve the university’s website.

[Link to Survey]

We welcome feedback from the entire SJSU community, and encourage you to also take part in future focus groups and/or interviews by providing your email address when you complete the online survey.

Thank you in advance for your help improving sjsu.edu.

SJSU Public Affairs

If you are a member of the campus community you are invited to participate.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Blackboard buys Elluminate and Wimba

According to an article by By Kathy Shwiff of Dow Jones Newswires, "Blackboard Inc. (BBBB) said it agreed to acquire Elluminate Inc. and Wimba Inc., both providers of technology to the education market, for a total of $116 million in cash." Shwiff reports:

President and Chief Executive Michael Chasen said Elluminate's and Wimba's technologies are expected to grow "as institutions look for cost-effective ways to encourage social learning and support learning interactions of all kinds."

The two companies serve more than 2,600 institutions in U.S., international and professional education markets. [Read More]

According to a report by David Nagel of THE Journal, "Elluminate and Wimba products will continue to be shipped and supported without change for the foreseeable future," [Read More]

Back from our great vacation

Click on photo to enlarge.

I am back at work at the help desk. If you want to know more about our vacation, here is more!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

SJSU employees will not get minimum wage

SJSU President Jon Whitmore sent an e-mail to all SJSU employees today that said:

In response to Governor Schwarzenegger's directive to cut the pay of state workers to the federal minimum wage until a budget is passed, the California State University announced on July 2 that CSU employees will continue to receive their regular compensation.

From the CSU press release:

"We want to let CSU employees know that we have received confirmation from the State Controller's office that our employees' compensation is not impacted by this order," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "Employees will receive their regular paychecks and can expect their normal compensation." The CSU intends to pay its employees with alternative revenue sources other than state general funds if it becomes necessary.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has announced an order to cut the pay of about 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour until a budget is signed. Payroll decisions for the first month of the fiscal year, which began on July 1, do not need to be made until July 20.

Friday, July 02, 2010

On Vacation

Click on photo to enlarge.

I am on vacation. To follow the progress of our vacation click here. I will be returning on July 6, 2010.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Suicides in China lead tech production to move

According to a recent Business Insider post by Gus Lubin, High-tech manufacturer Foxconn is moving everyone except for iPhone workers to low-wage factories in China's hinterland to keep wages low.

According to Wikipedia, "The Foxconn Technology Group is a multinational business group and is the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components worldwide and mainly manufactures on contract to other companies." According to Lubin, "Foxconn Technology Group is moving hundreds of thousands of workers away from the Shenzhen factory where it doubled wages after a rash of suicides, according to China Daily." Lubin wrote, "Looks like China will keep wage inflation at bay for awhile yet."

Why should this matter to us? Global manufacturing has been in a race to the bottom for a long time. At what point does it become unethical for US consumers, including our universities, to continue to support these kinds of business practices in order to get goods cheaper and cheaper?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A new Indian place near SJSU

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Just found out about this place near SJSU. I have not yet tried it, but hope to next week. It is at 322 E. Santa Clara St. (near 7th.).

SJSU sign FUBAR

Click on photo to enlarge.

The high tech directory at the entrance to Clark Hall at SJSU is Fubar.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don Kassing Returning

According to a reliable source former SJSU President Don Kassing is returning to SJSU to serve as the "new" interim SJSU President.

SJSU Layoff Negotiations Continue

I am in Human Resources with the other members of the negotiating team negotiating with university representatives over the impact of layoffs at San Jose State University. Today follows last week's two days of negotiations. If you are a university staff employee and you want to see bargaining in real life, come to the third floor of the HR/UPD building in front of the Seventh Street Garage.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Copiers, security and SJSU

Click on image to view video.

This video, sent by a friend, (and reportedly from CBS) calls into question the security of common copy machines. Many of these types of copiers are all over campus in unsecured locations. It makes one wonder, is this is an issue we are dealing with appropriately?

Creating complex ePub formatted documents hurts

In theory ePub is a wonderful format. Ari Armstrong, in a recent post to his blog, talks about the benefits of ePub:

I like the idea of the ePub format, developed by Adobe. It is open, so anybody can use it. At least theoretically, any author or publisher can create an ePub, and anybody can create a reader for the format; several readers now exist. ePub already reads on a variety of devices -- including my iPod Touch -- and I hear several more compatible readers are entering the market. Unlike an HTML ebook, ePub organizes many files, including text and images, into a single package. Unlike pdf ebooks, ePub reflows text to fit your screen and reading preferences.

Armstrong then points this out, "The problem is that it is a royal bitch to create a complicated ePub book." You can export to ePub from InDesign CS5 (IDCS5.) But, what you get is really bare bones. Exporting from IDCS5 is just the first step. Then, you need to go into the document and start editing it. There is an open source WYSIWIG ePub editor named Sigil. It is great, but WYSWIG tools for creating ePubs have a long way to go to be main stream.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SJSU staff union layoff negotiations update

According to a bargaining report on the California State University Employees Union Web site, "The CSUEU bargaining team met with CSU representatives at San Jose State University on May 19 and 20. Both parties exchanged proposals. CSUEU initially proposed that all SJSU layoffs be rescinded, but management rejected that proposal." The report also said:

The union countered with a proposal for a 90-day extension of layoffs. CSUEU is proposing to move the effective date of layoffs from July 1 to October 1. The 90-day extension would allow more time for SJSU HR to solicit as many voluntary time-base reductions as possible, which in turn may mitigate the layoffs of many of those employees who have already been noticed. [Read More]

Negotiations continue Thursday May 27, 2010 at SJSU.

Page view journalism forcing out obscure stories

According to a Silicon Valley Watcher post by Tom Foremski, "I was at a recent panel moderated by Sam Whitmore that discussed pageviews and the effect on journalism." According to Foremski, Sam Whitmore reports:

Two reporters from two different publications this month both told us the same thing: if you want to write a story on an interesting but obscure topic, you had better feed the beast by writing a second story about the iPad or Facebook or something else that delivers page views and good SEO (Search Engine Optimization). [Read More]
According to Foremski, "Page view journalism also means that smaller companies will be crowded out by their larger competitors."

Change in Microsoft mobile leadership

As the mobile device sector has been growing leaps and bounds Microsoft reportedly has been left behind in this increasingly critical market space. According to a post by Gavin Clarke in the Register, "When consumer gadgets were flying off the shelves last Christmas, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices (E&D) unit actually saw sales drop — by 10 per cent."

Now, according to Clarke, "having repeatedly downplayed these problems, E&D president Robbie Bach is now quitting after 22 years with Microsoft, and chief executive Steve Ballmer is taking control of E&D."

According to Clarke, "earlier this year, insiders said that Windows Phone 7 (the Microsoft Phone OS that compete's with the iPhone and Google Android OS) would be lopped from E&D and folded into the main Windows and Windows Live Group under Windows 7 rising star and Ballmer favorite Steven Sinofsky." [Read More]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Google and age dicrimination

According to an article in today's San Jose Mercury News, former Google Engineer Brian Reid's case alleging age discrimination on the part of Google is going to be heard by the California State Supreme Court. The article said:

Reid's (age 54) long-running legal feud with Google has reached the California Supreme Court, which this week will hear arguments that will determine if the age discrimination allegations will ever be aired to a jury. [Read More]

I am not saying Google is guilty. However the sheer number of allegations we have seen and heard lately about Google's business practices makes me wonder. We are planning to give Google all our campus e-mail. What is the back out strategy should we decide we need to stop doing business with them at a later date?

Friday, May 21, 2010

A conversation about distance learning at SJSU

According to his Bio, "Will Manley recently retired after a 35 year career as a librarian and public administrator." In a recent post to his blog Manley wrote, "I boarded a commuter train in my town of residence, Livermore, CA and took the 40 minute ride to downtown San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. My destination was the annual meeting of the advisory board of the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. It was my first meeting as a new member of the board."

It seems like the train trip may have been the best part of his day because, Manley really blasted our school:

Talk about an education! I quickly learned that all of San Jose’s library school courses are offered solely on an on-line basis. They have no traditional, face-to-face, in person classes. All communication is electronic. The face of the school is basically a computer screen.

It goes downhill from there. Manley goes on to say, "My first reaction was one of immediate revulsion." He continues for awhile before posing a number of questions to his audience including this, "Will the library continue to be a place? Well… we all thought library school was a place, didn’t we?"

I have the utmost respect for the faculty, staff and students at SLIS and I do not agree with the direction Manley is going with this.

His post and most especially the responses from SLIS graduates, students and faculty are an interesting conversation about on-line learning and distance education. My recommendation to check out Manley's post is not an endorsement of Manley's opinion.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Layoff Negotiations Continue Today

Union activists and other university employees march on campus on May 19, 2010 to oppose layoffs. Click on photo to enlarge.

Negotiations are continuing today to try to mitigate the layoff of 73 university employees and save as many staff jobs as possible at San Jose State University. I am on the union negotiating team. It has been exhausting, heart breaking and gut wrenching to talk to employees both about the impact on them of loosing their jobs and the impact on students and faculty of their jobs not being done anymore. Not only will they suffer, the students and faculty will suffer and the state will suffer for decades as students are not served, are turned away and programs terminated that support our state’s economy. These are some of the hardest days I have ever had as a union leader. I am taking this all very seriously. I woke up with insomnia last night and we have another hard day today.

I am covering this in detail over on my union blog, which is here.

[More Pictures Here]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Layoff Bargaining is starting at SJSU

Click on photo to enlarge.

We are getting ready for negotiations with management over layoffs. I am on the union's negotiation team. Before the negotiation we held a lunch time rally. We are starting bargaining now.

Rally and bargaining today!

Click on photo to enlarge.

At noon today there where be a rally starting at tower hall to support our union's effort to save staff jobs at SJSU. We are in negotiations today and tomorrow! Please come to support our union. It is important that we show solidarity at this time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The end of education as we know it?

According to Rob Tucker, in a post on O'Reilly Radar, education as we know it is ripe for disruption through disintermediation. Tucker said, "How deep could this disintermediation go? Deeper than we would expect. If we take the primary function of school to be the dissemination of knowledge, the disintermediation could be near total."

In his post, Disintermediation: The disruption to come for Education 2.0, Tucker explained the concept of disintermediation:

An example of what disintermediation looks like is what happened to travel agencies. Before the Web, travel agents served as direct points of contact to facilitate travel arrangements between customers and service providers (airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, etc.)

Simply stated, disintermediation is the elimination of the middle man. Another historical example of the disruptive influence of disintermediation are newspaper classified ads. Newspapers saw their classified ad revenue business model disrupted when Craig's List allowed sellers to interact with buyers directly. In his post Tucker wrote more about the potential for education to be disintermediated:

Teachers, schools, and districts occupy ground not too different than the travel agents of 1998. Specifically, the value proposition of the current educational system is that it understands the landscape of human knowledge and that it can plan and enable the exploration of this landscape in a way that is cost and time effective. Learning is educational travel.

I think Tucker is right on target. The value proposition of brick and mortar schools, especially universities, is increasingly questionable in the long term given the disruption capabilities and cost effectiveness of increasingly powerful, ubiquitous and mobile technology.

Monday, May 17, 2010

At an Adobe Photoshop CS5 Training

Click on photo to enlarge

I am in South San Francisco at the Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers tour workshop. These are great tours and I missed the training for CS4. I am looking forward to this. The instructor is Ben Willmore, this is his first CS5 session ever! He is an excellent trainer. But, this training was not as good as previous sessions of his I have attended.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Apple vs. Adobe and More!

Adobe has responded to Steve Jobs' letter about why the iPad does not run Flash. In newspaper ads Adobe has proclaimed its love for Apple. The Mercury News said.

Adobe Systems declared its love for Apple, but continued the companies' very public squabble Thursday over the Cupertino computer maker's decision to ban the Flash video platform from the iPhone and iPad. [Read More]

Jobs is right about the resource intensive nature of Flash, the closed nature of Flash and the open nature of the emerging HTML5 standard. However, there also is the very real issue of the proprietary nature of Apple's H.264 video codec. There are several sides of this argument. This whole thing needs to be played out.

Meanwhile with the iPad, in my opinion: Apple has created a new device. Apple has defined a new market and Apple is running with it. Apple is establishing market dominance and Apple is, with the iTunes Store, taking ownership of the content distribution channel; big time.

In the future, watch for Apple to almost give the iPad away to maintain ownership of that content distribution channel. That's where the action is. The iPad is the Barbie Doll, content is the doll clothes.

That's what this battle is really about. It's about the doll clothes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

SJSU President Jon Whitmore leaving

SJSU President Jon Whitmore has announced he is leaving SJSU. This e-mail was sent to the SJSU community today:

There is no easy way to say this to all of you, so I will simply be open and forthright. It is with deeply mixed feelings that I announce I am stepping down as President of San Jose State University late this summer.

A unique and wholly unexpected opportunity has been presented to me beginning in the fall, an offer I have just accepted. Specifically, I will become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ACT Inc., an international not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa. ACT is most likely known to you as the creator and administrator of the annual ACT test for high school students. But ACT has grown into a global organization that offers a broad array of assessment, research, information, and program management solutions in the areas of education and workforce development. This opportunity is intriguing and challenging in ways that I have never experienced in my 42 years in higher education, and it is one to which I look forward with excitement.

At the same time, however, it is with great sadness that I am leaving the San Jose State community. We have weathered two of the most difficult years any of us have ever experienced, and I have worked closely with many of you as we continue to prepare for challenging times still to come. Our collective efforts must not waver in the next few months. Be assured that I will devote the remainder of my time to continued advocacy for improved state funding for the CSU and San Jose State, and to facilitating a transparent and smooth transition to the leadership of an interim president.

I say with gratitude and sincerity that our two years here at San Jose State have been an exceptional time for Jennifer and me, and we have truly enjoyed working and interacting with you on a daily basis. San Jose State is an excellent university in a special location, and we will always value our time here with you. It has been a personal privilege to serve as your president.

Thank you very much.

With warm regards,

Jon Whitmore
President

Needless to say, this is unexpected news.

SJSU and Bike to Work Day

Click on photo to enlarge

It is great to have the aid station in front of the King Library and to see SJSU's alternative transportation folks from Transportation Solutions have a presence there. However, it would be nice to see them do more than attend a one-day-a-year event and actually do something to enable bicycling as an alternative transportation solution for real commuters. For years I have been asking them to approach the university about getting access for employees to shower facilities, that already exist for students.

Not having access to shower facilities is a real barrier to bicycle commuters.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Microsoft Office on Windows on iPad

Click on image above to view video.

Do you want to run Microsoft Office on Windows on an iPad? Citrix has a way you can do that. There will be other solutions as well. If you think of the iPad as a thin client and your desktop as the host all kinds of possibilities open up.

What is a thin client?
For example, I am writing this right now on my iPad, over AT&T's 3G network. (Look ma, no WiFi!) My application is Google's "Blogger" blogging platform and the host is Google's servers running Linux. So there you are, my iPad is a thin client!

Think that way and the iPad does not have to be a powerful device. That's one of the things the iPad has going for it. It is a kick ass thin client computer!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

UC dumps Google

According to a post on Neowin by Brandon Boyce, entitled University of California ditches GMail:

Last week the University of California CIO, Peter Siegel, and several IT council members sent a letter to staff that they have decided to end their GMail pilot. The goal was to make GMail the primary mail system for the 30,000 faculty and staff at the University. But the faculty expressed doubt that Google could keep their correspondences private. [Read More]

In light of the growing privacy concerns over Google is this really a great time to be locking ourselves into a long term contract with them? Could this "free" service cost us more than we should be willing to pay?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

About cloud computing

Michael Otey of Windows IT Pro wrote this informative post on the rise of cloud computing. Otey said:

One of the most prominent IT trends to emerge in 2009 was cloud computing. It's a technology that has been wholly embraced by vendors, but businesses remain justifiably skeptical. Even IT pundits widely disagree about the future of cloud computing: Is it yet another thinly veiled attempt to resurrect the widely rejected era of the mainframe and thin computing, or is it the basis for an all-new type of application that represents the future of computing? In these tight economic times, cloud computing’s promise to cut costs makes it a compelling offering. So, what are today's vendors offering? [Read More]

Otey's post is a good read and is worth viewing by folks contemplating this technology.

Monday, May 03, 2010

SJSU's grand social experiment

This university is about to embark on a grand social experiment. The primary role of a corporation, said Chris Anderson editor of Wired Magazine, is to facilitate communications between teams.

No place is that more true than in academia. At our university, for example, our core teams are the academic departments that get the work done. Each of these teams has their own resources, processes, procedures and cultures.

The culture in the School of Library and Information Systems is different than the culture in the School of Art and Design, or Engineering, or Business or Kinesiology. For example, it is difficult to imagine yanking an equipment tech from the Library and expecting that person to function productively in setting up Mechanical Engineering labs. Yet, that is exactly the kind of thing the university is poised to do with the looming layoffs and massive reassignments of staff employees.

Staff employees are not only going to be finding themselves in alien job roles, they will often find the cultures they get transplanted to will be alien, with totally different rules, roles and values.

It makes me wonder how the labs are going to be ready for classes in the Fall and how faculty and students are going to be getting the services they need? I wonder how big of a disruption to classes, how much of a disruption to the university this all will be?

I guess, come August and the start of the Fall semester, we may be about to find that out. To me, it seems like a recipe for gridlock.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Meanwhile over on my union blog

Many of you know I am a union steward and a long-time union activist. Covering union activity is not the mission of the tech blog you are reading here. But, since we live in unprecedented times and many of the readers of this blog work at SJSU, I just thought I would mention, my union blog is here!

Recent topics on my union blog include:
  • Student Reports on SJSU Layoff
  • Today is the day
  • Rally on Thursday info!
  • Beware of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)
  • Reasons for concern over Google
  • Union’s table by SJSU Student Union
  • How to file a discrimination complaint
  • About the layoff procedure…
NOTE –> These are my own personal opinions, views, information and perspectives regarding the labor movement in general and our local union, Chapter 307 of CSUEU, the California State University Employees Union at SJSU, San Jose State University, San Jose, California. This in NOT meant to represent the official union position on this matter.