Sunday, December 24, 2006

Last Post for 06

Kenneth and Fran at dinner

Have a very Merry Christmas
Yesterday we went to Viva's in Los Gatos. We had a very nice dinner.

Going offline
Today Fran is flying east and we are going off the grid. I will be off the Internet until the new year!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Two towers, morning light

Two towers SJSU

School is out for the year
This was a short day at SJSU. We worked half a day and now the campus is closed until January 2, 2007. This is also the day after the shortest day of the year. I brought a film camera to work and shot a short roll. The low angle of light and the crisp cold winter morning air made for dramatic light on these two west campus towers.

Christmas Message

MoveOn Christmas Card

Click Here to send a MoveOn Holiday Card via e-mail.

Viral Marketing: Ipod in the blender

Will it blend ipod

Blending an iPod
Another "Will It Blend?" video by Blendtec. This time is this an amazing way to sell blenders, or what? Talk about viral marketing! This makes me care care about whether my next blender is by Blendtec. I am serious, here is a great report on the Blendtec case study.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter begins

First day of Winter

It is the first day of winter
The good news is from here on out the days get longer and Spring comes in mid-February.

BMW (South Africa). Defining innovation.

I just love this. What an amazing commercial.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Man, it is cold outside!

Frost on windshield

It has been amazingly cold
My sons have been blogging about the cold in Washington and Alaska. I am right there with them! Each of the last three mornings I have had to scrape frost off my windshield. This morning on the way to work it was in the mid 30's. Man, it is cold! I have my thermals on.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Preparing to save lives

CERT training

The most important training I hope I will never use
My colleague Colin and I have been going through CERT training every day this week.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

One of the greatest constants in the recent disasters this country has faced is that it can often be a long wait between the crisis and when help arrives. We saw it in Katrina and in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. This area has the potential for an earthquake over ten times that size. If we get hit with a 1906 level quake destruction will be massive. The emergency responders will be totally overwhelmed and the infrastructure loss will be incredible. We may be cut off for a very long time. Who, then will be the first responders? We will! Are you ready? That is the point of this training. There will be no time for learning when disaster strikes, and the experts say, it is a matter of when.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

White Tehachapi

Snow on Tehachapi

Tehachapi Snow This Morning
Big trains grinding uphill in the snow. This image is from one of several webcams setup near the tracks. I wish I was there. I am dreaming of a white Tehachapi.

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End of 163, for now

JMC163 Class

The end of 163 as we know it
This was an experimental class that started the Fall semester with a blank slate. Formally titled as a class on streaming, we took the view that podcasting is the new streaming. For their mid-terms every student did a podcast, complete with its own RSS stream. We were given a blank slate and so we embraced new media and the class was billed as "New Media in Journalism." Technologies taught in the class included blogging, Second Life, podcasting and RSS. We used Skype as a teaching tool and in the process this class saved Skype at SJSU when the university proposed the ban of it. The Skype story went global. It was an example of amazing timing that this class was in the right place at the right time on that issue. The class not only learned about new media journalism, we became new media journalists.

Our class received national attention, thanks to the resulting media coverage of the Skype story, and there was no way this class was ever going to slip under the radar. Fantastic speakers came to our class, physically and virtually via Skype and Second Life. Despite having poor facilities and few resources the class exceeded all expectations of ours.

I think the class succeeded because we were not afraid to fail.  Dr. Dale E. Turner said, "Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future." On the first day of class we announced we would make mistakes in this class, but we intended to learn from them. Making mistakes became part of the process.

Even though we were given this class with a blank slate, even though we were a prototype, all of a sudden we became high profile. Folks with preconceived agendas took notice. Partly because of this, only partly, next semester's class will be very different.

But, that would be true even without the new agendas. That is the nature of prototypes. The lessons we learned as teachers of 163 in the Fall of 2006 would demand it. For these students, and us teachers, we were the pioneers and because of it we all had a truly unique experience. What a thrill that has been!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Academic Technology Christmas Party

AT Christmas Party

Nobody photocopied their butt at this party
Nobody danced on the tables, or under the tables. For an office Christmas party it was a pretty tame event (at least compared to the parties we had at the newspaper I worked for in the 70's.) In fact, after this party was done, we all went back to work (there was no alcohol.) Still, the food was great, it was very well organized and I think everybody had a good time. Thanks to the folks who organized this.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Family moment: My youngest son

Kenneth Sloan

Soon Kenneth will be 20
In just under a month youngest son Kenneth will be 20. He is a good son and a good friend. We get together at least once a week and do things like watch recorded episodes of Jericho, go to meetups or go run model trains. He also comes to some of our events at SJSU. We often go to lunch together and just hang out and talk.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fun with trains

Cal Central Train

I relax by playing with trains
One of my hobbies is playing with little trains. Both youngest son Kenneth and I are members of the California Central Model Railroad Club, located in the old Agnews Train Depot in San Jose.

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A day in the city

Susie in SF

Fun day in San Francisco
Yesterday we spent the day in San Francisco shopping. We were not shopping so much for Christmas, we were shopping to replace items we lost in our burglary.  We also shopped for Susie's birtday and celebrated it with a nice dinner at Puccini & Pinetti. The dinner was very good! Susie got a special pair of ear rings. We both also got new shoes. It was a nice day despite the rain.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Multimedia message

Camera Phone Post: We are in the city.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dead day at SJSU

Leaf cleanup at SJSU

Camera Phone Post: A gray dead day at SJSU
It is dead day, that quiet day between the end of regular classes and the start of finals. On top of that, there is a storm coming in and the wind is blowing. The rain is coming soon. The wind is bringing down the leaves and the grounds workers are trying to keep ahead of them.

Building Stonehenge - This Man can Move Anything

Proof that there is still a lot to be discovered, or in this case, rediscovered in this world.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Save GA!

Save GA

Save Google Answers Video
I just saw this wonderfully inventive video on YouTube about the effort to save Google Answers. Okay, what is Google Answers? According to Wikipedia this morning:

Google Answers was an Internet search and research service offered for a fee by Google, "answer brokering". It was launched by Google in April 2002, and went out of Beta in May 2003. In late November 2006, Google reported that it planned to permanently shut down the service. As of November 30, 2006, new questions may no longer be asked, but existing questions may continue to be answered until December 30, 2006.

Worth a look at the video. It is a great example of effective multimedia for the web. Here is a link to the Save Google Answers Blog. If you have a cause you would like to promote (or something you would like to save) this is a great approach!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sue's birthday this past weekend

Susie's birthday
Susie's birthday was this weekend
We celebrated on Sunday with a big dinner. I made a pot roast in my crock pot. Sue and her mom went to tea on Saturday and on Sunday went to a craft fair. We are planning our own continued celebration later this month.

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More Skype in the Classroom

More on Skype in the classroom
Today we continued the Skype conversation from last Thursday on the Language Lab Unleashed with another session hoted by Barbara Sawhill that included return visits from Joe Dale, Phil Wolff and myself plus Deborah Cordier from the University of South Florida; Chris Fuller, an MFL teacher in Devon, England; Paul Harrington, an ICT coordinator at Cefn Forest Primary School in Caerphilly, South Wales; and Alex Savage, an ICT teacher at Notre Dame High School in Norwich, England. As stated on their post, "This was an ecclectic and international group!" This is available as a podcast. This is really great stuff and well worth checking out.

The Thursday November 30 session podcast is here.

Podcast From Sunday, December 3
Update: Mon Dec 4 10:26:53 PST 2006

The Sunday December 3 session podcast is here!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

We celebrated Russell's birthday

Russell Kilday Hicks

Russell's birthday celebration
After work on Friday we drove up to Oakland to celebrate Russell's birthday. Russell is a good friend as well as being the chair of the staff union's communications committee. As I have written before, Russell is a very inspiring union leader. He is very dedicated to the labor movement, the community and his family. He is also a musician. Here he is shown getting ready to blow out his candles as his wife Sarah looks on.

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Winter destinations

Cancun Resort

Our winter destination
Susie and I are planning a trip to Mexico over the holidays. We are going to get away from the work hassles and stress and spend a week on the beaches of Cancun. We leave Christmas day and return on New Years.

Recently son Jeff has been in Alaska. In a recent blog post Jeff describes what it is like being in 20 below zero conditions there. "Walking outside when it is twenty-one degrees below zero is like going into a walk in freezer . . . naked!" I wonder how he knows what that feels like?

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Skype Podcast

Podcast: Skype Teaching Tool or Network Nemesis?
In this Skype conversation, hosted by Language Lab Unleashed, a group of educators from across the nation (myself included) and a university network administrator, joined Phil Wolff from Skype Journal in a discussion about the use of Skype in the classroom. Much of the discussion was about the now changed plan to discontinue using Skype at SJSU. This conversation occurred after I got of work yesterday. (So, I am not speaking on the university's dime.) Note the quality of the audio. This group conversation occurred using a free software program, Skype, and was recorded on a low end Macintosh computer and low cost audio capture software.

53.3 MB MP3 Audio File Here

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Roger: A film by Journalism 163 students

Roger, by group JMC163

A film by JMC 163 Students
This funny and clever film was done by students in Journalism 163, the class that Cynthia McCune and I teach. The students are: Ron Campos, Jaydee deJesus, Jessica Drnek and Andrew Venegas. I think they did a fantastic job and am very proud of the work they and their fellow JMC163 students have done this semester.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Just a crisp morning at SJSU

Autumn leaves at SJSU

Cold crisp morning at SJSU
Mornings like this have their own special magic. The air is so clear and so fresh and yes, so cold. The last of the passing season's leaves hang on in their futile effort to resist the coming winter. There is a metaphor in that, I guess. But, this minute, I prefer not to think about that. I just want to enjoy the lovely morning.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ben Willmore Seminar on Photoshop

Ben Willmore clowning for camera

Photoshop CS2 for Photographers
Today I took a day of vacation and paid my own way to attend the best day of Photoshop training I have ever had. I thought I was good at Photoshop, but what Ben taught me has changed forever how I will use this tool. Ben Willmore is great. This workshop was superb. I highly recommend it to anybody who is serious about Photoshop CS2. Oh yes, Ben has a great sense of humor too.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Help Desk Holiday 2006

Help Desk Staff

Help Desk Staff Celebrates Holidays
In a tradition that started last year, we had a Thanksgiving Eve Holiday celebration. I made turkey for dinner and all the other staff also brought dishes, drinks and eating utensils. It was too much fun. After the meal we watched a movie in the Clark Hall conference room. These are great young people, all from south asia, and it is a pleasure knowing them. It is like one large family here.

Christmas Train Ride

Train at Sunol

Niles Canyon Christmas Train
Last night we went on a holiday train ride with Vic, Annie, John and Janet. It was a fun Christmas train ride up the Niles Canyon and back. This Niles Canyon Railway is owned by the Pacific Locomotive Association. The Christmas train is an annual event and is already sold out for 2006. The train was decorated inside and out and it went slowly up and down Niles Canyon, changing direction at Niles. After the train ride we all went to dinner at Bosco's in Sunol. We had some Livermore wine and had a lot of fun talking, eating and laughing.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving was fun

Sloans at Thanksgiving

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving
Sue's mom, Jeff, Nicole, Madison and Kenneth joined the cats and us in celebrating Thanksgiving. It was a fun evening.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Last BBB, for now

December BBB

My last issue of the bike club newsletter for now
Because we got our house burglarized last week and I had some of my equipment stolen this was an especially challenging issue to get this out. But, the old newspaperman in me could not miss an issue (especially my last one.) So, here it is! There was no time for corrections or edits due to my schedule. The final, finished and complete December 2006 newsletter is posted here in PDF.

This issue is done and it has been sent to the printer. This is the printer's version in PDF. This is how it has gone to the printer.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weird weekend update

My Rivendell

The Riv is back!
My Rivendell is rideable again. Saturday morning I went to a techie event in San Francisco and then went to American Cyclery also in San Francisco. I had dropped off my bike a couple of weeks ago and it was ready! It was a good day, I had seen several folks I know at Podcamp including Robert Scoble, Steve Sergeant and Eli Spector. Then, at the bike shop, I saw several of my old bike shop friends.

Podcamp West

Sunday, Recovering from the Burglary
I went on a fun ACTC bike ride on the Rivendell. I rode a lot with Pam. Then, Sue and I went to Valarie's house for soup. The rest of the day was spent gathering information for the Insurance company about our recent burglary.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Susie's Great Grandfather

Felix Melillo

This is Frances, Sue's mother's, grandfather.

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I had a pointy head

I had a pointy head

I found this old picture. I had a birthday hat on. It makes me look like I had a pointy head.

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An Act of Kindness

An act of kindness

A film by Akshay Prem Vyas
With all the bad stuff that has happened recently, especially our recent burglary and Sue's accident plus the struggle to get the safety issues in Clark Hall fixed, it was becoming easy to feel jaded and cynical. Then, a special film was brought back to my attention. Akshay is a wonderful young man from India who works at the San Jose State University Help Desk. Akshay and his friends made this movie for Campus Moviefest that reminds us that in general people have good hearts and that what goes around comes around. Thank you Akshay and friends for making this movie. It made my wife and I very happy to watch it again, it was an act of kindness.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Possible strike at SJSU?

Heidi Riggio at the Chancellor's Office

So, we marched on the Chancellor's Office
This was the first time I participated in a job action as a member of the faculty union. Faculty members, supported by students and members of the various staff unions from all over the state marched on the Chancellor's Office in Long Beach, California as the university trustee's met. The faculty union in the entire CSU system has been trying to get a fair contract and so far that has not happened. The union may go on strike! This is the university biggest job action I have ever been in in all my years as a labor leader and university employee.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Multimedia message

Finally on the picket line.

Multimedia message

Multimedia message

A broken jet.

Multimedia message

Waiting in line to figure out what is going on.

Multimedia message

Stuck on the ground by a mechanical failure.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Home Burglary Alert

Canna Lane, San Jose, CA

This information is here in case anybody has a similar incident and goes to do a Google search on the subject.

Our home was broken into today, Nov. 13, 2006, between 10 and 11:30am. Here is what we know. According to witnesses, the burglars were driving a silver/grey Jeep Cherokee. Winesses said, there were three burglars, two white males in their late teens to early twenties and a black woman about 23-26. The witnesses said the men had a green back pack and were carring a white plastic garbage bag.

According to the witnesses the woman had a tattoo on her neck. They said the men were of slight build and appeared to the witnesses to be possible gang members. If you see anybody who matches this description please call the San Jose Police Department.

This is in regards to case 06-317-0585. I had computer, camera and podcasting equipment stolen. My wife lost jewlery and other items.

Steve Sloan
(408) 605-0692

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Busy weekend

Party at Jolyce's

Whirlwind Weekend
The highlight of the weekend was the great party Saturday night at Jolyce's. On Sunday I went to Stockton with Vic to look at an idea we are considering for Winterail. Susie and I have also been working on other stuff. She had a pile of work she brought home and I was working on an issue of the bike club newsletter.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another stupid person and a train

Another stupid person and a train

Recently I talked about stupid people and trains. Well, here is more!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Will it blend?

Will it blend?

Don't try this at home!
Eric Rice says this is the best use of coporate video ever! He may be right, this is too funny and well worth the time to check it out. Eric said:

This is like an actual company’s vlog… Blendtec makes blendors. I was cracking up at other videos and was thinkin, man I got to get one of those. I googled it just for the hell of it and sure enough, the logos matched, did a WHOIS, it’s blendtec.

You gotta check out Eric's blog. Eric Rice is one of the world’s leading experts in consumer generated media, particularly in podcasting and videoblogging. He is co-founder of Hipcast (previously as well as being the founder and executive producer of Slackstreet Entertainment, a holding company for podcast and videoblog consulting and products. Eric is also the coordinator of the Silicon Valley Pocasting Meetup Group. This a great group. We met last night. Kenneth, my youngest son, and I went. Eric has turned both of us on to Second Life and has bent my mind with great ideas several times. Folks who miss out on events like this miss out on some of the great moments of being in Silicon Valley.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blocked SJSU Fire Exits Cause of Concern

Blocked Fire Exit, Clark Hall, SJSU

Camera Phone Post: The danger continues
Here is a photo taken this morning of blocked fire exits on the northwest corner of San Jose State University's Clark Hall, where the Academic Success Center is located and where I work. This is not a new problem. Before, on September 7, 2006 this situation was observed, photographed, reported and blogged. There is even a pending union grievance regarding safety matters related to Clark Hall. I would like to see the following added to that grievance:

  • The university shall place appropriate sineage that is clearly visible from a distance to anybody that blocking these fire exits is not allowed.
  • The university shall take any other actions necessary to see that these areas are kept clear.

Perhaps what they need to do is to paint on the concrete here in big bold letters Keep Clear!

In my opinion, in the event of a fire or an earthquake, the blocking of these exits could possibly lead to tragic loss of life. Safe working and learning conditions should not be something that leads to labor conflict. Having a safe campus is something we all should be on the same page about.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

SJSU students sleep on sidewalk

Students sleep out

Camera Phone Post: Students sleep out at SJSU
Students spent the night on the sidewalk not far from the statues of San Jose State student activists and 1968 Olympic Medal Winners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. They did this to illustrate the issue of homelessness in our country. Despite all the technology and all the wealth in our society there are still folks who lack a roof over their head. Homelessness is an issue that does not go away. Housing is so very expensive and so many people are a paycheck or two from living on the street. "Over a five-year period, about 2–3 percent of the U.S. population (5–8 million people) will experience at least one night of homelessness," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Family in a flood

Tree in the sun

Sun in California and rain in Washington, from Luci:
Hello Family and Friends,
You may have heard about the flooding here. It is pretty extensive. At this time we are safe and our house is not in the river's path but, if it continues like this- who knows. Some of our friends have lost power and there have been fairly large evacuations. School is closed until further notice. There are shelters set up and Governor Christine Gregoire has declared it a state of emergency and asked the feds to call out the National guard. It is crazy. Steve is very excited because he gets to use his crank radio; ) He also feels very proud to have tons of food stores because of his canning efforts this summer. I guess it was worth it to shuck all that damn corn, LOL. Well we are trying to stay dry. It is still raining. For all the updated pictures go to (Blog Link)

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Monday, November 06, 2006

We went wine tasting and buying

Susie wine tasting

A fun weekend of wine tasting
Last weekend we went to the Russian River Valley area around Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. The reason we went this weekend is because it was pickup weekend at Williams-Selyem. Other than a strange experience at our hotel in Santa Rosa we had a great time. We tasted and bought some very fine wine. Most importantly we got to relax.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Clearing Storm over SJSU

Storm clods over tower hall

Camera Phone Post: Clearing Storm over SJSU
Storm clouds giving way to sun over tower hall. The rain is ending and it is Friday. Perfect timing!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Great visit to CSU Stanislaus

CSUS union officers

I had a great visit to "turkey tech" and spent about five hours there in a very intensive day of shooting. Frank Borrelli is a fantastic union leader. He is president of the California State University Stanislaus (CSUS) CSUEU chapter. He has a way of making being in the union not only be the right thing to do, but also a fun thing to do. It is like everybody on campus knows him, and he knows them. He remembers everybody's name and knows and remembers details about their families. He can instantly launch into conversations with members of his chapter in a way that shows he genuinely cares about them. He has charisma, charm, optimism and a never ending sense of humor. What a wonderful experience this was. I feel so very lucky to have been able to visit Stanislaus and the two other campuses I have visited so far in this project. I shot over 150 usable images yesterday. The uses for the image library this is building for CSUEU in the UE, organizing fliers, the website and of course the upcoming calendar, in my opinion, are very worthwhile. By featuring a lot of pictures of our constituents we can really show them our desire to put the you in our union.

This has been so much fun, I wish I could have done this years ago!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cindy Chavez for Mayor

Cindy Chavez at SJSU

Cindy Chavez For Mayor of San Jose
In the coming election I urge my friends and members of the University Community to vote for Cindy Chavez for Mayor of San Jose. In my opinion she has repeatedly proved to be a friend of working people and members of the campus community. She supported us in getting the traffic light at the corner of 9th and San Fernando and I think she would be a great mayor for our city.

What is the thought process here?

Stupid mom, stroller and train

Some people seem too stupid to me to be parents
I saw this photo of a person pushing a stroller in front of a moving train on one of the railfan forums. Of course it immediately made me think of Katrina Hatton, the young babysitter who failed to prevent a 2-year-old boy in her care from being hit by a train in South San Jose in November 2005. In the picture above, according to the photographer, the train was not moving fast and the telephoto lens did shorten the perspective. But, a wheel could have gotten stuck in the tracks or she could have tripped. It is hard to imagine the consequences.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Great talk with Steve

Steve with goofy hat

I had a nice long talk with eldest son Steve last night
On the tenth of this month Steve turned 30. We had a great long talk. He got a pressure cooker for his birthday and has taken up canning. He was in the middle of canning peaches when we talked. He likes working at Boeing and is a great dad. His family seems to keep him hopping. He and his wife Luci have a great blog here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

There and back again

Sun over the Pacific

I am home from LA
It was a short trip, less than 36 hours total. Some people make trips like this all the time and for them it is routine. For me it was a bit disorienting. I do not like flying in airliners. It is not the flying that bothers me, it is the security. When you fly you agree to submit to it. I do, but I resent it. I feel as though I am a prisoner in some kind of police state. That is the bargain we make in order to fly. Given my druthers, I rather drive if I can. But, this trip I couldn't.