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