Thomas Jefferson and Easter

Through a series of cut-and-paste, although mostly cut, Thomas Jefferson created a copy of the Bible that made sense to him. You can read more about Jefferson’s editing in the Smithsonian article, How Thomas Jefferson Created His Own Bible.
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth collects the Gospels into a cohesive narrative, attempting to put the events into chronological order and leaving out those things that are “contrary to reason.”
As a result, the book ends with a part of John 19:31ff and then a pasted piece of Matthew 27:60:

There laid they Jesus, and … rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Jesus died. They put Him in the tomb and walked away. No resurrection.

Educational conferences and Spotted Dick

The Brits have a dessert that’s tasteless in both senses of the word. Spotted Dick is, according to various sources, a boiled suet pudding with raisins or currants stuck to the outside. Serving the delicacy with custard doesn’t help much. It’s best to eat the sweet, dried fruit and then look for the dog to finish the rest.

I’ve been to a few educational conferences in the past three months. They, too, have had some sweet treats in a flavorless puddle. The good parts are real and exciting; the boiled suet is soul-crushing.
The conferences have had these general characteristics:

  • There are excruciatingly few questions from the audience. Most of the few questions are the teacher-equivalent of “Will this be on the test?” The educators ask about logistics and process, rather than digging deeper into the ideas. 
  • Even the good presenters often aren’t interested in talking afterwards. They’re good on stage, but have a tough time with individuals and small groups. 
  • The Twitter stream and other social media channels are quiet. Some of this depends on conference organizers. If’ they promote it online, more people respond. Otherwise, there’s little chatter inside the room and even less from people outside.

    Academics tend to be politically and socially liberal, but very conservative on matters of changing the way they teach. #UMass
    — Karl Hakkarainen (@RoasterBoy) March 28, 2013

  • If the people at the conferences are the innovators or interested in innovation, imagine the dispirited temperaments of those who didn’t attend. We should be worried about the future of education. 
We also need to make sure that the catering staff (mostly students) checks their spelling before lunch.

A solid educational experience

In the early 70s, I worked for McManus’s, an all-night restaurant in Hadley. We had a Metro van that we used for errands around town. The van was an International Metro Mite, painted with the McManus logo. The notation near the driver’s door said that the van’s height was 7′ 00″.
One day, I needed to go to UMass for something and so I went to the parking garage in the center of campus.

I made my way into the garage, made the first turn, and got stuck when the top of the truck hit the roof of first parking level. After many uncharitable words toward the nameless workers who hadn’t measured all of the clearances in the garage, I let enough air out of the tires to lower and free the truck.
It was in that spirit that I went to UMass yesterday. I was there for a conference, but I found myself thinking about nearly 50 years in the valley.
I started hanging around there when my father was working on the construction of the Southwest dorm complex. During the summer, we’d drive from the camp, through the fog banks along Route 202 near the Quabbin, to Amherst. I’d spend the day on campus, reading newspapers, drinking coffee, smoking the cigarettes that I could buy for thirty cents from the vending machine.
I had a good time pretending to be a college student. I did that for a long time.
During those years, UMass grew in size and stature. The Boston Globe had a good write-up this past Sunday about the aesthetics of the concretized campus. I have a fondness for those buildings in way that I remember that old van. It wasn’t real pretty when new, but it got the job done. It was dented front, sides, and back. I was the only one to put a dent on the roof.

Our technology conference was in the campus center auditorium, gray vaulted ceilings high enough for the tallest truck and unfriendly to radio waves of any type. 

Important matter related to Windows 8

In our Know Your Laptop class, one of the students asked if he should upgrade his Windows 7 system to Windows 8. I said that it wasn’t necessary. Windows 8 is a stable, fast, and utterly disorienting version of Windows. People who buy new systems will almost always get Windows 8 and will learn to use it and will even come to enjoy it. There’s no need, however, to make the change from Windows 7. (If you’re running Windows XP, make plans to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 now.)
Besides, I told the class, the versions of Solitaire available on Windows 8 are lousy.
There is a way, however, to patch a Windows 7 game so that it plays on Windows 8. The procedure is not for the casual user or the faint of heart, but it works.

Windows 7 Solitaire as a Windows 8 Start Screen tile

Networking history from the bottom of the bag

Even though we’re up to our trailer hitches in snow, it’s time for a bit of spring cleaning. I emptied my briefcase and sifted through six months of accumulated tools, cables, connectors, pens, batteries, and a spoon. (On a business trip years ago, I was on my way to my hotel late one evening and bought some yogurt at a convenience store. Back at my room, I discovered that I didn’t have a spoon. I wound up eating the yogurt with my toothbrush. I now carry a spoon in my briefcase.)

In the early-to-mid 80s, Digital changed the name of its internal network from the Engineering Network to the Easynet. The idea was that the network was used for general business operations and not just by the engineering groups. It was also quite easy to use. We had teams of people throughout the world working on projects together with the same ease as teams in the same building.
Digital had its own networking standards, DECnet, and contributed to the Ethernet standard that supports modern networking. Another set of networking protocols, TCP/IP, now used in the Internet, were just starting to make inroads.
By one estimate, a typical American household has 5.7 Internet-connected devices, such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. A small town could have more connected gadgets than DEC had in support of 100,000 employees 30 years ago.

The Past and the Present of the Future of the News Business

For the past few years, I’ve been leading classes as a part of the W.I.SE. program at Assumption College. Last week we had a fun final class in class on the future of the news business. Mike Benedetti and Tracy Novick talked about the local news scene, how they get and share their news and the work that results from their knowledge of the news.
We talked about politics, education, the quantitative and qualitative differences between content on paper and content on screens of various sizes. Mike brought several issues of Happiness Pony to show how what happens when you need to fit disparate ideas into a confined space.
And then we became an episode of 508: A Show About Worcester.

The class was scheduled to run for five sessions. Snow took out two and we were able to reschedule one. For those of you who need the help of your second-grader on word math problems, it means that we were one class short.
This morning, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released its 2013 report on the state of the media. Their findings matched closely what we were seeing in class:

  • Newsroom cutbacks are affecting the quality of the product and consumers are noticing. 
  • Digital access is accelerating. 
  • Newspaper circulation is holding steady, but ad revenue is plummeting. (The Phoenix closed last week because it couldn’t attracting national advertisers.)
    The situation becomes complex and problematic as sponsored-content, material developed and delivered by companies trying to sell something, becomes indistinguishable from independent stories. 
  • People are using social media and other social contact to learn about news events. 
Students of the news will have plenty to ponder outside the classroom. All we need now is Neon Newsboy.
Via Paleofuture: The Newspaper of Tomorrow: 11 Predictions from Yesteryear

Dept. of Snow

It wasn’t enough that Holden won the top spot in last weekend’s snowfall totals. We need to keep our edge and so are trucking in more snow.

More on copyright, Canadian edition

Using small amounts of text as a part of a commentary is a long-standing exception to U.S. copyright law. The particulars of each instance are always subject to court review. The copyright holder doesn’t surrender rights by allowing these excerpts.
A few years ago, the Associated Press created a real problem for itself when it contracted with a company to charge $12.50 for using five words of text. The company eventually sued AP for bungling the contract.
Now it’s Canada’s turn, National Post, specifically. Michael Geist noted that merely selecting text to use a quote for another piece triggers a new content licensing scheme.
For example, let’s look at a story about the priciest house on Prince Edward Island. It’s a nice place on the north shore for $12M CAD.

If select a paragraph of text that I’d like to include in my review, I am presented with this pop-up .

Following through the options, I learn two things. It’s going to cost me up to $100 to quote 100 words and 50¢ for each additional word.
Next, I find that I cannot comply. When I selected the text, the pop-up prevented me from copying the words that I need to paste into this box to calculate how much I must finally pay.
Oh, the company that National Post is using to stand on guard for thee, iCopyright, is the same company that the AP used and was sued by. 

One of an occasional series.
A bunch of years ago, I worked for a software company. It was hard work for long hours. At one point, senior management made the pronouncement that the development team needed to focus more on a particular aspect of the product. The QA manager and I agreed that we’d be Focused More-ons.

Why does Twitter hate us?

According to the company blogTwitter is killing TweetDeck on Android because people aren’t using it.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices.

We aren’t using it because the Android app was last updated on September 15, 2011 and hangs on updates.