listify test 3


This is part of an ongoing test with Listify.

So far there has been mixed luck.
I am testing to see how interviews look--or might look--in this format.

So I just grabbed some free photos and free text from online--yes, they are copyright free.

And this is what they look like.

Soon I will have a "what I have learned in Listify" up soon.

Some options I am thinking about:

  • a page could have three, five, or seven people's responses to the same questions--thus you could have a variety of people and their profile pictures;
  • a page where you have one person responding to a variety of smaller or different follow up questions, and there would be a set of images used to the lift to individuate while keeping the individual's picture at the top;

Thus there would be solo and group pages.

Part two of the interview

Nerd Core: Two Anti-Chic-Fil-A Videos

I was pleased to discover that two Nerd Core groups produced some anti-Chic-Fil-A tracks and videos.

The first, relatively mellow, comes from Adam Warrock.

The second, from Former Fat Boys, is much more explicit--it will offend sensitive folks.

Nerd Core Fixating

Setting Context

Got up today, tried to get work done, and scraped out a few tasks. Somehow, Nerd Core's gravity pulled me back. This time it started with MC Lars. One of my grad students told me about "Flow Like Poe," and I remembered to go watch it. Awesome!

 And then I saw this anti-bullying track:

Sweet! That got me going. I managed to stumble into some hacker/nerd core by Dual Core.

Looking Deeper

Poked around some more and discovered that a bunch of these artists are working at/through BandCamp. Beefy's one of them. Adam Warrock's there, too.

Was happy to discover that a fair number of Nerd Core rappers are on Spotify.

Honestly, some of the Nerd Core tracks work for me but a bunch don't. Reminds me a lot of Hard Core--some home runs, some fails, but the intention and intensity is largely there. At this point, though, have to say that I am digging Adam Warrock most--he has consistency across the tracks I have heard.

Warrock has tracks about Dr. Who

And so many more great comics, sci-fi, and nerd/geek themes. Excellent!

Only Touching the Surface

Obviously I'm only touching the surface at this point. I thought I was going deeper, but it became clear that the genre is spiraling out in many directions--farther than I'd expected. Each time I take a look at the Nerd Core genre, it seems to have spread farther, have more interesting work, and added more artists. Great things!

Complaining is easy

Complaining is not only easy, it sets up more suffering

Like  a fair number paper pushing folks, I like to complain about my workload. Sometimes I think it's a paperwork-size game: who has the most paperwork, who is bearing the largest burden. Other times I see the paperwork complaint as a form of bonding: we're in this suffering together, so let's compare how much pain we've endured. Sadly, though, it's easy to slide from the bonding complaint into the comparison complaint. More destructively, though, is the self-pity complaint. 

I suspect the self-pity complaint exists invisibly next to and with every other form of complaint. Similar to quantum particles that can simultaneously exist in multiple locations, the self-pitying complaint exists in potentiality right next to the standard complaint. With an unhealthy or slight shift in thinking, the complaint instantly flashes from standard into self-pitying. Let the self-guilt-tripping with simultaneous holier-than-thou-moralizing commence! 

Self-pity can be fun. Sure, I'll give you that. Everyone loves a good wallow--I know I do--but wallowing means that work does not get done. Work not getting done means that more work is stacking up. Thus, the more immediate indulgence I take in self-pity and wallowing, the larger the pile of paperwork becomes and the more valid my assertion that I am suffering becomes. Well, at least it feels that way. But there's something icky about self-pity. It feels like when I shoplifted candy when I was six or seven. I totally knew it was wrong. At that age I did not know what feeling like shit was--I didn't know the word--but upon reflection, that is how I felt. Self-pity resonates with that same feeling.

None of this is likely news to any other sentient being. I know that, but I don't try to be unique, special, or insightful much anymore. Inevitably, such pursuits have proven largely fruitless and resulted mostly in self-pity. So, I'd rather not go there. It's a pointless game for me, and it is best left for the younger folks. Me, I'm happier constructing happy land. Complaining does not make me happy. In fact, complaining seems to prime the pump of unpleasantness for continuing stinkage. Getting work done removes the tinder for the sparks of guilt and self-pity.

From what I can tell, it is far easier to get work done when I'm not complaining. And this, this piece, as I like to see it, is a reflective moment between work sessions.

And now for an awesome track to get back into the paperwork shuffle!

Home Invasion, or the Quarterly Safety Inspection

Oh the Inspectors Will Come Out Tomorrow

It's a good sign when a piece is inspired by a song from Annie. 

Perhaps that depends on what you think of Grace's version of "Tomorrow."

University supervision

Tomorrow rings in our sixth or eighth housing inspection. You see, we live in university housing. It's absolutely incredible in an array of ways: affordable rent; utilities, internet, local phone included; washer and dryer; secure living environment; living among families. The housing folks respond, quickly, to repair requests. The place is great. We love it.

Living in the property of a state institution means they get to come by and inspect things. When I was 18 or 20, this rubbed me the wrong way. At the time it was more about privacy and not letting other folks know about my poor decision making process or my slobbery. At 42, it's flipping annoying to have people--nearly half my age--inspect my living situation.

Sure, I know, owning a house or living off of campus would probably remove a number of these problems. I get that.

But I don't care at the moment. I just want to snivel a bit and say, "Really? I'm 42, my partner's at least three times your age, and the last thing we need is a fire... We're not gonna burn the place down. Really."

Yeah, they have to do their job. But it's still annoying. It removes the illusion that this is a home and shifts it into a temporary-living experience, and I would rather avoid that emotional response at the moment.

End of snivel.

Image source:

Creating Quizzes with Kindle & Moodle


Normally I don't like giving quizzes for readings--especially at the graduate level. Seems kind of busy workish. And yet, for in-class discussion, it's critical to make sure that folks are doing their reading. While I know that students need to be responsible for their reading and work, I also know that I have a responsibility to emphasis certain points. Having not given or used quizzes for some time, I have decided to give it another shot in the Moodle environment. This way, we don't burn up class time, students can use their texts to review and prepare, and the impact on the grade is somewhat limited.

Honestly, I'm not sure how well this will turn out--pedagogically speaking. One thing I have learned, though, is that I must question almost all of my practices and beliefs iteratively. By this, I do not mean questioning everything I believe and do all at once; doing that would implode gz and no one would win. Instead, I try to cycle through different practices, locate assumptions, and take a run at modifying, retrying, or changing an approach. So, I'm back at quizzes.

At core, I am a rhetorician, and I highly value context and kairos. Quizzes are not inherently bad--they are just deployed poorly. My goal is to see if I can deploy them well and in a way that supports student learning and engagement.

Using Kindle & Moodle

Tech used: Kindle Fire; University-hosted instance of Moodle 2.5

What I Do

1. Read material. Review content.

2. Read material again in Kindle. Highlight key passages/wording in a color not used for other purposes.

3. Open up desktop or laptop--be sure it has a Kindle reader. 

4. Pull up Kindle window, go to book, and select "My Notes & Marks"; all of my highlighting is visible.

5. Open up text editor. Paste in all raw quiz material (including page numbers and/or locations).

6. Save. Formulate questions 

7. Open up Moodle.

8. Enter relatively simple questions.

9. Learn Moodle.

We'll see how well it goes.

Image source:

Surviving First Week of Classes

It's Already Week Two

I meant to blog last week--I really did. As all faculty can undoubtably agree: it was the first week of classes, so something has to give. And blogging gave. Missed writing I did. Sadly, it is almost the middle of Week 2 already. Hard to know where time is slipping. Still, I am having more fun and less stress than I did during Fall quarter. Fall quarter thugged me. Better said, I put in for a thugging...

That amazing learning curve

The thugging I requested was taking on program coordination for our MSEd program at WOU. There are a lot of folks in the program, and many of them deal directly with my excellent colleagues who directly advise ESOL, Reading, and InfoTech students. The rest of the MSEd students--aside from Health--come to me. Last quarter meant that I went from the rare advising session to four or eight advising sessions a week. Plus the emails--and this is only for graduate students. 

Side note: I'm not currently advising undergraduates. Just want to be clear that I know that advising undergraduates is a whole different deal with its own unique problem set. Challenging it is!

Back on track: When I'm not advising, then I am figuring out paperwork with the graduate office, sorting out class schedules, answering student questions, and learning lots of stuff about the program. There is so much that information overload is inherent in the task. Fortunately, it is project--or problem--based learning. A problem shows up, you have to solve it, you get advice, and you learn how to do it. So that's pretty cool. I like that, but it is exhausting. Was exhausting.

I'm better now than before because my colleagues have helped me build a network of experts. Or, better said, the network was there and I managed to comfortably land and get settled in that network. Figuring out the network, paperwork flows, communication processes, and order of things is--for me--quite interesting. I like it. Most of the time. Now, I don't struggle to build or see the system and network; instead, I am moving through the system to solve the problem. At the start, I was unable to see or feel much of a system.

Awesome colleagues

Big up for having multiple colleagues and resources to rely on. In the past, I've been able to draw on people here and there--and sometimes I got big support from one or two people. In my current situation, I know I have about eight to ten people with wisdom and experience that I can get support from. Similarly, I offer them support and help. It's one of the great things about working within this community: you give, you get, and folks are nice throughout the process. So so much to be said for collegiality.

Great students

I keep enjoying the students I meet--especially through the MSEd advising. Normally I would not meet most of these people; I teach mostly in the InfoTech program which has limited overlap with MSEd students. So, I meet a larger pool of folks and it is a good thing. It's great talking to and hearing from working teachers. It's amazing what so many of them do with their students, and I like my student population. They are good folks, most of them are kind, and they are almost always interesting people. No boring conversations. Invariably they have good questions, too.

Teaching face-to-face

Finally I get to teach face-to-face again. It is a research and writing course, so I love that. We meet once a week for three hours, and I like that  as well. My students are quite diverse: about one-third or half are international students. The gender split is uneven; less than five men in a class of nearly thirty. This is normal, though, for most Ed courses from what I have seen.

Tenure or not

About a week ago I received a letter from the Provost. I passed my second year review, so I'm still on the path to tenure. That's good. I know what I need to do, too, so I feel pretty focused. 

A while ago I read or heard about going up for tenure early--it is part of our union contract. After a bit, I finally sat down with colleagues on the tenure binder review committee (it has a different name, but I like this name better). Today, actually. We chatted, they explained the contract, expectations, and related information to me. We talked about my work. And it was a good conversation.

In short, I could shoot for the moon, opt for a stressed-out, anxiety ridden push to get tenure a year early and run a chance of not getting it--a sprint for the point of sprinting--or I could do what I'm doing, improve my work, publish a bit more, and probably get tenure [there's never a guarantee]. While listening to Atari Teenage Riot

I figured that my ego was not that hungry. I didn't need that kind of stress. When I got home, it took about five minutes with D and a chat to confirm that going up early was not necessary or interesting. Nope, knowing what I know now, no thanks. Appreciate the knowledge, though! It helps reframe my perspective, that's for sure!

Otter image source:

Scribd's Unlimited Readings

I have used since 2007 or 2008 if I recall correctly. Scribd has long provided me with access to texts--mostly academic and scholarly press books--that were neither at my library or within my budget. Scribd was a saving grace for me during my doctoral course work as well as through the initial parts of preparing for my exams. One of Scribd's best uses, though, was it's search. While it's search tool at the top is weak--really, we can't sort out publishers?--the way it presents related titles and materials is as friendly, if not more friendly, than shelf browsing.

Around 2011 or so, my love for Scribd declined. Probably had a lot to do with my shifting focus. Scribd, though, has become much more commercial, and there are many, many more money making methods to Scribd. What annoyed me was how, at one point, my ability to read and download docs was limited: I had to either pay a monthly fee or upload material. So I uploaded some useless docs, downloaded what I needed, and left. I do not like feeling compelled to pay for what is presented as a free service. From what I can tell, that policy seems to have changed.

Either way, there is a lot more of BUY on Scribd. Buy books. Buy articles. And now there is unlimited reading. 

I don't really need to rent or buy books for my pleasure reading. That's covered. Okay, I would probably read more steam punk and Neal Stephenson with a subscription, but most the stuff that I want is from Safari, Blackwell, and IGI. You know, those $150 books nobody can buy--I want to read articles there. From what I can tell, only a few of these presses have material available. So, bleh.

Hot presses, like O'Reilly, seem to only sell their books and offer a few freebies. Obviously, they don't want to compete with their own online library. Why sell for $9 a month on Scribd when they can get a couple hundred/year on through Safari?

So, here I sit, wondering whether the new toy is worth it. Of course Scribd offers a 30 day free trial, but that means at least 4-5 months before I remember to shut it off if I am not using it. 

Are you an academic? Are you using Scribd? If so, how and why? Or why not?

Open Source Tools: Using CentOS Desktop


Winter of 2014 I am teaching a course: Open Source Tools. Yep, we will explore, work with, and try out OS tools. I'm still creating the course, but it is going to be largely project-oriented and centered around working with OS tools.

Part of working with OS is enculturation, getting used to the culture, practices, and expectations of working with OS software. While some of my students are familiar with OS, most of them only know that OS exists or have very, very limited experience working with OS. Personally, my experience with OS is limited as well. I have worked with a number of tools, read quite a bit, follow OS developers online, and learn what I can, but I am more a user than a creator. So the course is a way for me to learn and work with something I care about while helping out students, too.

Increasing OS Platform Awareness

I have found that while students may be aware of OS tools, like Apache Open Office, they are rarely aware of alternative OS operating systems like Linux and it's many offspring. So, to stir things up a bit, I decided to include working in an OS operating system as part of the initial orientation. Few things compare to having your platform shifted on you. Visually and physically, you are forced to see how things operate differently. Again, this is more to help users/students see that there are ways outside of iOS, Android, Windows, and Chrome to organize and present working environments.

The course will not require students to download CentOS to their own computers. Few have extra computers, and I doubt that many students have the drive or desire to focus their learning curve on having multiple OS's on their computer. Our focus is on using OS tools, so providing a new OS operating system will be done virtually. Working with University Computing Services at WOU, they have been able to set up virtual desktops for my students. This requires using terminal server, so the speed won't be top notch. Also, the virtualized CentOS won't work with Macs for some reason. These are shortcomings, and I have several workarounds. However, since the main goal is simply to test drive CentOS and live/work briefly in a new operating system, I think these shortcomings are viable.

Which OS Operating System?

Note: When looking at different OS operating systems, we had to keep in mind a variety of different licensing and virtualization issues--stuff I rarely deal with but that has an impact on what software can be run where, how many desktops we can send up, and so forth. Fortunately, the UCS folks let me know what is or is not viable. My response is usually: let's do what's easiest and generates the learning experience for the students.

Initially, I wanted to use Ubuntu because of the interface--honestly, I feel it blends the best of Mac and PC. This meant there would be less shock to my users. However, the EFF's critique of Ubuntu's tracking user data (I'm not sure if that has been corrected or not) pushed me away. An awesome member of the WOU UCS team, Dave M., suggested CentOS. And that's what we're rolling out.

So now, as we move close to the first week of classes, I'm testing it out. And I'm discovering bugs.

Here's one of those bugs:

The screen looks fragged--it happened when I enlarged or shrunk windows. It's amazing how small things pop up here and there. The other short-term challenge I have is getting up to speed on downloading Linux-based software to Linux-based systems, like CentOS. Yeah.

I'm excited about this, and I feel stoked that I can teach this course, but I'm also feeling a bit overwhelmed. Having said that, this is just too cool to not work hard and keep learning.

Thoughts on Cryptocat: Optional Course Viewing

Over the past couple days, I have been watching a fair number of videos about hacking, intelligence, privacy. Fortunately, I ended up watching Nadim Kobeissi's presentation for SigInt 2013: "The Social and Technical Challenges of Making Crypto Accessible to Everyone." I'm not a hacker, I'm not a crypto guy, and I'm not a coder, so some parts of this presentation went over my head. The most important point--as a user, crypto newbie, and citizen--is that Nadim's emphasis is on making sure normal people finally have access to easy-to-use tools that encrypt our messages and information.


Okay, yes, CryptoCat has been cracked, and much of the above presentation discusses those issues. Instead of blaming others, Nadim owns the errors and apologizes. And he moves forward. Far more important than any of the failures is, as he indicates, that this experiment in making accessible cryptography keeps going forward. 

Again, finally.

As an outside watching this, it felt like someone was finally inviting us non-tech, non-coder, non-hacker folks to the discussion. As users, we have a lot to offer the crypto and hacker communities--if they are interested. 

To support my ongoing interest, I've located a couple other CryptoCat related videos.

Here is Nadim's September 2013 presentation at TEDx in Montreal. This seems to be a collection of his core positions.

RT interviews Nadim about CryptoCat.

Tekzilla's Brief Overview of CryptoCat.

Further SigInt13 Q&A with Nadim re: CryptoCat issues. Check out 15:00 where he discusses the balance between usability and bullet-proof encryption.

CryptoCat at Google Internet at Liberty 2012 

David Solomonoff interviews Nadim

What I find fascinating is that people get upset about the software not being perfect. It's been in development a short amount of time and, from what I can tell, nobody claimed perfection. It seems to work much of the time and they continue to improve it. This is what is important. Plus, CryptoCat even explains in their opening windows and in all their information that only using CC does not guarantee privacy. Instead, it seems that more education about layering security procedures would be useful. Of course users want a one-stop-shop solution, but with a bit of education, that might change.

The more people that use CC, spot errors, share those, and try to break it, the better. Only when put through multiple trials can the weaknesses or problems be found. Once this has been done enough, perhaps CC will be able to shift from encryption for non-critical or life-threatening uses to use by anyone needing encryption.