Friday, July 27, 2007

Must See for Congress

I'm almost finished with Larry Lessig's excellent book, Free Culture.

Lessig continues to educate me about copyright law, the history of copyright, and the total clueless-ness that our lawmakers are exhibiting in the realm of copyright protection.

His book is excellent, but I can't imagine that any seat holder in Congress would ever take the time to educate themselves about this topic, so I have little hope that any of them have or ever will read it.

So, here is a 30 minute "cliffy," an abridged version of the book on SlideShare that is a lecture by Lessig, with minimalist PPT slides to help you follow along. Every person serving in Congress should spend 30 minutes educating themselves about this topic. BTW, this is only the tip of the iceberg, the book contains much more information that he couldn't fit into a 30-minute presentation.

This also illustrates a use of the new SlideShare feature of embedded audio, which makes it a much better service.

Thanks to Ross Mayfield for the tip on this particular SlideShare presentation.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

International Reach

The most fascinating part of blogging (for me) is to see how many people from other parts of the world find one of my posts or somehow stumble across something that I had to say. I'm not saying anything about the quality of the experience that they had, just that they visited my blog for one reason or another. For example, here are the last 18 visitors today to this blog:

  1. Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
  2. Upland, California, United States
  3. Caldecote, Slough, United Kingdom
  4. Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
  5. Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  6. Mechelen, Antwerpen, Belgium
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Washington, District of Columbia, United States
  9. Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
  11. Calcutta, West Bengal, India
  12. Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
  13. Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
  14. Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
  15. Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  16. Reykjavík, Gullbringusysla, Iceland
  17. Skopje, Karpos, Macedonia
  18. United Kingdom
8 from the U.S. (6 states plus the D.C.) and 10 from foreign countries. I have never been to Turkey, Spain, Belgium, the U.K., India, Iceland, or Macedonia. But my blog has.
(Creative Commons photo by Chaz Odalaigh)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Internet Crash 2007

This is funny, not hilarious, but funny.

Here is the direct link to YouTube.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lapsing Into a Comma

One thing that blogging has done for me is to make me more conscious about my writing style. I want my writing to be engaging as well as technically accurate and above all it should be an example of proper American English usage. That previous sentence is a perfect example of how I’m not quite certain sometimes when I write; in this case I am uncertain that I followed appropriate punctuation. I could always break it into two sentences, but I’m more of a run-on sentence kind-of-guy. So shoot me (see, I like fragments also).

I’ve never been an English teacher nor did I ever major in English. I always was an A-student in English classes, but that was so long ago that it feels like a previous life. In an effort to improve my writing style, I have been poring over (or is it pouring? I know, do you?) “Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print – and How to Avoid Them.” (Amazon link) It was written by Bill Walsh, the copy desk editor of the Business Desk for the Washington Post.

This is definitely the most interesting style book that I’ve ever read, and maybe the only one that I feel compelled to read more than once. I think that it is so helpful that I am going to occasionally give you small snippets here in the blog as a way of spreading the knowledge, and particularly in an effort to drive it home for my own learning. It seems that I remember the things that I write about much better than the things I read about.

To start with I am going to give you four common inaccuracies or misconceptions. All of these are found in pages 200-212 of Walsh’s book. This is where the audience interaction portion of the blog comes into play. Please answer the embedded poll questions below and then leave comments on this blog post to answer those “why” questions or to argue your point. After a few comments have been posted I’ll chime in with what Mr. Walsh deems to be the correct answer, or at least what I believe he would say based on my reading of his book.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Welcome GAFA and CAFA

This morning was the kickoff for the International Wood Firing Conference & Workshop at Lake Superior College in Duluth. We are hosting about a dozen students and three faculty from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA) and about 6 students and one faculty member from Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. This promises to be a truly great ceramics conference and cultural exchange.

Congratulations to Dorian Beaulieu, Jim Berg, and several others for helping to pull this off. I truly enjoyed my time at GAFA and have also enjoyed two trips to Beijing. How exciting to have them all here in Duluth.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Podcasting Workshop

One of the technology workshops that I have been wanting to deliver for several months now has finally seen the light of day. It is titled Podcasting without Fruit. I created a list of resources using Google Reader that is publicly shared for anyone who has an interest in Windows-based options for creating and delivering podcasts.

"Podcasting without Fruit" resources.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Beijing Normal Motto

The image on the left comes from a t-shirt I bought at Beijing Normal University. The second image below is a picture of a large stone slab on the campus bearing the same Chinese characters. This is the motto for BNU, which was founded as a teacher's college. When I asked people in China to tell me what it means they told me that there is not just a single translation. gives the following: Study well, teach others. Be your best, set an example.

This site says: Behave to be the model, learn to be the master.

Another variation: studying to teach and acting to example

The following is my own choice for best translation, sort of the consensus opinion of those I talked to at BNU about what the motto means in English.

Learn, so as to teach others. Act, to serve as an example to all.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Another free web poll

Here is an example of a free polling site. Make your own polls and embed them in any webpage at PollDaddy. All free.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Club Penguin Zentation

Here's yet another online presentation option, this one called Zentation. It combines video with PowerPoint slides, although I'm going to experiment with other options besides PPT since I am trying to be cured of that particular disease. I first learned about Zentation at the Presentation Zen site that I frequent. The linked post has a good example of an embedded Zentation created by Guy Kawasaki. I've never been a big fan of talking head videos, but seeing a skilled presenter on stage working an audience is not a bad way to go, and the slides add very much to the presentation allowing you to pretty much see the presentation the way the audience saw it. You can view the Kawasaki presentation full-screen here.

It seems to me that this has the potential to become too busy. Video on the left and very busy slides on the right would be a bit much for most people. I think it would be very important to have minimal slides that add to the video experience, but not detract from it.

From their FAQ page: "Zentation offers the richest media on the web for video and presentations. Zentation provides a way to synchronize video uploaded to Google Video with your PowerPoint. Zentation's patent pending technology allows for the easy synchronization of your video and graphics without any technical knowledge."

I created a free account and made my first zentation last night. It took me about an hour or so since I didn't have any PowerPoint slides for the Club Penguin video that I made with my son, so I took some quick screenshots and tried to make the slides somewhat relevant to what he was talking about on the video.

You can see my first effort (full-screen) here. I've used the video before here, but I like it so much that I've used it again for this experiment. There are two different embed sizes provided after you create a zentation. Below is the small one since this blog template does not have much real estate from left to right. The other one would be more appropriate for wider blogs or other web pages, such as inside an online course.

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