If the shoe fits…

February 6, 2011 | 1 Comment

As I sat down to my feast of unhealthy Super Bowl snacks and began the second quarter of the Steelers vs. Packers game, I heard my daughter coughing. I ran faster than Carl Lewis (OK, that’s a stretch) to check if she was OK. She’s getting over the typical preschooler cold and can’t seem to kick the germs. After I gave her a tissue it all came rushing back to me…

A red shoe. A tiny red shoe. Tiny. So small this shoe, yet the power it wielded! I never truly appreciated how easy it was for adults to control the air coming in and out of their nose until Cali stuck a tiny red shoe up her nose last Super Bowl Sunday. She was a little over 3 years old at the time and didn’t quite understand what it meant to “blow your nose”. An ambulance ride later we were at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, where we spent a couple of hours trying to teach Cali how to blow her nose. After which, the doctor spent about another hour trying to get the little red shoe from out of my daughter’s nose.

I probably lost about 10 years from my life because of that night, but I can’t help myself from laughing a little as my daughter blows her nose into the tissue I just gave her. Lesson learned: Throw out every tiny princess shoe in the house. Celebrate every milestone.

red princess shoe






Yes, we kept the shoe.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve never taken it easy on Apple. As I’d mentioned in a previous post about the iPad, I haven’t had iTunes in quite some time (and wasn’t too thrilled about having to re-download it.) Back story — there was some bad mojo with iTunes upgrades randomly deleting my music library (this was back before it took 5 minutes to back up your entire hard drive.) I also don’t like that Apple could really care less what their followers want in a product. In any case, and after my Zune officially bit the dust, I have gone back to iTunes. This past weekend I took some time to sync all of my CD’s (that haven’t been scratched to hell) with my iTunes account and, as of today *gulp*, I have made my first “real” song purchases. I use the word “real” because I actually did purchase the soundtrack to Disney’s Tangled for my 4-year-old last month (but that doesn’t really count, right??)

Anyway, being that I didn’t have an extra $1000+ laying around to get back most of my audio library I had to narrow down my choices to songs that I wouldn’t mind listening to again and again (and again). I thought this was a pretty big deal and wanted to document my first purchases with a post (and give me a place to watch their music videos/live performances). So, here’s my first five iTunes song purchases in the past 8 years (in video form):

Tighten UpThe Black Keys

Call It OffTegan and Sara

Gold Guns GirlsMetric

Glass CeilingMetric

Too Little Too LateMetric

What I learned from my experience with iTunes (thusfar):

a.) iTunes for non-Mac computers is much easier to use than it used to be.
b.) I wish they had a monthly unlimited download pass.
c.) I must give credit to Pandora radio for introducing me to these awesome songs (via Paper Planes radio.)
d.) I must see Metric in concert!

Burn Baby, Burn!

December 13, 2010 | Comments Off on Burn Baby, Burn!

Finally, I am grateful that I’m no longer a car owner! Why? Well, starting this July in NYC, if your car catches fire you will have to fork over $415 to the FDNY to have them put it out! That’s only if you aren’t injured in the process, because that will cost you $490!! It’s called — the “crash tax”.

This back-door tax was meant reduce the tax burden to your average tax payer by placing the burden on those responsible. One problem — All parties to an accident will be charged the fee, not just the party at fault.

The Bloomberg administration points to 55 cities that are already collecting the “crash tax,” including Toledo, Ohio and Schenectady, Utica and Troy, New York (http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2010/dec/10/bloomberg-backs-crash-tax/).

I certainly understand that tough budgetary times call for tough budgetary measures, but I wonder if this “crash tax” will stop people from reporting accidents.

photo © 2006 PDiBenedetto

Perhaps NYC drivers should replace their tire irons with fire extinguishers??!

When I hear the word “Blackboard”, two images come to mind. The first is that of my old TV/VCR combo from about fifteen years ago. It was pretty sweet to use the same remote control the TV and operate the VCR, but sooner or later either the VCR or the TV would go out and – hey, you never did get to catch the end of that movie did you?! (P.S. – Don’t worry, it was an M. Night Shyamalan film so it doesn’t really matter anyway.)

The second image is of Time Warner Cable in Brooklyn, NY. As much as I love not having any other cable provider from which to get service… OK, how about I’ll just stop there.

And pick back up in May of 2009 when Blackboard picked up ANGEL Learning, Inc., a leading developer of e-learning software. For the hefty price of $95 million, Blackboard acquired ANGEL’s product portfolio which included the ANGEL Learning Management System, ANGEL ePortfolio, and ANGEL Managed Hosting.

Fast forward to a little over a year later and we have another couple of acquisitions to add to the list – Wimba and Elluminate. Professor Anthony Picciano let us know his thoughts soon after the acquisition was announced, but the question on my mind was why on earth would Blackboard want to acquire two companies that essentially do the same thing?? Well, I got to learn the answer to that question and much more after reading Blackboard’s reference article, “Elluminiate and Wimba Join Blackboard: Frequently Asked Questions”.

Perhaps I need to give Blackboard some credit because according to their letter to clients they plan to, “sustain the goal of improving collaboration broadly, rather than exclusively for those using Blackboard learning management products.” While I really like the sound of this, I wonder how long it will occur with the way Blackboard keeps eating up the competition. Watch out Desire2Learn, BeehiveMind, and Moodle — you could be next!

I have to add that my opinion of Blackboard is largely shaped by my experience with Blackboard as a student. I finished my undergraduate degree online at CUNY and what I remember the most was printing everything out ahead of time to prepare for the inevitable ‘outages’ that would occur throughout the semester. While I don’t have experience using Elluminate, Professor Adam Wandt’s interview about the product provides a nice picture of what they have to offer. I do, however, have some experience using Wimba Pronto and the main reason I liked this product was simply because I could access it without having to log into Blackboard.

Some Central Michigan University faculty do not utilize Blackboard, even with their upgrade to Blackboard 9. Mathematics professor Tibor Marcinek dislikes using Blackboard because of its “closed” nature saying, “I’ve had students in the past who were not enrolled in my class ask for the materials of the course.” Marcinek instead posts course information on his personal website, which is accessible to current and former students at any time.

I do appreciate Blackboard Inc. having the vision to incorporate synchronous features to make it a more robust CMS/LMS, but the big questions is, what will happen to these features the next time Blackboard is down? (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find that Q & A in the “Elluminiate and Wimba Join Blackboard: Frequently Asked Questions” reference article.)

That’s right, go ahead and jailbreak that iPhone — it’s legal now! Today marked a great day not only for smartphone users and PC gamers, but also for educators and the disabled!!

As many news sources reported today, the U.S. government has approved six new rules that are exempt from 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). More important than the rule that allows users to jailbreak their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Evo, etc… is the rule that allows amateurs and educators to use short video clips for noncommercial and educational purposes.

Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:
(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos

So what does this mean? Well for starters it means that people can post their video mash-ups on YouTube without worrying whether or not they will be taken down for breaking copyright law. It also means that the Center for Social Media has some updating to do! Overall, this new rule give us (the consumers) more freedom to actively participate in media as producers. This is definitely a change I can believe in.

Another new rule I can rally behind is the ability to break open eBooks if they don’t support being read by screen readers.

Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.

This means that blind people can unlock their eBooks and use them with read-aloud software without fear of legal action. This is great news for the blind or visually impaired and overall, a step in the right direction for ensuring that technologies are truly accessible to all. Kudos to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)!

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