October 24, 2002

Make Your Own Bush Speech

You know those little refrigerator magnet collections you can write poetry with? Now there's a site where you can piece sentences together word by word and hear Dubya say them. This could be fun.

October 23, 2002

Seeing C-SPAN

The first high point of today’s advisory board meeting was a field trip to C-SPAN. We met two of the on-air folks who do Washington Journal every morning, something June and I often wake up to. No sign of Brian Lamb, who to me serves as a great example of what one person can do with skill, persistence and vision.
Washington Journal has the Capitol building as backdrop, a view so perfect that it almost seems as though it must be greenscreened in. As we toured the studio where that takes place every morning I was gooing and gahing so much about it that one of the other board members asked if I’d like my picture taken sitting where the host sits.

So there I am, so hurriedly squatting there that there was no time to straighten my tie or wrestle my coat into order. The tour had already moved on so this felt slightly illicit. Quite a thrill.

The afternoon was spent actually responding to Cable in the Classroom’s plans and having our brains picked clean. Lots of good ideas flying around.

October 22, 2002

Another African Cab Driver Story

OK, I've written before about the Somali guy who often turns up to take me to the airport in San Diego. Tonight I'm in DC for the first meeting of Cable in the Classroom's National Education Advisory Board. I noticed the driver's accent the moment he spoke. Not the usual Nigerian dialect... this one was sparking off synapses in me that hadn't been stoked in years. "Na Salon yu come out?" I asked him, which is to say, "Are you from Sierra Leone?"

His jaw dropped. "What are you saying?", he asked. No doubt my accent is bad after 30 years of not speaking it, but also he was completely unprepared to have a white guy talk to him in Krio. We had a great time talking about Sierra Leone and in just a few minutes I was able to dredge up memories of some old Krio proverbs and the afternoon greetings in Temne. The four other board members crammed into the back seat were somewhat mystified, I think.

Oh, and the board meeting was cool, too. What an interesting collection of people! Tomorrow we're touring C-SPAN before settling down to work.

October 18, 2002

The President I Wish We Had

Thanks to MeFi, I just learned of the existence of "West Wing" Watch: A guide for the discriminating viewer of my favorite show, and Television Without Pity, another site. I'll add them to my Thursday morning surf routine.

October 17, 2002

Time Passes

From Pedro Meyer, an Argentine photographer:

"On June 17th, every year, the family goes through a private ritual: we photograph ourselves to stop a fleeting moment, the arrow of time passing by.

I wish we had done this ourselves. A nice way to savor life's unfolding. [from GeekPress]

October 15, 2002

Shocking: Microsoft Caught in a Lie!

By now you've probably heard about Microsoft's short-lived answer to the Apple Switcher ads. Daring Fireball summarizes the story and points out the obvious bogosity of Microsoft's version of what happened. It's disheartening to see such amateurish gamesmanship on Redmond's part, but more disturbing is how slack the mainstream media were in getting at the facts. Whatever happened to that Woodward and Bernstein fervor?

October 09, 2002

Oregon or Bust

I'm heading to Portland this evening, thus knocking one more state off my list. Unfortunately all I'll see will be the usual airport->hotel->lab->airport circuit, though I hope to have lunch with an old friend. More later.

October 08, 2002

Suddenly, I'm Not Half the Man I Used to Be

Well, that's an exaggeration, but it's official today: I've lost 20 pounds since July! Another 20 and I'll again be the guy that June married.

Only grayer.

Nuclear weapons? Imminent threat? Worth throwing our 18 year olds at?

Here's a detailed analysis of last night's speech by the Commando-in-Chief. Lots of data missing for such a momentous undertaking. Where's the beef?

October 07, 2002

Tablets for Schools

A UK company has announced a Tablet PC designed for use in schools. Some of its features:

  • Mark homework by annotating directly over common file formats.
  • Collect homework, naturally hand mark it, and return it to their network folder with your comments attached. (when used with our RM Community Connect 3 network).
  • Include hand drawn sketches, diagrams and drawings quickly and easily to any assignment.
  • Gather data and take detailed notes during?field trips, writing and drawing your notes in a format you can use later on.
  • Present a lesson to the whole-class, while facing them, using Easiteach Studio.
  • Prepare lessons from the comfort of your home, on the train and in the staffroom.
  • Read and annotate electronic texts during study or discussions.
  • Notes are stored in Microsoft's new ink format, and can be searched later as if they were text.

What's interesting about this is the price: around $1250 if my conversion is correct. That sets it apart from the Tablet PCs coming out next month which are pricier than laptops and aimed at the mine's-bigger-than-yours business user. Once these get down to $300 or so, we're onto something.

Why Don't They Call it Goofy?

From BBC NEWS: Large world found beyond Pluto

"A new planet-like object has been found circling the Sun more than one and a half billion kilometres beyond Pluto. Quaoar, as it has been dubbed, is about 1,280 kilometres across (800 miles) and is the biggest find in the Solar System since Pluto itself 72 years ago. The object is about one-tenth the diameter of Earth and circles the Sun every 288 years. It is half Pluto's size, but apparently larger than the ninth planet's moon, Charon. "

Why do I think this is cool? It gives me something further out to anticipate. I've always been fascinated by Pluto because of how little we know about it, and now there's something even mysteriouser. Bring on the closeup photos! Let's get a Kodak Brownie out there right away!

Crash Go the Satellites

The birth and demise of an idea: Teledesic's 'Internet in the sky'

"This is how a plan to take over the world ended with a whimper.

Last week, Teledesic laid off all but 10 employees and suspended its satellite contract.

With that, the Bellevue company started by Craig McCaw and Bill Gates deep-sixed its plans to build a global broadband satellite network."

Very disappointing. For the last two years I've been talking about Teledesic in my keynotes. It's one of those things that would have changed everything fundamentally, especially in the way it would bring the internet to remote spots that will never see a cable truck. Like Iridium, this looks like a technology that was ahead of its time. Blame it on the economy, and you can blame the economy on whomever you choose. Drat!

October 06, 2002

Fanmail from Some Flounders?

This just arrived via email from a Catholic school in Australia:

Becuase of you , we have to design a g#y webquest for school and its boring and i dont like it, u shouldnt have invented webquests!!!!!!!!!!!!

Becuase of you , we have to design a g#y webquest for school and its boring and i dont like it, u shouldnt have invented webquests!!!!!!!!!!!!

Becuase of you , we have to design a g#y webquest for school and its boring and i dont like it, u shouldnt have invented webquests!!!!!!!!!!!!

... and so on for another 50 times or so. It's heart warming to know that I've touched the next generation.