Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Engineering is Hard

Some fairly simplistic analysis from Mark Bauerlein. He lists the starting salaries for a number of engineering degrees and wonders why more students aren't completing bachelor's degrees in engineering. As someone who actually teaches engineering, I would point to a number of factors that limit the number of students pursuing degrees in engineering. Number one on the list is difficulty. The entry level math course for engineering is Calculus I and many colleges are moving to make Calc II the first math course. How many of our students are ready for Calc I their first semester? Even students that excel at math may opt of a business degree, which they perceive as "easier."

I have a colleague who worships Bauerlein and his book "The Dumbest Generation." While the book makes some good points, I think in the end Bauerlein underestimates what our kids can do. I would argue that our kids live in a digital world, but many of us are still teaching them in an analog world. Bauerlein points to kids immersion in digital and electronic media and their inability to recall facts and figures that have traditionally been taught in schools. I would argue that this has nothing to do with technology - think of Jay Leno's "jay-walking" segment and the number of adults (not digital natives) that can't answer simple questions. Our kids can do things with technology that earlier generations couldn't even dream of. So what do we do? We bring them into class and tell them to turn off their cell phones, put away their laptops, and take out a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. Maybe if we occasionally engaged them with technology, they could learn the Gettysburg address and some of the other facts and figures that we use to measure knowledge in our analog worlds. And maybe we could start measuring knowledge in new ways.

Salary by Major
The National Association of Colleges and Employers has released Winter 2010 results of its ongoing survey of starting salaries for different bachelor degrees. Here are the top ten:

Petroleum Engineering $86,220

Chemical Engineering $65,142

Mining and Mineral Engineering $64,552

Computer Science $61,205

Computer Engineering $60,879

Electrical/Electronics & Communications Engineering $59,074

Mechanical Engineering $58,392

Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering $57,734

Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering $57,231

Information Sciences & Systems $54,038

A summary appears here.

Why, one wonders, haven't the number of bachelor's degrees in engineering shot upward in the last 10 years?

Innovation? You Be the Judge

An interesting replacement for those sleeves that come with a hot cup of coffee. From the video, I'm not sure these are perfected - they look more like art than a functional sleeve.
1st Prototypes of the thin stackable Heatswell Coffee Cup with Hot Beverage Activated insulating band. 100% real working prototypes. No trick photography! For more info...

Via Make

Is the Institution Irrelevant?

Karl Kapp left an interesting comment on my post "If You Don't Want Our Department, ...":

This is very interesting, as technology increases an individual's ability to reach more and more people at a cost effective level, the influence and power of education is moving away from institutions and toward this case an individual department. I see this trend increasing.

If institutions don't start to value their faculty...faculty will begin teaching independently.

I agree with Karl, this does demonstrate that education is shifting away from the institution to the individual - in this case the faculty. I would go further and say that trends such as MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative portend a future where the institution is even less relevant and even disintermediated, resulting in a direct link between faculty and students.

The situation in Florida probably happened because the circumstances where perfect - while one school was shutting down their program, a nearby school was starting a new program with a new building and the resources to bring faculty in support of the program. The proximity of the schools contributed as well, the faculty did not have to relocate, the faculty and their reputations were probably known to the new institution. I'm sure this is just the beginning of this trend, but I think there's real potential for online institutions (U of Phoenix, Capella U, etc) to cherry-pick individual faculty and even gobble up entire departments. Even bricks-and-mortar institutions with growing online programs could get into the act.

Thanks Karl!

If You Don't Want Our Department, ...

We'll Go to Another College
When the engineering-technology department at the University of Central Florida learned last June that it was on a list of programs to be cut, it didn't fight to the death. It switched.

Next summer all but three of the department's 17 faculty and staff members will leave the research university in Orlando for a community college 45 minutes up the highway. Daytona State College has a shiny new building waiting for them, with positions that maintain their salaries and tenure.

Technological Detachment Phenomenon

Really fascinating article - well worth reading. Students don't think it's cheating if they are using technology.

High-Tech Cheating on Homework Abounds, and Professors Are Partly to Blame
Students routinely cheat on their homework, and professors often look the other way.

While most students and professors seem to view cheating on examinations as a serious moral lapse, both groups appear more cavalier about dishonesty on homework. And technology has given students more tools than ever to find answers in unauthorized ways—whether downloading online solution manuals or instant-messaging friends for answers. The latest surveys by the Center for Academic Integrity found that 22 percent of students say they have cheated on a test or exam, but about twice as many—43 percent—have engaged in 'unauthorized collaboration' on homework.

And cheating on an engineering problem set could be the perfect crime, in that it can be done without leaving a trace. Students in a large lecture course based on a best-selling textbook can often find the answer online, complete with all the math it took to get there.

How can a professor prove that the cheating students didn't work things out on their own?

Enter David E. Pritchard, a physics professor who teaches introductory courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (when he's not in his laboratory devising new ways to use lasers to reveal the curious behavior of supercooled atoms).

Mr. Pritchard did detective work on his students worthy of a CSI episode. Because he uses an online homework system in his courses, he realized he could add a detection system to look for unusual behavior patterns. If a student took less than a minute to answer each of several complex questions and got them all right, for instance, the system flagged that as likely cheating. 'Since one minute is insufficient time to read the problem and enter the several answers typically required, we infer that the quick-solver group is copying the answer from somewhere,' he wrote in a paper last month in the free online journal Physical Review Special Topics—Physics Education Research.

He and his research team found about 50 percent more cheating than students reported in anonymous surveys over a period of four semesters. In the first year he did his hunting, about 11 percent of homework problems appeared to be copied.

Mr. Pritchard has no interest in becoming a homework cop. What he really wants to do is understand the minds of the offenders. The issue, he says, is far more nuanced than a story of "Top Students Caught Cheating." He told me that the dishonesty reveals flaws in the very way science is taught, and indicates an unhelpful spirit of "us versus them" between professors and students.

He believes that the most important part of learning physics comes by doing, and so students who outsource their homework learn little. His studies of his students prove his point. The cheaters generally perform far worse than other students come test time—students who frequently copied their homework scored two letter grades lower on comparable material on the exam.
Photos by Ben+Sam and Mr_Stein

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

iPads in Higher Ed

That didn't take long. I figured Duke would be the first or maybe Abilene Christian would be the first to adopt iPads. And so it begins... Seton Hill University to give all students an iPad

Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania has announced that starting in Fall, 2010, every full-time student will get an iPad as part of the Seton Hill Griffin (that's the school's mascot) Technology Advantage Program. According to TUAW reader Dirk, who tipped us to this announcement, 'Students will be able to download their textbooks to their iPads from the iBook Store. In addition, iPads can be used as phones and for air and file sharing, as well as note-taking.'

Sunday, March 28, 2010

iPad Applications

Some great screenshots of iPad applications from the Boy Genius Report.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not Your Father's Book - Very Clever Video ...

on the future of publishing. I do think publishing will be transformed in the next few years, taking particular advantage of a new class of devices (iPad, Slate, etc) and the possibilities of digital media/content. I also think we underestimate our kids and our students - many of us are still living and working in an analog world and expect our students and kids to do likewise. This video is a perfect example of what kids can do when we empower them and let them loose in the digital world. This doesn't mean we abandon our old-world analog skills - students will still need to be conversant and capable in this world as well. The future is going to reward those (students and faculty) who can straddle both worlds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Five Days

Are you troubled by students in your classes distracted by laptops, Facebook, iPods, cellphones, text messaging, and the Internet? You might want to try this novel approach from The University of Minnesota's Heather LaMarre - challenge your students to go a 5 days without media or gadgets. I can't do it for one day ... sigh.

Toughest college test: No cell phone, no Facebook
Heather LaMarre calls her students 'the wired generation.' The University of Minnesota professor sees that they don't listen to an iPod, talk on a cell phone or surf on a laptop -- they do all three at once. She reads articles about their numbness to technology and knows that if one e-mails her at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday and she doesn't write back by 11:30, he'll freak out.

So she did something about it.

Last week's class assignment: Five days without media or gadgets that didn't exist before 1984.
[emphasis added - MQ]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Apple Owns The Mobile Web

... for now.

63percent.pngSTAT OF THE DAY

63% of mobile web consumption is performed on Apple's iPhone.

Still, Google's Android OS is starting to gain share after a couple years of lagging far behind Apple.  Google's share increased about 8% in February 2010 to 15.2% of the market and has nearly doubled in the past year.  Apple's share decreased 3.2% from January to February.

Sci-Fi Fridays?

Maybe that should be the theme for my blog on Fridays. Here's another great bit of Sci-Fi. If you remember the old Tron movie, here's the trailer for the upcoming Tron Legacy. Looks good.

When Cars Were Cool ...


Via clusterflock

PadNotes for the iPad

This looks like a really great app for the iPad. The video is a bit long - 6 minutes - but show lot's of potential applications for Padnotes.

Via Gizmodo

Geek Alert: Battlestar Galactica Meets the Beastie Boys

If you're a fan of the sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica, you'll love this little video mashup. Very well done - this would be a great trailer or commercial for the show!

Via Gizmodo

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Does a College President Blog About?

It turns out, quite a bit. Please take a look at the blog of Dr. Randall VanWagoner, President of Mohawk Valley Community College - part of the SUNY system. Dr. VanWagoner is unique in that he is a college president writing a public blog and also because he offers a compelling, often unvarnished view of community colleges from his unique perspective as a president. In this latest post he discusses his efforts to visit superintendents from his service school districts. This is an amazing outreach activity from a college president and can only serve to better inform his decision making and enhance the relationship between the school districts and the college. His observation of the number of Smartboards in the school districts is interesting, as progress integrating the same technology into his own college. We haven't bought into Smartboards here at our college, instead we're focused on ubiquity of "level-one" technology classrooms, which include an instructor PC connected to a ceiling-mounted projector. I'd be interested to hear from VanWagoner the required professional development for the Smartoards; the level of faculty adoption; and any measures of success they've been able to document.

I think this is a great tool for a college president to communicate and provides an amazing level of transparency. Kudos to Dr. VanWagoner!

Over the past year, I have had the tremendous good fortune to visit with the superintendent of nearly every school district in Oneida County (I'll complete my tour later this month).  I did this in preparation for our 3rd annual superintendent’s breakfast that will take place March 18th.  The possibility was too tempting – to get to walk the halls of every high school, sometimes the middle schools and junior highs, and sometimes even the elementary schools in every district.  The experience has allowed me to see first-hand what MVCC students of tomorrow are experiencing today…and think about what their expectations will be when they arrive at our doors.

An early indicator came in my first visit when the Superintendent told me that they had installed smartboard technology in every elementary and junior high classroom and were scheduled to finish the high school in the fall.  I later walked through many schools where smartboards were in every classroom in the district.  Fortunately, we are well on our way with smartboards and related faculty training in the active use of the technology – clearly, many of our future students will be expecting it. Although the classroom furniture was often the porcelain tablet armchairs, they were often in mixed arrangements and, as a percentage, more classrooms had tables and chairs than we currently have.  Our recent efforts to update classroom furniture need to continue and help create a more tangible difference between a high school and college classroom experience.

RSA 1024-bit Private Key Encryption Cracked

safe.jpgWow - cracking a 1024 bit key. This is pretty impressive. Makes we wonder the capabilities the NSA has.

RSA 1024-bit private key encryption cracked -
Three University of Michigan computer scientists say they have found a way to exploit a weakness in RSA security technology used to protect everything from media players to smartphones and ecommerce servers.

RSA authentication is susceptible, they say, to changes in the voltage supply to a private key holder. The researchers – Andrea Pellegrini, Valeria Bertacco and Todd Austin - outline their findings in a paper titled ‘Fault-based attack of RSA authentication’  to be presented 10 March at the Design, Automation and Test in Europe conference.

'The RSA algorithm gives security under the assumption that as long as the private key is private, you can't break in unless you guess it. We've shown that that's not true,' said Valeria Bertacco, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, in a statement

I'll have to read the paper to learn more about how this is done, but I'm fascinated by the idea of a varying electric current to "stress out" the computer.
While guessing the 1,000-plus digits of binary code in a private key would take unfathomable hours, the researchers say that by varying electric current to a secured computer using an inexpensive purpose-built device they were able to stress out the computer and figure out the 1,024-bit private key in about 100 hours – all without leaving a trace.

The researchers in their paper outline how they made the attack on a SPARC system running Linux. They also say they have come up with a solution, which involves a cryptographic technique called salting that involves randomly juggling a private key's digits.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Can We Go To McDonalds?

Great infographic that really puts into perspective just how McDonalds locations there are.
A Disturbance In The Force « Weather Sealed
In this and the following graphic, each individual restaurant location has equal power. The entity that controls each point casts the most aggregate burger force upon it, as calculated by the inverse-square law – kind of like a chart outlining the gravitational wells of galactic star clusters, but in an alternate, fast food universe.

By far, the largest pocket of resistance is Sonic Drive-In’s south-central stronghold: more than 900 restaurants packed into the state of Texas alone. Sheer density is the key to victory!
Via The Daily Dish

Avoid Death By PowerPoint - Respect Your Audience


Please take a look at Web 2.0 Tools for Teaching: Avoid Death By PowerPoint - Respect Your Audience. In this post, we've embedded three videos of great presenters in action (Dick Hardt, Lawrence Lessig, and Guy Kawasaki).

Monday, March 08, 2010

Video of HP's Slate

They are really pushing "access to the full web" and an "open ecosystem" - clearly to differentiate themselves from Apple's iPad. In particular, they highlight the ability to view flash-based video and play flash-based games and run Adobe Air apps. I'll be interested to see some hands-on reviews and how quickly they can get this to market.

Via Daring Fireball.

Tufte on Microsoft's Courier Concept

Great observations from Tufte on the Microsoft Courier. I love the video, but I think it's important to remember that this is still just a concept video - there are no products - yet. Microsoft should focus on getting the Windows Phone 7 Series (wonder what Tufte thinks of that clunky name?) out the door first. Click the Engadget link below to view photos and video of the Courier concept.

Ask E.T.: Microsoft's Courier digital journal
Here are videos and stills about Courier from engadget.

I think Courier (or at least the Courier pitch) looks very good, particularly its sense of hand and physicality. Courier appears to manage gracefully all kinds of information inputs, has an excellent metaphor (a notebook, a journal), and is crisp and clean. And it is all about content.

With its double-page spread design, the Courier metaphor is also the book, with obvious promise for electronic books (which will require a reasonably high-resolution screen).

It looks like a useful tool for artists and designers, and thus Courier should communicate with the Apple desktop. Courier will be pretty lonely if it is exclusive to Windows. Or maybe the cloud, which one hopes is OS agnostic, will cause appropriate communication and integration.

Probably the greatest challenge in interface design today is a journal notebook. For years, Microsoft, Apple, and many classes in industrial design have attempted to design a journal notebook. I hope that Courier survives intact, coherent, and focused during its journey through Microsoft, a journey with lots of possibilities for messing it up.

Also how close is the relationship between what is shown in the videos and the actual product in use?

A Network-Connected Refrigerator

Not sure this is the right approach. People don't congregate around the fridge to read news, e-mail or weather reports. Maybe if the panel were wireless and could be removed and propped up on the counter.

internet fridge.jpgSamsung unveils fridge with built-in Internet - Yahoo! News
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Thursday unveiled a hi-tech alternative to the fridge magnet -- a refrigerator with Internet access that can display family photos or recipes on a screen.

The door of the 'Zipel e-Diary' features a 10-inch (25 cm) touch screen equipped with locally developed wi-fi software, allowing users to monitor Internet news and weather and store or display pictures and data.

It also can send and receive pictures from mobile phones.

The Zipel e-Diary, priced at 2.49 million won (2,174 US dollars), targets domestic consumers and Samsung has no immediate plan to sell it abroad.

Comments on Blackboard Acquisition

A recent comment on my post The Blackboard Juggernaut Keeps Rolling included this point:
Apple or Microsoft could easily compete more evenly with Blackboard if they wanted to, but they choose not to enter a lucrative market.

If you examine the market caps of the three companies (Blackboard, Microsoft, and Apple) you'll see that Blackboard isn't even a blip on the radar of the other two. To Microsoft and Apple, the LMS is not a lucrative market. In fact, I asked someone in the LMS industry recently why there wasn't any SEC scrutiny of the ANGEL/Blackboard merger/acquisition. His answer - it's too small a deal!
market cap.png

The Blackboard Juggernaut Keeps Rolling

They bought competitors WebCT and Angel and they crippled competitor Desire2Learn with a costly lawsuit. More recently, they purchased an up-and-coming mobile development company. Now they're buying a mobile messaging company. I'm not happy about this, but I think it's a brilliant strategy by Blackboard. They are consolidating the LMS-market - moving from being the dominant Learning Management System to the only commercial LMS left standing. Can you say monopoly? In addition to that consolidation, Blackboard is working to control the entire ecosystem that surrounds their LMS - mobile apps and mobile messaging. In the end, they will be able to offer an entire portfolio of products to customers - really an entire system that no one else will be able to compete with. Not good for consumers and not good for continued innovation. Maybe they'll buy SecondLife next.

Blackboard Buys Mobile Messaging Company Saf-T-Net For $33 Million
Blackboard, a company that designs an education software for school groups, has acquired mobile messaging provider Saf-T-Net for $33 million. Saf-T-Net develops AlertNow, which is a mobile messaging technology aimed to the K-12 marketplace.

AlertNow’s technology delivers voice, e-mail and emergency SMS messages at a rate up to 2.5 million per hour to parents, students and school administrators. The company, which sent 25 million message in February alone, has over 2000 schools using its product and will be used to Blackboard’s mobile technology. Saf-T-Net will also help Blackboard further its dominance in the the K-12 market; Blackboard’s software has been used predominantly by colleges and universities.

Currently, Blackboard provides software for 5000 educational institutions. The company recently boughtTerriblyCleverDesigns, a startup that helped create iPhone and other mobile apps for colleges and universities, for $4 million.

What to Buy? PC or Mac

Harry McCracken provides one of the more balanced and reasoned comparisons of the two platforms that I've ever seen. None of the typical Apple or MS-bashing that you often see.
PC vs. Mac: The Straight Scoop
The PC-or-Mac debate has been raging for more than a quarter-century, but making sense of it requires considering the situation as it stands at one moment in time. Here’s my take on things as of early 2010.

Cost. Venture into the computer department of a store like Best Buy, and you’ll find scads of computers priced well under $1,000 and a handful for a grand or more. The former are almost all Windows machines, and many are respectable choices. The latter, however, are nearly all from Apple — hence the common perception that Macs are way overpriced.

Every time I do the math, though, I come to the conclusion that the cost of Macs isn’t out of whack with that of similar Windows machines. Apple isn’t selling $750 notebooks for $1,500 — its portables tend to use higher-end processors, mostly have aluminum cases rather than plastic ones, are typically thinner and lighter than garden-variety laptops and run longer on a battery charge than many of their Windows brethren. The Microsoft-powered laptops most directly comparable to Apple’s MacBook Pro line, HP’s Envy models, actually cost more than roughly equivalent Macs.

Another point to consider: All Macs come with Apple’s excellent iLife suite, which provides tools for editing, organizing, and sharing photos, video, music, and more.  Bargain-basement PCs come with much more basic software at best.

Bottom line: You certainly don’t need to splurge on a system in the Mac’s price range to be a happy computer user. But with computers, as with most things in life, you generally get what you pay for.

Selection. The best thing by far about Windows PCs is the sheer unending variety of choices. They come in every size from teeny-tiny to extra-large. There are boxes with touchscreens, Blu-Ray players for high-definition movies, and TV tuners that let you watch and record cable and satellite TV. You can buy a PC that’s pink, or transparent, or designed to be as close to indestructible as possible.

Apple, meanwhile, makes Macs in nine basic variants: the basic MacBook laptop, the MacBook Pro laptop in 13″, 15″, and 17″ models, the MacBook Air ultraportable, the Mac Mini microdesktop, the iMac all-in-one desktop in 21.5″ and 27″ models, and the Mac Pro power desktop. And the company doesn’t do Blu-Ray, TV tuners, touchscreens, and other features that are commonplace in the Windows world. In short, getting a Mac requires that you buy into one company’s take on what’s important.

Operating systems. From early 2007 until late 2009, Microsoft’s operating system was Windows Vista. It was short on fixes for long-standing Windows annoyances, and often sluggish and crashy even when pre-installed on new PCs. It was a powerful argument in favor of buying a Mac — especially since OS X, Apple’s operating system, was (and is) a slick piece of software that stays out of your face rather than complicating your life.

In October of last year, however, Microsoft shipped Windows 7, the solid upgrade to Windows XP that Vista never was. OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard remains more consistent, and less quirky, and some PC makers muck up Windows 7 by larding it up with demoware, adware, and other irritating extras. But the gap between Apple and Microsoft’s offerings is as small as it’s ever been. If you’re a basically content Windows XP user, you’ve got less reason than before to contemplate switching to a Mac when you buy a new system.

Security. The vast majority of the world’s hackers spend the vast majority of their time making trouble for the vast majority of computer users. That’s why almost all known viruses, trojan horses, and other malicious applications attack only Windows PCs. Including really dangerous ones that can steal your credit-card and banking information. Recent releases of Windows security suites such as Norton Internet Security are pleasanter to use than their predecessors, but they’re still not exactly entertaining.

Buying a Mac doesn’t let you simply opt out of worrying about computer safety, however. For one thing, Mac owners are equally vulnerable to the growing number of threats that target social networks and other online venues, not Windows-based computers. Still, a Mac owner who runs no security software is vastly less likely to be the victim of a successful attack than a Windows user who’s protected up to his eyeballs.

Service. The best time to think about whether a computer company builds reliable machines and backs them well is before you plunk down any money, not after something goes wrong. No manufacturer ships defect-free systems or makes every customer happy: At the moment, for instance, Apple is dealing with widespread complaints about faulty iMac screens.

Even so, the company has a more consistent reliability and service record than any of its Windows-centric rivals, as shown by surveys conducted by both PC World and Check out these studies for invaluable real-world data before you buy from any major company.

The best thing of all about the PC-or-Mac decision? Despite what impassioned partisans may contend, it’s not a big, existential question. Whether you buy a Windows system or a Mac, you’ll find that the Web is the Web, that good software (much of it free) is plentiful, and that printers, cameras and nearly all other hardware work fine. Hey, they’re just computers, folks — and the only thing that really matters is choosing one that fits your needs, taste and budget.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Flip-Flop on 'No Child Left Behind'

Former 'No Child Left Behind' Advocate Turns Critic
In 2005, former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch wrote, 'We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act ... All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation.'

Four years later, Ravitch has changed her mind.

'I was known as a conservative advocate of many of these policies,' Ravitch says. 'But I've looked at the evidence and I've concluded they're wrong. They've put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education and I don't think any of this is going to improve public education.'
So what's the problem?

Emphasis On Test Scores Led To Cheating, Dishonesty

"The basic strategy is measuring and punishing," Ravitch says of No Child Left Behind. "And it turns out as a result of putting so much emphasis on the test scores, there's a lot of cheating going on, there's a lot of gaming the system. Instead of raising standards it's actually lowered standards because many states have 'dumbed down' their tests or changed the scoring of their tests to say that more kids are passing than actually are."

Some states contend that 80 to 90 percent of their children are proficient readers and have math proficiency as well, Ravitch notes. But in the same states, only 25 to 30 of the children test at a proficient level on national tests such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Social Emerging Media Diagrams

A great Flickr set from Gary Hayes.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Aiptek PenCam Trio – HD Videos, 5MP Images, and MP3s

I was recently helping a colleague pull some video off of her Flip MinoHD Camcorder. I was pretty impressed with the camcorder and the final product we were able to produce. I have an older Flip video camera, so this got me thinking maybe it was time for an upgrade. Then I read the story below about these tiny Aiptek camcorders and now I'm torn.

The story has them priced at about $240, but you can actually get these at Amazonfor $131.42 or an 8 GB versionfor $153.54. I'd suggest you read the reviews, which have me leaning toward another Flip camera. The Aiptek models are not getting rave reviews - particularly with regard to audio and video quality.
Aiptek PenCam HD Trio – Awesome highlighter-sized 720p video and still camera
This Aiptek PenCam HD Trio is a 720p (30fps @16:9) capable video camera the size of a highlighter pen. It can also shoot 5Mp stills and it’s an MP3 player. It has 4GB of internal memory and a 1.1″ OLED screen for framing your masterpieces. It connects via USB and HDMI and the video is encoded using H.264. So what’s the trio part of the name then? On top of being a video/still camera and an MP3 player, the HD Trio is also a voice recorder. The battery lasts for 2 hours of video and presumably longer for other things. What else could you possibly want? US$223.90.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Year of Linux on the Desktop - Not

While I use and teach Linux, I'm aware that it's still little more than a niche operating systems used by techies such as myself. While some vendors will sell you a PC with Linux installed, not many consumers opt for Linux. Widespread adoption - the so-called year of Linux on the desktop - has been predicted year after year. Unfortunately these predictions have never come close. While iPhone and iPod Touch support is great, it's a tiny step in making Linux ready for widespread adoption. In fact, computing is headed - with the iPad for example - toward a a new paradigm where the complexity of what we know as a computer is abstracted away. Unfortunately, Linux is still working to approach the "simplicity" of desktop OSs like Windows or Mac OS X. Don't get wrong these operating systems aren't simple, but for the "average" user they are infinitely more simple than Linux.


Ubuntu 10.04 supports iPhone and iPod Touch out-of-the-box
For there to be any chance of 'the year of Linux on the desktop' ever becoming a reality, certain things have to happen. One of those things (like it or not) is for a major distribution to support the most popular portable media players on the planet -- the iPhone and iPod Touch.

U.S. Broadband Adoption - The Digital Divide

93 million with no or slow Internet are 'at a distinct disadvantage.'

One-Third of U.S. Without Broadband, F.C.C. Finds -
For many Americans, having high-speed access to the Internet at home is as vital as electricity, heat and water. And yet about one-third of the population, 93 million people, have elected not to connect.

A comprehensive survey by the Federal Communications Commission found several barriers to entry, with broadband prices looming largest. The commission will release the findings on Tuesday and employ them as it submits a national broadband plan to Congress next month.

Of the 93 million persons without broadband identified by the study, about 80 million are adults. Small numbers of them access the Internet by dial-up connections, or outside the home at places like offices or libraries, but most never log on anywhere. In a world of digital information, these people are ‘at a distinct disadvantage,’ said John Horrigan, who oversaw the survey for the F.C.C.

Here's a bit on the demographics from the study.

Two Thirds of U.S. Users Have Broadband, Says FCC - ClickZ
Twenty-two percent of Americans do not use the Internet, but among those that do, 65 percent have access to a broadband connection, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The Commission surveyed 5,005 U.S. adults in October and November 2009, and found correlation between socio-economic and demographic factors, and whether or not respondents had access to a high-speed connection.

For example, broadband adoption was greater among respondents with a higher level of education, and a higher salary. In addition, white respondents were more likely to have high-speed access than African-American users, while 10 percent more African-American users claim to use broadband than Hispanic users.

Younger users also reported much wider access to broadband connections than older users. For example, 75 percent of 18-29 year olds access the Internet via broadband compared with just 35 percent of users over 65.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of rural users with high-speed connections was less than average, at 50 percent, while non-rural users were slightly above the average, at 68 percent.

Is iPhone Addiction a Problem?

Not a lot of hard data here. Students are "worried" - iPhones make them "happier." I agree we should be concerned about addiction, in particular to mobile devices, gaming, and the Internet. One interesting nugget is the trend toward personalization of their mobile devices and that these devices are the hub of their social lives.

Students Worry About iPhone Addiction
A survey of Stanford University undergraduates has found that students love their iPhones, but maybe a little too much.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that a survey of 200 students found that about a third worried about becoming iPhone addicts and more than a third heard concerns that they used their iPhones too much. About 75 percent of those surveyed said owning an iPhone made them happier.

A graduate anthropology class in research methods at Stanford conducted the survey last spring. Tanya Luhrmann, who taught the course, told the Mercury News that one of the most striking things her group found was the way students identified with their iPhones.

'It was not so much with the object itself, but it had so much personal information that it became a kind of extension of the mind and a means to have a social life,' Ms. Luhrmann said. 'It just kind of captured part of their identity.'

In Higher Ed, Free is Good

Conventional thinking is that educational offerings are a zero-sum game. Most assume that a University offering free online courses will cannibalize enrollment in their paid courses. But schools are finding out that they can in fact grow their enrollment by offering courses for free. From Education unlocked, by Ian Johnson:
The open courseware movement was the brainchild of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, which in 2001 asked its program leaders to post as much course material online as possible, Watrall said.
[Ethan Watrall is a Professor of history and telecommunications, information studies and media at Michigan State University]
Many professors posted resources such as class assignments, online readings and syllabi, which led to significantly more attention from potential students, Watrall said.

“Putting your stuff out there for the world to see actually increases enrollment,” he said. “It gives students an opportunity to see how the teacher teaches the class — exactly what kind of content they cover — and they can make a more informed decision as opposed to a three sentence course description.”
In addition to the story below, the PhD dissertation - The Impact of OpenCourseWare on Paid Enrollment in Distance Learning Courses - of BYU student and director of independent study Justin K. Johansen provides some good data on the benefits of OpenCourseWare.

University finds free online classes don't hurt enrollment
Free online courses aren't sapping enrollment numbers—in fact, they're actually helping to spread the word. Those are the preliminary findings out of Brigham Young University, which experimented recently by granting free access to a selection of its distance learning courses. Though further study is needed in order to see whether there's a significant impact, educators are beginning to see that offering free materials isn't the end of the world after all.

The university's Independent Study offerings have been attractive to students who are unable to make class regularly, either due to geographic distance or because of scheduling conflicts. Its Open CourseWare section offers the general public six classes—three university courses and three high school courses—that anyone on the Web can step through. ... Of course, you won't get any credit for taking the course for free, and that's why BYU hopes you'll pony up the cash and enroll.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The State of the Internet or Why We Care About Web 2.0

Please check out this post on Web 2.0 Tools for Teaching - a blog I'm writing collaboratively with Kelly Parr from the English Department. There's a great video (less than 4 minutes) embedded in the post. Click the link above or the image below to read the story.

The Stethoscope is on it's Way Out

dr with stethoscope.jpg
Another great video from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). This video shows Dr. Eric Topol at the TEDMED conference talking about the wireless future of medicine.

Some key points from the talk:
  • The stethoscope was invented in 1816, but in 2016 doctors won't be walking around with stethoscopes.
  • The future is digital medical wireless devices.
  • Checking your vital signs will be as easy as checking your e-mail.
Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...