Sunday, September 27, 2009

China Goes Green - What Are We Waiting For?

Great piece from Tom Friedman in today's New York Times.

The New Sputnik
Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China.

Yes, China’s leaders have decided to go green — out of necessity because too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.

I believe this Chinese decision to go green is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik — the world’s first Earth-orbiting satellite. That launch stunned us, convinced President Eisenhower that the U.S. was falling behind in missile technology and spurred America to make massive investments in science, education, infrastructure and networking — one eventual byproduct of which was the Internet.

Unfortunately, we’re still not racing. It’s like Sputnik went up and we think it’s just a shooting star. Instead of a strategic response, too many of our politicians are still trapped in their own dumb-as-we-wanna-be bubble, where we’re always No. 1, and where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, having sold its soul to the old coal and oil industries, uses its influence to prevent Congress from passing legislation to really spur renewables. Hat’s off to the courageous chairman of Pacific Gas and Electric, Peter Darbee, who last week announced that his huge California power company was quitting the chamber because of its ‘obstructionist tactics.’ All shareholders in America should ask their C.E.O.’s why they still belong to the chamber.

China’s leaders, mostly engineers, wasted little time debating global warming. They know the Tibetan glaciers that feed their major rivers are melting. But they also know that even if climate change were a hoax, the demand for clean, renewable power is going to soar as we add an estimated 2.5 billion people to the planet by 2050, many of whom will want to live high-energy lifestyles. In that world, E.T. — or energy technology — will be as big as I.T., and China intends to be a big E.T. player.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Borders Books Educator Appreciation Week


via Lynne Wolters

Working on Commission

Are you ready for this future?

Seth's Blog: Everyone gets paid on commission

The Washington Post recently laid off a columnist because his blog posts didn't get enough web traffic.

Of course, in the old days, the newspaper had no real way to tell which columns got read and which ones didn't. So journalists were lulled into the sense that it didn't really matter. The Times quotes Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, ‘It’s an unusual public rationale for serious newspaper people, that’s for sure.’

Wrong tense. It's not going to be unusual for long.

In fact, in a digital world where everything can be measured, we all work on commission.

Computer Science Humor

Building on the technology humor meme started today with Physics Humor.

Other People’s Responses to the fact that I am a Computer Science Major « GraphJam: Music and Pop Culture in Charts and Graphs. Let us explain them.

New Microsoft Tablet

You might have missed this weeks' product announcement from Microsoft, stealing a little thunder from the Apple tablet rumormill. Interesting concept - will be great if they can pull it off.

Physics Humor

this isn't happiness.™ Peter Nidzgorski, tumblr

The Idiot Box

Does this picture from the explain why U.S. STEM1 students are lagging behind their counterparts in other developed countries?

The idiot box

1 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Watching the Leaves

If you enjoy watching the leaves chage color here's a site to track the progress in northeast.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Ostrich Egg

How many people would this feed?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

War Driving on the iPhone

Very cool WiFi app for the iPhone.

Here's the radar view:

and the lust view:

You can view access point details -

Even find free wifi

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 21, 2009

Teaching Scientists and Engineers Entrepreneurship

Here's a great article from BusinessWeek, that details Duke University's efforts to integrate concepts in business and entrepreneurship into their science and engineering programs. Many community colleges have centers for and programs in entrepreneurship. While Duke's PhD+ sounds like a great idea, I think teaching entrepreneurship is something we should be doing at every level (two-year, four-year, masters, PhD, and maybe even HS) and in every program. Imagine architects, interior designers, programmers, network administrators, writing, journalism - virtually any discipline - to setup their own virtual shop to market and sell their services.

Turning Research into Inventions and Jobs
Another hindrance to commercialization of science: Very few scientists are equipped to go into business. They do not know the difference between an S Corp and an LLC. They don't know how to navigate a state or local permitting bureaucracy. And few have a clue about marketing or managing company finances in a way that could withstand an intense audit.

These mismatches ensure that stunning amounts of stellar science remains tucked in the lab forever.

If we want to create jobs, we must first train scientists how to start companies. Tom Katsouleas, dean of Duke University's engineering school, has a potential solution, called PhD+. For PhDs who wish to start companies and have marketable technologies, Katsouleas proposes that the federal government provide funding for training in entrepreneurship to teach the lab geeks how to get along better in the startup world.

The program offered by Duke goes even further than training and education in business, but also provides an incubator, seed funding, lab space, as well as connections to venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs.
Here's how PhD+ would work. Marketing, finance, HR, and product development would all be taught to chemists, physicists, and computer science students and professors enrolled in the program. Scientists who successfully run a gauntlet of these courses would then graduate into an incubator program that matches them with successful company founders or senior executives in their field as well as top-notch providers of the professional services required to launch a science-based company. The scientists would also get a nominal amount of seed funding as well as lab space and other basic ingredients to help them achieve critical mass and bring their concept close enough to product stage to interest venture capitalists or angel investors.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ask Donna: How Do We Improve Computer Science’s Image?

Donna Milgram fields a great question from one of her readers. Like Donna, I think it would be great if some of the high-tech companies would step up and promote Computer Science careers to women and girls.

I wonder how that happens with a dearth of women in leadership positions in any of these companies. The only high-profile women I can think of are Marissa Mayer of Google, Yahoo's Carol Bartz, Carly Fiorina - formerly of Lucent and HP, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay. These are just of the top of my head, so I might be missing some, but also notice that two of the four are no longer at their companies and a third (Carol Bartz) is dealing with a difficult situation at Yahoo - embattled doesn't quite describe it. So maybe a better question - How do we get more girls and women into the boardrooms of our high-tech firms?

Question/Answer: How Do We Improve Computer Science’s Image?
Question from Wechie’s Comment of 8/21: There seems to be hundreds of separate initiatives to encourage girls to study computer science but there remains an image problem. How can we get an industry wide campaign going to improve the image of computing?

Donna: Yes, Wechie you are correct, there is a huge image problem. American Association of University Women’s Study, Tech Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age (2000) which you can download for free, documents the image problem among girls and many other studies have gone on to replicate these findings.

I would like to see one of the major computer giants – such as Apple or Electronic Arts – use their marketing savvy and department to team with a nonprofit (such as us) to develop a multi-media marketing campaign (YouTube, facebook, TV commercials, Posters) that could create a more positive image of computer science for women and girls (and men!).

Math Humor


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Did You Know 4.0

Did You Know 4.0:
XPLANE is happy to present Did You Know 4.0 — another official update to the original ‘Shift Happens’ video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist.

As Garr Reynolds mentions over at Presentation Zen this morning, yes, this project was created with ‘off-the-shelf slideware’ (Keynote and GarageBand, actually, along with Photoshop and Illustrator). Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. Design and development by XPLANE.

For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit The Economist’s Media Convergence conference site at, or stop by for all things Did You Know.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do You Trust Your IT Staff?

IT Manager Worked at U. of Georgia While Facing Felony Charges
An information-technology manager at the University of Georgia who had access to students’ personal information worked in the registrar’s office for nearly a year after he faced felony theft-by-deception charges related to his data-handling position at a different organization. [What happened to checking references? - MQ]

William Ora Mullen pleaded guilty to those charges and accepted a 10-year prison sentence on April 28 – the same day he gave a letter of resignation to the university. The letter gave May 12 as his final day of employment.

But the university didn’t learn of the charges until May 6, when Mr. Mullen told the university’s office of legal affairs about them, said Tom Jackson, the university’s vice president of public affairs.

Mr. Mullen, who had access to sensitive information like students’ Social Security numbers, was immediately denied access to campus servers on that day. His passwords were also changed. Still, he remained employed by the university until May 12. Mr. Jackson said most of those days were ‘logged as sick days.’

The charges against Mr. Mullen, who was hired by the university on March 5, 2008, were brought by a former employer, Habersham Metal Products, where he was also an IT manager. He was responsible for purchasing, managing the company’s servers, and strategic planning, according to an article in the university’s student newspaper, the Red and Black.

Mr. Mullen was accused of creating a fake company called Rappaccini-Ga. to quietly obtain company products and payments ‘by deceitful means,’ according to court documents, between August 2005 and March 31, 2008 – including several weeks after he began work at the University of Georgia.

Since Mr. Mullen’s resignation, the university has run two audits of its servers – one by the university’s IT department and one by internal auditing — but neither showed evidence of any foul play, Mr. Jackson said.
[Why no external audit? - MQ]

‘We found nothing to indicate that those files had been transferred, although we can’t say for certain that he doesn’t have them,’ Mr. Jackson said".

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What Makes a Good Boss?

Is your boss a good leader? Review this list of 18 characteristics - how does you boss score?

8 Characteristics of a Good Team Leader

  • ready to go to bat for the team
  • presents team needs to organization and organizational needs to team
Focused on Organizational Effectiveness:

  • balances people and work
  • keeps ‘productivity’ and ‘quality’ to the forefront
Grooms ‘replacements’:

  • shares leadership role
  • creates leaders
Good communicator

  • willing to listen
  • able to express

  • pursuer of progress
  • and developer of people
Creates positive expectancy.

  • sets high expectation levels
  • sets and expects high standards
Models expected behaviours:

  • consensus decision-making
  • risk-taking
  • empowering
Able to deal with problem team members:

  • creative problem-solving
  • coaching
  • power to remove

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Enrollment Management

Johns Hopkins problems illustrate how difficult enrollment management really is. Even a school as well-resourced as JHU struggles with it.
With families strapped for money and financial aid harder to come by, pricey private colleges were expecting a lot fewer undergraduate students this fall. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was so sure of this that it decided to accept more students than usual. Turns out, the school's estimate was way off and it's now scrambling to accommodate the extra students.

Is Academic Credit Worth the Money?

Joanne Jacobs links to a really interesting experiment in free learning. Particularly interesting is the no-cost study abroad program. I think initially, most employers will resist hiring prospects with knowledge, but no degree or academic credit. In time, employers will figure out how to assess these potential employees and hire them.

If I needed a python programmer, I would gladly consider a kid who learned to program through self-study and free online courses. The challenge for academics such as myself will be to make the case for what value academic credit and a degree add to a students' credentials. As self-study and free online courses become more mainstream and accepted, making that case will become more and more difficult.

Free learning: Yes to Romanian, no to physics
Josh Dean of Popular Science tried out free, no-credit online courses to see if he could actually educate himself. The answer: Yes to Romanian and Kitchen Chemistry (why cooking works), no to physics and biology.

His Free Online School Rules:

  1. You get what you pay for. ‘Free’ means no asking questions in the middle of class, which can be a dealbreaker with a subject as potentially confusing as physics.
  2. That said, it might help if you actually buy the textbook.
  3. Free online learning is not going to teach you anything substantial overnight, or in a week (unless you are Rain Man, in which case you’re just memorizing anyway). Plan to do a whole course.
  4. There are few things better than hot bread made with your own two hands, especially when you understand the science of why it’s so delicious.
  5. We are at the beginning of this experiment, not the end.

Dean tells the tale of two recent college grads who’ve designed a no-cost study abroad program using MIT’s OpenCourseWare. Ann Nguyen and Alison Cole will work on environmental engineering projects in India, while ‘using the syllabi from MIT OCW’s courses in ground hydrology, soil behavior and aquatic chemistry to construct a program that will study arid-land restoration.’ They’ll run up no grad-school debt, but they’ll also acquire no academic credits. Will future employers be impressed? That remains to be seen.

Friday, September 04, 2009


We have two cats that drink from the faucet, but I've never seen anything like this?

Law Enforement Gets Smart ...

Smartphones that is. Every Baltimore Patrol Officer To Get a BlackBerry
Baltimore's police department will become one of the first agencies in the nation to issue every patrol officer a BlackBerry that allows for instant warrant checks, city officials said Wednesday.
The city's Board of Estimates approved using $5.3 million in federal stimulus money for the police department, including $3.5 million to buy 2,000 of the BlackBerries, known as 'Pocket Cops.'

The devices allow officers to run warrants, check vehicle registrations, and pull up criminal histories and suspect photos. Officers who use them can be more efficient and spend more time outside of their cars, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said.

Sponsors Can Restore Canceled Classes at CCSF

Great idea from City College of San Francisco. If you have anyone in your community that supports education, maybe they can sponsor one of your classes.

For $6,000, Sponsors Can Restore Classes Canceled at College
When times get tough, the tough get sponsors.

City College of San Francisco has turned to fund-raising.
For $6,000, the City College of San Francisco is offering sponsors a chance to restore one of the hundreds of classes being canceled because of budget cuts.

Even after freezing hiring, cutting student support services, and reducing administrative salaries, the college is facing a $20 million deficit that has forced it to cut or postpone almost 800 courses this year — about 300 in the fall, and 500 in the spring.

‘Our goal is to try to raise money to cover these sections, about $5 million,’ said Don Griffin, the chancellor of the 100,000-student community college. ‘The $6,000 represents the minimum we’d be paying faculty to teach one section of classes, three hours a week for 17-and-a-half weeks. We have 8 or 10 people who’ve come forward so far, and prospects for a lot more.’

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Got My Back-To-School Haircut Today

California Wildfires

Stunning photos from the California Wildfires.

What's Your Legislature Doing?

Click the link to see a photo showing The Secret to Connecticut’s Success
A few months ago, during one of many pathetic stretches of New York state government this year, we lamented the fact that the nearby Connecticut legislature was able to somehow function with such bipartisan efficiency. Now we know how they do it: by playing solitaire and reading instead of getting all worked up about the budget debate going on in front of them.

Add YouTube Videos to PowerPoint 2007

Great plug-in for adding YouTube videos to your presentations.
YouTube Add-in for PowerPoint 2007 - Add YouTube Videos to PowerPoint 2007
Download the YouTube Video Add-in for PowerPoint 2007.

Extract the Add-in from the Zipped File

  1. Double click on the newly saved zipped file.
  2. Right click on the file named YouTubeVideo2k7.ppam.
  3. Click on Copy
  4. Navigate to the location on your computer where you wish to save the add-in file.
  5. Paste the YouTubeVideo2k7.ppam file to this new location.

Now you are ready to move on to installing the Add-in.

Planetary Gears

Some pretty cool examples Planetary Gears - a very fun topic to teach in engineering.

via Make

Journalism, Twitter, and Higher Ed

I really like some of the course titles - niche journalism, reporting for converged newsrooms, backpack reporting and entrepreneurial journalism. One question I have - What's a digital intern?

DePaul University Offers J-School Twitter Instruction
DePaul University in Chicago is offering what it claims is the first college-level journalism course focused on the use of Twitter, according to a description on the Media Newswire Web site.

The notice states that the 'College of Communication is exploring the new frontiers of journalism through courses on Twitter, entrepreneurial journalism and backpack reporting, providing students with cutting-edge knowledge in this rapidly changing field.'

It adds that DePaul alumnus Craig Kanalley, a digital intern at the Chicago Tribune, will teach the course.

"It is one of several innovative courses offered by DePaul's College of Communication to help prepare students to work in the burgeoning digital landscape," the description added. "Other journalism courses include niche journalism, reporting for converged newsrooms, backpack reporting and entrepreneurial journalism."

Back to School Humor

Funny stuff from The Onion - an advice column called Ask A College Professor Having Trouble With The Audiovisual Equipment. Click the link to the story for more "advice."
Dear College Professor Having Trouble With The Audiovisual Equipment,
Our son is at sleepaway camp this week, and I think he's more homesick than he is letting on. I want to drive up there and check on him, but my husband insists that we stay at home and let him get through it by himself. I understand my husband's thinking, but my Greg is only 11 years old. Am I just afraid to let go?

—Worried Mom In Montana

Dear Worried Mom In Montana,

Okay class, so today we are going to be talking about geopolitical competition in Armenia during the Middle Ages. As soon as the projector gets going, we'll start. Sometimes it just takes a few minutes to warm up. Um, while we have a little bit of time, does anybody have any questions? Anything about the reading for today or about what we talked about on Monday? No? Well, just a couple more seconds here and we should be on our way. Hmm, I feel like that light should be green. Anyway, I'll just get started, and when it comes on I'll….Okay, something is definitely not right. The screen should not be blinking like that.

Dear College Professor Having Trouble With The Audiovisual Equipment,

Yesterday I was buying groceries, and I got distracted for a moment at the checkout. I could have sworn I gave the cashier a $20 bill, but she said I never paid. I didn't want to hold up the line or look like a cheapskate so I gave her another twenty, but I am certain I overpaid. Should I go back to the store and say something or just accept this as 'one of those things?'

—Twenty Short In Sharpsburg

Dear Twenty Short In Sharpsburg,

There's a checklist on the lectern here. One, make sure your computer power is on. Okay. Two, log on with your UTA Net password. Did that. Three, plug the cables (VGA/audio) provided on the lectern into your laptop. Hmm. If your laptop does not show up, hold down the 'fn' key. What does that mean? Does anybody know what that means? Any of you guys know about this stuff? Brian, you don't know anything about this stuff, do you? Now it's saying 'No Input in VID 2.' VID 2, VID 2, VID 2. Should it be VID 1? Does that make any sense? Isn't VID 1 the DVD player? All right, I'm going to try turning it off and back on again. Class, you can relax for a few minutes while I figure this out, but once we get started we're going to have to zip through some of this. We're still having that exam on Friday.


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