Monday, December 26, 2005

"Cable" radio

Am I that old that radio is no longer worthwhile for me? The big news about Howard Stern going to Sirrius is lost on me. Yes, I listened to Stern when he was on the radio (when I was in the mood for talk radio). But, why in the world would anyone pay for "cable" radio? I barely watch cable TV! I would much rather go to Limewire, download all of my favorite music, burn CDs and listen to my music blaring in my jeep driving down the highway. Sure, I copy many of my favorite tunes to my mp3 player (it holds less than 100 songs- I never did get that ipod for Christmas!) Sorry, Howard, whatever you couldn't say because of the FCC just isn't worth paying to hear.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

There is so much controversy over the words, "Merry Christmas." Some christians want people to say it rather than "Happy Holidays." I've heard non-Christians talking about feeling left out from the holiday celebrations, with Christmas icons everywhere. I've heard people talking about the "watering down" of the holidays.

So, how do we make everyone happy? How about everybody just proudly displaying what they believe in? I would welcome being wished a Happy Hanukah. I may not celebrate the holiday but I'm not adverse to having a happy one nevertheless.

I buy "holiday" cards to send. I want to wish all of my friends a happy time, not just those who celebrate Christmas. The photo I include is of my boys with Santa. It's not like I'm ashamed of my beliefs. I think that is where the distinction is. We can all be proud of our traditions and values without imposing them on others.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Time Persons of the Year

Time just came out with their 2005 Person(s) of the Year....

Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono!

"For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME's Persons of the Year."

And I thought I had a chance...

This is the actual photo from the Times Square webcam. I was famous for a minute on December 12th at 8:06pm.

Time allowed us mere mortals to consider the possibility. Have you uploaded your photo?

The End of IE on the Mac

I can't believe that they've finally done it. Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer for the Mac. I suppose this will mean Mac users will either use Netscape or move over to the dark side. I switched to a Toshiba laptop this year after being an avid and ardent Mac user since 1984 (actually the first computer I used was an Apple IIe). I was considered a Mac guru. Now I'm just a plain old PC user. I hate to admit but my PC is *much* faster and more stable than any brand, spanking new Mac I ever had (I always bought the latest and greatest--it was a sickness).

At least Apple has the market on mp3s still...

Two guys walk into a bar...

"And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."

Friedrich Nietzsche

I'm currently reading Steven Berlin Johnson's third book, Mind Wide Open. I have enjoyed his previous works (I used Interface Culture in one of the first Media Literacy courses I taught at Montclair State University). I recently had the pleasure of meeting Johnson(nice guy), introducing him at the New Jersey CIty University convocation, and interviewing him for a book I am writing. His latest book, Everything Bad is Good for You, talks about TV and media much in the same way that I view it (or do I see it the same as him? Chicken/egg syndrome). Regardless (not irregardless), I was looking forward to reading Mind Wide Open now that the fall semester has come to a close.

The first thing that struck me was a reference Johnson makes to humor. He states that he often interjects humor into unconventional situations (perhaps even at unorthodox times). He tests the limits of the situation, and those in it. I found this fascinating. Once again, he is writing what I have thought and felt about myself. I often find myself making jokes when others would consider it tabeau. As Johnson states, it is like pushing the envelope--seeing how far you can go and still stay within the limits of professionalism. Perhaps it is an intellectual risk-taking of sorts. It is certainly an unconscious effort on my part. As a matter of fact, I often laugh nervously during stressful situations (ask my dentist just how funny I can be!).

Sure,laughter is the best medicine. And a good sense of humor tops everybody's list of qualities they seek in a mate. But, is humor equivalent to intellect?

"Igor Krishtafovich is confident that humor always implies aggression. 'It is a bloodless verbal fight aiming to raise your status and strengthen your position. Even a friendly banter is a sort of intellectual clash, a kind of training before serious battles. In fact, we try to figure out who's the boss in the family when we poke fun at our loved ones,' says Mr. Krishtafovich."

If you're interested, this is Krishtafovich's formula for humor...

I can't see the aggression implication. Rather, I find the back-and-forth banter that so rarely happens invigorating! A verbal humor battle? I think not. More like a verbal humor dance. And what is a day without a dance (Nietzsche)?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

Now I've become a movie reviewer...

What a beautiful film. In this modern world encased with technology and electronics, it was wonderful to watch landscapes, and architecture, and, particularly, language! Yes, I watched language. The words were so absolutely beautiful--cutting at times, playful at others, that I was transfixed on their mouths delivering the lines. Yes, it sounds weird; but go see the film and you'll understand.

The plot was true to Austen's original (and the characters fairly well-rounded). The "prejudice" aspect was a bit down-played in the dialogue (though quite obvious in the cinematography). Again, a feast for eyes and ears.

I attended the movie with my parish priest. We had an interesting discussion after about the theme in modern times. Seems as if nothing has changed.

Pride and Prejudice is without: epic war scenes, fighting jedis, animation, nudity, stage makeup, or loud music. How wonderful! It is a love story with a true happily ever after.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I went with my sons' school today to see the movie, Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I sat in a packed theatre with 200 children ages 5-14. It was interesting to watch them. The little ones were, many times, scared to death. Some cried. The little 6 year old boy sitting next to me asked me to hold his hand throughout the movie while he covered his eyes with the other. At other times, the children cheered for the "good conquers evil" that was prevalent throughout the movie. I could see no real blood and gore (though the war seen was about as graphic as I could imagine) and there was no sex, profanity or nudity. I'll even admit that everything "bad" that happens, gets "undone".

So why all of the crying and handholding?

It's about exploiting your worst fears. The characters are as scary as anything I've ever seen in a nightmare. The things the children step over grab them from below. Wolves attack and nice strangers become evil torturers. At one point, the mighty lion is "sacrificed" by the evil witch. Prior to killing him, the queen has the little gremlins cut off his mane. What a twisted and demented scene for children to watch. It had no bearing on the movie but to throw all kinds of connotations out to the adults watching. We stare into the lions eyes as the witch stabs him to death. This is Disney?

The last scene where the lion is walking on the beach is the perfect time to tie in Thomas' dad and Edmond's dad (both warriors). I was dumbfounded when Thomas didn't say that the lion was his father. Why not?

It was entertaining in an epic kind of way. The kids liked the happy ending. However, the film lacks any credibility for so many reasons. I won't be buying the DVD.

I'll be seeing Pride and Prejudice Saturday night.

Monday, December 12, 2005

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a...

One of the things that I find most interesting about the Net is the idea of a virtual identity. The Internet releases the physical being and allows the person to become whatever it is he or she wants to be. Most people don't take advantage of this (and some go way beyond the limits, but we don't need to go into that).

One of the most famous lines about this is from the New Yorker. So the physical playing field is leveled. What about the intellectual? This is where your identity shows. It seems one's Net identity is more about the intellectual self, than the physical or emotional self. I like that. Often, the intellectual gets lost or hidden behind all else. Like Spongebob says, "Patrick, your genius is showing." ("Where? Where?")

However, it is the emotional self that I find hard to dismiss.

How often do you send an email or chat and realize that what you've said could have been misconstrued? Sure, I use emoticons as much as the next guy (and maybe even more), but there are nuances in facial expressions and language tones that are simply lost in the written word. I admit I like to play around with words, make subtle jokes, etc. I do it in conversations and often this personality quirk(?) comes out in my emails. The dark side is that you often don't get to see the reaction of the recipient (so you have no idea what meaning was taken). There exists an entire range of emotions hidden and unexpressed.

One of the features I enjoyed when using Tapped In (original version), was the ability to have your "self" say how you felt. For example, your identity could type a command to say:

Laura grins.

In regular IM chat, if you type "grins," it looks something like:

Laura: grins.

I know the colon shouldn't really mean anything but it does. The first allows the recipient to "see" the action. The second has the recipient reading it. I feel that the closer one comes to "seeing" even if only in the mind's eye, the closer one comes to feeling.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Woot- No longer cool?

I remember the first time I came across Woot-- what a cool concept... one electronic item each night offered for less cost than anywhere with no return policy. How could this be successful? Easy--it's about changing the way we think about the internet. It isn't about the item; it's about the "community." Does anyone go to Woot, look at the item and just buy it? I'm guessing that's only about 10% of the people who shop on Woot. My guess is that 90% go to the "Community" to see what they have to say about the item. More and more, shopping on the web has become about "reviews" and "opinions". Seems like the whole world can now offer a reference (Why do we trust them and who are these people anyway?).

Lately, the "Community" on Woot isn't so cool. They say some lame things about the item (complain, moan, groan) with little value in the comments. As a matter of fact, the items on Woot have become alarmingly boring as well.

I didn't even stay up for the last "woot-off" (if you don't know what it is, I'm not explaining it).

Am I really too cool for Woot? Wow!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's Personal

It's gotten to be so that electronics have become so *personal*. My husband wants to buy me a Christmas present. Last year, he got me a gift card for a "Day of Beauty" (massage and facial). I loved it. Took me a year to use it, but when I did, I loved it. This year, he asked me what I want (kind of takes away the whole gift idea but I digress!). So, I tell him I would like an ipod. The look of terror on his face was palpable!

"I can't get you something like that. You have to pick it out yourself!"

It's almost as if he was talking about a purse or, something unmentionably worse.

He is kind of right (Can you tell I hate admitting that?). If he gets me the Nano, I'll have to return it. It definitely won't fit right. If he goes for the white, well... that's the wrong color. And, without the right accessories, it's simply useless!

That massage and facial are looking better and better. Maybe he'll add the waxing this time. Just nothing with bluetooth...

Friday, December 02, 2005


The buzz in the Tech World is about Glide Effortless.

PC mag wrote a bit on it a few hours ago.

Steven Johnson mentioned it in his blog yesterday.

Even USA Today is reviewing it! "It packages powerful, but easy-to-use tools, for saving and sharing all kinds of digital files, including music, videos, photos, word processing documents and PowerPoint presentations."

At present, it's free! I have yet to register (I will now so that I'm not "out of the techie loop" I even have a Goggle mail account, you know!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Depicting Educational Technology

My university is having a homecoming artist display. You've heard of the cow parade? Well, a colleague of mine on campus, Ella, is introducing the Gothic Knight parade. There will be many of these concrete gothic knight heads around campus, decorated by interested parties. Homecoming week, the "heads" will be on display in an art exhibition. I immediately put in my bid to decorate a knight on behalf of the Educational Technology dept. Then I started to think, what graphically depicts "Ed Tech"? Certainly a computer theme would hit on one aspect, but that seems more "Computer Science" than "Ed Tech." Then I thought about great teachers and educational theorists, Montessori, Dewey, Vygotsky... but that hits only the educational end of the Ed Tech equation. Specifically, Ed Tech seems to mean the integration of technology into teaching and learning. SO, would those hot programs be a fair representation on the knight? Inspiration, unitedstreaming, SMART Board?

Personally, I would hate to think that Ed Tech is simply reduced to educational software and hardware. I tend to see it as more of an engaged learning theory augmented by tools. Think about the learning communities that now exist as a result. What about assistive technologies for those with special needs? I see Ed Tech as liberating students from their desks, whether physically getting them out of their seats to work on a giant graphing calculator on a SMART Board, or virtually bringing them to the Louvre through the internet.

I'm still baffled. How to decorate a knight?