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July 2008

So what IS Media Computation

Well, hopefully by the end of the day, I'll know...

Barb starts with Turtle Graphics and uses a feature of Dr. Java I didn't know about which is the Interactions pane.  She loads her classes and have her students use an existing class that is based on Logo Turtles.

Also, she's already done Alice and showed them how to create methods in Alice, so going into the Logo Turtle graphics is very natural.  Plus, since she has been using the Java syntax in Alice, the students have seen the syntax, but it might not have hit brain cells.

The next thing she does, is use Dr. Java's Interactions pane to open and look at pictures.

A lot of the media computation in Java, is adding shapes, text, and other things to pictures.  Most of teaches how to make methods, use parameters, etc.

The above was the morning.

We're doing sound now, and they have a whole lot of cute tools for playing with Sound.  For one, SqueakVM which I haven't seen before.

We're using loops, especially for loops to change sound, either increase or decreasing volume.  We're also taking sound clips, putting them together and making our own sounds by using loops.

The very last part of the day was using arrays with pictures.

The Online Legacy of Professor Pausch - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog

Best article I've seen...  I got to meet him at a workshop before he was diagnosed, and am in a workshop right now, learning more about his legacy, Alice.

It was the power of the Internet that propelled computer science professor Randy Pausch to fame around the world after his inspiring last lecture and helped launch his bestselling book. So it seems a fitting tribute to document

The Online Legacy of Professor Pausch - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog

Alice/Media Computation Workshop

I love this workshop!  VERY hands on.  However, they didn't say until the last minute we needed notebooks which is a problem for a few, but not me.

One problem I did have, is that the notebook I brought doesn't have a CD Rom drive.  Had to have one of the student helpers copy the workshop CD's to my hard drive which would have been a piece of cake if I had remember that i had actually packed one.

Once I remembered that, it was a piece of cake.

The only problems we've had, have been the casino's fault -- we're at Circus Circus, and their choice of morning food sucks, but I can a) buy other and b) did bring some food.  Also they didn't restock for the morning break.  We'll see how afternoon and the rest of the week go.

Also, the casino does a lot of nickel and dime -ing, even more so than the cruise ship we were on.  We have two choices for internet access, room access only for $12 a day, and business center access for $15 for 9 hours.  I do have my phone and am tethering.  So far, I've only hit .2 megabytes this month.  However, the ATT network is blocked badly by the hotel, and I'm often forced to Edge instead of 3G.

The really good news, is that we don't have to go to through the casino to get to the meeting place, the elevator dumps us right there.

I saw Steve in San Antonio and he was equally good today.  We're split into two groups each day, advanced and beginner.  I choose beginner Alice, and will probably stay in that track, but will go to the advanced when it comes to Java, because I've been doing it forever (okay, several years, forever in computer years).

I think this is the first time I've had Barbara as a workshop presenter, she is good!  We're a bit ahead of the agenda right now, and taking a mini-break.

The pluses on this workshop -- and remember, I've been teaching this stuff for 17 years.....

  • It is not an AP workshop
  • It is very hands on.
  • It is not an AP workshop.
  • The software is free.
  • It is not an AP workshop.
  • The materials are free until the book is published.
  • It is not an AP workshop.

Yes, I get tired of doing AP stuff.  They are covering the same materials as many of the AP workshop but not as extensively and not in the AP way.

Las Vegas Trip - Arrived in Vegas

Worse thing about husband.  He keeps waking me up.  But doesn't wake me up when I need to be up.  And the way he does it <rolling eyes>

Check in wasn't bad.

Most valuable things when traveling:

  • Plastic trash bags.  Seriously.  They are great for laundry.
  • Extension cords.  I know this, and I have to keep buying them.  But $3.00 at Target isn't bad.
  • Power strips.  You can never have too many.  Again, $4.00 at Target, as I bought a second one.
  • My last favorite is my cooler, but I was have a cart in my truck.  Forget husband doesn't keep things like that.

Circus Circus Tower rooms are better than Days Inn. By the way, I know hate Days Inn, but I think I did before.

My other problem is figuring out what I need with me at a given moment.

Oh, and 3G tethering rocks.  I missed it for a few days, was stuck with Edge.

Las Vegas Trip -- Technology Issues

Driving to the Alice/Media Computation workshop is going well.  I've been using lots of gadgets:

First, my AT&T 8575 has Windows Live Search on it.  I have a very cheap Nokia bluetooth GPS, and I have been tracking our progress, and mapping where we are going with it.  Found a cute local Albuquerque hamburger joint.  However, I didn't know that my husband is terrified of Albuquerque.  Could have told me.  I still think we bypassed the worse traffic.

It also got us to Meteor Crater, which was a cool place to visit.  They want you to be very afraid....Meteor Crater

Had a bad moment with a Dexcom CGMS unit that has a proprietary cable, both ends -- well, the One Touch end may be a standard end, but it might as well be proprietary itself.  Use standard cables people!  It cuts down on stress and yesterday mess.

I have two Nokia items that take completely different cables.  My Energizer wall plugs seem to have standard plugs, and my phone uses USB -- yeah phone.  Love my phone.

I solve the cable problem with my Camera by getting one without -- uses batteries, could use rechargeable but I don't.  And I use a SD card to move the photos back and forth.

By the way, flickr photos at

The problem with technology

The chargers I brought with me:


Yes, that's a CPAP machine, but it least it's an AutoPAP.

But -- most of the charges/adapters are proprietary, so you have to bring one for each device.  I love the devices that you can chose to put a battery in, or has a close to universal cable.  My phone has both, and yes, I have 4 extra batteries for it, but I got them very cheap. 

The worst part is one of my medical devices, my Dexcom CGMS.  It has a proprietary cable and if you lose either two of them, it's a brick.  One goes from the blood sugar meter (and was supposed to be eliminated last month), and one goes to the wall.

Alfred Thompson the Cyberspace People Watcher: Teachers and Students on Social Networking

The more I think about it, in a lot of ways TEXTING is better than a personal conversation -- I'm especially thinking about the roll they want to be play next year, being an Advisor to hopefully graduating seniors.

First, that the primary way most of the kids are communicating.  And being able to blast out a text message to all 15 kids I'm supposed to be shepherding to graduating is a whole lot easier than calling them.  I don't know about the rest of the teaching world, but even with speaker phone and speed dialing I find calling kids exhausting.  Yeah, I could use the school attendance system to blast them, I think -- the old one did, not sure what we're using now, but the text messaging even the whole group is a bit more personal and they DO check texts.

So letting them know that an application deadline is nearing and reminding them of a meeting is a good thing, but probably doesn't fall under the social correspondence.

The best part IS that there is a trail, but phone conversations would be he said, she said.

The good news, is that the original article said they are considering it.  Hopefully, they will say in the immortal words of Roseannadanna: "never mind".

Teachers and Students on Social Networking

Alfred Thompson the Cyberspace People Watcher: Teachers and Students on Social Networking

Internet Connectivity

So my husband and I are on our way to the Las Vegas Alice and Media Computation workshop. I have had internet access most of the trip. We left Dallas at noon and are approaching Santa Rosa New Mexico. Several times I have had little Gs on the screen but the 8525 just reconnects and grabs stuff from the exchange server when that happens. the most 'fun' has been the GPS and following our progress with it. Don't woory it get worse I am insisting we stop at a stuckys and have been taking pictures of reststops.