Previous month:
May 2009
Next month:
July 2009

June 2009

A “Digital Hallway” Project Education Community - TechSmith, the world leader in Screen Capture and Screen Recording Software.

I really like this idea and plan to incorporate it next with my laptop - digital photoframe project that I've blogged about before.  I love Screencast and letting parents know where their students work can be accessed really takes it a step further.

Quoted from

A “Digital Hallway” Project Education Community - TechSmith, the world leader in Screen Capture and Screen Recording Software.

But what if the tradition of work-in-the-hallway went digital – into an online space where students could easily display their work, teachers could evaluate it, and parents would come to view and comment?

Zune Problem

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that a customized Zune would make a great gift (for me at least).  Well, I picked up a 4 gig pick Zune and was going to get it together for a gift in May, but since it was the end of the year and I had my usual dozen projects ....

First mistake was not turning it on when I got it. 

I got it engraved yesterday, went to power it up and customize the interior and it wouldn't power up.  Yikes, tried the wall, tried different cables, computers, etc.

So I registered on the Zune site to find out that it was out of warranty!  Yikes, well, I bought it at so I filled out the paperwork, and low and behold a few hours later got an email that the warranty was extended.  It took a few more hours, but just in time to get it over to Office Depot to ship, it updated and I was able to put in the request for service.  Printed out the label, wrapped it up, and sent it off to Larado to get fixed.

Hopefully it will get back in time -- we'll see.  But so far, great customer service.

New Computer

A couple of my computers are driving me nuts -- mostly memory problems.  I broke down and bought a new one at Fry's yesterday and I really like it.  It's a HP Compaq, 4 gig of memory, 500 hard drive and 64-bit operating system.  It's NICE!

That's the problem with the old computers.  Memory.

So I have ordered a set of 4 gig of memory (two 2-gig sets), which should fit in either of the two old HP Compaqs, I'm definately keeping.  I'm going to try the downstairs computer first -- it's supposed to only take 2 DDR2 sticks, so the memory I ordered should take it from 1 gig to 4 gig.  Then I'll installed a 64-bit version of Vista, and see if I like it.  It works well until you starting doing multiple things.

My plan is to replace the e-machines I have upstairs here in my office -- I hate e-machines/Gateway since they sold my support contract to a company that went out of business.  Plus it's is maxed out, I'm pretty sure.  It actually works pretty well, so if I am stick with it for a while, that's okay.  I mostly do onlne banking on it.

Of course, it would be nice to have a machine powerful enough to only have one machine upstairs but one of my purposes for the dual machines is to burn CDs/DVDs and render movies.  I can't stand waiting around for stuff like that, and having two machines solves that problem.  Grading is easier too, but I can always use dual monitors for that.  I do that at school.

Conferences and why I am not an NECC

The biggest reason I'm not at NECC is money, Washington DC is too rich for my blood -- well, yeah, I'm going in two weeks but a) the trip is on someone else's dime and b) prices are cheaper then.   Plus I get three days to play.

I have not gone to NECC, and I might next year, depends on the budget, but going to the Games Cruise is my priority.

I've been to TCEA twice and was really disappointed.  I'll say that one of the workshops I paid extra for was really good though I haven't actually used the idea.  It's still in the back of my mind, years later though. My biggest problem with TCEA has been the CS to other ratio and the availibility of space to actually sit in a room and get anything out of the presentation.

I understand now they do at least a full day of Computer Science only but haven't tried.  Also with the reimbursement system my district uses, it still cost me major money if I can get them to pay for it.  It's also during the school year, so the opportunity to stay home and teach is much more attractive.

I'm going to look into some alternative funding arrangements for NECC next year, maybe try to raise funds via Twitter or something -- which is sort of an interesting idea for the Games Cruise now that I think of it.

I'm also glad I didn't go this year because of the Middle School Girl's Camp -- we still have 3 days with the girls and I really want to spend the time with them. I'm going to show them how to use Windows Movie Maker on Monday.

I will say that the CSIT is the absolute best one day event I've every been to.  I went to San Antonio last year and there was only one bad session (I really should have picked the other one).  It was very dull but the rest were very good, and I might have liked it if I were more into Open Source things. Alfred was mean and teased me about not being there earlier.

Dallas ISD looking at expansion for college prep program | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News


Dallas school board members will decide today whether to pay $2 million to a Wichita Falls company to expand a program that grooms select students for Ivy League colleges.

Dallas ISD looking at expansion for college prep program | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News

This program has been going on at my school for two years and I have some major reservations about it. 

First, they have a bunch of the school computers in her office, I’ve not seen all of them being used.  However, they weren’t being used daily were they were previously at.  I’d like to place half of them somewhere where they would be used for more academic pursuits.

Second, students leave my room and other rooms during class time to work with her.

I know three students who have worked with her and I am quite sure that two of them would have got into the college of their choice – they were our valedictorian and our salutatorian and neither of them are first-generation college attendees.  I know for a fact , that both of those student’s parents went to college. 

She did help a Hispanic young lady get into TWU.  A young lady who has been in my class for two years and is very hard working.  However, I don’t think she really could afford the class time she took to work on the program.  She lost a letter grade, but that is typical of high school seniors.

I’ve attended the presentations given to the faculty and staff, and I have set down with the woman who does our program and talked to her about it privately.  Her office has been across from my room this year, so I do have an idea of what is going on.

I’d love to see them reach more than the select few we’re seeing help at our school, but again, I think we’re wasting the computer and time resources.

Learning a new Language

Someone just asked me for a good source of C#.

I've programmed professionally in about 8 programming languages (included assembly), and have taught in 4 different languages, plus was taught lots of programming languages in college. 

So here's how I learn a new language -- which is very similar to the course I took in college.

I pick a project to work on in the new language: when I wanted to learn PHP, I built my classroom website, when I wanted to learn how to do a website in Visual Basic, I did the school website, etc.

So first, pick a project you want to work on and make sure that the language was suited for it.  When I want to do C#, I write a Windows/XBox/Zune game.  There are other things you can do in C# but it's suited for it.

So I'd use Dan Water's Book on Zune programming, and the website at to play around until I came up with a game I really wanted to write and go from there.

In other words, I'm pretty practical, and don't just program for the sake of programming.

Figured out CS4 Contribute Was Behaving Badly

I used Camtasia to make a video of what I was doing in CS4 Contribute and sure enough it was a user interface problem (user wasn't interfacing properly.

Here's the recording that shows me what was going on:

As you can see - when I clicked on the new entry button I was automatically going to the CS blog.  Here's why:

So I've got it set to automatically post to the diabetes blog and I have to change it to go to this blog.

Middle School Girl's Camp

It is anything like I expected and it's been a good thing.  We're half way through the camp experience and I'm really enjoying (and am really going to enjoy the pay afterwards).

First of all, we don't get the same girls every day.  We've had one that has come every single day and we've had some that have come most.  At our most active, we had 12 girls.  Yesterday was our smallest at 4.  I don't get that.  If my mother could have sent my sister and/or I somewhere every Monday - Thursday from 8:30 - 12:30, she'd have done it gladly, and we're free and we feed them breakfast and lunch.  My mother would have been in ecstasy. Love my mother, but she was good at farming us out. We spent weeks each summer with her parents and went to several Vacation Bible Schools.

We are supported by a group called "Big Thought", they gather the students, take attendance and bring them to us each day.  Well, occasionally they get busy and they send us the girls.  They also pick them up.

I usually show off something cool at the start of class based on a question I got asked the day before.  We are doing Alice and I've shown them how to get a character to juggle a ball -- based on when a girl asked me how to get the characters to play a sport.  I've shown them how to drown the ice skater and make her skate forever, based on a girl wanting to do that in her story.  Also taught them how to record their voices and how to download sounds -- I think I need to do that again.

My original curriculum was to have them journal but we've dropped that since not seeing the same people every day didn't make much sense.  I am hoping to do a web page and to have them make a movie, but that's going to be hard with the rotating schedule.  Alice is hard enough, but we're doing it.

I love the schedule, I get up early (okay, later would be nice), and I'm done at 10:30.  I have been working at Buckner after but I'm on a break from that, and I have the rest of the day to do whatever I want.

Cutting and Pasting -- Or Life is an Open Book Test

I'm obviously behind in my reading.

My favorite saying is that programming is all about cutting and pasting and the good programmers know which code to paste.  I have my students copy the code out of our book, code I write, etc.  I honestly feel I would be dishonest if I didn't since that's the way I've always programmed.

Oh, sure, there are times I write original code -- I've been doing a ton of that showing examples of Alice code to my middle school students, at the same time, I expect them to copy and use my ideas -- and my co-teacher copies my code in front of them.

Quoted from

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : Real Life Is An Open Book Test

I don’t remember when I first heard someone say “real life is an open book test” but it really stopped me on my feet one day. It also influenced me as a teacher.

Google Voice to Offer Phone and Messaging Services

I'm one of the lucky ones and I love Google Voice -- you can pre-register for it.

I have all of our phones forwarded to this is we don't answer.

Quoted from

Google Voice to Offer Phone and Messaging Services

Google Voice wants to be your phone manager, SMS and voicemail provider. The service is rumored to be almost ready for public access.

One of my voice mails - send to my email address.:

hello my name is cynthia ble blah cross blue shield of texas in the blue care connection department i'm calling to speak with kathleen weaver please give me a call back at (866) 412-8795 extension 2886 bye my office social on monday through friday 8:30 AM to 5 o'clock P M thank you very much and have a great day
Play message