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Applying Appropriate Technology to Learning

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Old Wall Street Journel

What is this section?

I read the WSJ each morning from 7-8am. I'll try to pick out a few articles I found interesting. The below first appeared on the home page and now has to live on this secondary page inorder to make room for the NEW!

The 32nd Iditarod

This is the yearly 9 day dog sled race from Ankorage to Nome Alaska. It is one of my favorite events and you can follow it hour by hour on the Internet.



Here is a link directly to the Current Standings Log

This is the best link I have found for stories

It is a little hard to read but it gives you a great view of the race! I only wish there was some TV coverage. A few years ago the race was really getting major media coverage. But, animal activist have shut down that coverage. Dogs die in the race. I believe that the participants care more about dogs than any animal activist and I believe that the race does everything possible to help the mushers protect the health of each dog. But, the strong opposition has cut off the flow of prize money and coverage. I hope you will take a look.

For years I encouraged my children's grade school teachers to follow the race. There is a huge "classroom support" effort. The best part is a dog named Zuma who writes daily updates!!

Wall Street Journel

Monday March 8, 04

PageB1: Do we get enough for what we give Microsoft:

Pretty strong attack on Microsoft. The author breaks down the cost of a $437 computer and finds that $45 or 10% is for the MS operating system. He then goes on to say that if you are a monopoly, you have to at least reinvest those monopolistic size profits into making better products. Obviously he thinks MS has not done this. He says their new releases mainly concentrate on fixing security problems and poor user interfaces. He does say that MS recently held a TechFest where some of MS's 600 researchers set up booths to offer their ideas to other MS units.

Page B7: Free use of Linux is dealt a set back:

Fairly strange article. As you hopefully know, IBM, HP, Computer Associates (CA), Novel etc have banded together to support open source Linux against MS. MS has bankrolled a small company called SCO who claim to own some code that got integrated into Linux. SCO is suing Linux users, trying to force them to buy licenses from SCO. Clearly MS would like there to be a charge for Linux! Anyway, as part of another law suit brought by Canopy Group, CA signed an agreement that gave it SCO licenses. The article says that Canopy group is a backer of SCO. (Who else has invested in SCO???) CA says that it still is in support of free Linux. It signed the agreement but did not pay for the Licensees, they were just "thrown in" to the settlement. Hopefully, IBM and others can settle this problem either in court or by taking out and reverse engineering the "SCO claimed" software.

Monday Feb 23. 04

Good page A1 article titled "Barring Windows, As Microsoft eyes their turf, electronics giants play defense."

The thesis is that Microsoft's rivals have learned from watching how it dominated the PC market. They are willing to work with each other to avoid a repeat of its dominance in the home entertainment market and mobile markets.

It is not only the hardware guys who do not want to be paying royalties to MS AND having their devices made into communities as everyone just makes the devise to carry MS's functionality. The content providers like Disney want to be sure they are selling on more than an MS controlled platform.

It is interesting to note the role of standards. We all want beta or VHS to win. But in that situation it did not mean one company won. We do want to be able to put music from any online store on our mobile player. For the moment, the big guy in that market, Apple, is not going along. It is only selling for the ipod format.

Of course the Linux battleground is big here also. I am guessing that some versions of Linux are "proprietary". They mention that Monta Vista software makes a Linux for consumer devices.

The article points out the importance of controlling the living room and the potential that the video game player is well positioned to take that role from the PC. Sony's PSX 325 hour video TiVo like recorder is already in Japan and coming here this year. What does it use for a "schedule service"? TiVo sells the service for $200/life and indeed that is a MAJOR part of the product as it allows you to find content and easy programming of "seasons pass", watching the same show week after week.

I did buy a HP PC with the Media Center version of windows. Mossberg (WSJ) says that all I got was a remote control for my PC, and he is probably right, but I hoped I was getting some integration of video, audio and still pictures.

HP has a media hub coming that will use MS software but also be set to move to Linux. Even Intel has talked about chips for an entertainment PC that might be able to run Linux.

What a fun war this will be to watch!! You know the TV will be at the center. It already has a place in the living room. But will the PC be able to come in or will it be able to be "remote" and "serve" or will it lose out all together to imbedded PC functions in the cable box, DVD player or Game console?

More articles on page B4:

Computer Security conference in San Fran. More than half the article is about spam. The most common thread seems to be assuring who the mail came from. Lots of different solutions. There also is mention of "reverse firewalls" to keep the confidential information inside the company!!

I see more web sites these days where you can't copy the text. You can of course still steal the image by moving it to a picture but that is a pain. There was a great Notes product I worked with back in 1999? that did the same thing, would not let you copy the contents in character form.

And, one mention at the end of IM security. I think the coming generation uses IM more than they use our tools: Phone and e-mail.

Nokia bringing out a Wi-Fi phone. It is prohibitively expense, like $1000, but it is just the first. The idea is that you can talk for free in hot-spots. You also could download software that you then have available for music, games etc anywhere WITHOUT having to have paid the cellular provider for the download!! You can bet the phone providers hate this idea!

Wind River hooking up with Red Hat Linux to make control networking equipment. As they say at their web site: Wind River Platforms provide development tools, operating systems, middleware and hardware integration that are focused on the needs of particular industries. This may be an internal Linux fight, these guys want to be sure and get a piece of the Monta Vista pie for Linux in non-PCs.

BLOGS

On B1 is an article about Blogs that focuses on their political use, their post Dean life, whether they will release exit poling data 11/2/04 before the polls close nation wide, etc But, what really interested me in the article were several sites that I had not heard of. They are more news than Blogs but you can see the connection!

Check them out:

http://www.feedster.com/ A Google for Blogs
http://www.technorati.com Watching 1.7 million blogs
http://www.daypop.com Current events search engine
http://www.drudgereport.com/ links to all kinds of breaking news sources

WSJ Monday 2/9/04

"The top 10 trends in 10 industries"

I didn't read them all by any means but here are a few that caught my eye.

The Net

Security: Up-to-date patches still are not being installed regularly. You have to think most corporations have caught on to this. But I guess there are just so many machines out there that some of them are bound to be orphans.

Security: Passwords. I have always thought this was a big one. Assuming you are as bad as I am about my 37 passwords, one has to imagine the rest of the non-technical world is terrible. They much use their family names and birth dates or just paste it on the machine. My short solution is to have one password. For the next level of security, I add numbers to that password. At the next level, I add case sensitivity. Lastly, I intersperse the numbers with the case sensitively. Lets hope the bio-sensors come quickly and fix this problem.

Search: If the search engine knows a little more about you, maybe it could give better answers. The Zip code is an obvious item. Sex, age and family status might help also. Of course you would want to be able to turn this filter off when it was doing more harm than good, but I thought it was an interesting idea. Especially for non-technicals.

Online Entertainment: The article suggests it will be interactive. Hmmm. My reaction was that they are thinking too far ahead. We don't even have good control of video and audio yet! We have just gotten to the point where broadband penetration warrants making large video items available online. We have huge copy protection problems. Solving the whole video on demand problem will take a good amount of time before people start thinking of interactive modes.

Free: It sounds as if Japan and South Korea have a larger percentage of broadband connectivity than the US. The article notes that these locations are more willing to pay for online content while the US is still flirting with using advertising to foot the bill. The downside here is that the exciting technology to support paid content will be developed over there. We want to be the ones developing the exciting technology, if at all possible.

Blogs: A couple have started to charge a reading subscription: www.andrewsullivan.com www.talkingpointsmemo.com. Amazon offers a shareware type donation collection service for Blogers called honor system. Blogers can also get a kickback from Amazon for recommending books.

Content: http://www.archive.org is trying to get as much stuff online as possible. Check out the old cigarette commercials.

Money making: Look at the big 4: Ebay, Yahoo, Amazon, Google. The ebay model has beaten the Amazon model. Ebay has no inventory. They just bring buyers and sellers together and take a %. That is what the rest will move to do. That is the model that wins. Even if you are selling the item yourself, make the manufacturer store it and ship it!

TV

Reality TV has not only upset content but also the weekly "slot". Because many of the reality shows don't fit into the normal 16 episode niche, they are breaking up viewing habits. Broadcast TV, alone with all its other problems, is losing the idea that Tuesday night is Friends night. This is of course part of the Tivo, "I'll watch it when I want" phenomena. But, I thought the concept that Friday is no longer Washington Week in review night was important. Broadcast TV really is in for some large changes.

Reality: Reruns don't work! I don't mind the Road Rules reruns but I do understand that there will be little demand for the 3ed episode of Survivor the Out Back! Reruns have been a HUGE money maker for Broadcasters.

Advertisements: We have all read this one before: because of TiVo and other demand watching modes, people are skipping commercials. So, one obvious solution is to put the coke can in the show. This kind of placement advertising is bound to grow.

Political Advertising: Get ready to open your wallet! Maybe the rest of you are up on this one but I missed it. Part of the Campaign Reform act says that corporation and Union backed outside groups cannot advertise within 60 days of a general election. Non-profit issue groups can but they may have to use individually collected money.

Banking

Credit Cards: I have always known that merchants hate Visa/Master Card because they have to pay the cards 2% of purchases. Remember the big Visa/Master Card suit last year? I knew that was in this area but I missed the idea that it was over debit cards. V/M wanted to charge the same 2% on those purchases. V/M lost. Someone has to pay for those cards. Banks will have to make up for that lost revenue by charging for debit cards? How else could it work.

Online Banking: is finally picking up. Maybe 25% of homes now. I do use it to transfer money around accounts and to pay credit cards, but I have so far not signed up to pay the electric bill online. I was waiting until it was done electronically. It seemed strange to me that I went online and then they sent a check out by mail! One of the merchants we pay by check, Macy's?, does redeem the check electronically. In other words, when I go online to my fleet account, I see each check come in. When the Macy's check is cashed, it appears not as a check but as an electronic transfer that just references the check. Clearly that is the way of the future.

An Aside on money and children: Our 12th grader has both a Visa Bux card and a Fleet Bank card. I can move money onto the Visa Bux card any time from online. It is expensive! They ding me like 3$ to add 50$. I am able to take the money from my master card. That gets me Frequent flyer points. The down side is that it makes my Master Card account issuer think I am playing a ponzi scheme where I continually move money from one credit card to another. So, they keep a close eye on my limits! I can also go online and put money into the fleet account from another fleet account. Of course that can only be taken out in 20$ increments! So, if our child can catch me at home with the computer, I can instantly give her cash or the ability to charge.

Another interesting note from page B3

UK cell phone operator mm02 is selling a 60 song ipod type devise for $190. Their real business model is not the player but the songs at about 2.30 each. The news in all this is that you donít use a computer to do the download! Instead, you use a cell phone. The gadget wirelessly connects to the cell phone and downloads a song in about 4 minutes. The article says the songs can be moved to a PC but does not detail how. The gadget only plays songs from its own download store and the songs are protected so you canít play them on another devise! Cell phone teenagers have liked buying the special tone rings. There will be special phones with this devise built in. The whole idea reminds me that as technologies converge, you have to be a little careful who you bet on because you might pick the right idea but the wrong method.

WSJ 1/12/04

What caught my eye today mainly comes again from the Consumer Electronic Show (CES).

(Page B1) Apple, H-P Deal to Sell iPod

We are back to battling formats, VHS verses BETA. This time it looks like Apple AAC verses Microsoft's Windows Media. The kicker is not only the recording format but the copy protection. Does Apple want to control too much? It makes the iPod player AND the iTunes store. Hopefully the HP deal is a sign that they have learned to not need to control everything as they did with the computer.

(Page B1) Product Placements in TV shows

Tivo and other PVRs are letting viewers skip ads. So, the ads need to be inserted in the programs. What better way than to have the actors actually buy an X Box, drive a Ford? What else can advertisers do to fight the "skip" power that views now have?

(Page B3) IBM and Intel back Linux defense fund

Microsoft is backing a company called SCO. SCO has a copyright on lots of UNIX software. SCO is claiming that lots of this UNIX code actually got included in LINUX and it wants to be paid royalties. Of course the whole appeal of LINUX is that it is in the public domain. You don't have to pay royalties. So IBM and Intel, who both sell lots of hardware running LINUX have put up a few million to help an organization defend LINUX. SCO is trying to stop the LINUX train by threatening to sue LINUX Customers! The IBM/Intel money would defend these customers. HP has said it will defend its LINUX customers. SCO has already sued IBM. The next item to watch is the disclosure in that suit. If you can believe it, SCO has still not published EXACTLY what code was included. Of course, as soon as they do, it can just be taken out!

(Page B5) RFID is ready to take over from bar codes

RFID is Radio Frequency Identification Technology. A friend at Harvard Business School was talking about the importance of this concept a year ago. You know how bar code readers work? You can put a lot of information on a label on a box and read it into a computer. With RFID, the concept is the same BUT the reading is more passive. The code is sent out by the labeled box or individual parts. You just send out a signal "who is there" and it responds. This allows for a whole new level of inventory control. Just remember that there are at least two secrets to inventory control. Inventory costs money, so you want to keep it small. Secondly, if you discover that a inventory item is defective, you want to be able to replace it quickly and inexpensively.

WSJ 1/8/04

(Page A15) Mossburg: Alternate Browsers and how Microsoft (MS) stymies innovation

Walter S. Mossberg writes a Personal Technology column that appears always on Thursdays and some other times. I think he is smart and unbiased. (What that probably means is that he has my biases and I agree with what he says.) So today he mentions 6 alternate browsers and recommends 2. Walter makes the obvious point that MS is very good at winning a market like they did with the browser. But then they stop investing. They stop innovating. And we the users are left with whatever it took them to win the market. (That, in a nutshell, is why technical people generally encourage the government to break up MS.) I downloaded the one he recommended for windows, Netcaptor. I was afraid that the site would be flooded by the time I got to it, 7:30am, but it was fine. The download and install were fast!!! and easy. The program must be pretty small. I put it my play machine and will use it later. The main idea that Walter pitches is having many pages open in the one browser with tabs to move between them. If you are anything like me, you quickly get 5 instances of IE running and with 20 pop-ups, it is a real pain.

(Page A15) Online Chemical Exchange ChemConnect is a BtoB success

What caught my eye here was the line: ChemConnect's Mr. Beasley "realized that the only way to persuade traditional chemical companies to trade online was to allow the industry to profit from ChemConnect - so he sold about one-third of the company to more than 40 chemical companies." (Lets see, 1/3 * 40 =>, well, lets hope none of them read the article (:-) Remember, never use humor online, it just does not work). I have been involved with several Business Partner programs. Over and over I have been bludgeoned with the idea that if the "partnership" is one sided, surprise, IT DOES NOT WORK. Or at least it does not work the way you want it to. If the "majority" partner is willing to give a little, not insisting on taking all the profit, the resulting synergy makes everyone richer. (I'll have to find a way to highlight recurring diatribes like this one!)

(Page A15) Hyperlexia, non-functional reading by autistic children

Autism is so sad and so interesting. This article talks about children who read everything. Every licensee plate in the parking lot. Obsessive. But the do not yet have spoken language!. The interesting idea was that maybe our assumption that reading and speaking have to be so connected is flawed. I have always loved reading about brain research. One of the topics high on my list for this web site is the ability to navigate in the world. Our oldest daughter has no "sense of direction". More on that topic coming soon!

Elliott Masie Archieve

Comments on Consumer Electronic Show 2/04

Hopefully you have heard of the Learning Guru, Elliott Masie, of The MASIE Center. I subscrbe to a free newsletter form him. He publishes to this list only occationally, usually to plug his upcoming conference. I find the list an efficient way to get a high level view of the latest trends in Learning.

You can join it at http://www.masie.com/list/

Today's Masie mistive comes from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). He observes that

1. Fingerprints and Learning: I have started to use my finger as my password on my PC. This week I purchased a SONY Puppy, a simple fingerprint scanner and software from SONY. Every time I log on the network or want to use a "remembered password", instead of typing one of my many passwords, I just place my pointer finger on my right hand on this little pad and in a half second I am IN. This has interesting implications for learning in the work place:

* Biometric verification of test takers
* Easy access to learning on open space desktops
* Identity confirmation for collaboration

Earlier fingerprint access points were more expensive, more clunky, larger and less effective. This one works perfectly, is small and was about $150. Check it out:

Tom's Comments:

I see two things here. The first is password unification. Elliott has all his passwords in one tool. As all of us know who have too many different logins, this could be a real life saver. I am constantly trying different passwords to get into a sight. I am scared to death that something will change and I will have to remember the password at a site where I have asked the computer to remember the password. A month after buying a new computer, I still have a site or two that I can't get into on the new machine!

The second topic is fingerprints. Clearly you should wait until the world standardizes to some extent before you commit to a technology like this. What you do at home is fine!! It is just the idea that you get to a public terminal with no fingerprint reader and you are dead. You have long since forgotten your logins and passwords. For the moment, it seems to me the best strategy is to standardize on as few login names/passwords as possible. And, be happy that your machine helps you remember them by asking for them regularly!

Elliott also has a free video report I have not looked at yet:

2. Free Video Report from CES: I have taped a 10 minute streamed video summary from the Consumer Electronics Show. This really got my thinking going on Work place and Workforce Electronics and the implications for training and learning. You can watch this video and or read some of our reports HERE

Previous day's Massie mistive comes from the Consumer Electoronics Show (CES).

He observes that

"The major technology companies have shifted their annual announcements to this event. Microsoft, Intel, HP and others have brought their leaders here to announce new directions and product lines as they leverage convergence. CES is where the buying action is in at the access and record end of the computer age."

"The Untethered Worker: We need to expand our thinking about the form factor of how these workers (mobil) will access information, collaborate with their colleagues and engage in e-Learning. They WILL be using devices. AND, these devices are at the core of the Workforce Technology innovations."

I just noticed today that the Ti-83 that is obquies in high school math classes has no HELP!! It has a screen and is clearly capable of text, but no one ever took the time to build it in?

This is hard!

My wife wants to know what I am spending all this time on. I think I know. I have a lot I want to put up here. But it sure is taking twice the amount of time I thought it would. The main problem is getting the process and technology set. I have more ideas for content than I know what to do with. Instead of writing I am having to spend hours and hours trying to figure out how to use CSS (cascading style sheets) or some alternate technology. I want to keep the links you see on the left of this page consistent on each of the other pages on the site without having to update them in 20 different places when I make a change! That is just one example of where the time goes instead of into content. Hopefully the balance will soon shift!!