Archive for April, 2011

Clean your projector’s filters.

April 28th, 2011


If you work in a dusty area, clean your LCD projector’s filters before the recommended time to avoid bulbs burning out early. The filters are usually located on the sides and look like a grill. The plastic piece pops off easily to reveal the foam that catches the dust. If it gets too dusty, the machine will overheat.

Just to be safe, go clean yours now.

The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll

April 26th, 2011

Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and expect someone else to raise their young. In The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll, astronomer-turned-sysadmin Stoll discovers 75 cents worth of computer time on a spreadsheet unaccounted for in the user logs. Someone logged in, but there’s an error. Like any good scientist, Stoll picks apart the computer code and sees that it’s working just fine. As he digs deeper, he realizes that a hacker has been in Berkeley Astronomy Labs.

Stoll’s conflict between freedom and order, between his college radical roots and his admin duties, is what creates the character development and makes Stoll a relatable narrator. This is a true story of a computer crime case that happened in 1986. Stoll published the book in 1990 and has many details from his logbooks included in the story.

I can remember being online for the first time in 1994. I had a teacher who ran a bulletin board service and I dialed in my 2400 baud modem to connect directly to his computer. The Cuckoo’s Egg is great for tech nostalgia. Usually I want a tech book that is extremely current, but sometimes it is important to see our roots. The epilogue is my favorite part as Stoll recalls a new threat: a worm embedding and spreading across the Arpanet, the Internet’s grandpa.

This, kids, is a floppy disk. This particular one holds tech-deadly source code.

Even if you’re not a total computer fanatic, there are parts to enjoy about the book. I do feel, though, that having a decent knowledge of computing greatly enhances the suspense when you’re able to appreciate the nontraditional techniques the astronomer uses to capture a hacker who has ties to a high-powered government agency.

Facebook Safety Center

April 19th, 2011

Facebook is adding more features to its Safety Center to allow students to report bullying not only to Facebook employees but also to someone in their network. Those people in their network will be more capable of addressing issues in the face-to-face world.

There will also be a teacher’s guide coming out written by Linda Fogg Phillips, B.J. Fogg, and Derek Baird to help educators stay current on social media. The best way to stay updated is to use it yourself, but hopefully this will be a bridge for adults who lack technological confidence.

Many times the bullying online is a sign of trouble offline, so, like always, the best practice for teachers is to know your students and watch for signs of bullying.

Kobayashi Haiku

April 14th, 2011

Earlier this school year, 5923 Quarterly published my short story Hiccup. This past Saturday I wrote a slightly-nerdy poem called “Kobayashi Haiku” (the name is a parody of the dreaded final exam in Star Trek’s Starfleet Academy)(and yes, I am proud to remember the name of the test).

The poem was selected as a featured work on Thin Air Magazine’s Writers’ Challenge site. Go check it out here.

App Inventor from Google is like Scratch

April 9th, 2011

The App Inventor, an in-browser emulator to write your own Android Apps, looks very similar to programming in Scratch:

Very intriguing… – Did you ever wonder where the .ly came from?

April 8th, 2011

I use to shorten most of my URLs, but I will sometimes use clients that have shorten the web addresses. I just learned something new today: the .ly doman names originate in Libya.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal has to say:

The .ly domain is controlled by Libya’s General Post and Telecommunications Co., whose chairman, Mohammed el-Gadhafi, is the dictator’s eldest son. It says it has rented out more than 10,000 .ly domains, either directly or through resellers.

I knew that .tv belonged to Tuvalu, but I don’t think the U.S. will ever have a military presence on that island nation.

Free breakfast on Monday

April 8th, 2011


If you’re taking the AIMS test on Monday, McDonalds will give you a free breakfast from 6am to 9am. It’s Monday only, so make sure to take them up on their offer. As a reminder, we start out with science and writing on Monday.

Tina Fey’s Reviews

April 7th, 2011

Usually publishers include a one-sentence, catchy review to the cover of a book. Here’s what the publisher included for Tina Fey’s new book:

Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.


“You’d be really pretty if you lost weight.” (College Boyfriend, 1990 )

“Tina Fey is an ugly, pear-shaped, overrated troll.” (The Internet )

“Mommy, where are my pretzels?” (Tracy Morgan )


“I hope that’s not really the cover. That’s really going to hurt sales.” (Don Fey, Father of Tina Fey )

“Absolutely delicious!” (A Guy Who Eats Books )

“Totally worth it.” (Trees )

“Do not print this glowing recommendation of Tina Fey’s book until I’ve been dead a hundred years.” (Mark Twain )

“Hilarious and insightful. Laugh-out-loud funny — oh no, a full moon. No! Arrgh! Get away from me! Save yourself!” (A Guy Turning into a Werewolf )

You Make Me Sick!

April 4th, 2011

The winners of the STEM video game challenge have been announced.

The professional developer prize went to Filament Games for their web-based You Make Me Sick! It’s made in Flash and is a good example of a simple game done right.

Here are the student winners.

Katniss, Peeta, and Gale cast for the Hunger Games movie

April 4th, 2011

You’ve probably heard that Katniss is going to be played by Jennifer Lawrence. You’ll also be seeing her as a young Mystique in the new X-Men movie coming out later this year.

Gale, Lone Wolf hunter extraordinaire, will be played by Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus’s boyfriend (as of the time of this writing).

Peeta, the lovable baker’s son, will be played by Josh Hutcherson. You might see him in the remake of Red Dawn that comes out later this year. He was in Bridge to Terabithia and The Vampire’s Assistant.