On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, my Mom passed away after years of battling the affects of Alzheimer’s. The following is the eulogy I delivered at the service on April 20, in the church I grew up in – the Jamesville Community Church (formerly Jamesville Federated Church)
This is a day to remember my Mom. However, there is no remembering Mom without the memory of my Dad.
As many of you know, My Dad died back in 2002. Now, my Mom has passed in 2013 amidst the chaos of a terrorist bombing and the manhunt for suspects. I tell you this only because of its eery similarity to 2002 when the East Coast sniper was waging his reign of terror as close as our local mall in Spotsylvania – while my wife Michelle was pregnant with my son Aidan. Both of whom thankfully are here with me and sitting in this church today.
You also know my Dad was a minister. His ministry was the word of God and the love of his son. My Mother was an educator, she wasn’t a teacher in a school per se, at least not until later in life, but she was MY first teacher. My Dad was slightly hands-off when it came to raising me. As I got older he related to me more and more. Some Dads are like that. As I grew older, I began to appreciate his education. Dad AND Mom always SHARED in the serving of any given parish. I work at a higher educational institution because of my Mom and Dad. I like to think my ministry is education.
Mom was always great with her memories. Well up until recently….
At my hotel, my towel smelled like gerbils. Let me let that sink in for a moment. A towel brought me back to the slightly used bedding that my gerbils, Lewey and Dewey, had in their massive tower cage when we lived on Comstock Ave – Well over 30 years ago. Smell is a powerful memory trigger as you may know. Another interesting bit of trivia – My Mom had virtually no sense of smell.
The most important thing that my Mom was is the family historian. First of all, my Mom had pictures. Photos in albums with brief descriptions. I loved looking at these photos. I Imagined the places that my parents went to before I was born, and what my family was like once my brother and sister came along. The stories of what came before me were powerful.
And so today I write on this thing called a blog. And encourage others to do so. Students mostly. I’m hoping one day soon that we will ditch the term blogger and use that word no more than we would if we would say that a person is an Emailer. I blog because it allows me to reflect and to hopefully, ultimately help people. Yeah, it’s like a diary. Like my Mom had. The difference is it that it’s a little bit more out in the open. I believe in finding the outlets of these triggers of our memories. They’re called stories. Human tell stories.
My blog has a name. The story of the name of my blog came from my Mom. She never really knew that.
How many of you know the comic Family Circus – Raise your hand?
How many of you know the hymn “In The Garden”?
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
In the house where my Mom lived in Jamesville, she had a framed Family Circus cartoon of one the children – I think it was Dolly – singing the mis-heard lyrics “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me.” Pretty powerful to see this every time I visit. Humor is also a very important part of my upbringing.
So the name of my blog comes thanks to my Mom. And He Blogs
So I will blog about this – I mean Write about this on my site, and I will include the picture that I just took. Because more than anything my Mom created in me a documentarian. And documenting life helps me keep hold of memories better and longer.
For my Mom, her memories left her many years ago, but she documented so well that we have a treasure trove of words and pictures.
Cherish your memories. But preserve them too.
Thank you all for being a part of this memory. I cherish you all.
This little video blew my mind in so many ways. I don’t expect it to blow the minds of very many others – or maybe it will – I don’t know. First, some background. The Techcast Focus Network (TTFN) is a group dedicated to informing would-be broadcasters about technology that delivers the highest bang for the buck. They are a consultant group and therefore get paid for what they do, but they give back to the community in many ways through their video reviews and coverage of technology shows – especially the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB Show).
I have subscribed to TTFN’s YouTube videos for a couple of years now, and they have informed some of my approaches to video and live production ever since. I especially like the fact that have an ethics page to transparently disclose any corporate assistance they have received and address the lack of influence that may have on their reviews.
So imagine the aligning of planets that brought the TTFN folks together at the NAB Show at the Tiffen Booth to talk to Garrett Brown about the latest Steadicam products. “So what?”, you might say. Well, if you don’t know who Garrett Brown is, he is the inventor of the Steadicam. It is a tool to stabilize a hand-held camera for film, and now video. The Steadicam was first used in the Hal Ashby film Bound for Glory. It was perhaps more famously used in The Shining, following the character Danny on his trike through the Overlook Hotel, and later through the snow-filled hedge maze at the end of the film. It was revolutionary. It allowed the camera to go anywhere, at least anywhere a human could go with a camera strapped on. Cranes and dollies would be impractical to follow a character doing one complete revolution of the hotel perimeter in one complete take. The Steadicam made it possible – and mesmerizingly unique. Wikipedia has a picture of Brown walking and talking with Stanley Kubrick, with the device, on the set of The Shining.
So this got me thinking about my favorite subject, or at least work subject, education. Specifically the tools that we use to not just enhance, but to transform education. What the Steadicam has done is provide an extension to the body that allows what I said before, to “see” in the most accurate way to how humans see life. And to go anywhere that humans can go. As Brown says in the video above, we humans have a built-in Steadicam. The technological device transformed filmmaking. Tools like this have transformed education as well. I’ll let others argue the accuracy and application of the terms enhance and transform for now.
But we know some of the tools that have changed for the better how education can be delivered. Altered and enhanced learning by enabling networks and communities of practice. It’s OK to celebrate the tools for what they have enabled. The Steadicam didn’t save the film industry. No technology will save education. What has happened to the Steadicam technology is that it has become less expensive, and therefore more democratized. It allows filmmakers on a small budget to get the look that films like The Shining have. You can get them for DLSRs and even get one for your iPhone for about $150.
Educational technology tools are similar. And the best ones are those that you don’t think immediately as being specifically a tool for education. Textbooks, film projectors, overheads, blackboards, and even computers, all enhanced education in certain ways. To a small extent they changed how we “see” education, but in a literal way. The technologies that will transform education are the ideas that are born from them. My friend Gardner Campbell talks often and lovingly of “Alan Kay’s aphorism that “the computer is an instrument whose music is ideas.” The Personal Cyberinfrastructure that Gardner has championed the last several years, and that DTLT uses as a frame for our “culture of innovation”, is some of that wonderful music born from the technology. A Domain of One’s Own is what we think will at least enhance one’s education and perhaps even transform it in profound ways.
Now like all analyses of this type, discussions can get bogged down in over analysis. What about “X” or”Y”? Time to rip to shreds your little dream-like analogy or aphorism. Steadicam’s are still relatively expensive for some. There are DIY versions of them out there. So how about DIY education? Questions and further analysis for another day. I prefer to bask in the strange and delightful performance of Garrett Brown hawking a product on a convention show floor that was derived from a device he imagined and used on the set of a film by one of the greatest directors of all time. Life is full of delight.
Lock your doors AND windows as there are thieves about. The above video comes courtesy of B&H Photo, whom I have done business with personally, and have recommended purchases at UMW. The photo and video “superstore” has for the most part provided very informative presentations. There are a ton of great videos on their YouTube Channel.
Now I’ve seen many presentations on copyright both in person and online. I was intrigued by the description of The Copyright Zone Guys because they were supposedly funny and had a “light touch”, and they would also “rock [my] world”. I’ll spare you much of the theatrics of this video, but the bit that is particularly laughable starts at the 1:20:30 mark. It manifests itself in their myth busting section and is in regards to Creative Commons. I never realized it but CC is apparently a dangerously evil syndicate that “pisses off” the presenter (Jack Reznicki) because photographers defend them. Their licenses are confusing, and deliberately so, according to Mr. Reznicki.
He then goes on to recommend an article written by Mark Helprin in the Wall Street Journal (from 2009)entitled “Copyright Critics Rationalize Theft“. As Helprin writes about “public interest groups” check out this key bit:
The Creative Commons organization, for example, is richly financed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Mozilla, Sun, the Hewlett Foundation, and others of type [sic].
Public interest groups like Creative Commons:
serve the new information super powers, the Standard Oils of our age, whose interests would be advanced if they did not have to bother with permissions and payments for what they call “content.”
The rest of the information in this presentation is in many cases equally laughable. I’ll let you judge for yourself whether much about this presentation is enjoyable, including Mr. Reznicki’s sidekick.
Look, I get when you are self-employed as a photographer, you want to protect any possible income. However, conjuring up consipracy theories regarding a supplement to copyright like Creative Commons is pure non-sense. The presentation bills itself as “Everything you want to know about Copyright and other legal issues, but were too scared to ask.” I’d be surprised that anyone watching this (and believing it) wouldn’t also be very likely to invest in a home security system and a car alarm. It’s not information. It’s scary. And they get paid.
So in an effort to be constructive, I would be happy if the Copyright Zone Guys would contact me, and I’d be happy to explain Creative Commons and their licenses. I know they want to get it right. Right?
I can’t imagine it will take too long to read this post. Mostly because I don’t want my words to get in the way.
This post is about lots of people. Teachers. Storytellers. Humans. But it’s about two people in particular. One Teacher and one storyteller. Jeffrey Wright and Zack Conkle. Mr. Wright is a teacher. Physics to be exact. Zack is a storyteller. A filmmaker to be more precise. Both are incredibly gifted at what they do. It is completely obvious. That they are so talented makes it easy to learn from them.
The messages from the above short film from Zack are many, but the core message comes out in anyone human in the form of tears. Love. It’s what teaching is all about, and what storytelling is all about. We teach because we love. We teach through storytelling because we love. That teaching and storytelling are about love is what makes them powerful. If you don’t see the power in Mr. Wright’s teaching, or the power in Zack’s storytelling is love, please try again, but I think most will see it plainly.
Zack Conkle was (and forever will be) Jeffrey Wright’s student. Zack sees the power of love as a key element to his films. Zack has many more stories to tell, but the love from his teacher will be a part of them all. So if you haven’t already, WATCH THE DAMN FILM ALREADY!
Zack’s other film, Marrying at 100, is also on Vimeo.
Don’t even try to read the following post without watching the video above. It’s only a minute long, and it will put you in such a good mood for reading further!
There. That said, I don’t like to read. Let me clarify. I don’t enjoy reading books. I’ve read online that is a stupid thing to admit, ’cause it makes me sound stupid, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I do read books. I’m reading quite a few right now. I’m just not the person who will participate much in the conversations that start out with “Have you read so and so’s latest. . .”
I sometimes think I have a reading disability because of the people that I know and work with who love “curling up with a good book”. I curl up with a good movie, generally. But I do read, a lot. There’s this cool thing that I read every day. It’s called the Internet. Most of my day is spent reading. Though the joke at DTLT is that my job is mostly watching YouTube. I do that too.
However, here’s my evidence that there’s hope for me. I got all excited about an extension for my Safari web browser called Custom Reader (Download it from MacUpdate alternatively). What is it? Well it’s a plugin (extension) for Safari that will give you more options for the built in “Reader“. What does Reader do? It formats a given web page in a more readable way.
You click the button at the end of the Safari address bar and you get a new, uncluttered view of your web page, without all the ads and flashing crap that many web sites bombard you with. It turns this:
However, Safari gives you little choice over the look of reader. You can zoom in to give you a larger type face, but you are stuck with a “serif” font, and I dislike reading on the web with serif fonts. Enter Custom Reader. It gives you all manner of control over how a Reader article is presented. The extension gives you an extra button on the Reader toolbar.
Clicking on the Configure button gives you the CustomReader Settings dialog.
Now you can customize to your hearts content. “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us.” You can now read the web “your way”.
I have bounced from web browser to web browser in my lifetime. Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome (and now back to Safari). Most of the modern browsers offer some way to customize the reading of web pages. With Safari it’s built in. There are services and plugins that can be used with any browser. Instapaper is one of them. It’s a service that you feed URLs to and it gives you the new view. There are also “bookmarklets” that you can use to give you the new view instantly.
One of my favorite custom reader plugins is called Evernote Clearly. Unfortunately, it isn’t available for Safari (yet?). In Google Chrome it looks lovely. (By the way if you’re not using Evernote yet, what the hell . . .)
It even gives you text-to-speech if you have an Evernote Premium account. However, since I am in the Safari world, I needed another answer and have found Custom Reader.
The point of all of this is you don’t have to read the web the way people want you to read it. You can read it your way. And maybe for people like me, it will at least make web reading more enjoyable.
It looks like 2013 will be the “Year of the Domain”. Most of the conversations in the DTLT office seem to have the word domain in them. Domain of One’s Own, “what’s your domain?”, “that’s a subdomain not a subfolder”. My 2013 started out innocently thinking about my domains and specifically my online identity. It also put me in nostalgia mode as I recalled the history of my domain ownership. It began even before the Bluehost Experiment. It was not too long after I moved to Fredericksburg that I decided to start a “Cycling Education Web Site”. It was 2001, and it was called velodynamics.com. It was my first real foray into domains and web spaces besides the university “tilde” sites, and the Geocities and Tripod stuff. I owned Velodynamics for two years. It was good experience and it allowed me to work on my Dreamweaver skills (version 4 and MX). I was very proud of it. Proud of the name, proud of my logo, and even proud that I contacted a cycling photographer in Belgium named Cor Vos to ask permission to use one of his photos as part of the website design.
I let velodynamics.com lapse in 2003. There was no way I could keep up with a such website in addition to a regular job, and more importantly, with a six-month-old boy running around the house.
Also in 2003, a mild-mannered English professor named Gardner Campbell became the Assistant Vice President for Teaching and Learning Technologies. In 2004, Gardner talked to us in DTLT (this is pre-Jim Groom era) about blogging and experimenting in spaces on the web that we could control. My first blog was not WordPress, but using something called B2Evolution. Our web host starting out was a service called “Bloghost” and my first personal domain was awrush.com. When Bloghost declared bankruptcy (and subsequently I lost my domain), we switched to Bluehost. I had another shot at picking a domain, and while andyrush.com was not available, andyrush.net was.
So back to the start of 2013. I returned to UMW from a much-needed holiday break on January 7th. As the DTLT conversations returned inevitably to the Domain of One’s Own project, I had the thought to once again check on the status of andyrush.com. To my amazement it was listed as “expired 12/29/12″. I immediately went through the process to grab it as quickly as I could. Well, not so fast I found out. There would be stages that I would have to go through if I was to have this domain. I read a few articles, but especially this one called How to Snatch an Expiring Domain. As the author states there is a 40 day process that you need to wait out, and while I thought about using a “domain snatching firm”, I ultimately just signed up for Godaddy’s backorder service (because they owned the domain) for about $20.
The first email that I received after the backorder process started was this one on January 23:
On February 2 I got the notification of the winning auction bid:
Today, February 10, 2013, the process is complete:
So the next step was to go to my web host (MediaTemple) and add the domain to my account (as you can see, I’ve done this before).
Following that I went to Godaddy to change the name servers to point to MediaTemple.
And now . . . andyrush.com. So it’s just a redirect right now, but it’s mine. The treasured “dot com” vanity address. I just keep staring at it. Like it’s a new-born. It doesn’t really do much yet, but there’s so much potential.
We’ve arrived at the final post (for now) on using WordPress embeds (see part 1 and part 2). This post fills in the gap to something that is obviously missing in our oEmbed examples. We saw the popular media sites like Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, and even Twitter all had the capability of simply copying and pasting a URL to the media page in a WordPress blog and the full media shows up. The glaring omission is audio. If you look closely at the WordPress Embed Codex page, as of WordPress 3.5, SoundCloud is now an option for embed. Below is an example from the Radiolab show:
Again, WordPress knows what to do when I paste the URL from the media page and it gives us a nice SoundCloud player. SoundCloud is a popular service, but it’s limited in the amount of audio one can upload and play from an account for free. You can upgrade to a premium plan, but they start at 29 euros (which equals about 39 U.S. dollars today). To get unlimited downloads you need to pay 79 euros per year ($107 per year). That might be a bit too pricey for some. Another option is to create a “video” out of your music or audio file. By that I mean import your audio file into a video editor, then add an image or text/title, and finally export that as a video file to a site like YouTube. It’s slightly inelegant, but it gets it published for free. Be aware that even if you think you have a file that clears copyright (like Creative Commons audio), someone associated with YouTube may try to make a claim to it.
Lets step back and think about what if we simply have an MP3 file on a server somewhere (maybe you uploaded it into the WordPress Media Library). Well, to follow our philosophy on using the minimal URL of a file to get our media embedded and playing in our posts, I recommend the oEmbed HTML5 Audio plugin. Now I warned of using plugins in the first post of this series because plugins can become outdated and unsupported in the future. However, this plugin does not use any shortcodes in its implementation. What it does is emulate an oEmbed option for audio. Paste in the URL for the audio file and you’ll get a built-in player embedded in your post. It will even work on an iOS device because it supports HTML5. A caveat is that you generally have a limit to the size of the file you can upload to your WordPress account which usually is 2MB. If you have control over your server you could up that limit or place it somewhere else on a server you control (It’s why you need A Domain of Your Own!).
So I paste this:
And I get this:
If you have a URL to an MP3 elsewhere, you can just paste it into your post, and it should play. I used this technique when I posted the audio file on my Got Running post.
Hopefully WordPress will begin to natively support this type of embedding in the future so you won’t have to install the plugin. In the mean time, even if the plugin goes away, you will still have the link to the audio file. Some users may not know where to go from there, but they could always ask their local instructional technologist.
The WordPress oEmbed technology seems to add new support with every new release of the software. I’ll be curious to see what they add in version 3.6.