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Most of you know I am a computer geek to the core.  If I don’t have an iPhone, iPad, or my much abused MacBook Air with me…I’m probably having convulsions.  Living on the dawn of the “digital citizenship” (something that was said tonight) has been a wonderful thing for me personally and professionally.

Tonight, I took a little trip to our school board meeting after band practice (more on that later….the whole band thing is really turning out well).  Tonight’s discussion revolved around the mundane (the interviewing process for a coach) to the discussion around moving to a “digital curriculum” with the iPad as the central device in this process.

HCCSC is currently in the process of deciding to move to a digital textbook/learning environment.  This will (as currently proposed) give an iPad to every student grades 6-12 this year, and then every student (including Kindergarten) next year.  Instead of textbook fees, parents would be charged $100 per year for access to the iPad.  The schools are purchasing these devices and will then maintain and monitor them closely.

And this is where things get weird….bad…..awful…..etc.

The idea being proposed is students will use the iPad as their primary learning device, as opposed to textbooks.  This is a good thing overall (no more dead trees, incredibly large books carrying dead knowledge, etc).  However, the plan is to let teachers determine curriculum choices based on their own choices and guidelines.  This isn’t a bad thing either…but this is being implemented….now.  As in ordering/setting up/testing/deploying by August 15th.  Mind you, nothing has been ordered or even approved yet.  So now, instead of having a textbook/lesson plan figured out….teachers will need to wing it.  Not an impossible hurdle…unless of course you are terrified of the iPad which many of the teachers are.

So what about deploying the iPad to every student?  Each student will get their own iPad which they will be responsible to keep safe, charge every night, and ensure they take to school each morning.  For this year, it will be limited to middle and high school students….but next year each Kindergartener will have their very own shiny new iPad to cart around.  Every day.  This seems safe.

OK…so we get past the “teachers scared/kindergarteners using as kleenex” phases.  While these are not impossible hurdles…we now get to distribution and management.  2,000 brand new wireless clients on a school IT infrastructure that can’t/won’t stop https.  Where they can get on personal ads for Craigslist.  Or Facebook.  Or anything else on the planet.  But lets say this goes well and the handoff goes smashingly.  What about the back-half of the network piece. You know, where students will get their learning experience…otherwise known as “The Internet”.  Now that your primary work is taking place offsite… you have the network to back it up?  Wait…we’re still debating?  Again, August 15th looms….

But lets say you get the budget, the staff, the distribution, the network up to snuff by August 15th…..

What happens when all of that doesn’t work?

If the Internet goes down, your students are offline.  If they unleash an iOS virus, your students are offline.  If a nasty head cold works its way through the Kindergarten, your students are offline.  If….if….if.

There’s a way to get kids to be “digital citizens”.  This isn’t the way to do it.


Standing Desk: Week One


It’s not elegant, but it’s cheap and damn effective.

So why did I do this? Well I have always wanted something like this, but was too lazy to do something about it. Then there were a myriad of articles this last week about the health problems associated with sitting. And since I’ve started wearing my BodyMedia FIT band, I could see the hours per day where my metabolism crashed within a minute of me sitting down.

So I decided it was time for me to actually do something. And I have found that I am getting more “done” especially when it comes to multitasking. I still use my chair on occasion, but I think leaving the desk in the “standing” configuration works better overall.

More on this when I get to “Month One” on this whole thing.

Local Politics

So I’m taking the first steps into the local political pool, attending my friend Tony Hiles’ first political meeting (he’s running for mayor on the Democratic ticket). Local politics is always a funny thing, and it’s usually dominated by “life-long” residents who have various connections within the community.

I have none of those.

Huntington has been my home for the past 15 years (yeah, 15 so far….) and I am still stymied by what happens in this town. It’s in the center of a couple of major crossroads, but always seems to get passed by on the map. If it’s poor planning, poor location, poor anything….well, not too many people have figured out the exact formula for how to fix the problems in Huntington.

Unfortunately we are looking at an active political year. The current mayor had a well publicized meltdown (broadcast on the local news) and a myriad of lost jobs and sinking budgets have thrown enough political chum in the water to draw everyone into the fray.

Nw, the funny thing about this roll is the amount of money that goes into these local races. The local sheriff race last year had a candidate spend well over $50k of what was their own personal money into a winning campaign. Why someone would spend that much money is beyond my reasoning. Maybe there is a lifelong dream involved, but politics don’t usually keep dreamers in roles like this for very long.

So, the cynic in me wants to know more about how our tax dollars are spent. Because the billboards, the full color pictures, the myriad of placards and stickers and t-shirts make me ask….where is this money coming from? And as these people invest tens of thousands of dollars…what return are they hoping for?

Which brings me here. Maybe I will know more in the next few weeks.

Moving On

With the demise of Derek’s MT, I’ve moved everything over to this WordPress site. Here’s to an entertaining 2011.

I’m paying for those beers I had last night. Woke up at seven again and couldn’t go back to sleep. Having breakfast at the grill while trying to blog away. Signed up for Internet access to see what was going on at $0.37/minute. House hasn’t burned down and the kids aren’t minions of Satan, so life at home looks better than normal.
Played for a bit in the casino. Broke my cardinal rule of keeping my winning away and lost $20 playing blackjack. Need to go down when it’s a bit busier. Tonight is the formal night so I’ll upload pictures of us in all of our splendor later tonight.
Not much to do on the ship right now. Spent part of the afternoon on the balcony enjoying the view. More tomorrow.
— Post From My iPhone

Got up much earlier than expected today. DeAnn and I were ready to go at 7 surprisingly and saw people were getting off the boat quickly and off to Barbados we went.
The tour guides say that Barbados has a flavor of Britain in it since it was under Beitish Rule until 1966. And they are right, if you are just looking at the way the people drive and discussions of cricket matches on the radio. Other than that, it’s a small Caribbean island with the same trinket shops mixed in between massive wealth and abject poverty.
Flipped for the (exceptionally expensive but not unexpected) $60 cab ride to the airport to catch the “Concorde Experience” which has a parked Concorde for your viewing pleasure. Learned more about Barbados as our driver took us on his errand run through the island. After winding through the streets which mirror any Caribbean island, we travelled through the sugar cane and sweet potato fields to get to the airport and today’s
— Post From My iPhone

OK, they really get offended when you call it a boat. It’s a ship.

So the boat is really nice. We woke up late and I did a quick run to McDs to avoid the $50 breakfast downstairs. Walked through some nice streets of Old San Juan but the city does have a homeless problem. There’s a book somewhere to find out why these touristy areas have such a high homeless rate (besides the obvious, that’s where the tourists/suckers are).
Hopped on the free trolley/bus ride of doom around old San Juan. Found out we might be able to get on the boat earlier, so we got off the trolley and on shared taxi ride later (with a couple from near Roanoke VA) and we got into the line you saw on FB.
Met the group in Kenn’s suite and we all headed down for the muster drill. Nothing like being crammed together with 100 of your closest friends in 90+ weather. I probably could have rang out my shirt….
We were quite lucky to walk right into Dennis and Lisa on the way back from the drill and Scott and Dawn as well when we headed up to eat. The line was quite large and after some debate it was decided to raid Johnny Rockets.
Of course the food was great and out waiter pulled out every trick he could think of to get a nice tip. Got out of dinner and headed down to the bar to watch the game. We missed most of the first quarter due to Royal Caribbean not carrying NBC but apparently there were enough people screaming and the game was on soon enough.
Kenn and Tina joined us and a few adult beverages later we were all having a great time as usual. While the Bears game didn’t turn out how it should have, everyone had at least fun. At the end ifthey game we all headed to bed to call it a night from day one on the boat.
— Post From My iPhone

AirTran 825 – MDW to MCO.

Deceptively full flight, nice to have wireless Internet for the entire hop. Full of overtired and wound kids heading to see “the big rat” in Orlando while their parents work feverishly to keep them entertained and quiet while questioning their sanity for even thinking of doing something like this.
Bringing back lots of memories of the dozen plus times we’ve dragged the little ones down on the same pilgrimiage. The benefit here is I get to give nodding glances to the dads acting as pack mules who are carrying a stroller, three carry ons, and possibly a kid or two.
Kids start to whine as we get closer to our stopover. Parents are just wanting to get out of the sardine can with some sanity (and all their bags). Internet on the flight makes it completely bearable. Service on the flight is meh, but for cheap tickets and such, it’s worth the money.
The gate area we are in has an Outback Steakhouse, so we’ll hit that during our three hour layover in MCO. More later.
— Posted From My iPhone

Tyler Weekend

Just picked Tyler up for the weekend. I want to be happy, but after the last few weekends it’s tough to be optimistic. Idle hands may be the devils playthings but when Tuler is idle all hell breaks loose. Going to keep him busy with a variety of activities and he probably won’t have enough time to act up when I’m done. I hate doing this but I see it as the only viable option.
— Posted From My iPhone

Fairness: Mandated

With the incoming Obama administration, one question that resonates across the disappointed conservative base is the return of government mandated fairness. While some politicians link mandating “fairness” to other items as such limiting pornography or vulgar language; the bigger question is “who” is going to be the judge of fairness.
We have a judicial system, like it or not for all of its idiosyncrasies, which mandates fairness. Rules are followed and judgments are handed out. But there is a difference in how this “fairness” is metted out. Judges only interpret laws that are approved by the legislative and executive branches of government. And in the end, a jury or twelve people sit on each case and decide whether the law, the judge, and the people are prosecuting a “fair” case.
Now we are looking at the return of a number of “fairness” issues. President-Elect Obama talks about leveling the economic playing field, Talk Radio is up in arms about the return of the “Fairness Doctrine” and Congress is looking at making our lives “more fair” through a variety of economic proposals. The question remains, who is going to be the judge of this fairness?
Are the FCC, Congress, or even the Obama Administration good judges of fairness? While some of the people recovering from the group hug/orgasm of Tuesday night might agree, the cold hard reality is government has never a good judge of fairness. If you ask the people of New Orleans or the thousands on public aid, government mandated fairness is slow, stupid, and eventually costs exponentially more in the long run.
The American People and their hard earned dollars are usually the best judge of fairness. If we disagree with something, we stop paying attention. In the media, this means a loss of dollars and eventual bankruptcy. This process has worked for millennia across a wide swath of industries.
While “Change” may have been a mandate this past Tuesday, “Fairness” shouldn’t be one as well over the next four years.