Posts tagged: Personal

Social vs Religious Observation (Cross Posted from

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By , December 23, 2010 7:46 pm

This afternoon, CBC Edmonton played a story about a Muslim family from Egypt who are going to be celebrating their first Christmas here in Edmonton. One segment of the story explores what other people think about the family celebrating Christmas, wondering if they are converts or aren’t “really Muslim”. The father mentions that what they are celebrating is the social element of the holiday, not the religious element.

This is exactly what many “something”-Canadian families do. They adopt the social aspects of the predominant culture’s celebrations, while incorporating their own elements. In my home, we don’t celebrate the Christian elements of Christmas (though, if invited, I’d like to see what Mass is like for the various denominations that my friends belong to is/are like), but gladly sing the songs and I will encourage my daughter to sing them all. After all, singing the songs of another group can only help increase understanding and acceptance of others. This is of course reciprocated by my friends who participate in events like Diwalli.

So when I see things like this happening in the UK, one really has to wonder – is it really the duty of good people of any group to attack the celebrations of another? How schoolyardish or medieval is that? And it isn’t only that group, there are plenty of groups that believe that the way they believe the world to be is the only way to be. This is something that as to change (though it likely won’t).

So even though I have worked for the last ten years or so to improve education through integrating technology to improve teaching through improving communication, part of me is thinking we are missing something. I think what we have missed is sharing the songs and stories of our various backgrounds. Starting as young as possible and associating those songs and stories with positive interactions. In this way, perhaps we can increase the understanding needed within our society and create an inclusive, pluralistic world that might be ready to use technology to gather and share the songs and stories of people further away. With that in mind, I leave you with this song from The Irrelevant Show.

One step closer to new digs

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By , November 2, 2009 8:52 am
View from the top

View from the top

Eventually, this will be the view from the upper level of the new CCIS building on the campus of the U of A. My group is supposed to move into the new building in 2011 and preparations are being made now (we are ordering boxes already). The building is really going to be amazing and even though we might not have the most amazing offices when we “land”, the ability to work throughout the building is certainly going to make up for it. I am thinking it might be like a beach vacation – what does it matter what your room is like, most of your time is going to be at the beach anyway.

Fractionation of my content

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By , August 7, 2009 8:20 am

Well, now that I’ve had some time to get up and running the way that I want with a theme that works, I’ve finally got a place that I can put my more personal content. I will still have some personal stuff here, but unless it impacts my ed/tech interests, I won’t have it here, I’ll put it on That being said, there are things that will rock across my worlds and they will get cross posted, but for the most part I’ll try to keep them separate. I’ve got one more blog, and that one is reserved for Bug – it is where I was hoping to write all the things that never got captured in frame, but it’s enough work just to do one thing (the A/V), to say nothing of the writing. But what I think I’m going to do is to write bits based on the stories around each of the picture groups that I’ve taken. And while the videos capture most of what the context is, I’ll help that out a little bit as well.

With this in mind, EDITing in the Dark will still be my main blog and the personal bits here will serve to help those who have me in their PLNs learn more about me so that they can get a better idea of how I think about the ed/tech topics that I write about. Without these personal bits, all we have is cold content.

JM on MJ

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By , July 7, 2009 5:51 pm

Simple tech for the simple exercise

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By , June 24, 2009 11:08 am

The popularity of running seems to be increasing again – it seems to go up and down through the decades. One of the things that is likely helping out this time is a little bit of technology from Nike and Apple (or you can get the non iPod version of the sportband). Wired has an interesting look into the Nike+ system, showing how a simple piece of technology has been leveraged to change things around for people. The key part of the Nike+ isn’t the technology, it is the social system in the back. People have started running because they can now all of the sudden track their own stats and share their stats with others. For many, the motivating factor seems to be this social element, something that seems to be key, especially for girls.

This simple widget has taken something that is often an intensely personal activity and made it more public. But I think this can all be done with an even simpler bit of technology… Twitter. I’m certainly not the only one who is posting run times, tracks and other related errata so it occurred to me that I might as well start pushing a hashtag – #yegruns – Edmonton Runs – (archive). Effectively this can do the same thing as the Nike+ system, but you don’t have to have anything more than the watch and the computer that you already have, keeping inline with the theme of running – it’s simple and you don’t really need anything fancy.

So why this post today? Well for the first time in 2 years, I’ve broke 5min/km.

Changes with 2.8

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By , June 15, 2009 10:50 am

Last week, in addition to the noise around Facebook, there was also another vanity URL oriented geek event. WordPress 2.8 was released and it was the first time since 2.7 that a full .X upgrade was available to users over the new automated update system. In typical WordPress fashion, everything generally went smooth (one install kept wanting to log in again and again, having stuck itself in some kind of loop) until it came to looking at what plugins were working or not. For this blog, having quite a few plugins running in the back (lots of plugins will be tried here for other projects), this stage is getting longer all the time. Thankfully, there are resources (WordPress, et al) for plugins, but not for themes as of yet. So one of the things that you might have noticed if you visit the blog, is that the theme has changed again. Even though Fusion the theme that I was running is one of the featured themes, it seems to not want to work properly for me. So I’ve changed my theme again. I’ve also changed the tagline for this blog.

This tagline change was motivated by part of an epiphany – I’ve been blogging more about teaching in general without regard for prefix than anything else over the last four year. Previously I was blogging under the tagline that touched on technology, teaching, photography and my journey in addition to whatever else I wanted to write about. But now, after thinking about what I’ve really been writing about since the start, I’ve changed it to “Thoughts on the technologies that help us tell stories“. The majority of my posts have been thoughts and I’m very much a believer in the idea that teaching is all about telling a story and that humanity has, since inception, used any technology available to try to tell stories with more umph and record them in some fashion to pass it on to others. This passing of stories is arguably the best way to teach and learn. Hopefully this new tagline (business plan or mission or whatever you might want to formalize it to) guides me well for the next four years. I don’t think things are going to change that much, but, for me, it will certainly free the thoughts that I put down here.

Thanks to @zirkazirka and @numerix for pointing me to this interesting bookOn the Origin of Stories: Evolution, cognition and fiction that fits with this idea.

4 years, 1774 posts… and it keeps going

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By , May 29, 2009 9:06 am

Today my blogging effort – in any serious form turns 4. Four years has certainly seen quite a bit of change for me personally and professionally and it has seen all manner of change for technology and well some of it has made it’s way to the classroom in either k-12 or higher ed.

So with this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to see what I was posting about on my previous blogversaries.

May 2005 was when I moved off the SpyMac (yeah, remember when they were relevant and a real site, not some sort of frankensite with the old forums in the back?) and onto Blogger. My motivation for this was an AMTEC conference in Calgary and a presentation from Rob Wall. I was talking about the need for techs and admins to also know about the learning process – especially since so many of them are being tasked with supporting ed-tech in k-20. I would also argue that it is very useful for EdTechers to know about the tech and admin side, enough so that they are able to ask for what they want or need. I also posted “Back Light” as my very first “POW”. Other things going on were the advent of perpendicular recording (which I finally got on on my systems in December) and the increasing uptake of RSS.

Fast forward a year and I was talking about how podcasts can increase meaningful contact time, how I was planning to run a half marathon in 2008 (that didn’t come to pass due to injury, so I went to Vegas for a baby-moon instead) after clocking an amazing 45min time for 10km – my new goal is to do this by 2011 (babies have a funny way of re-ordering life). Other news had the Oilers in the playoffs and Boot Camp being tested on the Mac. Those were indeed heady days. As 2007 came, social networks were items of interest as were “just enough” uses of technology (nee Hole in the Wall) and alternative interfaces. Last year ePortfolios, cyberbullying and txting had their portions of my interest.

It seems that my thoughts have migrated from looking only at those technologies that can be or are being used in the classroom, to those that can make things more convenient for an information workflow in one’s personal life and then, by osmosis, find their way into the classroom or lecture theater. I’ve also toned down the Mac fan-boy element in favour of system that get things done (which is still 99.999% of the time Mac ;)) and those things that are just cool and no longer teathered to the desktop – nee phones. Over the last year, with over 4000 posts to Twitter, I’ve also noticed myself blogging less, but I think the value of the posts has increased for me. Many times I’d put up a short post because the act of writing helped me remember. Now I do the same thing with Twitter.

I would not even want to try to guess where things are going to be in another 4 years, but hopefully this blog will still be around. Next year I’m looking forward to seeing how Google’s Wave is going to change things for social networks – powerful real time messaging and collaboration makes me think that it will be able to one up Facebook in terms of being able to share images, exchange documents and send messages. It will also be flexibile enough to pull in much of what might come out over the next while as well. It should be interesting.

Aishani’s Pictures

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By , March 5, 2009 3:36 pm

If you are looking for her pictures or video, they will always be available at For the first few days, new images will be open for the world to see with ease, after that they will be password protected. If you want the password and can’t guess it from the hints, please contact me.

Oh yeah

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By , February 4, 2009 4:29 pm

I have also added asides for those time that I have something to add to a post that I might have just tossed up – I have the habit of being fast on the trigger. Additional info should be in these asides, but edits will remain on the post as they should be.

Logins and Media Centers

By , January 16, 2009 4:38 pm

Just some quick thoughts that started at the start of the day and dumped to the screen at the end. In the office we have been talking about media centers quite a bit – how to create them, what hardware/software and whatever else. But when we came to comparing the different media centers – Windows Media Center, AppleTV, WDTV, XBMC, Boxee – we came to an interesting conclusion.

People don’t need “secure TV”.

It seems that the software that is the most popular right now are those that don’t handle users – they are those that mimic the way that TV was/is watched before the Media Center arrived. This means that systems like Boxee are probably destined to remain slightly niche products (laptop/computer bound viewers) as it is not likely that there will ever be a situation that people will want to share what they are enjoying with others who are not sitting in the same room. At the most, what is watched may be shared between “locals” – family and friends who you see face to face.

The TV is a common space, so those apps that are not user driven (like AppleTV/WDTV/XBMC), are likely to win out as they simply provide a management/access tool for the media. All these systems need to do is to provide content control and they will be all that is needed.

Enough of a brain dump for now.

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