Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: news

I’m reading– December 15th through December 17th

8 Tools For Easily Creating a Mobile Version of Your Website – Yet another reason I'm such a huge WordPress fan. With WordPress, you can do it with just a plugin. I've been doing it at www.scottadcox.com for a while now.

DSO Nano V2.0 – Pocket Sized Digital Storage Oscilloscope – Back in my day, we had to record the cable signal on a vcr tape and bring it to the oscilloscope in the electronics lab to figure out how to steal cable.

Time Investment Tips for the Offseason – Didn't see anything here about eating lots of bagels and watching documentaries. Going to have to re-evaluate my training plan.

Inflation Calculator | Find US Dollar’s Value from 1913-2010 – 90s to now isn't bad. Afraid to look at the 70 and 80s for fear of what is coming.

Stuff You Should See– July 31st through August 16th

Disney Princesses, Deconstructed – All you can really do to fight it is to push a fascination with ocean dwelling killing machines instead of Princesses. But it’s an uphill battle.

Muscles Remember Past Glory – I strongly suspect fat bellies have the same memory ability.

Thanks No For Skipping Your Immunizations! Whooping CoughIs Back – I wouldn’t let Jenny McCarthy give me dating advice when I was 19. Why would I listen to her parenting tips?

What Happened to Yahoo – Bottom line–nothing was happening at Yahoo, so things started happening to Yahoo. And why is that when I change my Yahoo! password, my Del.icio.us password doesn’t change. Exhibit A.

Ragnar Central Florida – Always wanted to do one of these…I may have found a team!

Endless Bummer – Don’t worry, it’s safe for work.

Unsuck It – Pretty useful, especially if you are low on bandwidth and need to bucketize terms.

The Third Stage of Personal Finance – Good motivator to start your day.

Facebook bug spills name and pic for all 500 million users – Uh….awsum?

Complete Guide to Maximizing Your Android Phone’s Battery Life – When following these instructions, make sure you’re holding the phone correctly.

14 Famous Man Caves – And not one has a spin bike or a punching bag. Where does all the anger go?

7 Discipline-builders for Remote Workers – I found this article very distracting. 🙂

Girl quits job on dry erase board – I like TechCrunch too, but if you spend an hour a day there, you must be reading at a remedial level. It’s not Faulkner.

Michael P. Fleischer: Why I’m Not Hiring – Interesting…and I thought it was just because he was a racist.

The Great Reset of Urban Development in Economic Downturns – Metropolitan corridors. I don’t like the sound of that.

Internet gambling freedom boosted by House committee vote – It’s comin’….

Rdio – Even more music.

Zone 12 Project gang: Little Blue Egg – I will put this right next to the outdoor shower. Or maybe inside the outdoor shower.

Build Your Own Outdoor Shower – Coming soon to a side of the house near me. I hope.

Boy Scouts Badge For Video Games

It’s for real.

To go on and earn the pin, Scouts will need to teach adults how to play videogames, participate in a family gaming tournament, and learn how to comparison shop for prices.

My sources tell me that the Scouts plan to announce more new badges later this year, including one for mastery of a deck of Sitcom Character Trading Cards and one for learning to identify 10 different Little Debbie snack cakes in a blind taste test. [/sarcasm]

Stuff You Should See– January 15th through January 26th

Celebrity Rehab 3 – Take it day by day. If you can go the whole season without watching an episode, more power to you. But I'll bet you a cold cold beer you can't do it.

Mardi Gras 1956 – This is cool. I haven't been to New Orleans in 6 or 7 years. This makes me want to go back. Not for Mardi Gras, but I still want to go back.

Lost Fans Soon To Be More Annoying – I can't wait to hypothesize on Twitter. For hours.

Trees toppling in national park kills – Wow….this is really sad and such a freak accident. You don't think about things like this happening.

Lane Kiffin Dirt and Cover Up – I've heard for a while there is some of this type stuff out there, but haven't seen anything other than stuff on message boards. I run a message board and can attest that it's not much more than a bunch of monkeys banging on keyboards. But once a blogger takes the time to type it up…maybe there's something to it. Interesting!

Background Apps To The iPhone? – An Apple fan girl told me this already existed. I guess not. I have to say, I LOVE having the ability to stream Pandora and run a Cardio program simultaneously while I'm running. It works just like you'd think it would. Cardio lowers the volume of Pandora to give you distance and pace, and raises the volume back when it's finished.

Dysfunctional Leadership Quotes – It's funny to read this and know that somewhere out there, there are even worse examples of leadership than those described here. LOL!

Venues Can Display Foursquare Mayors – It will be awesome when I'm featured on the WalMart, Publix, Panera, and IKEA websites. You may already believe that's me on the Sea World site when you visit, but that's an actual whale.

15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning – Very nice article here. Even though I sort of know all of these things intuitively, I need to be more active in implementing some of them.

Delicious Link Dump– December 6th through December 8th

Women linked to Tiger Woods – At least he has a better eye for talent than Bill Clinton.

Shashi Tharoor: Why nations should pursue "soft" power – If this is true, please explain to me why chicks always dig the guy who can beat up everyone else.

Surf’s up as biggest waves in five years come to Hawaii after North Pacific storm – Sick.

About Those ‘Tax Cuts for the Rich’ – I guess it's time we start paying our fair share after all. And I'm not rich.

More Regulation to Help the "Underserved"? – If a man was smart he would try to figure out where this will create a bubble, invest there, wait for the bubble to inflate, then get out before it bursts. If I man was smart…

Changes hit home for appraiser – Hooray for regulations! Increased cost to the consumer AND reduced income for the service provider! Yay!

America’s Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cities – Cool…we unwittingly moved form the #22 city on the list to #18. Look how smart we is.

Apple’s Lala Acquisition – I have high hopes for what is possible here, but my hopes for an Android app are diminishing.

An iPhone App to Track How Badly AT&T Sucks – But it works right out of the box. And if it stops working, you can pay someone else to fix it.

16 Reasons Why We Might Unfollow You On Twitter – A pretty good list here. I can't say I disagree with any of it.

Sentinels Of Freedom Golf Ball Drop – Great Idea for a great cause!

Delicious Link Dump– November 30th through December 3rd

Obama Ecstasy pills hit the streets – I knew they were on something.

A gay secession manifesto – Careful what you ask for. Your opponents just may support you in this whole heartedly.

Is Facebook Losing its Coveted Demographic? – Duh. Who wants to use the same service as their parents? That doesn't take a genius to figure out.

A slightly unfortunate Twitter billboard – Sad someone got suspended from their job for a week over this. It's just a someone humorous accident…not that big of a deal.

20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer – If given the same opportunity as water, I believe beer could have created an even Grander Canyon.

Stoplight Redesign – I like the idea. Wondering why they didn't build a mount for cameras right in.

The End Of The CrunchPad – Sucks. I was hoping to get one of these instead of the Apple tablet someday. I cain't have nuthin' nice!

Unemployment Growth on a Map – Pretty interesting graphic here that demonstrates how tough the economy is becoming.

Delicious Link Dump– October 12th through October 13th

We Learned Good From The Romans

We look back at the Roman epoch with a sense of relief. We’ve learned so much since then. No longer do we consider our leaders to be gods among men. No longer do we hand them unearned and meretricious awards and prizes. We don’t turn on and destroy members of previous administrations. We don’t tolerate incompetent and corrupt sycophants in high office. We’ve learned to recognize disorders such as pathological narcissism and assure that the victims do not gain high office. Any president who placed his prestige on the line with an athletic contest would be laughed to scorn.

The Wrong Way To Pass A Class – Unfortunately, I think it may still work in many cases. This guy can probably pull on his own and doesn’t need any help from a strumpet like her. Good for him.

Business School For Free On iTunes – You even get a voice recording of someone reading a diploma at the end.

Death by Spork Would Be Torture in Deleware – The best outcome for this kid would be to NOT have to return to this band of idiots to be “educated”.

Pitfalls and Perils of Blogging – Some stuff to think about.

Willie Nelson’s Got a New Broadband Plan – It looks like a box full of networking equipment, but really you just put your weed in there.

Sifting Mountains of Data – When I retire, I’m going to sit on my back porch and whittle on data. All. Day. Long.

Digital Passive-Aggressive Communication – This articulates something I’ve been saying much better than I can articulate it myself. Wave combines the rapid fire communication of Twitter with the give and take (or “ignore”) of email. It just needs to be beefier at this point, and we need to train our brains to use it.

Delicious Link Dump– October 5th through October 6th

Promiscuous dispersal of your email address – "Sure, you'll get a lot of spam, but deleting spam is a lot easier than finding customers." Wow.

Playgrounds From the 70’s – Totally Awsumness

20,000+ Gmail, Yahoo, AOL Accounts Compromised [ALERT] – No one needs your password for anything. Period.

Plot to Stop Using The Dollar? – I was just thinking the other day that I may be better of getting paid in cigarettes, potato liquor and Levis.

Space Program Needs A Plan, And Fast! – Hmm….maybe we should wait a year or two to buy a house here?

Message In A Bottle Found This Weekend – Pretty cool. I hope my Star Wars action figures wash up some day.

Man arrested for tweeting G20 Pittsburgh cops’ location | No Silence Here – If the police don't want you to know where they are, they should wear invisible cloaks. Duh!

No Sympathy For Polanski – Newscoma – I can't believe even one person on the planet would defend this guy. Good for 'Coma!

Another Yummy Link Dump — 15:59

XKCD Strikes Again – While you’re at it, can I get a drink holder attached to the end of each arm?

Rich People Fleeing High Tax States – What? Unbelievable! The gov’ment should do something about this! 😛

Rowland Burris Blames Bush For Olympic FAIL – And I thought it was just because the IOC member are all racists.

Dell uses social media to gather employee ideas – This is going to be happening more and more as management becomes comfortable with the tools.

What Google Wave Can Do – I will be checking all of this out as soon as the people I invited get their invites. Right now, there’s no one for me to collaborate with.

10 Things Every Kumbaya Blogger Should Know | Copyblogger – When you solve actual problems, even if you (yikes) make a buck on it, you’re doing good work.

The Cocoa Beach Air Show | Metromix Brevard – If you aren’t able to get tickets to the Brevard/Miami rugby match this weekend, here’s another option.

Knoxville Rugby at Heart of Dixie Tournament – Look for Okie and Colonel Kurtz to make return appearances. We cannot guaranteed gravel slinging pickup trucks or soiled sofas.
Indian farmer’s daughter is most bad-ass woman in the world – Boing Boing – In a phenomenally bad-ass series of moves worthy of a Tarantino screenplay, 21-year-old Rukhsana Kausar attacked him with an axe, then shot him dead with his own gun.
Kids leave mother passed out drunk in minivan FLORIDA TODAY – So sad.

Interesting Take on Somalian Pirates

Coming from Infowars:

During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America’s founding fathers paid pirates to protect America’s territorial waters, because they had no navy or coast guard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?

There is no doubt more to this than we are being told. This would make an interesting book.

Age Guidance For Children’s Books…No Thanks!

That’s what Philip Pullman and over 80 other authors, illustrators, librarians, and booksellers are saying in their petition against the proposed age banding for children’s books by leading publishers. This proposal looks to add suggested age ranges on children’s books (such as ages 5+ or ages 7-9) in order to help parents, teachers, and kids tell which books are appropriate for children to read. This has sparked much debate amongst those involved with children’s books. The publishers claim that this will be very helpful to parents when choosing books for their kids at bookstores and for teachers selecting material for their students.

Is this really necessary? Has there been some sort of epidemic of concerned adults wandering the aisles at bookstores and libraries unsure of what material is appropriate for their children to read? I don’t think this age banding proposal is a good idea and here are a couple of problems I see with it:

  • Not all kids are the same: Every child reads at different levels at different ages! Parents who homeschool have much more control over letting their child read out of the “appropriate” range that will appear on a book’s cover, so I’m sure we will continue to make decisions that best suit our children rather than allow an unnecessary age range deter us from purchasing a certain book. Yet will kids who attend schools still have the freedom to choose the books they wish to read? Will the advanced 7 year old (like this one) who devours chapter books deemed for older kids be allowed to read them at school?
  • It may discourage readers or embarrass others: A child who is interested in dinosaurs may excitedly pick up a book about them only to put it down quickly once he realizes it’s a “baby book”. There’s no telling how much he could have learned or how much fun he could have had reading it because he never even gave it a chance. And trust me, kids don’t want to be caught reading books that are considered too young for them! So what about the kids who read below their current grade or age level? How would an 11 year old who reads at a 3rd grade level feel when they are given a book that says it’s for ages 8-10? My guess is that child would not want to read that book…or any other that reminds him how behind he is. Pullman says it best:

“…Everything about a book should seek to welcome readers in and not keep them out.”

I really hope that these publishers take to heart the wishes of the petitioners and decide against including these age ranges on their books. Parents, educators, and kids should enjoy choosing books based on interest and curiosity without such limits!

Where Does Literacy Begin?

Well, according to Esther A. Jantzen’s article in the LA Times, literacy begins at home, and I couldn’t agree more. She had this to say about the study which found that Bush’s Reading First program is not working:

I doubt if anyone with experience in urban education is surprised at the announcement. We’re disappointed that, once again, a generation of public school kids didn’t get whatever is needed in order to learn to read well.

But we’re not surprised. We’ve been barking up the wrong tree a long time.

I’ve actually been watching and waiting for the inevitable finger-pointing that was bound to happen once the news spread about the lack of success the Reading First program has had in improving student performance in urban schools. It should come as no surprise that the blame be tossed around and passed down from office to office before finally landing in the laps of the schools and teachers. While I knew the finger would also eventually be pointed at parents, I didn’t expect it to be done this quickly.

Although I think some blame belongs to the schools and the administration of the program in general, I completely agree with the author’s views in regards to the importance of starting literacy in the home. She goes on to share the findings of an eye-opening study that was done on children’s vocabulary and literacy; an important one that most parents (and many educators) are sadly, unfamiliar with:

They found that by age 3 children of welfare parents heard 10 million words, those with working-class parents heard 20 million words, and those with professional parents heard 30 million words. In addition, with children 13-18 months old in welfare families, almost 80% of the feedback to the child was negative, in working-class families about 50% was negative, and in professional families more than 80% of feedback to the child was affirmative.

It turns out that verbal development is not so much about IQ, parental love or socioeconomic status. These skills are related to how much a child is talked to and the tone of the communications. Literacy is founded on words heard and words used. What this means is that the critical place that literacy develops is the home, not the school, and that the crucial intervention period is very early in the life of a child.

This is powerful information for any parent to have and act on! I wish every parent would make it his or her personal mission to assure that their child gets the best start possible by simply following what this study suggests: talking and interacting with your child in a positive manner as much as possible! Jantzen goes on to supply several realistic ideas for parents, companies, and the community at large to make this change happen in homes across the country. Having worked at a couple of urban schools myself where parental involvement meant calling a social worker, I can only hope that her message is heard.

I can at least help by spreading her word and by providing parents the knowledge to teach their kids to read at home through our site! Read the whole article here to find out more about her ideas.

‘Reading First’ Not Working…Why Not?

The Reading First initiative is a federally funded program that aims to raise student performance by improving reading comprehension (as measured by state tests). The program has very strict guidelines that states and districts must follow in order to receive and maintain funding. Some of these guidelines include:

  • Having a reading coach – a person that works to train teachers and make sure they are up to date on the latest research on teaching the five components of reading. This person is to work side by side with teachers in and out of their classrooms to help them accomplish these goals.
  • Using approved scientific research-based curricula
  • Provide students with an uninterrupted 90-minute reading block each day
  • A set amount of time for teacher professional development in reading instruction

You’d think all of those efforts should pay off, right? Well, according to a preliminary report published by the Department Of Education, students who attend a Reading First school have shown no more gains than those whose schools lack the program. The program weighs in at about $1 billion dollars a year so far (for a total of $6 billion), so you can see why this would be disturbing to some. A final report that looks at the effects of the program guidelines on student comprehension is due out in late 2008.

So why is the initiative not working as intended? I don’t think it’s because of faulty research. I suspect the reasons why it’s not working as anticipated are due to the implementation, management, and expectations of the program. My experience as a reading coach in one such school lends me a bit of insight into the matter. While I definitely don’t think the following applies to all schools, it may still be true for many. Here are three reasons why I think Reading First may not be working to its full potential:

  1. Misuse of resources at the school level: I found that my time as a reading coach was not used effectively by the administration. Much of my time was diverted towards taking care of discipline issues instead of working with teachers.
  2. Lack of teacher “buy-in”: Teachers oftentimes need to buy into and feel like they own ideas in order to change. I found that many teachers were so bogged down with the other guidelines they were placed under (NCBL, state, and district mandates) that they simply couldn’t find the time to change and grow professionally, or, in a few cases, simply didn’t want to.
  3. Unrealistic expectations: Many of the children being served in the targeted public schools come in with such limited language and literacy skills, that it’s really hard to catch them up to “grade level” in a couple of years (at least to the point where they score well on state tests) . These kids would likely make great gains quickly if they had individual instruction on a daily basis, but that’s just not realistic in today’s schools.

Could this be the beginning of the end of The Reading First initiative? Surely people will not stand behind something that costs that amount of money with no proven results, but it would be a shame if the instructional methods of Reading First are dismissed as being ineffective. I truly feel that the research that has been done to support the program and reading instruction in general is solid and strong. I’ve personally seen it work and make a difference in helping many children learn to read. I guess we shall have to wait and see how it all plays out!

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