September 2005 Archives

Work stuff

I apologize for the sporadic nature of my posts lately. The first couple of weeks of classes have been utterly exhausting. Add to that the fact that I have somehow become the unofficial support person for Macromedia Dreamweaver on my campus (even though phone support isn’t really part of my job description). The productivity-sapping interruptions got so bad today, I unplugged my phone for a couple of hours just so I could get some work done and leave before 7 PM.

Add to that the trials and tribulations of coming to grips with all of the Content Management Systems that are cropping up on campus. This week alone I have dealt with a conference site running WordPress, a chemistry class whose students are using Movable Type, a couple of sites that are using Mambo, and my least favorite of the bunch—Roxen CMS, which powers our main University site and is supposed to end up powering most of the other departmental sites on campus.

Bleah.

A bit of sad news—a few days ago my department lost a third person to unexpected death within the past five months. He really wasn’t that old (62), but began his retirement just last month. He had been a popular speaker at quite a few higher ed tech conferences and a prolific contributer to a number of publications, including Campus Technology (Syllabus). I remember when he asked me to take his headshot for that column and also when he returned from a conference to find his e-mail account overflowing because one of his articles created quite a controversial stir.

It seems like only yesterday that I had worked with him to create some silly Star Wars-themed nametags for a Bring Your Child to Work Day that he had organized with his infectious enthusiasm.

It was kind of weird using Google to explore a bit of his legacy, reading some of the things he had written. I will miss you, Howard.

New blood

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So this morning we had an orientation slash welcoming session for our new and returning student staff members. We discussed policies and procedures and gave them a quick tour of our computer lab’s equipment.

There were a few new faces, and I couldn’t help thinking how young some of these kids are. The freshmen (“first years” for the politically correct) are approximately fifteen years younger than me. In a few of the red states, I might be old enough to be their father. (Yeah, I guess I’m starting to get sick of red state jokes too.)

Still, it’s weird to be regarded as an “adult” authority figure, rather than as a peer. Don’t call me “sir,” or Mister—that was my father, etc.

One of these kids last week was surprised to find out that I regularly watched The OC. Well, I’m not that old. (Although, I am referring to them as kids. Sheesh.)

Anyway, I was at a tech conference a couple of years ago that referred to these kids as “digital natives,” contrasting them with the older set—the “digital immigrants.” The argument was that those who had grown up with computers and “new media” all their lives had a different comfort level with technology and thus their perception and utilization of that technology was dissimilar from those who adopted this technology later in life.

I’m not sure I completely buy into that argument, but one thing that I did notice—their use of internet-based social networking tools is much more pervasive than I remember. Nowadays, “anybody who’s anybody” has a profile on thefacebook.com. I asked one of our veteran students for info on one of our new hires. He immediately sat down, logged into the Facebook, followed the link of one of the friends in his list, and sure enough this kid was in his friend’s list—his picture, his vitals, and a list of all his friends and his friends’ friends. Interesting.

Feeling old, though. So I think now I’ll snarf down some cold pizza while watching a few cartoons that I BitTorrented—after I break out the L’Oréal Preference and color out my gray.

Fortune cookie 15

Do you believe? Endurance and
persistence will be rewarded.
Lucky Numbers 1, 5, 10, 15, 40, 43

This one seems odd. Why preface the fortune with the question “Do you believe?” It just makes it seem somewhat un-fortune-y. Do I believe, though? I would have to say less and less with each passing day.

Smile when you
are ready.
Lucky Numbers 9, 22, 24, 27, 35, 45

I don’t think I’m ready yet.

Arrrrrr!

Avast me hearties, the 19th of September be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So I guess anythin’ that I post today has t’ be written in Pirate-speak.

Want t’ play along, ya scurvy dogs? Smartly, get ye over to the English t’ Pirate Translator.

Certifiable

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As of this morning, I’m now an Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist (ACHDS). Even though I have been using Mac OS X since the pubic beta, and the test was just 72 multiple choice questions, it was surprisingly difficult.

I hate multiple choice tests that ask “pick the two (or three) best choices” to answer the question. Of course, I hate driving through New Brunswick even more (the closest testing center was in nearby Somerset).

After seven more days of classes throughout September and October (this time they’ll be about OS X Server), and yet another test, I will be an Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC), which is just one step away from Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA). Woo hoo.

Not sure how useful these acronyms will be on my résumé. It’s not like it will mean more money in my pocket. (I do work in academia, after all.) Still, the classes are quite fun—for example, for our last class on OS X client, we left the room, and the instructor, Schoun Regan, “broke” the laptops we were using. Then we had to come back in and then diagnose and fix the problems so that it was possible to accomplish a simple task.

Ultimate

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Like many Americans, one thing that I have tended to do over the past decade and a half with my weight problem is to throw money at it. Sometimes it works, I suppose. Case in point, thanks to the Bowflex (partly), I can no longer really describe my weight “problem” as such.

Sometimes it doesn’t—[cough] the Body by Jake Fit Flex, those freaking Tae Bo tapes, Hot Rox thermogenic supplements, Trim Spa (but it worked for Anna Nicole?!?), a goofy leather and chain neck harness, my Gold’s Gym membership, and on, and on, and on.

Actually, my Bowflex was completely worthless for more than a year until I started using it for more than a clothes rack slash abstract sculpture. Obviously, just owning an expensive piece of exercise equipment only made my wallet lighter.

I’m at a seemingly inescapable plateau—maintaining, but not really advancing—so here we go again. I have decided that I want a chiseled upper body very badly (bulges in all the right places), but have been frustrated with my progress (or lack, thereof) over the past 8 months.

In fact, I was actually tempted to blow another $700 bucks for a year at Gold’s Gym (although the location near my house is now a New York Sports Club).

Yesterday I got a card in the mail for an offer to trade in my old Bowflex and get $1000 off the price of the Bowflex Ultimate 2. Uh oh, this is starting to sound like a commercial.

So I let reason slip away and called the number on the card around 2 AM last night (insomnia’s a bitch). I asked questions for more than a half hour, then I whipped out one of my perpetual Zero Percent Interest for One Year Credit Cards and took the plunge.

The Bowflex Power Pro was a great machine for getting me down from 274 pounds to less than ten stone, but I ran into some fairly significant limitations with this model. In fact, I may write a post detailing things I hate about the Power Pro. The Ultimate 2 seems to address almost every one of them. We’ll see, I guess.

So it’s three weeks of struggling with buyers remorse as I wait for the UPS guy.

…oh, and before you ask, no, I did not get the DVD player attachment for the Bowflex.

Displaced students

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I just thought this was kind of cool. According to the Daily Princetonian, up to 25 undergrads and 20 gradute students who were displaced by Katrina’s devastation can apply to attend their fall semester at Princeton free of charge. They can then transfer earned credits back to their home institutions after the semester is over.

It’s a small number because Princeton is a small school, but Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania announced similar plans. Hopefully, other institutions will do the same.

In related news, classes start this week at Princeton. I suppose it will be nice to see the students again, but on the other hand, the campus is so peaceful when they’re away.

Reunion iMix

I mentioned in an earlier post that we couldn’t afford a DJ for our high school reunion’s main event. Instead, I loaded up the speakers from my living room into my car, grabbed my old Onkyo receiver from college out of storage, and hooked a laptop running iTunes up to the receiver with a mini-jack to RCA adapter cable.

I had asked for track suggestions via our reunion website, but only got one respondent. So the track list was a mixture of my tastes and one other person’s (with a bit of 80s nostalgia thrown in).

After the event, I created an iTunes Music Store iMix that listed most of the tracks (link will launch iTunes, if installed).

All About Us

All About Us single cover
I have a confession to make about my eclectic musical preferences that may shock you. I really like the group t.a.T.u. Yes, that t.a.T.u.

Granted, the whole “are they or aren’t they” lesbian thing (they aren’t) and the wet catholic school girl uniform thing was more than a little cheesy. But, damn it, I enjoyed their debut album and still listen to their songs. I suppose part of the reason I like them is because I spoke fluent Russian in a former life. In fact, I made sure that “Я Сошла с Ума” (the русский variant of “All the Things She Said”) made it into my high school reunion dinner/dance playlist last week.

But, okay, aren’t they, like, so two years ago? Well, their new single “All About Us” was released to the iTunes music store this past Tuesday. (I’m listening to it on continuous repeat as I write this post.) Their second English-language album, Dangerous and Moving is coming out in October. If this single is any indication, it will be a worthy successor.

Anyway, the video for “All About Us” is rather provocative. This time it’s not sexual content, but violent content that is catching the attention of the censors. Censorship really pisses me off, so here’s a link to a 38 MB MPEG download of the uncensored version. Such links are ephemeral, and I don’t expect that link to remain active for very long. This Wikipedia entry has a text summary of the video.

Back in Joizey

Well, I made the trek across the Keystone State once again, my little black Neon guzzling that $3.29 per gallon gasoline like it was free beer at a college party.

My belongings, unloaded from my car, lie in a pile behind my couch; I’ll deal with them tomorrow. I am just getting ready to plop in front of my TiVo to discover what mind-numbing entertainment it has waiting for me.

It’s always comforting to come back home, but there are, of course, a few things that I will miss.

When I gaze up at the night sky over Pennsylvania, I can easily make out the milky band of stars that inspired our galaxy’s name. Looking up at the celestial canopy over light-polluted central Jersey, I’m lucky if I can discern the circumpolar constellations.

In my parents’ home, it seems like someone is always talking or making some sort of noise. Back here in my apartment, the silence is sometimes deafening.

Back there I can forget about my responsibilities for a time and almost pretend I’m a kid. Here, though, it’s back to the old grind.

Thirty-three

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So, it has been thirty-three years and change since 5:04 AM on September 6, 1972. Seems like only yesterday; where does the time go?

Of course, if we were on Mars, I’d still only be 17 (Useless dates related to your birthday).

On the road again

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I’m finally ready to head out (a bit later than I had planned). I have spent the past couple of days getting things ready for the reunion like signage and the iTunes playlist for the dance (we ended up not being able to afford a DJ).

Why, oh why, does the price of gas have to be rising faster than Bush’s approval rating is falling? I winced when I topped off my gas tank at $2.79 per gallon a day ago. Now my mom tells me that gas stations in western Pennsylvania are up to $3.19 for 87 octane. Crap.

Anyway, because I will only have dial-up access for a week, I’ll only be checking e-mail and blogs maybe once a day. As such, I set my SpamLookup filter to be overly aggressive (+4). Unless you are registered with TypeKey, most posted comments will sit in a holding area for a day or two until I manually approve them.

Time for the road to rise up to meet me.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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