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August 2013

Maths are part of the equation

Everyday PhysicsScreenshot by @topgold of everyday physics.

I HAVE BEEN TEACHING social networking at third level since 2007 and I'm still trying to work out the maths. After chatting with fellow lecturer, Pamela O'Brien, I'm convinced maths are part of a well-rounded study of what we do online.

I'm not trying to comb applied mathematics textbooks to find equations that I can snap into place. No--I believe it is better to fit a mathematical model to the real world than to find a mathematical equation I understand and then attempting to shoehorn data into that equation. John Maynard Smith, the esteemed biologist who applied game theory to the study of evolution, once scathingly described such models as "theories looking for a question to answer."

But I do have a little maths envy when I see clever formulas used behind the scenes with Universal Analytics. Some of those formulas are very predictive and they help identify leading indicators for important metrics such as footfall. I rambled on about this kind of thought process in an Audioboo audio clip I've attached.

Maths are part of the equation

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Room for Two Pencils

After Three YearsSnap of Mia's Derwent pencils by @topgold's Lumia 925.

AS SHE STARTS her second year of primary school, five year old Mia has room for two more artists' pencils. That's because four of the pencils have been used more than any others during the past three years.

Mia commandeered my Derwent artists' pencils at the age of two, when she first learned how to colour. She prefers all shades of pink, as seen in the photo. And because of that preference, we have a fresh pink pencil commanding a major presence in the pencil case.

One other welcome addition to this years' book bag is Mia's personal pencil sharpener. The lucky girl earned two different sharpeners from friends in Limerick. She wants to blog "thanks" to Donnacha Hurley and to John Kennedy. Both saw her distraught face when she couldn't sharpen a broken nib while she drew a house outside the Absolute Bar & Grill. The sharpeners are brilliant because she can hold and twist her hands and sharpen her artwork by herself.

[Mia starts her first day as a Senior Infant today.]


Getting Specs Ready for New Term

I AM DETERMINED to present three academic modules primary through electronic media this semester. To do it right means getting the specs right.

I have a captive audience whose viewing habits I know. The default viewing platform is a laptop so I have a lot of latitude in pulling together presentations. Specifically, I can present Slideshare content, embed both audio and video content while counting on radio button survey responses.

I also want to specify a minimal yet effective learning mode using smart screens and hope to prove I can facilitate reflective audio journaling through the use of audio captured in hand.

I will share that specification as it firms up in the weeks ahead. I suspect the content flow will start with Scrivener and Evernote.

[Photo snapped by @topgold and sent from by Xperia Z on O2.]


Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle FreeTime

Talking About KindlePhoto by @topgold with 2yo and Kindle.

BECAUSE HE SEES me holding and using my Kindle, our two year old wants it too. I'd like him to discover it's fun to read (and listen) with a Kindle.

We may opt for a Kindle Paperwhite because its design is better suited for reading than the older Kindle I already carry. As I read the specifications on the Paperwhite, I discovered 87 friends from my social networks have shared details about the product. Those people may have reached the same conclusion as me--if you're serious about reading, you need to carve out a place with few distractions. That's where Kindle excels.

Another advantage of Kindle Paperwhite is the ease and speed of looking up definitions of words.

I'm planning to set aside blocks of hours at a time to see if I can convert books our school age daughter is supposed to carry in her backpack. There's a big difference in weight between a Kindle and a hard cover textbook. And I know how to quickly snap and save pages for Optical Character Reading through Scrivener's Kindle publishing option. If I get this sorted as a production process, I'll share it on my blog.

I'm also curious about Kindle FreeTime, a programme that lets me create a personalised profile for children. Using the profile, they can gain access to titles from my book collection. As they read, they earn achievement badges when they reach their goals. Through a progress report, I can see total time spent reading, number of words looked up, badges earned, and books read. I'm very curious to see if this book lending system works in Ireland. If not, I'll set up a Kindle account with a Stateside billing address.

[Bernie Goldbach hopes his children read more than he does.]


Map Cases, Side Doors and Stories

Small Catalogue Case@topgold's maps are in the black case.

I HAVE FOND MEMORIES of walking into special places with black catalogue cases. And of taking those same map cases to the front of airline departure lounges where I occasionally received travel upgrades.

Simple black catalogue cases often accompany traveling salesmen. When they're reinforced by high impact plastic ribs, they often serve as a seat at a taxi rank or on a wind-swept aircraft ramp.

In a short Audioboo, I shared some thoughts about special places I took my black catalogue cases a lifetime ago. And when I sat down in the reading room with it, I'd pass a knowing glance at a fellow resident whose map case had a story to tell.

Special Clubs

(Bernie Goldbach teaches reflective audio journaling in the Limerick School of Art & Design.)

One Big Reason for Flickr over Instagram

All Your Shots Belong to UsScreenshot from Instagram on Lumia by @topgold.

ALL THE IMAGES in the screenshot from this post belong to Instagram forever, even if those posting them delete all their collateral and close their Instagram accounts. That is the biggest reason I use Flickr much more frequently than Instagram.

I'm also not a big fan of short videos of cats, something facilitated by Instagram.

The Terms of Use give Instagram perpetual use of photos and videos as well as the nearly unlimited right to license the images to any and all third parties. The American Society of Media Photographers explains, "After granting this broad license to Instagram, users also relinquish the right to terminate the agreement. Once uploaded, they cannot remove their work and their identity from Instagram. Additionally, in the event of litigation regarding a photo or a video, it is the account holder who is responsible for attorney and other fees, not Instagram."

The big problem with Instagram's terms is how easily they could become the industry standard. After all, Instagram is Facebook. And to many, Facebook is the internet.

[Bernie Goldbach teaches third level students about terms and conditions of creative multimedia content while engaged at the Limerick School of Art & Design.]

Tweets as Community Voice

Photo of Nationalist tweet shots by @topgold.

THERE IS OFTEN an authentic local voice in tweets coming from places nearby so when The Nationalist, our local paper, started publishing them, I was interested in what they said.

I sometimes wonder if people actually think before they tweet and I had that same thought when looking over the tweets in the snap from the paper. And because I know some of the back stories behind product placement and name dropping on tweets that run on the bottom third of TV shows, I've become somewhat jaded.

I have a list of students' Twitter accounts that occasionally show some streams of consciousness that wouldn't fit well in the context of a job interview. I save some of those unformed thoughts for private review sessions with folks who are often left with no option besides changing the name and avatar of their online personas after they soiled the first one. And often the second one too.

[Bernie Goldbach teaches social media for business in the creative multimedia degree programme at the Limerick School of Art & Design.]

New Academic Year with Fewer PCs

Tablet EaterPhoto by @topgold of tablet operations.

THE ONLY REASON we need a PC (or a laptop or a Mac) in the house is to satisfy our two-year-old's fascination with keys that move.

Like many other families, we don't feel the need to get a PC for the kids. The kids have shown us this by their head-long immersive activities with the iPad, Xoom, Xperia, Lumia and iTouch. They have what they want in hand and often know what icon to tap to pull what they desire from a web service.

I had expected to put an XBox Kinect into the sitting room by now but the television screen has acquired an annoying habit of switching off for three or four seconds every 15 minutes. That kind of misbehaviour would affect game play more than it disrupts the movies we want to watch on the 32" screen.

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Essential Internet and Web Technologies

Adrian Weckler's Essential AppsPhoto by @topgold of Adrian Weckler's tablet app recommendations.

BECAUSE I MAY teach business students "internet and web technologies", I asked my Evernote what should be on the curriculum. The first result was an item Adrian Weckler wrote in the Sunday Business Post.

Look at the image that topped my search result. It's all about business apps, suggesting that the academic module should be focused in touchscreen space, not framed in terms of desktop usage. I agree with that perspective because that's what I observe smart people doing as they operate productively. However, I wonder what the academic syllabus directs. More importantly, I wonder if the students taking the academic course have devices suitable for professional engagement as eager employees stepping into their first jobs.

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Archiving the Soundtrack of Your Life

Listening to the Sound Track of Her Life
Lumia 925 photo of creative by @topgold.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT to archive the music that represents the soundtrack of your life and that's what I'm doing with five-year-old Mia. We produced 25 minutes of what she considers worthy of remembering as essential snippets of her first five years.

Mia Soundtrack of Life

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