Computing Education Lessons Learned from the 2010’s: What I Got Wrong

I’m definitely going to lookup and read the Charisma Machine by Morgan Ames. I wasn’t aware anyone had done any review of the One Laptop Per Child project at Media Lab.

Computing Education Research Blog

There’s a trend on Twitter over the last few weeks where people (especially the academics I follow) tweet about their accomplishments over the last 10 years. They write about the number of papers published, the number of PhD students graduated, and the amount of grant money they received. It’s a nice reflective activity which highlights many great things that have happened in the 2010’s.

I started this blog in June 2009, so most of it has been written in the 2010’s. The most interesting thing I find in looking back is what I got wrong. There were lots of things that I thought were true, ideas that I worked on, but I later realized were wrong. Since I use this blog as a thinking space, it’s a sign of learning that I now realize that some of that thinking was wrong. And for better or worse, here’s a permanent Internet…

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The Odyssey Project – A Domains Origin Story — Gardner Writes

For all that follows, there’s much more to be said–but if I try to say it all, the post will never be written or shared. So let’s get started with this beginning. Recently a Twitter thread emerged on the origins of the “Domain of One’s Own” project (usually abbreviated DoOO). Jon Udell’s epic talk at…

The Odyssey Project – A Domains Origin Story — Gardner Writes

I lurvs me some Origin Stories, especially from the wild frontier prior to the rise of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Web 2.0 was really going to be a chance to set a course and follow it to a less bubble-like conclusion, exploding on it’s way up-up-up into the future. Being able to make one’s own tools seemed like a good starting point, but as is often the case you bump into the limits of time and your current ability. Luckily, as Gardner points out, hosting companies like Bluehost had attempted to automate, script, GUI-ify much of the existing tools in a way meant to lower their costs of supporting end-users. The upshot in Gardner’s eyes were these interfaces lowered the barrier to end-users actually USING these tools at a level they wouldn’t normally be allowed in a Learning Management System context. The promise was, and in some ways is STILL there. We just need more people who are better able to convince the populace they should care. And now more than ever the Kelly-Anne Conways extolling alternative facts have proven we need to care. Otherwise we do get fooled again (remember and rhyme with history like the civilizations of yore. Here’s to the future, again, we can do/learn to do, these things, or at minimum learn to CARE.


Deeper Insights Emerge into How Memories Form — Scientific American News

Forming lasting memories appears to depend on an interaction between glial cells and brain waves that are produced during sleep — Read more on

Deeper Insights Emerge into How Memories Form — Scientific American News

Fascinating read from SA on new study done by researchers looking at the critical role myelin sheaths perform in making long term memory. It’s all about the speed of travel “it seems”, where myelin sheaths between points in the brain, helps speed connections. Or at night during non-REM sleep, myelin is being made to “cement” the short-term memory/experience gained recently. Looks like the brain scientists are really onto something here.


Can Livestreaming Lift China Out of Poverty by 2020? — Sixth Tone RSS

China’s video and e-commerce platforms say they’re putting rural content creators on the path to fame and fortune, but questions persist about whether their poverty-busting initiatives can actually make a difference.

Can Livestreaming Lift China Out of Poverty by 2020? — Sixth Tone RSS

In Spring 2019 I watched a program on PBS about the live streaming phenomenon in China. Very similar to the voting based talent shows broadcast first in Europe and now in the U.S. But done completely over the internet in China using live streaming. People vote for their favorite “host” by awarding them virtual currency and raising their status in comparison to competing “idols”. I’ve never heard until today, that part of the reasoning, emphasis of this phenomenon is to give “opportunity” to rural citizens and provide a pathway out of poverty. But as the article points out, while the population of China is large and has a large number of participants on the Internet, there’s over 500+ million people who are not. And that’s saying that this less of a pathway for those 500+ million people who are not online. It is interesting to watch how the government and the citizens of China evolve their own culture and social systems surrounding the Internet.


Love this pull quote from the article on Apple+

The Morning Show is one of the flagship Apple TV+ original shows, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. In a new interview with Variety, Jennifer Aniston offers new details on working with Apple, the show’s inspiration, and more. more… The post Jennifer Aniston explains selling ‘The Morning Show’ when Apple TV+ ‘didn’t have…

Jennifer Aniston explains selling ‘The Morning Show’ when Apple TV+ ‘didn’t have walls‘ — 9to5Mac

More important than any of this is Jennifer Aniston didn’t really understand “streaming” and that the show was available anytime, on demand. She lamented the passing of “tuning in Thursday night”, and people yelling to you in the bathroom as the commercial ended, to let you know it’s back on. It’s sad. Yes it is Ms. Aniston, yes it is sad.


Mark the time (10/08/2019 11:28PM EDT)

I deactivated my Twitter account after reading this article on both Slashdot and The Register:

Twitter attempted to gain phone numbers of folks with accounts claiming it was for security purposes. This happened also to me on Facebook when they shutdown my account back in 2015. FB Support wanted my phone number to reinstate my account and I refused so they I was locked out.

Then Twitter shutdown my account, and refused to reinstate no matter what I did. But they STILL tried bullying me into handing over a telephone number, and I refused that one too. It was too suspicious and too damning, and bald-faced to be coincidence. And now the cat is out of the bag for the Twitter phone number cache. It was NEVER about security, ever, EVER, EVAR. It was all about advertising and engagement and all the negative BS social media has come to encompass. So as of today, I have deactivated Twitter. I originally let Twitter shutdown my first/original account but couldn’t stay away, and re-upped after 5 months off (in 2015). But this time it’s for good. No more FB, no more Twitter, you’re no fun anymore.


Ridiculously awesome cherry blossom bar with sakura pool opening in Tokyo【Photos】

I know this is a real place. But these stories about novel, odd things are always calculated to drive page views for “weird Japan” stories. I know I saw a story most recently about floating kotatsu on inflatable rafts. It seems entirely made up, impractical and borderline dangerous if it is real. I wish the proprietors luck, it isn’t a bad idea. Just an odd one.


The Idea of America

A Short Essay after watching CBS Sunday Morning’s 40th Anniversary episode

Sunday, January 27, 2019

11:26 AM

It was a good run, really from 1609 until today we tried. Different people at different times taking 2 steps forward 1 step back. From colonialism, to mercantilism and democracy to oligarchy we are what we are in spite of th enlightened angels of our better nature. From Supreme Court decisions to Constitutional Amendments from Wars on “X” to National Security it’s all one big melting pot of ideas and more often hidden agendas. We got Koch Bros., Shel Adelson, Scaife Foundation, Grover Norquist, Steve Bannon, Karl Rove, Newt Gingerich, Dick Cheney, Frank Luntz and David Addington and all of Talk Radio and Fox Network helping us take one step back on a daily basis. Then there’s everyone else with their own hopes and dreams and less hidden agendas, working out in the open under the cold light of day trying to have a “society” here and avoid the chaos and darkness of the Honey Badgers (who don’t give fuck).

I remember once learning about a Canadian Broadcast Corp. project they did for radio with the piano virtuoso and polymath Glenn Gould. The program was called, “The Idea of North”. Eventually a film was made and while I never listened to the audio recording, I did hear bits and pieces of it in the film entitled “31 Short Films about Glenn Gould” where the topic came up and Glenn showed how he directed the editing of the audio recordings like music for the radio version. I still need to track that one down. As for the film version (which I think Gould had some connection to as well), that was very much about:

  1. A particular province in Canada north of 40
  2. People who go to visit that town and stay there
  3. Native rights over the land and how to best share with the Indians

But the title itself (seemingly as innocuous and mysterious as an idea) is what I found most compelling. Playing with that and turning over and over in my head it got caught like a rhyme, an earworm or mindworm of sorts. The “idea” of something that is itself a kind of arbitrary but still vital thing, an ordinal point on a compass, a map, a direction. Something that could lead you to safety or to danger (as in venturing too far North). But the beauty of an artist like Glenn Gould is the “openness” of a title like that and the multitude of interpretations it might have. That’s the work of a true artist. And even more so an artist that can spur other artists with a small choice like that, the “idea” as a title, a topic seemingly vague and open to interpretation.

PBS decided to hint or glance at something like the “Idea of America” during the late days of the Bush administration. Instead using the U.S. Constitution as the “idea”. Host Peter Sagal drove a motorcycle around the U.S. doing interviews asking questions. It’s all there still on the PBS website: The title “Constitution USA” is not open to interpretation but roots everything into the framework of the mythos of the founding fathers, the mental work and emotional work they performed leading up to and following the ratification by each state of the U.S. Constitution. To quote the series blurb on their website:

“Traveling across the country by motorcycle, Sagal is in search of where the U.S. Constitution lives, how it works and how it doesn’t… how it unites us as a nation and how it has nearly torn us apart.”

From <>

Tear us apart? Do they mean Roe v. Wade? Or Civil Rights? Or the Right to Bear Arms? What about the right of the President to declare war unilaterally without an act of Congress? That’s happened a few times too. I dare say the tie between the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. citizen is barely there. No one asserts their rights, we beg for them. Unsponsored illegal immigrants are summarily tried and thrown in jail before they can claim political asylum which is more often legitimate than any assumption of someone seeking seasonal work in good ol’ “El Norte”. But we don’t care, just so long as our cultural assumptions and societal inertia are left unchecked. No, I would argue the U.S. Constitution doesn’t come up very often in the majority of people’s thinking or lives as they are deal with the daily commute, errands and drop-offs required to just get through another damned week. That to me, that daily tactical decision making, survival especially in the bottom 25% (just to pick a strata), that I dare say is the “Idea of America”, the dream that people were sold. Otherwise, why would they stay here, struggle where there is no meritocracy, darned little justice socially speaking, and random justice legally speaking? What stake do they have in a casino where they are the necessary marks that keep the lights on by providing Federal Income Tax and Social Security Benefit taxes to a central Federal authority. What’s the pay off for them? It’s hope. It’s hope for that 2 steps forward occurring each day in spite of the one step back. It’s the stereotype ALL Europeans have of Americans of being child-like and “hopeful” in their outlook and demeanor generally. And if there’s any reason to fight or preserve, or legislate or lobby to preserve that child-like “hopefulness”, to me that’s the true North, the guide star, the core being of “The Idea of America”.


Welcome to the Gutenberg Editor

Of Mountains & Printing Presses

The goal of this new editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable. This whole post is composed of pieces of content—somewhat similar to LEGO bricks—that you can move around and interact with. Move your cursor around and you’ll notice the different blocks light up with outlines and arrows. Press the arrows to reposition blocks quickly, without fearing about losing things in the process of copying and pasting.

What you are reading now is a text block the most basic block of all. The text block has its own controls to be moved freely around the post…

… like this one, which is right aligned.

Headings are separate blocks as well, which helps with the outline and organization of your content.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Handling images and media with the utmost care is a primary focus of the new editor. Hopefully, you’ll find aspects of adding captions or going full-width with your pictures much easier and robust than before.

Beautiful landscape
If your theme supports it, you’ll see the “wide” button on the image toolbar. Give it a try.

Try selecting and removing or editing the caption, now you don’t have to be careful about selecting the image or other text by mistake and ruining the presentation.

The Inserter Tool

Imagine everything that WordPress can do is available to you quickly and in the same place on the interface. No need to figure out HTML tags, classes, or remember complicated shortcode syntax. That’s the spirit behind the inserter—the (+) button you’ll see around the editor—which allows you to browse all available content blocks and add them into your post. Plugins and themes are able to register their own, opening up all sort of possibilities for rich editing and publishing.

Go give it a try, you may discover things WordPress can already add into your posts that you didn’t know about. Here’s a short list of what you can currently find there:

  • Text & Headings
  • Images & Videos
  • Galleries
  • Embeds, like YouTube, Tweets, or other WordPress posts.
  • Layout blocks, like Buttons, Hero Images, Separators, etc.
  • And Lists like this one of course 🙂

Visual Editing

A huge benefit of blocks is that you can edit them in place and manipulate your content directly. Instead of having fields for editing things like the source of a quote, or the text of a button, you can directly change the content. Try editing the following quote:

The editor will endeavor to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.

Matt Mullenweg, 2017

The information corresponding to the source of the quote is a separate text field, similar to captions under images, so the structure of the quote is protected even if you select, modify, or remove the source. It’s always easy to add it back.

Blocks can be anything you need. For instance, you may want to add a subdued quote as part of the composition of your text, or you may prefer to display a giant stylized one. All of these options are available in the inserter.

You can change the amount of columns in your galleries by dragging a slider in the block inspector in the sidebar.

Media Rich

If you combine the new wide and full-wide alignments with galleries, you can create a very media rich layout, very quickly:

Accessibility is important — don’t forget image alt attribute

Sure, the full-wide image can be pretty big. But sometimes the image is worth it.

The above is a gallery with just two images. It’s an easier way to create visually appealing layouts, without having to deal with floats. You can also easily convert the gallery back to individual images again, by using the block switcher.

Any block can opt into these alignments. The embed block has them also, and is responsive out of the box:

You can build any block you like, static or dynamic, decorative or plain. Here’s a pullquote block:

Code is Poetry

The WordPress community

If you want to learn more about how to build additional blocks, or if you are interested in helping with the project, head over to the GitHub repository.

Thanks for testing Gutenberg!



Visiting Japan and Asa-Dora

One of the small joys of refusal visits to Japan is learning the ebb and flow of morning TV programs. And for me that is defined by the National broadcaster NHK. You know the morning has properly started at 8pm JST, when the morning drama opening credits fire up. It is a rotating program that airs for limited part of the year, opening and Unfolding for 15 minutes each morning, 8-8:15a. Topics can vary widely, but they are truly original, last year at this time it was a series about young women working at an electronics factory, that shuts down early in the series, then you follow the women as they find other jobs. This year, on this trip, the series is called “Half blue”, which seems to be about a young woman trying to be an artist/illustrator. It’s an interesting tradition NHK has developed, “Morning Drama” or Asa dorama as it is called in Japanese. I look forward to it every time I visit, even though I don’t speak Japanese, I feel like I can follow the story well enough.