Found on Google Street View

Last November, while the girls and I were hobbling barefoot to the beach, we encountered a Google Street View car making it’s rounds. The car is odd enough looking that the girls were curious about it. When I explained what it was doing, and that in roughly a year, we’d be able to see ourselves on the internet, they didn’t quite get it. Well, the photos finally went live, and there are several different views of us as we meander down the street while the car tries to capture the awkward dead end street.

View Larger Map

This was the first time that these streets had been mapped, so I suspect that we’ll be there for a while. Regardless, I screen-capped a few different shots to show the girls later. It might be one of those “and this was the first time you encountered the robots” kinds of talks.

Geographically revealing tattoos

I really enjoy tattoos that reveal geographic information about people. Just this morning when I was getting more coffee next door at New Seasons, the sales clerk had a walleye tattoo on her forearm (the image is not of the clerk). I engaged her in conversation about the tatoo:

me: Is that a Walleye on your forearm?
her: Yes! Where are you from?!?
me: Uh…. Wyoming or Nebraska, technicaly. But I know a walleye.. Where are you from, Minnesota?
her: Yes. Of course. But did you know they catch Walleye on the Columbia?
me: Yes, world record fish even.
her: I didn’t know they could live in rivers.
me: The Columbia is more of a lake anyway.
her: true.
receipt printer:’re done, next customer…

I have to admit I was caught off-guard when she immediately asked me where I was from given that I knew it was a walleye, but it’s not illegal to know a little about fish.

This is now the second conversation I’ve had that was geographical and tattoo related with a New Seasons clerk. The other case was when I noticed the southern tip of what looked like Illinois poking out from under a clerk’s sleeve, and below that, what I now know is an “L” train car. The clerk said she was working on getting something inked for Portland, but said she’s drifting towards Cali before she figures out where she wants to be permanently.

In a way, these are just pictograms describing one’s personal history, but in the other, they do serve as a mental map to help the wearer find their way back home. The outline of a state is a given, but things like a state bird, fish, flag, etc.; that’s just nerdy. And I appreciate that.

The allure of zombie attacks

My family has been working off and on on preparing an emergency plan for in case of a disaster. The primary example we’re planning around is The Big One ™, the giant earthquake expected to someday wipe out most of the Pacific North West. It’s easiest to think about it in that sense, partly because it’s one of the most sanitary disasters, speaking purely in the likelyhood and on whose fault it would be. Plus, you can plan around a certain set of expected problems that are likely to occur. For example, you can expect that much of downtown Portland’s century old buildings would be destroyed. You can expect that many if not all bridges would be at least temporarily closed to car and/or even foot traffic. You can expect that you may need to turn off gas and you may not have electricity. You can expect that in a 90 year old home with no connection between the house and the brick foundation, that the house will slip off. You can also expect the reaction to be similar to other earthquakes, which we’ve had several recent examples of.

When you start to think of other potential disasters, you have a very wide variety of causes, be they natural or human-precipicated, a very different set of tools to respond to the disaster, a probably most intimidating, a myriad of ways the rest of the people around you will respond. I’ve been visiting a number of urban survival and emergency preparedness resources on the internet, and I’ve noticed some common themes among the most active and vocal contributors.

  1. The generic label of “the disaster” is often referred to as “SHTF,” or when the Shit Hits the Fan.
  2. There seems to be a common perception that SHTF will be a human-caused event, likely involving the collapse of economy and or government.
  3. and SHTF will mean that people will try to take your stuff

This is not a new phenomenon or a new set of fears; I think it’s as old as our nation. And it seems that the response and planning by most posters follow the same rules.

  1. Get your guns
  2. Get your stuff
  3. Get out of Dodge

There seems to be a universal disdain for the city and the collection of resources available in them, largely because you will have to share, no, compete with other survivors for them. And there’s some unease in talking about how each individual will respond to threats to their own security. The answer seems to be answered for most folks merely by the presence of a gun or many guns solves that unknown.

But there’s still a bit of a question mark there about how you will truly respond to people. And I have a suspicion that popularity of Zombie-themed survival films and literature actually attempts to deal with the response without actually answering the underlying question. Zombie lore is very common, and in many ways, Zombie scenarios are like many disasters in which an outbreak has caused competition for resources and diminished safety. And by having the antagonist be dead, or technically undead, you remove most of the guilt of having to kill a real person to protect yourself. You can pretty guiltlessly say that you’d shoot a zombie where as you can’t quite say that about someone with avian flu.

I haven’t yet read The Zombie Survival Guide, though I understand that it deals with such an artificial zombie attack like it were any other human disaster. I’m hoping that this isn’t dealt with right away in the book, because then I’ll just look like a plagiarist. But this came to me while trying to rectify what could be real human response and what could be fictional. It would suck to think that the community response to an earthquake would be a shotgun in the face. But I sense as an overall lack of preparation for events like this by the community at large, there will be a lot of scarcity, and thus a lot of poor responses.

Oh, and I should mention that Michelle and I just discovered The Colony, which is occasionaly educational, but in many ways as fanciful as Swiss Family Robinson. (Which I still love.)

Thesis Methodology Test

Note: This was supposed to have been published on May 19th. Not sure how it got stuck in the queue.

Note 2: Oh yeah, I dictated it in to my phone on the drive home then tried to have it auto-recognized. The grammar is atrocious.

I tested my thesis methodology in my friend Eric’s classroom on Monday. It quickly became clear that there were some problems in my methodology, and that I’ll need to adjust before doing live data collection. However, there are also some differences in on the actual set up as in the methodology and we encountered on Monday and the biggest was that it was not a lab situation where I could pre-configure the computers and accounts. Instead, we took maybe 20 to 30 minutes getting laptops passed around getting logged in and troubleshooting certificate issues while the students were waiting in front of the computers, which cost a precious 30 minutes of time.

The class is also a mixed fourth and fifth grade class so there were students from age 9 to 11 in the classroom and I think because of that rather than any other factor, there was a pretty big disparity between the who completed the test or not. They tended to be 11 rather than nine or 10 and up the students who did the best on it, and, you know, I can only say that based on the people actually saved answers and in with a question or two they all tend to be older.

I don’t think there was any take away data from this other than to make some changes in the methodology. It was definitely a humbling experience, and it was great to watch my friend work in his classroom and see such a beautiful mix of laid back and in control. I know that it was definitely fun on and it is clear that I’m not using the prescribed environment, so that was an interesting side effects. I still think that this is something that will be possible to use with him and think it will just simply requires some tweaking of the test itself and a maybe moving to an older classroom. Maybe get better results, which made the net looking for a group of students, so we’ll see what happens on. I am going to make changes to the exam length and my script to see what i can do to improve the time it took.

Verizon has “a map for that”

AT&T is suing Verizon over their there’s a map for that ads. AT&T is of course reacting poorly to a clever and powerful advertisement, but I understand their concern.

Verizon's 3G map
Verizon's 3G map

This is an intentionally misleading use of a map. Not only did Verizon pick a color for AT&T that’s difficult to see compared to the background, they are emphasizing total area covered, not total population covered. This is the same travesty you get when you look at 2004 election maps of red vs. blue states where it seems like the entire country is red when in fact it’s not the land that’s voting but the population.

Compare AT&T’s map to a map of population density:

US Population density
US Population density

Notice how AT&T has service wherever there is any significant amount of population? They retort that they have 3G service available for 296 million customers. So they’re claiming they offer 3G service to 96% of Americans. I suppose the obvious question for Verizon is why are they spending so much time and money extending a 3G network to that remaining 4% of the population that is geographically dispersed, and where they’ll get such little return on their investment? Verizon isn’t in the game for community service, they’re in it to make money. If I were a shareholder, I’d be rather concerned, especially considering that Verizon will have to update their network. And that they have crappy phones.

Tagging tracks

After a very slow process of tagging and organizing my music collection, I’ve come to realize that the overly general genre tags are too generic to be of any use when I’m looking for something to listen to. There are a ton of sub-genre for Rock alone, but they do a decent job of identifying the music and mood that I want to listen to. Plus it’ll be fun to debate (internally) which sub-genre to use for specific groups (is that protopunk or punk rock?).

Needless to say, this is going to take quite a while to complete. I’ll have time to work on it in 15 minute bursts after the girls have all gone to bed, or when riding on the shuttle to work. I wonder if I can use hierarchical tags or secondary tags? (pause while searching) Nope – going to have to stick with the ID3v1 genre list.

Logic fails me

My 3.3 year old mac is at the apple store getting its logic board replaced. FireWire and Ethernet have been flakey for several months, but when bluetooth fully died, then kernel panics and finally a crash from which there was no reboot, it was time to realize that something was wrong. As much as I’d like to pick up an intel mac, I’m not ready to drop the coinage. Luckily, I’m told they’ve fixed the problem and I can have it back tomorrow. Great service, Apple.

Wednesday in Vegas

Wednesday was really quite boring for anyone not intimately concerned with online education or learning management software. I was “in session” from 8am until after 6pm, and despite the potential for some major snoozing, it was actually really informative and useful. Not only was I able to learn a lot that would be very useful to my job, I was able to meet a number of “internet” people that I frequently encounter online and folks from other schools and companies that I routinely collaborate with. I sometimes forget the power of the spoken word and the face to face when so much of my world is RTFM.

The keynote of the day was by Blackboard’s own CEO. Among other things, he was showing off the direction of Blackboard’s product over the next 2-3 years. The upside? The product will eventually contain the things we want now, like ajax interaction, mobile delivery, full CSS styling and easy inclusion (integration is a strong word) of other web applications like flickr and youtube. The downside? Migration, time, and money.

Here’s some pictures of the trip.

iShould’ve foreseen this

My iPhone is mostly upgraded but needs to connect to the iTunes store for some activation type transactions. Said store is down, so my phone thinks it hasn’t been activated. I figured that I’d wait until the weekend to install the upgrade so this sort of thing wouldn’t happen, but after buying super monkey ball, I couldn’t wait any longer. Now I can only laugh at my predicament.

I wonder what time that meeting is this morning. If I’m late, I’m sure they’ll understand. At least 3 of them have iPhones and might be in the same boat.