e-TECH 2.0

Beginning the Journey

Deep Thoughts at the Coffee House

Ok, so maybe I didnt plan this surprise trip very well at all. Its a three hour trip to go hang with my friend in Tulsa. But as far as he knows I am showing up tommorrow around 12:00pm in the afternoon sometime. Not being present at the time of my arrival I hang out in the front of his house for awhile, but then it becomes very apparant that I look a little suspicious. I can almost hear the thoughts of the passers by. “Who the heck is he,,why doesn’t he just go inside, is he evading the police?” What makes the situation even worse is that I am a geek, so I have my satellite radio giving off a bright eerie blue color, and on my lap? Of course, it’s my laptop with the screen set on the brightest setting. By the way if you havn’t seen the inside of a car lit by the romantic phosphorescent glow of a LCD screen you are missing one of the most amazing sights. But then again, I’m a geek, so working it the dark is actually fun for me.

Sitting there in my friends driveway waiting for him to come home so we can go to a Barnes and Noble and see what new SQL books have come out, I am checking out the wireless networks available. It’s called wardriving, and while its fun, I havn’t found a real practical use for it yet, unless that is, you are waiting for a friend to come home and you have nothing better to do than hang out in the driveway surfing the interenet on a connection that you dont actually pay for. So, with the pressure of my new-found ‘stalker’ status, I decide to move to a more friendly setting. “Hey!” I say to myself, “There’s a Starbucks!”.

Now, I need to backtrack a little bit here. I know theres a lot of anti-Starbucks folks out there, but when you are studying for a statistics final, and everything that sells decent coffee is closed, you tend to really enjoy the hyper-charged-make-you-stay-up-till-you’re-90-years-old kick that Starbucks nicely offers for $3.95. In fact I think Starbucks is the only place in America where drinking Nuke-Caffeine is legal. So while I was obtaining my undergraduate degree in Oklahoma City, I became addicted to the warm interior and the weird crowd that hung around in them, frantically tapping on their laptops, sucking down over-caffeinated super-brew.

Its ten-o’clock at night, but I think, “So what, I’m on vacation, I can stay up all night if I want.”. In I go, for a Viente sized Sumatra (extra bold) with an extra shot of espresso. Once I place my order I sit down, and start looking for networks to attach to. There are around six to choose from. But none of them want to talk to my computer. I keep requesting an IP address, but the phone is off the hook. I’m getting nothing. Then I see the golden grail, “I heard about these.” I say to myself. “Cool! Its a T-Mobile Hotspot, available at all your friendly neighborhood Starbucks coffee shops.”. So I go to request an IP. The request takes forever and eventually times out. “What is wrong with this thing?” I say to myself. It doesn’t hit me until I open a browser and try the network out. “YOU HAVE TO LOG IN?!” I scream. This really stinks, whatever happend to copy-left and the open-web initiative? I can get free internet access cruising around the neighborhood, but not at a coffee place where all the Beat-niks and hippies hang? This really stinks.

So the point besides lots of ranting and rambling? Well for one it seems that more and more people are securing their wireless networks and wising up to us. Also, I find it hilarious that back in the 60’s, coffee shops were the places you could go to get free stuff. Least of all coffee. Today? Well, let’s just say that the boomers have grown up, and become capitalists, either that or they work for Ted Turner and the Media at large. Starbucks, coasting on the movement started 40 years ago is now charging for all the stuff you could get for free many years ago. Well, thats marketing for you. One thing that I did not mention is that when I was sitting outside my friends driveway I was picking up around 7 networks. All of them were locked down, except one. Incidentally, they were all 2-Wire wireless modems. I have one in my house as well. Great systems, I love them, and so easy to configure if you need to host a webserver, and real easy to lock-down as well. Here is the thing, why is the general populous using the 2-Wire Wireless/modem/router combo box when Cisco seems to be the standard? Not sure, but I got mine back when I was ignorant about things like the industry standard, but I am so glad I did. Everyonce in awhile I get really, really lucky. But then it rains.

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April 12, 2006 Posted by | Main | Leave a comment

Content Paralysis

One of the toughest things in the IT world is making decisions, especially in the world of higher education. With all the changes happening in the world of content management and the number of choices that are available, it can make the decision making process even more excruciating. As an IT manager, I am completly overwhelmed by this task. There is a lot at stake here, so if you make a bad decision it could mean a lot of backlash and bad feedback.
Right now we use a CMS/LMS or what is popularly known as a Learning/Course Management System. While these offer alot in terms of how instructors can utilized online tools for the learning process, what it all boils down to is a way to handle content. If you already have a LMS or CMS why would you want other ways of publishing content? That is the question. I have several instructors who have their own websites, publish their own blogs, upload their own content, and they barely use the CMS for anything else but course-related stuff. So what is the draw of Podcasting? Well before we can properly deal with the differences between the two, let’s define ‘Podcasting’ first.
Podcasting was originally a name used for downloading or uploading digital content in the form of a file that Apple’s i-Pod understood. Now it means much more than that. Podcasting could mean anything from blogging, audio-blogging, or v-logging (video), and the tools used come in all shapes and sizes on all ends. This is a new trend that has spawned a million techniques, tools, software, and hardware. You dont have to own an i-Pod to take advantage of this content-rich world of podcasting. In fact you don’t even have to have a portable player of any kind to have access to all this wonderful world, you dont even have to own a computer, although you do need access to one, and an internet connection. What lies at the core of this movement, this revolution in publically accessible content driven world is a concept known as Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is an ethereal idea that Tim O’Reilly (of O’Reilly’s website for uber-geeks) has really taken under his wing, and basically embraces the idea that the internet is our computer, and that our current systems will eventually become thin clients (or dummy terminals) of the internet. It takes power out of the hands and puts it in the hands of the professional consumer or pro-sumer. Where only professionals at one time had access to the tools of the trade now, the commoner can utilize cutting edge technology to produce professional items, in our case ‘Content’. The tools that are used in Podcasting specifically are many depending on your preferences. I will try to attack the toolset in the next session of Content Paralysis.

April 12, 2006 Posted by | Main | 1 Comment

Hello world!

OK, I am having to recreate my entire blog again.  This time I am not hosting it on my home server.  It seems that the PHP in WordPress is not real friendly with dynamic IP's especially when they change.  So until I can buy my own static, or until IPV6 makes its way, my way, then I am going to host here.  Sorry for the disappointment, it will take me a couple of days at least to get this up and running like I want it.  Plus, I am working on a project for my Masters class, so that is taking up some of my time.  Link to follow shortly.

April 12, 2006 Posted by | Main | Leave a comment