Friday, May 30, 2008

Do you ever feel that you are working on the fly?

Here are two Friday funnies:

The first is a great ad.

Not that great for someone who finds the Ivy Lea Bridge or even the Burlington Skyway scary! Click on the image to see it at full size for the full effect.

The second is an older video taken from Will Richardson's favorites:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tickling my odd sense of humour

In a Pair-a-dimes post, David Truss embedded this cartoon:

I thought it was sly, so I looked for some more. I laughed out loud at this one:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A large scale GPS art project

My blogsearch for Sketchpad bubbled this beauty to the top of my Reader.

The artist drew a self-portrait on the world and recorded the results at the Biggest Drawing in the World site.

The first thing I wondered about was putting the lat/long data into Fathom!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Applied 3D Geometry

Isn't the internet a fascinating phenomenon? Today, the posting at one of my early favorite blogs is about square watermelons from Japan - oops cubical watermelons. I felt a twinge of incredulity, but found a hoax site that indicates that it is true and a video of a news clip at a popular video sharing site which means it is most certainly true. Apparently, there are also spherical carrots.

Over at my page, I have recently bookmarked several interesting 3D tools, including the one that my buddy Greg used to create the rotating model of an engine's pistons, called Sandy.

Incidently, the link above to the piston's example uses a new feature in CLIPS - the ability to link directly to a scene within an activity. It uses a fairly straightforward javascript technique which communicates to the flash object, but we were excited to be able to make it work. There is a link at the top of the scene to a sequence that describes how the engine works that is worth the trip.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Do we love it enough to take care of it?

The world, I am writing of.

How long will it take for you to get that song out of your head? Is it only my Canadian sensibility that thinks the missile is out of place?

And if that is too heavy an issue for you, try this Friday Funny from my new favorite New Zealand folk duo parody band, the Flight of the Conchords.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Graphing inequations and inequalities in Sketchpad

cclancy asked the following question in the Physics forum:

Does anyone know how to graph x > 7 with Geometer's Sketchpad? Is it possible?

I consulted the chief Ontario Sketchpad guru, Shawn Godin and then replied:

It is possible to graph inequalities on a number line or in the plane.

Shawn Godin supplied the first sketch and I am not sure where I picked up the other.

I have been collecting resources for Sketchpad, including the mathforum discussion group where questions like this are routinely and professionally answered. If you need any help deconstructing the methods used in either sketch above, you can contact me through my blog.

Hope this helps,


Update (May 16): The inequalities in the plane sketch was sent to me by Paul Kunkel in response to a question on the Math forum. Scott Steketee is offering a similar sketch with custom tools to generate the inequations from the mathforum discussion group.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Dummy Tax

When I taught computers, the site administrator was not too keen on wasting his valuable time resetting students' passwords, so we instituted a "dummy tax" of $2 (this was a decade or more ago - when two dollars bought stuff). Students who needed a password reset, maybe in January after vacation, paid $2 that went into a fund to buy treats at the end of the year. I only remember one student having to pay and just how incensed he was.

(I created this dummy at a South Park character site, though I am no fan of South Park)

Those of you who are considered technophiles by your friends will relate to my experience this weekend when a tower was dropped off at home for attention. The sixteen year old owner had forgotten his Windows password and needed back in to his system. I haven't had too much hardware experience but gave it the old college try. If it were easy to boot a system for which you don't have the password, there wouldn't be much point in having passwords, would there?

In the end, I installed a second copy of Windows on the box and created two new users (one for me and one for him). I then accessed his documents using a bootable Linux System Rescue CD (Gentoo, I think). The Linux experience that I have gained using the XO and the quick hints on the CD allowed me to mount an NTFS drive, and use Midnight Commander (reminds me of Michael Martchenko) to transfer the documents from the locked copy of Windows to the new copy of Windows. I then deleted the old Windows directory and the locked My Documents directory. A little messy (I deleted a bunch of drivers in the process, I think) but the end result was satisfactory. I don't know if I am brave enough to try booting Linux from the CD on my everyday laptop yet, but soon, I think.

My brother sent me a link to software that will allow an Intel-based Mac to run Windows or Linux.

Are you running Linux on a Windows box for any compelling reason? Can you tip your Fedora gentooly or your red hat ubuntuly towards a distribution that you particularly like?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Resources for The Geometer's Sketchpad

I have been keeping a list of resources for the Geometer's Sketchpad that I have been giving out at workshops and have posted to the OSAPAC Learning Objects Repository (where it is currently in the top 10 downloads). There are two problems with it:
  • it goes out of date
  • I am the only person who adds to it
To solve this, I have posted the document as a wiki page. Please feel free to edit it and add your favorite resources.

The Alladin Factor

A while back, my father-in-law lent me the audio book series called The Alladin Factor. It talks about the power of just asking for what you want. Good leaders ask the right people to do the right things, for example.

As an application of the idea, I heard Eddie Greenspan, QC on Sounds Like Canada a while back.

Edward Greenspan is one of Canada's most prominent lawyers and recently represented Conrad Black. He was talking about the Peter Demeter trial and the book By Persons Unknown by George Jonas and Barbara Amiel. Anyway, I got it into my head that I should write him and ask for a signed copy. What do you know - upon returning from the OAME conference, there was a package with a signed copy made out to me. Now to read the gruesome details! Maybe I should have asked for three wishes...

Is there something that you got just by asking that surprised you?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Math on a SMART, I mean Interactive White, Board

In a shout out to someone he calls the Northern Mathman, Geoff Day drew my attention to this incredible Java application for doing mathematics that is particularly well-suited to an IWB or tablet. Although it doesn't work quite as well for me as it does in this introductory video, with a little practice it could change the way I think about equations and mathematical calculations.

You can download it or use it directly on the web.

The Cognitive Surplus

This video via Will Richardson's blog links gin and sitcoms and makes a compelling argument about how the culture is dealing with the rapid changes of industrial and now post-industrial economies. It is one of the most compelling talks that I have heard in a while - and that without a single slide or image or gimmick. Alan November talked about levering students free time for learning. Clay Shirky talks about levering all learners' time: