Friday, January 23, 2009

What I'm Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Time is generally divided into three general categories: Present, Future, and Past. Lately, everyone's focus has been on the present while hoping for the future - our now President Obama's inauguration is still fresh in our collective consciousness.

Yet, I find my own attention more directed towards the past. In many ways, his inauguration has called for much reflection, and I'm quite pleased at how this book - Guns, Germs, and Steel - has seemly dropped into my lap.

I've just finished the book's prologue and I can tell its going to be a fascinating ride, fitting in perfectly with my sociological and ever growing anthropological interests. The first reaction to the book is that I'm glad its focus will span throughout the world's societies. In school, they've mainly targeted Eurocentric curriculums, and while Europe holds so much to learn, it is but a drop in the bucket on a global scale. Not to mention that a more wide-spanning cornerstone of understand is probably going to be critical in the years ahead.

It is with that statement, I would like to write a few posts as I progress in GGS (typing its full name has gotten irritating...) detailing my thoughts on what I read. I was told just yesterday that this book is something to digest in chunks - I hope reflecting about it here would aid in that process. Also, I want to see what discussions will arise from these posts.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday's Snowfall

I liked this picture. It was snowing that morning, so I got my camera out as I went to my internship. Look at the snow flakes falling <3.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I.O.U.S.A.: Byte-Sized

This video is a shorten version of the movie I.O.U.S.A, and I can honestly say that since this half-hour clip made me even more buggy about America's financial situation, the complete film is going to have total freaked. Yet still, the best thing I can do is to be aware of the world I'm inheriting - no matter how much I want to hunt down those who screwed it all up for me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

OLPC in 2009

Is it just me or has this blog seem to be in more of a sate of reacting to other work, rather producing its own lately?

I've been dwelling on a few things lately, as one should at the start of a new year. One of them is my involvement with OLPC. This article here (Our One Laptop Per Child Hopes for 2009) hits on a lot of what OLPC has been able to do last year, but also points out where they need to move forward.

Perhaps rightfully so, he starts off with Sugar - as I myself will. From my first encounter with the OS - trying pathetically to figure out what I was doing with that ridiculously tiny keyboard and mouse - to writing guides on how to use it, I have to say that overall I'm happy with Sugar. Version 8.2 was yet another milestone that I was pleased with, but my biggest gripe with Sugar is that I was never able to get a few key features to work. Mainly getting two or more of the XOs to 'talk' to each other. Also getting the XOs online at times is merely frustrating. I would love to see Sugar improved in those two areas, since wireless communication is a principal need of the XOs.

Next up is the design. Ever since I first got my hands on the XO, I was quite impressed with how it looked and I'm not alone - almost everyone finds the machines to be engaging just my the mere sight of them. One of my wishes for OLPC is to make the two stylus areas surrounding the track pad actually usable. As of now - as far I know - there hasn't been software that took advantage of their presence.

Continuing with the subject of the XOs' design, some of you may remember the conceptual designs of the next XO and I really hope to hear some news about bringing those plans to life this year. However, I remain a bit sceptical on how those plans can be well done and still stay in the same price range as the ones we have now. With more information released, I along with the rest of the community can determain for ourselves if they would really be able to succed.

The last thing I want to hit on is the software. When I was at NECC back in 2007, I was asked by a teacher if she should try and get the XOs for her students, or if she should go with the Classmate or any other netbook. The best I could tell her was that if her students were in elementary school, then the XOs were a great choice, however reaching up to the middle school and high school age ranges, another choice maybe better to go with. I said this because I saw as the XOs geared to those younger age ranges. The thing is with that is doing so limits the usefulness of the computers and creates a stigma of being a 'child's tool'. What I would love to see this coming year is the XO having more mature learning software for older adolescents. The (somewhat) recent addition of Microsoft Xp being implimented on the machines may allow for such a thing, no matter how painful it was to watch that deal be set in place. Expanding to at the very least middle schoolers may be what allows the XOs from being stomped out by the competition.

All in all, I can't see my participation with MOUSE in regards to the OLPC ever really changing. Though I'm at a lost for how to further my involvement at the moment, I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something in the upcoming months.

A Quick Post

To more or less serve as a reminder for myself to write more in depth about this, but last week I sat down and played around with Xcode and Webkit and made a (very) crappy but usable browser. It also means that I've decided to play with C and Objective-C. And it really wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be.

This gives way to what I'm going to do with MOUSE for my final year with them. I'm seriously thinking about having the browser be the cornerstone of all the projects I'll do with them. There are some very interesting ideas I have about how to make this quite 'interactive' of sorts with a large group of people.

Anyways, like I said, this was only to make a quick note as to what I'm going to be writing about in the days to come. Tomorrow should (hopefully) see the first of the post(s) brought to light.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The 11th Doctor: To Be Reveal Tomorrow

I was poking around my newsfeed and found this headline over on BBC News:

New Doctor Who to be announced

And of course, knowing the big Dr. Who fan I am, I just had to read the article. Its been known that David Tennant is leaving the show before the 2010 series begins, but tomorrow we get to know whos replacing him.

While I'm really excited to find out, a large part of me can't bare the thought of it. Its rare that I become so attached to a show - let alone a character - so its going to be hard for me to imagine anyone else after Tennant* (my cousin shares the same sentiment, judging from her hearty "Damn him" when I first informed her of his decision to leave).

Yet still, the show is moving in new direction in almost every way. And as annoying as his departure will be, I can't see myself not watching - save for the new staff somehow royally messing up, which I doubt is possible.

Either way, heres to doctors to come and doctors long past.

*Yes I'm aware of nine other people playing the role. Its just hard for me to see an 11th doctor -- I simply don't know why.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

WNYC Soundbite: Will 'Cloud Computing' Work In White House?

Link to audio here.

I've linked this piece here because it gives an interesting introduction to the idea behind cloud computing, not to mention how it could be used in the government. Sooner or later I would like to discuss Cloud Computing in another post, but for now give it a listening to and tell me what your responses are.