Growing up, we didn’t have a radio in our house.  Consequently, I wasn’t on the Beatles fan wagon as a child.  Later, at university, there were other things playing on the progressive rock stations so I pretty much missed their musical genius until they showed up on the oldie stations!

The closest thing that I came to meeting a fan who had gone overboard was a computer science student in Grade 11 who was deep into it.  When it came his time to control the music, there was always something Beatle to be played.

One of the things about the Beatles that still strikes me is that their history had a big list of “places”, whether it was a memorable event like the “Ed Sullivan Theatre” or something that they sang about like “Penny Lane”.


Now, thanks to Google’s story telling features of Voyager and Google Earth, you can see these places where they appear today.

Enjoy Beatlemania.

OTR Links 05/31/2017

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

It’s all in the communication


Recently, I enjoyed this article “This Math Problem Will Make You Lose Your Mind“.  It all revolves around the solution of this problem.

Screenshot 2017-05-29 at 09.21.42

It generated quite a bit of discussion from friends of mine, along with different answers.  In fact, even the internet doesn’t quite have its act together.  Turning to YouTube, you’ll find a couple of different answers fully documented in video.

How can the internet be wrong?

Our discussion eventually got around to the use of ÷ and / to denote division.  (I threw in \ which in programming means integer division just to make things muddier.)  Peter Been jumped in with his thoughts and a couple of terms that I had long since forgotten – obelus and solidus.

All in all, I found the discussion really interesting.  It also reminded me of a comment from a university professor about mathematics.  “It’s not just a science; it’s an art; it’s a communication vehicle.”

It’s the communication vehicle that we should really give credence to.  If we believe that there should only be one answer to a problem, then the problem needs to be communicated in a way that leads to the solution.  Not the trick problems that we loved/hated on test.

Which led me to this resource, Welcome To Mathematical Communication.

Screenshot 2017-05-29 at 09.47.25

If it’s important enough to do, it’s important enough to communicate it accurately and effectively.  This resource is just packed with advice and suggestions to become more effective mathematics communicators.

OTR Links 05/30/2017

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Because of this, we can do that

If you’re like me, you use Google Maps.  And, probably for a lot of things other than just drawing a map.  You might explore new places, get driving directions, look for traffic problems on highways, get a visual of construction sites to ignore, and much more.

Over the weekend, I read and highly encourage you to read this story.

How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything

I really enjoyed the part about someone reporting a new round-about; we have one here in the Windsor are for leaving the 401.  It’s possible to see it for free on Google Maps


yet, in my car, I would need to shell out for a maps upgrade to see it.  In the meantime, when I get on it, my in-car maps shows me traversing over a farmer’s field.  It’s not a huge deal; it’s a double lane roundabout and you’re well advised to keep your eyes on the traffic.

But, time and technology move on.  Google Maps (and Streetview) have you covered.


p.s. it’s never this wide open whenever I go there.  The fact that we get these images from Maps, Earth, and Streetview still blow me away.

And when they marry, amazing things can happen.  I’d like to refer you to a post on this blog from a couple of years ago that uses a “Secret Door” to randomly drop you into a Streetview location.

I still think it’s a magnificent starting point for discussions, analysis, or a starting place for great writing.


How many times have your students written a blog post about their dog or their cat? Looking for something new and completely different?

Then, you need to check out “The Secret Door“.

OTR Links 05/29/2017

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Whatever happened to …

… Minesweeper?

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Microsoft Windows.

In the very beginning, it was a real hate/hate relationship.  I was an MS-DOS user and knew all the ins and outs and key shortcuts.  I loved Quickbasic and used the DOS version of Sprint as a word processor.  Life was good.  Everything was available via the keyboard and ALT-# to access things.

Along comes the world’s fascination with the mouse.  I remember seeing the Apple Lisa demonstrated at a MACUL Conference.  Things were impressive but limited to simple examples that you’d find when you’re doing a presentation for such a big audience.  As I sat there, I translated the mouse clicks into key combinations.  As we know, the Lisa led us to the Macintosh and spread the notion among those of us who use PCs “A Macintosh is a computer with training wheels that won’t come off”.

But our world was about to change.  It became impossible to buy a computer with just MS-DOS on it.  It came with this graphic interface called Windows. I have to smile when looking at trends these days towards a “flat” interface.  The original Windows had all that.  I ended up giving in and learned how to run things with this interface and the mouse.  It was better than Macintosh by a factor of two.  After all, the new mouse had two buttons to work with the block cursor.  The reality was that most of the software that we used was still based on MS-DOS and didn’t really take advantage of the new possibilities.

Then came the challenge.  We had to roll all this out with principals and support staff who had just run the gauntlet of learning how to survive in a DOS world.  Navigating with a mouse was tough.  You had to look at the screen and learn the mouse skill of moving it and clicking at the appropriate place and time.  What to do? What to do?

Teach mouse skills!  There were two wonderful games packed into the operating system.  Solitaire and Minesweeper.  By today’s standards, they were pretty primitive but all you needed to know about using a mouse for basic operations was there.

Move to today and your Windows 10 installation.  The familiar move to get Solitaire and Minesweeper just aren’t there.  (Or not readily apparent)  Solitaire is no longer a game; it’s a collection that can be accessed through the Microsoft Solitaire Collection where there are a variety of Solitaire games.  You’re strongly encouraged to log in so that you can compete and save scores.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 at 08.04.06

and buy your own copy too.

But this post isn’t about Solitaire.  I’ve done that before.

Minesweeper is a different story.  It’s not available in the default installation (that I can see)  However, it is available through the Microsoft Store for your puzzling pleasure.  In the great scheme of educating people about mouse use, it’s extra special.  Certainly, it’s a bit more of a challenge to play with a mouse.  Those blocks are so darn small.  It had an extra bit of value though.  Depending upon the size of the puzzle, it could really make you think.

And, like good modern games, Minesweeper has been updated with new game modes and challenges.

Screenshot 2017-05-27 at 15.32.42Things certainly have changed!  Instead of opening your computer and just playing your games, it’s become a bit of a puzzle itself.  Is it a comment on the userbase that Solitaire, a relatively easy program remains and Minesweeper that requires a bit of the ol’ grey matter didn’t?

How about sharing some of your gaming thoughts on this Sunday morning?

  • How did you learn how to use a mouse?
  • Do you have fond memories of the original Solitaire or Minesweeper?
  • Do you shed a tear when they’re now referred to as the “classic” versions?
  • Do your students today even know how to play these games or have they gravitated to something else?
  • How do these “classic” games hold their own in a world of Tetris, Flappy Birds, Candy Crush, Angry Birds, and all the first person shootergames?

Please share your thoughts via a comment below.

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