My Week Ending January 28, 2018


Readings (You can follow my daily readings as they happen here)

  1. If you follow anyone who is a big Microsoft fan, they’ll tell you it’s Word or nothing.  Often it comes down to some obscure thing that they can do that other word processors can’t.  I think that it’s only used to prove their point.  Here’s how to catch up to them on a Chromebook.
  2. I’m always a sucker for a good mathematics problem to solve – particularly if I’m baited that the internet lost its cookies over a problem or this was given on a standardized test or solving this one proves that you’re a genius.
  3. This led to a great discussion between my wife and myself.  If you abolish a law that made an activity illegal, effectively making it legal, do those who are in jail finish their terms because it was illegal when they did the activity or do you automatically release them because you can’t hold someone in jail for something that is no longer illegal.  (Run on sentence intended)  I’ll bet that this is the thing that keeps lawyers up all night.
  4. Gulp!  Is Doug Belshaw talking about me?  Well, this newsletter/post isn’t sent via email so perhaps I can escape on a technicality.  He does make a good point, and is one of the reasons that I’ve been a big Belshaw follower for a long time.  If you ever have had the urge to try Telegram, then following his thoughts as they happen and are posted to his Thought Shrapnel account would be a good reason to give in to the urge.
  5. I always thought that the Twitter logo did look pretty rounded.  It was confirmed in this post from Math with Bad Drawings.  And, if you’re looking for the actual mathematics equations, check them out.  It’s a great answer to the question “When will we ever use this stuff?”
  6. If you’re soothed by knowing how the Twitter bird might have been drawn, then this will put you over the top.  Showing how to construct these would be an awesome presentation for OAME and BIT.
  7. I’m glad that I’m not the only one.  This is just a silly commercial.  To Apple’s defence though, it seems to be the area where they’re putting their R&D dollars so I guess they figures it pays to advertise.  Now that I’ve put an SSD in my 2012 MacBook Pro, it runs like a champ.  I may be old school though so I can be convinced.  Nobody seems to want to though.
  8. They said this about Chromebooks too when they burst upon the scene.  I suspect that IT Departments and their love with the Microsoft world will make these computers successful.  The thing that they could do to put them over the top goes against everything current planning is about.  They need to let Chrome into the Windows store.  If Microsoft doesn’t allow it, some clever person will find a way to sideload Chrome.  Then, it becomes an ethical issue for school districts about whether to go along or not.
  9. If you have a makerspace in your school, then you need to read this article and get kids to bring them into school.  I haven’t had the chance to see if they’re available in the Burg since we have bought ahead a bunch of adult cereal.  They never do fun things with adult cereal.
  10. Is there no end to Reba McEntire’s abilities?  We enjoyed her show immensely when she played in Windsor.  Now she’s going to be Colonel Saunders?


Blog Posts on doug … off the record


voicEd Radio

Maybe I need to change the name of the show.  “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” appears last in the voicEd On Demand page.

The January 24th show can be found here, featuring blog posts from


Technology Trouble Shooting

Faster video – I did trouble shoot and solve a problem with my nVidia video driver last week.  I figured that my aging Linux computer was headed in a direction of no support.  But, an update from the nVidia folks got their proprietary driver in place again here.

Still Ongoing – There’s something comforting about not being the only person with a particular problem.  My Chromebook, every now and again, goes into a bizarre state.  Instead of going to sleep with the orange throbber reminding me and then waking up nicely, it will go to sleep and the LED indicator continues to shine blue which is usually a sign that it’s in operation and not sleeping.  The screen stays black (some are calling it Chrome’s “black screen of death”) and it doesn’t wake as it should.  Holding the power button for 10 seconds gives a hard reboot.  I eagerly update when prompted thinking this is the time that it’s fixed.

It’s not a world-ending problem; it’s just the frustration of waiting for all the tabs to populate themselves when restarting.

Little help?


Video of the Week – Reba McEntire as Colonel Saunders


My Favourite Photo This Week

Screenshot 2018-01-28 at 09.05.50

After a week of being sidelined by black ice and a hamstring pull, Jaimie and I got to do at least a short walk Sunday morning.  It was painful for both of us.  Me with a leg that just ain’t right and him constantly looking over his shoulder asking me to pick up the pace.

But the really nice thing was seeing this.  All the snow is gone except for in a few places.  When we were at university, we called it “super snow”.  I know there’s a scientific reason but this term is somehow better.


Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… magnetic tape?

From the Whatever happened to Padlet comes this suggestion from an anonymous contributor.

There are a lot of bases touched upon here taking us almost through the history of stored computer data!


Personally, I had experience with all of the above.  I moved from punched cards to the huge reels of storage and also punched tapes.  All were very fragile and the less you touched, the better.  Careful handling of any of it was important.

When I bought my first TRS-80 computer, I wasn’t surprised that storage was on a cassette player.  In fact, based on my university experience, it was a natural transition from the large reels of magnetic tape to a similar medium, only smaller.

My first computer science classes stored their programs on cassette tapes with the TRS-80 and Commodore PET computers at school.  Interestingly, the tapes weren’t interchangeable between computer types.  Eventually, the concept of floppy disks and then a fileserver came along and things got a great deal more reliable.

For storage, we had a metal filing cabinet and the students who didn’t have a computer at home would just leave their cassette in the filing cabinet and retrieve it when needed in class.  It was essentially our “cloud” of the time.

It was interesting, looking back now.  The transition from reel tapes to cassette tapes worked but it also showed a certain locked in mindset.  When you think about it, the cassette tapes were a logical step because we were familiar with a cassette player.  The only difference was the size of the tape.  (well, not really but to the lay person)  It was only when the mindset was broken that we moved to different storage media.  Of course, we’re all the better for it.  At the time though, there always was a desire from my students to “play” a program through speakers just to “hear” it.  It prepared us for another large step – dial-up computer access!

For a good summary of the various types of storage over the years, check this out.  We’re now witnessing micro media storing huge amount of data.  Where will we head next?

What are your thoughts for a Sunday?

  • does your history of computer storage go back to big reels of magnetic tape for file storage?
  • where in the big storage scheme of things did you first save your work?
  • have you ever lost data on your storage medium?  Did you ever know why?
  • I think we all know the concept of the huge data centres which we effectively call “the cloud”.  Do we do a disservice to students by using the term “the cloud”.  Should we actually describe it better for students to understand just what it is?

I always enjoy reading people’s thoughts on these Sunday morning topics.  There are so many good memories there for us all.

Please share your thoughts via comment below.  We really do enjoy reading them.

Do you have an idea for a future post?  Please send me a message or add your idea to the Padlet with my thanks.

All of the posts from this series are available here.

OTR Links 01/28/2018

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