My Week Ending March 4, 2018


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

  1. Taking a walk back through time with this Timeline of Teaching Machines was an interesting bit of nostalgia from Hack Education.  Lots of machines that I hadn’t thought about since I taught the history of computers.  Sadly, the timeline ends in 2012 as “The Year of the MOOC”.  A project abandoned or has nothing new happened ever since?  I would think that AI is going to be strong in the future.  What’s interesting for me is to see the level of sophistication develop through the years.
  2. The saddest part about the end of the Olympic games was the ending of the Snow Doodles from Google.  Never fear, they’ve got them all in this collection so that you can enjoy.
  3. I’ve always had a Linux desktop since I ran into a poster session at an ISTE Conference in California.  There was this poor guy who was there with his own computer and nobody mobbing about.  I went over to see why and he was demonstrating a version of Ubuntu.  I think it was 4.04.  He had a stack of CDs that he was giving away for free with Ubuntu on them so I took one.  Back then, free CDs were a big deal.  I remember booting from the CD in my hotel room and was blown away with the functionality, speed, and the easy with which I could make my laptop dual boot.  I’ve had one ever since, including this one I’m typing on at the moment.  This is an interesting read with advice how Linux might expand.  I think most people shy away because most articles demonstrate how to do things from the command line.  Maybe I just don’t get it but I use a command line more in Windows than in Linux!  Linux just works.  Quickly.
  4. There are so many messages about the importance of coding these days.  As in this article, the read 5th C is “Computational Thinking” and not “Coding”.  Sure, thinking can lead to coding but it can do far more in terms of problem solving without ever writing a line of code or dragging a block to the workspace and drawing a square.  It’s interesting to see how “coders” are filling this space instead of “thinkers”.  Pushed, you’ll get an interesting answer.  But, everyone needs to be a thinker and problem solver.  Coding is but one way to demonstrate it.
  5. I haven’t used Microsoft Office for years.  For me, the best part was always the Ministry of Education licensed Microsoft Publisher which was an amazing product.  Since my goal has always been the transportation of documents, any documents I do create at in LibreOffice or in the cloud with Google documents or the Microsoft online suite.  When Microsoft updates, you can’t ignore it.  Remember .docx?  The other products will catch up but the overwhelming question is just how much functionality does the average person need in a desktop office suite?
  6. Here’s everything for a new teacher in about twenty different categories!  If I was a new teacher, I wouldn’t sit down and read it from beginning to end.  There are enough other important things that need to be done.  But, bookmarking it for later reference is a good idea.
  7. Attracting and keeping French Immersion teachers is a pretty big deal.  It’s a case of demand outweighing supply in many courses.  Would a moving allowance get you the numbers that are needed to offer a program?  Nobody ever offered me a moving allowance.  But then, my knowledge of French would put the language back about 100 years.
  8. I’m really interested in trying out Google’s Slack alternative.  It doesn’t seem to be available to me yet.  Perhaps it’s one of those things that rolls out in stages so I’ll just patiently wait.
  9. I never thought that I would get so much information about Harry Potter but this was the week for it.  Very interesting stuff including the original J.R.Rowling sketch of Hogwarts.
  10. Just when you thought it was safe to go on the Internet.  (hint:  it’s never safe if you don’t do it properly)  There are just so many thing; how is a parent supposed to stay on top of everything?  Here are five more things to be on the lookout for.


Blog Posts on doug … off the record


voicEd Radio

My on demand page can be found here.  The latest edition features blog posts from:


Technology Trouble Shooting

When there aren’t enough ports – If you’re like me, you have more USB port needs than brains!  I like sitting at a full sized keyboard, particularly while blogging, and using a real mouse and a keyboard.  My Linux computer has three USB ports, one on the left and two on the right.  So, I could do the octopus thing.  My MacBook Pro only has two ports so I have to compromise.  My Chromebook only has one so I really, really have to compromise.  None of these were earth shattering problems but I was left alone in Walmart for a few minutes and a few bucks later, I was the happy owner of one of these.  One plug in later and it’s the same experience everywhere.  We’re going to see more and more of these things as devices become smaller and options are removed in the name of keeping things light and less expensive.  I still haven’t found a Bluetooth alternative that I like.

Weekly Challenge –  My Asus VivoTab has a small amount of storage but it upgraded to Windows 10 very nicely.  It’s actually the best Windows unit that I’ve used in a long time even though it only has an Atom processor.  But, it has an issue now.  There isn’t enough room left on the device to install the latest update.  I would have hoped that Windows would be smart enough to update it in chunks but no such luck.  Every time I turn it on, it tries to do the update and then fails because there’s not enough room.  I think it’s a ploy to get me to uninstall Google Chrome which I’ll probably do.  Or upgrade to a version of Linux?


Video of the Week – Cartoons: Should teachers have guns in the classroom?

It’s Sunday and with Sundays come the comics or, as my dad used to call them, the funny pages.  This video is on a newspaper website so clicking it will take you away from here.  (please come back)  Cartoonists always see things in a different lens – see the guns in the classroom from the cartoonist perspective here.  Ignore the comments.

My Favourite Photo This Week

Last week, it was rainy but very warm.  In came March.  Sigh.  The best part was catching this picture during a morning dog walk.  No black and white filters were used.  This is what my camera caught.



Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… carousels?

Thanks to Sheila Stewart for the idea for this post.  She also included a news story to give some context for her suggestion.

Chippewa carousel campaign wants you to ‘adopt a horse’

Of course, that got me thinking…

As a child, the fair was an annual spring event.  While it was on a Friday night, Saturday and a Sunday, we would anxiously bike over to the park the week before to watch the people set up.  It wasn’t a quick and easy job.

But then it would open and there were a lot of favourites.  The Dare Devils, the people guessing your weight and age, the cheap toys, the high striker game where it took the strongest to ring the bell, the midway rides and right in the centre, the carousel.


Photo Credit: isabelrc1 Flickr via Compfight cc

It was a combination of colour, music, horses, unicorns, motorcycles, and for some of the elderly, a bench that was on the platform as it spun around.  Very slowly.  It was the ride when we were young but we quickly graduated to the Zipper!  That had much more action than the up and down and around motion of the horses.

In a small town, it was one weekend and that was it.  I guess in the big scheme of things the rides were pretty tame because they had to be quickly and easily set up and torn down to move to another town.  But, for us, it was a pretty big deal.  Later on in the summer, we would make the trip to London and enjoy the Western Fair.  Same concept but much bigger.  Of course, there was a carousel there too.

When we moved to Essex County, we didn’t know it, but there was a huge permanent attraction on Boblo Island.  Because this park was a permanent place, the carousel was big and, as noted in the article, one of the signature attractions.  Access was a quick boat ride from the dock in Amherstburg or a much longer ride on a much bigger boat from Detroit.  The dock is still there but in sad shape.

Every ride was well used and lineups were everywhere.  There were some pretty good rides and you could easily spend a full day there and not hit them all.  And, of course, the carousel was a place where we could take our young kids and they’d really enjoy it.

Sadly, it ended up closing.  There were some real drawbacks – the town lost a major employer for high school students, tourism had to turn to other interests, and now Cedar Point in Ohio became the place to go.  For those that really appreciate the local flavour of a fair, there’s the Harrow Fall Fair.  No matter where you go, the centre piece is always the carousel.

I hope that the Thunder Bay project succeeds.  Boblo Island is now a community when people travel across the river via ferry.  Some pictures are enjoyable here.

What are your thoughts for a Sunday morning?

  • Do you have a favourite fair or amusement park that you visit or visited in the past?
  • Do you call these carousels or merry-go-rounds?
  • Do you or did you have a favourite horse to ride?
  • Which spring/fall fair or amusement park is part of your regular routine?
  • Have you ever been to the carousel that Sheila makes reference to?
  • How about to Boblo Island?

Please share your thoughts via comment below.  Sheila and I would love to hear your story.

This post is part of a regular Sunday series “Whatever happened to …”.  You can visit all the topics discussed here.

OTR Links 03/04/2018

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