My Week Ending March 25, 2018


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

  1. For many people, basic functionality of a system typically is enough to get by.  You start to get more proficient by using things at increasingly sophisticated levels.  If you’re a user of Google in the Classroom, this might give you a head start.  Of course, not all tips are applicable to all people.
  2. There are a lot of things about teachers that the general population (i.e. non-teaching people) don’t know.  Want to freak them out?  Use some of these words at the supermarket or other public place and watch their reaction.
  3. All of the CanCODE players in one spot.
  4. Libraries are, unfortunately, institutions that fight for their lives every year, budget to budget.  To my knowledge, there are no articles that say that libraries are bad things.  Here’s a list of research articles supporting the value of them.  It’s funny that so much money can be spent on unsupported ideas and yet libraries still remain targets because of the myth of the digital native.  Speaking of them, a common wisdom is to limit screen time.  So, if you limit screen time and cut libraries, what is the net effect?
  5. There’s nothing more impressive than the results of someone who is a real artist with a digital tool like Photoshop.  Here’s a collection of wallpapers that are really well done and promote WWDC2018.
  6. We see “game changer” used a great deal.  Usually, it ends up being some sort of incremental thing and the concept is all hype.  But making Google Maps friendly to people who are in wheel chairs is most certainly going to be a “game changer” for them.  I think this is a bold and innovative project and is worthy of sharing with anyone who is in a wheel chair and uses Google Maps.
  7. I am fascinated by magic and those who weave it.  I can do a few tricks and might be able to trick a couple of people.  But, here’s a collection of great Canadian magicians and their tricks.
  8. I thought the premise behind the question “Do your kids know what Microsoft Office is?” was kind of funny.  But when you think about it, it’s reality for some students.  In Ontario, there are districts that are proud to say “We’re a Google Board” or “We’re a Microsoft Board”.  Are we setting some up for failure?  Or will they work it out?
  9. Another reason to go to the library.  In Chatham-Kent anyway — to get free seeds to plant in your garden.  Love it.
  10. Here is proof that using Facebook really is going down a rabbit hole.  It’s a listing of all the URLs that you need to block in order to get the service to stop following you.


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

Magic Mouse – When I “dock” my Chromebook, it’s to use a keyboard, a mouse, and a drawing tablet.  I was bored the other day and wondered if I could connect my Apple Magic Mouse to the Chromebook.  I could see non-docked use for it.  But, I tried all the pairing things I could think of with no luck.  Then, out of the blue, I got this idea.  I still had the keyboard and the other mouse connected via USB.  So, I disconnected them and immediately, the Chromebook saw the Magic Mouse.  Almost like magic.  I can’t believe I just said that.

The logical conclusion then is that you can only have one mouse on the system.  To test the theory, I plugged the other mouse back in.  Now, both of them work.   I guess I’ll have to work on another conclusion.

Weekly Challenge –  This winter, my wife’s Jeep’s radio has taken on a mind of its own some mornings when it gets cold.  It won’t work and just goes nuts like it’s scanning for stations.  That’s a normal thing but it’s normal to stop when it finds a station.  In this case, it just keeps going and going.  We end up just turning the radio off.  Of course, it’s intermittent.  If it wasn’t, it would easier to fix.  And, when the dealership tries it out, the thing works as it’s supposed to.  They claim they can’t fix something that they can’t see or get an error code from.  The solution they tried, which makes sense, is to update the software.  But the problem persists.  I even took a video of it on my phone and showed it to them.  No solution so they had us call Chrysler’s complaint department who took notes but offered no solution except to ask us to keep a log of when it happens.  We have probably about 10 cases now that will be presented next oil change to see what they can do.


Video of the Week – Wipeout by the Surfaris

My Favourite Photo This Week

Spring is here.  But the fall leaves continue to hang on to the fence at the tennis courts.  It was a calm day, not a breeze in sight!

Screenshot 2018-03-23 at 16.29.37 =====

Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… ARC files?

You’ve got to go back, way back, if you are wondering this yourself.

At the time, I was running a BBS (Bulletin Board System) on an MS-DOS system for my students to upload computer documents to me and I had a public side for other things.  One of the other things was the sharing of documents or files with others.  Since we used modems of varying speeds (none of which were really fast by today’s standards), there was a desire to compress the files so that they were smaller in size to speed up the transfer process.

One of the first popular compression formats was .ARC.  Everyone arc’ed their files and shipped them along.  ARC wasn’t built into any operating system and that started a real battle.  You had to download a utility to do that and there really only was one in the beginning – from Systems Enhancement Associates.  Bonus marks if you remember SEA.

Technology loves a champion and the champion in this field was Phil Katz who created his own ARC program.  It worked faster than SEA’s and a lot of people, including me, moved to it.  Then, there were lawsuits and all kinds of nastiness.  So, Katz created another archiving format that was even faster – ZIP.  The program was released as shareware and I paid to get the registered version.  That allowed me to brand the ZIP which was kind of important at the time.  I was writing Doors (external programs to BBS systems) and they had multiple files to make it all work.  ZIP let me package them all together into a single compressed file and my brand let people know that it came from me.  Extra bonus if you remember Bay Street Bulls.

You still see ZIP files today as compressed archives.  It’s just that good.  The concept is available on all platforms and other methods based on the same premise are used to get large files from point A to point B and remain intact.

In the Computer Science classroom, there are various problems to solve that involve analysing string of characters and then compress them using many of the techniques in ZIP.  A popular one is Run Length Encoding (RLE).


For a Sunday, your thoughts…

  • What was your first archiving program?
  • Where do your allegiances lie – ARC or ZIP or something else?
  • Do you even see or notice that you’re downloading a compressed archive composed of many files when you get a new program online?  Or, does the magic just happen?
  • Do you worry about file sizes when you send or receive something or has today’s faster connections made it just another fond technology memory?
  • Have you ever written code that takes a string and shrinks it using techniques like RLE?

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.  Please let me know in the comments below.

The entire list of posts in this series is available here.

OTR Links 03/25/2018

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