My Week Ending July 29, 2018

Here’s a summary of some of the things I learned and published this week.

Readings (You can follow my daily readings as they happen here.  Here are a selected few from the past week.)

  • I’ve often wondered why home security systems haven’t embraced this.  After all, wifi is just about everywhere.  Why not measure any changes in it to determine movement?  It would also work outside.
  • Like my former colleague was fond of saying “There’s got to be a workshop in there somewhere.”  Here, it’s about ideas for using Twitter in the classroom.
  • The story here is about a teacher-librarian but it could apply to any tech-savvy teacher.  In a perfect world, it should apply to every tech-savvy student.
  • I know that my grammar skills have deteriorated over the years.  I blame it on people that are making mistakes, I read them, my mind remembers, and then…  Proofreading is so important.  Here’s a quiz to see how well you can do.
  • I’ve really enjoyed all the discourse that erupted from the Forbes article about replacing libraries.  Here’s one of the stories.
  • I actually knew this.  But, in case you were wondering why your ceiling fan can blow in two directions, read this.
  • Would a price drop in the Microsoft Surface as it releases a Surface GO make you buy one?  Some day, I’d love to read an article that explains exactly how computers are priced.  Right now, we just assume that the higher ones mean better specs and better quality, right?  Even when a store has a sale, you know that they’re still making money.
  • Darwin had a theory.  It’s sad that an article like this even needs to be written.
  • Ontario teachers hate reading stories like this in July.  But, remember that our friends to the south start back to school much earlier than we do.  I’ve never understood why.
  • I think all shopping malls probably have the technology to do this.  The biggest answers lie in ethics and the ability to actually use it.

Blog Posts on doug … off the record

Blog Post on

voicEd Radio

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

Technology Trouble Shooting (actually just learning from mistakes)

I just learned this writing this post.

Readers of my blog know that I make any link I’m referring to bold so that they stand out.  In the section above, I wanted to make a link so I highlighted the word like I normally do (double clicking the word) and then I made a mistake.  Or so I thought.

Instead of CTRL-B like I normally do to make it bold, I hit CTRL-V instead.  I have a new appreciation for them being located to each other on the keyboard.

Can you guess what happened?  Wow – I’ve just saved myself a fraction of a second but when you add it up, it’s going to make a difference in the long run.

CTRL-V, CTRL-B – I wonder if I could create a macro…

Those years of keyboarding before mouse and learning shortcuts just paid off.

Video of the Week

Last weekend, we intended to watch the harness races in Dresden but they were cancelled due to track damage from rain.  It was the same thing at Clinton Raceway.  We drove through the rain but I didn’t think it was that bad.

So, I got a chance to watch races online via YouTube.  I enjoyed this world record of 1:46 by Always B Miki.  It’s so impressive.  I can remember when it was something special to see a race that went under 2:00.

But the real interest was in this followup video from YouTube suggestions.  Yes, it was another Always B Mike video but the horse that finished second had to belong to a computer user.   The name?  Wiggle It, JiggleIt.  That’s always good computer problem solving advice.

As an aside, 1:47 on a sloppy track is very, very impressive.

My Favourite Photo of the Week

We had giants playing badminton in our back yard last weekend.  They left their gear behind.

Screenshot 2018-07-28 at 11.04.34

Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… typewriting mathematics?

Since last weekend’s post about double spaces, I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about typewriting.

Sure, it was a skill that landed some folks a job but there is more than just learning to type the right keys.  So many self-taught people missed out on the academics of learning to type and document creation.  I note the parallel of the decline in typing with the fall in mathematics scores.  Is there a correlation?


Thanks, Morguefile.
Note:  Our typewriters were Underwoods.
A Mercedes typewriter would have been very cool.

Learning to type is more than just the tapping of the appropriate key.  In fact, it was packed with mathematics.

Of course, you needed a textbook – after all, we learned to type in high school where there generally was a textbook for everything.  You can buy one at a discount here.  I looked but could not find the one that we used.  I seem to remember it having a brown and tan cover.  Probably the lack of sales for textbooks is reflected in the fact that so much is online.  Like here.  It even includes timed writings – the ultimate test of speed acquisition in typing!  And, a great problem to be assigned for solution in a Computer Science class.

But, back to the mathematics.

Line Length:

Who can forget the instruction to “Set a 60 stroke line”.  Now, to the newbie, that appears to be easy.  Just set the left margin to zero and the right margin to 60.  Of course, since this is academia, that doesn’t work.  Whatever the instructions, you had to make sure that the final document was centred on the sheet of typing paper.  “Set a 70 stroke line”

White Space:

Speaking of centring, you always, always, had to make sure that you had an appropriate amount of white space on the resulting document.  This generally meant a one inch border, top and bottom, on the 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper.  I can remember us having to work it out with carriage returns and sample letters.  The reason why it worked ever time?  Mono-spaced keys!

To make things more challenging, we used to get cast aways from the Practice Office and we’d type on the back of them.  That made more opportunities to determine white space when we’d use 8.5 x 14″ sheets of paper or paper that had gone through the paper chopper so be odd sizes.

Timed Writings:

Typing is competitive.  Of that, there can be no doubt.  Who can forget.

“Hands on the home row, feet flat on the floor, eyes on your copy …. Begin

And we were off and typing.  Our teacher had a specialize clock with squeezable controls that he would start and a bell would go off when the typing was done.  At the bell, hands had to go up in the air so there were no extra letters after the bell.  Typically, our timed writings would be 1, 2, or 5 minutes in length,  Typing also involved finger stamina.  Nobody had ever heard of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Was it because of our proper technique at the time?  As I write this, my Chromebook is in my lap, I have my right leg under my left, my wrists are indeed touching the computer, and I’m reclined in my chair watching Formula 1 qualifying.  So much terrible technique.

At the conclusion of the speed test, the mathematics kicked in.  The textbook had the number of keystrokes off to the right of the text.  It was a matter of adding them up to get a total.  Then, heavy duty mathematics.  Results were always words per minute so some calculation was needed if you’re doing a 5 minute test.  Then, there were the extra keystrokes on that last line if you didn’t finish a complete one.


Yet another skill that gave us an appreciation for odd and even numbers.  To centre a title on the screen, you had to move the carriage to dead centre.  Then, left hand finger on the text to be centred and right hand on the backspace key and it was a matter of one backspace for every two characters to be centred.  See also page numbers…

This was a skill not to be limited to one point in time.  There was also typewriter art and reinforced at Christmas time typing symmetrical Christmas trees.  This was also easily transferred to a Computer Science activity.

Learning while typing

One of the things that could be accomplished was learning by submission.  I know that we were told not to read the content but to just read the letters and type.  I could never do that.  I always enjoyed reading what I was typing and I can remember a couple of the texts that included some bios of famous mathematicians.

Ah, the memories.  The things that today’s youth will never know and experience.  (or even truly understand!)  It’s interesting to see how these things that we learned manually are just a mouse click and/or drag away in a modern word processor.

How about your thoughts for a Sunday?  Please don’t get too serious; enjoy biting your tongue as much as I did as you share your thoughts.

  • Yes, so much of what we learned has now been relegated to a button in a word processor.  Are there any valuable skills that we’re getting rid of by doing this?
  • In any text, words have varying lengths.  In typing, a “word” is a strictly defined term that’s needed for determining those extra words on the last line.  How many characters are there in a “typing word”?
  • Do you remember the name brand of your first typewriter?
  • Did you have a typewriter at home?
  • How many strokes after the bell warning on a typewriter did you have before you hit the right margin?
  • At the end of the line, the left hand was used to press the return bar and move the carriage back.  How did you double space?  Or one and a half line space?
  • A no-no was to grab the paper and rip it from the roller when you were done.  It made a very distinct noise.  What was the proper way to remove your paper?

As always, I would encourage you to share your memories – this time about the mechanics of typing class and possible mathematics connections.  I challenge you to make it fun to read!

OTR Links 07/29/2018

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