10 Things I’ve learned

Like everyone, I hope, I’ve been staying at home except for the odd trip for groceries and walking the dog. Now that the grass is starting to take on a brighter shade of green, …

Over the course of this time at home and watching the news, I was reflecting on the different things that I’ve learned. What a great excuse for a blog post.

PPE – if you had asked me what this was a couple of weeks ago, I might have guessed that it was a code for a secondary school Health and Physical Education course. I’m not a real fan of acronyms particularly when they’re made up to make someone sound intelligence. Would it hurt to call it Personal Protective Equipment?

Isolation – a line I remember from an episode of Law & Order is “I can do 10 years standing on my head”. That person must be a lot stronger than me. There’s a punishing feeling when you know you could go outside but you shouldn’t. With all the stories about virus issues in prisons and just living in isolation these past weeks, it makes me think twice about incarceration.

Homeschooling – I had a preconceived notion about what and who did homeschooling. As a worker in a public school system, I always challenged the rigour of that schooling against what we provided. Now, many more are finding out reality

Planking the curve – this is a combination of two terms. Planking was always an exercise in my mind. As a student of Mathematics, I understand the concept of the histogram. I understand an equation to get the best fit. I never thought that I’d see them both used in the same expression

Social distancing – from all of this, comes another new expression for me. I’d prefer just some background music

M*A*S*H – one of my favourite television shows of all time hits 2020 when I see reports of tent hospitals appearing in New York City’s Central Park. Hopefully, we don’t have to return to the old medical techniques of cloth masks and gowns, operating tables within arm’s reach and Radar rushing in with an urgent phone call. We do know that there are many modern day Hawkeyes doing amazing work

People scare easy and yet not enough – watching the news and society just makes me scratch my head. We’re supposed to be only making essential trips but some are using it to buy every roll of toilet paper in sight. Then, you turn around and people are gathering in large groups on beaches, etc. You can’t have it both ways

Toilet paper – speaking of toilet paper, file this under things I really should have known. Around here, toilet paper magically appears in the bathrooms. I felt a bit of panic when we ran out in one bathroom and I couldn’t find a replacement. My wonderful magical wife explained where we keep the supplies. In my defence, it was stored where I thought it was at one time

N95 masks – I had no idea of the importance of these to the medical community. Anytime I’ve had contact with a doctor or nurse, they’ve just used a paper mask. I thought that the N95 was reserved for spray painting or sanding. After all, they sell them at Home Depot

10 000 steps – when you live on a country road, it’s easy to get steps in while being in isolation. The dog walks with me and our only concern about social distancing is hitting the gravel at the side of the road when a car comes. 10 000 is easy to do in these times. Our typical count is up to 15 000 and neither of us is complaining

It is indeed strange times and there are things changing all over the place. I’m sure that I could keep going but I’m going to stop here and challenge you to add to this list via comment below or, better, write a blog post of your own and let me know about it.

Are you up for the challenge? What have you learned?

My Week Ending 2020-03-29

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


You can follow my daily readings as they happen here.  Below are a selected few, with commentary, from the past week.

  • Since you’re isolated at home, it’s time to learn some new things. Here are some Python projects to get you started.
  • I was so impressed with how quickly Canada’s parliament got together to pass a relief bill and used common sense in doing so. Unlike south of the border where every representative had to be there, only a small group proportionate to the number of seats held was needed.
  • This was something that Premier Ford said that he would do if elected. It’s so sad that it took people being self-isolated to make it happen.
  • This was the first bit of information that it isn’t going to be education as usual in Ontario come April 6. I still haven’t seen the final date announced though.
  • This is a good news story if you like Mac and Cheese and who doesn’t. What puts them over the top though are sliced up pieces of hot dog in them.
  • Some people might find this a bit geeky but it’s good information to know if you own a Chromebook or are thinking of getting one.
  • I’d read rumblings about problems in Peel but had no idea to what extent they reached. This is a depressing story to read.
  • This is a good resource from Google and many people will be able to use it to help themselves right away. But school districts that have dropped their computer consultants will have a lot of people tap tapping on their iPads wondering why it’s not working.
  • This is such an important message. “Just teach online” they say. Hah! Think of all those who will be left behind.
  • We’ve read about the drop in pollution in China and Italy with a country reacting to the virus and stopping spewing stuff into the air. How about Canada? This can only be a good thing for the environment.
  • I’ve been kind of careful about recommending online resources because they’re not all equally as good. Plus, there are privacy concerns that need to be thought through. But, this offering from Time seems impressive.
  • You never really know your community’s priorities until you see what is declared as an Essential Workplace. In Ontario, we now know. It’s kind of difficult to argue with these. It has left my town virtually a ghost town now.
  • This was such a stark difference between the pictures of traffic in India that show a country on the move.
  • Details were leaked about the negotiated collective agreement with the Catholic teachers (OECTA)
  • This is a question that so many people have asked. Why are liquor stores considered an essential service in Ontario?
  • This story about Trump wanting to put US troops near the Canadian border sparked one of the more interesting and funny hashtags I’ve seen in a long time. #NoCanadian
  • I hate reading stories like this because I touch surfaces like these all the time but it’s a good reminder for all times, not just for this time.
  • On the lighter side of education, some interesting moments from Online Classes this week. Imagine how it expands to every student in the province.

Blog Posts on
doug … off the record

My daily contributions to this blog. If you’re looking for a week in review for doug–off the record, you came to the right place.

#FollowFriday – March 27, 2020


voicEd Radio

This week on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I chatted about Teacher Illness, Digital Divides, Mending Neighbourhoods, and 2 Degrees of Separation with special guest Will Gourley.

This week’s show – https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/march-25-teacher-illness-digital-divides-mending-neighbourhoods-and-2-degrees-of-separation/

Intro Song:

All of the podcasts are archived here.

Blog posts this week came from:

  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Martina Finnegan – @TESLOntario
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • The Beast – @thebeastedu

Technology Troubleshooting

No Chromebook stories this week. It’s not that my Chromebook is better; I rolled it back to the Stable channel and the problem persists.

This week, I got a panic DM from a high school and neighbourhood friend that her iPad wasn’t working. In true Apple fashion, there were no error messages, just a picture of an Apple connector pointing to iTunes. To me, the fix was a no-brainer.

But, the story doesn’t end there.

She had never connected her iPad to a computer and hence, iTunes before. As I tried to help her, I gave all the advice without asking that question.

So, I convinced her to download iTunes onto her desktop computer but then there was another challenge – she didn’t know how to connect the iPad to the computer. She didn’t know what cable to use.

Eventually, we got to the point where I explained that the cable was there but just plugged into her charger. Pull it out and make the connection. All was good from that point on. iPad with the latest OS and a search for a few of the apps that she was missing at the Apple Store.

Why can’t Apple come up with decent error messages and instruction for how to fix things? I’m certainly no expert in the Apple world but a lot of anxiety would have been headed off in this case.

Video of the Week

Right now, the world needs a little more of this. Ignore the studying part.

Photo of the Week

It was a bit of a nice afternoon earlier this week so Jaimie took his self-isolation to the patio.

If you look closely, you’ll see he’s sticking his tongue out at this virus.

Thanks for reading. Please join me daily for something new and, hopefully, interesting.


This blog post was originally posted at:


If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.

Whatever happened to …

… mouse pads?

This might have fallen in nicely with a couple of previous questions about mice with balls. here and here but hey …

I don’t know about you but, with all the isolation stuff going on, I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and tidying. The worst offender is my computer area. It’s always a pain to clean since you actually have to move things around, get out the compressed air, figure out how the brush attachment works on the vacuum cleaner, get under and behind a heavy desk, etc.

I have a number of shelves that contain treasures. To be honest, I haven’t used some of them in years but I just can’t force myself to throw them away. Don’t judge me; look at your computer area.

As I was cleaning, I fully expected to find a mouse pad or two. There were times that they were worth their weight in gold. I guess it’s testament to a previous cleaning that I was unable to find one.

Exhibitors always had stacks of them on their tables as giveaways for visitors at conferences or at the registration desk to make sure that people took just one. Each pad was glitzier than the next to catch your eye. The only problem when I’d be in Michigan or wherever ISTE or CSTA was held, I’d feel a bit embarrassed declaring them at the border. “Just how many computers do you have, sir?” Upon my return to work, my secretary always had first dibs on one to outshine the others that she worked with.

Of course, this goes back to a time when our computer mice actually had roller balls in them. The design of the mouse pad was rubber on the bottom so that it didn’t slide and then typically some sort of surface on top to make the ball roll smoothly for effective computer use.

And, I have mouse pad memories!

  • When we were buying IBM computers, the installers came from MicroAge and while IBM didn’t provide mouse pads, MicroAge did. One for each computer. They were bright red and had MicroAge embossed on the top. Talk about product placement
  • I’ve always been a note taker and, in the early days, quick notes on your computer weren’t a thing. Sure, you could open a Word Processor but for the quick and easy note – nothing. But, I found that 3M which makes Post-it notes sold an electronic version of the Post-it. I bought a copy for myself and it came with a cool mouse pad. Instead of a thick rubber pad, it was absolutely flat with rubber on one side and a grippy surface on the other. Loved it
  • There was a time when I was going to get into architectural drafting to teach it to the technology teachers. The software that they used required very precise drawing and it came with its own glassy mouse pad and a special mouse with a cross-hair viewable through the top
  • But, the worse thing about mouse pads came when you and your mouse got to the edge of it without knowing. Your mouse would fall off the edge and the cursor jumps all over the place. It made student workspace a challenge since they needed extra room just for the mouse pad. Social distancing challenges at their finest

For a Sunday morning, I hope that you’re old enough experienced enough to remember the days where this was a critical accessory and can share some stories.

  • what was your first computer with a mouse that required a mouse pad?
  • did you hit the exhibitor tables grabbing every mouse pad that you could?
  • do you have a favourite mouse pad?
  • did your students use the mouse pad as a place to send messages to other classes because they knew that teachers couldn’t get rid of them?
  • is your computer area all scratched up like mine is because you don’t use a mousepad any more?

Please share your padding experiences in the comments below.

Check out the entire collection of Sunday morning memories here. And, if you’re so inclined, throw a suggestion in the Padlet for a future post.

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If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

Not all learning is academic

OK, so maybe not necessarily the most equity sensitive video but I still get a chuckle when I watch it. Plus, if you sing along, you can change the words – when I’m alone in the car, I go with “sweet potatoes in my underwear”.

The bottom line is that many people who would normally be at work are now at home in charge of child care and stay-at-home education. I wonder if all the Mathematics will be unlearned as a result of good intentions over the next two or more weeks…

I don’t know about you but my reading timeline is just full of advice and stories about how to immediately go online with your teaching and being successful. Some come from people who have never been in a classroom ever or haven’t been there for many years. There are so many obstacles and so many experts.

I just want to share a success story here.

There’s this little guy who often hangs out at our place. Even though he’s only two towns over, he hasn’t been over for the past couple of weeks and it’s tough on everyone. Phone calls and Google Hangouts have had to suffice.

Now, he’s in kindergarten so that gives you a sense of age.

Yesterday, we got a video that was awesome and heartbreaking at the same time because we weren’t there to see it firsthand. One of the advantages these days, if you’re a kid, is that there are way fewer vehicles on the road. It was opportunity and he seized it.

So, this little guy, his dad, and his brothers used the opportunity to take the training wheels off his bike to give it a shot. While Mom stood there and videoed it, we got to see this big event. It was great!

Of course, there are two things about learning to riding a bike. Starting, and stopping.

Fortunately, Dad was there to catch him as he came to a stop. Expertise in that area of bike riding will come with experience but the big learning was being able to go without training wheels. He looked like a Level 4 doing that.

A Kenny Rogers playlist

We lost a good one on the weekend. It didn’t matter whether we were listening to the radio/stereo at home or in the car, there was no mistaking Kenny Roger’s voice when a song came on.

And, as a testament to how we enjoyed his talents, we always seemed to know every word. I also have a memory from a long time ago learning to play Ruby.

David Warwick started a discussion and people started sharing memories and that inspired me to put together this playlist of his songs. I know that, if you are a fan, you know them all. If you’re not, enjoy a few of them.

The Gambler


Through the years

Ruby, don’t take your love to town

Just dropped in

Islands in the Stream

Me and Bobby McGee

Coward of the County

You decorated my life


Love or something like it

Don’t fall in love with a dreamer

We’ve got tonight

She believes in me

All my life

What did I miss?

Do you have a favourite Kenny Rogers song?

My Week Ending 2020-03-22

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


You can follow my daily readings as they happen here.  Below are a selected few, with commentary, from the past week.

  • Some advice if you’re asked to provide online teaching while schools are closed.
  • Thunder Bay‘s library was ahead of the Premier and closed its doors before the mandate for all to close down.
  • This is something that everyone should read and understand. Not just now when we’re living in fear, but soap is the best at any time.
  • I like that Larkspur Learning Commons sent out a reminder on social media that their collection of resources is publically available. Hopefully, people will take advantage.
  • Scholastic is seen to be doing good by doing good and putting some courses online for free.
  • Google, Adidas, and soccer shoes? Hmmm. Interesting. Get back to me when they get skates doing the same thing.
  • My first thought was that this was a crappy takeover move. Why not reach out with resources and build a partnership instead?
  • Around here, it’s another example of individual companies getting out in front…The Bay closed before the Mayor of Windsor shut down Devonshire Mall.
  • In addition to sharing this infographic comparing COVID-19, Colds, and Influenza to my Twitter timeline, I shared it on my Facebook feed. Facebook has been overly aggressive about content and actually removed it saying that it was against its community standards. I challenged it and got a “sorry” and it was restored. I don’t know if it was a real person or an algorithm. Apparently, there’s been a lot of this going on.
  • This is a nice collection of News reading apps. In the mornings, I use Flipboard and News360. The acid test for me has to be the ability to configure it to the type of news that I want to read and provide both sides to a discussion.
  • Visual proof that you can’t just hop on an airplane and get away from COVID-19.
  • And, if you were thinking you’d brave a flight out, don’t plan on taking Porter.
  • Rather than coming out with four new models of tablets, why not put production efficiencies into one product and bring the price down?
  • If you believe in any of the spy theories, you had to know that this was coming. On the other hand, why not do tracking for good instead of evil?
  • Closing the border between Canada and the US is a good idea. Even in our segment of the virus world, there are differences between how Ontario and Michigan are handling things.
  • A reasoned speech from Angela Merkel. Something that you know who should observe and try to match.
  • I don’t really care but I’ll bet there are a lot of people who are wondering why Ariel’s hair is red.
  • What a great concept from Canada’s Wonderland. Take a virtual roller coaster ride. It will let you know that there are other ways to make you feel sick!

Blog Posts on
doug … off the record

My daily contributions to this blog. If you’re looking for a week in review for doug–off the record, you came to the right place.

#FollowFriday – March 20, 2020


voicEd Radio

This week on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I chatted about Podcasting, Fair Dealing and New Rules of Twitter Engagement.

This week’s show – https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/march-18-podcasting-fair-dealing-and-new-rules-of-twitter-engagement/

Intro Song: (it’s the second one they play live)

All of the podcasts are archived here.

Blog posts this week came from:

  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd
  • Peter Beens – @pbeens
  • Ramona Meharg – @RamonaMeharg
  • The Umbrella Project – @umbrellapjct
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking

Technology Troubleshooting

My Chromebook saga continues for yet another week!

One more update this week and, upon rebooting, my Chromebook started to work fine. But, sadly, one time when it was wakened from sleep, it elected to switch over to tablet mode.

I’m starting to get used to Chrome in tablet mode. But, it is annoying to see it load a webpage in a small space and then expand to take up the full screen. Or to have the menu bar scroll off the top.

One thing that I have found is that if I connect a mouse to my Chromebook, the switch to tablet mode goes away. So, I have a new use for my Magic Mouse. It’s connected via bluetooth so I just turn it on to connect and then turn it over and let it sit on my table.

I’ve started to experiment with alternatives. Since it’s going to run Chrome like its Android equivalent, I’ve installed the Brave browser and am using that instead of Chrome at times.

Can I shame the development team to fix this problem?

Video of the Week

It’s kind of a big deal for celebrities to be invited to appear on The Muppet Show. We lost Kenny Rogers this week. This video is from his appearance on the show. It may have been the only time that we saw a Muppet die.

Photo of the Week

Jaimie were out on our regular first-thing-in-the morning walk. You don’t have too many options when you live on a country road! When we got to the corner, there were lights everywhere. At least two firetrucks and an EMS vehicle. We normally walk by the elementary school but elected not to this time. There were too many gawkers also wondering what was happening. It’s dangerous enough at the best of times when distracted drivers on their phones and eating breakfast, etc. But I did take a picture from the corner. Bizarrely, for all the lights that were flashing, I managed to catch most of them off!

Next to the school is the fire station. I did drive by it later and counted 11 cars and trucks from the volunteer firemen who responded. It was a great reminder that, despite all that’s going on in the world, we’re fortunate to have first responders answering the call.

Thanks for reading. Please join me daily for something new and, hopefully, interesting.


This blog post was originally posted at:


If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.

Whatever happened to …


This is something that I haven’t thought about for a long time. It came to the forefront of my brain this week when I read a couple of stories like this:

Mozilla set to remove FTP support from Firefox

It was a long time ago when this was a daily routine for me. I was daily updating a personal work website. People would count on it regularly. In the beginning, the website was actually created with a text editor. I’d work on whatever I was doing, test it locally in a browser to make sure that it looked OK and then upload it to the server. I used an FTP (File Transfer Protocol client to do the deed.) Depending upon the computer I was using, I’d either use WS_FTP, Fetch, FileZilla, or just directly in the browser I was using at the time. If I recall correctly, it would have been Netscape.

WS_FTP, in fact, was so powerful, I used it as a file explorer on my Windows computer since it had more power and functionality for me than the Windows Explorer utility.

Later, when the Ministry of Education licensed Dreamweaver for the province,the FTP functionality was built right in. It was important that each of our schools had a regularly updated web presence and so I had our webserver supervisor create a login/password for every one of our school and then a barrage of workshops followed. In particular, our CIESC (Computers in Education School Contacts) made amazing websites that were unique to each school. No templates here.

How about you for a Sunday web publishing insight…

  • Do the applications, WS_FTP, Fetch, or FileZilla ring a bell with you? How?
  • Did you use another application?
  • Do you have an FTP client currently installed on your computer?
  • Bonus geek points if you can remember the default port for FTP. (No Googling…)
  • These days, it’s seldom that you see school websites that are unique. Typically, they’ve been replaced by a template so that all schools look the same.
  • Many people use a hosted system for a web presence. What’s your choice and why? (WordPress, Blogger, Google Sites, …)

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to know your thoughts.

This post appeared on


If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.