I’m sorry

Let’s start this post with a tune…

29M views – it is just that important.

My day today started with a message from the Padlet Safety Team indicating that they had resolved a case with content on one of my Padlets. They even gave the case number.

Gulp! If that doesn’t wake you up in a hurry, I don’t know what would. After all, I use a Whatever happened? (padlet.com) for people to submit suggestions for my Sunday morning post “Whatever happened to …”. Had something gone wrong? Had I submitted something bad while asleep? Had someone else?

I checked the Padlet out and it seemed OK to me. While I was pondering this, I wandered throughout my mailbox and saw the message again. This is getting strange. I checked out their help page and then decided to respond to the notice asking if it was something that I’d done wrong and should I be learning something from this?

I got a response immediately. Wow, that was quick but it was one of those automated replies to let you know that they got the message. I went about doing some other things and then I got another response from the safety team. The message was comforting as they indicated that there was a bug and it had sent out the original message in error. That made me feel pretty good; it wasn’t me.

But then I thought about other software over the years. I think that everyone knows that you have to have a certain ego element to be a developer which makes it difficult to acknowledge errors. But, I never have had an apology from a developer when I contacted them. That kind of blew me away.

We all know that software is seldom perfect when it is released or sold. If it was every software would be version 1.0!

But to acknowledge that there was a problem. That was really unique and impressive. In my former life delivering workshop after workshop promoting software and tools, we would periodically run into issues. Some of my life seemed to be developing workarounds until things were fixed.

I’d also attended sessions lead by developers as we contemplated implementing something in the system. I’ve got more certifications than I care to admit but you won’t see them as badges here. I think that makes you part of everything that happens including when things go wrong. I even attended a session once where we were explicitly told never to use the word “bug” when referring to an issue that someone might be having. Instead, we were told to say “that’s unexpected behaviour”.

So, I was really struck by the honesty of this reply. I’ve long recommended that people take a look at Padlet to see if it serves a purpose for them. This whole process confirmed to me that the people behind this are honest and open.

You’ve got to like a developer like that.

That isn’t what I would do

The article correctly describes the problem.

Windows 10 update improves copy-and-paste in a big way

Maybe it’s because my original computers didn’t have pointing devices attached to them but I’m a lover of keeping my fingers on my keyboard. (particularly with my new one…)

Early, you learn using a computer that there are all kinds of shortcuts available by combining keys together.

If nothing else, you should know that the CTRL/Command key plus O opens a document, P prints a document, C copies highlighted text, and V pastes highlighted text. Of course, there are more.

Now, back in the good old days, all that was on your screen was text. These days with your fancy schmancy computer, you have text that is much richer, colourful, different sizes, different backgrounds, etc. The all copy and paste faithfully, preserving the attributes of the text.

As a blogger, I often do a lot of copy/pasting if I’m making a reference to something else. It’s what I do. It’s what most bloggers do. The problem is that, while the originator may be proud of how their text is formatted, I often don’t what that here.

So, I had to learn a new shortcut and that is CTRL/SHIFT/V at the same time. That gives me just the text and then I can format things the way I want it. To quote a former colleague of mine, “If you were king of the world, what would you do?” Well, I would make the default CTRL/V just paste the text. I’d have something else to copy and preserve the formatting.

Now, of course, I could use the mouse. Highlight the text, right click on the mouse and then find “Paste as” and then the option I want which is typically “Plain text”. But my point is … why should I have to go through all that?

I’m not excited about the concept of the PowerKey/V to do the simple task although I really like the idea of having a running history of all that I’ve copied.

Of course, I’m not under any delusions that any developer at Microsoft is going to read my blog post and make the change. But, if they would, that would be really cool.

As a compromise, I’d even settle for a configuration setting that would let me customize the keys to my satisfaction. That’s probably not going to happen either.


Whatever happened to …

… snowmobile static?

How’s this for inspiration? I was out shovelling the driveway after the big dump we had earlier this week and the guy or his kid from down the road went flying by on a snowmobile in the farmer’s field across the road. Later that evening while I was thawing out, someone went up and down the road and across the farmer’s field behind me. Might have been the same guy?

I just kept watching television. And started thinking…

Growing up, my parents had a snowmobile and I would have been that person/people flying on the snow. But that’s not the point of this post. Again, it was about television. At the time, we had a massive selection – Channel 8 from Wingham north of us, Channel 10 from London south of us, and Channel 13 from Kitchener east of us. On really cloudy nights, occasionally we could pick up Detroit. I can remember having to go outside to rotate the antenna when I was young until later when we moved to the big time and got a router in the house to do it. No more fighting with my brother to see who had to go outside.

So, sitting at home watching television, our street sometimes was like a dragway for snowmobiles. I know that the car speed limit would have been 50km/h but the snowmobiles were considerably faster. And — they would cause static to appear on the television as they swooshed by. It was momentary, to be sure, but annoying all the same.

For the most part, we’ve gone digital which eliminates all this. Digital, by its nature, is either there or not there. No fuzzy static inbetween. If there’s a problem, it just cuts out. When we bought our first digital television, we also installed a digital antenna on the roof. In the Windsor/Detroit area, there are so many channels available “over the air”. And, unlike satellite or cable, they’re not compressed so in theory you can get better pictures and sound. I can’t personally confirm this but do like the additional channels that stations now offer. So, instead of just Channel 4, we now get 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, … Don’t tell the CRTC but we can also watch the Super Bowl and see the commercials first hand.

The changeover was a big thing.

This video has some static for old time’s sake. I checked and the channels seem to be now digital.

Digital is just so much better. In addition to broadcasting just the show, the digital signal also has information right on the screen about the broadcast.

For a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • do you go back far enough to remember analog television and the interference issues?
  • were some antennas better than others for reducing static?
  • do you watch television over the air or have you gone completely digital?
  • have you ever wondered why over the air television is free and the same channel and same commercials cost you a monthly fee through satellite or cable?
  • do you even watch commercial television these days or are you a user of streaming services over the internet?
  • do you pay for services that stream over the internet? Do you have recommendations for the best of the best?
  • does it seem like overkill to watch old television shows or movies with their poor quality and a 4:3 ratio on your high end television with 16:9 resolution?
  • lest we get too far from the original premise, do you or did you ever own a snowmobile?

I’d be most interested in your reflections. Please share them in the comments below. Please continue the conversation.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

After a snowy week, it’s nice to be able to sit back and check out some blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

February Patience

Aviva Dunsiger has taken the suggestion from Beth Lyons about doing a #oneword each month rather than one for the year and February is going to be “Patience”.

I think every teacher will agree that February is a tough month at the best of times and the 2021 version is just so much worse. For teachers throughout the province, face to face teaching resumes this February. This following weeks of teaching online. Or as Aviva puts it

we’re about to begin a September in February

As a result, she’s questioning the concept of patience as she, dare I say pivots, back to face to face.

I can’t help but think that patience isn’t necessarily patience online versus face to face. The concept of dead air comes to mind. It’s OK in the classroom since there’s all kinds of other feedback cues but online?

There are some interesting questions that she asks that I think every teacher might ask themselves. Heck, they’re good questions for everyone.

The (A)politics of Education–In a World Where There is No Such Thing as Neutral

This post, from Debbie Donsky, is a nice followup to the recent post from Matthew Morris. In fact, Debbie does make reference to Matthew’s quote and Faculties of Education.

I had to look up the definition of “apolitical” just to make sure that I understood what I thought it meant.

Having no interest in or association with politics. 2. Having no political relevance or importance: claimed that the president’s upcoming trip was purely apolitical.

“apolitical.” Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. 18 Feb. 2021 https://www.thefreedictionary.com/apolitical

Throughout the post, Debbie mentions some of the issues of the day. From my perspective, I’m not sure that I could be considered apolitical about these things. I clearly have my leanings on things.

The notion of not bringing politics into the classroom was perhaps well minded about days near an election. It seems to me that most things of importance these days are political.

Debbie does a really deep dive about the topic and ties it nicely to education. It’s a good and powerful read.


I’m not sure why you would ever assign a project to students that didn’t promote creativity but maybe that’s just me.

On the TESTOntario blog, John Allan uses this premise to introduce or re-introduce some pretty important tools.

  • WinkSite
  • Google Tour Creator
  • QuestGarden

For each, John gives a nice discussion and there’s plenty of reference to good pedagogy there. There are all kinds of ideas. I think that I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating.

Online learning from home is better if students understand the tools involved. So, in these days where schools are back face to face, it’s a good time to use these effectively in case the unthinkable happens again. If not, they’ll still generate some great learning opportunities.

For each of the tools, John provides a “how to”, an “example”, and a ‘blog post.”

Consequently, it’s just not a list of tools but a launchpad to using these tools effectively.

Improvement is the Enemy of Change

This provocative title leads us to a discussion and observation of two of the high profile issues of the day. Charles says he’s non-partisan.

But, my thoughts as I read this — political? You betcha.

Far too often, huge and wasteful attention is paid to the superficial expressions of a problem rather than putting in the energy and time to go deeper to discover the real obstacles that get in the way of meaningful movement towards the desired outcomes. 

Charles Pascal uses this as a way to discuss

  • paid sick days
  • profit motive that drives 60% of Ontario’s long-term care facilities

These are topics for discussion in any year. In a year with COVID and the desire to keep virus spread, they take on increasing importance.

Briefly, doesn’t it only make sense for people who are sick to stay home? Wouldn’t paid sick days help address that?

And, isn’t it just obvious that cuts to expenditures to increase profits at long-term care facilities put residents and workers at greater risk?

We’ve seen the effects of both of these things. It’s on the news constantly. In this post, Charles goes into each topic at great discussion. This is a very sobering post to read. I’m glad that he took the time to share his thoughts with us.

Building practices for great equity: Careful engagement in Collaborative Learning

Beate Planche reached out to me to let me know of her blog and this was the most recent post. She gives us a nice discussion about Collaborative Learning and some links for additional reading.

Thinking back, I really didn’t get any direction about collaborative learning while at the Faculty of Education. We did talk about “group work” but it was never with the deep understanding that Beate drives home in this post.

Even as an educator, I’ve been in situations where we were “doing collaborative learning” at professional learning events. Often, it was contrived and seemed like a way for a presenter to fill time.

If you follow Beate’s post, she describes a practice that is a great deal of work and doesn’t elevate the teacher from the actual learning. If done effectively, the teacher is moving and working hard to encourage students.

In the study of Computer Science, a collaborative process described as Pair Programming can be found here. It’s a popular topic at Computer Science professional learning events.

Time is the…

As I read this post from Sheila Stewart, bells went off in my head. She says she stumbled into this song.

She was struck by the last of the song

Time is the mirror
Time is the healer
Time is the teacher

My song? And in response to Sheila’s call to action from the post… Certainly not as obscure as hers but very powerful as I really and truly paid attention to the lyrics.

And I enjoyed listening to Sheila’s suggestion as well.

Snow Day = No School Day

I knew that someone would be writing about Snow Days on the Heart and Art Blog. Heck I’d even written a post myself on Wednesday. Well, I wrote about it on Tuesday for it to appear on the Wednesday.

So, back to Heart and Art because this post isn’t about me – Deborah Weston took on the topic. I’ve got to believe that part of her inspiration came from social media as teachers throughout the province checked in on what was happening in their districts.

It seemed to be divided into two camps – Camp 1 let Snow Days be Snow Days and Camp 2 was The Show Must Go On. I can actually see how the logic would flow in the Camp 2 camp from those who are at the system level and make the decisions.

I’m getting tired of the terms “pivot” and “flip to” and Deborah uses them to share her observation about what might happen. It’s a good read for all teachers, to be sure, but I would suggest even better for decision makers.

If you can just easily pivot from a planned face to face lesson to online, the lesson can’t have been very good to begin with.

I hope that you can find some time to click through and read these original posts.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Debbie Donsky – @debbiedonsky
  • John Allan – @mrpottz
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Beate Planche – @bmplanche
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD

About pizza

It seems so strange now to say but, growing up, my town had no place to enjoy a pizza. For us, it was a family outing to Goderich and the Pizza Patio. (It’s now called the Candlelight Restaurant and Tavern) When we were out with the gang or on dates, it was to a takeaway place called Frank and Gus Pizza which, sadly, hasn’t been there for years. There was another Frank and Gus Pizza in London but I hear that it’s closing down.

Looking back, there was nothing special about the Pizza Patio’s product except that it was pizza which was special in itself. Frank and Gus was awesome and the hottest pizza you’d ever get. I think that it was a combination of the toppings that were actually under the cheese and it was just a short hop down the hill to the beach to eat it in the car/truck.

Over the years, I’ve devoured many a pizza I’ll tell you but nothing really stood out. For the large part, they were from commercial places where every pizza tastes roughly the same. Even at university in Toronto, this local place that my roommate raved about in East York wasn’t memorable.

But that’s all about to change for Toronto.

Windsor-style pizza business opens in Toronto

I’ll tell you Toronto-folks, you’re going to want to check this out at least once.

When I moved to Essex County, I was sceptic with all the people saying I had to try local but one visit to a pizza place changed me for good. As noted in the article, pepperoni isn’t sliced; it’s shredded so there is indeed pepperoni in every bite and not just the 8 required slices. The Galati cheese is unlike cheese that you’ll find anywhere else. For most takeaway places, the pizza is made right in front of you. You see them spin the dough, put the cornmeal on the oven, and you pick the toppings very much like you would at Subway. You can see all they offer and watch them generously put it on the pie. There’s no assembly line here. You watch it all come together and then slid into the oven via pizza peel which is also used to monitor the crust to see when it’s done. No two pizzas are the same as a result of all this handicraft. They’re not plunked into a pan so you’re not going to get a perfectly round pizza.

There’s another Windsor thing that we find marries up nicely with these pizzas. In downtown Windsor, there used to be a restaurant known as the Tunnel BBQ. They were famous for their ribs and the sauce put on them. The restaurant is now closed by you can still buy the sauce which is so popular. If you’re into dipping, forego the garlic sauce at the counter and go for the TBQ hot/zesty stuff.

Now, we’re a relatively small town (22 000) but apparently we like our pizza! There are some commercial places strategically placed (like across the street from the high school) but around here, we go for the original, unique pizza places. They’ve also been good to us with our kids getting part time jobs. So, taking a wander through town, here are the places that come to mind…

The Fort, Bull’s Eye Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Naples Pizza, Rosa’s, Chicano’s, Riccardo’s, Little Caesar’s, Capri, Armando’s, Golden Crust. In addition to this, there are other restaurants that have pizza on the menu. But, you can tell this town likes its pizza. Whenever there’s a survey about our future and wants, it’s pretty common to say “we don’t need another pizza place”!

One of the places is now offering a “Detroit Deep Dish Pizza” which I thought was a Chicago thing. As a result of going to conferences, I have tried the Chicago type and also a slice on the streets of New York City. But, give me home grown anytime.

I’ll be honest; I never thought that I’d ever blog about pizza but here I am. If you go into any community in the country, you’ll find these shops and more. As far as I can tell, they’ve survived the current dip in economics – probably because they’re takeaway by design – and I look forward to them to continue into the future.

Good luck, Toronto.