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Friday
Nov302007

Scientific Commons and free image sites

scicommons.jpgMy friend and colleague, Gary Hartzell passed this on to me:

This came across my screen and it looked like it could be useful in a lot of ways. ...

While the title says "Scientific Commons", the site contains access to materials in the and outside the natural sciences - such as social sciences.  For example, just type a word like "leadership" or "library" or "chemistry" or "science" or "teachers"  or "business" or "software" or "medicine"  or "religion" in the search box and take a look at the material it returns.


from the About Scientific Commons http://www.scientificcommons.org/ website:

ScientificCommons.org aims to provide the most comprehensive and freely available access to scientific knowledge on the internet.

The major aim of the project is to develop the world’s largest communication medium for scientific knowledge products which is freely accessible to the public. A key challenge of the project is to support the rapidly growing number of movements and archives who admit the free distribution and access to scientific knowledge. These are the valuable sources for the ScientificCommons.org project. The ScientificCommons.org project makes it possible to access the largely distributed sources with their vast amount of scientific publications via just one common interface. ScientificCommons.org identifies authors from all archives and makes their social and professional relationships transparent and visible to anyone across disciplinary, institutional and technological boundaries. Currently ScientificCommons.org has indexed about 13 million scientific publications and successfully extracted 6 million authors' names out of this data (January 2007).                     

Anybody using this resource? 

earth_lights_lrg.jpg

I'm getting in the mood to do a "scrapbook" entry to clear out my starred items in Google Reader. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Wednesday
Nov282007

Travel light

Travel light in life. Take only what you need: a loving family, good friends, simple pleasures, someone to love, and someone to love you; something to eat, enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink for thirst is a dangerous thing. —Unknown.

eee.jpg

 

 I've had my ASUS Eee PC 701 now for about 24 hours. So far so good. I am using it to create this blog entry. (May help me be brief.)

There is a lot to like about this little sub-2lb, flash-driven computer. Wireless (worked on both home and secure school networks), good open source software (opened Word, Excel, PDF, AVI files), bright screen, excellent track pad with tap to click and scrolling built in, and easy-to-use graphic interface. Hooked up fine to external monitor. Skype works great. Built-in speakers (pretty cheesy,  but fine for voice), internal microphone and even camera. Also inputs for mic and headphones. Nice. External USB mouse worked by just plugging it in.

Still getting used to the very small keyboard (typing slowly helps), smaller screen, managing files. Couldn't get my big honking PowerPoint files to open. Can't figure out yet which new version of Skype to download and how to do so. Some of this will take some time. Not sure what software is available for this flavor of Linux.

I am really planning to use this as sort of a dumb terminal to the Internet when I travel. It really struck me how  little one needs a computer hard drive with Google Docs, del.icio.us, web-based mail and calendaring, RSS feed reads, etc. I am going to see if I can't use SlideShare.com to do presentations too. My working docs I can also carry and run off a flash drive that the Eee recognized just fine.

If this puppy were half the price ($200 instead of $400), it would make a great 1:1 student machine.  Battery lasted a long time today and with a flash memory instead of a mechanical hard drive, I hope it will take some bumps.

I weighed my regular computer bag/back pack this morning: 17.8 pounds (without a book in it) and this only carrying the little Mac 12" PowerBook. The Eee will fit in my suit coat pocket and weighs less than the hardback book I'm reading.

Get yourself one for Christmas! Travel light in life.

Tuesday
Nov272007

Arm the teachers

Our local paper last Sunday printed a letter to the editor from a local citizen demanding armed security guards in our schools. He wrote:

Sometimes I see a police presence at school events but they don’t carry guns. What are they going to do against a shooter? Nothing. ... We need a viable defense of our children and that includes armed security.  ... I want armed security in the halls and at the entrances before someone simply walks in with a gun and starts shooting. Don’t even get started on cost or image arguments. ... I want my taxes used for this first, then whatever else.

I, for one, am proud to live in a community that so highly prizes its children that it is willing to go to these lengths to protect them. But personally, I would go one better. A single police officer can only be in one place at one time. I would suggest we mandate that the entire teaching staff carry loaded side-arms.

dharry.jpgI don't mean any wimpy pea-shooters, either. I want my English 9 teacher to have the same fire power that Dirty Harry might have - "a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world." The principal ought to at least have a RPG or two somewhere handy.

I can envision genuine educational advantages too;

  • When giving a quiz, the social studies teacher could point his gun at a cheater and say, "You've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"
  • The kindergarten teacher could always fire a few round in the air just to get the class's attention.
  • The PE teacher really could get reluctant students to "dance."

I suppose the left-wing, pinko sissies will come up with a bunch of lame excuses why loaded teachers are "wrong" or "bad." But if you ask me, nothing says caring about kids like packing heat. 

Or we could read the research that tells us that violent acts in American schools declined between 1991 and 1999 despite all headlines to the contrary. Schools are statistically one of the safest places in the community.

Schools are safer than individual homes and neighborhoods. Children are more likely to encounter serious violent crime away from school than at school. Multiple sources suggest that students are approximately three times safer in school than away from school (Elliott, Hamburg, and Williams, 1998; Kaufman et al., 1999; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). There is less than a one in a million chance of a student experiencing a school-related violent death. Furthermore, the vast majority of school-related injuries are not violence-related and the majority of school crime is nonviolent theft (U.S. Department of Education, 1999a). 

 Or at least get data that paint an accurate picture of the scope of school violence before going off half-cocked.