Showing posts from January, 2006

Entering the Zone

I remember the moment as if yesterday. I was sitting in a darkened
technology lab at the Education Service Center, Region 8 planning a
presentation. My master's work was fresh behind me (only 2-3 years out
from graduation), and my mind was keen (at least, it seemed so with the
arrogance of youth <grin>). As I broke down the presentation, I was
amazed at how quickly I could outline the talk, seemingly chiseling out
the ideas on a blank sheet of paper. I was just learning how to use
Powerpoint...and it all seemed new then. I had to THINK about what I was
doing. Ahh, to have those days again <wink>.

Recently, I have been slogging through S5
Simple Standards Slide Show
(thanks for the
, Wes) and it hit me that the feeling I was experiencing was
the same as that day. S5, because I was doing my editing in a an
HTML friendly text editor (BlueFish
on Linux, BTW, although I use Crimso…


Although 99% of what I do with PDF files is to create them, I'm
occasionally called upon to manipulate them, whether to delete pages,
merge PDF documents, and stuff like that. On the Linux side, there
hasn't been a free utility
to do that (or at least, I wasn't aware of it, which is more likely).
It's annoying not knowing about something like this, especially when
installing it was as simple as "sudo apt-get install pdftk" and it's
loaded. Sheesh.

The only drawback I can see is that it is command line driven, but
that's not that big a problem, especially with a tutorial

PDF Toolkit (pdftk for
short) allows you to do a variety of things. Oh, and it's available for, if you don't own the full version of Acrobat, then you
might consider downloading the Windows version. You can download
the Windows, Mac versions of pdftk online

Thanks to this Newsforge

3 Easy Ways to Bypass Filters

So as to provide easy ways to bypass district filters on the word
""--or any word that has been banned via an access control
list--try these approaches:

1) Use Google News to bypass banning of blocked search results.
Doing a search for "myspace" in Google News will get you:

2) Use If that approach didn't work, try this
one. Set up a free account, and use Google's
Search Results to RSS
. This will result in all search results
flowing through FeedBurner. When you need different results, you edit
the feed. This means students can access search results based on the
exact same feed that a teacher may have created for them.

For example, the results of a Google search on the word "space" would be
banned because "MySpace" would appear in the results. Instead, you
modify the following SearchResults to RSS feed to refle…

Government and Open Source

Two pieces of news caught my eye this week regarding open source. The
first is how the Homeland Security is investing in evaluating open
source and how it might be "hardened."

U.S. taxpayers are now helping to improve open source software code and
security thanks to a grant [The grant will pay $1.24 million over three
years] issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). More than 40
open source software projects, including Linux, Apache, FreeBSD, MySQL,
PostgreSQL and Mozilla, are expected to benefit from the effort...The
open source MySQL database has also been a client of Coverity. As with
Linux, the study found that MySQL had comparatively fewer defects that
other similar software.

The second is this announcement that MySQL has been awarded a five year
contract by the General Services Commission.

MySQL already hums under thousands of federal, state and local

We Live Our Writing

"We no longer just read articles," writes Cheryl
, "we live them." Wow. This comment reveals a truth that was
driven home just this past Sunday morning. Over the last few weeks, I
have been writing about 4th Amendment Rights violations by the Bush
Administration, trying to better understand them. Then, this morning,
driving off to eat lunch at our favorite Chinese Restaurant, my wife
exclaimed, "Miguel, everything you've been talking about with privacy is
on the news. While you were sleeping..." and she went on to share what
she had heard about Google,computer chips like Viiv and RFID that she
had seen on the morning news. I shared with her that this is what I'd
been writing about, including how my new iRiver T10 was a foul
instrument of digital rights management and that I had--through lack of
research and vigilance, as well as in purchasing it--supported big

Spectacular Failure

Yesterday, I quoted from the "quote of the month" appearing in January,
2006's Technology and Learning magazine. Today, I looked at the magazine
again--still open to that page (7)--to see what else might be there. In
the green box entitled "Blog Watch," I read BudtheTeacher's entry about
wiki spam, and then, began to read this...

The $100 laptop could change everything for developing
countries...Even if it fails, it will be a spectacular failure. And,
sometimes, the best success is the venture that isn't afraid to fail in
a big way.

--Mousing Around (;

Then, as I considered the wisdom of this statement--finding it resonated
with my own thoughts on this matter--I read who wrote it. Hey! That's
ME! Fascinating. This just reminds me that writing in my word processor
(or blog entry) looks a heck of a lot better in a print magazine. The

Urban School Leaders

In an issue of District Administration (December, 2005), the
following quote appears:

Establishing honest relationships within their building is key to
how the school will perform. There are programs for cultivating
student socialization, but if those are going to be successful, it's
really important adults in the building be models. They need to
learn how to be more committed listeners, how to engage with other
people, and have really honest, open conversations about important

In this article, the author--Fran Silverman--is sharing the comments
of Dennis Sparks, executive Director of the National Staff
Development Council. What's fascinating is what role Read/Write Web
tools can play in fostering open conversations about important
things. Principals rarely find themselves in any one place for long.
A multi-user blog would…