Browsing articles from "May, 2013"
May
8

A Window into Education

By Rob Warner  //  Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

My 6th-grade daughter currently home-schools, taking her classes online with Florida Virtual School (FLVS). She started the school year using my wife's MacBook Air, but couldn't get the FLVS software working. My wife called Tech Support, and they told her they don't support Mac OS X. We tried her on a Linux desktop for awhile, but the wireless connection kept dropping at inopportune times, so I finally broke down and dropped $800 on an HP laptop that runs Windows 8. It's a little slow–I should have bought an SSD–but it's working.

My second son, a high school senior, is taking an FLVS class he needs to graduate. We've had to work out an uneasy time-sharing HP laptop schedule of daughter-in-the-day, son-in-the-evening. Good thing school is almost over for the year.

My oldest son just finished his first year in college and is starting his summer term classes. He's majoring in Computer Science, with a Business minor, and one of his classes–one that he started today–is an introduction to computer applications. In that class, he'll learn to use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Powerpoint. Seriously? You have to take a class for that? A COLLEGE class?

Anyway, he has a MacBook Air that he received as a high school graduation present. It's been a great laptop for him. When he tried to log in to the website for this class, though, he learned that the class requires Windows, even though Mac OS X runs Word, Excel, and Powerpoint just fine. Not only does the class require Windows, it requires Internet Explorer: the interactive site that you must use for assignments, discussions, et al uses an ActiveX control. We're having to shove him into the HP laptop schedule: he gets the late-at-night shift.

In my house, I have a Linux desktop, two MacBook Airs, two MacBook Pros (both are mine–work and personal–and I admittedly don't share) an iPad 1, an iPad Retina (is that the 4? the new one), and an ASUS Transformer, and the education of 60% of my children is threaded through a single Windows laptop. Windows. We're relying on the former Metro for grades that count.

I'm aghast. It's another symptom of an ailing education system.

 

May
6

Give Tyler His Senior Year

By Rob Warner  //  Uncategorized  //  4 Comments

Tyler Anderson is a boy I’ve known most of his life. When he was an infant, an aneurysm burst in his brain, and he had to fight for his life. Now, he is fighting for something most people are freely given: a senior year of high school. You can read more here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Give-Tyler-His-Senior-Year/560967097269111?hc_location=stream

Here’s the email I sent to Mason Davis (davisw2@duvalschools.org) and Jason Fischer (fischerj@duvalschools.org).

I have known Tyler Anderson since he was an infant. I was in the hospital with him the night the aneurysm burst in his brain. I watched his parents face his near-certain death. I saw the stitching on his head, after his operation, that made his head look like some grotesque, over-stuffed softball. I couldn’t imagine much hope for him.

I’ve also seen Tyler defy the odds, ignore his death-prognosis, and grow up. I’ve seen him fight for life. I’ve seen him learn social mores, adjust, and progress. Here’s a young man living on half a brain, and he continues to learn. He reads. He writes. He converses. He integrates with normal society. I’ve spent time in his home. He’s been at my children’s birthday parties. I’m a youth leader at church, and he’s there at Sunday services, at youth activities, and at scouting activities. He socializes with the other youth. He socializes with adults. He socializes with younger children. He leads the music as he sing hymns as a men’s group. He listens. He contributes. He BELONGS.

Most times that people write letters to express views, they swerve toward hyperbole to make their points. I’m not doing that, because I don’t need to. Tyler, and I’ve said this many times before, is as kind to others as we all wish we were. He is the kindest person I know. He is hilarious. He is enthusiastic. He loves others, and it shows. He knows he is loved, and that shows as well. Everyone that knows him secretly thinks he or she is Tyler’s best friend, because Tyler makes them feel this way. He is conscientious and he learns and progresses. He always adds more than he takes away, and I mean that. Any situation I’ve ever been in is better with Tyler in it.

You can see some of the love felt for Tyler on this page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Give-Tyler-His-Senior-Year/560967097269111?hc_location=stream

Tyler isn’t some problem to be dealt with, shuffled off and away from normal society. Tyler should not be robbed of his senior year. He will make better use of that year than many other seniors, and those around him will be enriched for the experience of a year with Tyler.

Many other people are being caught in this same battle–students with special needs who are being ripped from their schools and pushed to a special school for, as I understand it, hardcore special-needs cases. The niece of a woman I work with is also being shoved aside, being returned to an experience that before was abusive. I have heard, but not confirmed, that Tyler and the rest have been caught in a numbers game: they’re trying to improve graduation rates in Duval county, so suddenly creating a mass of graduates boosts the numbers considerably. I don’t know if this is true, but it makes sense that it is. And it’s deplorable. 

Tyler’s parents, Blaine and Shelley Anderson, are amazing advocates who work tirelessly for Tyler. He needs more advocates and fewer people discriminating against him. Please take a moment to like the Facebook page. If you feel so inclined, send an email in support of Tyler. Tyler deserves it.

May
2

Why your password can’t have symbols—or be longer than 16 characters | Ars Technica

By Rob Warner  //  Ruby, Software  //  1 Comment

Why your password can’t have symbols—or be longer than 16 characters | Ars Technica: “The password creation process on different websites can be a bit like visiting foreign countries with unfamiliar social customs.”

(Via. @lars on App.net)

When I was young, I remembered everything. Now I am old, and I remember nothing. And I’ve surrendered to password madness. I’ve stored all my passwords in safe since 2007, with my encrypted data file in Dropbox, so I can access it from any machine that runs Ruby. This way, I have to remember only one password, which is long and complex and just onerous enough to type that I feel safe without feeling overburdened.

Unfortunately, neither my iPhone nor my iPad can run safe, so I bought 1Password and supplement my safe usage with that. I even use the same onerous password for 1Password that I use for safe, but for some inexplicable reason I used a different password on my iPhone that I no longer remember, so it’s useless to me. I should delete everything and reload, but I’m ashamed to admit I did that once before.

For the website I work on for my employment, we have several different environments with different user IDs and passwords that expire more rapidly than I can type, so I just reset them everytime I log in and mash the keyboard like a Whack-A-Mole for my new passwords that I’ll never remember.

Our new lunchroom food system got smart, though–the automated checkout system eschews passwords for thumb scans. No passwords stand between me and Coke Zero!

About

I'm Rob Warner, and I'm a software developer. I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and work for Availity, LLC. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Availity.