miércoles, 9 de noviembre de 2011

Bethany Cagnol, hair pulling angel.

@bethcagnol collapsing of exhaustion in front,
the rest of us having fun behind her ; )

We all know somebody who inspires us, who shines a light on our talents so that we see them, who encourages us to see past the things that aren’t yet there and focus on growing, and passing that growth on to others.

Imagine 10 people like that in your life.

Now imagine 20. Or hundreds.

Now imagine that you have constant access to them. It is called a PLN, a personal learning network. Twitter might be the glue that keeps it together, but it goes much further. It is a place where you can find and be one of these people.

These people are positive, passionate about what they do, and are out there doing quality work that touches many, many, people. Their passion gives sort of a “holiness” to their work, in the sense that Grotowski would use the word. Saints, or mad prophets in the wilderness, whittling distant possibilities into realities.

Ever heard of Habukkuk? His name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “strong hug.”

In the judeo-christian story of “Daniel in the lion’s den”, Habukkuk was “fifth business”, the figure not important of himself but through him, important things happened.

Habakkuk was in Judea; he had made a

stew and crumbled bread into the bowl, and he was on the

way to his field, carrying it to the reapers, when an angel

of the Lord said, 'Habakkuk, carry the meal you have with

you to Babylon, for Daniel, who is in the lion-pit.' Habakkuk

said, 'My Lord, I have never been to Babylon. I do not know

where the lion-pit is.' Then the angel took the prophet by the

crown of his head, and carrying him by his hair, he swept

him to Babylon with the blast of his breath...

I mention this story not for the spiritual enrichment of the readers, but because exactly the same thing happened to me.

Despite being a performer, I can be a bit self isolated, busy working on "shtuff", and with the economic crisis in Spain, I can end up focusing on taking care of basic needs, instead of higher and nobler priorities.

Bethany Cagnol was my hair pulling angel, who made sure that I had every excuse to stay home eliminated... she encouraged me every step of the way, and she was even prepared to look for a place for my wife and daughter to stay!

I imagine she pulled the hair of a lot of other people, because the Tesol France conference put skin on a lot of people I had been keeping tabs on, and admired, and both revealed some new amazing people and reconfirmed the amazingness of others. I was farmed out to one such person (whose name I won’t mention because this thank you note is for Bethany, but his twitter handle is @Brad5Patterson.) and had a great time in “the Panda den”.

And I got to share what I have been working on with people working on similar things... and they did the same with me. I am filled with energy, and ideas, and with gratefulness to be in a world with such amazing people, and to be connected with them.

Strong hugs, Bethany. You know how to throw a party.

miércoles, 15 de junio de 2011

Embedded widgets, for publicity and THE GOOD OF HUMANITY!

I am (re)looking at different gadgets that are easy to produce web pages with. It looks like next year I will be doing some middle school CLIL with the technology classes, so I'd like to get some ideas for things to surprise them with.

I have permission to teach them LibreOffice instead of MS Office (Yeah, FLOSS opensource programs!) to give the students up to date info on copyright licenses, operating systems, viruses and internet safety. As the students will be doing everything in English: task based learning!

(I have some thinking to do about how I will set up collaborative work so it isn't just rehearsal for an office job later.)

One neat thing is Wix.com, which I haven't played with for over a year... I started using it when Sproutbuilder started changing their terms of service like most people change their socks. Dead easy. It is free. Easy to adapt, and has a new mobile focused site coming out soon. Great for making "pretty stuff".

Both done in under an hour, so this is good for allowing teachers or students to create with. So why do I blog this, thinking it is interesting? Because it is both interesting and cool... if you are less egocentric than me, and put something less you centered.

Paul Braddock, from the Barcelona British Council Young Learner´s Dept, has made an online game for staff development, and it looks great. Thinking behind it here, and a look at the actual wix here.

What a great idea!


Free website - By Wix.com

lunes, 25 de abril de 2011

“Ring out the bells that still will ring, forget your perfect offering,
there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

I had a marvellously disastrous workshop.

As everybody who has played with them knows, there are three main things that can go wrong with a wiiboard in windows:

1. The Microsoft .net 3.5 (or higher) isn't installed.
2. Bluetooth connection issues. (using non microsoft bluetooth driver software is the way of pain, and sometimes windows 7 can time out a connection apparently, though I haven't experienced it
3. The wiimote or the projected image isn't positioned adequately. (receives direct sunlight which gives false infrared signals to the wiimote, or the wiimote isn't tracking correctly because it is too high/low/near/far.)

Number 3 is what got me.

To avoid the weight, I hadn't brought my tripods for my projector and wiimote, so I couldn’t get things to ideal positions instantly. Figured I could play "tetris" with objects in the room, or find something if needed to get everything balanced out and I knew there would be time to pick up a tripod that would be cheaper than going overweight. (… or there would have been except for the three hour delay of my flight.) So, above all I have to claim responsibility for the problems... My bad.

I set up the room at 8:30 in the morning and was set for the 10:30 session, but to accommodate another speaker, I changed rooms at literally the last minute.
Coming to the new room with the participants, it dawned on me that the furniture was different... and with my new pieces to play with, I couldn't set it up without obscuring peoples view or risking having to reset it for being to close to a window.

While I set up... pulling all the stuff I had crammed into a bag rapidly… it occurred to me that my notes and paper visuals I use to explain before the board is set up hadn't made the trip upstairs with me. The upside of this was that I now had both hands free to move stuff around.

I set it up with a chair on top of a table to position the wiimote with sufficient height. Unfortunately I was a bit short of height, and couldn’t get the whole image in the wiimote camera while remaining close enough to scan well. There was one position I could move the improvised stack of furniture, but that would block the view of a third of the participants. No choice: I set up the visual obstruction.

Turning to recalibrate the board, the chair fell off the table.
I was now the Tommy Cooper of learning technologies.

There still was one last possibility: rear projection, using this frame for holding folding chairs. The participants unloaded the chairs helped me to duct tape an ikea shower curtain to the frame and Heike found the mirror image on the projector.
The room literally sprung into action. And we had an Interactive whiteboard. It worked.

And just then… the time was up.

I was a bit frustrated not to be able to show what it could do, not to be able to have them fly around google earth with the second wiimote, using it as a video game controller, and using the accelerometer. I also would have liked to look at free software that allowed you to use the board more collaboratively.

The bitter taste was removed from my mouth by the participants: they enjoyed the workshop, and several people told me to keep the problems in next time.

Rather than being frightened off experimenting with it, they saw how problems could arise and how you could deal with them. It stopped being about what a iwb could do, and about what a bunch of people could do with a few toys and a sense of humour in dealing with problems. People who would run at the word “Bluetooth stack” came out with the idea that they could do this, too.

Alchemists, the precursors of scientists spent centuries looking for a formula to turn lead into gold. They should have asked the participants of my workshop, who transformed a potential disaster into a shared learning experience, one that was suddenly worth something.

lunes, 21 de febrero de 2011

Trolls: Anti Social Media in Twitter.

The Troll in our garden.

Interested in English Language Teaching? On twitter, search for #ELTChat: you will find info centered on English Language Teaching , and a couple of chats every wednesday, where teachers vote on a topic to chat about, and share ideas and resources. Great stuff. And now we even have our own pet troll.

#eltchat Barking dog is back... yeah Twitter...
(paraphrased by me.)

Barking dog is indeed back with us. Eurominuteman has the very doglike idea that if you pee on something, you own it.

Short version: He doesn't exist. He is an elaborate hoax by someone whose hobby is pushing peoples buttons, as a main character supported by other false people. Check the fake VAT tax number he posted (why do you post your VAT number?) on 38 different pages ( DE146346525 ) in creating the extensive, but false background info on himself, against official tax numbers here for yourself.(copy his number DE146346525 here. )

Incredibly, #ELTChat has grown steadily but until now, we haven’t really been trolled and peed on. Trolling isn't just a mean comment ... it can be a hobby, or lifestyle.

Long Version:

What does "being trolled" mean?

This article in http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Trolls gives better insight into what an "intentional" troll is.
(If you are going to dig further, (ie look up lulz), be prepared for lots of naughty words. However, you might want to count the number of times the word "groupthink" comes up. Any corpus or NLTK users up for the task of a l33t corpus for troll memes?)

Trolling is the prank phone call of our beloved digital natives: internet is traceable too, but you have to really do something bad for the efforts to be made, and there are a lot of tools for being anonymous. That is good: sometimes dissent is needed, and activists in countries with suppression of human rights have been aided by these tools. What allows someone to abuse may allow someone else to report abuses.

Voltaire might say today: I disagree with trolling, but I would defend with my life the possibility that allows for trolling.

We have been gifted with a pretty good starter troll to educate ourselves with on #ELTChat. My guess is that he is about 16-23, based out of the States. (1) Looking at the lengths of the posts outside of twitter, the troll has a good use of voice dictation software, and can produce defamatory posts at a respectable speed. Has skills in IT, and is not above helping someone set up a group to troll it after. It is his hobby, after all.

Why I don’t think @europeminuteman is really a grown up, (probably a kid and a somewhat badly characterized sockpuppet.)

1. All contact info is social media:

-Facebook page.

-Various twitter accounts. MANY twitter accounts. MANY MANY MANY, which will get him back up fast to hashtag squat when banned.

-Free online german email( web.de is a German freemail that is little known and probably not on lists of spammer havens. Might get through twitter, facebook, and a lot of things without really checking personal information. BTW Eurominuteman is listed on wikiwatcher.virgil.gr/psp/ as probable IP sockpuppeteer (if you need to ask, you don’t need to know.) MAybe lives in Germany, but uses American IP (AOL. Why AOL? AOL = new IP with every page load. CheckUser does not work. Still, got people suspicious with IP ... )

-Vague info on things that can be checked. (ie: exact “association” with European Union Quality control group not clarified, offset with very precise info on education and pictures of report cards that we couldn’t be bothered to care about.)

-Very few photos of "him", all in the same time period (2007) when this false identity was born. Impressive work, though, on the two fotostreams. Someone into mobile learning would probably have a smartphone instead of a kodak. Whoever the pictures are of, it probably isn't James O'Reilly.

-vat ID number listed in many of his pages: DE146346525, easily typed one hand. (odd nothing higher than 6, but it could be possible, right? (see footnote 2, and links above.)

-Only contact a mobile phone in Germany. Not worth the price to check for a pranker.

If he was really a quality control engineer, would he have something more substantial in some part. A mention in one of the organizations that he supposedly works in? He is very cautious in providing information, but he does some wonderful digital storytelling with the background info and stays mostly consistant. If he was indeed authentic (and free of mental illness, a sadder possibility) which I doubt after looking at the quality of his digital footprint: he's actively hiding lots of info.

2. The name: James O’Reilly.

Great name... not only the brother(?) of perhaps the most influential man of internet , Tim O’Reilly, (great attention getter in case of accidental ban.) but it is a variation on the last name of Ignatius, in John Kennedy Tooles “A confederation of dunces”, who is the greatest (idiot savant?) troll of all literature. Talks about eveyone else as superficial, and is constantly injured by the cruelty of others while he is insulting them. Pretends to help people, but finishes by creating explosions and fear, uncertainty and doubt wherever he goes. BTW unlike @eurominuteman, this book is worth reading.

3. Trolling for teachers.

Come on, this is pure high school fantasy. To attack someone as benign as @grahamstanley (a lovely man who has been pushing the envelope in Education in Second Life for years.) with threats about knowing people who can cut his European funding, obscure accusations with nothing behind them, pseudo tech and ed-babble, obscure links to wikipedia that don’t actually say anything relevent, requires a certain high school mentality. The choice of leaders in the teachers world as targets screams high school.

He has researched ELTChat and looked at who to hit.


He has attacked parentella, a group Shell collaborates with, multiple times. Search his twitter stream. He spams it through various hashtags that have little to do with parentella, but everything to do with Shell. He is just trying to incite her but Shell is very good at not responding, so he is going away.

Instead of multiple mentions, he repeats the same thing to several people: an individual accusation is much more likely to get a response.

@Eurominuteman says:

@englishraven Plz tell me more about yr authorization to claim Twitter tag ownership, 1st step void foundation is fake/mock scam
20 hours ago

@Marisa_C Plz tell me more about yr authorization to claim Twitter tag ownership, 1st step void foundation is fake/mock scam
20 hours ago

@esolcourses Plz tell me more about yr authorization to claim Twitter tag ownership, 1st step void foundation is fake/mock scam
21 hours ago

@mattledding Plz tell me more about yr authorization to claim Twitter tag ownership, 1st step void foundation is fake/mock scam
21 hours ago

That is just lazy trolling. (Realized that I am not even a leader in the ELTChat community, and decided that he better unwaste a message on bigger fish.)

So he looks at where the big fish are and claims that he isn’t spamming... EVERYONE ELSE IS!

#eltchat @englishraven is No. 6 spammer in the Top 10, I don't appear at all yet http://archivist.visitmix.com/7650c15b/2/User

#eltchat @Marisa_C is No. 1 spammer, @cerirhiannon is No. 11, so I can identify the handful of real spammers getting hair loss this evening

#eltchat Well the volume of my tweets is comparably low, but the content was much higher... yeah Twitter
10 hours ago

And what was that content? A link about the Purpose of Education, and a wikipedia article about Aristotle. Will I put up those links? Nah. Every click probably counts as a point for him..

#eltchat @esolcourses The Purpose of Education and Aristotle do not contradict that, stop the superficial flaming about nothing.

(SUPERFICIAL: One of the fave words of Ignatius Reilly when referring to anyone beneath him. For example, everyone. This roleplay is much clearer when euromm has more than 140 chars.)

Actually, @eurominuteman has, as an agent of provocation, been quite successful at getting bites. Certain artistry, almost , in his roleplay as troll. Because the character isn't him... it is a roleplay. We are getting angered by someone's imaginary friend. And he might have more imaginary friends.

@educationland follows a similar style,and interest in inclusion/annoying people, although it seems he is just starting and trying to establish credibility right now. (by copying the contents of peoples tweets without crediting them.) @ardgroomlad ("real name" Kevin O'Brien... see comments for why this name was chosen.) could be the good cop character, trying to fan indignation at @eurominuteman for extra drama... he only seems to come out when Eurominuteman is around and seems to work as the puppet on the other hand saying, "look at how bad Eurominuteman is!" Bottom line: more attention and focus on the puppet show.

The problem with this “artist”?

We waste time and energy over someone who is simply laughing at us. Or threatening...

Later, he came back to post this:

@mattledding Hehe Aristotle has a compass function Hehe Believe me, especially for teachers of all colors Hehe Thanks for the laugh :-))

Which, through wordplay let me know that he had researched me. (Easy, I am wide open and a dead easy target... and because I work with kids, even the slightest smell of scandal could sink me.)

Meh... if I get troll spam sunk, I’ll just go to the corp show market, where I can be as disreputable as I want, and I'll make more and work less.

Others being attacked might not be as comfy, which is where the term "cheap anonymous coward" slips in.

The troll is the ultimate comfy one, safe in his parents basement... we can attack his false identities, while he attacks our real ones. It is easier to destroy than build.

But I don’t think that our Troll is out for more than reactions, and this post is a pretty good reaction.

The real danger is wasted time.

I wasted time writing this post. I got things to do.
You wasted time reading it. You got things to do.

Let’s waste no more time:

Block and report trolls ( ie: eurominuteman in whatever of his many twitter ids he uses) when they start to provoke others, and avoid engaging them: that takes their game away. If anyone is annoying, block them. Life is short, and mean people suck.

Enough blocks and they get banned, although our friend can probably get round that easy enough. But... this is a good learning opportunity, and now a lot of teachers will be able to recognize trolls, and share that with students... wrecking a perfectly good hobby for trolls. That is why it is a bad idea to troll a teacher area full of people that care about teaching and who share knowledge in a far too inclusive way.

As a note to Mr. James O'Reilly: If you want to stay as our pet troll, then you should know that nobody is going to get angry at someone's imaginary friend.

That being said, there are some absolutely great bubble test, school reform groups that would be great for you to make new friends with.

; )

Please feel free to exercise your artistry there.
You could be the Superman they are waiting for.
Let me know how it works for you.


Virtual Homeoffice - Mind Map - [ Traducir esta página ]
DE146346525 . ZIP-Code Street Town Company Country . USA (German green card) . Project Management 1.0 Mindmapping 1.0 Brainstorming 1.0

Who in Germany has a green card? Only in the States.

Vat number: DE146346525 - forty results.

A. Who puts their vat number in their photostreams?
B. Who FAKES their vat number 40 times? check it here: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/

So this is all just a massive hoax. Take a good look at the info he put, (which I have saved offline in case it disappears and I have to use it, or someone wants to do a unit on trolling in a textbook with authentic material.) to see the details of how he uses the pdfs on scribd to make it look (in a search) like he wrote the articles by putting contact details. (note: jing video, requires flash) Giving him unearned "expert" appearence. (Like the "Dr." in Dr. Maurer's English in 1000 words.)

But like any magic trick, if you spend enough time and effort looking at it several times, you can see through the deception.