Maricopa Learning eXchange poster from MERLOT

For those not lucky enough to attend the MERLOT 2003 conference (any conf in Vancouver is worthy), I just posted the content from our MLX poster session: Building the Maricopa Learning eXchange (Using a Bit of Competition and Bribery). How do you cultivate the use and contribution to a learning object repository? We will share […]


SoBIG is My Deletion Task

Anti-Virus detection systems are removing viral email attachments, but they waste my time and clog the net with un-needed traffic by bouncing messages back to people who did not actually send them. So far, about every 8 hours, I have to delete 60-100 Anti-Virus detection messages from my inBox. I waste more time writing filters […]


#$!@ Blog Spammers

It’s been bad enough delting the email crud generated by the latest virus, but today I got my first porn content inserted into a comment on this weblog, with links to just about everything possible you could imagine being enlarged, shrunk, photographed, made money on, etc. So if you exercise IP banning on your blogs […]


live blog updates: the World as a Blog

Wow, a variation on the BlogChatter, this nifty site shows, in near real-time, the World as a Blog… Real time and updating display of weblog postings, around the world… Weblogs.com + geocoding + RSS But what is it? You see a world map, and as weblogs entries are posted around the world, they appear on […]

Blog Pile

1973 Flashback: Where is the gas in Phoenix?

Lines at the gas stations, tempers flaring… Wow- it is almost a flashback to the 1973 oil embargo but this is 2003 in Phoenix, Arizona where a pipeline shutdown fuels gas shortage.

The events in ’73 are a bit fuzzy, but I recall my Dad waiting in long lines for hours to get gasoline that had spiked from 35 cents a gallon to (oh my gosh) more than $1.00 a gallon.

But Phoenix citizens cannot balme the oil cartel here, although theories abound on other conspiracy theories. IN a nutshell- all of the gasoline that is consumed (and much is) in Phoenix, arrives by fuel lines from the west (LA and imports) and the east (the big refineries in Texas). The problem is a rupture midway between Phoenix and Tucson in the 50 year old pipe for the Texas supply, normally 35% of what we consume.

Although the supply from the west has been beefed up considerably, the problem is not getting the fuel into town– it is getting from the pump stations into trucks and distributed to gas stations. There are also fishy rumors about the company that runs the pipeline- that they could have run it at 80% capacity after the break was addressed but decided to shut it down completely and other ideas about the delay of federal inspectors on the repair.

Combine a shortage of trucks, panic among citizens, and you see what I did today- most gas stations with pumps closed (no gas) and the few that did have lines 30-50 cars long, a reported 2-3 hour wait for gas priced anwyhere from $2 per gallon to $5 (price fluctuactions are always suspect, and by some coincidence, prices are always higher in Scottsdale, where the per capita income is higher- I live in the part of Scottsdale that helps keep that average low but pay for gas that scales to the monster SUV culture here).

Looks like a good class lesson in economics and public psychology/mob behavior (there is more….)

Blog Pile

Web-A-Sketch and the beauty of obscure blogs

This post is as tangential as the twisted web path it took to get there. The ending is at Allen Smith’s Web-A-Sketch, a detailed description and parts list for how he hooked up some motors to an original Etch-A-Sketch and made it so anyone could remotely control it via a web interface.

An Etch-A-Sketch that can be controlled from a web page… first added stepper motors to this Etch-A-Sketch a couple of years ago. The stepper motors are from 5 1/4″ disk drives. These can be had at hamfests for a dollar or less and usually contain a nice 12 volt stepper motor. The belt and pulleys are from Small Parts They are called timing pulleys and timing belts, they cost less than $20 total. The motor bracket is a piece of sheet metal I cut with a hacksaw and bent into a right angle in a vice before drilling 4 holes in it. I fastened the bracket to the Etch-A-Sketch with two heet metal screws into the plastic frame. Oversized holes in the bracket allowed me to pull the belt tight then fix the bracket in place by tightening the screws.

To me it seems that for multimedia developers, making a web version of the classic Etch-A-Sketch, is the equivalent to the command-line programmer’s “Hello World” effort. I even did my own in Macromedia Director/Shockwave as “Maricop-A Sketch”.

But this is more about these sorts of web trinkets than about the breadth of weblogs and how I ended up at Allen’s Gadgeteer trying to draw circles (the rest of the story…)

Blog Pile

New RSS: Yahoo Groups

I am not in too many (or maybe zero) Yahoo Groups (and if so I never have them sent to clutter my email) but this Yahoo Groups RSS URI Generator is ideal for keeping updated on public groups without trudging through the Yahoo site. This page contains JavaScript that will accept a Yahoo group name […]

Blog Pile

New RSS: Multimedia Authoring

Building from the same path we have added RSS to 4 other resource web sites, we just added a feed to Multimedia Authoring Web. Get the feed (RSS 2.0) “AUTHORING” here refers to “programming by non-programmers.” This site is a resource collection of pointers to Internet sites for those that develop or “author” multimedia. This […]


Free! Online! Building Accessible Websites

Bless Joe Clark. Not only does he write a stunningly useful book, but he also provides all of the chapters (for free) to Building Accessible Websites. When you buy the book, you get the entire text (but no graphics) on the included CD-ROM, along with a few extras, like fonts and utilities. Now the whole […]