Archive for January, 2005


Local podcasting

I knew it was coming but I didn’t expect it on the front page: Julio Ojeda-Zapata’s article about podcasting in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press (registration required for archived version).


Signing with your kids

Eric Meyer writes about using sign language with his daughter. We have also signed with Owen from an early age, and I, too, cannot recommend it enough. Controlling speech muscles is hard: it requires a level of coordination that just plain takes a while to develop. Children are able to use sign language long before they are physically able to speak. Why not give them a way to express themselves?

I don’t think it fair to credit Owen’s remarkable language skills to early exposure to ASL because I know plenty of parents who used sign whose kids are barely verbal at the same age, but I have no doubt that being able to communicate at an early age has helped him in many ways. The “terrible twos” are due in no small part to a toddler’s inability to voice her desires and frustrations. Using sign language at an early age can help alleviate some of that. And what a thrill, watching him sign with other kids!

I’m not such a fan of the Baby Signs book, though it is a classic and landmark in the field. I just don’t accept that signs need to be modified or made up, which is something that the authors have done. Still, a fine book.

Once you’re willing to let a child watch TV, the Signing Time videos are fantastic. I’m a big fan. They’re paced well, they address multiple learning styles, they’re engaging for children and adults, and they do a good job of introducing key signs right away. What I like most, I think, is that we see lots of different kids signing, so you can see for yourself that there’s a range and variety in how kids sign. You don’t need to worry if you or your child doesn’t immediately “do it right”: there’s still some dexterity involved and lots of practice. Years of practice. Signing Time makes it fun. Really. It’s one of the few things we let him watch, and he loves it.

We don’t sign with Owen as much anymore, probably because he’s so freakishly verbal, but we all still have fun with sign language and I’d like to keep with it. Maybe I’ll take classes at Saint Paul College, which has a well-respected ASL program.


Vinyl Podcast

Cody on vinyl podcast plays music from his out-of-print vinyl collection, which is a Good Thing for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the amazing music he shares. Case in point: an outstanding rendition of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight and the Pips. No, really: go listen to it now.

You didn’t, did you? Sigh. I’m serious.

… waiting …

There. See what I mean?

Now, wouldn’t the world be a better place (not to mention safer for intellectual property) if this were locked in a vault for another several decades?

(tip o’ the hat to Garrick for pointing this one out)


Interview on First Crack

Garrick Van Buren interviews me on First Crack Podcast.

We met the other night for coffee, and when he suggested recording a podcast I was willing (obviously!) but unsure how on earth our conversation would be interesting enough. What I didn’t know at the time is what a skilled interviewer Garrick is. I am not a scintillating conversationalist, yet he smoothy managed to keep me talking.

You can hear how being a model introvert comes out in my speech: long pauses, slow speech as it takes a long time to dredge up memories, lots of false starts and starting in the middle of a thought. Heck, I’ll stop talking in the middle of a thought, unaware that I’ve done so. I think Garrick edited out the worst of it (as well as my longish rants about Java :).

He’s got a cool little setup: a basic clip-on microphone, a nice little pre-amp, piping to Garage Band, where he edits the audio before exporting to iTunes.

A correction: the San Franciscan sample roaster that I mentioned does not cost $1000. It’s more like $3500 or $5000, depending on whether you get electric or gas — and again, that was 10 years ago. I don’t even know whether the company that made it is still in business. It was a smart little roaster to work on, though. I think that you can still see it at White Rock, which is at the same location the Roastery was.


Now maybe science teachers can teach science.

Via Matt, a judge has ruled that textbook disclaimers that caution students against believing evolution are unconstitutional. These are the same disclaimer stickers that inspired the cutting counter-disclaimers from Swarthmore that I have posted on my wall at work. The debate is far from over, but it’s a good step.

My favorite comment so far is from Mainstream Baptist:

Theocrats need to stop trying to force their medieval scientific beliefs on public school children and start focusing on sharing the gospel with whoever they can get to voluntarily attend their churches.

“Please read this entire textbook before the end of the year. Due to insufficient funds, you will not have a teacher for this class…” Unfortunately, as Swarthmore’s Colin Purrington points out, this entire debacle will serve not only to inspire uninformed debate, but also to bring financial strife to the school district:

But it’s really too bad the Cobb County school district, the loser in the decision, now has to pay the rather large legal fees, sucking valuable assets away from school budgets. To cover the expected revenue shortfall, and to avoid tax increases in Cobb County, perhaps Marjorie Rogers (the Creationist who started the whole mess) can extract donations from the 2,300 supporters who signed her original petition that objected to evolution instruction. Just an idea.

Something tells me that I’d really like knowing Professor Purrington, whose gift ideas for science teachers include body armor (“Great for making presentations to backwards school boards, but light enough for daily use in the classroom.”) and unprotected sex (“If your kid’s teacher is single, set him or her up with another clear-thinking breeder and tell them to have lots of kids”).


RSS in unexpected places that make sense.

The Seattle Public Library is replacing its catalog with a system that offers RSS feeds. Keep track of your items out or keep on top of your favorite authors. Excellent. I’ve been considering putting together something like this for my Hennepin County Library account but have been too lazybusy. If I lived in Seattle, I wouldn’t have to! (via Digital Web)

Not sure where I learned this, but offers RSS for its catalog entries. Let’s say you’re keeping an eye on prices for Andy Hertzfeld’s new book, which has the URL Tack on “.xml” to that URL and you’ve got yourself an RSS feed.


Word of the Day


An explanation of why that’s my word for the day will have to wait a bit.


Church and State

I just heard two coworkers bitching and moaning about complaints against Tom DeLay’s reading at a Congressional prayer service. In particular, they were decrying the notion of separation of church and state, which they say is nowhere in the Constitution. Ah, literalists. It’s not quite that simple. And it totally misses the point.

It hit me that this may just be something we hear a lot more: an attack on the very notion of the separation of church and state because it “isn’t in the Constitution.”


SQL Injection By Example

Via OWASP, a very nice primer on SQL injection.


The Norm is Back

The Norm Faithful readers of The Norm will have noticed that it disappeared from newspapers a few months back. Michael Jantze, the strip’s creator, decided to call it quits. It was a sad day.

But he’s back! Jantze is making The Norm available on his web site to subscribers. Beyond my excitement about being able to read new strips, I’ll be interested to see how this business model works out.

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