Archive for the 'computing' Category


How to Fix a Nonresponsive Smartboard

Teachers! If your Smartboard has trouble tracking your position, especially in only certain areas of the board, and doing a calibration doesn’t work for you, try this:

Take a 3×5 index card (or other thin, stiff paper product,) slide it between the board surface and the bottom frame, and slide it completely across, left to right or right to left. I think this removes accumulated dirt, skin cells, etc., and may make your board responsive again.

Good luck!


Fear of FAIL… and Why We Need to Screw Up More Often

I’m inspired by a fantastic piece up over at Ars Technica that I just read.  Matthew Lasar, the author, offers a three-page rogue’s gallery of lesser-known inventors and innovators in telecommunications.  All of them failed to capitalize on their discoveries, usually because they were a few decades ahead of their time.

Here’s the article.  (Clicky Readey)

As a teacher, what strikes me the most about this is the alarming trend in child rearing and education to shield a kid’s purportedly fragile self-esteem from the “crushing” experience of failure.

Parents, fellow teachers, and other responsible, compassionate adults reading this: please hear me.  It is MUCH more important that a child learn how to fail and learn from the failure than it is for them to experience success.  To fail to do so is to produce a person with an inflated ego due to an overestimation of his or her own abilities, and to whom the entire concept of “trial and error” is an alien thing.

Perhaps worse still, you deprive them of the thrill of success that only truly comes after repeated, failing attempts.

So let them bump their heads, skin their knees, fail a school paper or project, or even an entire class.  Then be there to help show them the most important part of the process: how to dust yourself off, clean up the blood, accept the natural consequences of your choices, and ultimately try, try again.


URGENT!! Crayon Physics Deluxe “Pay-What-You-Want” SALE!!


Teachers! I’m talking to YOU TOO.

It’s only good until the 15th of January, so HURRY!!!!


Outstanding Essay – Bittersweet Christmas Morning

This comes courtesy of Julian Murdoch (a.k.a. “Rabbit”), member and regular contributor to Gamers With Jobs — a site (and podcast) I frequent since I decided to outgrow the bathroom humor inherent in so many other video gaming communities.

Click and read this.  Now.

Mr. Murdoch has a good ten years on me, but we’re hitting several balls in the same park.  It’s a hard thing when a lifelong hobby and love of mine tends to be equated with immaturity.  It’s refreshing to encounter other “grown-ups” who aren’t just sad man-children that never really left their early twenties behind, but who can still enjoy “childish things” respectably.  Kudos, Rabbit.


Happy Birthday, Ubuntu!

There’s a great post up at Ars Technica (click) which should answer any nagging “What the heck is JC going on and on about with this Ubuntu thing lately?”  It makes for a good (quick) read if you’re even SLIGHTLY curious.

Still flying Microsoft-free, and still loving it.  You should too.  Seriously.


Almost lost my cool there…

The Great Ubuntu Experiment had a major hiccup today.

I was fiddling around with my video drivers, trying to improve performance for both windowed and fullscreen video playback (mostly divx rips of some DVDs I have) and I somehow end up crippling my video settings, so that they will ONLY display 1024 x 768… on my widescreen monitor.  I HATE having all my stuff look squished, so I did some more fiddling and somehow managed to delete the GUI entirely AND get myself locked out.


I almost did one of two things:  (1) install Vista again, or (2) wipe and reinstall Ubuntu… and lose all the tweaks I’ve been making these last two weeks.

Fortunately, I kept my cool.  This was a puzzle to solve, and I’ll be d*mned if I’m going to wuss out in the face of a geek-problem of this caliber.

Long story short, I managed to figure out a password that would let me back in, boot into recovery mode (which I had forgotten existed,) removed and reinstalled several packages via command-line interface ONLY… and an hour or so later, I’m back to as-good-as-it’s-been.

And that feels good.  Original problem NOT solved, but at least I fixed what I broke in the first place.

Still Windows-free… unless you count using my wife’s laptop to look up all the crap it took to fix stuff.  And I don’t.  Or so I keep telling myself.


Zombie insects! In 3-D!!!!!

This is, without a doubt, the most bizarre thing I have ever seen (next to the births of my three — soon to be four — children.)

CLICK HERE for video.

That’s right, kids.  The army is funding research into HACKING THE BRAINS OF INSECTS!!

This reminds me of the zombie cockroach story I read a few years back (link).  Now if only someone could figure out how to mount frickin’ laser beams to their little heads…


How to handle internet scammers: the Powerbook prank

I found this linked from a picture at Ars Technica.

CLICK HERE to read a somewhat PG-13 rated account of one man’s quest to stick it to a London scammer.  Hilarious.  We should ALL be so smart when it comes to dealing with this kind of crooked crap.


Forgive me, mighty geek gods!

My God... what have I done?

"My God... what have I done?"

I deleted my Ubuntu partition this morning, and gave the space back to Vista.  There are a whole host of reasons I did this, most of which I don’t care to go into detail about here.  But it’s done.

I really, REALLY like Ubuntu, and some day soon I’ll switch over completely from Windows.

For now though, I’ll just run with the rest of the sheep.  Baa, I say.  Baa.

Here’s how I did it. Fortunately, I already had EasyBCD installed, so restoring the Vista bootloader was a breeze.

I hope I can sleep tonight.


Did McAfee expire on you too? I have good news…

For those of you who, like me, received your laptop about one year ago, you may have noticed that your McAfee antivirus/security center subscription has now expired. That means no more updates to the virus database (and frequent, ANNOYING reminders of this from the program itself) unless you pony up the cash to resubscribe.

HOWEVER, there is a better (read: “cheaper”) way.

You can do like I did and uninstall McAfee entirely, and replace it with a good FREE antivirus program, like PC Tools Antivirus.

Here’s how you do it:  First, download the official McAfee program uninstaller.  (Click HERE.) Double-click to run it.  WARNING: this will entirely remove your McAfee protection and leave you exposed to viruses until you activate a new virus program.  Don’t choose NOW to go surfing. Reboot when you are prompted to do so.

At this point, Windows will probably tell you that you aren’t protected because you MAY not have antivirus software installed. :mrgreen:

Next, download your free program of choice.  I recommend PC Tools Antivirus, as it runs well on my system, and takes up very few resources… in essence, it runs faster and slimmer than McAfee EVER did, and slows things down a lot less.  Click HERE to download it. Double click the installer once it finishes downloading, and follow the easy prompts it gives you to install it.

Protection begins immediately.  I recommend hitting the SCAN NOW button when you see it pop up.

Now you’re all set!  Happy safe surfing!

Many thanks to the How-To GeekHere is his article on PC Tools Antivirus. He also recently profiled several other FREE security software packages, so you can find one that suits you.

The random musings of a 30-something, West Texas high-school science teacher. Hoo-RAY.
August 2020


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