Friday, October 21, 2016

Probably Wrong Mac Pro prediction

I am probably wrong but I wanna get credit if I am right. Hence this post.

I don't think we are getting a new Mac Pro.

Instead, I have two thoughts.

1)  Apple introduces new prosumer apps on the iPad and Mac that leverage cloud computing to speed up computations.  There are already apps that do similar things, the iTunes store sorta works this way, as does Siri (or at least it used to, not sure if it still does).  This way, every single Mac and iPad out there becomes the "Pro" model.

2) Introduce the new Mac mini as a beefed up "thin client" (thick client?), the job of which is mainly to connect to cloud servers that again speedup computations.  This requires some more software magic than I understand but I think it is workable in theory.  There is no reason the Mac mini, with up to date hardware, couldn't be a competitive computer.  It has a cute form factor and space to put in decent parts.

Why would Apple do this, well Amazon and Msft have done well in this space, and it makes them a lot of money. It's more portable.  I really don't think Apple wants to be in the brick that sits on your desk all the time business anymore. This is a solution that can be applied to every computer they have.

The biggest hitch here is latency and privacy, since alot of information would have to be sent to Apple's servers.  Privacy can be handled through encryption, though I am not sure how efficiently this would work.

Monday, October 10, 2016


I've defended Samsung copying Apple's designs in the past but this just takes the cake and is idefensible (I feel like Paul Ryan).

New Samsung Pro

The other stuff they copied were at least Apple's good ideas.  When you copy something that is logical but someone else did first, at least you can claim it was a tried and true design and so why not deviate from something you know works.  But when you copy bad design, it just makes it blatantly obvious that you are copying for the sake of copying.

The evolution of my musical taste (part 1)

I've had this idea for a series of blog posts for a long time and I've had some small mentions, but I want to get the whole thing done.
What I want to do is cover the major evolutionary moments of my musical taste.  This is going to be the punctuated equilibrium version.  By that I mean that I will not review every single band I ever listened to liked, and some of these bands or songs might not even end up being ones I still listen to or even liked very much, but they are the ones that moved the course of my musical taste the most.  Where did I start, where do I end up?  What were the turning points?

I think an appropriate place to start would be around age 12, when I got my first walkman.  (technically that is cassette player, as walkman is trademarked by sony, but whatever).  Until then, all the music I ever really listened to was what was on mainstream radio.  I really liked a lot of this stuff, at the time it was grunge and early adult alternative (which was grunge for people who were afraid of loud music).  But before the walkman, I had no real control over what music I was listening to.  It's hard to have real tentpole musical tastes when you are just getting whatever is coming over the radio.

I had only a few tapes, so I listened to them a lot.  But that just bred familiarity a lot of those songs never really grabbed me even though I enjoyed them.  I think the one tape that really was a first tentpole worth mentioning on this list was some recordings I made from a Simon and Garfunkle CD.  One of the first songs I ever loved was the Sounds of Silence.

What did I like about this song?  Hmm, it's a minor key song, starts with some simple triads. It sounds sad and mysterious, but somehow warm.  It's a song that's going to make you sad but it's going to be ok.

Then the first lyric, "Hello Darkness my old friend"  What a great opening line!  You are drawn into the song right away.  As the song builds, strains of major keys come into the bridge, but never quite make it.  It has a great repetition structure.

Where this song put me on the musical plane.  It's a mature song. It's not in a major key.  It isn't the sappy stuff you usually hear in pop music.  It isn't about love or being in love, or wanting to party.  Considering where I ended up musically, I think those were big factors.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Advice to new teachers

I am a wise old veteran of two years, and as such I feel qualified to give advice.

Here is my advice.

Find your own voice as a teacher, don't try too hard to emulate the teachers around you.  Find what works for you, and get good at that.

Observe good teachers, see what they are doing, feel free to borrow their techniques as needed, but recognize that not every technique works for everyone and that not all techniques are needed for each class.

Don't beat yourself up if things don't go well, but recognize that this is a sign that things in your classroom need to change.  That change starts with you.

Don't give up on a technique or practice too early, some of them take a bit to learn well and for students to get used to.

Your supervisors don't expect you to be a brilliant teacher right away but they do expect you to be receptive to criticism and to be willing to work at becoming a brilliant teacher.

Lastly, "Know your students"---quoted from the teacher at my alternate route course whose named I totally can't remember, but maybe it will come to me.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Using Agile Mind on a Phone

Agile mind is not supported on smart phone but I have gotten it to work reasonably well.  It is still kind of buggy.

The trick is to use the Chrome mobile web browser, and then click on the settings options in the upper right corner (the three vertical dots) and click request desktop site.

This isn't perfect but for students without a computer, it is better than nothing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Putting effort into the wrong solutions

T.G.I Friday's is revamping its signature look by removing "Flair" from the walls of their restaurants.  They claim this is going to help them compete with restaurants like Chipotle, which have a cleaner more industrial look. This move will also help them save about $20,000 dollars for new franchises that won't have to buy all the novelty items.

This is the a textbook example of ignoring the real problem by tackling one that is either minor (or sometimes not even real) because it is easier.  I've watched many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and eaten in plenty of restaurants and if there is one thing I agree with, it's Gordon Ramsay's notion that the number one reason people enjoy and keep coming to to a restaurant is the food. It seems almost silly to even point this out, yet episode after episode of Kitchen Nightmares, as in T.G.I Fridays, show people desperate to change anything about their restaurants except the food.

Are there really people out there having this conversation in their heads:  "Hey let's go to Fridays!", "No way, there's all that crap on the wall, let's go to Chipotle and admire their exposed ductwork"
Maybe this could happen between two interior design grad students...but I doubt it's happening very often.

So why did Fridays do this? It was probably just easier or less expensive than any other fix they could think of.  And this is a very human trait.  I do this all the time.  Sometimes the right choice is not even harder physically, just mentally.  Take clutter for example. Physically, there's not much easier than just throwing something into a trashcan, and we know this can have it's own positive feeling of accomplishment.  But we also know that throwing out something we have a nostalgic attachment to can be one of the toughest things in the world.

So I've been trying to figure out how to sum up this idea in a neat pithy package.  It's something I could put ona classroom poster. Something like,  "Do it the best way, not the easiest way"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Using Linux Subsystem for windows as an ssh server

I want to eventually get to use the Linux subsystem for windows to act as a vpn server, but as a warmup I tried to get it to act as an ssh server.  I tried the most obvious steps and ran into some trouble, but google helped me out. I found this article which discusses a few technical details that you need to be aware of and how to fix them.

And then I used this to setup my RSA keys.

Now I can run an ssh server through Linux through windows, all using stuff built into Windows.  Weird, but it works.

Next stop, going to use this tutorial to try to setup the vpn.  It's intended for Raspeberry Pi computers so I will have to modify it, and I am not sure if I need to vary my ssh config, but I will learn as a go. This is more about the learning experience than actually needed to get any of this stuff to work anyway.

Note to self, tried the thing, got stuck on step ten because ipv4 forwarding is not implemented yet.