Dealing with a PC Crash

               So … I haven’t been keeping up with my weekly posts here, and I thought I had a good excuse in that my home office computer has gone kaput on me. I’ve had that happen to me before of course, and like so many other people out there, I don’t regularly back up my files. It’s true. I am guilty of not being extra diligent with my digital data. That is not to say that I’ve lost everything.

               I was not completely deliquent in protecting my information because even though I don‘t regularly back up my computer, I have developed some other habits to make sure that my most important work is saved somewhere. I have around a dozen CDs loaded with most of my photos, word files, and other digital documents, but I hadn’t updated those files in about six months. I also have three thumb drives where I regularly store important (and lengthy or complicated) documents that I may be working on. That means I’ve probably lost anything I’ve done in the last six months, which I didn‘t save on those little drives. Even this doesn’t worry me much though, because so much of my day to day information is actually stored somewhere other than my personal computer, I am not freaking out. Take this blog, for example.

               Everything that I’ve written and posted to this site for the last two plus years, is stored on WordPress computers, so none of this information is lost. All of my AOL e-mail (yes, I still have an AOL account) and my school e-mail is still intact, as are any documents I’ve saved on Google documents through my Gmail account. As for the rest of my digital life, so much of it happens through my browser, hopping from site to site, visiting places that only exist in the electronic ether world, that all I need is a basic computer that is connected to the web. (My son kindly loaned me his laptop so I could post this message, and my time is almost up).

               As for my software, the truth is that I may still have the discs somewhere in the house, but I probably don’t have the key codes for reinstalling the software. Fortunately, most of the software I use is available online for free. I haven’t bought a copy of MS Office suite in years because Open offers a powerful and comparable product. I also use GIMP and Paint.NET instead of the more powerful professional product offered by Photo Shop. The real pain for me when my computer goes down is the repair costs and the time lost waiting for the repairs. (And having to give back the computer so quickly).

               I am working on having my own computer up and running again soon, and posting regularly. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the burgeoning spring and that you find something worthwhile to do with your time.

FIND OF THE WEEK: Here is Time Magazine’s top 50 sites for 2009. You’ll find many familiar names like Google, Flikr and Facebook there, along with some other undiscovered gems. My favorite is “Know Your Meme”, where the “scientists” at a fake institute explain what’s funny on the web, and why. (Like I need to tell you what’s funny.)

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.



Print periodicals that still matter

Or what I learned at the newstand this week …

               By now most of the younger generation is used to getting its news and information almost exclusively electronically, via the internet, television or even radio. This radical shift in how people consume and access information has already rung the bell marking the “end” of print newspapers. Magazines and journals, however, because of how they are marketed and sold, have so far staved off most of the difficulties that have hit the newspapers. Journals and other print magazines have also created a digital presence online, however, to adapt to the needs of this younger generation, and I recommend that students and teachers take advantage of the articles and resources available.

               Even though so much is available online, I’ve been trying to expand the number of academic journals that we subscribe to in the LMC in an effort to give teachers access to current information that can use for their own professional development. The kinds of articles that you find in these print resources are usually available online for a limited time, and then you have to pay a subscription fee to access them in full form from the publisher’s database. These are the three journals that we currently subscribe to, along with a brief description lifted from their sites:

  • The History Teacher, published quarterly by the Society for History Education: The History Teacher, currently in its 43rd volume, is the most widely recognized journal in the United States devoted to the teaching of history. Published quarterly (released in November, February, May, and August), it features informative and inspirational peer-reviewed analyses of traditional and innovative teaching techniques in the primary, secondary, and higher education classroom. My recommended read for the latest issue is “Assessment Strategies for a History Exam, or, Why Short-Answer Questions are Better than In-Class Essays”, by Alexander Maxwell. (not available online).
  • The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy: is the only literacy journal published exclusively for teachers of older learners. Each issue offers practical, classroom-tested ideas grounded in research and theory. Whether you work with new, struggling, or skilled readers, you’ll find something of interest in JAAL. Interesting read from last quarter’s publication is , “’I’m Not Stupid’: How Assessment Drives (In)Appropriate Reading Instruction.” Full text is only available for subscribers, but he have the print copy in the LMC if you’re interested.
  • Journal of Research on Technology in Education (JRTE): ISTE’s Journal of Research on Technology in Education (JRTE) features the most relevant research on instructional uses of educational technology from around the globe. This peer-reviewed journal includes topics ranging from original research to theoretical positions and systems analysis. JRTE, highly respected for examining and exploring the future horizons of technology developments for teaching and learning, is delivered quarterly. Recommended read in the current article is “Learning History in Middle School by Designing Multimedia in a Project-Based Learning Experience” by Pedro Hernández-Ramos and Susan De La Paz. You can download the whole article in PDF form and read it at your leisure.

               While the professional journals above are aimed at teachers and other educators, I also find that some popular magazines are a great source of information for the classroom. We subscribe to all of the magazines below, and their websites offer more resources such as audio and video that could be used in planning a lesson. Another bonus with these sites is that they are reputable, well-written, edited and usually contain all the necessary information for proper MLA or APA citation.

  • Scientific American: A popular science magazine that keeps its audience in mind. The articles are well written and are often accompanied by great graphics that help illustrate complex ideas. My pick for the good read in the latest issue is “The Brain’s Dark Energy”. 
  • Discover Magazine: Another great popular science magazine that understands how to use good writing and great graphics to tell the stories of wonder that science reveals. The Discover Magazine website is not laid out to correspond exactly with the magazine, opting instead to act more like a traditional home page, mixing current articles and features, with links to “best of lists” and other specialty areas. In my limited use of the Discover Magazine online archive, I found that I could access many full articles without being a subscriber or even registering. The database goes back to 1992, providing free access to almost 20 years of reviews, reports and full articles. My recommended read on the site is “Scientists Sequence DNA From the Teeming Bacterial Universe in Your Guts”. Enjoy. 
  • Boston Magazine: I highly recommend that our students and teachers check out the magazine that focuses on our state’s biggest and most important city. As a New York transplant, I understand how important civic pride is; plus there is usually a good recommendation for a great restaurant and play that you might not otherwise discover. My favorite read on the website is the book excerpt by Harry Markopolos, Investigating Bernie Madoff, which recounts how the author (a local boy) figured out back in 1999 that Madoff was a fraud; but no one would listen.

That should be enough for a week. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find something useful.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.