June 13, 2001

Life with a PDA

I've done it—started on a two-week trip without a laptop to do work on. I thought about the data I could analyze (look at the archives) and then rethought the move, for several reasons (risk and weight being two important ones). So I left the number-crunching for when I get back and took my PDA from work, its keyboard, and a module to backup the data during the trip. During the plane flight to California, I rounded out two short pieces that (with some luck and time) will be part of a book manuscript that develops over the next year. It's too late to work more on it tonight (well, too late for me to work competently at it, for while it's 10 pm here in California, my brain tells me I'm typing at 1 am in Tampa).

I am a skeptic of technology for its own sake, but there are a few items I adore for what they can do. The ensemble I now have with me is light, small, and does more than the T1000 laptop I carried around to take notes at archives when I was in graduate school. Wireless PDAs are a little silly, to me, but I converted two of my colleagues to the PDA+keyboard idea this summer. Mine saved my life schedule-wise before the folding keyboards came out.

Of course, one still cannot write a blog entry from my PDA. So I borrow the computers of others.

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Posted in Random comments at 1:00 AM (Permalink) |

June 7, 2001

Saving my life

I'm waiting here in a computer lab at the USF College of Education while a CD-ROM R/W drive writes all my workfiles to disk. I've been having problems using my backup facility, so I zipped my files up, sent them to my server-based directory, went here this morning, unzipped them, transferred them to the CD-ROM, and am now waiting for the drive to reorganize the directory so it's readable by CD-ROM drives. Ah, there it goes. Long process—I started about an hour ago. But this is quite important (see the title above), as anyone who has lost files can well testify. I also should be able to do some number-crunching while on a trip for two weeks June 12-26, because I downloaded a dataset for a project to the CD-ROM.

I'm also waiting for a device whereby I can backup my Palm files while I'm away from the desktop. My colleagues on a grant have a Visor with a backup device, and I envy them. So I'm getting one before our trip out west.

I suppose I should also note a real-life incident that justifies the title. Sunday, while we (my family) were driving to the Albuquerque airport from a memorial service near Santa Fe, New Mexico, a driver in the middle lane didn't see our car in the left lane and started to move over. I saw it barely in time, swerved half off the pavement, and honked. Since both cars were traveling at 55 mph or more, that would have been a very dangerous collision. Incidents like that and the memorial service put worklife in perspective.

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Posted in Random comments at 10:43 AM (Permalink) |

June 5, 2001

Posing as Expert

Yesterday, a reporter from WCPN public radio in Cleveland asked me if I'd be willing to be interviewed on-air tomorrow morning about the Ohio testing system. Ohio's state department of education released some test results last week, and I gather the station will run a story summarizing them and then asking me some questions. I've been interviewed a few times by journalists, and it's one of the public services academics do (in addition to the ego-boost and minimal public attention).

The trick for preparation is to draft some short questions you think a journalist might ask and then think about your answers. It's much like guessing questions that would be on a final exam, except your answers on the exam are not read or heard by thousands of people. I have my "cheat sheet" on my desk right now.

I'm also revising the article manuscript that the History of Education Quarterly has accepted for publication (next year, probably in the fall). I've tried to make the first few paragraphs more readable.

Between two trips last week and the two-week trip starting June 12, I have a lot to do this week, playing catch-up and getting the ball rolling before I leave town.

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Posted in Research at 3:36 PM (Permalink) |