Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology and other Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague

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Happy Birthday Typewriter June 23

This is what 146 years old looks like!

red typewriterOn June 23 1868, the first typewriter was patented by Christopher Latham Sholes. It only had capital letters and it took up as much room as a large table. Typewriters were slow sellers at first, but Mark Twain bought one almost as soon as they came out, and in 1883 Twain sent the manuscript of his book Life on the Mississippi (1883) to his publisher in typed form, the first author ever to do so.

Source: The Writer’s Almanac

Typewriter Picture Source

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Weekend Ed. Quote~May 31~Copyright

Nothing is more properly a man’s own than the fruit of his study, and the protection and security of literary property would greatly tend to encourage genius and to promote useful discoveries. ~the Continental Congress  Source

This quote is appropriate today because it was on this day in 1790 that George Washington signed the first copyright law. Copyright was a bi-product of the wide-spread use of the printing press and a growing literacy among the public. In England, copyright became necessary at the beginning of the 18th century in reaction to the printers’ monopolies. The Statute of Anne in 1710 was the first real copyright law and its principles transferred to the growing U.S. colonies.

Annae ReginaToday teachers refer often to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literary Education. It’s a good idea for educators to take the opportunity to model the real-world permissions process” and explore with students the distinction between material that should be licensed, material that is in the public domain or otherwise openly available, and copyrighted material that is subject to fair use.  

Copyright has been a source of murky heebey-jeebey-ness. And that is just the technical term!

Here is a great link to an interactive quiz about copyright from CyberBee that I use with students of all ages to help clarify copyright issues.  http://www.cyberbee.com/cb_copyright.swf. Secondarily, though I do not like the inelegant title of this slideshare, it includes valuable information http://sco.lt/5r7Tu5

If you have additional resources to add to our collective resources, might you add them here? 

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More Weekend Ed. Quotes

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today is Dr. Seuss‘ birthday (books by this author). He was born Theodor Geisel, in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. His mother read bedtime stories to him every night. He’s the author of more than 60 children’s books, including Horton Hears a Who! (1954), One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1960), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Hop on Pop (1963), Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975), The Butter
Battle Book
(1984), and of course, The Cat in the Hat (1957) which uses just 220 different words.  His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which he said was inspired by the rhythms of a steamliner cruiser on which he rode.

Seuss was actually his mother’s maiden name and he took it as a pen name when writing for the Dartmouth campus magazine. Garrison Keillor writes interestingly of this time in Dr. Seuss’ life in The Writer’s Almanac. Keillor describes Seuss’ writing style as “rhyming anapestic meter, also called trisyllabic meter.”

“The meter is very alluring and catchy, and Seuss’s masterful use of it is a big part of why his books are so enjoyable to read. The meter is made up of two weak beats followed by a stressed syllable — da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM da da DUM, as in “And today the Great Yertle, that Marvelous he / Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.”

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

from Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac

 

 

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A DNA Anniversary

An important technology milestone occurs tomorrow, but in the frenzy of Valentine’s Day today it may go unnoticed.

DNAThirteen years ago tomorrow, February 15 the Nature journal published a draft of our DNA,  the human genome. Known for its two twisted molecular strands, DNA is the schematic of all life. The entire human genome sequence, called the Human Genome Project was completed in April 2003.

The human gene sequence, first explained in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick is available to anyone through textbooks and on the Internet. Its availability is not under patent protection because of a provision enacted in 2000 by President Bill Clinton.  A Science Odyssey, published by PBS has excellent classroom units and activities related to Watson, Crick and their work with DNA sequencing. See the DNA workshop for a classroom simulation activity (requires the shockwave plug-in).

All living things have genes that potentially can be mapped. Humans have between 20,000- 30,000 genes. Like a fingerprint, every person’s DNA sequence is unique. However, great advancements in healing and cures are possible if common genes can be found between people with different diseases and hereditary conditions. The International HapMap Project continues research to create a database of gene similarities shared by diseases such as various cancers, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and many more.  According to King, Rotter, et al. common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, psychiatric illnesses and inflammatory diseases are caused by combinations of multiple genetic and environmental factors (1).

Largely because of technology’s role in DNA sequencing and the human genome projects, biotech companies and biotech research flourishes. Bioethicists address the ethical issues surrounding DNA testing and sequence mapping which may lend itself to discriminatory practices if left unprotected. The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications program, formed in 1990, continues to consider.

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1. King, R. A., Rotter, J. I. & Motulsky, A. G. The Genetic Basis of Common Diseases Vol. 20 (eds Motulsky, A. G., Harper, P. S., Scriver, C. & Bobrow, M.) (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 1992)

For more information, see Garrison Keillor’s essay in The Writer’s Almanac.

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A Mouse Memorial

 

Happy Birthday computer mouseWith the busy, pre-holiday shopping of your weekend, you may have missed the birthday yesterday of the computer mouse.

On November 18, 1970, Douglas Engelbart received a patent for the first computer mouse, while working at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Having first conceptualized the idea in the decade of the 1960s, he wanted to develop easy, intuitive ways for people to interact with technology.

Garrison Keillor, quotes Englebart as saying, in “We had a big heavy tracking ball, it was like a cannonball,” he said in a 2001 BBC interview. “We had several gadgets that ended up with pivots you could move around. We had a light panel you had to hold up right next to the screen so the computer could see it. And a joystick that you wiggle around to try to steer things.” Engelbart first demonstrated his “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System” in 1968. It was a wooden shell over two metal wheels, and his team had been informally calling the small, boxy device a “mouse” in the lab, because the cord resembled a mouse’s tail.

Garrison Keillor, writes in The Writer’s Almanac that “Englebart never received any royalties, and SRI ended up licensing the mouse to Apple for a mere $40,000. He was disappointed, but not because he lost out on the money. ‘It’s strange because I’ve had my eye set on something way beyond that. It’s sort of a disappointment that the world and I haven’t yet got further,’ he said in 2001.”

Today, raise your mouse in Englebart’s honor!

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Picture Source

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Happy Birthday Google!

happy birthdayHappy Birthday, Google, first incorporated as a company on September 4, 1998. Google was born in the Stanford dorm rooms of two Ph.D. students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They wrote the search engine code with the distinctive difference of website relevance. Page and Brin’s program code computed and sorted how many times a website matching the search term was linked to other relevant websites. Google, a mathematical term meaning infinity was added in 2006 to the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb.

 

Source: The Writer’s Almanac

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Today in history-U.S. Declaration of Independence

bald eagleToday–August 2– is the anniversary of the official signing of the Declaration of Independence, 1776. It was introduced as a resolution by Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia on June 7, 1776 — a resolution that said, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”

Thomas Jefferson traveled more than 300 miles from his home in Virginia to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He was appointed to a committee — along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and others — to write a declaration based on Lee’s resolution. Jefferson did the writing: four pages in four days.

Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on the cool, sunny morning of July 4 in Philadelphia.

On July 6, the first newspaper version of the Declaration appeared in the Pennsylvania Evening Post. The Declaration was read publicly in Philadelphia on July 8, and on the next day, Washington ordered that his own copy be read to the American army in New York. Ten days later, Congress ordered the Declaration officially inscribed and signed by members.

Twenty-four original copies of the Declaration of Independence are known to exist. Two are kept in the Library of Congress, one of them Washington’s personal copy.

Source: The Writer’s Almanac

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This Day in History, May 14: Departure Day for Lewis and Clark

Here is an example of using historical data to teach to the Common Core Skills.

This excerpt is from Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac for May 14, 2013. Numbers will appear beside every curricular juncture indicating a classroom infusion activity. All number are listed at the bottom of the excerpt.

It was on this day in 1804 that Lewis and Clark departed on their journey. Even though this was the official start date of the trip, it had taken years of preparation. (1)

Thomas Jefferson had been trying to send explorers to the American West for years. Back in 1785, when he was the Ambassador to France, Jefferson met a man named Ledyard. (2)  who had been born in Connecticut, wandered all over the East Coast, sailed with Captain Cook in the South Pacific, and ended up in Paris. Jefferson wanted to send Ledyard to explore out West, and they worked out an intricate plan for him to get to the West Coast via Russia. But the trip was a disaster — Ledyard walked 1,200 miles through Scandinavia and the Artic Circle, and managed to travel through most of Russia before an angry Catherine the Great had him captured and deported, so he took off for Africa, where he soon died. A few years later, in 1793, Jefferson was secretary of state, and he decided to try again. He organized an expedition under the charge of a French botanist and explorer named André Michaux, who wanted to travel from the Missouri River all the way to the Pacific. Eighteen-year-old Meriwether Lewis asked Thomas Jefferson to let him join Michaux’s expedition, but Jefferson said no. (3, 4) Unfortunately, the new French Minister to America, Edmond-Charles Genet, was scheming to increase hostilities between America and Spain, and Michaux ended up involved in the plot, and the expedition fell apart.

The third time around, Jefferson planned even more carefully. (5) He had now known Meriwether Lewis for years, and Lewis was his trusted private secretary, so Jefferson suggested that Lewis lead the trip. In January of 1803, Jefferson sent a secret letter to Congress to ask if they would fund an expedition — at a cost of $2,500. (6) They agreed, and Jefferson sent Lewis to learn the skills he would need from the best teachers — he studied surveying and mapmaking, botany, mathematics, anatomy, fossils, and medicine, each with an esteemed scholar. For his co-leader, Lewis chose William Clark, his former commanding officer in the army.

Lewis and Clark spent the winter before they departed near St. Louis at Camp Dubois, on the Mississippi River. (7) They gathered supplies, recruited more people, and in the final days, packed the boats. They had a long supply list, which included 25 hatchets, 10.5 pounds of fishing hooks and fishing lines, 12 pounds of soap, three bushels of salt, 45 flannel shirts, 15 pairs of wool overalls, 176 pounds of gunpowder, 130 rolls of tobacco and 4,600 sewing needles (the tobacco and needles were gifts for Native people they would encounter), a microscope, a telescope, two sextants, 15 .54-caliber rifles, and 50 dozen Dr. Rush’s patented “Rush’s Thunderclapper” pills — a laxative whose two main ingredients were mercury and jalapeños. (8, 9, 10) They fit all this and much more into three boats: one was a 55-foot Keelboat, a riverboat (11) that could be sailed, rowed, or poled; and two were pirogues, smaller flat-bottomed boats that were similar to big canoes, one painted red and one white.

Activities:

1.) Freewrite: Students freewrite on “A Time When You Made a Plan and Pursued It”
2.) Sequence of Events-Begin a timeline for the dates leading up to the exhibition.
3.) Historical Research/Biography
4.) Writing from a style guide (writing numbers in a sentence)
5.) Freewrite, Citing historical evidence: Students freewrite on “Mistakes are part of every effective plan”
6.) Short research: Research what $2500 would buy in today’s currency. What would an exhibition of this magnitude cost today?
7.) Geography: Plot locations on a map/Google Earth
8.) Technology: organizing items effectively in a list/Excel.
9.) Reading for Context Clues/Analyzing/Critical Thinking: Analyze the supply list. Determine the reasoning for the type and number of amounts included. For example: Why was there more gunpowder packed than food items? Why were tobacco and needles packed? Why were they considered gifts?
10.) Reading for Context Clues/Predicting/Research: What were “Rush’s Thunderclapper” pills? Why were mercury and jalapenos used in them? Would either ingredient be used today? What other home remedies were popular during the 1800’s?
11.) Short Research: Search for more information on Riverboats? Why were they used by Lewis and Clark? Are they still in use today?

 

What other activities would you include?

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Happy Birthday Steve Jobs

February 25, 2013: Today would have been the 58th birthday of Steve Jobs.

He co-founded Apple Computers, and in a commercial during the Super Bowl in January 1984 he unveiled the Macintosh. The commercial was filled with allusions to George Orwell’s 1984. The Macintosh was the first small computer to catch on with the public that used a graphical user interface, or GUI (sometimes pronounced “gooey”). In the past, computers were run by text-based interfaces, which meant that a person had to type in textual commands or text labels to navigate their computers. But with a graphical user interface, people could simply click on icons instead of typing in hard-to-remember, precise text commands. He said his goal in computers was to “create a bicycle for the mind.”

The graphic user interface revolutionized computers, and it’s on almost all computers today. It’s on a whole lot of other devices as well, like fancy vending machines and digital household appliances and photocopying machines and airport check-in kiosks. And graphical user interface is what’s used with iPods and iPhones. The Writer’s Almanac

If you are reading this post on a laptop, iPad, iPhone, or other computer, thank Steve Jobs.

http://activehappiness.com/category/quick-tips/

Image Source: http://activehappiness.com/category/quick-tips/

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Happy Birthday Serendipity

http://buckontech.blogspot.com/2012/11/social-media-and-power-of-serendipity.html

Happy Birthday Serendipity!

It was on this day (January 28) in 1754 that the word “serendipity” was first coined. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” It was recently listed by a U.K. translation company as one of the English language’s 10 most difficult words to translate. * *Other words to make their list include plenipotentiary, gobbledegook, poppycock, whimsy, spam, and kitsch.

“Serendipity” was first used by parliament member and writer Horace Walpole in a letter that he wrote to an English friend who was spending time in Italy. In the letter to his friend written on this day in 1754, Walpole wrote that he came up with the word after a fairy tale he once read, called “The Three Princes of Serendip,” explaining, “as their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” The three princes of Serendip hail from modern-day Sri Lanka. “Serendip” is the Persian word for the island nation off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka.

The invention of many wonderful things have been attributed to “serendipity,” including Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Charles Goodyear’s vulcanization of rubber, inkjet printers, Silly Putty, the Slinky, and chocolate chip cookies.

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin after he left for vacation without disinfecting some of his petri dishes filled with bacteria cultures; when he got back to his lab, he found that the penicillium mold had killed the bacteria.

Viagra had been developed to treat hypertension and angina pectoris; it didn’t do such a good job at these things, researchers found during the first phase of clinical trials, but it was good for something else.

The principles of radioactivity, X-rays, and infrared radiation were all found when researchers were looking for something else.

Technology brings out all sorts of situations of serendipity. Hope you discover some today!

Read More: Social media and The Power of Serendipity

Information Source: The Writer’s Almanac, Garrison Keillor
Image Source

 

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