After House by Micheal Phillip Cash

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After House

Tuesday
Jul212015

Most of you have ventured forward into the digital age. Instead of great binders filled with aging photographs you have digital pictures stored on some kind of computer or phone. Many of you will also copy those files off to a thumb drive or other form of removable media for safe keeping. Some of you even realize that thumb drive only protects you from computer failure, not burglary, fire, flood or other catastrophe in your dwelling. A token few of you will subscribe to some kind of cloud based automated backup system because they have come down in price and you really don't want to lose some things. Whatever method you choose, be it fire resistant safe, one of the methods mentioned already, or something else entirely, you do so because you believe you have some level of responsibility when it comes to preserving things you either need or cherish.

Who is responsible for backing up the human race? What should be backed up? How should it be preserved? Have any of you asked these questions? 

There was a time, not all that long ago, when these questions were asked at very high levels. Before the United States government went off spending hideous amounts of money on pointless wars just to make a few people rich, scientists had funding and a plan. Not some super secret Area 51 type plan. Every one of us heard about it and very few thought about what it really was. The Lunar Colonization Plan wasn't just a bunch of scientific experiments. It was off-site backup for the human race. Before you go poo-hooing that statement, just remember, we had a mission to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth not because the government needed to manufacture work for scientists, but because we needed a missile which could deliver a nuclear warhead to any spot on the planet.

Why was the American (and probably many other governments) looking to fund an off-planet colony? Human history. Oh, there will be many claims of many other things which have some level of validity, but that world history class we were all supposed to pay attention in is the real reason. Why do we have The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? Put aside the debate about what should and should not be on the list and ask yourself why there is anything to put on the list in the first place? The answer is simple. The human race repeatedly lost the skill and knowledge required to create such things. The human race has been rebooted many times and each time we started from scratch or pretty close to it.

Off-site backup of the human race is coming to the forefront of conversations once again. You might have heard about plans for a Mars colony with a completion date some time in the 2030s. There has also been the success of National Geographic's Doomsday Preppers show. Unless you've been completely tuned out of all news for the past year, you had to have heard about the 2014 Ebola Outbreak and the global panic which followed. You might have forgotten when reputable news organizations ran articles linking The Black Death to an Ebola like virus some years before, but all of those conversations have resurfaced. 

Even if humans don't wipe each other out with a war or cost cutting at a corporation which lets some viral weapon loose, the planet will reboot us. Some natural disaster, be it disease, flood, ice age or some volcano which belches and blocks out the sun for a year, the human race will be rebooted as it has so many times before. 

Not long ago I visited the Evergreen Air & Space Museum and viewed a decommissioned launch center. It was nostalgic for me, having spent over 20 years in software development and consulting.

It is rather scary to think what if all the knowledge of the human race were stored on equipment like this?

People today are all enamored with their phones, the Internet and storing things in “the cloud.” What happens when some disaster takes out the global electrical infrastructure while it is busy removing most humans from the planet? A hospital full of doctors and nurses will be of little use if we no longer have the ability to make even a bottle of aspirin.

The International Space Station isn't really a solution. Yes, we can pack it with disk drives and other forms of storage, but that is much like making a copy of something on a thumb drive. It needs everything in place on Earth in order to be of any use. 

Until we really do get off-site backup for the human race in the form of a self sustaining colony on some other rock in space, we have to solve the “what to back up” and “how to preserve it” questions. We are talking about preservation of the basic knowledge of the human species divorced from religion and creed. Containers which can survive fire, flood and all manner of disaster which have copies of this knowledge need to be scattered around the planet. The information needs to be stored in such a way that a person who never learned to read, or never learned the language the information is written in, can quickly bring themselves up to a 4th Grade reading level. All other information such as the making of simple tools, mining of ores, smelting of metal, making of basic medicines, husbandry of the land, etc. must be written at that 4th Grade level without any words or terms which are beyond that 4th Grade reading level.

In my recent book, John Smith – Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars, one statement by John Smith seems to be striking a chord with readers: “Beginnings, no matter how important they are, get forgotten.” The Great Pyramids of Giza are a mystery for a very simple reason. Cutting and transporting huge stones was such a common skill nobody wrote it down on something which survives today.

 

Roland Hughes is an IT consultant, technical writer, and award winning author. He is the creator and author of the trademarked book series The Minimum You Need to Know as well as several novels. When he isn't busy at a client site he enjoys helping out on the family farm in the Midwest. He does not “do” Twitter or Facebook. He does periodically update his blog though.

Tuesday
Jun302015

How digital and media literacies are woven into a fourth grade class room

As the Internet continues to change and grow, new literacies have emerged which involve the use of digital and media technologies. It is crucial that students are able to comprehend and adapt to these literacy requirements if they are to become successful, productive members of society.

Part of the problem is that many teachers themselves, particularly the older ones, may not have experience with the new literacies that are out there, and thus they are unable to lay the groundwork for their students to transition.Their skills may still be rooted in the old style of literacy teaching which focused on the use of paper and pencil. In order to teach effectively in this day and age they need to be open to new ideas pertaining to the teaching of reading and writing, and aware of the fact that their teaching tools are constantly changing now due to the Internet, and they need to be flexible.  

Expanded literacy experiences

Some of the new literacies are as follows: innovative text formats new and higher reader expectations, and new activities. What all of this translates into is that these new literacies have expanded the usual literacy experiences which remained the same for a long time, and now there is an amazing amount of information available on the Internet; along with search engines which make it possible to swiftly find information, there is also the ability to assess internet sources; improved communication through email, chatting, and texts; and another big change has been in the increased use of word processing programs.

The Internet has prodded educators to meet issues pertaining to new technologies head on and with a swiftness that is alien to them, due to the fact that past technological innovations took much longer to be fully accepted and were not adapted in so many areas at the same time. The power of the Internet comes in part from the fact that it opens the door to the instant sharing of information with only the click of a link. One link and it's done, that's pretty remarkable.  

The role of the internet in today’s schools

What's more, most schools now provide Internet access for their students. This is another contributing factor. Statistics state that in 2005, approximately 95% of K-12 classrooms in the United States had internet access. Plus, 80% of kindergartners use computers and the percentage of children under 9 years old who use the Internet is above 50%. What's strange about all this, and gives pause for thought is the fact that the average amount of time U.S. students that use computers in school was 12 minutes per week. This data speaks volumes as it indicates that while computers and internet access are readily available to students, most students are not given enough time to use this technology in school to develop new literacies.

Introducing new literacies to students

While teachers are frequently the focus of our wrath when students fail to learn properly, it should be noted that introducing new literacies to a group of pupils is not a simple job for a teacher. We assume that they know all about it, but the fact of the matter is that two thirds of teachers feel that they themselves are not experienced enough to use the technology they are to teach to their students. There are many other difficulties which teachers must cope with too.  

Things such as lack of resources, their own lack of knowledge and the necessary skills (which stems from being underprepared by the schools in the technological fields they are supposed to teach), failure of school leadership, teachers' own opinions towards new technology, and evaluations (which fail to take into consideration new expectations. Here are three essential items to consider before attempting introducing new literacies to classrooms:

1. The mere use of software programs on computers is not enough to ready students for new literacies' experiences.

2. New literacies are great, but they are also in an unending state of flux, or change and necessitate that teachers accept and promote these changes regardless of how they actually feel about them.

3. New literacies are a must in all classrooms in order to ensure that equal opportunities are available to all students and that they are able to take advantage of them.

By Christopher Austin and LoveReading.co.uk!

Sunday
Jun212015

New Internet Technology for Children and Their Authors 

 

We live in a technological world. My four year old granddaughter knows exactly how to use iTunes on my phone. My sons recently threw out all my cds in a flurry of housecleaning and then placed all my favorite albums (are they still called that?) on my iPhone. “You don't need all that clutter,” they told me.  The only catch was, I couldn't turn it on, and worse, once I did, I didn't know how to turn it off. Hallie, who will turn five this summer, continuously impresses me with her knowledge and agility, using her tiny fingers to show me new things on my phone. So, when buncee wrote and asked if I would like to join their program, it took about a second for me to say, "Yes!"

Buncee’s goal is to foster students’ technology and digital literacy skills in an easy and cost-effective way. By combining their artwork and web media on the site’s digital canvas, teachers and students can create anything from multimedia presentations & projects, to digital stories, and more. 

Kids today are used to keyboards, touch screens, and instant access to a world my own children could only dream about. The idea of interactive programs that can change and adapt to your child's interest is as fascinating as it is thrilling. At buncee, they are requesting authors to actually "talk" to the readers, creating a personal atmosphere that is inviting to the child. A child can listen to the author's own words and learn why they wrote the book, what their favorite part is, and finally work with questions to help in their understanding and appreciation of what they are reading. They have personalized reading books! This is using the computer for children in the best possible way, combining what is so easy for them with the idea that they are in control and can take their lesson as far as they want to go.

Buncee has so much to offer classrooms all across the world, whether they are homeschooled or in a brick-and-mortar classroom. Teachers, parents, and students can produce their own original work with the use of the site’s backgrounds, graphics and animations, as well as text, drawings, audio, photos, videos, cited images, and more. After being inspired by the words and stories of authors featured in the Author's Corner, students can then use the site to create their very own tales and share with other students around the world.

What I loved about Buncee is that their technology brings creation, education, and imagination to life! It's easy-to-us e and fun! It's an online creation tool for students and teachers and their just released newest project on edu.buncee.com - the Author’s Corner, is a unique place filled with lessons, projects, read-alouds and more! Authors featured in the corner each have their own buncees full of amazing content for educators and children to share and learn with. Students can then do their own book reviews, story logs, and digital storytelling projects on buncee based off the books in the Author's Corner. Their goal with the Author’s Corner is to provide a special library that sparks literacy curiosity, inspires students, supports children’s book authors, and makes learning fun! For more information on Carole P. Roman books visit her at www.caroleproman.com

Friday
May292015

8 Easy Secrets to Supercharge Your Writing.

Writers in any genre are essentially practicing a form of mental telepathy. They must take the image or idea inside their head and transfer it to another person’s mind. It really is amazing and transformative when done correctly. The reader can be transported to a mountaintop high in Tibet or perhaps will suddenly understand a complex concept in physics. The tool writers use to pull this trick off is written language, or more specifically words and syntax. The more powerful and precise the language, the more crowd pleasing the trick is. Here are eight easy ways to have the multitude on their feet cheering!

Change the locale you write in. Writers are affected by the world just like everybody else, probably more so. If you need more depth, ideas, twists, etc. then change the stimulus around you. A quiet room might seem like the ideal location but sometimes it can become a prison. Write at the beach, in the mountains, in bars, in churches, at raucous sporting events, in subways. Some of the best writers carried a notepad with them and wrote all the time, letting life reflect in their work as they lived it

Instruct your subconscious. Your subconscious is smarter than your conscious mind. Among other things, I do web programming. If I’m stuck on a problem, before I go to sleep I tell my subconscious to work on it. Nine times out of ten when I wake the answer pops into my head courtesy of the unseen mental machinery that grinds away in the background all the time. If you are stuck in your story use this trick. Prepare to be amazed.

Look at a photo. Don’t rely on your memory for essential objects in the scene. Do a Google image search for the item you are writing about. Find one or two pictures that really fit the subject. Study the images, look at their details, every crack and crevice. A photo is frozen time. Perhaps you will want to anthropomorphize the object, give it human characteristics. Get to know the item like a best friend. Your writing will reflect this deep visual knowledge.

Write without thinking too much. Sometimes thinking deeply is what you want and sometimes not. Change up your style. Put the words down fast and furious without analyzing their worth. The real genius is usually in the editing anyway. Ninety percent of the word torrent will probably be junk but that remaining ten percent could be a brilliant gem that would not have been found in any other way. And you might get lucky and find the whole shebang to be genius!

Listen to music that fits the scene. Again, you may not want to do this all the time but sometimes it will fit the bill perfectly. If you are writing a fight scene listen to heavy metal rock or if it’s a love scene try some cool jazz or if it’s an idyllic mountain vista you are describing then a classical string symphony is apropos. Music is the most emotional of the art forms and the melodies will find their way onto your printed page.

Watch a video. This is related to looking at a photo, but different. In video time is moving and the sound of the action is also present. Once I was writing a scene that involved an AK47 rifle firing. I’ve never been around that type of armament even though I knew a lot about its history. A YouTube search soon showed me the rifle firing in semiautomatic mode and full auto. The puffs of white smoke, the specific sounds and vibrations all ended up on the page, making the writing more real and believable.

Work on ideas while exercising. The underlying ideas are the most important part of any writing. They are what give the subject matter depth. There’s plenty of research that shows the increased blood flow to the brain while exercising increases creativity. Get those plot lines for a story or concepts behind a technical paper sketched out in your mind while running, bicycling, walking, swimming or gardening. You can write the words down later.

Visualize success. This is not as touchy feely new age as it sounds. Writing is real work, sometimes it’s grueling. A strong image of your eventual reward will help you get through those times when you want to throw up your hands and quit. It will also be reflected in the strength of your writing. Ninety five percent of people only talk about doing something, you on the other hand are actually sweating it out and turning dreams into reality. You will be rewarded!

 

Ron Burch manages his own web development company, Code Planet. He is also author of the noir detective book Beyond the Trees. In his spare time he bicycles twenty miles a day and is hooked on streaming movies.