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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Signs

While waiting for our family dog, Gavin, to finish his appointment at the groomer, I stopped by a local WiFi hotspot to kills some time.  It is very generous of the kind folks at NCEZ.net to leave a wireless port open.  I have known about this free WiFi hotspot for some time, but never really took time to try it.  Thanks guys! 



As I was coming out of the groomer's, I walked into a fellow educator.  The first thing out of her mouth was Congratulations.  Well, I thought she was talking about our daughter's recent graduation from college, or her engagement.  But, to my surprise, the teacher, said I read that you are retiring.  Well, I almost could not say anything.  Then she told me that our local NCAE newsletter had listed my name as one of the teachers retiring this year.  I just laughed and told her that it was a mistake.  I was definitely not planning to retire.  I bet I checked the wrong box on a recent form we filled out for our local NCAE.  The form has two parts.  One part was for retirees to be included as retiring at our May banquet.  The other part was to say you were planning to attend and eat, and celebrate the retirement of others in our district.  Geez, this is embarrassing.  I guess I should just not go to the banquet.  Everyone there will be like- oh, congratulations.  I will spend the whole time explaining how it was a mixup and, well-- crap.



To top that, I was sitting at the table, eating my microwaved leftovers from San Jose Mexican Restaurant and the Jehovah's Witness folks rang the doorbell.  And guess what,  it was a retired math teacher, that I worked with for many years.  Smiling and asking about how I had been and that she did not know I lived here and small talk.  Then she asked me if we were closing down the alternative school I work at. 



In this weeks News Reporter, "Alternative School to close in June".  Ok, news flash, it is not North Whiteville Academy.  Come on Fuller Royal, "Nakina Alt to close in June" may have been a better title for a dang front page "news crier".  Controversy sells newspapers, but it also confuses the public.  It took me several minutes of talking with the well-educated/retired/math teacher/Jehovah's Witness.  I know the parents of our kids and community members will be thinking 'oh well, we might as well close ours too'.  Wrong.  The students attending North Whiteville Academy are making progress.  They are mastering math, reading, technology skills, and most importantly interpersonal skills.  I appreciate the kind comments from the News Reporter Editorial comment:

North Whiteville Academy, the alternative school component of Whiteville City Schools, has been a success, but it deals with fewer students who get more individualized attention. Maybe the county’s twilight schools, which will divide alternative school candidates among the three county high schools, will do a better job with fewer students per teacher. Source: http://www.whiteville.com/pages/2007WEBPAGES/APRIL2007/4.26.07/editthurs.html





It must be a day for signs.  



Maybe it is just that time of year. My lawn, which is mostly weeds, needs mowing.  The weather is nice and warm.  It is 87 degrees F.  The Moon is waxing, and according to an astrological timetable, based on the Moon's signs, showing the best days for certain activities it is one of the best days: Go to the dentist. Monday, April 30- Best days: Begin diet to gain weight.  What? Gain Weight?  I need a nap.



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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Is It A Podcast Recorder?

After watching an Apple Webinar on electric guitars and Garageband, I was ready to buy a copy of one of the commercial software and device to connect my electric guitar to my MacBook Pro. Then I remembered the Handy 4 from ZOOM that I have been using to record my podcasts in my classroom. BONG! I found this on a site:


Zoom’s New H4 Handheld Recorder Packs A Huge Feature Set Into A Tiny Package, Creating A Tool Everyone Can Use.

Combination XLR-Quarter-inch Inputs
The H4, with its two phantom powered XLR-1/4" input jacks that support direct connection of external microphones, is the solution to an infinite number of recording situations. You can also use the H4's Hi-Z rated phone inputs for direct connection of guitars, bass, or any other line-input device.

Input Level Optimization for Detailed Sound.
The H4's excellent dynamic range allows you to consistently match the input level to the source. Whether you're recording a band's live performance, a solo vocalist, acoustic instruments, a classroom lecture or even a subtle soundscape, the H4's automatic gain control lets you limit peaks to -6 dB during Rec Stand-by position. And its built-in level meter and separate Low / Mid / High gain settings for the built-in stereo mics mean you can monitor operation and make adjustments on the fly.

Portable Multi-Track Recording
Capture vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, drum machines and other instruments on separate tracks with the H4's 4-track mode. The H4 allows simultaneous recording on two tracks and simultaneous playback on four tracks. Level and panning can be adjusted for each track individually. Punch-in recording and track bouncing make editing a breeze. Other features include a versatile tuner for guitar and bass, a metronome for use as a rhythm guide and A|B repeat capability.
*While in 4-track mode, the H4 records as 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV files.

Onboard Effects With Microphone And Amp Modeling
The integrated DSP effects processor with 32-bit architecture employs the latest modeling technology to replicate the most famous guitar, bass and microphone sounds. The array consists of 4 microphones (SM57 / MD421 / U87 / C414), 12 guitar amps and stomp boxes such as Fender, Marshall, Vox, and Mesa Boogie and 6 bass amps and preamps including Ampeg, Bassman, and Hartke. We've also included a compressor / limiter to prevent input signal overload, Zoom Noise Reduction (ZNR) and other studio quality effects such as chorus, flanger, phaser, delay, and reverb. The effect memory of the H4 accommodates 60 patches. 50 presets are already programmed for applications such as direct recording of guitar and bass as well as mic recording of vocals and acoustic guitar.
*In stereo mode, only mic modeling and the compressor / limiter effects can be used.
*Mic modeling effects are only for use with the built-in microphones.

It's a USB Audio Interface
The H4 also will function as a direct audio interface for your computer. Connect the supplied USB cable and record directly to your computer. And the H4 comes bundled with Cubase LE from Steinberg so you can start to produce and edit music straight away. Thanks to the direct hardware monitoring function, there is no latency problem, you can hear what you're recording as you're playing it.
*Effects can only be used when the sampling rate is 44.1kHz.

Drag and Drop File Transfer
When the H4 is connected to a computer via USB, it also functions as an SD card reader. This allows you to drag and drop audio files to your computer like you would pictures from a digital camera. Create a media player sound library, tailor a recording with a waveform editor, then mix and master with a DAW. Then create your own CDs, send files by e-mail, or use them for podcasting. The possibilities are endless. The H4 will even function as a portable MP3 player.

Source: http://www.americanmusical.com/item--i-ZOO-H4.html#

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

April Showers Bring May Flowers-- Right?

The wind and rain has howled since yesterday afternoon. At least the official tornado warnings have been dropped in our area. Our family dog has spent most of the day running under the chair. I am not sure exactly how much rain has fallen, but it was over two inches. Water is standing every where around the house.

Now, just a few words about motivating my students tomorrow, after six days out of school.
  • Plan in shorter time segments.
  • Vary activities.
  • Bring children's books and novels into your lesson.
  • Actively involve students in the lesson.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Making Google Maps in the Classroom

Ok, so check it out, dawg…here’s an example of what you can do with the new “My Maps” feature from Google. Go on…go look.

Now, if your head ain’t swimmin’ with ideas like mine is… My children don’t know it yet, but they just became the map makers for all travel related to the Richardson family. (And we just figured out that the whole clan is going to Australia this summer.) I can’t wait to show them this.

I know this isn’t news, but this is the kind of stuff that still gives me butterflies. Stupid, I know. It’s also the kind of stuff that I want to go running into schools with, shouting “Look what our kids can create! Look what they can contribute!”

It’s a great time to be a learner, isn’t it? Very cool… Check out Step #19 in the directions

By Will Richardson.

If any of my students go out of town during vacation, I hope to challenge them make their own map.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Twittervision

Now that Twitter is taking the web by storm, here is a mash - up of Google maps and Twitter allowing you to see all of the Twitterers (Twits?) posts in real time posted on a world map.
Twittervision Thanks to Gaping Void .

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

April- Time for Spring Vacation

I have been very slack posting in the past few weeks. Sometimes, reading and listening provides inspiration to the writing process. Sometimes is does not help. I listened to Bit by Bit podcast episode 17 with Alice, Cheryl, Bob, Cathy, Deb, and Michael come together in this Flat World over FlatBread. They mentioned in their conversation a web clone of ComicLife and it jogged my memory of how excited my students were about using ComicLife software on the Mac.