Author Archives: Dave

About Dave

My name is Dave Rubright. I grew up in Iowa City. I work at the University of Iowa as a media developer. I've lived in Chicago, Louisiana and LA. My main hobby is golf. I also like electronic music and work with Reason to craft my own music. Mainly my computer use is to learn about a fast changing technology for recording and web distribution. I have step kids and step grandkids. Many of them are in the Iowa City area. My wife Jutta and I have lived in the same house for almost 30 years.

The myth of the mixed mode classroom

It is rare that faculty are successful with the mixed mode classroom. It is difficult to handle F2F and distance groups at the same time. The distance group seems to suffer in this type of class. If there is more than one instructor in the classroom it is possible to accomplished the mixed mode. It is hard to reach out to the F2F group and not forget about the distance group if you are not careful. And it is easy to forget to share visuals and read chat while lecturing and teaching to the F2F group. We try to bridge the short fall with tech support personnel watching the chat. But they are mainly there to help the distance group get online. The mixed mode requires at least a TA/Faculty combo to be successful.

It is sad to watch faculty flail away trying to keep the class togeather. One faculty member even laminated that they wished they had a TA. Is professional staff being asked to step in and provide guidance like a TA in this situation? I took an interest at the start of such classes. I’m not sure what to do. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

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Filed under Classroom, Computers

Computers in the classroom

There are reoccuring issues with technology in the classroom. The first issue is whether the technology even works in the first place. The second issue is whether the technology is effective for all the activities in the classroom.

You might think that putting technology in a classroom is easy. When you have a CPU dedicated to the room then an IT staff usually controls and maintains it. My expereince is that there are problems putting everyone’s needs on one computer. What happens when class A increases the recording audio levels and class B doesn’t check the recording audio levels? One advantage of bringing your own laptop to the classroom is that you control the computer. But will your computer interface with the audio system? For along time PCs didn’t even have sound cards. Who would need them? Of course if you bring your own laptop you are responsible for it.

The other issue is the effectiveness of the technology to follow and document the interactivity in the classroom.  This is where things really fail. If the recording doesn’t capture a student question and faculty don’t restate the question the recording has a dead space.

The trend toward flipping lectures changes the issue. If faculty are pre-recording a lecture, distributing it via the Internet and hold discussion during class time, the need for lecture capture is diminished. But some faculty are experimenting with virtual classroom technology and virtual office hours. I would like to see what replaces the lecture in the flipped lecture scenerio. I am skeptical that class time will engage students.

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Filed under Classroom, Computers, Politics

Technology at Home

Danny Novo outlined his plan for his home computer system. The reason I invest in technology at home is three pronged. First, I need to know what is going on in the electronic gadget marketplace and watching the electronic shopping channel doesn’t really cut it. To this end I just shop. Purchasing equipment at NewEgg, Bestbuy, or OWC is what keeps me amused and informed. What turns my head at this moment is SSD drives and the discussion of their life span. Another prong is entertainment. The computer system in the studio is the hub of watching off-air channels, radio, and Internet stuff. And the third prong is making content and having the capacity to work creatively at home especially if I loose employment. I’ve always thought of the home computer as an hedge against being unemployed. I try to do this without breaking the bank.

A current goal is to create an off-site backup of our picture libraries, we have a safety deposit box. I just wonder if I should just dedicate a HDD to that task or burn BDR discs. I kind of let my archive get too big in iPhoto. And there is residue from various version changes to iPhoto. Big iPhoto archives are hard to backup and if it becomes corrupted too big of a failure. I think what I am going to do is duplicate the archive and then delete half on either copy to split in half. And in the future make new archive files every year.

Another goal is to organize my files more carefully. It must be a genetic predisposition to making a mess that I inherited from my parents. They were always messy in their offices and drawers. Clutter is so depressing.

So the three big prongs; shopping, entertainment , and job security are behind my technology interests.

I was reading a blog (I think it was where someone posted a question. They asked if anyone knew of a museum of old technology that they could send their outdated technology. I hold on to old stuff but I could help build a great museum. I must have 100 yards of RCA cables. I have some original boxes of Apple branded DVDs. Some copies of Mac Addict demo CDs. I have a box of Magneto Optical discs and no drive. I have one floppy disk. I even have a cassette 4 track recorder off in the corner.

But I hang on to stuff. Things that have no value but are increasingly part of the past and history of computer technology. Maybe I should start a museum?

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Filed under Computers

Setting up WordPress

Jo has asked me to setup a WordPress account for her. We have an account at Dreamhost and all that is needed is a new user account (no charge) and a new domain name ($12/year) — no fee if you want to use a subdomain. It is pretty easy to do. Dreamhost automatically creates the database, and the install is just one click. It has to be a new user account because the WordPress install will over write everything in the account. Also, the domain name tool will allow you to create a new domain name even if it is unavailable. And you have to register it and it has to work before you can login as an administrator. It took 30 minutes for my domain to work.

Would I suggest anyone with little computer and web experience try this? Perhaps not. It is about as simple as it can get but there are steps that will throw you if you don’t watch out. I found a security add-on that is already helping me. Since the beginning of this post I am getting Chinese character spam. With the security add-on I can block IP addresses and even ranges of IP address. And, the add-on is free.

I see that there is a Dreamhost WordPress service that runs $24/month. It is expensive to go that direction compared to just installing WordPress in a hosting account.

Next thing to check out is their ecommerce software.

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Filed under Computers, Little things at home

Lincoln Cafe at Mount Vernon, IA

Jo and I went to the Lincoln Cafe in downtown Mt. Vernon, IA last Friday night. We called ahead three days and made a reservation at 7:30pm. We were about to arrive, about  3 miles south of town, when the cell phone rang and we were told our table was ready. The menu is a combination americana and three daily specials. I had the cheese burger and Jo had the special, sword fish. We both enjoyed the meal. Service was great. We think we will go back. Just a warning that it is expensive.

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Filed under Fine Dining