Monday, October 13. 2014
Many months ago, Brother Tim, Serendipity35 IT guy and very occasional blogger here, started this post. It has been staring at me in the drafts queue and today I decided to dust it off a bit and send it out into the cloud.
So, there I was at Miller Air Park fueling the Piper Archer airplane I had rented for a flight down to Cape May County airport. It was a busy morning for the airport and several planes were in pre-flight, being taxied to the northeast end of the runway, or were already cocked into the wind, holding-short of runway 24 doing their pre-takeoff run-up. Each pilot in turn completed the safety checklist, pivoted onto the runway, firewalled the throttle and lifted the aircraft into the smooth gray sky.
In the 30 minutes or so that I had spent pre-flighting and fueling my own plane there were 7 departures but, except for a pre-solo student and instructor locked into the never ending left turns of take-off and landing pattern practice, no other aircraft arrived at MJX.
Ken and I are sometimes like the FBO staff at Miller Air Park. We send post after post off into the Internet clouds and, every once in a while, we receive an arrival. A returned comment here and there lets us know that the posts we roll off our Internet tarmac aren't falling off the edge of our flat earth.
Ken builds almost all of the wordcraft we launch and I spend most of my time clearing turkey buzzards and deer off our virtual runway, but once in a while, I get to fly a post of my own. And on that Saturday morning in Whiting, NJ, I held the nose on the centerline and rotated that Piper into the air.
I climbed to 400 ft and turned left toward the coastline. Over my shoulder, as I approached 1000 ft, I could see the massive airship hangars of Lakehurst Naval Air Station and the abandoned, but standing, stall of the Hindenburg, unoccupied since May of 1937 when the dirigible burned at her mooring. When it departed Frankfurt, Germany on May 3rd that year, the crew that launched her expected a return, too. Though it was scheduled to fly back from North America to Europe with a full manifest of transatlantic passengers en route to the coronation of King George VI of England, its final destination remained in New Jersey.
Fifty years after the famous crash, long after it was branded a mystery and pursued only by academic enterprise, the actual cause of the craft's incineration was discovered. The paint that protected its outer skin from the harsh ocean crossing, burned like a magnesium fuse when lit by lightning over land.
I quickly flew through Atlantic City's airspace and continued inbound to the Sea Isle City VOR. My checkpoints, spaced on my chart at 10 minute intervals, rolled underneath my right wing at 8, then 7, minutes. I was ahead of schedule and soon I'd arrive at WWD 10 minutes before my flight plan had estimated.
Traffic was light at Cape May County. I radioed the airport's CTAF for the active runway and entered the downwind pattern for 28. There were no other aircraft in the pattern (or rolling on the ground) and I touched down just past the threshold markers and turned off at the first taxi-way. Not stopping to visit, I headed back to the east end of runway 28, throttled back up and, five minutes after I had first touched down, was airborne again and heading home.
I flew back to Miller through the same airspace that the Hindenburg traveled on its last day. I landed, safely, just a few miles from where the dirigible fell to the ground. It had only taken a couple of hours but I returned to the airport from which I'd departed -- a luxury the Hindenburg pilot never had.
Maybe fifty years from now, like the paint on an unburned scrap of the Hindenburg, some word, sentence or phrase from Serendipity35 (or some other Internet archived version of it ) will drop out of the clouds and reveal some small unintended truth about the technology and learning lives we live today.
Sunday, October 6. 2013
I finished the transition of Serendipity35 from an "all iron" computer server machine to a virtual entity in the internet cloud. Its almost as if I took its computer soul and installed it in the heavens.
Almost, but not quite...
We're ready to rock n' roll.
Wednesday, February 1. 2012
Serendipity 35 turns 6 (yikes!) today --or maybe later this week, but I think I first configured the server for it on Feb 1, 2006. For Blogs, that's like 90 measured in cyber-dog years. Many thanks to Ken for his tireless efforts.
Saturday, November 27. 2010
Long(ish) weekends are generally a good time to do a little Virtual preventative maintenance. If some of the articles appear to be in hiding, or if the rss feeds seem to be out-to-lunch for brief periods over the holiday weekend, you can still enjoy this classic song from Warner Brothers by way of Jimmie Lunceford.
Saturday, February 20. 2010
Politics and education technology mix, in discussion, about as well as baking soda and vinegar but given the groundswell of faction of dubiously enlightened hot air in America, maybe its time to poke the CO2 volcano.
In New Jersey, where I work and live, the current state budget has been frozen --even public school districts are not receiving the aid they had been promised (and had budgeted against) for the balance of this school year, as reported by the local ABC TV affiliate on February 11, 2010:
Higher Education, the pond in which my paycheck dollars swim, will be frozen to the tune of $62 million, and there is enough partisan gnashing of teeth about that to chew a $2 steak.
Reasonable people who can step back from the brink of loud-mouthed saber-rattling should be able to see what is going on. People in charge of the purse strings will make decisions in their best political interests to pursue an economic objective and people who feel the purse strings tighten will do what is in their best interests to prevent the choking-off of their funds. Each side will tender well-spun reasons that prove that their position is correct and the other side is in league with the devil. When the fog lifts and the 2 sides have climbed out of their political Purgatory, each will have some slice of the other's flesh and the fundamental causal problem will be sent back to Limbo without a resolution.
Dr. Fabricius goes on to write:
Rather than publish a platform from which to gather like-minded supporters, Dr. Fabricius calls for reasonable and independently thoughtful people to contribute to the building of a party platform and to approach the state and national political quagmire with fresh independent thought.
There have been third party movements in the United States ever since the two-party system was established. There is already one (and only one) modern third-party that is on the ballot in each state for every national election: that party is so sparingly reported in the media that most people don't know it exists. Do we need another political party to challenge our nefarious status quo ?
Yes. And probably much more than that.
Sunday, November 22. 2009
On Friday, November 13, WCAU, channel 10 in Philadelphia, came to NJIT to film a news story on iPhone and small device application development at NJIT. The video linked to the image on the left is the full story that aired on November 20, 2009.
NJIT has announced the formation of an additional class section to supplement the 6th iteration of iPhone OS Application Development. The upcoming class sections are open to the public and are partially subsidized by a grant from the North Jersey Partners.
The classes will bring the current active enrollment in the iPhone program to over 60 students. For more information, please see the course description for the upcoming class.
Wednesday, October 7. 2009
Have an idea for an iPhone application but don’t know how to make it happen or can’t afford to take a course?
North Jersey Partners has teamed up with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to offer FREE tuition for an online iPhone Application Development course. Taught entirely online by an NJIT instructor, the 10-week course begins on October 19, 2009 and includes the NJIT award of a 3.0 CEU certificate to students upon completion.
The 30-hour online training course teaches computer savvy students the foundation they need to design and implement iPhone and iPod Touch software using the Apple Software Development Kit. They learn how to create and deploy iPhone and iTouch applications on the software simulator and hardware devices. Participants can practice installing their applications and learn the Apple AppStore submission process so their independent developer Apps can potentially be offered by Apple as paid, downloadable commercial software packages. This class also provides enrolled students memberships in the Apple Developer portal.
Those interested in applying via SMS for the free-tuition subsidy for this class can text IPHONE to 35350 and will receive by return text message a link to the application. The application process runs from October 5 - 16, 2009. All applicants must: meet eligibility requirements, have broadband access to the Internet, and have access to a Macintosh computer capable of running the SDK (OS X Leopard 10.5.7 or higher) and an iPhone or iPod Touch.
Fifteen applicants will be selected for the free-tuition subsidy and preference will be given to those unemployed and underemployed in the northern New Jersey region. Applicants not eligible for the tuition subsidy award may still register for the October 19 or November 30th class sections and pay tuition. The schedule of all classes and the course description are available online.
This training program is funded by North Jersey Partners through the U.S. Department of Labor Education and Training Administration’s WIRED initiative.
North Jersey Partners is an innovative regional partnership of public, private and government organizations collaborating to deliver programs, training, and support to ensure the continuity of a skilled workforce to drive economic growth in northern New Jersey. CPE@NJIT, in keeping with its longstanding commitment to provide online education to Graduate and Professional Development students, has provided the instructional resources and the publicly available learning platform to host current and future sections of the iPhone OS training class
Saturday, August 22. 2009
C'mon all of you high school grads
Uncle Sam needs your help real bad
Got himself a terrible jam
In someplace called Afghanistan
Pack up your books and load up a gun
We're gonna have a whole lot of fun
And its one, two, three "What are we fightin' for"?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn
Just want that Federal Grant.
And its five, six, seven... Open up those Pearly Gates!
Ain't no time to wave Good Bye
Whoopee! We're all gonna die.
C'mon Congressmen let's move fast
Your one chance has come at last
Gotta blow smoke about the Meds
Cause the only cheap patient is one that's dead
You know that seats just can't be won
When we've taxxed them all to Kingdom Come.
And it's one, two three, "What are we voting for?"
Don't ask me, I know its a sham
Just want that Federal Grant
And it's five, six, seven... What the hell was WaterGate?
Ain't no time to wonder why.
Whoopee! We're all gonna die
C'mon Bankers don't lend slow
The Stimulus is go go go
Plenty of money to be made
Selling bad loans the Feds have saved.
Next time you go and kite a bond
Back it with the Taliban!
And its one, two, three "What am I spending on?"
Don't ask me, It's way too hard
To pay my credit card
And its five, six seven... Gotta get a lower rate!
Ain't no time to save a dime
Whoopee! We're all gonna die!
C'mon Scientists now confess
Your techniques have caused a mess
The ice is melting and the earth is mad
That C O 2 is just plain bad
When the labs get flooded and you need a boat
Be glad the Greeks taught you all how to float.
And its one, two, three... "What am I living for?"
Don't ask me I don't have a Plan
Just doing the best I can
And it's five, six, seven.. Hopin' for those Pearly Gates
Ain't no rhyme or reason why,
Whoopee! We're all gonna die.
With thanks, and apologies, to Country Joe MacDonald --forty years too late.
Wednesday, August 19. 2009
The Research and Development Team at Serendipity35 has developed (and is announcing) new support for you Smart Phone users out there that don't use an Apple iPhone.
The new mobile site for Serendipity35 is www.s35.org. The content remains the same, but there will be less graphics to clog up your Edge or 3G pipeline to the internet. Pages will load faster and the formatting will still be readable on device's smaller screens. Also, if you happen to have an iPhone and want to see Serendipity35 in a regulation browser (like Safari) without being automatically tossed into the WebApp version of Serendipity35, www.s35.org just might be the format for you.
The development of a micro-site version of Serendipity35 comes directly from the work I've done with making a portable version of Moodle.Though it remains to be seen what kinds of classes, instructions, FAQs and micro-information fit into a portable device, the platform is just about ready to begin delivering content even though very few people (if anyone) know what that content should or will be.
I don't envision anyone studying graduate courses on their Smartphone, but if you need to change a tire, reset your dashboard clock, or (safely) jump your car's battery, there may be a portable Moodle class in your future and it may be delivered by the same engine that runs the new www.s35.org
Sunday, June 21. 2009
Ok, so we all don't live in Great Britain, but the available space to get an iPhone App reviewed is so limited that Ian Bruce of The Lottery Company sent his iPhone app information overseas to get a little cyberspace notice.
First, let me say that I am no participant in gambling of any sort. I don't have any deep belief (other than considering them potential metaphysical evils) about games of chance --they just don't interest me. My only visit to a casino was in Atlantic City in 1995 and that was only because that was where I took the Jeopardy contestant tests (I went 2 and out).
I'm currently teaching an iPhone Application Development class online and I have a great bunch of fully engaged students and, like many an instructor before me, I took a task and turned it into an opportunity for students to provide their feedback. My thanks to the students who allowed me to use their submissions, here.From Maria:
Concept - The idea for this application is very good – it tells you the last results of the lotto, as well as past results. You can even check your numbers against older lottery results. Other features include a random ticket generator and an archive of results since 1994.From Drew:
I did a walkthrough of the screens and features and found the following:I'm a function-over-form kind of guy and I care less about the appearance of a program than I do about how it works, and using that "function" judgment, this seems as though it is a very capable iPhone app. For those interested in details from the provider, you can visit: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=313319153&mt=8 (It will open in iTunes) or you can get it directly from Apple's AppStore. The Lottery Checker is free for the first 6 months you have it. Further details are available on their web site.
Sunday, June 7. 2009
Anyone who has read my posts about spam knows that I am the spam executioner. I admit that I am an anti-spam fanatic and my spam controls on this server are Draconian even by Draco's standards.
There are many misconfigured e-mail servers out in the wild that blithely relay spam email to its targeted destination. The most notorious of these mail relays that daily task me is one of the e-mail relays at yahoo.com. Another wildly inconsistent e-mail relay is one of the AOL e-mail servers -- my efforts to bring Yahoo and AOL into the legitimate e-mail fold have met with indeterminate success. Sometimes their e-mail relays behave and deliver real e-mail and sometimes they go round the bend and spit out scads of spam.
I'm committed to overcoming the automatic rejection of reader's comments by the spam filters and, if you have a comment rejected because of a spam block on the s35 server, please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will remove your e-mail address from the automatic spam filters.
The posts that Ken and I write are not one-way valves. We both value (if not crave) your feedback.
If you have something to say, please say it; if the anti-spam gods object to your post, send along your e-mail address and I'll make sure the gods are appeased.
If you fired up your browser (or newsreader) to read the latest in Serendipity35's offerings in the world of Ken and Tim's Excellent Adventure, you might have noticed that the address of the blog has changed. Don't Panic, you are still in the same place you've always been; it just has a new address.
When Serendipity35 first came online in February, 2006 it was as a sidebar to a presentation in which Ken and I participated. As the blog (and readership) grew, the server that the blog was hosted on (devel2.njit.edu/serendipity) became far more busy hosting the blog than it was designed to be --the devel in devel2.njit.edu meant development and it was designed (by me) to function as a testing ground for the good, the bad and the ugly software packages that I was working on. Last September Serendipity35 was moved to a production server at NJIT that had plenty of horsepower to drive the expanding blog. Two other problems remained, though, and one of those problems was all of the devel2/serendipity links that existed on the internet, the other problem was that the blog was no longer a single function of the NJIT environment --Ken had moved on to a writing position at Passaic Community College. I think we've, at last, solved both problems.
In December I installed a new high-powered server on my own private network (South Monmouth Software Design) and began the slow transition of the Serendipity35 material from the NJIT host machines to the serendipity35.net domain. After a LOT of testing, head-scratching, editing and (some) swearing, the www.serendipity35.net site was ready to launch this morning.
Almost everything about the site is identical to dl.njit.edu/serendipity though we have added Google AdSense advertisements to the sidebar. The advertisements are content-relevant and non-intrusive to the subject matter of posts, but since this is now a wholly privately funded blog, a few clicks on the advertisements from our gracious readers from time-to-time will help us keep the lights on at serendipity35.net. Enlightenment can be difficult in the dark.
During the time we developed and hosted this blog at NJIT, NJIT never once attempted to edit, censor or influence our content in any way and for that I am, of course, grateful.
If you still have the old devel2.njit.edu/serendipity or the dl.njit.edu/serendipity bookmarks in your browser or newsreader, those addresses will continue to work. You'll be sent to www.serendipity35.net, automatically.
Here is to hoping that everyone will find this transition to be as seamless as I find it to be exciting.
Of course, all of your comments, brickbats, bouquets and bug reports, are still welcome as well
Monday, April 20. 2009
Managing a public-access wiki is a little like trying to grow a garden in a land fill. Every time you go to check on how things are doing, you find another pile of someone else's refuse piled on top of your stuff. While digging the Wiki35 out from under a recent mudslide of online pharmaceutical and college-degree-purchasing spam scams, I found this page:
Our education wiki was spammed by Brown University's studious attempt at random vandalizing of public web sites. What that spamming represented was more than just an attempt by a computer science's department to explore the feasibility of using random public sites to share distributed data. It represented an arrogance that exceeds the skills developed by that department's faculty, students and staff. The "information" web page that the embedded link points to claims that the defaced pages would be removed by April 11, 2009. It also provides instructions for system administrator to remove the pages themselves in case the Brown University crew couldn't figure out how to undo what it had already done. April 11 is long past and the page remained: the arrogant and ignorant Ivy Leaguers at Brown should probably have Hacking listed as their major areas of study: computer scientists they are not.
Hacking can take many forms and disguises. When I did a DNS lookup on the offending host address, it did resolve to a Brown University listed address. Maybe I should report the vandalism to firstname.lastname@example.org, but in a properly run network environment I shouldn't have to complain to their listed technical contact. If Brown isn't aware of what its departments (or wayward students) are doing, they have little business being plugged into any external network. While I realize that suggesting that Brown unplug itself from the internet is more fantasy than proposal, I am suggesting that using --or allowing to be used-- academic departments to exploit public resources harms the flow and availability of information. Purposely defacing a website, despite the after-the-fact mea culpas, is the academic equivalent of burning books.
The next time I receive some heinous spam in my inbox or on my website, I'll wonder if it came from Rhode Island.
Saturday, April 18. 2009
Like the scary guy at the left (the NJIT mascot, the Highlander) is demanding, we want to review new iPhone applications. The explosion of new apps in Apple's iPhone store has left one developer to comment as a guest lecturer in class:
"In order to get new iPhone applications reviewed, developers often now have to pay a site to review their software"
Paying to get anything reviewed is fundamentally appalling. The notion that fledgling (or veteran) application entrepreneurs have to shell out cash to get someone to evaluate their efforts is an unmitigated affront. It is also a POLA violation to the spirit of independent open source developersOkay, so Apple's development/deployment process for iPhone applications is a far cast from real open source software development, but the process does intersect at points with the open source model:
Apple does, however, require that developers register (currently $99) if they want the ability to deploy their apps on real hardware devices. Along with a rigorous review of candidate apps designed to ensure that uploaded software meets the Apple standards, Apple also requires a single point of sale for developed applications (the AppStore), a 30% cut of the gross sales, and a Spring blizzard of paperwork to participate in the for-profit distribution of applications.
Though it is relatively easy to jailbreak your device and bypass Apple's restrictions and use third party means to deploy and distribute applications, that ability hasn't slowed the deluge of apps that developers submit to Apple. Foundering in that flood are developers who can't get their software reviewed on its merits by independent third parties.
It is time to change that.
Developers in search of a review may submit their apps to Serendipity35 for review, sans payola. We have the necessary credentials to install applications on devices and publish honest reviews. Interested developers can contact us at iReview at serendipity35.net.
Tuesday, April 14. 2009
NJIT has announced the opening of registration for the first iPhone Application Development class available to the general public and conducted entirely online. Taken from the for-credit class-section first offered by NJIT in the Spring 2009, the online syllabus contains development instruction, sample code, multi-media resources, and the documentation of the face-to-face offering. Additionally, this professional development offering awards both CEU's (3) and an NJIT certificate upon successful completion of the class. Students are required to have a Macintosh computer capable of running the latest iPhone Software Development Kit, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Though not a pre-requisite to registration, participants in the class will also be required to register as an developer with Apple, Inc.
So much for the advertisement.
The goal of this class is to produce independent, entrepreneurial code developers who can use their talents to develop skills that lead them into the realm of code-for-profit without having the developers negotiate the daunting (and recently diminishing) corporate opportunities for application programming, and make some money from their independent effort and dedication. Fostering independent initiatives is a departure from the NJIT instructive model. Apart from the degree-oriented credit courses, even NJIT's non-credit offerings have been targeted at students who use their newly learned skills to get a job or enhance the jobs they may already have. The iPhone application developer comes from an entirely different mold.
Tonight's guest lecturer, Michael Hill of PrimoSpot software, is right out of that mold. Coming from a background of web application development, Michael spent "a couple of months" learning Apple's Xcode and about a year as the only staff in his new company. He developed PrimoSpot --an application that displays car parking zones and parking availability in New York City. Boston is the next target of his app with more cities to follow. As PrimoSpot grows, the plan is to port it to other platforms with the Blackberry clearly in his crosshairs. Automobile GPS units will not be far behind.
For those who want to swim in this new entrepreneurial pool there are opportunities to learn. Stanford University has released their iPhone curriculum for free download on iTunes, but there is more to learning to swim than reading a book about lifesaving. The online iPhone class that NJIT is offering will support step-by-step instructor-lead teaching and evaluation tailored to the student seeking effective professional development training.
The online iPhone class will begin on May 11th and continue for 10 weeks and offer 30 hours of instruction. More information is available via e-mail at: email@example.com. There is an announcement mailing-list available, and a course summary. The main page for the online offering is: http://online.njit.edu/moodle and there is a direct link for class registration.
Here's to an interesting and innovative Spring and Summer of iPhone code.
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