cartoon face eating cheetos.

Screen Time

Every time I hear something about limiting screen time I cannot help but think about how poorly the concept has been thought out. If we talked about “food time” instead maybe that would help us think that while time matters (eating for hours each day is probably a bad idea), how long you eat probably matters far less than what you’re eating. You have to think about both things. Funneling cheetos for 30 minutes a day is worse than eating carrots for an hour.1 Screen time isn’t a single thing. It’s an insane range of things. There’s lots of screen time that is of Twinkie quality but there are many other options. If I read a book on a device is it screen time or is that reading? If I’m coding for an hour? Editing video? Video chat with my parents? When we reduce things to this extent we end up doing things that ignore the actual problem. So the next time someone on the radio or TV talks about screen time as if it were a single thing please join me in envisioning the giant cartoon heads depicted below. 1 Funneling cheetos may not even qualify as actually eating. It’s a chemical endurance sport that will likely be featured in the next Olympic games

Portfolio Timeline

One of the things I ended up being dissatisfied with on my own portfolio was the timeline of my work history.1 At the time making an interactive multimedia timeline seemed like a good idea. Just the phrase “interactive multimedia timeline” sounds fancy, right? I made it using the KnightLab Timeline JS tool (which is a great tool) but it just doesn’t do what I want. Define the Purpose I hadn’t really thought deeply enough about my audience. If it’s people trying to hire me, and I can’t imagine anyone else caring, then I have to think what I want them to understand at a glance. Paging through the timeline can tell a decent story (if it happens) but the timeline does not allow the viewer to see the big picture at a glance. I also tried to show that while I’ve had a large number of jobs there’s a pattern of, and consistency between, organizations and between higher ed and k12. I tried to make that connection in the Timeline JS version by using the same logo and color pattern in the segments but it requires people to notice that and hold it in their heads. It’s not doing what a good visualization should do which is to offload that cognitive load to the eyes of the viewer. Hand Sketch […]

Three rows of orange-ish colors with the text 'fake hues' over the top of them in white.

Fake Hues

I heard Trump saying ‘fake news’ on the way in this morning and it led me to ‘fake hues.’ It’s been stuck in my head ever since. I thought this would have been done already but a cursory google search didn’t turn it up so . . . I took the image of Trump from this article and used Color Thief1 to pull out the three main skin-ish colors. It took all of five minutes to slap together and write this post so I’ve now got it out of my head and can move on to more productive things. But I’ll probably come back to it this evening to match the font and the box ratios on the upper portion so the white spaces matches the letter cross-strokes like the lower portion. 1 It’s science rather than my biased selection of especially orange colors.

A screenshot of the worst part of my portfolio. It shows three presentation summaries.

Re-Thinking My Portfolio

Below is the assignment I gave. I’m going to give it a shot starting with my own portfolio and then looking for aspirational goals in a subsequent post. Take a look around at portfolios other people are using. You’ll want to check out people in the field like Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom but you’ll also want to look outside sociology for inspiration. Cast a wide net. Find sites that are doing things you like. Take targeted screenshots and explain what you like. Link back to the sites. Keep thinking about the data being presented, the user interactions that get you to the data, and the visual elements that appeal to you. Spend an hour or so looking around and getting ideas. If a particular search isn’t fruitful, try something else or jump ahead 5 or 10 pages in the search results. Don’t get bogged down. Once you’ve got a good chunk of ideas, use them to create a post outlining what you’d like your portfolio to be. Some people call this wireframing. If you like to sketch, sketch out things on paper or whiteboards and photograph (I do this often) them. You can also use a variety of digital tools to do something similar. Your portfolio is an interactive argument that provides a skeptic audience with a limited attention span […]

A screenshot of the site on codepen that has the three columns of html, css, and javascript visible.

Headless(-ish) WordPress Example

This is a bit of an odd one but possibly odd enough to be interesting. The Scenario We can’t run WordPress on the University servers but we’ve got a bunch of people who have content on WordPress and like that editing experience. They also want VCU domains which are much harder to get for off-site servers. The Proposal What if we take one of those sites and see what we can do with the REST API data in a headless1 HTML/JS/CSS only environment? I also wanted to keep it out of Vue or other larger javascript frameworks so it’d be less abstract to explain. At this point I am unsure that was a great choice but I can make a different choice next time. More Details The faculty member already had a WordPress site. It had a bunch of pages and had no posts. The faculty member also wanted the header image to change on various pages and for a sub-menu to be created on certain pages. The Proof of Concept – Step One HTML Shell I opted to sketch out the HTML portion loosely with Bootstrap 4. Initially, I’d gone to one of the HTML5Up templates but pulled back as it added a chunk more complexity than I needed initially. Plus, I knew Matt was going to handle taking […]

Random Re-Connection via Twitter

@twoodwar is this the T Woodward I I knew in Cola, SC?!?! I'm still recovering from those suicide kicks! #greengate — auz1111 (@auz1111) April 7, 2017 That is me- back row, partially obscured (and not just by the camo). Pretty wild that John found me somehow and that we’re both involved in WordPress and web design stuff. It led me to look up another guy from that photo and a few seconds later . . . presto. He was even using that same picture as his avatar (because, as it turns out, they had a bet on who could find me on the Internets). Not world shaking but a fun connection to the past (30-ish years ago!) and one that inspired a bit of digital wandering. I’m relatively sure this is my house back in 5th/6th grade but I’m not entirely sure. I mainly identified it by the creek visible in the map view. I probably spent more time there than in the house. That’d definitely the pond where I used to fish and catch baby turtles (something of a family tradition now). I went to E.L. Wright M.S. before we moved to the hell that was 7th grade in Huntsville, Alabama’s creatively-named Huntsville Middle School.


A Bit More on the Personal API

Keep trying to growths “personal API” stuff, but it feels like a strained replacement for “organization”. — Area Man (@xwordy) April 19, 2016 The tweet above and Alan’s comment on the post (below) and figured I haven’t really made a chunk of why I’m doing this clear or even what I’m doing clear. I’m probably a mix of more-middle-of-the-road and ambitious than I’ve been able to articulate so far. I declare no holy war. This is more a journey of self-improvement but I’m hoping the destination will be far more interesting than Chicken Soup for the Soul. I like the idea of establishing some sort of importance/urgency level to your list, but to me, it’s a bit binary (reclaim or “let it burn”). I still maintain there’s a fair bit of room in the middle ground. When Boone Gorges and D’Arcy Norman did their aggressive acts of Reclaiming a few years back, my thought was “That’s impressive” as well as “That looks like a lot of work”. See, I would rather take, edit, and share my photos than maintain my own flickr wanna be in WordPress or whatever. And there is the loss of potential social interaction you give up when you do a total reclaim, as happened when people went to Trovebox. I am content to store 44,000+ […]

Pushing/Pulling Data – Thinking Computationally? Differently? #IndieEdTech?

This post is going to be a bit like my head- a jumbled mass of things that are interconnected in my head but may not make any sense to anyone else. But what else is a blog for but for getting a better idea of what’s in your own head? Blogging in General The group I’m a part of (ALT Lab) has been struggling with blogging for a while now. We were/are aiming for a post a week for each member of the group. It’s not easy for many of us.1 It’s a pattern I’ve seen with lots of organizations and lots of individuals. You’ll have the usual pattern that varies somewhere between not knowing what to say, not having anything worth saying etc. The end result is that people don’t write. If you talk to them they’ll have a million things that would be interesting to read and that would be “worth” sharing. Maybe not having time gets referenced but given it’s a desired piece of our work, that’s not our issue. It feels mainly like it’s a holdover from time in formal education. Writing ends up becoming something done for an omniscient expert who will pass judgement on thee. It happens to me at times- both time limits and wondering if there’s any audience or purpose to what […]


Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

Orthoprint, or How I Open-Sourced My Face | Amos Dudley tags: 3d printing teeth dentistry weekly Joe Freedman’s Amazing Cycloid Drawing Machine – YouTube tags: art engineering math make maker weekly An Infantryman Learns To Code — Inside DigitalOcean — Medium I wonder how often this opportunity is there but the person isn’t . . . seems like the very definition of computational thinking. “In the end, the tool was very crude but accomplished something very useful: It had a flow that ensured all the reports required by people on the ground, and above, were sent in a timely and orderly manner. Each step of that flow was almost entirely automated. Each button filled a template and put the text in the clipboard for copy-pasting in the chat. Events were timed automatically. Distances and time of travel were computed automatically. A dropdown menu facilitated entering common values. Big warning signs were visible when a time critical step was ongoing, or some important data was missing.” tags: programming computationalthinking compthink weekly thoughtvectors Everything Is Crumbling ~ Stephen Downes “We see an awful lot in our field about what “the research tells us”, typically stated in such a way as to suggest we are charlatans if we don’t go along with it. I see this a lot, on a daily basis. “The […]


Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

What Makes Software Good? — Medium ““Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” This implies, for one, that good documentation does not excuse bad design. You can ask people to RTFM, but it is folly to assume they have read everything and memorized every detail. The clarity of examples, and the software’s decipherability and debuggability in the real world, are likely far more important. Form must communicate function.” tags: weekly education apply facdev software Chinese father hires virtual hitman to ‘kill’ son in online games – so he will get a job | Daily Mail Online “A Chinese man concerned about his unemployed son’s gaming addiction hired online hitmen to ‘kill’ his avatar. “ tags: weekly The New Aesthetic — There’s Something Fishy About The Other Nefertiti… ” Perhaps the file was obtained from someone involved in printing the reproduction, or it was a scan made of the reproduction? Indeed, the common belief in online 3D Printing community chatter is that the Kinect “story” is a fabrication to hide the fact that the model was actually stolen data from a commercial high quality scan. If the artists were behind a server hack, the legal ramifications for them are much more serious than scanning the object, which has […]