Another college trip

But this time, it wasn’t to look at places Jeff might be going; instead, I travelled to Sonoma State University to give the first talk in the Philosophy Club’s “Digital Being” series (which, by no coincidence at all, was also a scheduled session of Philosophy 310: Digital Being).

I arranged for Professor Sullins to give the class an assignment: write my introduction, based on what they could find out about me on the Web, and they did a fine job. Fortunately, no one surprised me by what they’d found, but it was still somewhat odd to have a total stranger tell me what kind of car I own.

I did the talk without slides, which had its good side and its bad side. The good side, of course, is that I could talk freely and didn’t have to worry about making sure what I said didn’t just duplicate what was on the screen. The bad side is that I don’t remember exactly what I talked about, because I don’t have the slides to refer to as a guide.

But I do remember talking about the days when the Internet was “exclusive”, when what you wrote on Usenet stayed in a fairly small circle, when there was an “@” party at the Worldcon (for the few people with electronic mail addresses). And about the ways in which today’s Internet enables collaboration (Twitter and wikis and blogs, oh my!). The talk itself was collaborative – there were lots of questions (some of which lent themselves to straightforward answers, but most of which didn’t). We even talked about document formats, network neutrality, and confirmation bias (for more on that last, see Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), which I hope to review here soon).

We were supposed to finish at 6, but went to 6:15 — either the session was worthwhile or no one wanted to be obvious about being the first to leave. I can hope it was the former. And, while I can’t speak for the audience, I enjoyed the experience of giving a guest lecture (I even wore a “professorial” jacket, though I had to abandon it because the room was warm) and would enjoy an opportunity to do it again.

Thanks, John, for inviting me!

Coincidences in the Twitter Timeline

I just saw this interesting pair of tweets as adjacent entries in my Twitter friends timeline. Only the @handles have been changed to protect the innocent.

When drawing clouds, you have to be careful not to make them look like a mass of boobs and butts.

followed immediately by

If you do, you should leave a comment on Paul’s photo. Or a comment on the blog would work too.

UI Misfeature of the Day

My 2005 Prius has Bluetooth connectivity to my cellphone, which is a good thing for the rare occasions that I need to use the phone while driving. One of those occasions arose this morning as I was coming to work — there was a big bag of something in the traffic lanes on the highway; I was able to avoid it, but thought it would be a good idea to call 911 to let the CHP know about the problem.

The Prius tries to avoid letting drivers distract themselves with toys like the GPS or the cellphone, so it makes large parts of the UI inactive while the car is in motion. Including the phone keypad – you can only dial 15 phone numbers you preprogrammed into the car’s memory. And there is no exception for 911.

So I had to dig into my pocket and pull out my iPhone to call 911. Of course, the iPhone is a touchscreen phone, so I also had to look at the phone while I was dialing.

I guess I’ll use up one of my memory slots for 911 so I’ll be prepared for next time.

Down by the Riverside

Jeff got the last early decision (note the lower case!) yesterday (we don’t expect to hear from any more schools until at least mid-March). It was a “yes” from UC Riverside.

We are going to do our part to keep the economy going, just on college visit travel!

And since yesterday was his birthday, it seemed like the perfect time to give him an iPhone and retire his old and cranky Motorola 557. Anyone need an old and cranky Motorola 557?