January 7, 2006

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Things every geek should know

Whenever I meet geeks for the first time, I tend to run through a list
of tools I think they should try out. Here’s a partial list:

  • *Blogs*: Not just for writing about what you had for lunch. Blogs

    are great for personal knowledge management (keep your own
    learning notebook). Run your own with WordPress or host it on
    WordPress.com, Blogger, or Schtuff.

  • *Blog aggregator*: An absolute must if you read many blogs. I like Bloglines because of
    folders.
  • *Wikis*: Excellent for quick notes and websites, particularly
    when people need to collaborate. Make one on Schtuff or
    set up your own with Pmwiki or Mediawiki.
  • *Social bookmarking*: Not only is tagging a great way to organize your personal bookmarks, but
    you can discover interesting sites and people through social bookmarking. Most of the early adopters seem to be on del.icio.us, but I think Myweb 2.0 is more promising because it has better search. CiteULike is great for academics.

I’ve got more lists around here. For example, I go through a different set when talking to a Web 2.0 person…

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Education brainstorming

Big thanks to Cindy A. Trinidad, Roy C. Nicolas, Dominique Cimafranca, Charo Nuguid, JM Ibanez, and Clair Ching for sharing their education-related insights with me. They helped me think about what I want to do after graduation. =)

Cindy shared how seminars on teaching technique greatly helped her
manage her classes. She runs an end-user training company that caters
to children and adults. This is how her new hires learn how to teach:

  1. Take a course even if you already know the content. You need to
    learn about technique.
  2. Practice and play around with the product until you feel comfortable with it.
  3. Practice teaching the subject to your teacher, who can give you
    feedback on unclear or incorrect things.

We all think that teachers have to spend a lot of time walking around,
keeping an eye on students’ progress and making sure everyone can keep
up. =)

Cindy also shared with us her thoughts on the need for good textbooks,
and the abysmally low pay for writing such!

By asking questions, Roy helped me narrow down what I want to do.
We came up with something along the lines of:

  1. Find out who my market is and what they need. I’d like to focus
    first on finding highly-motivated teachers in private
    technical/vocational schools and colleges. I want to find out what
    they need.
  2. Profit! ;)

Heh. Well, must figure that out sometime.

That isn’t the only way, though. Dominique told me about Positive(?),
an initiative to help improve computer science education in colleges.
(Whee! I’ll just piggyback on that.) Charo told me about Voice of
America(?) and that one can actually do quite a lot without major
financial backing.

Anyway, here are the main insights:

  • I might be able to turn this into a business. A business means I
    might be able to attract other people to get into it.
  • I might also be able to get this funded by philanthropists. To do
    that, I need a good program.
  • I can start small. Let’s change my corner of the world first.
  • Motivation is key. We spent a bit of time talking about how to deal
    with closed-minded people and people who don’t want to share their
    knowledge. I’m in favor of going after people who don’t need to be
    persuaded to share their knowledge. I want to find people who can’t
    help but teach.
  • Mentoring is very important, but most teachers are on their own in
    classrooms. Waah. Maybe there should be something like
    Toastmasters, but for teachers… ;)

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Javascript or Flash?

I’ve been thinking about the Adphoto
portfolio viewer. As nice and, well, flashy as a Flash portfolio
viewer would be, it might also be good to have a simple Javascript
one, just in case (gasp!) someone who doesn’t have Flash installed is
browsing around. Well, ideally, we’d have both versions _and_ a static
HTML one, but it’s easier for me to hack together something in
Javascript (yikes) than it is for me to do something in Flash, given
that I don’t have Macromedia Flash MX.

So, on to the Javascript crossplatform libraries…

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