What Software do Coursera Instructors Use?

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

I’ve been out of academia for a few years now, but lately I’ve been watching a lot of random Coursera courses. One meta-thing that’s become apparent is that presentation technology has moved forward since I stopped teaching. So far I haven’t been able to figure out exactly how these courses are put together, and Coursera seems surprisingly tight-lipped about exactly what they’re doing. In particular there are three parts:

I Want an eReader

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

I’ve gotten completely addicted to eBooks this year. I now have a library of hundreds of ePubs and PDFs covering almost every category in the Dewey Decimal System. However I’m finding the available eReading software weak and inadequate for a lot of uses. The best I’ve found so far is Aldiko Premium ($4.99 at the Android App Store) combined with the open source Calibre on my desktop and laptop; but I want better. In particular here’s what I find missing in current options:

WordPress and android’s Fish

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I discovered that there is an android app for working with a WordPress blog,’s and it seems to work pretty well. However, as with all tablet apps for real limitation is an import. Stste I’m attempting to use Nuance voice recognition here, and in some sense is working surprisingly well; although just report me to keep tapping the screen to add a new sentence after every time I Parks. I have to figure out if there some way to correct the voice recognition and to learn from my voice as areas with the desktop version of Dragon. However, the voice recognition is surprisingly good; and I would rated about on par for the desktop version I’ll bean someone easier to use. It definitely seems superior to the version of Dragon for the Mac, and maybe on par with the version for windows. PS Ethan and I am deliberately leaving a lot of mistakes in place so you can see just how gorgeous this is or is not. BottomLine: Hses is actually just suffer writing a first draft of the text heavy, formatting for post ; but it’s not your replacement for real keyboard.

And for comparison sake, here’s the edited version of the post:

Hard Drive Warranties Are Worthless (and Western Digital’s More Than Most)

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

I’d estimate that about 50% of my external hard drives fail over their useful lifetime. The manufacturer doesn’t seem to matter a lot. Lacie, Western Digital, Maxtor, etc. I’ve tried them all and they all fail. Multiple redundant backups, and close attention to signs of problems are necessary to maintain data. And yet to date I think I’ve had exactly 0 hard drives replaced or repaired under warranty. Why? It simply isn’t safe to send hard drives back for replacement. Today’s multi-terabyte drives, and really any drive, contain too much personal data to let it out of my sight; at least not without running it through a degausser that costs as much as several dozen replacement drives first.

Once an external hard drive has failed, it is usually not possible to erase it, much less securely. However the most common mode of failure for an external hard drive seems to be that the enclosure fails, but the data on the platters is still there and can be recovered with enough effort and tools simply by pulling the platters out, and shoving them into a working enclosure. It’s not something I would usually do unless I didn’t have backups. However more often than not it’s something that could be done, either by someone who intercepts the package, a tech working at the hard drive company I return the drive to, or the next warranty servicee who gets back a reconditioned drive with my data still on it. Usually they’d have to use a disk recovery tool to see that data, but sometimes not even that. One third party Mac repair shop once sold me a “new” hard drive that came complete with the contents of someone else’s system: Quicken files, college essays, personal letters, etc.

I recently had the uncommon experience of getting enough warning to erase a hard drive before it failed completely. One of the Western Digital Elements 2.0 TB USB drives I use for rotating Time Machine Backups began making a whining noise. That’s a pretty reliable sign of imminent failure. For a little while, it wouldn’t mount at all, but after some coaxing I got Disk Utility to recognize it and did a single pass erase with all zeros. After that, I was reasonably comfortable sending it back for replacement under warranty. I paid for postage, but otherwise, Western Digital made the process relatively painless. I just entered my serial number in an online form, entered a reason for return, and they gave me a shipping label. I packed the drive up, took it to the mail room, and sent it off. And then a week later they sent me back the wrong drive.

Can the Livescribe Pen Recognize Cursive?

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

You be the judge:

vanity devona war a search engine, The name
war ihnen bdtsfoe the association with
ltuhouna Matute and because someone
thought that mark enyiw should hur
two 0’s in the name (44100, 60-ogb).
Ate the tin opined about 603 of the
company was owned by the chinen
government. We meres didfczur out
what they were up to, or what. they
thought they won up to; but by
the time thy finals shutdown
they had burned through an
100 avian dollars in ayuht.

Verizon Incompetence

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Verizon’s level of incompetence is stunning. They are so bad they can’t accept payments online or over the phone. They have to out source that to another company. Instead of a simple form like every other e-commerce company on the planet, they want you to install software to pay them. And then the install doesn’t work!