Styles in MS Word – A Jing Video

I’m attending the PBWorks Camp for teachers, and this is my homework for my second week, a screencast made using Jing on how Styles in MS Word can help in writing long pieces such as academic papers or business reports:
2009-07-02_1211
I re-did this a number of times, dealing with –

  • fitting what I wanted to say to the time available
    • figuring out what to leave out
    • making sure my set-up worked
  • reducing the size of my Word screen so I could fit everything into a smaller frame
  • stumbling while I was recording

I really like learning from screen captures myself, so I enjoyed creating one

Twitter Means Business

I’m ambivalent about my title because I use Twitter mainly for learning, communication, and entertainment. I recognize, however, that business is becoming increasingly a part of Twitter. I recently posted a picture on TwitPic …

Like a Liberty Print
Like a Liberty Print

and commented that it reminded me of a Liberty print.

(I have fond memories of a dress made from material I got at Liberty’s in London, and several scarves I treasure, including one my husband discovered in a second-hand store and bought for me. I haven’t shopped there for years because I haven’t been in London for years.)

What happened next was this –

Libertys of London Tweet
Libertys of London Tweet

plus an invitation to follow them. I looked at their site and saw that they had a number of people tweeting using the business name plus the (I assume) first name of the person posting the tweets, which strikes me as a good way to display a business and keep the personal touch so important a part of Twitter.

LibertyDaniel
LibertyDaniel

I didn’t chose to follow them, because I live a continent away and because my prime interest is people I know, web businesses that can have an impact on what I want to do, and people I can learn from. (I love the freedom of not following back without feeling rude. So different from invitations in symetrical social sites.)

I found it very interesting that my casual mention of their business brought them directly to me; they are obviously monitoring Twitter, which I didn’t expect from such an old and traditional company – which shows me I should be careful about stereotyping. ;->

Today, in a Google Group I am part of, Gloria Hildebrandt –  http://ohouse.ca/ – linked to this site –

Business & Twitter
Business & Twitter

It is clear to me that even businesses not directly connected to the web and social networking are seeing the business possibilities that Twitter offers.

So while I keep on enjoying the learning and entertainment that Twitter provides me, I also recognize that it has many uses beyond the purely personal.

Querulous Question #1

All the brouhaha about financial game playing and our perilous financial system has brought a question to my mind:  why do we talk about wages with percentages?

%

If someone, A, making $20,000. gets a 5% raise, that’s $1000.00 dollars and they now make

$21,000.


If someone, B, making $200,000. gets the same percentage, 5%, they get $10,000, and now make

$210,000.


Both get 5%, which sounds equal, but, in fact, A got 10% of what B got, and B got %1000 of what A received, or half of A’s salary.

In plain language,

B received $9000. more than A.


So a year later they each get a 5% raise again.

A started at $21,000. this time and got $1050. which gave A a total of

$22,050.


B started at $210,000. this time and got $10,500. which gave B

$220,500.


This time

B received $9,450. more than A,

that is, at the same percentage rate,

the actual difference in money increases by $450.

and each time they get another 5% raise, the difference will increase.

The rich get richer, faster.

Here’s my refined Querulous Question #1:

Why do we use percentages to talk about wage increases when that only increases the disparity every time? B gets increasingly more than A, so the difference between their wages keeps increasing. Why don’t we just say what the actual numbers are?

I’d really like to know if it’s just habit and convenience or if there’s an actual, communication-based reason for this.

MagNet ’09

I GO-trained into Toronto today to attend some sessions  at the MagNet ’09 Conference. I was really impressed with the excellent level of organization and with the high quality of the two sessions I attended, a session with a panel of literary agents answering questions and a session with Harry van Bommel on self-publishing. Both were excellent. Harry van Bommel speaks frequently and if you ever get a chance to hear him, do it! I learned a lot from him. http://www.harryvanbommel.com/Harry_van_Bommel/HOME.html

Harry van Bommel's Home Page
Harry van Bommel's Home Page

It was a lovely day to be in downtown Toronto:

Torontos Old City Hall
Toronto's Old City Hall
Toronto's current City Hall

Tomorrow I give my presentation on researching using the web.

iQ mobile Search - an iPhone Screenshot
iQ mobile Search - an iPhone Screenshot

I worry a little because the audience will be doubly diverse. They will have many different angles on what they want to research and what for. Plus, today I noticed a wide range in web awareness and know-how in those attending the sessions I was in. As well, I’ve been tweeting using the hashtag #MagNet09, and when I’ve searched, very few seem to be using it. I’m hoping I’ve got something for everyone but tomorrow will tell.

I’m using a PowerPoint, for three reasons.

  1. I like KeyNote better, but if anything went wrong with my laptop, there might not be another Mac handy and a PowerPoint file will play on a Mac or a Windows platform. (Not that I’m paranoid ;-> but I’ve emailed a copy to my Google mail, and I have a memory stick with my presentation on it which I carry separately from my laptop,)
  2. I’ve just found PowerPoint’s Presenter Tool –  something I thought only Keynote had – and that will make my presentation easier to run.
  3. I don’t trust hotel wi-fi having had previous bad experiences with giving web-based presentations where the promised wi-fi was down more than up.

So tomorrow, I will be looking at this screen –

PowerPoints Presenter Tools
PowerPoint's Presenter Tools

Wish me luck ;->

Always Beta, Never Done

The most fascinating thing about the web is that there is no end; there is always more and new.

The most frustrating thing about the web is that there is no end; there is always more and new.

Everything is always changeable. My website – jnthweb.ca – is not the same now as it was a half-hour ago. I just added my most recent brilliant idea,

Currently, I look at Twitter using the third or fourth application I’ve tried. It’s Nambu now; it was TweetDeck, and who knows what I’ll try next. And Twitter is the poster child for constant change, as Tweet after Tweet flips by.

My friend showed me her new laptop today, and I drooled enviously, although mine does everything I want and need and is only a little more than a year old.

I’m behind in my Bloglines again, no, make that still. I never did fully catch up.

Trying to catch up! - via Creative Commons/Flickr
Trying to catch up! - via Creative Commons/Flickr

So I love the web, and I learn so much from what often feels like frittering my time away, but there is no end to  what you can learn to do and learn and do on it. Clay Shirky, in Here Comes Everybody, says in the first 100 years after the invention of the printing press, it broke more than it fixed. I know that the printing press brought endless developments with it from dictionaries to science, from the Enlightenment to romance novels, and more. And here we are in the same early stage with the web, where everything is alway beta, never done!

An Autodidact Learns From the Web

An autodidact is someone who learns outside of regular school settings, someone who teaches herself (or himself). It used to be a kind of demeaning label, meaning someone who had spotty and uncertified knowledge. I claim the label “autodidact” as a badge of honour! I used to learn from books, even sometimes from tv, but now we have the web. I love the web. I learn so much from what I find on it.

Recently I gave myself a task that requires me to learn more about how to create web pages. I’d heard about CSS and knew, theoretically, what it could do. But every time I tried to do anything using it I hit THE GAP. THE GAP is the point where I get stuck and can’t go any further, even though I can see what I could do two steps along the learning path I’m on. When I hit THE GAP, I’m stuck. What I do then, is ask a knowledgable friend, if I can find one, or, more often, find a workaround. For a while, my workaround was wikis. I love wikis but they’re meant for sharing, not for using as your personal website, although they can work, sort of, as one.

One of My Wikis
One of My Wikis

Sometimes I find something a lot of the design work has been done for me, and I use that. Blogger had templates, and so does WordPress, which I graduated to.

My Blog
My Blog

But my design vision just isn’t satisfied.

I used tools like the old Netscape Composer and currently its grandchild, Nvu, both of which are WYSIWYG web page creators.

My Domain
My Domain

But my reach exceeds my grasp because I want something I have more control over. I want to produce the kind of website that says to readers “this person has powerful content: you can tell by the appearance!” (I’ve read the research on how people are reading before they decode a single word. The appearance of the text and page gives information that signals information to readers which profoundly affects how they take in the content.)

I’ve learned a little HTML code, and I’ve bookmarked sites where I can find more. But I’ve never taken a course in it, and a lot of it just looked bizarre and unreadable to me. (I was a text person initially, and not technically inclined, but I want to communicate on the web so I have to learn how to do so wholistically.) And using “View Source” and copy/paste seemed to me like a kind of plaigarism and theft. (What can I say? I’m old-school.)

Sometimes I think I learn backwards. I know my desired destination but I keep getting blocked at THE GAP. But I continue to struggle to build a little further out into the unknown territory, and I learn something from each struggle. Each struggle closes THE GAP a little more. I read manuals and follow instructions but I think most people who are inside the knowledge bubble have trouble being aware of what those outside the bubble might not know. The instructions are crisp and clear until they mention going to the “terminal shell” or some other ‘obvious’ term. Huh? Wikipedia tells me what it is, but I don’t get how to use it in this set of instructions. (I’m not the knowledgable audience they were writing for.) So I stop and try some other path. Till I get frustrated with it, because I’ve found THE GAP in it. I’m really good at finding THE GAP. So when I find someone, often on the web, who explains things in a way I can understand, someone who gives me the practical aspects of the concept, I am delighted, excited and grateful.

That happened to me today. I found Chris Coyier’s video on HTML & CSS – The VERY Basics. 32 minutes of pure pleasure. He shrank the gap – till it virtually (no pun etc.) disappeared for me.

He has a gift for teaching and I’m a grateful student.

A Poem

Occasionally I write a poem I’m proud of – here’s an old one:

Approaching Sixty, I See That…

Courage at eighty is different from at twenty
But both ages carry their future constantly –
A fearsome thrust into an unmapped wilderness.

A fearsome thrust carrying life forward blindly
At eighty requires enough love to endure
Despite loss, and endure because of loss to come,
And endure because of the sweetness still here, if
Courage persists. And, despite (because?) the compass pointing
Through the wilderness to the edge of the map,
Tells a tale seen over and over about endings, despite this,
To work through today knowing
too much, and not enough, about tomorrow.

To carry your future at twenty is to seek
The wilderness because it must be mapped
And shaped. There are roads to clear and homes
To build, and no one has given you a plan
For your wilderness, (just the one they didn’t use in theirs).
So you thrust forward, knowing too little and enough,
Building blindly wherever you find a clearing, lifting
The log of your childhood so it bridges your fears,
Confident that it might not collapse on you.

Courage at eighty is different from at twenty
But both ages carry their future constantly –
A fearsome thrust into an unmapped wilderness.

Joan Vinall-Cox, October 25, 2002