December 17, 2013

The demise of studentry

This semester I was teaching an after school program. Twice a week for an hour and a half I would have between 4 and 12 kids in grades 4th-10th.  A diverse mix of gender, maturity and education.  Some days were fine, many were awful. Most were disappointing on some level.

The purpose of the program was to expose kids to advanced concepts they weren't getting in school or at home, to broaden their horizons.  I was asked to join because someone heard that I liked Sketchup.  I agreed because it seemed like a small commitment and I was under the impression that the kids wanted to be there.
The reality was that the kids did not care. For some it was a baby sitting service. For some it was a holding pattern until they went to dance class.  For all of them it was after a full day of school and an hour of tutoring. The worst kids were rude, disrespectful and flippant, the best were fun, silly and charming.  No one cared about what we were doing.

I expected to walk them through the Sketchup tutorials and have them draw the school building, then the campus and then upload something to the 3D Warehouse.  About 2 weeks into it they stopped caring about drawing accurate measurements. They forgot what they learned the week before. Some of the kids couldn't or wouldn't read.

We moved from Sketchup to Google Sites to desktop and laptop disassembly, game design with Agent Cubes and participated in the Hour of Code. Nothing kept their attention for more than two weeks, usually less.

It was obvious which students had parents who spent time with their kids in the evenings and weekends; who didn't just indulge them but also guided them to overcome difficult, strange and frustrating obstacles. Perseverance was evident in some but not all.

I think trying to get their attention and keep it after such a long day limited the range of success that we could achieve. I'm not a teacher and I don't know how to manage groups of students. I think I can instruct but only if the student wants to be there and learn.

Today is the final day and I'm very relieved.

December 10, 2013

Metro effectual

I've had Windows 8 on my laptop for over a year.  It's an i5 with 8gb RAM. It has a capacitive single touch screen.  Metro didn't make any sense, I navigate it with mouse / touchpad and keyboard.  I found myself actively avoiding the Start page and it's been annoying to use Windows.  
A friend purchased a Venue 8 Pro on Black Friday and I got to play wit it and Metro finally made sense!  When used with a touch interface then it's just fine. Even the MS Store showed some value.  Having a one size fits all OS does seem to work in my opinion.

There's too much confusion and blurring of product lines:

  • Windows 8 for desktop, laptops and tablets.
  • Windows 8 for ARM tablets
  • Windows 8 mobile for phones
The Metro interface has no business being on a server.  That's the worst way to get people to move to a core install.  Especially if the Server Manager only runs on current edition of the client.

Renewing tools.

When I purchased this house I found a sledge head under the house, it was a rusted, 8lb beast with the remnants of the handle rotting away.  I used a wire brush and the rest of my sand paper bits from my Dremel getting rid of the rust. I made the handle from a koa branch in the yard. I was going for a Hammer of Thor look, but it's immediately obvious upon first use that this it's not a one handed tool. 

The ax was purchased with a broken handle from a yard sale for 2$. Thankfully I had a rescued axe handle that fit well enough. It has a small gap in the front, but from what I can tell it's alright.   I put as much of an edge on it as I could with only a bastard file but I don't have anything else with which to clean up the face.

This ball peen hammer was found in the yard buried in the dirt. I nearly threw it in the rubbish, thinking it was a rock.
I used a wire brush to remove the dirt and big chunks of rust and then soaked it in vinegar for two days and finished it off with more wire brush.  I used a few sand paper bits from the Dremel to get as much of the pitting cleaned out.  This was a learning experience for making my own handles, which I did from guaivie. Guaivie is incredibly strong wood which is growing around my house. The head is in awful shape, but I don't really mind.  It's the only revenge I have for the previous owners discarding it and other trash in my yard.

I still have a hatchet handle to make but with the holidays approaching,I think that project will be put on hold. None of these are treated with any linseed oil because the budget for the entire project was $2.