Friday, September 28, 2007

More Craziness

It's good to see that the UW has taken seriously the lessons from the VT murders. An armed robbery occurred this morning near campus. For the second time this week a campus wide email went out, and buildings near the last known/suspected location of the suspect were on lockdown. He's now been captured.

Interestingly the University also used facebook to notify students about the threats. Already some students are checking their facebook more frequently than their email, hence the UW's unusual ad. (If only facebook had an email plugin/widget they could do both at the same time.) Facebook has lots of uses, but I think this is the first (and now second) use by a University for emergency announcements. It was pretty cheap too; apparently only costing the university a single C-note.

In fact when I set up my course blog a close 2nd choice was to set up a facebook page for the course. The advantage would have been that students could join the group and then always have that page linked to from their profile pages... For some reason students are less diligent about bookmarking pages. Ultimately I didn't want to coerce students into joining facebook, so I went with the blog.

Also, update on that last incident: it turns out the poor guy probably wasn't even in Madison. They just arrested him in California. His story is really sad; sexual abuse, a ridiculous number of foster homes, drug use, and now this. There's no easy answers there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sign 'O' the Times:

Madison is, apparently, the latest campus to be confronted with armed violence. UW students got an email this afternoon, reading in part:
UW Police and City of Madison Police are currently searching for a suicidal
man who claims to have a gun. The search is focused on the area of UW
Hospital at 600 Highland Drive. Police are asking people to stay away
from the area. The entrances to the Hospital are blocked. The emergency
room is open. The emergency room can be accessed from University Avenue
to University Bay Drive...

That's the other edge of campus and I'm not very familiar with it, but there are soccer fields and possibly a baseball field and a park over there. So I think it would be hard for this guy to move away from that area without being noticed. Hopefully that will make it easier to catch him.
"Man Injured by Sword-Yielding Intruder"

The AP's misadventures in language: If this poor guy had wielded a sword, he would have been able to protect himself from this particular brand of assailant.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A better way to migrate your mail into gmail

I had written about a google mail loader for IMAP mail servers. Well I found something easier. If you use pine, or can use pine, to access your mail then following these instructions is the easiest way to forward/bounce your mail to a gmail account.
Unas fotos, para que se acuerden de mi.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anna Quindlen has an article in Newsweek that challenges anti-abortion activists to put a number on the amount of jail time that women should serve for getting abortions (in that hypothetical fantasy land where a law banning abortions is constitutional). I'm always surprised by the USA's appetite for revisiting this topic. Anyway, blah blah blah... I was offended, not by the abortion stuff, but for this little throwaway line:

Buried among prairie dogs and amateur animation shorts on YouTube is a curious little mini-documentary shot in front of an abortion clinic in Libertyville, Ill. The man behind the camera is asking demonstrators who want abortion criminalized what the penalty should be for a woman who has one nonetheless. You have rarely seen people look more gobsmacked. It's as though the guy has asked them to solve quadratic equations.

What? It's as though they've been asked to add 1 and 1? Come on! Few things in life are easier than solving quadratic equations. We teach it in high school, or junior high.

Is the state of mathematical knowledge in our society really in such a shambles? Is a smart commentator like Quindlen really using quadratic equations as a metaphor for the most challenging conundrums life has to offer?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Google Mail Loader

I started using Thunderbird recently, but while foolishly playing with the settings, I had it delete all mail on my account on the Math Dept's IMAP server that was older than 1 month. Fortunately they keep 2-week backups, and I was able to recover my mail.

Anyway, lesson learned, I have now set about creating a backup of that mail in a gmail account. Some guy by the name of Mark Lyon has a great little app, a Google GMail Loader that sends your IMAP emails to your gmail account. To use it, you first need to (or maybe just should?) download the mail to a local mailbox file using for example Thunderbird (the original source of my mail problems!), and then give yourself plenty of time, because the program sends the messages out one at a time, with a 2-second pause in between messages, so if you have 5 years worth of stuff, it might take a while. Anyway, if you are also in the math department, and leaving soon, this is one way to backup your emails while enjoying gmail's searchableness. (Also, since when is searchability is not a word?!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Time Management Program

This Instant Boss is a great little program for managing your work time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Blogging Experiment
This blog is, currently, mostly for me to experiment with the internets. But now I am starting my very first Job-related blog for my calculus class. I figure, what the hell, it's the future. My class blog is here. I decided to use Wordpress, just to experiment with a different blogging tool.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ms South Carolina Teen
Why can't American's find the USA on a map? Ms South Carolina Teen thinks it might be because they don't have maps. So they're unprepared for the task, having never seen a map before.

But maybe the real reason is that American high schools give 3.5 gpa's and a pat on the back to intellectually stunted students. After all one way to meet NCLB's requirements is to lower standards so that everyone can be considered "at grade level".

2 Mike Lester cartoons:

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I bought runts for the first time in years, and found 2 gross new flavours: pineapple and a gross approximation of mango... C'mon Wonka! Of the original flavours 4 of 5 were great... if they would just go back to the originals, and get rid of the limes, everyone would be better off, and fatter.