A Day Lost

Not in any real sense, just reacting to the fact that my host, StartLogic, had me down for a full day. I spent the better part of an hour with them on their support line to find out that there was, “an issue with my server.” Great insight. They assured me that I would be back up very shortly and that my “datas” were safe. Well let’s just say that they were telling half truths. Clearly something big melted down as I was offline for a full day and when I did come back my post from last night was gone. I was able to grab the post from the RSS feed, but the downtime is what bothers me. Even when you think you are working to control your own online identity all sorts of stuff happens. At any rate, it is good to be back.

Real Life

With all of blogging about Second Life, identity, and my online world I thought I’d share something a little more personal than I typically do. I very rarely, if ever, go this far off blog with things, but I have to say the last two days away from home with my wife and my two children has me realizing more than ever what it is all about. I can say with total honesty that I really do love what I do in my professional life, but days like yesterday and today make me reconnect with what brings me balance and peace. Today in particular was amazing — the sun, the ocean, a quiet walk with my (not so) baby boy asleep in the stroller — all of it was humbling and perfect. After spending some amazing time on the beach with the family, a time my daughter marked by actually getting into the Atlantic Ocean in mid March, I can say that I am completely in awe of what is around me.

The two wonderful and mysterious little people who share DNA with me continue to bring me to my knees in appreciation. I never share public pictures of them, but the setting and their smiles have left me with little choice. So, with that I say I am sorry for inflicting a moment of personal reflection on anyone who decided to show up for this post and want to tell anyone who will listen that life is truly a gift. There will be no talk of SecondLife, RSS, Twitter, or anything else … the images that follow are my meta identity. That’s it.






max looking

early spring


It has been a whirlwind of a Summer — one I am both happy and sad to see go. The amount of loss has been heavy in the air for us this Summer, but at the same time celebrations of life have been all around. I guess what it means is that I have been in a total state of divided attention for months. This week will be no different as my Sister gets married on Friday! That means another short week of trying to cram way too much stuff into the available time. We are all crazy busy, so I know bitching about it will get me nowhere fast.

Last week was particularly difficult. We found out that one of my best friend’s Mother passed away, finally losing her battle with cancer. She was a wonderful woman who acted like a second Mother to me — but honestly, acting like a Mother and losing your Mother pales in comparison. At her service he, his Father, and two siblings stood in front of the most crowded church I have ever been in and delivered the most heart wrenching tribute. It became clear to me that it was harder for me to see him hurt so much then it was knowing his Mother had passed. Not sure if that makes any sense, but it was a new place for me to be.

From there, it was off to a wedding of another great friend. His wedding was at his home outside of Honsdale, PA on his 20 acres in the woods. What a wonderful venue — unlike anything I had been to before. It was a wonderful evening. We stayed in a great lake community and I actually relaxed — very little cell coverage, wifi was scarce, and the kids were with Grandma. I noticed I didn’t feel the need to check email or RSS feeds or anything else.

Today is back to reality for a couple of days and then back into the wedding cycle. I am thrilled for the weekend and I am excited to see the seasons change. I think we all need a new vibe around here. Sorry for the off topic post, but I had to write.

Keep On Keeping On

I just noticed the Learning and Innovation Blog just turned three … my first post to L&I was way back on July 28, 2004. It wasn’t my first blog post, but it was certainly the first that was trying to focus energy into the space I spend my time in — teaching and learning with technology. Before L&I I had been playing with all sorts of tools — from Frontier and Radio to Movable Type … I just couldn’t make it all happen. It was still too much work, until 7/28/2004 …

That’s the day I decided to skip the nasty installs and just try to publish … The answer at the time was Blogger. I can vividly remember being blown away by the ease of use with the tool. I recall going to work the next day and gathering up members of the Solutions Institute and falling all over myself with excitement as I showed them just how easy it was to get an account and publish online. I recall something like a 3 step process to make it all happen. It fundamentally changed my appreciation for working the web — and I was a webmaster back in the day! The instant publishing opportunity it created was a major turning point for me.

That excitement is still at the root of so much of what I try to do every day. I still have slides in presentations I do that talk about the old web publishing model compared to the blog model of type and publish. The ease of use convinced me that if I could find ways to take technology out of the way I could influence not only my own writing frequency, but the frequency of writing by my students and my peers. It opened my eyes to how powerful creating content can and should be. It has changed how I use the web in my classrooms, in my work, and in my life.

I feel like so much of the last three years worth of thinking started with that Blogger account. And so it is, as I post my 529th post here at L&I I am struck by how this whole experience has changed the way I think, create, and share. It is astonishing to me how many real and virtual connections writing has provided me with over the last few years … I can’t thank all of you enough who spend a little time reading what it is I have to say and leave comments (nearly 1600 of them!) … all of it has proven to be a very important part of my personal and professional life. Thank you!

Now, time to start working on some decent content!

iPhone Fever

So I’ve been out of the blog limelight (if that’s what you can call it) for over a week now … I have been writing, just not much and not here at all. Work has been crazy, travel has been crazy, and the iPhone hype has been crazy. On the work front we are running as fast as we can to launch the first five Digital Commons Studios, hire new staff for projects, and finalize plans for what will be an outrageously busy and exciting year. The Digital Commons project itself has moved faster than anything I have been a part of since the start-up days — really spinning the whole project up over the last few weeks … who says we move slow in higher education?

On the travel side, we’ve been back and forth to Bloomsburg, PA the last couple of weekends for lead up events to my sister’s wedding. While there last weekend I got to play a little golf — actually 36 holes — with my Dad and some friends. I can’t tell you how much I needed that. Last Friday I had a very bad day professionally … one that really took the winds out of my sails … crazy thing is it started with a call I got as I was getting on my bike to ride to work from one of my best friends in the world. He and his wife had their first child, a little girl. Wonderful news! The wonder of that news was instantly crushed by the reality that his Mother is close to the end of her fight with cancer. I stopped in to see her while out on a walk with my 9 month old son … every time we go to Bloomsburg I try to find the time to stop in and see her … it is heart wrenching knowing that my friend of 25 or so years is trying to resolve feelings that I can’t even imagine — the birth of a little girl who shares his dying Mother’s name.

I feel like an idiot even mentioning the fact that the iPhone comes out today and I will be lining up somewhere to see if I can get one. I mentioned I have been writing elsewhere, well I started an iPhone blog to share my thoughts on the device for a research project I am a part of here at PSU. Several of us are investigating the way the iPhone plays in our enterprise and how we can see its value in education. Hard part is just getting one — I’m a little too busy (and perhaps, normal) to feel good about standing in line for days or even hours. I’ll see what I can do, but I am obviously thinking about it as I have had dreams about the damn thing the past two nights. If I get one, I will share thoughts here and over at my iPhone PSU Blog.

Sorry for the mad recap, but that’s what has been up.

Misty Cat

There is too much to say about how bad I feel right now. I know it sounds crazy, but I am grieving far more than I ever thought I would over to loss of a pet. On Saturday I took Misty, our nearly 16 year old cat, to the Vet one last time. When they checked her out an X-Ray revealed a tumor that had broken her jaw. There was nothing we could do and so I signed a little piece of paper that gave them permission to put her to sleep.

No need for me to tell the story of Misty as my wife has done a much better job than I could ever do. All I can say is that my heart is heavy and I miss her. I think I am also really trying to come to grips with how my little girl is taking all this — her first word was Kitty and she loved Misty like a sister. This morning as I was getting ready for work, she, my son, and my wife came into the bathroom and I said something to the effect that, “the whole family was here.” My little five year old looked at me and said, “no it isn’t, Daddy, Kitty isn’t here.” The house is quiet and the adjustment is big. Hard to articulate and I feel silly and strange to walk around with this much hurt for my cat. She was with my wife and I since we moved in together in college, traveled the east coast with us as we forged a life together, and was with us through the birth of both our children. She is missed greatly.

Misty Cat
Misty, August 30, 1991 – March 31, 2007

Talk to Me

While bouncing around the web this morning I came across Wufoo … it is a nice little site that lets you create custom forms on the fly. Its funny because that is something we dreamed about providing in the CMS we built back in the IST days. At any rate, I made this simple little form in no time and was hoping you would fill it out and let me know a little more about how you use my site. I’m not collecting emails and stuff like that and I certainly have no reason to sell any info … just testing out Wufoo and seeing if I can gather a little information.

The price structure looks a whole heck of a lot like BaseCamp … there are free options that let you do a limited amount of data gathering and there are paid accounts that let you grab all sorts of information. The free account gives you three surveys and allows for 100 entries per month. I haven’t explored it yet, but there is an exposed API … could be interesting as well. Once I made the little survey below I was able to just copy and paste the code right into my post.

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