Monday, June 30, 2008

Fidelity Realty Sucks

If you live in Utah, and think you might want to get your home listed on the MLS but don't want to hire a Realtor, stay far, far away from Fidelity Realty. They stinketh.

They took almost a week to get my home listed, and then when they did list it, it was $10,000 more than I had told them. No wonder I wasn't getting calls. Because of their snail's pace, I missed memorial day weekend traffic.

Then last week when I tried to cancel I was promised it would be down within 24 hours. It is now 6 days later, and I'm still listed with them. I can't get it up with another Realtor because you can't have a double listing. I have been strung along, and given false promises. I'm at the point now where they won't return my calls.

So, there you go. If you're thinking of listing your home on the MLS, if you come across Fidelity Realty, beat them with a 10 foot pole for me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quote of the day...

Dad: "Come on Spencer, get out."

Spencer: "In a second!"

Dad: "You've been in there for 45 minutes, Steven has to go."

"Spencer: "I'm trying!"

Dad: "New motto for our house, If IT's not coming out, then you come out."

Spencer: "DAD!"


I'm thinking that motto would look pretty good on a cross stitch, hanging over the toilet.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cranky Old Freaks...

It is an older person's right to be cranky. They've lived their life, they put up with crap, and now they get to kick back on a porch somewhere, wave their gnarled cane, and mutter. It's a circle of life kind of thing. I fully support old people being cranky.

However, here in Logan we have a whole mess of 'snow birds' living in USU Housing. These snow birds are far more cranky than they need to be, and right now I'm thinking they should all pack their bags and just go home. Let me tell you two stories, both of them true, both happened to me and my wife.

We used to live in the trailer park on USU's campus. My oldest son Spencer was 8 months old at the time. We'd gone over to do a bit of research in the computer lab. The married student computer lab. Where married students go, often with their small children. There were a bunch of these snow birds in the room, and my son Spencer was making gurgling noises. He wasn't crying, he wasn't yelling, he was making baby noises. An old woman suddenly got up, walked over to my wife, and said, "I'm sorry, all of us here in this room have already raised our children, and we don't really want to have to listen to yours".

No, I kid you not, that is exactly what she said. I wanted to smack her, but refrained.

Fast forward to yesterday. My wife is on the bus with our kids, and is holding our 18 month old son. He's on the bus, he's seeing new things out the window so he is pointing and 'talking' to my wife. He is not crying, he is not screaming, but he is also not talking in a hushed whisper.

Well, at one stop, an oranged-hair snowbird gets up to get off the bus. She walks over to my wife and puts her face right into my son's face. My wife thought she was going to make cute goo goo noises at him.

Instead she screams right into his face. That's right, she screams at him. No words, just a cranky, brainless bellow. Then she throws my wife a dirty look, and gets off the bus.

I tell you what, in my youth I was able to refrain. But I think now I'm old enough, and cranky enough, to start slapping.

So, if you're a snowbird, living in Logan, watch out. Some of us locals are cranky too.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I am in a small writers group here in Logan, Utah. It's made up primarily of published authors, but a few that have not been published, but their work is very good.

The other day, as it turned out, the only people to show up for the group was me and Amber Smith, who has not yet been published. She is a great writer, and has 4-5 books finished. She is diligently looking for somebody to publish her books. She seemed a bit discouraged, and I thought, "You know, if this was a movie, this would be the part where she has reached the end of her rope, she gives up, and then she gets a letter from some publisher wanting to sign her up.

But that only happens in the movies, right? Well, the next day I get an e-mail from Amber. She had just received a letter from Cedar Fort who will be publishing her book, The Priestess Prophecy. She has announced it on her blog.

So, a huge congratulations goes out to Amber, and good luck!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quote of the day...

The other day I woke up to this lovely exchange.

Sue: "Are you listening to me?"

Jared: "Yes."

Sue: "We do not point our naked bums at our brothers, do you understand?"

I'm a sucker for a good mashup...

Web 2.0 Vs. LMS

Great discussion going on over at the Chronicle of Higher Education over the LMS vs. Web 2.0 debate. The comments are what makes it interesting. A few highlights:

"Why should we, #4, “adapt to the learning styles of all the students”? Some “learning styles” are not very conducive nor adaptive to learning some kinds of things, concepts, skills, and ideas. Medical and Law Schools do not “adapt to the learning styles” of all the students. And the Courts those law students will have to practice in will certainly not so adapt.

Of course, if the job of most undergraduate colleges, especially Liberal Arts, and the like, is to warehouse late teens and young adults for four to six years, then we have to make them happy so as to promote “retention”. But some how, I dont think Wal-Mart or MacDonalds are going to “adapt to their learning styles” any more than the Courts are."


"Students will abandon monolithic LMSs? Yes, in spirit they will, but as long as institutions are granting the credits and degrees, students [as always] will have to go with the flow."


"I agree with John Thompson — it is not LMS vs Web2.0 that is the central issue. Unlike Matt (#4) who apparently sees the value of an LMS as something that “puts it all together”, I think the days of the cookie-cutter, monolithic LMS are limited. Why should we rely on, or wait for, a company like Blackboard to decide what functionality or tools to build in to their “product”."


Comparing traditional higher education and web 2.0 is like comparing apples and red.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pray the end is near...

Good news on the diamond front. Maybe finally the cartel will fall.

"Diamonds are a con, pure and simple. The topic is vast, so we won't discuss worker exploitation or for that matter "blood diamonds" used to finance African wars. Instead I'll focus on whether diamonds are worth the exorbitant sums charged for them. Answer: Of course not. Prices are kept high by a cynical cartel that preys on vanity and stupidity." -The Straight Dope

Good riddance.

Behold, the power of quantifcation...

Today a couple of us were crammed into a truck on the way to lunch. Several of us have kids, and we ended up talking about how incredibly popular WebKinz is. Somebody said it was simply a training ground for games like World of Warcraft. As we were talking, I suddenly realized why World of Warcraft and WebKinz are so popular.

Humans love to quantify things. It makes things so much easier. We're constantly trying to make the abstract have more meaning. We might say we want to 'get in shape', but when we get right down to it, we say things like, "I'm going to lose 10 pounds", or "I want to run 15 miles". Be honest, have you ever clicked on one of those ads for a free IQ test? You want to be able to quantify how smart you are. It's in our nature.

World of Warcraft lets you do just this. It's one thing to play a game, it's another to be able to say, "I'm a level 70 Shaman, my blacksmithing is at 297, my mining is at 282, and I have tier 5 armor. The higher numbers not only allow you to do new and nifty things in the game, but it's an easy way to tell/show your friends just how good at the game you are.

The game allows you to progress, but it gives you a quantifiable way to show that progression. Webkins is the same way. You run around and do things, and earn KinzCash. The Kinzcash is an easy way to quantify that. The more Kinzcash you have, the more of the game you can explore/purchase.

I have some more thoughts on this, and it actually ties into this post. But I'd like to think a bit more about it, so...stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quote of the day...

John: "You know what I want on Christmas day?"

Dad: "What?"

John: "A bad dream."

Dad: "What? Why would you want that?"

John: "So I can wake up early! I hope it is one where Santa comes down the chimney with a shotgun."

Fix those keys...

On a PC I could move anywhere in a document by using the home, end, shift home, shift arrow, and many other buttons or combination of buttons. With a Mac, they have the lovely feature of making it different in every application. So I always feel like I have to use my mouse to do anything moving around.

There is a great fix for Firefox that I've used in the past, but wasn't working for the new FF3. However, the internet at large has found, tackled, and fixed the problem. If you're on a Mac, and you want your home and end keys to take you to the beginning and end of any sentence, then go here, click, and rejoice.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Way outside the box...

David Wiley has an excellent post on what direction we might want to take as institutions of higher education. I read the post today, and then came across a story in a book I'm reading that I think also applies. I'll summarize.

On Christopher Columbus's last voyage, he needed to find gold. Spain wanted to wage war with France, and needed the money. Columbus was sailing around Jamaica but got held over for a time on the north part of the Island. He had been having problems with the natives and feared they might be planning to attack him and his men. One of his men, a man by the name of Diego Mendez, volunteered to go scope out the situation. Here is what happened.

He and his sidekick, a young guy by the name of Diego de Escobar, paddled upriver to do some reconnaissance. They found where the army of natives were gathering but unfortunately were taken captive. Mendez decided he wanted to talk to the head chief, but was not allowed. He attempted to make his way to the tent, but things got ugly. Some of the natives started shouting, and the next thing you know Mendez is surrounded by warriors. He can't plead his case to the chief, he can't make his way back to the boat, and things look very grim. What would you do?

Exactly, that is just what Mendez did. He pulled out a comb and some scissors, and told Escobar to give him a haircut.

No, don't bother reading that again, you read it right the first time. He's surrounded by warriors, he is minutes away from a violent death, and he orders his sidekick to give him a haircut.

The kicker is that his plan worked brilliantly. The natives, never having seen scissors before, became fascinated. He made a gift of the scissors to the lackey who was keeping him from the chief, and within minutes he is eating and drinking at a feast, thrown in his honor.

A few days later, the natives still attacked, and killed some of Columbus's men, but that is another story. Mendez and Excobar left the natives as heroes.

Anyway, how does this relate even remotely to Wiley's post? I'm a fan of trying new things. Sometimes we get locked into doing things as we've always done them, because...well, we've always done them that way. Sometimes that is fine, but if what we are getting in the end is not what we'd like to get, then we have to try something new. And sometimes we even should try things that just don't make any sense. I think that is why I like the idea of podcasting or giving away my book online. On the surface it makes no sense to give away something that you'd much rather sell. But the kicker is that for several authors who have done just this, it works brilliantly. Check out the work of Cory Doctorow as just one example.

So, if we're happy with what we're getting out of public and higher education, let's keep tweaking and fine tuning it. If we're not happy, let's try something completely different. Let's whip out the scissors, trim up the hair, and see how the natives react.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quote of the day...

At our church, we have a large group meeting to begin with. The meeting runs 70 minutes, and it's mainly talking and singing. We were 65 minutes into the meeting, and at the end of a fairly long talk. I found the speaker to be quite interesting, but he had been going on for about 20 minutes. My son John leans over and passionately whispers to my wife, "Dang it, this guy is wasting our time!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Crack open a coconut and expand your brain usage

A friend of mine wrote a random post to his blog. He received a random comment. It's the best comment to a blog anywhere.

"There is a verse in the bible that says when you go to hell it is where the worm doesn’t die. Research worm on google."

Thursday, June 12, 2008


My family has a website, and one of the sister-in-laws posted an idea about using a Jedi Master/Padawan idea to teach your kids to work. The idea is that you are the Laundry Master or the Dishes Master, and you take a young Padawan under your wing and teach him/her how to do the job. In the end, they are the master, and can teach others.

So last night I pulled Spencer in after dinner. Everybody had left their plates on the table, food was all over the floor, the chairs, the walls, and there was a small fire in one corner. So about normal.

I put my arm around Spencer and said, "Boy, I have some good news. Do you know what a Jedi Master and Padawan is?"

"Yeah," he said, "The master knows everything, and the padawan learns from the master, and then in the end, the padawan kills the master."

I thought about that for a minute and then said, "Yep, that is exactly right. Why don't you go play while I do the dishes."

I'm not taking any chances.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Web 2.1.340 Closed Beta

Just got my invite to the Web 2.1.340 close beta. I'm excited. I'd tell you all about it, but...NDA, sorry.

The Next Revoultion

A revolution is easy to spot when looking backward, but they are much harder to see when they first happen. Microsoft, Apple, eBay, Amazon…all revolutions with ramifications that weren’t seen until much after they first released a product, or came online.

But I predict a revolution in an event that took place just a few days ago at the Worldwide Developers Conference where Steve Jobs announced the latest version of the iPhone. I know, I know, you’re thinking that I missed the boat. The iPhone revolution already took place; this is old news.

But there is something in this iPhone that in my opinion will change things dramatically in the coming year; GPS.

GPS on the iPhone has the potential to allow users to link content to a specific location. For years as I’ve talked with colleagues about this topic, the single biggest hurdle we’ve seen is the hardware problem. First there wasn’t a device that provided everything ‘all in one’. Then, as devices started to have the necessary features, few people actually owned them.

With the new iPhone we now have a device that provides access to the internet, true GPS navigation, and the ability to record audio and take pictures. What does that give us?

Information is useful, but information given in context is even more so. That is why 100 years ago if you wanted to learn about barrel making, you didn’t go to the library, you became an apprentice. You learned the information at the location where it made the most sense.

Today, we have access to almost limitless amounts of information. Much of this information is about the physical world around us. A user can learn about species of plants and animals, virtually visit far away lands, or read about the history of places around the globe. Unfortunately, as soon as the user steps away from their computer and into the outside world, their access to this information is severed.

My family and I just went to Oceanside, California and enjoyed some time at a lovely beach. While there I wondered what the weather would be like tomorrow. I wondered if there were any tricks to body surfing, or if there was a place nearby that rented boogie boards.

Imagine if I could have turned on my iPhone and found articles and contents left by other users. The information would have been delivered to me not by searching for it, but based on my location. Users might have linked the location of the beach to Wikipedia articles on surfing, local weather, eateries, current tide conditions, news about recent shark attacks, etc. There may have even been information that I found useful that I wouldn’t have thought to search for.

Sure, there are times when I want to turn off technology and just get outside. But there are also times when I want to learn about the great outdoors, and I’d rather be doing it out in the sun, than stuck in front of a screen.

I predict that in the coming months and years, we will see the information age leave the basements and stuffy rooms of our houses, and break out into the great outdoors.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Social Media

From the good folks over at Common Craft.

The Death of Search Engines?

Interesting article over at ZD Net UK. The idea is that people don't need to go to a search engine to find what they need. If they want a review of a product, they will go to Amazon or cnet. If they want to find out about a place or person, they will head straight to Wikipedia. If they want something funny or interesting, they'll got to YouTube or Digg.

I find myself doing this. Instead of going to Google (that will return 6 million pages), I will often head straight to Wikipedia. I'm not saying I don't use Google, but I am finding that I use it less. If I'm looking for a review of a product, Google is simply unusable. Instead, I'll go to any number of sites that I have found useful (and bookmarked), to find that information.

And this doesn't even bring into account the possibility that the new iPhone brings into play, finding information based on where you are.

While I don't see search engines going away, I do see them losing power. The question remains, what fills the void?

Monday, June 09, 2008

For your entertainment...

We put on quite the show at the little league game tonight. The kids were playing with the keyless remote to our van. Somehow they engaged the alarm. Since we came separately, my wife left first (with the only keyless remote), and I was left to bring up the rear in the van.

I had an arm full of supplies and when I got to the van I saw the window was rolled down but the door locked. I reached through, unlocked the car, and went to get in.

That is when the alarm went off. The horn started honking, the lights started flashing, and the game stopped so everybody could gape.

Did I mention my wife was already on the way home with the keyless remote?

I figured that if I proved that I was the real owner, the car would stop its bleating. I got in the car, turned the key...nothing. I started the car...nothing.

My mind raced. Everybody was watching me (the game had stopped). I figured the only thing to do was drive to my wife and have her hit her remote. But first I had to load the car, because I'd dropped all my stuff next to the van.

So, I hopped out, loaded the car with the collapsible chairs (that I never wanted in the first place), and backed out of the parking spot.

That is when I saw my wife. She had done what any sensible person would have done in her position; walked the other way and pretend like she didn't know me.

Not really. She had tried to turn off the remote, but was too far away, so she was now motioning for me to turn the key. Of course, I already had the van going, so that wasn't going to do any good. I drove across the parking lot, she pulled out her keys again, and finally the noise stopped.

Everybody in the bleachers cheered.

I didn't know which kid had engaged the alarm, so I had to ground all of them.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A feather...

We visited the Pacific Ocean today. The waves terrified me, as usual, but that is a story for another day. I was walking along the beach and my almost 4 year old found a large feather. He said in a voice and fluctuating tone too cute to convey with mere words, "I will tape this feather in my room...No! I will tape it in the front room, so that anybody who comes in the door will say, "Wow! Where did you get that feather?""

The vacation is fun, pics to follow soon.