Friday, December 24, 2010

What is happening here?

Sorry about the long absence. I have started a new job, which is really two jobs for the price of one. This has kept me very busy and out of the instructional technology loop for a bit. I am teaching every other day and being a science consultant teacher the other day. Now that the school year is half over, things are settling down and I can start posting once again.
Also something messed up with the link between Diggo and posting to here. I have not had a chance or motivation to see what is going on with it, but have a week off now and can mess with it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Southern Wal-Mart Car Repair

Sometimes I miss living in the south, not this last week when the heat and humidity have been oppressive in Virginia, other than the weather there are things I miss, more people than things. My wonderful wife and I are down here visiting my parents, and are fixin’ to head home soon. Before embarking on a trip, I like to check the fluid levels on my car, and with this being a new-to-us car, I wanted to be sure. Everything looked good, but the brake fluid was a bit low, so I thought I would head on over to the Wal-Mart and pick some up.

Folks, let me tell you, their ain’t nuthin’ like workin’ on a car in a Wal-Mart parking lot in the south. Having that I have not lived below the Mason-Dixon line for about 15 years, I forgot. I think there are guys that hang around in their pick-up trucks waiting for a hood to open, so they can help out. That has got to be the answer. Not really, lots of guys tend to sit in their cars, havin’ a smoke with the air conditioning on while the wife goes in to pick up some things. Just happens their car tends to be a pick-up. (Further south it is referred to as a pick-’em-up truck.) Anyway.

So I wandered out of the store with my brake fluid, and popped open the hood. In the time it took me to break the seal on the fluid, a guy had moseyed on up. “Havin’ problems?”, “No sir, just adding some brake fluid.” “Brake problems eh? Don’t want to mess with that, they makin funny noises?”, “Nope, just need to add this here fluid.”

A side note to the the designers of the 2003 Ford Windstar, why the heck did you put the brake fluid reservoir in such a spot that you cannot get to it without making a mess, much less able to pour anything into it, can’t even see a way to put a funnel there. I mean, this is perhaps the first car I have owned that I can get to the transmission fluid stick without burning my hand, and the brake reservoir is under the dashboard?

Back to the story.

As flies are attracted to certain things, guys are attracted to other things.

Guy 2: Need a jump? I got my cables in the truck
Guy 1: Naw, he’s havin’ brake problems.
Guy 2: I don’t like workin’ on these new cars with all the computers and stuff on ‘em.
Guy 1: Yeah, it’s gettin’ so that ya can’t do nuthin’ to your car.
Me: yup
Guy 2: yup

By now I filled the reservoir, and was trying to close the hood.

Guy 3: Problem?
Me: Well...
Guy 3: Usually the problem is that the terminals on the battery are dirty, just need to take a wire brush to up and clean it right up, got a brush right over there in my truck.
Guy 2: Naw, his brakes are ruint. (ruined, as it tiir runit- your tire is flat)
Guy 3: I got a guy that works on Fords, does I good job, want me to give him a call?
Guy 1: Really who?
Guy 3: Jimmy..uh..can’t remember his name, used to work down to the Midas down over
Guy 2: Smitty?
Guy 3: He opened his own place where the old BP used to be..
Guy 1: Yeah, Smitty
Guy 3: I can get you his number if you need, might need a tow over there if your brakes are bad.
Me: No, just topping off my brake fluid, not a problem really. But thanks for your help.
Guy 3: hey your battery terminals look good, you should be all set to go, give it a try.
Me: Uh, thanks guys. I appreciate your help.

I put down the hood, started up and eased away from the conversation.

Where as usually in my neck of the woods, you can have your hood open, holding onto jumper cables, and you still have to ask for help, or just call AAA.

One day I helped a guy get his car started, and someone came sheepishly over and asked if I could help her with her car, spent a fair amount of time that day in the parking lot.

Hey Audi designers- Why the heck is the battery hidden? Had to get her owner’s manual to figure out where it was.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 07/01/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/30/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/29/2010

  • Another location based site. To use it on a handheld - install the device. It does work on wifi devices. (My itouch works.)

    Tags: education, geolocation

  • "Generation V is not defined by age, gender, social class or geography. Instead, it is based on achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights."

    Additionally the percentages that create content, contribute, etc. affects classroom and project planning. Do we allow students to "lurk"

    Findings about these Generation V segments:

    * Up to 3% will be creators, providing original content. They can be advocates that promote products and services.
    * Between 3% and 10% will be contributors who add to the conversation, but don’t initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.
    * Between 10% and 20% will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can add value to a conversation that’s taking place while walking through a considered purchase.
    * Approximately 80% will be lurkers, essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input but absorb only what is being communicated. They can still implicitly contribute and indirectly validate value from the rest of the community. All users start out as lurkers."

    Tags: education, learning, web3d, virtualwords

  • Lots of incredible tools from Discovery education.

    Tags: education, web2, learning, all_teachers

  • Nice overview of Twitter and how it can be used as educators both personally and in the classroom

    Tags: Twitter, education, classroom, pln, network, microblogging

  • I've known Leslie Bowman for over a decade. She's a great online teacher. Her book is filled with the wisdom of experience. Check it out! ~ Dennis

    "Online education programs at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels represent one of the fastest growing trends in education today. However, online classes are completely different from any other educational endeavor and require a new set of skills. Bowman, who currently teaches online undergraduate and graduate courses, and her fellow contributors provide an excellent down-to-earth guide for anyone who is thinking about or participating in an online education program. This well-written and understandable book covers some theories of learning styles but focuses on the nuts-and-bolts skills needed to be successful. Each chapter explores a particular aspect of learning online and gives practical advice about how to participate successfully in an online learning environment. Verdict: Bowman and the other contributors have several years' experience helping students learn online, and their perspectives make this a practical and helpful guide to a prevalent and growing practice."— June 2010, Library Journal Starred Review "

    Tags: e-learning, online education

  • John Morvec's excellent presentation about future of society and education! 

    Tags: youtube, tedxlaguna, leapfrogging, Leapfrog, knowmads, knowmad, tacit knowledge, John Moravec, Moravec, Society 3.0, sosiaalinen media, video, learning, education, yhteisöllinen media, teaching, web2.0

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/25/2010

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/24/2010

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/23/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/22/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Dick's Sporting Goods Follow-up

Last week I wrote about a visit to Dick's sporting goods and the bad service I received there. Today they sent out an Email to me,

Dear Ted,

Thank you for contacting Dick's Sporting Goods Customer Service.

It is always our goal to ensure our customer's satisfaction by offering
quality brand products, store services and the best customer care to all
of our customers. We regret to learn that your recent visit with us did
not meet your expectations. We would like the opportunity to discuss
this with you further. Please contact us at 1-866-xxx-xxxx.

Best Regards,


So I gave them a call today. I fully anticipated nothing. Calling the number I felt as if I were falling into voicemail hell, with 8 options before finding a person. None of the options given had any of the needed titles, until reaching the "press zero to talk to a human". After getting a person, they connected me with Jennifer. After a few moments she remembered my blog post, and was ready to discuss the issue. Really there was not much to say, she was a good listener, and really didi not offer any excuses for what happened, a few of the early questions I thought were heading that direction, but it was all good. I was not really mad, or looking for anything from them, just wanted to explain the problems we ran into.

So she said that they would contact the local store manager and he could check the security tapes to see who should have been doing what and where. We shall see what if anything happens from that point.

Jennifer was great, thanks for her help.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/19/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/18/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

A trip to Dick's Sporting Goods

I sent this to the customer service department of Dick's Sporting goods, after a visit last night. We were there just under an hour, but it seemed much longer. Any similar visits for you?

Not too many years ago we had a good sporting goods in the Rochester, NY area named Galyan's. They had personable and knowledgeable employees, who were there to help. It was rare to be in a department and not have someone speak to you and offer help with five minutes of your arrival. I went to this store quite often, to get camping equipment or other similar items. The employees were able to help compare items and give advice based on their own experiences. Each department knew their stuff, if they were new, they would get help. I bought many items from this store, including a couple of Yakima car rack systems. The sales person was able to discuss how to install the rack, and offered help in doing so. Then Galyan's was bought out by Dick's. I jokingly asked the employees if they were learning how to disappear as part of their transition to Dick's. That turned out to be somewhat prophetic.

Last night, June 17, 2010, I decided to go to what used to be the Galyan's store to see if they had any Q-clips for the Yakima racks, as I recently changed cars, and needed new clips. I first called, and asked if these were in stock or carried by the store, and received a vague answer, that they may but really I had to go in to see. I was nearby so I went in. Upon entering the store, my wife asked what we took to be the greeter, where the Yakima accessories could be found. She was met by a blank stare and a confused answer, obviously he had no idea what she was talking about. We went upstairs to where we thought we could find what we wanted, and found several pieces of Yakima and Thule racks scattered about the camping, bicycling and water sports areas. We poked around a bit, keeping an eye out for an employee to ask about the Q-clips. We found an item that we were not looking for, which was on clearance as it was a returned item, opened the box and inspected it for a good amount of time, and still no employee to be found to ask about it. After deciding to purchase the item, we went back to were we suspected the Q-clips might be found, still looking for an employee. I noticed during this time, people looking at tents looking as if they had questions to ask someone, others testing bicycles with questions, and yet others in the fitness area wanting to buy items. There were no employees to be found on that side of the floor. Suddenly wandering out of the break room came 3 uniformed employees and another guy, we were within a few feet and called out for help. The 3 uniformed employees continued to wander away sipping on their drinks. The other gentleman stopped, and explained he worked in another store, but could help us. Let's call him Dave. My wife was able to ask some questions, and get some generic answers, but this not being his store he was unable to give full answers. He helped my wife, while I was dodging bicycles ridden by customers, awaiting someone else to show up. Dave thought the one guy assigned to the area was helping someone load a weight set into their car.

After awhile a free-range employee wandered by. I asked her about the Q-clips, she made vague gestures toward where I was, and called someone on her radio then disappeared, saying that the person in fitness would be right back. Not sure if I scared her, as you know clerks in the wild can be rare animals and spook easily. Being on the verge of shouting at the top of my lungs "Does anyone work here?", the guy working the area appeared. Lets call him Mark. Mark was very helpful, he answered my question about Q-clips in a few seconds, with a simple, no, not at the store, maybe on-line. My wife and Dave re-appeared, and Mark took over with her. As I said Dave was the most helpful person there, and not an employee of the store! I am not saying Mark was unhelpful, he was very nice, and spent some time with us, as other customers looked longingly at him.

With our business done, we went to the checkout with our purchase. As we descended the escalator to the main floor we saw several employees in the shoe department and golf department, generally standing around talking to each other. We noticed three registers open, one customer at one of the registers, the other two cashiers were standing talking and two other employees were sitting on the counter talking to the cashiers. The cashier asked the usual "did you find everything you were looking for?" She seemed shocked that we said, no, and that it was even harder to find help where we were. She mused that perhaps everyone else was helping other customers. She did not seem to like the response that there were no employees up there to help the many customers, so no, they were not helping others. Meanwhile the guys who were sitting around started to move around doing some busy work, such as checking empty trash cans, and rearranging bags. Maybe they felt that they needed to at least appear to do something.

Just a typical evening at Dick's. Similar events are not uncommon in the Henretta, NY store, and were not uncommon when they were in competition with Galyan's. But with the competition bought up, why bother with doing any service? I know you are aware that there many alternatives to traditional stores, as your company runs an on-line store also. If not for face to face contact with a knowledgeable person, why go into stores? I have not bought any camping equipment at Dick's as CampMor has a good on-line store and a phone number to reach people that know what they are talking about. When I returned home, I got online and managed to order the Q-clips I needed in a few moments, no waiting. By the way, the Dick's site does not carry the clips either.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/17/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/11/2010

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/07/2010

  • Tags: educational, weather, kids

  • Over 8,500 online articles from the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology 10th editionResearch Updates from the McGraw-Hill Yearbooks of Science & Technology110,000+ definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms15,000 illustrations and graphics, and bibliographies containing more than 28,000 literature citationsContent contributed by more than 5000 researchers, including 36 Nobel Prize winnersBiographies of more than 2,000 well-known scientists from the Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography®The latest news in science and technology from Science News® and ScienCentral® videosContinuously updated, fully-searchable, media-rich content, terms, images and videosadded illustrations, animations, and image galleriesquestions answered in our weekly Q&AAccessScience puts the most useful and up-to-date technology to work for you: in addition to fast, sophisticated search capability, you'll find RSS feeds, Flash® animations, image galleries, podcasts, videos, and more, with our enhanced search engine making discovery of this wide range of information easier than ever. 
    Whatever you need, AccessScience is designed to help: 
    For StudentsData, tables and tools linked directly from topic home pages, so you're never more than a few clicks from the answers you needEssay topics to guide research and reportsFor EducatorsHigh quality images and illustrations, downloadable to use in PowerPoint presentationsStudy Center offers curriculum-oriented tools, Flash tutorials, and study guidesFor LibrariansLibrarian resource center highlights news and features, research tips and tools, easy-to-access online user statistics reports, and much moreSearch by content type, collection, topic or sub-topic, with semantic search, corrective spelling, results filtering and saved search criteria

    Tags: encyclopedia, science, dictionary, educational

  • A series of interactive modules that explore the history of life on Earth, while focusing on the processes of science. Each module contains suggested lesson plans and an extensive teacher’s guide.

    Tags: geologic_time_scale, timeline, interactive, online, education, tool, site:edu

  • As an educational institution the Field Museum offers multiple opportunities for both informal and more structured public learning.

    Tags: geologic_time_scale, timeline, interactive, online, education, tool, history

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/06/2010

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/04/2010

  • Guidance Counselor Alert:

    "The YES Competition was established in 2003 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the College Board to inspire talented high school students to apply epidemiological methods to the investigation of public health issues and, ultimately, encourage the brightest young minds to enter the field of public health.

    The Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition, the nation’s leading public health competition for high school students, has opened the application process for its 2010-11 Competition. The online registration, guidelines and a new YES project guide are now available online at The deadline for entries is 9 AM EST, February 1, 2011."

    I do wish that they would have multimedia as a part of this competition as some of the best competitions out there engage this medium. However, this is something that those going into health should look into.

    Tags: education, scholarship

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Diigo bookmarks for today 06/03/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of educators group favorite links are here.