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Engineers Day at U.K. February 25, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Family, Technology.
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Today, my son and I attended Engineers’ Day at the University of Kentucky, hosted by the College of Engineering. The event ends a national celebration of engineering, known as Engineers Week.

My son expressed interested in attending the annual event after receiving a bookmark advertising it at school. For six years I worked at the Center for Robotics, which is part of the College of Engineering. I have not been back there in at least eight years. So, I told my son I would show him where I used to work and show him some really cool technology. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was right.
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Wikipedia experiencing problems? February 24, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Humor, Technology.
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I guess it’s not impossible to consider that major web sites like Wikipedia could have problems, I just never see them. But, tonight I must have hit it just right because this is what I saw when I went to www.wikipedia.org:

Wikipedia problem - cropped

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Random (Digital) Thoughts February 24, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Random.
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After reading a recent post by Pedro Pinheiro, my European counterpart (aka Matsu Europe) about Mind Hacks, I was reminded of the writings of Marc Prensky. If you haven’t read them, you should head over there and at least read ‘Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives.’

Besides coining the terms, digital natives and digital immigrants, Marc Prensky argues that the brains of people who grow up in an all digital world form differently than people who grew up before today’s world of ubiquitous access to the Internet and video games. That theory lends credibility to the nurture side of the nurture vs. nature question in biology.

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Wiki based Help Desk? February 22, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Management, Technology.
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At a recent lunch, I witnessed an interesting conversation (maybe a more accurate description would be a heated debate) between two colleagues I highly respect. Their discussion was about computer support and whether or not a corporate help desk should allow end users to post and edit online documentation, like a wiki based system.

I find the idea of providing a way for end-users to share their discoveries of how technology works and encouraging them to post instructions for others to read a really fascinating idea. On one hand, it could really be helpful to allow end-users who take the time to figure things out and create documentation for all to read. But (and this is the main point where the debate hinges), if the documentation is wrong, even if it’s slightly wrong, it will increase the number of support calls to the help desk instead of reducing them. And, that was the argument of one colleague. You will end up creating more work for the Help Desk staff trying to undo the damage or misinformation published by end users (which would seem to be endorsed by the support group since they allowed people to post instructions).

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A scale for measuring an IT department’s quality February 16, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Technology.
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Today I gave my talk on how to measure the quality of an I.T. department at the Lexington Professional Linux User’s Group (LPLUG) meeting. I’ve given it several times over the years, but only to my staff or colleagues in other departments on campus. This was the first time I tried my ideas on a group of people that do not work in my organization. It seemed to go well. If you want to see the PowerPoint presentation you can get it here.

This time I did something different. At the suggestion of one of my managers (Bert), at the end of my presenation I had two managers who work for me comment on how these ideas affect them and the way in which they operate in the IT department. I found that part of the presentation pretty interesting as it helped me see what they gleaned from my previous talks or one-on-one explanations of this homemade scale.

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Olympic Committee finds use for surplus CD’s February 13, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Humor, Random.
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Has anyone else noticed that the Olympic medals resemble computer CD’s? Well, there’s a good reason for that. It turns out the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was tired of throwing away so many AOL installation CD’s, so they began to collect them.
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The IOC now has all of the Olympic medals made from the surplus CD’s. They simply spray-paint the right color (gold, silver, and bronze paint) and then tie a ribbon to it.
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Earth-friendly medals! Ingenious!