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The AJC had an interesting article about RollCall Safety Text, an app which automates “I’m OK” messages for loved ones. Failing to get such a message lets someone know something might be wrong. The intended audience is for kids off at college to send these to parents. There is a note near the bottom:

While the app came about with college students in mind, Thomas says it can also be useful to people who have family members whom they don’t see or hear from daily.

This fits my situation with my parents. I guess that makes me a helicopter child. (OK that’s hyperbolic.) Both are pretty independent and quite capable. But, if something were to happen, then it very well could be a long time before someone noticed. I’m reminded of a great-aunt who had a stroke and no one knew until her neighbors noticed her in the yard.

At present I kind of already have this as one of them is on Facebook and likes pretty much everything (I think more to indicate it has been read than an actual indication of liking it). Seeing these on my posts is my equivalent of RollCall. And yes, I did call this parent once when I realized I had not seen anything in a few days.

The other? Yeah, it might be good to have something like RollCall.


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A while back I pulled a post. It had to do with my wanting to be caught being wrong by my coworkers. I catch myself being wrong all the time, so I very much know my own fallibility. But, people take lack of confidence as lack of ability. Which means to get things done, one has to appear 100% confident even when 51%.

Kathryn Schulz discusses our feelings of rightness while being wrong. After watching this, I realized that I may have odd values. I enjoy discovering my being wrong about something and figuring out why I went astray. The path to knowing leads through not knowing. Finding out where I am wrong opens up new possibilities to learn something I should have already known.

I’m not worried about these concerns Schulz describes as conflicts with others not knowing (Ignorance), not making the same connections (Idiocy), or not making the decision I’d have made (Evil). I worry about people devaluing self-correction as much as I do. We all err and my feeling is I err more than most. I want a world where we strive to be the best we can intellectually be. I try to surround myself with people who seem more intelligent and with deep wells of knowledge outside areas I am competent. I have much to learn.

My favorite reason for having a smartphone is quickly accessing information. I will assert something in a conversation and while this is fresh on my mind have a doubt that I was correct. A concrete example. Last night, a friend told me her grandfather from Mexico was German. I asked if his parents migrated during WWI or WWII. So when I looked a bit later, I learned the German migrations to Mexico started in the mid-19th Century and continued through WWII. Every situation is a learning opportunity.


Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.


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Our office resides in Athens, GA about an hour from Atlanta. A work news post noting Atlanta tech blogs was strange to me. There is plenty HERE. Why ignore all the great local stuff?

And I do not mean my blog. I post too infrequently to really matter and mostly ignore technology of late.

  • Four Athens is a technology incubator here in Athens. They organize networking events and have a good calendar of various tech meetings happening here. (Twitter)
  • Free IT Athens is a local volunteer organization who help re-use computers and free software for the needy. They recently brought Richard Stallman here. (Twitter)
  • Vitamin C makes healthcare software. (Twitter)
  • The Accidental CIO is run by the Chief Information Officer for UGA. Work is related to UGA, but not part of their organizational structure. Tim has a seat on the search committee for our replacement CIO because, well, who we select is critically important to UGA. (Twitter)
  • The Hatch is an Athens makerspace. (Twitter)
  • Mark Fennell is an Athens DBA / web developer. (Twitter)

If there is something IT-related going on in Athens, then these two are probably writing about it.

Blogs are like so 2000s. They are sunsetting as the readers spend more time on Facebook and Twitter. All of you probably noticed I put links to the Twitter feeds for those blogs. That’s because much of the conversations who used to occur on blogs have shifted to Twitter. Actually, most of the blogs listed above I found through Twitter. Some other Athens Tech Tweeters:

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Táin Bó Cúalnge. English
Táin Bó Cúalnge. English by L. Winifred Faraday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put out a call on Facebook for suggestions on Gaelic mythology to read. This was the top suggestion.

This strongly reminded me of Norse and Saxon epics. All account for the names of places by describing the battles undertaken there. Each is more fantastic than the next.

This one follows Cúchulainn, the Hound of Ulster. He battles against the armies of queen Medb. He can stun dozens of swans with a single throw of a stone. Or use thrown spears as stepping stones. You know… The kind of stuff one would see in an ancient China martial arts movie such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Which reminds me, there MUST be a movie about this epic, right?

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My reading list So at five years later, I happened to run across a photo and blogged about the progress I had made by that point (47). I decided to go through the photo and mark all the books onto a Goodreads shelf “z-photo-reading-shelf” to better track this.

Of the 77 books, it looks like 62 are marked read. Here are the ones both in the photo and still need to be read. (I really like Goodreads’ multiple shelves function.)

None of these are by female authors, so I’ll have to pass up cranking through the remainders for another time. Maybe.

P.S. I count ten read since March 2013, so I probably had actually read about 57 and just did not count very well.

The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

PKD writes about my favorite topic which is how we perceive reality. What is real? Can we actually tell? I may need to read more of his books.

Sensation and Perception was my favorite class doing my Psychology major. Well, some days I say it was Tests and Measurements. (Probably the ones where I do something involving tests.) Let’s call it a tie. S&P covers the mechanics and functionality of the senses, how the brain works with them, and best of all: how to exploit the failings of them.

The concept of an alternate reality where perhaps the Axis Powers won World War II found me intrigued. While what if realities are done quite a bit in science fiction, I enjoyed PKD’s take. I especially liked the hinting at our reality in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy and slow unveiling of what it says.

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Joss Whedon: The Biography
Joss Whedon: The Biography by Amy Pascale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This biography is essentially a greatly expanded Joss Whedon filmography. Pascale carefully tells the behind the scenes stories about his career.

I arrived late to the Whedonverse. Yes, the fandom has a name. Essentially, I saw Serenity in the movie theater, borrowed Firefly from my roommate, and was hooked from there. Well, maybe not enough to see Cabin In The Woods. I am not that rabid.

Pascale puts into words why I enjoy Joss’ work. Strong female characters. Depth. Ensemble casts. Early movies I had no idea he was involved now make sense why I liked them.

I may have to start checking out the current work of writers who used to work with him to see if I enjoy that as well.

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You can keep your Confederate flags, BUT you have to stop asking for people to give up their heritage. You have to stop asking people to only speak English. You have to stop asking for everyone to look and act American. Because, after all, if heritage is that important to you, then you understand how hard it is to give up them.

The 150th anniversary of General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was this past week, so Confederate Heritage stuff has been a little louder than usual. I live deep within the borders of Secessionist country. Four people tired of the United States government were arrested before they could start their terror campaign less than a fifty miles from were I live. Confederate flag bumper stickers are a daily sight. Get a random white dude drunk and how the South Will Rise Again likely will come up in conversation.

While reading A Raisin In The Sun, there is a part where George accuses Beneatha of her impending desire to talk about how great West African culture is and end with the word heritage. I finally made an obvious connection. Kwanzaa is African heritage. The Confederate flag is White Southern heritage. Spanish is Latin heritage. These are all things people desire to keep in their lives because of the pride in remembering from whence they came.

There is a horrible hypocrisy is whining about not being able to celebrate one’s own heritage while demanding others with different heritage give up their own. Then again, we have less than a month until Cinco De Mayo, which most people here drinking half price margaritas think is Mexico’s Independence Day. (Which is September 16th. November 20th is the start of their revolution.)

It should be obvious that if heritage supersedes all the negative associations others have with something, then things we hold offensive should be allowed by those who hold them dear. If not, then for the good of everyone we should give up our offensive heritage just like we ask others to do. Maybe we can lead by example?

Now that I’ve put this down in writing, I think maybe I did float this argument once or twice in my early twenties. It did not take off then. I certainly do not expect it to do so now.

Now anyone can tap into the Amazon Machine Learning Service (AMLS)?

I’d love to see Ellucian’s Banner product make smart recommendations based on AMLS. Students register for university classes through Banner. I could see Banner leveraging AMLS to figure out that students who like certain classes might be interested in other classes. There already is a market trying to improve retention by detecting students who have trouble on certain classes or tests or questions get flagged for extra attention. I could see AMLS helping the other spectrum. Students who take a certain class might be interested in certain cooperative education opportunities, clubs, or campus events. Or vice versa, such as students who join the environmental protection club might be interested in an elective class about the impact of biological pest controls vs pesticides.

Or maybe AMLS going beyond class recommendations is more appropriate for Ellucian’s Luminis portal product.

Higher education is full of opportunities for connect students to things about which they are oblivious. Flyers on various walls easily miss students. Enormous daily emails go straight to junk mailboxes. Students (and staff and faculty) deserve smarter ways to connect to the things that will make their experience better. Done right, I could see AMLS filling that need.

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