Saturday, May 01, 2004

Friday, April 30, 2004

when you help a person up a hill

"when you help a person up a hill, you come so much closer to the top yourself." - anonymous

truth is strongest

"Wine is strong,
 the King is stronger,
 women are strongest,
 but TRUTH conquers all."
 - translation of an inscription in the Rosslyn Chapel (near
   Edinburgh, Scotland).  The original reads "FORTE EST VINUM, FORTIOR
   is taken from Chapter 3 of Esdras in the Apocrypha.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

announcement from Apple

Apple Computer is going to make an important announcement April 18, 2004 at NAB.

memory effect

i keep forgetting which kinds of batteries have a memory effect. my friend luke tells me:

batteries that have memory effect:

normal alkaline batteries*
rechargeable alkalines
most older Li-ion (like the kinds laptops have)
wet cell batteries** like car and UPS batteries

* there are chargers that can charge normal batteries
** I'm not sure about that


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

declaration of the independence of cyberspace

a declaration of the independence of cyberspace.

distance is no longer relevant

distance is no longer relevant. bandwidth is relevant.

guitar lessons

i'm having fun teaching guitar lessons to youth and adults -- in person and via videoconference. i'm also creating some quicktime files to help people learn guitar at no-cost. (thanks, roger mcguinn, for the idea.) the river flows. it flows to the sea. it flows thru the web into people's minds, too.

all i wanted was to be free. and that's the way, it turned out to be.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

moving the world ahead with tiny pushes

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but my chief duty is to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.  The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."   HELEN KELLER

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

the value of social fabric

the value of social fabric is inestimable. economists couldn't put a value on it, even if they tried.

Monday, March 08, 2004

article - "pursuing email freedom?"

mike langberg is one of the best computer reporters on the planet. this article is typical of how much useful info and insights he packs into an article.

you can't wait for inspiration

"You can't wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a
 club." - Jack London

Sunday, March 07, 2004

fair trade

"As global forces move us to a more dangerous place, we can feel very helpless. Fair trade is an antidote because we can each, individually and easily, contribute to global understanding [and support] of other cultures." - Rose Benz Ericson, Rochester, New York.

checking first

universal rule - you can almost never make a mistake by first sending an email asking, "do you think it would be a good idea to..." too many people bypass that step, leading to unnecessary hardship and misunderstanding.

it's not just polite to check first. it's essential.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

martha stewart's tasteful tips for sprucing up your prison cell

Does your prison cell seem drab and dull sometimes? There are so many easy
ways of making it seem fresh and alive again. For starters, why not add a pot pouri basket to give your prison cell that fresh spring smell? A vase of fresh flowers in the corner will make your cell inviting for visitors. Why not drape artwork across the cell? One easy and fun project is to color the cardboard rolls inside toilet paper and hang them up with a string across your cell. There, isn't that more festive?

Do you know the way that orange prison jumpsuits don't seem to do anything for you? Why not add orange bracelets or an orange handbag? With hardly any effort, you can make yourself the talk of the prison.

Friday, March 05, 2004

mayor's commission on literacy technology conference

the annual mayor's commission on literacy technology conference in philadelphia is usually very interesting and engaging. i wish i could attend this year on may 13.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

the arts

The arts cannot survive without the community, and the community cannot survive without the arts.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

we can have a democratic society or

"We can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both." Louis Brandeis (Supreme Court Justice, 1916-39.) (via alden lancaster)

Monday, March 01, 2004

teaching guitar to children

in the summer of 2003 i ran a summer program for elementary school children. we did computer stuff, field trips, outdoor activities, judo and music. here's a video clip of me teaching guitar. can you believe the 5th-grader in this video had never played guitar before? she wants to be a pediatrician. do you think she has the concentration powers to do so?

video clip in quicktime format. (15 megabytes. quicktime 6 required, a free download from apple computer)

video clip in windows media 9 format.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

a sign of a great place

“A sign of a great place is triangulation. This is the process by which some external stimulus provides a linkage between people and prompts strangers to talk to each other as if they were not.” - William Whyte

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


moodle is a very exciting no-cost, open source learning management system. you can use it to teach classes online. this software was created by a visionary and talented person in australia.

connected behaviour a powerful stimulant for learning

"In general, a healthy amount of connected behaviour within a learning community is a very powerful stimulant for learning, not only bringing people closer together but promoting deeper reflection and re-examination of their existing beliefs.

Monday, February 23, 2004


roughly 80 percent of my time is spent looking for things i've lost or misplaced. this is a great improvement over years past, when 90 percent of my time was spent looking for things i've lost or misplaced.

article - "what's up with blogging?"

article - "what's up with blogging?"

Friday, February 20, 2004

astrophysics, not astronomy

back in 1993 i was giving private computer lessons to bobby kopp of bethesda, maryland, who was around 4th grade at that time. when some other kids stopped by to visit, i introduced bobby as a person introduced in computers and astronomy.

bobby quickly corrected me in a nice way. "phil, i'm not interested in astronomy. i'm interested in astrophysics."

oops, my mistake.

bobby, if you happen to be reading this, i'd love to hear from you to find out what you're up to these days. yup, i know you go by the name robert these days, but i'll always know you as bobby. you were my favorite student back then -- and you remain dear to my heart. i sure hope you continued with the great pranks we did back then.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

great risk brings greater reward

"great risk bring greater reward." from the book - Dancing with Bears - Managing Risk on Software Projects

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

ohio leading the way

ohio is once again leading the way, although it needs to be doing much better. it's getting there.

Thoughtful essay by Larry Yates

My friend Larry Yates has written another thoughtful essay, published in In the Fray, an online magazine devoted to issues of identity and community. Are there other online publications of this sort I need to know about? Please tell me if you know of any.

Monday, February 09, 2004

social capital scholars named in ohio

The John Glenn Institute has named David Landsbergen, associate professor of public policy and management, and Angela Stuber, executive director of the Ohio Community Computing Network, its first two John Glenn Social
Capital Scholars.

Social capital includes the networks, community bonds, and trust that a culture develops. The Institute's Social Capital Scholars pursue projects that build social capital directly and produce research illuminating the best mechanisms for creating that capital.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

nothing in life

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." - Marie Curie

rosebud film and video festival (washington dc)

the rosebud film and video festival each year honors some of the most talented independently produced films and videos by producers in the washington dc-area. if you think this kind of thing is worth supporting, come out to the screenings and award ceremony. if you have an ounce of creativity in you, you might want to submit an entry to the festival, too.

the person with a new idea

"The person with a new idea is a crank -- until the idea succeeds." - Mark Twain

the measure of our success

"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." - Booker T. Washington

to be creative is to listen

"to be creative is to listen and to wonder and to do. " thomas moore

we must carry it with us

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

in our play

"In our play we reveal what kind of people we are." - Ovid

an artist is not

"an artist is not a special kind of person. every person is a special kind of artist." meister eckhart (via catherine kapikian)

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

liking the things we have to do

"It is not doing the thing we like to do, but liking the thing we have to do, that makes life blessed." -- Goethe

ohio leading the nation once again

the same state that invented powered flight is leading the nation once again via the ohio community computer network. watch executive director angela stuber in some quicktime clips talk about what this organization is doing for ohio.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Friday, January 30, 2004

good project managers

"Good project managers are made entirely out of paranoia, but the truly extraordinary project managers have a streak of courage." - Eric Sink

Commerce has set the mark of selfishness

Commerce has set the mark of selfishness,
The signet of its all-enslaving power,
Upon a shining ore, and called it gold;
Before whose image bow the vulgar great,
The vainly rich, the miserable proud,
The mob of peasants, nobles, priests and kings,
And with blind feelings reverence the power
That grinds them to the dust of misery.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab V.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

the reasons for creating a company

This company was created to provide interesting work for interesting people. We follow our dreams, our curiosity, and our sense of what's important.

  - Tim O'Reilly

the unexpected

It is precisely because the unexpected jolts us out of our preconcieved notions, our assumptions, our certainties, that it is such a fertile source of innovation.

  - Peter F. Drucker


Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

  - Thomas Jefferson

we are what we pretend to be

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we
 pretend to be."

 - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

tribute to the porch

Humankind knows no finer amenity than the screened porch. It is the temple of family life, and the sacred preserve of the luxurious custom known as “visiting”. Compare it to the barbarity known as the “business lunch”, the hideous conversational burden known as the cocktail party, and the prison that is the formal dinner, the porch visit shines with civility.

Lake Wobegon Days
Garrison Keillor

Friday, January 23, 2004

what are stories?

"Stories, over the centuries, have been the most important way of
 keeping our collective wisdom.  They were and still are a sort of
 universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what
 we still do not know.  If you will allow me to use such a metaphor, a
 library is the best possible imitation, by human beings, of a divine
 mind, where the whole universe is viewed and understood at the same
 time.  A person able to store in his or her mind the information
 provided by a great library would emulate in some way the mind of
 God.  In other words, we have invented libraries because we know that
 we do not have divine powers, but we try to do our best to imitate

 - Umberto Eco, Vegetal and Mineral Memory: the Future of Books," a
   lecture at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Monday, January 19, 2004

finding inspiration

i find inspiration in the work of rev. joyce brooks, of "hope manna," in northeast washington dc.

here is a video clip of rev. brooks speaking about what her organization does for the community.

this quicktime movie is 4 megabytes in file size and 4 minutes in duration. it was shot, edited and put on the web during a free "web video advocacy for literacy organizations" workshop i taught in the fall of 2002 in room 315 of MLK library in downtown DC.

desiré grogan, from the DC Public Libraries, was immensely helpful to me in setting up that workshop.

protecting our people from email scams

protecting our people from email scams.

Sunday, January 18, 2004


unchained melody video clip (quicktime progressive download)

unchained melody - zipped download from my idisk. (this version of the file might work best for windows users with dial-up. the file transfers completely before playing. you may need to unzip it before viewing. the file name is

this video clip is 6.8 megabytes in file size and 3 minutes in duration. edited in imovie.

to view this video clip requires quicktime 6, a free download from the link at the top right section of the page at apple computer's quicktime download page. (if you use a computer less than one year old, you may already have quicktime 6 installed on the computer.)

the transfer time for this video clip is about 40 minutes via 56k dial-up modem connection. dial-up users may want to try downloading the video overnight.

this video clip plays in real-time when viewed via dsl, cable modem, T1 or other
high-speed internet connection.

note - this video clip is best viewed with speakers attached to your computer.

background info: the 5th-grade student playing guitar in this video clip had never played guitar before. she declared she wanted to try playing guitar for the first time in this video. this video clip was shot in august, 2003, in the mount pleasant neighborhood of washington dc.

in favor of a rosa parks national day

rosa parks may be the greatest american who ever lived. she is deserving of a national day. not a holiday (courage doesn't need a holiday), but a holy-day. a solemn day to reflect on the nature of courage, dignity and humility. she taught us so much, and yet we learned so little from her.

Friday, January 16, 2004

wisdom of the ages

"To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle."

guiding wisdom

"If you’re outraged at conditions, then you can’t possibly be free or happy until you devote all your time to changing them and do nothing but that. But you can’t change anything if you want to hold onto a good job, a good way of life and avoid sacrifice."
Cesar Chavez

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations...can never effect a reform."

Susan B. Anthony

To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.

- Gandhi

wisdom is doubt.

wisdom is doubt.

a wounded deer leaps the highest

"a wounded deer leaps the highest.
Emily Dickinson

how people stumble

"People stumble over pebbles, never over mountains."
Emilie Cady

the value of committees

There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.
Lester J. Pourciau (Read: "95 percent of all meetings are a complete
waste of time.")

reason has always existed

Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.
Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)

the internet as equalizer

the internet as equalizer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

how ideas get disseminated

my friend lawrence guyot mentioned to me today that the "louis braille" microsoft producer presentation of mine (that is hosted on his web site) has been downloaded about 350 times since last week, january 6, 2004, when it was announced on various local, national and international email lists. it's gratifying to know so many people are able to benefit from it. the executive editor of ZDNet, david berlind, wanted to take a look at it, but had trouble accessing it. david, have you been able to see it yet?

the importance of being at peace with yourself

the importance of being at peace with yourself

touched and moved

last year i was touched and moved to receive a recognition from my peers for some community service work i've been doing. for the past 25 years i've been lending my effort in small ways to increase the quantity of learning going on in our communities, while trying to empower those whose voices and views have for too long been ignored.

in may, 2000, i was deeply honored to be asked to be the keynote speaker at the annual "computers in adult literacy" conference in philadelphia. i did not feel up to the task, so i asked for help from stephon gray, an adult literacy learner, who gave the keynote presentation with me. in the keynote address we showed a narrated biography of civil rights activist fannie lou hamer that stephon gray had written and narrated in his job at the literacy resources division of the DC Public Libraries. we used a $5 shareware program named SimpleCard to create this presentation. this software runs on just about any macintosh ever made, including those from 1988. so it could be used fairly easily by literacy students and literacy organizations who receive donated macs.

i value stephon gray's biography of fannie lou hamer a lot, so i sought help from others to convert it into the most number of forms -- so that it could be viewed by the most number of people around the world. thanks to help from others, this narrated biography can be viewed in powerpoint, quicktime and flash formats.

you can download the powerpoint and simplecard versions of the fannie lou hamer presentation from my idisk.

the powerpoint file is named
the simplecard file (mac only) is named fannielouhamer.sit

i find the biography stephon gray wrote reverberates with great dignity. stephon gray has taught me much i needed to know. he does so in way that is very charitable, patient and caring.

some of my best friends

some of my best friends live in other cities. i've never met them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

your skill at choosing pull-quotes from your writing

your skill at choosing pull-quotes from your own writing will determine how widely your writing is read. your skill at writing good pull-quotes will be an even larger determinant of how widely your ideas are read. (which of the previous two sentences should i use as a pull-quote? extra credit points if you can explain why.)

the cats are staying on earth time

"My cats are staying with my husband, so they get to stay on Earth

- Martian rover mission scientist Wendy Calvin, on living on "Mars

Monday, January 12, 2004

some thoughts about student testing

"Making students accountable for test scores works well on a bumper sticker and it allows many politicians to look good by saying that they will not tolerate failure. But it represents a hollow promise. Far from improving education, high- stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness, from accuracy, from quality, and from equity." - Sen. Paul Wellstone (1944-2002)

a similar -- and different -- take on this topic.

"thinking about online communications" book

for those who might be interested, here are excerpts of the think-piece essays of a book i wrote in the last century, thinking about online communications.

i can't believe i wrote the phrase: Book Review Bottleneck Burdens Burgeoning Bibliophiles

that was before the blossoming bountiful book reviews on

if you'd like a laugh, track down the review i wrote for jef raskin's "the humane interface." raskin was the lead designer of the original macintosh computer. we had a friendly email exchange after he spotted my review.

rich-media book reviews are coming to this space. (this blog.)

have you noticed?

have you noticed?


is your thoughtfulness available for others to easily find and consider? do you know how to find other people's thoughtfulness and to know what thoughtfulness looks like?

further info about elizabeth campbell from WETA

further info about elizabeth campbell.

in the future your worth as a person

in the future your worth as a person will be determined more and more by the quality and quantity of your ideas and in which public venues you choose to express them. are blogs public venues? well, are you a member of the public?

elizabeth campbell - founder of WETA

what lessons can we learn from those who came before us?

what happens when you elect a bodybuilder governor

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man
 and a woman."

 - California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The comment made
   Schwarzenegger a runner-up for the Plain English Campaign's 2003
   'Foot in Mouth' award for the most baffling statement by a public


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Street-Level Youth Media retrospective

If you live in Chicago (or surrounding areas), the year-long retrospective of Street-Level Youth Media creative work at The Field Museum is something not to be missed.

Ramesh Srinivasan

Ramesh Srinivasan knows a thing or two.

the advocates of academic measurement

sometimes i feel the advocates of the measurement of academic progress are both qualitatively and quantitatively misguided, but i don't know of a way to measure how far wrong they are.

www as part of email addresses

when the web was young, i saw several people using www as part of their email address -- and cringed. this continues to happen today and causes unnecessary confusion by internet newbies (often immigrants populations) to the difference between an email address and a web site address. a modest proposal -- please leave out any www parts of your email address, especially prior to the at-sign.

learning a person's credentials in a short amount of time

the web allows you to learn a person's credentials in a short amount of time.

linux public broadcasting network

linux public broadcasting network.

when writing email, providing context always helps

(depending on the context, of course.)

how you get to be a musician

"Throw your hat on the road, lean your ass against a post and start
 practising.  When somebody drops a coin in the hat, you're a

 - Woody Guthrie, on being asked how you get to be a musician.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

being better than yourself

"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." William Faulkner

narrated multimedia using microsoft producer

microsoft producer is very useful for creating rich-media instructional material as well as for rich-media nonprofit advocacy on the web. you need a windows computer to view microsoft producer files. (as of january, 2004, that is. this might change in the future.)

Sunday, January 04, 2004

figuring out will shortz's enigmatology degree

"Will Shortz is the only person in the world to hold a college degree in Enigmatology, the study of puzzles, which he earned from Indiana University in 1974.

Born in 1952 and raised on an Arabian horse farm in Indiana, Will now lives near New York City in a Tudor-style house filled with books and Arts and Crafts furniture. When he's not at work, he enjoys bicycling, movies, reading, travel, and collecting antique puzzle books and magazines."

playing scrabble online

playing the game of scrabble online might be a good way to get more seniors involved with computers.

unorthodox MIT professor dies at 105

we're all going to miss arthur von hippel.

"Eric von Hippel, who is now a professor of innovation at MIT, said his father's students appreciated his teaching style.

'They thought he was so cool. Instead of a formal exam he would invite them in for a chat with apple pie, ice cream and tea -- and at the end he would give them a grade' he said."

school of rock(y) road?