The boys (and Heather has enjoyed it too - I haven't gotten to it yet) have really been enjoying Khan Academy this last week.  It is an educational tool, with lots of questions to test you on different skills.  Jonathan is especially motivated by the reward badges it gives you when you do certain activities.  It does a good job of remembering how well you have done on previous problems to decide whether you need more practice or not.  It also has helpful videos to teach you new concepts.

Noah was working on some fraction problems (identifying the numerator and denominator).  He had gotten three problems right and couldn't figure out why the fourth was wrong, and so I asked him if he had watched the video.  He hadn't, but had just guessed, and the first three has asked him what the numerator was, and so he had picked the first number.  He didn't notice the question changed on the fourth problem.  I suggested that perhaps he should watch the video, although I think he didn't, but did see that the question was slightly different, and so then did the bottom number instead....  I guess we will see as time goes on whether this form of experimenting/learning is useful, or if it teaches you interesting things that end up not really working out. (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on November 9, 2013, 12:31 pm | Read 11616 times | Comments (0)
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The first blog post in a long time, I realize.  And I won't make any promises about more frequent updates, etc.

I have found that I am writing on facebook more often, and reviewing products online (got a Kindle for Christmas, and so have been reading and reviewing on Amazon) and generally have less time for internet stuff anyway, so haven't been blogging anywhere near as much as we were before.

But, anyway...  Today's topic: stuff food manufacturers put into food that wastes my time since I have to read the ingredient labels in the store.

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Posted by Jon Daley on January 18, 2013, 9:27 am | Read 154325 times | Comments (5)
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I received a free "embedded" light from Microsoft a number of years ago.  I put "embedded" in quotes, because I think it is funny that Microsoft considers a lightbulb connected to a USB power source an example of an embedded device.  I guess I haven't looked that carefully, but I expect there to be two wires in the device, and so not all that exciting from an engineering perspective.

But, the other day I happened across the instructions for the unit (plug into a USB port, flick the switch) and noticed that there is a message on the back of the piece of paper, and I have no idea what it means.  Anyone know?

Message from a Microsoft guy in the shipping department?

Posted by Jon Daley on December 9, 2011, 1:03 pm | Read 4676 times | Comments (12)
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I was going to have Jonathan read this article about the status and progression of fiction, as he sometimes questions why we don't let him read or watch certain things, but then I decided the article itself was more than he needs to know right now.

Posted by Jon Daley on November 11, 2011, 8:55 am | Read 2047 times | Comments (1)
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I came across yet another version of a distributed social network, this one with hardware.  FreedomBox Foundation is working on figuring out how to make tons of tiny little web servers that take out the centralized model.  The New York Times has a decent article on explaining why Mark Zuckerburg having all of your information is a bad thing.

The introduction video on FreedomBox's site was a good non-technical description, and with graphics, for all of you who don't like to read that much...  :)

It mentions diaspora, friendica and buddycloud.  I'd heard of diaspora, and I have an account, but it doesn't interact with me very well.  I glanced through buddycloud this morning, and didn't see anything particularly interesting.  friendica emphasizes being able to interact with other current social networks, which is a good thing, since it is a hard thing to get people to switch.

I guess I should spend some time in figuring out how to install one of them and see if it is worth using.  I've not been clear on how much you can customize the installations, and how hard it is to add features, etc.  And how open the development really is, in terms of them wanting features from outside people, etc.

Mostly, I think the problem is that I want it just to work, and so I don't want to spend lots of my own time developing a system.  Maybe I could work on figuring out if I could add plugins into LifeType to make it do some interesting things with the new social networks.  LifeType 2.0 (if it ever comes out) started a couple years ago adding some social networking features, and so it might fit in well; I don' t know.

But, as facebook and google are increasingly unfriendly (Facebook announced they would no longer import notes, such as this one, starting in a couple weeks)  I suppose their theory is that people will manually double post, or move to facebook only, or something like that.  But, that is a pain, so I'll probably just stop posting to facebook.

Posted by Jon Daley on November 10, 2011, 6:00 pm | Read 52638 times | Comments (5)
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A good quote from Linux Journal:

There are 100000000000 stars in the galaxy.  That used to be a huge number  But it's only a hundred billion.  It's less than the national deficit!  We used to call them astronomical number,  Now we should call them economical numbers.  -- Richard Feynman

 

Posted by Jon Daley on November 10, 2011, 10:51 am | Read 2185 times | Comments (0)
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I don't think it has been said here, other than in small mentions here and there, that I joined our volunteer fire company in Middlesex Township a couple of months ago.  I am not sure of the exact number of incidents that I've gone out on, but the number is probably around 8 or so, though most of them have been cancelled while enroute to the station, or after we got the truck out, etc.  It is often that case that people report a "fire" or "possible fire" when it actually isn't, and the county dispatch systems often are setup to dispatch two stations whenever there is a fire, and so we'll get paged for a neighboring township, and then once a township chief gets to the location, sees that it isn't a big deal, and is either not anything, or can be handled without help, etc.

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Posted by Jon Daley on June 9, 2011, 4:57 pm | Read 1306 times | Comments (0)
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I bought 6 Seagate hard drives from Amazon and Newegg, and both companies sent me drives that already had half their warranty expired.

Amazon, after waiting for the customer support guy to handle 5 simultaneous chat sessions, and so was quite slow at responding, did send out a mailing label with no restocking fee.

Newegg took a half hour on hold before they answered, and initially said that there is a 3 year warranty.  I pointed out that there was only two years left on the warranty, so even if it were true that Seagate only offered a three warranty (which they don't - they have 5 year warranties on their drives currently), this drive is still partially expired.  She then said that she could not accept a return because, "Unfortunately, we are unable to make the changes since the warranty was provided by the manufacture directly."  I asked if she was authorized to refuse a warranty claim and she said she would be sending an RMA form shortly.  She did, after request, provide a return shipping label and removed the restocking fee.

While on hold with the online chat folks, I called Seagate on the phone, and after waiting maybe 5 minutes on hold, got an English speaking person who offered to send out an email where I can take a picture of my invoice, with the appropriate serial numbers, and said that "usually, not always" they would update the warranty date.

She said that often vendors keep the items on the shelf and sell them with expired warranties.  So - now I know to always check the warranty right when I get it.

It's irritating that companies sell old devices without mentioning that on their product specifications page.

Posted by Jon Daley on March 18, 2011, 11:39 am | Read 32451 times | Comments (4)
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Heather asked me to give her the monthly time logs for invoices today, so I took the opportunity to run my brand new script that shows how I've spent my time over the entire year.

I averaged:

13.7 hours a week on directly billable work

7.6 hours a week on maintaining the company, phone systems, servers and any time spent at our rental house

1.1 hours a week on LifeType

8.1 hours a week checking facebook and blogs and also email (lots of which is work related, but I don't differentiate between work and personal email, and I don't get paid for anyway)

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Posted by Jon Daley on December 23, 2010, 11:40 am | Read 1310 times | Comments (5)
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We bought a "new" minivan last year, and it had the lowest mileage, and highest cost of any car we've owned so far.  It is a 1997 Oldsmobile Silhouette, and it had 107,000 miles on it.  We did a lot of driving (I hit 135,000 today, after a year and a half).  Heather and I both take one trip to Pittsburgh each week, and we took a lot of vacation trips this year.

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Posted by Jon Daley on December 22, 2010, 10:41 pm | Read 2557 times | Comments (2)
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Since we're now into the second year of using the woodstove, I thought I would post an update about it.

I bought five cords of wood this year, (we bought around four and a half last year, and used around three).  I got around one cord of black locust each year, and that wood is really nice for long burn times.  I think we've spent somewhere around $1300 on wood, and I expect (hoping at least, we've been using almost no gas heat so far, so we've been burning more wood than I originally estimated) that this wood will last into next year.

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Posted by Jon Daley on December 22, 2010, 10:28 pm | Read 902 times | Comments (0)
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If Heather hasn't been writing recently, that means I'm not writing at all...

First, the basement - after all of the ongoing water problems, and finding out this year that only fixing the gutters was not going to fix the entire problem, and if one is going to get water a couple times a year, you still can't use the basement very easily, and so fixing it is worth looking into.

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Posted by Jon Daley on December 22, 2010, 10:01 pm | Read 964 times | Comments (0)
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I haven't done one of those Facebook lists in a while, and a couple friends filled this one out, so I thought I'd join in.  This list apparently comes from the BBC, who said that the average person has only read 6 of these.  Seems like a small number to me, but since the average American reads less than one book a year (or something like that - I saw a statistic once) maybe it is accurate.

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Posted by Jon Daley on November 25, 2010, 11:18 am | Read 1601 times | Comments (6)
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I came across a hot pepper that I hadn't heard of before, and since it had a warning on it being really hot, I figured I had to buy it.  Now that I've learned it is the hottest known pepper in the world, I have to wonder -- what am I ever going to do with it?

The cashier mentioned that she had done some research on it, and found that it was being used for weapons in India.

Sounds like the perfect thing to eat...

Posted by Jon Daley on September 28, 2010, 2:23 pm | Read 1337 times | Comments (3)
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Someone asked what timer we recently purchased, and I figured I should post it here, since it seems to work pretty well.  We bought the "Meinor Aqua Flush", I chose this one because it was the only one available at Target while I was buying our third sprinkler (I should do reviews on the sprinklers, since most of them were junk - I don't think the manufacturer can claim 45' x 45' coverage area when it can't do that with a 55psi 10 gal/minute connection.  Perhaps they need an * next to that which says, "when connected to a fire hydrant on full blast). (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on August 3, 2010, 1:27 pm | Read 5095 times | Comments (0)
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