A ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

Friedrich Engels

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Accelerated Learning

Tim Ferriss, "The Four-Hour Chef": Authors at Google (published 12/6/2012)

(:youtube gj3RskVvVLA :)

Interesting perspectives on high performance, accelerated learning. DiSSS describes some of the accelerated learning approach where:

  • Deconstruction - what are the basic building blocks to start with. Thinks necessary Lego's
  • Structure - Which 20% of the blocks will provide 80% of the outcome desired?
  • Sequencing - Determine a logical and high impact order for learning.
  • Stakes - Define real consequences to guarantee follow-through, and set low stakes for practice

Invalid file names

Windows based systems have been using NTFS as the file system manager for several years. Problems can occur with transferring files created on an Apple MAC in a couple of different ways: ("problem" is used loosely to indicate "hassle" or additional steps that must be performed in order to use the file)

  1. lack of filename extension. For example, leaving off the .DOCX or .XLSX for MS Word and Excel applications. Pre-OS X versions of the Mac OS disposed of filename-based extension metadata entirely, instead using a distinct file type code to identify the file format. Additionally, a creator code was specified to determine which application would be launched when the file's icon was double-clicked. Mac OS X, however, uses filename suffixes, as well as type and creator codes, as a consequence of being derived from the UNIX-like NeXTSTEP operating system.(many more details at
  2. Illegal file characters, specifically the characters \/:"*?<>| are not valid in Windows filenames. These special characters are used by Windows to delimit drives and folders, quote paths, or to specify wildcards and redirection on the command line.
    • More info on reserved file name characters see:
    • File name character differences between NTFS and MacOS X's HFS+ are the source of this problem. This is a complex issue (Google info on changes in how Apple uses / changes their normalization algorithm in different versions of Mac OS X. It is not static, which means there are compatibility problems when moving hard drives between Mac OS X versions). HFS+ is crappy and causes Internet-wide interoperability problems

The Solution for student assignments (and a couple of other important details!)

  1. Include filename extensions matching the MS Word or Excel application (.doc, .docx, .xls, or .xlsx)
  2. Personalize the filename by putting your Last Name at the beginning of the file name.
  3. Use only valid filename characters. These include letters, numbers, spaces, hyphens and underscore marks. These do NOT include \ / : " * ? < > | # $ @ &
  4. After attaching the file (or files) to the Blackboard assignment, remember to SUBMIT the assignment.
  5. LAST STEP: The assignment isn't submitted unless the files are attached with the proper naming (see #1, 2, and 3 above) and the assignment has been submitted (#4 above). Take the time to confirm your submission.
    • From the Assignments Link - Click on the assignment link to view the submission history for that assignment. If you are allowed to make more than one submission, you will also see a Submission History that will display all your submissions by date and time.
    • You can also confirm your Assignment submission by accessing the My Grades area of a course. An exclamation point (!) will appear next to any Assignment that has been successfully submitted. You can access the submission history page by clicking either the name of the assignment or the green exclamation point (!).

Google Calendar - Appointment Slots discontinued

Google notice that appointment slots on Google Calendar are discontinued as of 1/4/2013.

As of January 4, 2013, you will no longer be able to create new appointment slots. Existing appointment slots will continue to work until the end of December 2013. Users will be able to book appointments on existing appointment slots until that time.

My solution is to implement the web service Setup was quick and easy (5 minutes). This external service links to my Google calendar, specifically just my appointments calendar. I set the days and times. It will operate similarly to Appointments on Google calendar without requiring a Google userid.

As a professor, I use it for office hour appointments, trying to get ahead of that questions when are you in your office? and for advising appointments, which fit in an intensive 10 day period each Spring and Fall semester. My quick setup for Spring semester 2013 is at



  1. Tags, databases, categories, and other organizational functions are the area of interest in general. See a discussion of "machine tags" at Machine tags allow users to be more precise in how they tag, and how they search, their photos. 12-20-2012


12-21-12 is a great date on the calendar and my first entry from the iPad. 12-21-12

Deep Work vs Task Universalism

Good start to a Saturday morning reading Getting (Unremarkable) Things Done: The Problem With David Allen’s Universalism. An excellent analysis of the edges of David Allen's Getting Things Done.

In Allen’s world, in other words, everything reduces to clear and easy-to-accomplish next actions. But as Cal Newport, aka StudyHacks, points out Not All Work is Created Equal.

Allen preaches task universalism: when you get down to concrete actions, all work is created equal. I disagree with this idea. Creating real value requires deep work, which is a fundamentally different activity than knocking off organizational tasks.

Flipping through my notebook, about every 4 or 5 weeks, I redraw a big picture block diagram (boxes with project names and interconnections) or a mind map. My purpose is to find focus on the big rocks that make a difference in long term success. This is somewhat similar to my weekly church attendance and daily meditation which help to focus spiritual life and purpose. But deep work or big picture diagrams are necessary as methods (philosophies?) for focusing on obsessive (and often messy) pursuit of something new.

Deep work is fundamentally different than the shallow (though still important) work of keeping on top of the little things required to function personally and professionally.

End Note: I highly recommend this blog, Study Hacks by Cal Newport, full of interesting ideas and content by a computer science academic and author. 12-22-12

Work, Schedules, and Tasks

continue this topic at with the addition of Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule. 12-22-12

rising Topics

  • Big data
  • categorization beyond the relational database

Holiday time

Family Card Games

Well-connected representations let you turn ideas around in your mind, to envision things from many perspectives until you find one that works for you. And that's what we mean by thinking!

Marvin Minsky

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