Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Media Applied Knowledge to Date

Well I'm getting pretty close to being wrapped up for this semester. I've had the opportunity to use some of what I've learned from this class in my professional life. I'd like to give a brief update here.

I'm currently involved with a team at work tasked with helping employees understand and accept that the role of our site in the corporate network has changed and the site will have roughly 50% the staff it has now. Combined with that is the mission is to also have engaged upbeat attitude employees as well. Not a short order by any means.

Our approach so far has involved starting blog on the corporate intranet and sharing some frank dialogue and commentary. From the onset our strategy has been to take a viral approach as opposed to a top down approach. I had the opportunity to speak at a department meeting Thursday and share some insight into the power of social networking. I referenced the recent events taking place in the Middle East and North Africa and the dramatic change underway in part enabled by social networking tools.

I hope all of you have a great summer. I know some of you are in the same class I am in this summer. I hope to see all of you online.

Kind regards,


Monday, April 25, 2011

How Font Size Influences Learning

Have you ever increased the font size of a key point in something you wanted someone to learn? Maybe bolded a word or two to provide the proper emphasis? Maybe next time you should consider putting these important points in a small font or some unusual font if you really want them to remember.

One of my colleagues sent me this article from the NY Times basically stating that if you have to work harder or concentrate more on the words or passage you are more likely to retain the information. I can't count the number of times I've underlined, bolded, or otherwise provided some form of emphasis to a piece of text in the hope someone will retain it. At the end of the day the amount of effort we put in will normally equate to the result.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Digging Out After the Storms Last Weekend

As I speak to more people and go about my daily life I see more and more devastation resulting from the storms last Saturday. My family and I were very fortunate in that the two systems pretty much went up either side of us. It was scary enough as it was.

If I learned one lesson it would have been that even though the odds are slim, it pays to be attentive to emergency procedures and be aware of what your responsibilities are during this type of disaster. The people at the Lowes store in Sanford would have been far worse off had store employees not known what to do and where to go. The destruction was almost beyond belief.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Observations From Our Recent Bad Weather Experience

In the aftermath of our recent tornado experience I combined my own experiences with those of others I talked to and I developed a couple of observations.
  • When the meteorologists say bad weather is approaching pay attention
  • When the power goes out your DSL internet access is useless
  • Your TV is useless too (see above) 
  • Smartphone batteries go really fast when you use the internet to follow the storm
  • Accept that the best tool you may have is a battery operated radio tuned to an AM station
  • Make sure you have batteries (see above)
Luckily for us the worst it got for us was that we spent some time in the dark listening to AM radio broadcasting an up to the minute report on the storm movements. After the danger passed the sun came out and we went out and checked everything out. Nothing more than limbs and twigs for us. In times like these we have to remember those who weren't as lucky and be there for them. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Watch Out for Copperheads

This week my video focuses on the likelihood of being bitten by a snake in North Carolina. Our state ranks near the top with Georgia, Florida, and Texas for the number of snakebites in our population each year. The snake that bites the most of our neighbors is the copperhead.

Be careful when you are working in your flowerbeds and garden. This is the time of year when we like to be active outside and coincidentally these snakes are getting active with the warm weather also. Pay close attention to where you put your hands and feet. Keep an eye on pets as well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Disengaged Employees Part II

I just wanted to circle back and report on what my colleague and I found when we went down to Greenwood SC last week to provide some training to members of their staff. If you recall I was concerned that their people would be distracted with the recent news they were being acquired by an investment firm. Anyone who has done standup training knows what a bummer it is to train a class to a group of zombies.

I'm happy to report that everyone I encountered was upbeat and ready to take on whatever faced them. It was actually one of the most enjoyable training experiences I've had in a while. I was thrilled to see the pride all of them demonstrated in both their jobs and their site as a whole. I'm certain that the organization acquiring them will be pleased with the assets and potentials these guys bring. I wish them the very best of luck and success.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fooling Around With Screenr

 Messing around with a piece of social media I found online scouting around. Below is a link to a video I made fooling around with some trail camera photos. Trying to learn how to use the tool in order to pull of a quick tutorial on some of the features.

Screenr video

Monday, April 11, 2011


I dropped a handful of pics from a couple of sources on my map. The pics were a mix of some pics I took of the family dogs, a couple pictures from a ride on the parkway last fall, and some pictures I took of some wildlife I took with a trail camera. The game pictures cam from here at my home here in Wake county and our cabin in Watauga county. This is kind of a weird mix but it was a combination of things I have on my camera chip and these are the things I love to mess around with.

Using the tool was fairly straightforward although the map was noticeably slower than Google Maps when I was working with it. It was particularly slower when moving images around and changing your zoom. I was pleased with the level of detail on the map when I brought it in close. I tagged my photos asuweb20. I searched up asuweb20 and saw a bunch of photos from my classmates.
It would be kind of neat for a camera to store the location where a picture was taken. It would make things a lot easier than trying to remember or trying to make notes. I kind of like that idea. The ideas and technologies set up to search and parse through photos are amazing. Everything from pure artform to use as a crimefighting tool.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coyotes in NC

This week my pal Minnie joins me to warn you about some neighbors you may not be aware that you have. Those would of course be coyotes. Take a look at this discussion forum by citizens of our state along with this article by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Bottom line: be aware that coyotes inhabit all 100 counties of our state. Keep your pets safe by keeping them close and under your control if you think you have coyotes in the area.

Non-copyright Content

I found a source for non-copyright books. The sight is Authorama listing a number of books in the public domain. On several occasions I have looked for books online to see if there was a particular publication available for free. I never did any good finding what I was looking for. I was actually surprised to find anything in terms of books when I started researching this topic. The site is nowhere near your public library in terms of the titles available however, there are dozens of titles several of which I recognized.

When I was looking at what was available I came across two authored by Mark Twain. One titled Quips and Quotes piqued my interest because I like quotes and anecdotes from wise men of long ago. I have used quotes and expressions on a number of occasions to open classes in the form of icebreakers etc. Other times they can be fun to toss out as a source of humor. The site would also be useful for someone teaching a literature class that required reading one of the books provided. A free book is particularly important in these times of rising tuition costs and class cancellations. This is pretty dry but the truth is that printed books and literature still provide a fundamental basis for all levels of learning.

The books are completely free without restriction. The site asks that if you want to help out provide a link to Authorama and tell other potential users about the site.

Wish Trip Map

I set up a map on Google Maps for a motorcycle cruise I'd like to take in the Boone area sometime this spring.

We'd start at my cabin in Deep Gap sometime in the mid-morning. Up the hill to get on the parkway and head east to Laurel Springs. Lots of stops for pictures and sightseeing along the way.  Rhonda H who I have attended a few classes with told me about the restaurant at Laurel Springs called Freeborns. We'll have a good lunch and see if we can run into some other bikers enjoying the day. From there we'll move onward to West Jefferson to check out the cheese factory and the local sightseeing and shopping. Then we'll make an easy cruise to Blowing Rock for an afternoon meal at Woodlands BBQ. Finally we'll cruise through Boone on the way back to the cabin. We'll probably gas up in Boone on the way to the cabin to be ready for the next day.

Below is a screenshot of the map.

I was not able to insert images at my stickpins I put into the map. I need to play with this some more to see if there is something I'm just not doing. Here is a quick link to my map.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Disengaged Employees

I'm sure all of us have experience working with fellow employees who just were not into their job or what they were doing. Some may have been mad with the government, the company, or a family member. There are any number of reasons to have a bad attitude. Have you ever wondered what it costs the company you work for when there are a group of negative personalities about?

An HR Professionals site claims actively disengaged employees cost employers approximately $416 billion in 2009 in lost productivity. These figures come from the Gallup Organization's employment engagement surveys.

The reason I'm writing about this today is because I traveled today to a sister site in South Carolina that was just sold to an investment firm. The deal is scheduled to be complete later this year. My task is to provide training to a group of employees over the next couple of days. I wonder what kind of vibe will be in class over the next couple of days. Any of you who have been involved in a merger or takeover as I have know how goofy and uncertain things can be for a period of weeks or months. Then when the new owner takes over it continues and often gets weirder. The link above provides some insight into what leaders can do to affect the mood and help with the transition. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Final Project Activity

Created my blog I'm going to present my final project on tonight. I've been looking at a number of web postings from multiple sources. I've read a number of articles and viewed numerous You tube videos. More stuff get published every day. When I finish what I will write it will be obsolete because of the fluid nature of the conflict and the flood of information available via digital sources. My project will be a snapshot at best.

What is going on in the Middle East fascinates me in the idea that the people of multiple nations are revolting against various forms of oppressive rule. In my mind I keep asking why now? What made thousands of people turn the corner and say "no more"? Do they know what they are taking on? They say they want freedom and democracy. I hope they realize how messy the task is they are taking on. Bottom line: people have to fight and die for freedom. I wish it wasn't so but this is just the beginning of the fight.

I look forward to the challenge of publishing this project and capturing a moment of this conflict in time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Copperheads - Don't Tread on Me

I just read an article in the April 2011 Wildlife in North Carolina magazine titled don't tread on me. The article is about all of the species of poisonous snakes in North Carolina. By far the poisonous snake you are most likely to encounter is the copperhead. At least that is what the statistics seem to indicate. Here are a few of the stats from 2008 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

In 2008 the AAPCC reported 3,192 snakebites in the US of which 509 occurred in NC. During that year the Carolinas Poison Center (CPC) in Charlotte reported envenomations from 233 copperheads, 15 cottonmouths, 17 rattlesnakes, 73 unknown pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, or cottonmouths), and 5 exotic snakes kept as pets. Statistically NC comes in  with approximately 5.5 snakebites per 100,000 people. At this rate our state comes in as one of the most likely locations to have an unpleasant encounter with a poisonous snake (likely a copperhead). We're right there at the top with Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida.

This time of year is when we all venture out to enjoy the warmer weather, work in the garden, and any number of other outdoor activities. As a resident of this state with a long history with copperheads I advise that you please be careful and pay attention when you might be in a potential scenario for an encounter. It can be as simple as moving some stuff around that has been stored outside or slipping outside in the dark barefooted to let the dog out. Please pay attention and put your shoes on. 

Introduction to My Best Friend Minnie

This video introduces all of you to my best friend Minnie. Minnie is a 3 year old American Labrador Retriever. Be sure to take good care of your best friend and they'll take care of you.