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That's Mr. Computer Guy To You

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Kids in elementary school are funny. Being the new guy there means I get quizzical looks from some, having no idea who I am. Others see me in the lab and are calling me over with calls of "Mr. Computer Guy" and "Mr. Computer Expert". Then I help them press Control-Alt-Delete to log on. It's not exactly the easiest key combination out there, especially if you can't read and haven't used a computer before. Sometimes the kid kinda gets it, and has one hand on Control, another on Alt...and searching for a way to reach Delete with their latent telekenetic powers. So, there's still a ways to go with making computers easy to access for all ages. Let's not even get started with using the mouse.

Onto some sites littering my Firefox tab bar:

Here's Harrison Ford on Conan the other night. He always looks depressed whenever he's on any of these kind of shows, and this time Conan breaks out a classic clip of the "Star Wars Christmas Special". Hilarity in motion.

I've been getting into these productivity sites as of late, like Lifehacker and 43 Folders. Even though they have a lot of good advice on how to get things organized and in order, I still fail miserably. But that's not their fault. A few of their stores that have caught my eye as of late:

The "30 Boxes" calendar beta has gone live. An interesting calendar you can share with others for networking.

Cleaning out that dusty PC.

Using Windows Scheduled Tasks. Something I should look into, having windows do those jobs for me so I don't have to.

I also came across this site called Listible, which attempts to cluster sites together under similar headings, like this one for "The Best GTD Resources". GTD, or Getting Things Done, are lots of different programs, ideas, and other organization tips that people use to, well, Get Things Done. At times, I like to think that I'll eventually get all of my files in order, on the computer and around the house.

A classic post from 43 Folders, Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I.

In an effort to keep up with all the sites out there, news feeds were born. RSS, XML, that weird orange logo - all the same. But how do you get it all in order? I'm still working on that. There are feed-reading applications out there, some free, some pay. Of course, I'd rather get the free one. There's sites that can keep track of them, or dedicated applications. Pluck offers a reader that runs inside your browser. Heck, even Google's Gmail now lets you add in feeds. A service like that sounds like a good idea since then your links are all stored online, and you can access it from any place. But for those who like a program you can install, I came across FeedReader.

I sure have typed a lot...that's enough for now. Don't miss the Woot-Off!

Into The Fire

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After neglecting my posting duties for way too long, I need to get some of these stories down. Having been working at the school district for over a month now and surviving, all is going just fine. We just finished a round of report cards and I'm glad I was able to pull through that and help when needed, nothing stumped me too bad and - for the most part - they all got out on time. Time for a few stories from my first few weeks.

It must have been my second or third day at the school, and I'm working on a computer in the back of the computer lab. (This lab also doubles as my office in the one school, I get a desk. But there's also a closet! It still needs cleaning out.) I had a cart set up with a computer set up and a class comes in to use the lab, so I keep working in the back. Little kids crack me up when they're on these computers. Pressing control-alt-delete to get to the login screen? Quite the task for some of them, who try to slam on all 3 keys at the same time, really quick. They turn to me wondering why it didn't work and I try to explain, you can hold them all down in order, you don't have to pounce on it. I go and show them, Control. Alt. Delete. Hopefully this knowledge filters through all of them eventually.

So this classroom of kids is getting settled, and one student begins to loudly announce to the teacher, "I ACCIDENTALY PEED!". Having worked in the computer lab in college the last 4 years before this, I'm pretty sure I hadn't heard this recently, but who knows. The kid is given a buddy by the teacher and they leave to go to the nurse. The teacher consoles the student that it's ok, and that these things happen. Once the student is gone, the teacher lets the class know that we're not going to make fun of the student when they get back, since it was just an accident. The greatest part - the other kids in the room start letting the teacher know, indeed, this happens to all of us.
"Yeah, sometimes when I go to bed I pee the bed!"
They're trading stories of when they also lost bladder control? Hilarity.

Another day I was in the lab, and the class was getting started working in Word. For some kids, this is one of the first times they're using a computer, and the whole experience is new to them. You can't expect them to know where the keys are, what buttons to press, and people in the industry should really just sit down with a class of 1st graders to figure out how to design interfaces.
The teacher helps walk the students through clicking on the Start button, Programs, Microsoft Office, and Word. Most of them get it eventually, but somewhere along the line one student in particular managed to exit Word or not have it open yet, and asks the teacher for help. The teacher makes some remark about how the student has to "Go back to Office". The next thing I notice, the kid is standing next to the teacher, asking why she has to go to the office, and bewildered as to what she had done to deserve the trip. The teacher quickly lets the student know that she didn't do anything wrong, and that she meant on the computer. Shows that you have to remember who you're talking to when addressing people the first time they're on a computer. The teacher and I got a good laugh out of it, though.

I've seen a few kids from camp there, but so far they've all noticed me first. They yell my name in the hall and I end up spinning around going "Heeey...!" and forgetting their name. But I knew it would happen. I just thought there'd be more, it seemed in the summer every time I went out to the bookstore there was one or two I'd run into as well.

There's just something about working at an elementary school, too. I got to eat in the faculty room! Because that's what I am, I'm so cool. Walking around those hallways makes you feel like a giant too. Little kids everywhere. Same when you go to use the bathrooms built into the rooms. You turn around, and there's the mirror, where you can see from your shoulders down since it's mounted about 2 feet lower than normal. Along with the sink. At least none of the kids have tried to climb up on me and take me out, Shadow of the Colossus style. There's the video game terminology, woo! Ok, enough for now.

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