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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We've moved

The new home for this blog is http://www.tdaxp.com.

10:51 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (30)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Satellite Takedown

Brendan of I Hate Linux, Lady of tdaxp, and I were eating at Pizza Ranch this evening, discussing the US military's shoot-down of the failing spy satellite. With respect to the armed services, we came up with a better method:

  1. Build a giant trebuchet. Giant. So large that low-altitude satellites will need to be diverted to avoid hitting it.

  2. Launch a large boulder from the trebuchet to the Sun. Not directly at the Sun, but close enough so that Star Trek IV-style "slingshot effect time travel method" occurs, sending the boulder back to when the satellite was launched.

  3. Because the trebuchet was built so carefully and aimed so precisely, the boulder hits the rocket that is carrying the satellite during take-off, destroying it on the launch pad.

  4. The engineers in the past, aware that such a direct hit by a boulder from the Sun could only occur because of a time travel into the past in order to prevent a mistake, realize that something is wrong with the satellite. They then rebuild it, but better, avoiding whatever went wrong, as well as eliminating the need for the trebuchet, and, more importantly, the need to waste all the fuel diverting the functioning satellite's out of the trebuchet's path.

The last point is important, because the trebuchet is a carbon offset, eliminating the need for environmentally-unfriendly rockets.

22:28 Posted in Science, Vanity | Permalink | Comments (10) | Tags: satellites, trebuchet

Friday, February 22, 2008

Open Thread XIII

All this talk of separatists movements, the generations of war, John Boyd, and William Lind, got you down -- or bored (!) ?

What would be more fun to chat about?

11:58 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (76) | Tags: Open Thread

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why Educational Psychology?

I've been struggling on how to write this paper for some time. Now that I have prepared a program of studies for my PhD program that more than fulfills the department's, the college's, and the university's requirement, my adviser asked me for a brief statement on how the doctoral degree would fulfill my requirements. That is, a short statement on what I see myself using my PhD. (If all goes well, I will be All But Dissertation in December.)

My goal is to improve the knowledge base of learners, wherever they may be. Therefore, my objective is to earn a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education.

Broadly, psychology can be divided into three general traditions. The first, academic psychology, focuses on a social organization of the science of the mind primarily centered around programmatic research. The second, clinical psychology, focuses on the care and repair of injuries to the mind that are outside of normal variation. The third, educational psychology, focuses on the improvement of the mind by adding to procedural, declarative, and conditional long-term memory. Psychology can thus be thought of as a Venn diagram, with these units both distinct and overlapping.

Educational psychology is the only branch of psychology that provides methods for helping most people most of the time: academic psychology studies people, and clinical psychology helps people if they are injured or otherwise hurt, but only educational psychology delivers broad-based tools to improve what typical people know, what they do, and how they do it. While academic and clinical perspectives certainly are valuable, actually improving the performance of general populations is simply outside of their focus. Nonetheless, in most situations, the best way to help people is to use educational psychology to add to what they know.

For its part, university training progresses through three stages. The first, the bachelor's degree, provides a learner with enough knowledge to understand the most important terms of a science. The second, the master's degree, providers a learner with enough knowledge to understand how the science of a field progresses, and to be able to read and criticize new and classic research in their field. The last, the doctorate of philosophy, allows the learner to use the core concepts of the field to develop new techniques. To be as effective an educational psychologist as I can do, I need the training required to earn a Ph.D. in the field. My goal is not simple to learn how to act according to the best research in this or that circumstance, or even to learn how to apply the newest research in a certain situation. Rather, I need the ability to utilize,manipulate, and explore the deep principles behind educational psychology. I need not only to be able to take an article and apply it to learners, but also to device, test, and analyze new approaches.

I have tried to keep this "purpose statement" on a high level. I do not discuss my specific classwork or research here, though I hope their purpose is clear. My objective is to improve the knowledge base of learners, my goal is a Ph.D. In Educational Psychology, and my program of study has been designed to make that possible.

14:15 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (10)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pretty good customer service, actually

Major props to both CitiCards and Dell for unexpectedly good, kind, and prompt customer service. Citicards waived a late fee for a check that really is (I hope!) in the mail (send off on the 21st, and never cashed). Meanwhile, Mike from Dell contacted me on my blog post, made some calls, and generally has been extremely helpful.

Thanks Citi! Thanks Dell!

21:51 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: CitiCards, Dell

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On the subject of lousy service

I had the misfortune of chatting with "Antoinette," a call center employee working for Time Warner Cable in Nebraska. Antoinette was verbally hostile, and refused to allow me to speak to a supervisor in spite of being asked to do so three times.

Combine this with an airline temporarily threaten to charge my wife and parents-in-law $1500 ($500/each) for no good reason the other day (when I started talking employee ID numbers, the desk dropped the inexplicable charges), and you have one un-satisfied Husker.

Oh well.. at least another Callahan innovation is biting the dust.

16:37 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (3)

Ups and Down from Dell Customer Service

I spilled coffee next to my laptop the other day. It didn't spill on my laptop, but a slight warp my ancient desk (old, sturdy, and useful, though not an antique) made the liquid cool under the bottom vents of the laptop. So of course it stopped working.

I called up Dell, and they said they would send out a box the next day via DHL. Further, I didn't even need to be home! They would just leave the box there, and then I would call DHL for a pick-up time.

Even better, after I hung up, they said to call DHL directly, and DHL would pick it up!

So I call DHL, they tell me the Dell email is in error, and indeed I have to wait for the box. Then, the delibery doesn't come for two days. Even better, DHL left a note saying they couldn't deliver, because a signature is required. In other words, Dell was wrong: I need to be home when the box shows up.

Fortunately, my computer since tried out and spontaneously started working on its own.

Updated: Dell customer service came through!

11:30 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tags: Dell, DHL, Customer Service

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Windchill is 35 below zero

Do you know where Shane and Sean are?

Answer: locked outside!

Welcome to South Dakota!

23:35 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The new design. McCain. Romney.

Romney's out:

McCain's in:

The "Romney Design" is out:

A provisional "McCain Design" is in

Our long national nightmare is over.

18:05 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The new design. McCain. Obama.

Until Mitt Romney, the John Kerry of the Republican Party, withdraws, the new design stays up.

Vote McCain.

Or if you're a Democrat, Vote Obama.

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