December 31, 2007

Presidential Candidates Come To Town

I've been watching a lot of C-SPAN this week and following their C-SPAN Campaign Network with program schedules and archived multimedia content. It's been great watching the candidates make their case to Iowans and seeing them interact with supporters following their stump speeches. C-SPAN keeps their cameras rolling and mics hot for several minutes following most events which can be somewhat revealing. I like it.

I've been really impressed listening to Joe Biden articulate his positions (and understanding) of major issues, especially foreign policy issues related to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, China, Mexico and others. I heard him speak at UNI a few weeks ago, and his values and positions about education (early childhood to college) are terrific too--refreshingly commonsensical, informed, and proactive. Here is his personal appeal to Iowa voters to support him Thursday night.

On Monday, we took Lucy to see Hillary Clinton at UNI's performing arts center. She was having a good time until the crowd started cheering when Hillary and Chelsey appeared (we thought she'd be okay since she seemed to enjoy another event with people cheering a few months ago).

Once the crowd got loud, Magda and I took turns entertaining Lucy in the back hallway. Hillary was good in person. She makes a strong case for her qualifications and she demonstrates a very thorough understanding of both international and domestic issues. She definitely has substance.

Here are some more pictures from the Hillary Clinton event with former governor Tom Vilsack. Check-out the guy wearing the "I miss Bill" t-shirt. That's Iowa State Senator Jeff Danielson who is actually supporting Chris Dodd for president.

Chris Dodd was at Steamboat Gardens tonight. The firefighters in attendance are pretty pumped up and vocal. Senator Dodd mingled with the crowd for quite a while after his speech. He took the time to shake about everybody's hand, including mine.

The bar atmosphere isn't quite as polished as the Hillary event was Monday, but I love the fact that presidential candidates appear in small town hangouts like Steamboat (locally famous for their tenderloins) and there is a candidate coming to my town nearly everyday this week! I'm planning to see President Clinton and Obama Wednesday and Biden Thurs morning (caucus day). Senator Edwards will be on a 36-hour tour of Iowa during the last couple of days leading up to the Iowa Caucuses, but it looks like the closest he'll get is Cedar Rapids.

The Iowa Democratic Party created the web site which will go live Thursday night. The site displays quite well on my mobile phone browser, so I'm eager to see how quickly they post results. I'll definitely be blogging and sending Twitter updates from my caucus location this Thursday night. Meanwhile, the blog4president feed is a great way to follow recent news about all the republican and democratic candidates running for president in 2008.

December 22, 2007


Heard about earfl yet? It's an interesting place to publish your own voice (via telephone call) illustrated with pictures you choose. Looks like the presidential candidates are are a popular topic.

December 16, 2007

Lucy tries first food

Lucy tried her first spoon of cereal yesterday! I think she'll catch on to this pretty quickly. We even got Grandpa in on the action today thanks to Skype.

December 15, 2007

Snowbot for Xmas

Dr. Z gave me this USB Snowbot for Christmas, and it's keeping a watchful eye while I work. Among other specs, it features a "Scanning LED Robotic Eye" and "Authentic Snowbot Sound". I know... you're jealous. Don't worry, this and other great gadgets can be had this season (or any season) from

December 9, 2007

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We put up a Christmas tree this past weekend! Magda did a great job of designing it. We'll celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and we've never put up a tree before (here at home anyway--we've spent four seasons in Poland). It looks and smells great! We've got four stockings over the mantle, holiday music in the car, snow is on the ground. Christmas time is here!

November 29, 2007

Elf Yourself!

Magda just couldn't help herself once she saw the Heimbuchs' version. Click the picture of us to watch the video! Even Mom & Gary got in on this Elf action!

November 27, 2007

Starting to Get Noticed!

The internet is amazing. Little ol' me sets up this here blog and starts using Twitter, and the next thing I know, a web start-up and presidential candidate (okay his campaign staff) discover me! How cool is that?

Earlier today, Debi from added a comment to one of my blog postings thanking me for my review of their product. Review? I don't work for a magazine or major media outlet--not even a major web site! But, ya, I guess it was a review, and today's web (the one that encourages more people than ever to publish their thoughts online) can be very influential. I know I don't buy things on Amazon without first reading user reviews to learn what everyday people think of a it. Many, many people value such real-world accounts of how well a product works. So, you're welcome, Debi. Glad I could review Gliffy and publish my opinions about your product for the world to see. Do you think Audi or Mercedes might send me a sample of their product to review for my next posting?

This afternoon, I watched presidential candidate Joe Biden speak as part of the UNI Presidential Candidate Forum on education policy (hosted by Ed in '08, BTW). Just after the event, I sent an update to Twitter describing how much I'd liked what I heard. An hour later, I get an email telling me that Joe Biden is now following me on Twitter! Wow, that's two presidential candidates now following me on Twitter!

I'd like to think that all of this is about me. My heart tells me that's so, but my mind says it's probably more likely the result of things such as Twitter Tracking and link checking. However it happens, the point is that it happens. The internet and Web 2.0 are creating amazing opportunities to find each other, communicate and collaborate with one another and discover infinite amounts of information. Amazing, huh?

November 25, 2007

Wish List and Free Stuff Online

I just added my Amazon wish list alongside my blog. I use my wish list year-round to keep track of good deals, things I'm considering buying, or stuff I'll buy once I finally win the lottery. This widget is a great way to share my list with family and friends for the holidays.

Amazon provides free buttons and widgets for sharing your lists on your own web sites. Once you create an Amazon wish list (you can create more than one list, by the way), then look for the button that says "Tell people about this list". A pop-up window will provide a unique URL and the HTML to copy and paste buttons or widgets onto your own web pages.

Looking for free stuff online? Check out Business Week's guide to 101 Best Web Freebies. There's a related article to read, but it's more fun just exploring the free programs, services and offers they've found. Browse by category by clicking on the pictures along the bottom of the page.

November 22, 2007

OLPC Give One Get One Program Extended

According to today, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Give One Get One program has been extended until Dec 31. While the official web site still indicates that the program is only available until Nov 26, the OLPC News site seems to verify the extended expiration date for people in the US and Canada to purchase one of these innovative laptops for themselves while simultaneously gifting a laptop to a child in a developing country. The cost is $399 with $200 being tax deductible as a charitable donation.

November 19, 2007

Back to Wally's

We're having a great time in Chicago & stocking up on Polish food at Wally's Market. Going downtown tonight to see the Christmas lights on Michigan Avenue. We missed the Christmas Parade Sat night, but we set a record for the longest drive to Chicago. Oh well, the Christmas music in the car made the time pass nicely. Check-out the awesome fuel mileage too--this was the average MPG of our diesel Jetta between home and Chicago!

November 17, 2007

Fast Food, Fast Info

Just saw this sign at the McDonalds outside Rockford, IL. Great--one more thing to slow down the drive-thru lane!

Look how Papa John's Pizza is capitalizing on the growing use of text messaging. I received this advertisement via email (click the picture to view a larger image). You can find the nearest Papa John's location by texting a zip code to 4PAPA, and you can save up to 4 pizza orders on their web site for placing future orders via text messaging.

If that doesn't satisfy your hunger, try using Google SMS or GOOG-411 (800-466-4411) or Free 411 (800-373-3411) to search for local restaurants or other businesses.

November 4, 2007

Lucy Talks Again

Check out Lucy's site for some new pictures.

Mr. Facebook, Tear Down This Wall

Everyone's heard of MySpace and FaceBook--what about Bebo, Orkut, Friendster, LinkedIn, or Ning? There are dozens of social networking sites, each with their own user base and virtual walls separating their users from "socializing" with members of other networks. In fact, many people maintain redundant accounts and profiles in more than one social network, because not everyone in their social network uses the same platform. Well, Google hopes to change this (for reasons more selfish than mentioned here) by making its own social network, Orkut, compatible with an open set of web standards and encouraging others to do the same.

The OpenSocial project aims to allow any web site to embed social networking within their site--creating a layer of social networking throughout the web to be used as a portable resource. It's rather like those Verizon commercials--you know, the ones showing "the network" represented as a mass of people and vehicles following one customer. Well, that's the idea--imagine the potential benefit (and potential harm) of being able to access your network of friends (and their friends) when searching for information, considering a purchase, making important life decisions, studying, etc. They would just follow you--you wouldn't have to seek them out (i.e. login to your MySpace).

We're not quite there yet, but so far this OpenSocial initiative has garnered commitments from all of the aforementioned networks, EXCEPT Facebook. Notably, both MySpace (number 1 social networking site in the U.S.) and Bebo (number 1 in the U.K.) have already joined the OpenSocial project.

October 20, 2007

21st Century Learners

This is one of the videos that has recently gone viral, and it was actually created as a class project by 200 students in an anthropology class (Sp07) at Kansas State University! (How cool is that?) It's quite a compelling and somewhat provocative look at students today, their learning environments, and the world in which we now live (infused with information and technology). As Professor Wesch explains, it was created as part 2 in a 3-part series on higher education. Part 1 explores how we access, evaluate, and use information.

October 13, 2007

First Homecoming Parade

Lucy & grandma experienced their first UNI homecoming parade today. Afterward, we finally bought a new digital camera--our Sony was having all sorts of problems (battery drain, blurriness, etc.).

One of the great features of the Kodak models is the panorama assistant. You tell the camera if you're taking a panoramic shot left-to-right or right-to-left, then it displays part of the previous shot to help you overlap it with the next one. It will automatically stitch together up to three images right there on the camera--no editing required on the computer. I used that feature for the first time to take the picture below. As you can see, it works pretty well!

October 9, 2007

Woz and Pogue Wear Our Sticker!

The legendary Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, and David Pogue from the New York Times were the keynote speakers at the ITEC conference this week. I just left David Pogue's fantastic keynote address (really, it was awesome!), and I saw Woz sitting in the front row wearing one of our UNI Instructional Technology stickers! Look closely and you'll see a few others in the background wearing our stickers too. We had a great presence at the conference this year thanks to Dr. Z's idea for the stickers and Magda's design.

October 6, 2007

So many people

So many people... I don't know what to think. Better just suck on my hand.

We enjoyed spending some time with our friends, Mac & Erin, this weekend. They're engaged now! We got to hang out at Travis & Lori's new house too. It's a great place, though Travis should mow his lawn. :-)

September 25, 2007

SL Voice Chat Rocks!

Tonight I joined Dr. Z's class in SecondLife. Kathy Schrock and Ferdi Serim were guest presenters. The voice chat in SL worked great! It's so much easier to communicate using voices than trying to keep up with text chats. I'm excited to see how this feature enhances the next Second Life Best Practices in Education Conference.

September 23, 2007

Why capture lectures?

Rick Nigol strikes again. I've really enjoyed several of his recent posts to the Breakthrough Briefing newsletter, though I wonder why there's not an RSS feed of it--sure seems more like a blog than a newsletter.

Anyway, his recent post was about the marketing of products to capture lecture presentations and stream them via a web browser. As he points out, the result is usually not very impressive. He also writes, and I quote:
"Most lectures are bad in person, but they are even worse when replayed later online. You cannot really see the lecturer (window very small), the sound quality is crappy, many of the graphics used are difficult to read, and you cannot interact with anyone or anything. Everything about it reinforces the impression that you are not there and not part of it.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of products such as Accordant and Echo 360 (a.k.a Apreso). They are expensive (about $8-12,000) and serve only one room. Thousands of dollars are invested in a special box for one room to record what is basically the weakest form of instruction, teacher-centered lecture. But lectures can be interactive, you say? A good presenter will engage his/her audience in a conversation or activity? Okay, so how do these systems deal with audio or video from anyone other than the presenter? I don't think they do. There is a fixed camera in the back of the room and sound coming from the presenter's microphone. Imagine watching a replay and being frustrated by what was actually a good presentation that included participation from the audience, only you couldn't hear or see that stuff!

Unfortunately, about the only justifications I can imagine for such systems are to "make-up" a missed class or to package existing lectures for delivery in a distance learning program. This is way too much money to spend on students who aren't in class (there are cheaper ways to get them the information and wiser ways to spend instructional technology dollars), and there are much more effective ways to teach in an online environment than simply recording traditional teacher-centered lectures and delivering them online (as Rick also points out in his post).

Quark lets students go commercial

This isn't late-breaking news. Apparently, it happened in July, but I just learned about Quark's decision to allow students who purchase the academic version of QuarkXPress to also use it commercially. That means, contrary to any other academic licensing agreement I know of, students who purchase QuarkXPress at the academic price (about $199 compared to the full price of $799) can legally use that software for educational as well as for-profit projects while they are a student. And after they graduate, former students may continue to use that same academic version for commercial purposes or they may upgrade that academic version to the latest commercial version at the commercial upgrade price--no need to purchase the full commercial version first.

That's big news for students and schools! Quark and Adobe have been slugging it out for years with competing products, QuarkXPress and InDesign (the successor to PageMaker). These are, without a doubt, the standards when it comes to professional page layout design. Any serious design school is going to be using one (or both) of these products, and there have been significant factors influencing purchasing decisions. For example, when Apple made the switch from OS9 to OSX, Quark was very slow (if not resistant) to the change. They took much too long to release an OSX native version of their product. Many users abandoned Quark for their apparent lack of support for the Macintosh. For a while, their academic pricing was much higher than Adobe's as well.

Will this bold licensing change from Quark encourage some InDesign users to switch back? Will Quark influence other other companies to follow their lead? (Are you listening Adobe?) That would be a huge selling point to academic programs. Faculty could tell students that not only are we going to help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in the industry--we're going to help you acquire the tools to do so and get the most bang for your buck.

September 22, 2007

Out and about

Out and about today with Lucy. She fits much better in her new car seat--looks cool too! Guess who's already 3 months old?

September 16, 2007

Higher Res Imagery Coming to Google Earth

Google's provider of satellite imagery, DigitalGlobe, is launching a new satellite Tuesday. The WorldView I spacecraft promises more up-to-date and higher-resolution images. Combined with their current satellite in service, a company spokesman told Reuters that they should soon be able to gather as much satellite imagery each day as they currently do each week (600,000 square kilometers). A planned 3rd satellite will increase that collection rate to more than 1 million square kilometers per day (at half-meter resolution). As one person commented on, now I'll be able to use Google Earth to look for my lost keys!

The launch of the WorldView I satellite will be broadcast live on the internet Tuesday, and replays are said to be available for 24 hrs following.

September 15, 2007

twittervision & micro-blogging

I've written about twittervision before. It's a mesmerizing mashup, combining data from Google Maps and Twitter, providing a real-time geographical view of tweets from all over the world (and in many languages). Now, twittervision has a new 3D view that displays tweets on a rotating globe (just click the "3D View" button). There are also controls for zooming and panning. Pretty cool!

Tweets are text messages that twitter users send to answer the basic question "what are you doing?"--using text messages and the web, people use Twitter to keep in touch with friends. Once you add someone as a "friend" on Twitter, then you'll instantly receive their updates (tweets) on your cell phone or, if you prefer, on the web or your desktop. It's just one form of micro-blogging.

But this micro-blogging phenomenon isn't just enabling individuals to keep in touch with friends. Imagine the many uses of a platform which empowers anyone to instantly disseminate text and pictures to a global audience via their cell phone! It's being used by organized protesters to coordinate efforts and instantly disseminate information to one another. Journalists (and other folks) are using it to update blogs with text and pictures of breaking news--here's an example from Sky News. TV shows and radio stations have used text messaging for years to engage their audience. Now, tools like Twitter enable anyone to use text messaging for almost any purpose they can imagine!

September 14, 2007

Unnecessary Jargon

Rick Nigol recently posted a great message about unnecessary and even exclusionary jargon which is usually counterproductive. It's at least annoying.

Now, I'm not saying we don't get caught up from time-to-time using terminology within a field. Students learning about the Internet and web design surely will encounter terms such as FTP, HTML, server, or CSS. Every field has its lingo, and it can be confusing. One of my colleagues, Dr. Zeitz, deals with this by having his students create a "jargon card", which they hold up if they don't understand a term in class. That way, the group can pause and define the term or use alternative language to clarify.

But when people intentionally use jargon to sell themselves, market a product, or intimidate others--well, that's just annoying, and they should be called on it. Unnecessary jargon excludes and belittles people. It may sell a product to ignorant customers (like negative attack ads in politics), but it doesn't add value to the field or marketplace.

September 13, 2007

Searching for Steve Fossett via the web

Richard Branson, Google, and Amazon recruit web users to help search for
Steve Fossett. Here's a short article about it.

I heard this story on NPR Wednesday morning--brilliant! Google acquired new satellite imagery showing any spot on the globe no more than a few days old (that's right). They passed along the imagery to Amazon who is now recruiting web users (anyone, anywhere in the world) to help in the search for Steve Fossett, missing in Nevada, by analyzing the images. Totally changes the notion of a search party!

September 8, 2007

UNI Fight, UNI Fight!

UNI beat Iowa State University 24-13 tonight! Way to go Panthers!

September 6, 2007

Thanks C&I

Magda and I have received so many thoughtful gifts and messages from our colleagues at UNI since Lucy was born. We're really lucky to be working with such kind people. Thank you, C&I! But be careful--if you keep lavishing us with gifts, we may just keep having babies!

August 27, 2007

Help US Americans!

Miss South Carolina explains why Americans seem to be geographically challenged.

August 5, 2007

Grandma Kubiniec Arrives!

Magda's mom arrived safely in Chicago Sunday night. Her flight was delayed about 1 hour, but otherwise things went well with her arrival--no problems with border officials. She was excited, of course, to see Lucy in person. We spent the night with Mac & Erin and will take our time driving back to Iowa today.

July 31, 2007

Goodbye July :-(

Lucy is starting to be more interactive. She's noticing herself in the mirror, smiling, and trying to participate in conversations. As July passes and August approaches, we're busy getting the house ready for Ewa's arrival this weekend and enjoying the time we have left before classes begin again.

Emily had a great time at camp last week! She met lots of new friends, went canoeing, rode horses, and swam a lot. It made me wish I had gone to an outdoorsy camp when I was a kid! The place looked totally fun... situated along a river, nice cabins, cool counselors. Man, she had so much fun!

Elyse & I picked up Emily from camp, then the girls stayed overnight with us. We didn't do too much--we were all tired. But we did get out for a round of golf on Sunday. That was fun. Golf carts rock!

July 21, 2007

Congratulations, Cindy & Mark!

My sister, Cindy, was married today! She and Mark had a small private ceremony Friday with family and friends. We're really happy for them and our nieces, Elyse & Emily. Welcome to the Family, Mark!

Lucy got all dressed up for the event--even sported a new headband for the occasion. Here's a good picture of her with her cousins.

Kennedy went home from the hospital today too. Magda has some good pictures of her and other recent events on the "Lucy_new" page of her web site.

July 18, 2007

1 Month Old & Kennedy Arrives!

It's hard to believe, but Lucy is already more than 1 month old! She's becoming more aware and has smiled a few times. She's sleeping well and learning how to sleep in her crib at night. Sorry for not posting updates here lately, but her own web site is updated from time-to-time with milestones and new pictures.

Yesterday, Lucy's BFF was born! Kennedy was born at 4:01pm, weighing in at 6lbs 14oz and 20-in long. Congratulations Lori and Travis! Click on Kennedy's picture to see the full-size image.

June 22, 2007

You Ask, We Deliver: New Lucy Pics

More pictures, you say? Just can't get enough? Well, good news! Magda updated her own blog and posted some new pictures for you on her web site.

Allison--as per your request, we even included a few shots of Lucy in the cute outfit you bought her. Thanks again to everyone for the great gifts, messages, and support! We really appreciate our good friends and family.

Philanthropy in SL

Nearly everyday, another story describes how individuals, businesses, and schools are flocking to the online virtual world, Second Life (SL). After all, almost 7.5 million users spent $1.5 million dollars there in just the past 24 hours! Schools are building virtual campuses, businesses are marketing their products to an alluring audience, and now organizations like the American Cancer Society are sponsoring virtual walkathons to raise awareness and money for a good cause. TechSoup, a group that promotes and supports technology integration by non-profit organizations, has had a presence in-world for quite some time.

Today's New York Times describes how a philanthropic heavyweight has entered the race. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (sound familiar?--think National Public Radio) has teamed up with the University of Southern California to promote philanthropy in Second Life. The university's Center on Public Diplomacy will receive just over half a million dollars to organize events in the virtual world. The foundation reportedly plans to open an office in SL and distribute virtual grants as a way of testing them before awarding actual grants in the "real world."

June 21, 2007

Online Alternatives to Inspiration

For years, my students have used Inspiration to brainstorm and create visual diagrams to support learning. It's a great program designed for grade 3 and beyond (its sidekick, Kidspiration, is designed for K-3 learners). Recently, I've noticed several free web-based alternatives for diagramming. My favorite so far, Gliffy, allows you to download your diagram as a picture file, publish it on the web, or share it with others to collaborate on the same diagram from a distance. Gliffy has an impressive palette of built-in shapes, including images of furniture for redecorating, networking objects (routers, switches, etc.), flowchart symbols, etc., and it's palette can be customized (My Images). The palette even has an integrated search tool to locate images via Yahoo's image search engine! While Inspiration and Kidspiration still have some advantages (i.e., outline mode, synchronizing diagrams with a handheld computer), services such as Gliffy and are definitely giving Inspiration a run for its money.

June 18, 2007


Lucy is doing great, but my productivity (and keyboarding speed) has plummeted! In fact, I think it has taken a good 6-7 minutes to write this much, and the backspace key is getting worn out. I wonder how long it will take to develop my one-handed keyboarding skills?

June 15, 2007

Lucy Picture Gallery Posted

We survived our first night of parenthood! Thanks to all who have emailed, called, and left comments here on the blog. I posted some pictures for you at

Magda and Lucy are doing very well. Lucy is nursing well and, of course, sleeping a lot. Magda is recovering fine too--soaking in lots of baths. We are planning to leave the hospital Saturday afternoon. Today, we're planning for a busy day of eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep...

I tried to post an update early Thurs morning, but for some reason my message didn't make it here to the blog. While we were scheduled for Magda to be induced at 9AM Thurs morning, Lucy decided not to wait that long. We came to the hospital at 3AM and Lucy was born at 9:38. So, while Magda's labor was still relatively short, it was more than 38 minutes! :-)

June 14, 2007

Announcing Baby Lucy - Urbi et Orbi

Announcing baby Lucy, born 9:38am, June 14. She is 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg) and 19.5 in (49.5cm), She's healthy & beautiful!

June 13, 2007

Wanna Have a Baby Tommorow?

Magda was 5 cm dilated today and everything looks good, though the monitor isn't showing any contractions. Nevertheless, the doctor is going to induce labor tomorrow, June 14! Here we go, everybody! Look for more news tomorrow. We will check-in to the hospital at 9AM (CST).