MoreNotesToSelf

Technology, Finance, and Life

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Anything that is neither Finance or Tech.

Baby’s new stroller

Posted by DK on December 18, 2009

…more crazy baby accessories.

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xkcd understands…

Posted by DK on December 12, 2009

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One of these things is not like the other…

Posted by DK on December 11, 2009

My little sister, in an effort to be helpful, sent me the following Christmas wish list:

  1. Medium sized, everyday day/night purse.  Not too heavy and in a fun, non-black color that matches with most things.
  2. A simple silver necklace with pendant. ┬áMine is ghetto….
  3. The Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment Planner by Jongsma, A. et al. (4th ed.)
We are a family of nerd wannabes. You can't put a book like that in the list and expect to get anything else!

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Tiger’s Theme Song

Posted by DK on December 4, 2009

Prescient.

PS – looks like Lala is getting acquired.

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First Flight!

Posted by DK on December 1, 2009

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KIPP: To Infinity and Beyond!

Posted by DK on November 29, 2009

For those of you that have read Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, you probably remember a section in the book that describes a longitudinal study of student performance in Baltimore schools. It finds that the achievement gap can be explained largely by learning that occurs outside of school during the summer. Gladwell then segues to a description of KIPP charter schools that offer a longer school day and a highly structured learning environment.

I had an opportunity to visit a KIPP charter school recently. Here's an example of a sign over the entrance:

KIPP's mission can be achieved if we:
Care more than others think is wise.
Risk more than others think is safe.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.

Although I visited on a day when most of the classes were taking practice exams (meaning I did not get to see the teachers in full swing), it is clear that KIPP is run differently than the primary schools I attended as a child. The hallways are covered with the names of various colleges, and each class is identified by its expected college graduation year. Details like these make it easy to see the focus on continuing education without even seeing the students. The students themselves walk silently through the halls, but not in a creepy, oppressed, Oliver Twist way.

Now don't get me wrong, kids are kids. They like to test the rules and see what they can get away with. The kids at KIPP are no different. Nevertheless, the techniques and structure provided by KIPP make for a much different classroom experience than many of their urban counterparts. I took part in one of the most organized fire drills I've ever seen, and I am including drills experienced in the office as an adult. In the classroom, it appears that students are constantly 'tested.' They begin the day doing various exercises (e.g., world problems, math, writing). All of their work is saved in binders that can be reviewed at any time. Again, I'm sure there are other interesting techniques that I missed because of the practice exams being administered. It was clear, however, that all the students were applying themselves.

KIPP has gained some high profile exposure over the past few years. Aside from a highlight in Outliers, Bill Gates also used KIPP as an example in his TED presentation last year.

The main question most probably ask is "is the KIPP model scalable?" KIPP appears to be in growth mode, opening a high school in NYC and looking to grow nationally as well. As a result, it is adopting a shared services model to improve the efficiency of school operations. I'm sure someone has a well-argued answer to this question. I just have to find it!

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HBO Rebroadcast: Pacman vs. Cotto at 10pm

Posted by DK on November 21, 2009

If you missed the Cotto vs. Pacman fight on PPV last week, it's worth watching the rebroadcast tonight on HBO. I did not expect Manny to dismantle Cotto so completely. Unbelievable.

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Import AntiGravity

Posted by DK on October 12, 2009

Just saw this…

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Use your.flowingdata.com…for the children

Posted by DK on September 26, 2009

Personal data capture is a meme that’s gaining momentum. Products such as Nike+ and, more recently, Fitbit target those who would like to monitor daily exercise and other activities. Websites that allow users to manually track how they use their time have also started to pop-up. For those of us that like to procrastinate, these monitoring tools can help by providing regular feedback. Watching a little line move in the right direction can be pretty motivating.

Of course, I haven’t used any of these services. For myself.

Nevertheless, as a new father, I’ve found that your.flowingdata.com is an easy and useful way to track the activities of my newborn son! The service uses tweets to capture pretty much any kind of data you’d care to record. There are electronic products (Itsbeen, basically a stopwatch on steroids) that help new parents keep track of when the baby last slept, ate, poo’ed, etc. They do not, however, capture that data for analysis. My wife and I would like to see the historical data to see if we can tease out some insights about our son (e.g., how much sleep does he need before he gets cranky?). We tried using an iPhone app called Blogger that helps parents keep track of these things, but it wasn’t immediate enough. We ended-up writing things down on the nursery mirror with a dry erase pen but I really wanted something that could track things via a single button press. By the time I’ve finished dodging multiple salvos of pee and poo, multiple diaper changes due to said peeing and pooing, spit-up, puking, and sundry other lovely activities (a testament to how much I love you, boy), I can’t remember anything that’s happened in the last five minutes, let alone the last hour or two. So far, your.flowingdata.com has been the answer.

your.flowingdata.com (‘yfd’) is a service based on Twitter. Users send direct messages to ‘yfd’ and can visit the site for simple visualizations. Users can also download tab-delimited files with all the data. But wait, there’s more! One kind soul also created a simple yfd iPhone application that allows users to send an update (e.g. ‘d yfd gnight’) via a single button press. Each button can be customized as well. I have no use for Twitter, but yfd got me to open an account. We’re still figuring out what we want to record, but the service’s flexibility and ease-of-use makes it much more likely we’ll actually use it.

yfd isn’t perfect. There’s no built-in way to, for example, calculate the time that has elapsed between two actions (e.g. going to sleep and waking up). One has to download the data and calculate durations manually (or create a script to do it). There are other visualizations available, though. As I mentioned, however, I find it’s much more important to make it easy to capture data for something like this. If it’s a pain to capture the data, there won’t be anything to analyze on the back-end anyway.

So, if you have absolutely no interest in personal fitness, time tracking, etc., you may want to check-out your.flowingdata.com…for the children.

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I married a Storm Trooper

Posted by DK on September 14, 2009

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