Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

GSA & SharePoint 2007 Shortcut Keys

July 31, 2007 Comments off

I’m attending the “Great SharePoint Adventure” today… a core developer course focusing on SharePoint 2007–-everything from building features to rolling out custom AJAX to security.  Looks to be an interesting week.  I’ll try, starting tomorrow (kinda running late today), posting up the high points and nuggets.  If you like what you see, talk to your local training providers and get the course.

The one thing I did want to post up was shortcut keys.  The instructor showed off CTRL-K to resolve names on the fly, so I did a bit of hunting and came up with the “official” list of all hot keys in SharePoint.  VERY helpful ‘cause SharePoint is very mouse-oriented without it.


The Changing Role of Techies

We’ve discussed this a bit in my MBA program, but mostly focused on all sectors, not specifically the “geeky” of us.

“Talking to people is good.”  Now, say it with me.  That’s right, it didn’t hurt did it?  This little discussion is initially prompted by Information Week’s story of “Stay Ahead With Soft Skills”; however, while project management and such are great skills—especially in agile development, the most important skill is communication.  Second, of course, I fall to education and learning.  Soft skills, such as project management, do matter, however, I believe they come in a close third because they are more culture based than skill based (and that they are encapsulated by other principals, such as agile development).


In the days gone by (or so I’m told), programmers truly did fit the stereotypical mold: they sat in a room, were handed specifications, and typed code into a computer.  When they a) ran out of time or b) ran out of requirements, the application was complete and then given to the user.  There was, for the most part, very little interaction between actual developer and end customer.

Yeah, well, that doesn’t work anymore.  Software developers1 cannot work in a vacuum without interacting with the customers—the customers, as stated in the eXtreme Programming practices, is part of the team.  We’re no longer locked in a closet and force-fed requirements; we have a duty to sit down, understand the customer needs and wants, and solve problems (not simply code software).


I’ve discussed a few times that I’m a huge advocate for life-long learning.  There is, however, a difference between education and learning. In my mind, education is the external process, learning is the internal process and they are mutually exclusive.  For example, I can sit all day in class (whether it’s a seminar at the local training company or a university course) and be educated.  I can memorize facts, figures, procedures and go about my very way.  However, unless I internalized it, created associations between what I was taught and what I knew, and applied it; I didn’t “learn” it.

Modern developers must continue learning—taking in the wealth of new information (languages, procedures, principles, soft skills) and transform that information into knowledge (think of it in terms of an analyst taking data and turning it into information—relatively same concept).  Without constant self-development, it becomes impossible for developers to grow and adapt to the ever changing technology and still enjoy it and be passionate about what they do.

Project Management

Okay, so project management is an excellent skill.  The ability to take a quick SWAG when a customer has a request or question and have it somewhat correct because you have an a) understanding of your infrastructure (current projects, upcoming projects, resources), and b) and honest understanding of yourself and your abilities is extremely powerful.  Our organization is finally moving from a reactive development model to a more proactive—working with customers to anticipate needs and develop pseudo-SLAs to ensure that their needs are handled.  It’s quite the paradigm shift and I’ll admit that it seems that not everyone is wanting to “shift” along with us.  That’s too bad and I’ll be sure to get a card when they leave the organization.

1Pet peeve, I suppose.  I loathe the technical term of programmer.  My dad is a programmer—he can program the VCR, the TV, and the cable box if he gets wild and crazy.  Software developers take concepts, ideas, and workflows and create solutions to problems—they develop something that didn’t exist (at least in this new form). 



Categories: Education

Can you learn from 2,000 pages of reading?

July 17, 2007 Comments off


I have four classes to go in my Masters.  The course I’m focused on right now is Executive Leadership.  It came with this cute little book, First, Break All the Rules, which I do admit is a pretty decent little book of theories.  The examples are interesting and the authors have a humorous way to present things. (Oh, and it’s short at 271 pages). 

But, beyond that, this class is a killer.  We have something like 2,000 pages of articles (if we’re gutsy enough to read them all) to review and present on over the next couple weeks, a second book to read (I picked up Leading in a Culture of Change, it came recommended by my boss, for my report), and about 30 pages in reports to write.  And this class is only worth 400 points total. 


So, I wonder—what value does all this has?  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to spend so much time trying to take in EVERYTHING that I’ll assimilate NOTHING.  For something as frilly as a leadership class, I realize there’s a broad range of topics and theorems, but wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on a few of the “good” ones—or even pick out a few business sectors that we’re each in and find leaders in those?

If the college thinks they are providing value to us by inundating us with information, then I believe they are grossly mistaken.  Personally, I’d rather be given the tools and empowered to do my own research with a knowledgeable executive leading the class (which, I think we have… at least it seem that way), rather than just mindless reading that I’ll flush the moment I doze off at my desk.



Categories: Education

Work uncontrolled!

June 28, 2007 Comments off

We had a discussion the other day regarding passion in your work and striving to be life-long learners—and whether or not that’s what you WANT for a career.  To some, constantly learning is what makes life.  I cannot fathom staginating and just doing the same thing everyday, I’d get twitchy and it’s be messy.  Others are more comfortable doing the same thing, every day.  And finally, those who fear doing something new, or even the same thing a different way.

I do admit though, I have things that I prefer to do everyday (besides just shower) because it’s routine, but there aren’t too many things I fear doing a new way… I tend to shake up my schedule, drive to work different ways, code different ways or such just to try new things and try to constantly learn new techniques.

Anyway, what brought this up was a dialog box that I laugh at from SourceSafe… just the wording, but none-the-less.  To me, “working uncontrolled” means, when approprate, going out and finding new, better, more exciting ways do “work”… not being tied down to the same thing.

Though, I’m sure Microsoft is just angry that I forgot to map my drives…

How does everyone else “work uncontrolled”?  Is the trade off for “learning” worth the cost spent (by developer) to learn something?  I’m quite lucky that our organization allows “learning on-the-job,” even though I spend a great deal of time at home researching, coding, and figuring things out for work…


Categories: Education

Internet Filtering for Dummies

June 11, 2007 Comments off


Okay, I realize I work for an educational instution that must protect students from the dangers of the Internet because parents, teachers, and everyone else is too busy to teach our youth the difference between fiction and reality; however, I have a real problem when we set such wide catch nets to include almost everything under the sun. 

That problem is when these are applied to everyone because those involved are either too lazy or too incompetent to design the system to target groups.  We’re a full Windows 2003 environment with very finite levels of groups based on classification, location, and whether or not you’re staff or student.  Somehow, someway there has got to be a way to prevent a kindergartener from “bad bad things” and let adults, especially those that are not located in the schools (and far away from students’ prying eyes) do their job.

Why does this come up today?  It appears our Internet filters were beefed up over the weekend.  The sites that appear to be horrible now are:

  • XM Radio, Pandora (we’re a solid metal/brick building (our building is a nuke shelter)… there is no other radio except streaming).
  • Google Images, Google Gadgets (God forbid we have the weather on our homepage… this broke my Google homepage until I removed all of the gadgets, including my MBA graduation countdown *pout*).
  • Also, Google “Cached”, “Similar Pages”, and “Note this” no longer work.
  • Internet Wayback (VERY annoying since I use this constantly to see disconnects in site design or find now-unavailable information).
  • Various forums and such; though more and more, it appears to be links to forums, so I’m finding ways around this…
  • *angry face*

    Most of all, since I work with these individuals day in and day out, I find it disturbing that our own department didn’t take a minute to notify us of the changes. 

    From a student’s perspective, I’m embarassed that our organization society (this is inflicted on us at a federal level through CIPA) has reached the point that minute filtering is required to ‘protect’ people… rather than allowing everything and educating the differences between fact and fiction and allowing the future leaders of our world to make their own decisions.  We’re supposed to be guiding them—not hiding what we deem “wrong” from them and then expecting them to be able to “properly” handle it when they face it the first time.

    According to CIPA, the following is required for school districts:

    “(A)(i) has in place a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are—

    “(I) obscene;

    “(II) child pornography; or

    “(III) harmful to minors; and

    “(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers by minors; and

    “(B)(i) has in place a policy of Internet safety that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are&endash;

    “(I) obscene; or

    “(II) child pornography; and

    “(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers.

    Which leads me to assume the the other services were filtered out because a) they cannot filter specific thumbnail images as such from Google Images or b) they want a way to prevent the traffic going across our wires and are using this as a cover.


    Categories: Education, Insanity!, Politics

    The real meaning of R&D

    June 8, 2007 Comments off

    A quote from my Marketing Management class last night.

    “Being first to market is great, but sometimes second to market is better.  When you’re second to market, R&D gains a real meaning—rip off and duplicate.

    Oddly enough, a google search of Rip-off & Duplicate turns out that it’s a fashion brand.  ROFL.

    Categories: Education

    Creating Information From Data…

    June 5, 2007 Comments off

    I think, however, that simply calling the current school-age generation a “generation of editors” is a little too limiting. It’s true that today’s kids don’t have to hunt down kernels of information as if they’re ancient Cro-Magnon scrounging for roots and berries. Instead, it seems to be replacing those hunting-and-gathering skills with the ability to synthesize and combine information in ways that my own Baby Boomer mind can’t always grasp.

    Are We Just Editors Now? by Loyd Case of ExtremeTech

    This article from ExtermeTech’s Loyd Case caught my attention this morning.  He, as ironincally has he notes, is responding to Bill Harris’ article entitled “Information”.  In it, he notes how disecting information has changed through the generations.  Both authors are comparing times to those of their generation (mid-to-late 40’s to 50’s) and even that of my parents (70’s) in how information is acquired and decoded.

    So if you were researching something, you’d have to pull out a rack in the card catalog according to the alphabetized subject and flip through the cards. If you got lucky, the title of a book or a brief description would point you in the right direction. Then you had to actually find the book, skim through it, and hope that you’d find some information.

    I know what you’re thinking about now: you’ve got to be freaking kidding me.

    Dubious Quality: Information by Bill Harris

    I remember that.  I’m, in spite of the target audience, in my 20’s and I remember the card catalog (my small, rural school district was a bit late in adopting technology).  I even remember the dewey decimal system—inspite of all attempts to forget it.  But, I’m also part, I believe of this age of information mashup—using Google or whatever information source of choice, and finding bits and pieces of data here and there, applying logic and care (ala: not everything you read on the Internet is true—you’ve had this lecture, right?), and then turning that data into information for your purpose.

    Now, looking forward and seeing what the youth of today are doing is astonishing.  Collaboration, sharing, information overload using MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, even here on WordPress.  The alpha site for Popfly is a great example of the current demand—taking dozens of information services and mixing and mashing them together to come up with a solution: a photo album that contains music referenced by keywords in each photo, an address book with photos from Facebook and a map using Maps, etc.

    I do agree with Loyd’s assumption that these are not “editors”, as that, to a degree, implies that nothing new is being created; however, this generation advocates data and services as multi-purpose tools and excel at finding new ways to use data and turn it into information, not simply finding a source of reference and citing it in a book report.


    Categories: Education, Family, Google, WordPress

    The Security Development Lifecycle : Oil Change or Culture Change?

    Dave Ladd provides an interesting picture of how architecting (and “selling” security) to the CxO’s isn’t so much about promoting technology, but promoting culture change.

    I have worked on security and privacy initiatives at Microsoft for a number of years, but it wasn’t until I came to the Security Engineering group to work on the Security Development Lifecycle that I realized I don’t actually work on security. To be clear, I do many of the tasks that one might associate with security – look at bugs, evaluate tools, provide guidance and the like – but it’s more accurate to say that I (along with everyone else in Security Engineering and Communications) am in the culture change business.

    The Security Development Lifecycle : Oil Change or Culture Change?.

    This is very interesting concept, especially in my field of education.  Many of our vendors, peer districts, and such are baffled by our rigerous standards for security—both in our development and our infrastructure.  I’ve spoken with only a handful of districts that place security at the level that it is a strategy—not a byproduct—of their overall technology architecture.

    Why is that?  First off, I believe a lot of that comes from our CIO’s passion for security and doing things “right.”   FERPA and privacy are at the forefront of concern—and avoiding the courtroom for any mishaps.  Our applications must not only be protected from the deviant of the Internet, but from the 50,000 students and 10,000 staff members who are using our systems.  Are they all “out to get us”?  Nah, not usually—but typically the most innocent of individuals is the first to find the biggest security hole.

    Second is resources.  Technology is highly valued in our environment and has almost infinite funding given proper documentation and a good sales pitch to the executive levels and board.  Because of that, our physical and software infrastructures have many of the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets, and such to protect our information.

    What’s missing?  For us, it’s standardization in both development and implementation.  We’re still struggling with fully grasping what it means to write “secure” code; however, this changes with every day as we become more adept at development and, as most, learn from our mistakes.


    The countdown…

    You might laugh, but I have a Google gadget on my homepage for my Masters graduation date.  As of this moment, there is 6 months, 8 days until graduation.  That translates into more tolerable numbers like: 100 hours of class remaining, 25 class sessions remaining, or 4 actual classes remaining.

    It’s odd though.  I’ve been running at this pace for years now… realizing that I’ve been “in school” for 20 years now (and haven’t learned a thing!)… geez.  The reality has only set in recently as to how I’ll fill my time.  Odd “normal” things such as see daylight (rather than being at work before the sun comes up and leaving after it goes down), going out more with friends, not carrying three bookbags around with me with various books … on the oft chance I’d have a moment to study.

    Yeah, it’s gonna be weird.


    Categories: Education

    Hey, remember the Web Storage HOWTO?

    May 7, 2007 Comments off

    So, I got an email today… the reader wrote (adlib’ed):

    Hey… you EVER gonna post #5 and the source?!

    *sigh* Yeah, the final part, #5 is basically written up… I just haven’t had time to double check the source and put the final touches on the PDF. I blame quantative analysis and mindless statistics… I do… I really do.  So… as soon as the class is over (this Thursday! /dance), I’ll put the final bits together, zip it up, and get it posted.  I promise.  I hope.

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    Categories: Education