Wednesday, September 24, 2008

iPhone crash Re-set

I have one of the first round of iPhones. It crashes more than others I've seen. The iPhone is stable, but it still occasionally crashes. These tips may come in handy if you have similar issues:

To force a program to quit: Press and hold the Home button for six seconds to force-quit a program that seems to be "stuck."

To activate a hard reset of the iPhone: Press and hold both the Home button and the Sleep/Wake switch for eight to ten seconds. You’ll see the screen go black, and then the Apple logo appears as the iPhone reboots. Sometimes, I've just had to re-install the software.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Earthlink DSL Sucks -- Again!

Previously, I wrote about my awful experience with Earthlink. So, we didnt cancel our Earthlink account because I didnt want to pay the early cancellation penalty and we didnt have any more problems. Until on a recent Saturday night all of a sudden, the DSL went down at 9pm. This time it only took 36 hours for them to fix. First of all they told us it was a "maintenance" issue. Oh -oh, I've heard this before (last time it was the same problem -- an upgrade of some sort). They would do nothing further for us but told us to check back in the morning. OK, first thing we check in the morning -- no internet. We call in again and we try to get a trouble ticket (this is different from a case number. Case numbers are useless and Earthlink does not track these -- YOU MUST INSIST ON GETTING A TROUBLE TICKET!). They cannot issue one and want us to call back. NO WAY! I've heard this before. So, my husband waits on the phone for 2 hours to speak to some senior tech who can FINALLY enter a trouble ticket. They do all sorts of tests, and no luck. But, this guy could issue a trouble ticket. He said someone would call us back in 4 hours. Nobody calls, so in 8 hours, we call back and they still dont know what is wrong (at least we can go through the customer service process faster because we DO have a trouble ticket). We find out they will have to get someone Monday to fix it. Luckily, Monday morning, it is fixed. But of course this wreaks havoc on kids trying to do research for homework (even my little one has to do research on current events).

This time, we have ordered another service -- Verizon. BUT, it has already taken to weeks for them to set a connection date -- with no guarantee they can provide DSL service. What a pain and a monopoly these DSL providers have.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Free Online MIT Course Materials

I've been thinking about the cost of education recently. I've read how the increase in the price of a college education is exceeding the rate of inflation. This is scary with the thoughts of 2 kids to put through college and with today's poor stock market performance.

I know several schools offer online learning for free. I was browsing and came across MIT's Free Online Course Materials. In 2000, MIT decided to put all of the course materials offered by MIT online, and offer them free of charge to everyone. The courseware of 1800 courses includes syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and exams. MIT's online courseware also includes 1,000 hours of classroom instruction on video. The program does not offer degrees, nor access to professors.

According to MIT's website:"Each course we publish requires an investment of $10,000 to $15,000 to compile course materials from faculty, ensure proper licensing for open sharing, and format materials for global distribution. Courses with video content cost about twice as much, but your feedback about the significant value of these video materials helps to justify the cost."

I was amazed at the variety of disciplines available via the courseware. I notice they have some of the famous MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin's courses. He rehearses his lectures (40 hours per lecture). That is amazing. He must have assistants to help him accomplish such fantastic demonstrations. Who wouldn't love to learn from a professor as dedicated as Professor Lewin? Unfortunately a MIT student would need to have a stellar academic record, fantastic college admission scores, and pay tuition of nearly $50,000 per year to get into MIT. Instead an earnest learner could visit MIT’s Open Courseware site and pull up Professor Lewin’s syllabus, lecture notes, assignments, exams, and videos of class lectures, all online, and all for free. An affordable price to pay to learn from extraordinary professors. Here's an interview with Lewin:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Books and Libraries

I went to the Huntington a few months ago and read this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.

I kept thinking about this quote. I realized how true it is. You get out of a book what you are willing to put into it. Because reading is one of my loves, my passions, I typically get a lot out of books. But I've not read many books lately. I read online, but I'm not reading books. I feel a part of me is missing -- or a good friend is missing.

I was reminded of this quote again when I heard about the fight for Long Beach, California's main library. City officials, facing a general fund deficit of $17 million, had been looking to close the library as a means of saving $4 million a year. Somebody trying to save the library got smart and managed to light a fire and managed to get author Ray Bradbury to speak. Man, I wish I had been there to hear him.

"Without libraries, we have no true education," Ray Bradbury told people at Long Beach's main library on Saturday. (Friday the budget oversight committee recommended instead that the library be closed only on Sundays and Mondays -- maybe they made this decision after the public uproar?)

Bradbury reminded his listeners of how he wrote the first draft of Farenheit 451 on a typewriter that rented for 10 cents a half hour in the basement of a library at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The novel, published in 1951, depicts a future in which books are burned to keep people in ignorance.

Bradbury grew up in a poor family and I have read that he did not have the opportunity to to pursue a formal college education. But he spent four days a week after graduating from high school at the public library, perusing the shelves, reading everything of interest to him, and exploring his own charted higher education. A motivated individual in my mind. What would he have done without a library? What would our society be like without the books?