kurtismccartney's blog

End of the Semester

Used as reference to the institution mentioned in the article, linked from source no alterations.The Summer semester is finally coming to an end, which means no more early mornings for a couple of weeks hopefully. It has been moderately enjoyable in the ERSC class and I will be glad to be done as the material progressively seemed to be more and more repetitive of the previous units. And unlike some of the courses by Prof. Dreifelds this kind of repetitive look at new kinds of disasters and global abnormalities was not holding my interest.

This reminds me that it is time for my recommendation post. These are a series of courses and professors that I had the luxury of listening to and believe that you should too.

Prof. Charles Burton of Brock University offers Rise of China, a media rich exploration into Chinese Political and Social culture and its recent evolution. This includes a deeper canadian perspective on the development as he is an active part of the political process.

Prof. Juris Dreifelds of Brock University whose experience spans nearly a century. His recommended courses include the Media Studies Lectures, Quebec in Canada, Former Soviet Republics (Comparative), and hopefully something environmental soon to make use of his background in forestry.

Prof. Lightbody of Brock University, a philosophy professor with a knack for understatement. His assignments will likely demolish your average but his lectures will leave you with a new perspective on philosophical issiues. Recommended PHIL Intro Courses and Bioethics.

Prof. Chris McIntyre - A professor from the University of Windsor and any of his courses would still rank among my favourites. But as a Brock Student you will not have this experience.

O-Week Preparations

O-Week 2007-8Getting ready for O-Week again with the least amount of work in years. I will still be working closely with Brock Senator Joey Brown (GSA-COSC) on increasing communication between the Undergraduate Students' Organizations and Graduate Students' Organizations in the 2008-2009 year. After senate obligations most of my prep work will be related to non-aligned advocacy - otherwise known as talking for a long time about the same stuff until the importance of sustainability, development, infrastructure and humour is felt by as many of my peers as possible.

OPIRG Outage

OPIRGThe other day I had an opportunity to share some information about my Residential LED conversion project with OPIRG - and it couldn't have come at a better time for them. The OPIRG-Brock Website (http://www.opirgbrock.org) was experiencing a major outage as thier domain provider payment lapsed and in turn all DNS information was reset. Simply put - their site became an AD site for a nameless organization pending new information. The problem was solved within the hour and with time to spare for a brief explanation of the benefits of diode lighting. In attendance Ron Walker (Welland-ML) and Jen Coorsh.

100 Things Challenge Update

Ok, it is still taking some time to fill in the 100 things list. Deliberately trying to choose which 100 peripheries to my being would ease my life without becoming a burden. A burden only in the "the things you own own you" line of though.

Giving up my printed library and hoping that solar equipment and efficient flash memory will lighten the physical mass is probably my favourite change. My least favourite changes have to do with cleaning and clothing - two of my pre-existing weak points. It is an exercise that helps me to remain alert as a consumer and increases the psychological value of the products that assist me at this time. Check it out and try it yourself.

The Original Zen Habits Article that kicked off this quest can be found here:
http://zenhabits.net/2007/09/minimalist-fun-the-100-things-challenge/

My evolving online list can be found here:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pa3TRA8iXdVMM4Y0mcaeSVA

Sakai in Fall/Winter 2008

I recently had an opportunity to attend one of the Sakai information seminars hosted by Matt Clare of Brock University ITS. This seminar, intended for faculty, is intended to ease integration into the new LMS (Learning Management System). The Sakai LMS, or CLE (Collaborative Learning Environment) as Matt and the Sakai team prefered to call it, is the current replacement for WebCT/Blackboard at the University.

Modules are the most important feature of the Sakai engine. Modules support services that are innovative or taken for granted. The resources module takes care of posting assignments and files that pertain to the course. The RSS module aggregates the news feeds selected by the students or professors into one unified reading space. There are many more that can be seen at the Brock Learning Wiki known as Kumu or the Unicon Support page (which has a more comprehensive listing of modules that even Brock does not use.

According to M.Clare Brock is working to implement a new module to be used aside the sakai.Dropbox module. This module will integrate TurnItIn features to the CLE at Brock making it easier for students and professors to submit and review work. In some ways this bothers me, as my last experiment with TurnItIn had verbatim copies of Plato without citation that it mulled past as if it were new content. I would like to believe the TurnItIn system has improved technically and in usability - though I personally would rather not use it.

Other than that I would like to highlight the presentation style of M.Clare, he keep the faculty members captivated and they were understanding the material and asking questions after the presentation that seemed suited to veteran users of Sakai. Good job!

Please visit the following sites for more information about Sakai or its modules:

http://kumu.brocku.ca/sakai/Main_Page

http://www.unicon.net/support/sakai/modules

The Illusion of Disaster

FloodingGiven the number of global issues presented in the media this summer I am surprised that there is little to no reporting on the development in those regions effected by recent disasters. After each of these recent natural disasters the effected areas experienced greater cooperation and development. Though any quantified data may be set aside since any development would seem exponential when working from a blank slate. Allow me to elaborate.

Some of these ideas are derivative of the work that has been done in class recently, expanded and based on the world perspective I have cultivated over the last couple of years. Basically the direct effects of disaster are horrible, though the disaster itself is good. It pushes the people in those areas to be stronger and smarter until the acts of nature are passing rather than devastating. Japan, Hawaii, Greece, and South Africa are excellent examples and i would recommend looking into their modern disasters. knowing about how others dealt with disaster can improve your technique.

Over the weekend I spent time in the Allegheny Mountains in New York State, during that time a powerful storm passed through. The storm was long, strong and made only worse because of the pea sized hail that came along with it. In the mountains it was hilarious to watch the wind and lightning as we (Alie and I) ate calmly. Wayne had equipment, though simple that acted as a shelter that we were confident would protect us from the storm. Upon my return home I was met with images of peoples houses falling apart, road flooding and other problems on the news from NY state - worse than that in the mountains. Simply put, understanding how nature will effect your civil infrastructure and personal shelter can make all of the difference between a passing storm and a minor disaster.

That story was nice but as it did not break the infrastructure nothing will be done to change and improve how humans live in western New York. It takes major disasters like floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and whatnot to wipe the slate clean and allow the smartest and strongest among us to build it better. I hope you can see a stronger future in your community.

Niagara Meetup (Social Media and Technologies Conference)

Coming up on August 16th 2008 the "Niagara Meetup" will be held in Niagara on the Lake. Originally this seemed to be a small gathering of geeks, netcasters, and bloggers in Niagara - it now seems different. Many new sponsors have come to support the development of this gathering and it now seems as though it may become a strong event for enthusiasts and content producers alike. Determining a direction for these producers outside of the Toronto bubble where corporate interests may taint innovation. Eek, rant.

The NSM is free this year and hopefully will continue to be in the following years. I will refrain from making any additional predictions until the event is underway, though if you are interested in attending or discovering more please go to http://www.niagarameetup.org

Lighting Conversion Experiment

DX 48 LED BulbMany of my environmentally friendly geek comrades are familiar with the shortcomings of both Fluorescent and Incandescent lights, here comes the science. LED lighting, which is nothing new, has recently become more viable and affordable given technological advances in diodes and the manufacturing of diodes... Erm. More to the point.

I am replacing the replacement CFL bulbs in my home with LED lighting. These lights range in price from 6$ to 35$ at DealExtreme, my favourite Hong Kong parts distributor. The brightness and colour output of light varies within the test group and I will post photos once all of the layout issues have been resolved. I already had some dark gaps with CFL bulbs and will be using more reflective surfaces to spread the light. Check it out this September when I post my comprehensive report of the 2008 Energy Challenge.

Currently my recommendation goes to the DX-46 diode unit found here (http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.11941). It is not a 1:1 replacement for your standard CFL but it does seem to meet the need without breaking the bank. Enough with the pitch, moving on to the details. This conversion will reduce the wattage of each fixture from 13watts to 3watts, across 9 fixtures, no mercury - all win.

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Presumed Consent and Legal Responsibility

BNDP 2006I thought the threat of presumed consent was long gone in the province of Ontario. I call this idea a threat because it causes more problems than benefits on both the side of ordinary citizens and the Government. As a citizen (or anybody unlucky enough to die in the Province of Ontario under the Kormos plan your organs would be harvested unless the medical team at the hospital finds your name on the opt-out listing. To many this curtails their freedoms in the same way that any other presumption does (military draft, advance taxation, etc.). There are a lot of issues and even more solutions that do not call for this extreme treatment.

On the other side of the coin the Government promises to take responsibility for any and all of the errors that may occur in the process of transplanting organs. Ok, that seems obvious but there is a need for additional organ donorship which I can support as a blood donor for nearly a decade now. Presumed consent in other developed countries has been met with hostility as some who have opted out were harvested. In some south american countries the harvesting of transients (no identification) led to the spread of numerous diseases including AIDS. In Canada our Blood system already experienced the HIV/Hepatitis shock, and any repeat would only serve to decrease confidence in the healthcare system.

Required request is the safe bet if any legislator is looking to up donor levels. It works much like Presumed consent except for the exclusion of government ownership of your body. You can choose to register as a yes or no, otherwise it is a requirement of the hospital staff to ask the next of kin or available equivalent if your organs are suitable for donorship and if you did not already register one way or the other. In this system all errors, challenges by the family, and diseases would be of the responsibility of the one that signed off the corpse under the RR system.

Good medicine in the traditional sense is without sacrifice or curse. Any medication would be temporary and and cure would be discovered in the regenerative power of the human body. That may sound corny, but they are rooted in human history and best manifested in fiction. As vampires that have a never ending need for human sacrifice, or in this situation I should cite Zombies - though I'd like to believe we as Canadians can remain classy and make sure that the sacrifices we make amount to something.

When I had to choose between my deep rooted beliefs in Universal Darwinism and the passing affiliation with the NDP. Very glad that I made the choice to avoid becoming a member. I now support policies in Ontario as a non-partisan Citizen - one of the many pleased by the failure of the mixed-member system that would only increase the power of the parties over community interests.

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