Left handed

Green coffee cup
A couple of months ago, I started doing journaling with my left hand. Before bed, I would write one page with my right hand and the reverse with my left. I’m not ambidextrous. I was wondering whether it would access a different part of my brain. I can’t prove that one way or the other. However, because it made me write more slowly, it made changes, if only because of that.

Last week, I got the clever idea of writing the journaling alternating hands. Write one word with the right, the next with the left, then with the right and so on. This style I can definitely tell that it’s different.

I have more of an idea of the whole sentence and things tend to flow together better. I also used the technique to write a poem and it came out so that it didn’t need so much editing. (Often when I write a poem, I take a long time editing and reediting which is tedious.

My left hand isn’t as legible as my right, although it’s getting better. My right hand’s writing isn’t that legible to begin with. lol

What was missing in my online classes?

Thought bubble
Over the past few years I had been taking Library Science classes at IUPUI. Like many library school programs, the classes were all offered online. I got great grades and enjoyed learning the material. However, I can compare those graduate classes to the graduate level math classes I took at IPFW. The math classes were in person on the university campus.

Reflecting on my experiences, there were important things missing at IUPUI. I believe that the problems are relevant to any online courses and not my specific experiences. Here are a few things the online classes lack:

There is very little interaction between me and the other students. We couldn’t talk in the hall before class to encourage each other or ask for help. There wasn’t a library with study rooms and a cafeteria to visit. There wasn’t a “I’m studying” place to contrast with a “I’m making dinner” place. That leads to poorer learning through distractions and interruptions. By missing these intangibles, the classes become sterile and mechanical.

Although the online classes had forums to ask questions or have a discussion, those can’t replicate the quick back and forth in a lecture. It isn’t possible to raise a hand and stop in the middle. In a conventional class, when someone asked a question, it could lead to follow up questions by someone else. The questions allow the instructor to switch gears if their presentation wasn’t working.

Unfortunately, the online system is a communication bottleneck. Language becomes a barrier as some students may not express themselves easily or be self-conscious of using bad spelling or grammar. In the math classes, I could ask a question that was confused and not feel intimidated. By the next week, everyone would have forgotten my clumsy explanation. In an online classes, the discussions are saved forever.

A limitation on the online classes is that all activities need be evaluated in points. If a task can’t turn into points, there is no incentive to do it. If it doesn’t affect your points total, extra work that would improve comprehension is unlikely to be done. The focus is continuously “what grade am I going to get?” Although that is present in the conventional class, it is front and center in an online class, You can see it every time you log in.

It is easy for the instructors in an online class to overwhelm themselves with too much material to grade. This is discouraging students when the work isn’t returned promptly.

Although I got good grades, it’s not clear how much of the lessons “stuck.”

There are lots of trade offs between online classes and those that are in person. For younger students, I think that the risks should encourage concern that an online class might be inappropriate. What is needed to compensate for these risks? What are best practices for online schools?

Good fortune

Phone with exclamation point
My main computer locked up while making a crash log last week. The blue screen error said “page fault in non-paged area.” When I tried to reboot it, it wouldn’t even POST. The disk would appear active for a second and then the computer would stop making any progress. The splash screen never came up.

I took it into a local computer shop so that they could fix it. Because of the holiday, they didn’t get to it promptly. While I was waiting through Christmas, I decided that if it was broken, it’s old enough that it wasn’t worth fixing.

I started looking for a replacement computer to buy. I had an selection of parts on Newegg and called the computer shop to pick up the old machine. Much to my surprise, when I got it home, it booted up fine.

I thought that that was quite fortuitous that it worked. I saved about $900 + lots of work in buying a new computer or $125+ if they repaired it.

It isn’t “fixed”, but I’m hopeful that it won’t crash that way again for a while. I need to use a memory testing tool since failing memory is a likely cause of the problem.

It is a massive tangle of cables in the back of the computer. I think I’m better at putting it together again if/when I need to open it up again.

Second Day Notes: Sharing a folder from Linux to Windows 10

Here are some notes about my experience sharing files from Linux so that my Windows 10 computer could access them. I’m going to try to make this useful but not give excessive details. It’s already going to be long!

The technology I used to share the files is called Samba. It uses the SMB networking protocol. According to wikipedia.org, the Samba name was chosen because it has the letters ‘S’, ‘M’ and ‘B’ in the same order as SMB.

These comments are about “second day” issues. I shared successfully on the “first day” by following tutorials. However, I forgot what was important. I couldn’t access the Linux computer when I turned the computers back on the next morning.

I’m using Ubuntu 18.10 and Windows 10. Other flavors of Linux may use different commands, but the principles should be the same. Other flavors of Windows might work in the Windows 10 manner, but I didn’t try.

  • On the Windows side, I want to connect to the Linux computer’s name, not its IP address.

    \\\Documents bad.
    \\Sesqui412\Documents good.

    The IP address changes easily. The tutorials use an IP address, but that’s not the second day solution.

    I can also use net use L: \\Sesqui412\Documents to access the files as L:.

  • I don’t need the ‘samba‘ service running on Linux. I want the ‘smbd‘ service. This was a big rabbit hole. Once I gave up on the “samba” service and started using the “smbd” service, it worked correctly on the Linux side. I didn’t see any message online “Hey! you don’t want the samba service, you want smbd.” That would have been appreciated.

    This whole effort may have been completely unnecessary. if I had started with the smbd service instead of the samba service, I might have seen that everything was already correct from yesterday.

    This was a big battle. I was looking for information about starting samba. When I installed Samba
    sudo apt-get install samba
    I would get an error message
    "Samba is not being run as an AD Domain Controller: Masking samba-ad-dc.service".

    However, I didn’t notice the message right away. Reinstalling Samba with
    sudo apt-get install samba --reinstall
    let me eventually see the error. Trying to fix the message led me to a lot of grief and DuckDuckGo searches.

    There is a lot of information on serverfault.com and askubuntu.com about Samba problems. I found the basic commands to use are
    sudo systemctl enable smbd
    sudo systemctl start smbd
    To check for error messages, use sudo systemctl status smbd. Some references also suggest starting nmbd. I didn’t verify that nmbd is necessary but I used it.

    Again, to emphasize, this whole section is probably unnecessary. It was certainly “educational.”

  • I didn’t need to manipulate file permissions on the Linux computer. I didn’t manipulate any file permissions and they weren’t necessary to make the share work. Some online helps make chmod suggestions about that but I could safely ignore them.
  • Yesterday, I set up the configuration file /etc/samba/smb.conf. It was pretty straightforward. Network Administration: Samba smb.conf file describes options in the file. There’s also help at How to set up quick and easy file sharing with Samba.

    Some tutorials explain that when you change smb.conf, you need to run
    sudo systemctl restart smbd
    to activate the changes

  • If you find a tutorial site that gives a long story without explaining their purpose, try to understand the situation, not throw attempts on the wall and hoping they stick. (Disclaimer: This post isn’t meant as a tutorial, but rather some observations. For example, I don’t say anything about how I did the “first day”.)

    Two help sites that I feel are worth avoiding are http://social.microsoft.com/forums and http://ubuntuforums.org. If I see a link to either of them in a search result, I should keep looking somewhere else. Other resources are likely to have more “signal” and less “noise.”

    The three http://serverdefault.com, http://askubuntu.com and http://superuser.com are communities that are more likely to have reliable information.

  • The passwords for Samba use the program smbpasswd on the Linux computer. I had trouble with the passwords. This was the command to fix it. I’m not sure exactly what I did. I might have just used the wrong password.

So, on the first day, I got it working. On the second day, it broke. It was a lot of work fixing it. I hope these notes help someone else know some of the principles so that they can have a happier second day than I did!

Lock the switch

I was at a doctor’s office today and found this on the wall as I was leaving:

A light switch lock mounted on a toggle switch

This toggle switch lock is useful for many situations

It’s a lock to hold a light switch on (or off).

The locks are not easy to find at a good price. I found some on ebay and Amazon, but not in local hardware stores. For a small piece of plastic, they are expensive, but they are probably a low-volume item and don’t benefit from an economy of scale.

There’s a second style that has a hole for the toggle. This alternate style has the advantage that it can’t be knocked out of place. From the photographs, it appears that installations benefit from a longer-than-normal screw to hold it securely.

A church I visit has a switch they want to keep on. Right now it is just held in place with packing tape. I’ll have to see if they’d like me to donate one of these. They look much more professional and don’t need an obligatory “please leave this switch on” message taped to the wall.

The reviews report another use for them: to protect switches that are part of a smart home system such as SmartThings, Wink, Google Home or Echo and Alexa. Reviewers also suggest using them with the switches for garage lights, outdoor lights and sump pump systems.

Clutter on the disks

I have a lot of clutter on my disks. I keep projects around “just in case.” One thought was “Maybe I’ll go back some day.” As I migrated from computer to computer, the files kept multiplying… one copy on the old computer and a companion on the new. As partitions got full, files moved from one to the next, making new copies to add to the clutter. The debris of unfinished projects are everywhere.

This summer I took all of my old drives that were still readable and loaded them into the main computer, allowing even more clutter to spin silently. It’s amazing how small drives were 10 – 15 years ago. I even discovered that I have files of my floppy discs from the pre-Windows computer era.

To help with the declutter project, I wrote a utility that visits all of the files on the computer and records their name, size and where they’re located. I used the logs from that tool to find all of my “NewPoetry” folders. (NewPoetry holds copies of my poetry since 2010 and I really only want the most recent edit.) Now I only have one NewPoetry!

I am searching for an old project takes my poetry and formats them as a website. I haven’t used that tool for several years. I hope that the HTML formatted files can be a companion to http://blog.wwayneb.com blog where I published many of my poems

Why I should not work in a slaughterhouse

Last week I found that I had a mouse. I put out a trap for him. He ate the peanut butter, didn’t trip the trap and left a lot of “souvenirs.” I put up a couple new traps under my sink. I put honey on one of them.

I was watching a movie when I hear some squeals from my kitchen. I looked under there and found the mouse trapped with it’s back broken by the spring trap.

It took me a minute to come to terms with him still being alive. I felt he was frightened and looking at me.

Finally, I told myself that I’d already committed to killing it, so this was just part of the process. After a couple of minutes, I did dispose of the mouse, but I was very hesitant to do that.

If I was working in a slaughterhouse, I would have this internal conversation over and over. Not a good career choice.