Tuesday, October 25, 2005

readability and grade level

The "reading level" or "grade level" of text is an interesting idea.
Take a look at the table "Grade Level and Circulation of Current
Periodicals" in


The "grade level" numbers refer to US school years, so 12 = last year of
high school, 16 = last year of college.

Microsoft Word will compute readability scores for you. This article
about website accessibility describes some of the pluses and minues of
the MS Word readability function.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Test your geographic knowledge

for chances to win a prize from Conde Nast Traveler's monthly "Where are you?" contest.


The September issue of Computing Research News has an interesting artcle "Anywhere, anytime - or just where is your office anyhow?" about telecommuting at Sun Micro.

The official Fresno State policy on telecommuting is here.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Stanford, IEEE Spectrum -- More stuff to listen to

Stanford U has many free things to listen to on itunes. IEEE Spectrum publishes Spectrum Radio each month. October's issue includes story about Sudoku and computers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

BayCHI podcasts

The San Francisco bay area chapter of ACM SIGCHI (computer-human interaction) group podcasts their meetings. Some interesting presentations, including talks about podcasting and video conferencing.

Speaking of webcasting, ePresence is an open source system that look a lot like commericial system such as Breeze.

Tufte, visualization, and PowerPoint

Here's an article about Tufte in Wired called "PowerPoint Is Evil". His more recent stuff is on his website. Here's a link directly to "PowerPoint Does Rocket Science".

Last Titan IV launch tomorrow

The final Title IV launch from Vandenberg AFB has been declassified and is scheduled for just after 11am Wednesday 19 October:


more information is on


Monday, October 17, 2005

Free, collaborative web based software

Two free, web-based programs are available to support group writing, commenting, and collaboration. Very useful:

Writeboard from 37signals.com, and QuickTopic.

More interesting videos to watch

The Open University in the UK archives presentations and talks.

The topics vary, from climbing Everest to end user programming to this one on the Sakai project to this one on cargo cult computer science.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Somebody's watching

I find this a little creepy, but images of the entire California coast, except for the restricted area of Vandenburg AFB, are online.

Here is downtown Cayucos.

There are also surprising things in the satellite pictures you can get on the web.

I can't really see it, but supposedly this is a man and a dog in a park in Boston. This U2 is much easier to see.

Here is google's picture of Camp Keola. You can see the camp's boat docks very clearly in this picture from MSN.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Need a private jet on a budget?

Charter a private jet without breaking the bank. Search the "return legs" of flights chartered by someone else.

Or for a slower pace, be a passenger on a freighter.

Or, try some zero-G parabolas.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

MSN and Google for university email?

It looks like both MSN and Google want to provide email for your university...

Bb buys WebCT

The two biggies of the LMS (learning management system) world, Blackboard and WebCT, are becoming one.

News of the Bb acquisition of WebCT caused enthusiastic postings on Slashdot, EdTechPost, Infocult, and others.

Real-time flight tracking

You probably already know that you can go to google and type in the airline and flight number, and google will usually give you three links to click for real-time flight information.

But, if you want to go directly to some of the most popular flight tracking sites, try

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Free viewers for Microsoft products

Students sometimes need to view MS Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents, but they don't want to buy Office.

Microsoft has free viewers for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint: click here for Windows and here for Mac versions.

If you want to create documents, consider the free OpenOffice package. It runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Unix.

Joel on Software

If you're a software developer you should probably scan Joel's postings. He gets a little out there sometimes, so his stuff is usually interesting :)

Monday, October 10, 2005


I encourage you to check out FirstMile.US. It is a nonprofit started by one of my long-time colleague from CERFnet days, Susan Estrada. It's sort of related to the now defunct One Gigabit Or Bust initiative.

Here's what FirstMile does:

Our mission: To educate, advocate and focus the debate on the power and promise of big broadband in the United States.
Our vision: Every member of the American public has access to big broadband, the 21st century pathway to a better overall quality of life.

Monday, October 03, 2005

State of California travel stuff

I can never remember where to find this stuff, so I am blogging it.

The general page for state-negotiated rates for air travel and rental cars is


The link straight to the airfares is:


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Huntington Lake weather conditions

You can get almost real-time temperature and snow (actually water content) from a sensor near Camp Keola at Huntington Lake:


Also take a look at the Sierra Summit cam. One of the usual views is of the lake. Or, look at a webcam at Shaver Lake.

Or check Sierra Summit's current snow conditions.

A few miles south is the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park webcam, and the Hume Lake cams.

Health Dept inspections of your favorite Fresno County establishments

Going out to eat, or spending some time at an "organized camp", or swimming in a public pool? Look up the reports of their health department inspections.

The interface is a buggy Java applet, sometimes the pages don't load, but the information is pretty interesting :)


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Wired words

"Impersonal computer screens invite no-holds-barred communication that is, paradoxically, very personal."