Cohort Collab —> Tech Support Collab

Screenshot from Minecraft game. Character holding egg falls backward into lava.

Image Source: http://unpluggedcontrollers.blogspot.com/2013/04/an-unplugged-look-at-minecraft.html

Well…damnit. I can’t tell you all how much I wanted the multiplayer Minecraft world to work, and I promise it wasn’t for lack of trying. This was a project that should have had a test run before the idea was brought to the group, and in retrospect I should have figured out a better way to communicate with them throughout the process. But it was an interesting/frustrating/time-suck of an experience regardless (which is everything a good group project should be, right?). So, after losing a week of my life to test running Minecraft Education Edition, I’m ready to throw on some rose-colored glasses and see if I got anything out of this. Here are my top contenders for “most important thing I learned “:

  1. I am more stubborn and motivated by frustration than I previously thought. Part of me didn’t want to let the group crash and burn after going along with my idea, and the other part of me had rage eyes and forgot there was a group at all. At some point it went beyond earning 20 points, and what was a low key project turned into this battle to overcome all technological barriers (and firewalls) to make this game work. And I had never even played Minecraft before, but clearly that didn’t matter.
  2. There are other people who are equally stubborn when it comes to fixing tech problems (and God bless them). If I continue down this tech-focused career path, I’m glad to know that there are tech savvy saviors just an email away. And if they don’t know the answer to a question they will find someone who does, and that person will help you at a moment’s notice even if they’ve never met you. Your router provider may charge you for this help, but everyone else…free!
  3. I learned more about my computer in the span of 5 days than I have in 5 years. I’m relatively new to the Mac world, so figuring out how to use terminal for entering commands, and how to open ports and download servers was all brand new to me. And not just being able to do it, but then being able to communicate what you had done without DM-ing someone a novel. Even when letting my group know about how to access the game, or writing to tech support, it was a challenge to use language in a way that was both precise and accessible.
  4. Minecraft Education Edition was not ready to be released, but software developers don’t really get “take backsies” so I guess it can only get better. My first email to Minecraft Education Edition support was on July 8th and went non-stop until July 14th. Their last message, “We’re sorry you are experiencing this bug. We will log it so the developers can make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Stab me in the heart! I thought we had developed a rapport. Don’t leave me in the wilderness! But really, they had no idea how to help me, and there was zero online community discussion about it because it was so new (and don’t confuse Minecraft Education Edition with MinecraftEDU which has lots of community support but of course doesn’t pertain to the former at all).

And after all this you’d think I’d never want to see that little blocky world again, but in all honesty I can’t wait to get into my computer lab at school and see if I can get the multiplayer worlds running. Never say die!

Big shout-outs to the following:

  • my ever-patient group members (sorry guys!)
  • Chris, for sticking it out and trying every possible solution with me
  • Owen and D’Arcy, for running “Add Server” tests at the drop of a hat
  • Philip, for not only knowing how to play Minecraft but being willing to teach me how
  • Minecraft support, for emailing me back even when I started using exclamation marks, and pretending to care even when they had no idea how to fix the issue
  • Linksys support, for charging me to poke around on my computer and eventually just telling me to contact Minecraft support

The (Creative) Commons

Creative Commons icon.

For this assignment, I decided to license the photos from the photo essay I posted back in June. I licensed them as CC BY-SA after reading about each of the licenses and using the Creative Commons “Choose a License” generator. All of the icons in this post are linked to their corresponding deeds. Click here to see my updated post with all the photos and their shiny new CC licenses.

Features I included in the CC license for my photos:

Creative Commons Attribution icon.

Attribution – I am not as good a person as Garrison Keillor (see my recent post about IP); I want people to give me credit for my work. I thought I could overcome this and just set all my photo free into the Internet, but I couldn’t do it. There’s a bit of ego in this decision, but I put time into these photos and I think it’s okay that I want recognition if other people use them. Now that I’ve decided to include attribution, there’s a certain requirement on me to make attribution relatively painless and properly tag all of my licensed photos.

Creative Commons Share-Alike icon.

Share-Alike –    I read more about share-alike because I was confused about where it sat on the  freedom scale. A license with attribution and share-alike is heading towards the middle of the freedom scale because share-alike puts more limitations on future users. But I think that the share-alike feature actually perpetuates the freedom in the license; it means that the next person using the photo may make money off of it, but they can’t decide to slap a non-commercial license on it and stop the next person from making money off of it as well. This way all of the derivative works also end up in CC. I like that I get a say in how my work retains its freedom in the future and promotes the growth of CC.

Features I decided to forego in the CC license for my photos:

Creative Commons Non-Commercial icon.Non-commercial – I went into this assignment thinking that I wanted BY-SA-NC on each of my photos. It’s the license with the highest number of flickr photos, and it feels safer(?). I did a little more research, and found that adding that NC isn’t explicitly frowned upon, but it kind of defeats the purpose of CC and where most of us hope to go with a more open Internet. It may be less restrictive than “all rights reserved,” but it isn’t really helping anybody. I hadn’t thought about the bloggers who make money from their pages being excluded either. "Approved for Free Cultural Works" seal.And while I would be excluding them, CC would be excluding me from this great little green badge, and I really, really wanted the green badge.

Creative Commons Non-Derivative icon.

Non-derivative – I can definitely think of some pieces of work that I would want to apply the non-derivative feature to, like capstone/final projects that you’re not ready for people to mess with. But for my set of photos it didn’t really make sense to hang on to this right. If someone likes one of my photos, crops it, and throws it into a presentation on Kodiak that is public on Prezi, then I say go for it. I see the non-derivative as being one of the most limiting features because it is so rare that a piece of media is useful as a whole for new projects.


Proper use of my work under the CC BY-SA license:

A small business owner in Kodiak sees one of my pictures and wants to use it as the header image for their business website where they not only sell their goods, but also host ads. They resize and crop the photo to fit the space on the site. Seeing the need for attribution they attach the appropriate information to the new CC license, including my name, changes, and the continuation of attribution and share-alike features. Way to go, small business owner!

Improper use of my work under the CC BY-SA license:

Another small business owner, who doesn’t know much about CC licensing, likes my picture so much that they want to put it on a poster and sell it. But, they forget to attribute the work to me. When the poster becomes a hit, the business owner figures he should put a CC license on the image so no one else can profit from it. So, they slap a CC BY-NC-ND license on my CC BY-SA image. If and when I see the poster featuring my image for sale, I’ll look for the attribution and unfortunately it will be missing. With a little more digging I may also see the new CC BY-NC-ND license. My first step would be to contact the business owner who is using my original image. With a strongly worded letter with plenty of legal terms I’m sure they’d come to their senses. If not, I can report the infringement and ask for a take down notice and for that person to lose their rights to my image. Along the way I’d probably need to find legal help, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

 

Fair(ish) Use: Parity Error Trick

As I’ve mentioned in our Hangouts I’m preparing to teach AP Computer Science Principles this coming 2016-2017 school year. So, when I’m not doing work for ED 654, I’m in the depths of a computer science crash course. Luckily for all of you, there are some pretty cool topics I’m learning about and I picked my current favorite to share for this assignment.

The Parity Error Magic Trick

Cartoon animation showing steps of the parity error trick. Teacher closes eyes while student flips a random tile. Teacher turns around and examines the grid. Teacher correctly identifies which tile the student flipped over.

Image Source: CS Unplugged

To perform the parity error magic trick hand the stack of cards over to a student and ask them to lay out the cards face-up or face-down however they’d like in a grid pattern (or have them flip cards in a pre-set grid). Once the students are done, the teacher uses the remaining cards to create an extra row and column of cards on the grid. The teacher then turns their back, and the student flips any card in the grid. When the teacher turns around they should be able to spot which card in the grid has been changed.

This video demonstration of CS Unplugged’s “Error Detection Card Trick” activity was created by Jennifer Rosato for the Mobile CSP lesson on Error Detection:

Memory, magic, or some good ol’ parity error detection?

Solution: First, face-down cards are assigned 0s, and face-up cards are assigned 1s (see how we’re working those binary digits in?). For each row and column there are either going to be an even number of 1s or an odd number of 1s. The teacher decides whether they are going to run an “even parity” or an “odd parity.” For the sake of this example let’s assume it’s an even parity. The trick is in the extra row and column that the teacher adds to “make it more difficult” which actually isn’t random at all. If the students has placed 3 face-up cards in a row then the row is odd, but since we’re working with an even parity the teacher will make the row even by placing an extra face-up card in that row. Every row and column are made even with the extra parity cards that the teacher lays down.

When the student flips one of the cards while the teacher’s back is turned it creates a parity error. Now there will be a row and column that no longer have an even number of 1s. All the teacher has to do is locate where the odd row and the odd column intersect to correctly find the flipped card.

Parity error detection can also be used to help solve riddles like the one in this animation created by Alex Gendler for TED-Ed:

Parity Error Detection in Coding

I only understand parity error detection in its simplest form, so what follows is the entirety of what I know. If everything is made of transmitted bits (1s and 0s), there’s bound to be an error once in a while. Adding redundant parity bits to a code, allows for a basic form of error detection without altering original code. In a 1-bit parity, the redundant bit is placed in the leftmost position. Originally the redundant parity bit was added to a 7-bit string, making an 8-bit byte: 0011 1010. 1-bit redundancy (like putting a card at the end of a row) is able to detect an error but is unable to locate and correct it. The information would need to be retransmitted. Another downside of 1-bit redundancy is that it only flags an odd number of errors. For example, if it were an even parity byte 1010 0101 and two of those bits were flipped 1010 1111 it wouldn’t flag an error because the even parity is still true.

But fear not! 1-bit redundancy is not the only kind of parity error detection. Say hello to the Hamming Code. The Hamming Code uses a 3-bit redundancy for every 4 bits of code. Not only does this code allow for error detection, but also error correction. Through this technique three of the original bits are checked against each of their corresponding parity bits, and if they don’t fulfill the parity, the error in the original data bits can be corrected. This video from Khan Academy does an excellent job of breaking this down:

“NOTE: All Khan Academy content is available for free at www.khanacademy.org”

Error correction: How can we communicate in the presence of noise?


Fair Use of Materials:

I’m always especially nervous about using videos I find online, so I pushed myself to use more videos in this assignment and do a little digging to see how the owners would like them to be used.

Card Trick Cartoon – At the bottom of the CS Unplugged site they had posted “The CS Unplugged material is shared under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.” I clicked on it to see what that actually meant, and I felt that I could work with those terms so that I could use the image in my post. I made sure to include attribution with the image.

Four Factors of Fair Use

Purpose & Character: I used the image for non-commercial purposes in an educational post that was meant to elicit new commentary. It was also placed in a broader conversation about parity error detection beyond the card trick.

Nature of the Copyrighted Work: This image was a creative work, but because it was posted as CS Unplugged material it falls under their CC license, so I’m still in the clear.

Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken: I used the whole image that was provided on the site, but again their CC license allows for this.

Effect of the Use upon the Potential Market: CS Unplugged doesn’t make a profit off of their online curriculum, and I’m not making any money from my blog.

Error Detection Card Trick (video) – It took me a while to figure out how exactly to use this video fairly. I first saw the video in a lesson on Error Detection in the Mobile CSP online curriculum (which is open source). But, when I went to the video itself to embed it, the owner of the video was one of my mentors for the course and I received a warning that looks like this: Screenshot of a YouTube warning saying "This video is unlisted. Be considerate and think twice before sharing."

So, of course, I thought twice before sharing. First I checked to see what kind of license the online Mobile CSP material has, which ended up being a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. I knew that I should be able to use the video because it had been uploaded onto the Mobile CSP site and was covered by the CC license. But, I still felt weird about it, so I wrote an email to my mentor to get her permission to use the video in this post.

Four Factors of Fair Use

Purpose & Character: I used the video for non-commercial purposes in an educational post that expanded the discussion around the content and elicited new commentary.

Nature of the Copyrighted Work: I wouldn’t consider this video to be creative because it is a demonstration of a card trick, and doesn’t contain original material.

Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken: I included the entire video in my post.

Effect of the Use upon the Potential Market: Mobile CSP curriculum is open source and does not sell their material so there was no profit lost from my use of the video.

Can you solve the prisoner hat riddle? (video) – To see how I could use this video I first checked out the TED Video Usage Policy. It looks like TED Talks are under a Creative Commons license Attribution – NonCommercial – NonDerivative. But, then after that section was information specifically about TED-Ed, which doesn’t fall under CC, but instead under YouTube’s Standard Policy. I’m not sure why they have some of their videos hosted on the TED site and other hosted through YouTube. How can they really support their tagline of “Ideas Worth Sharing” if their whole education outfit isn’t under CC?

Four Factors of Fair Use

Purpose & Character: I used the video for a non-commercial purpose in a way that expanded on the ideas in the video and brought it to a new group of people for commentary.

Nature of the Copyrighted Work: The idea in the video isn’t creative as it is a well known riddle, but the art in the video was creative. I provided adequate attribution to the creator and to TED-Ed.

Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken: I used the whole video (because using half of a riddle kind of takes the fun out of it…). But since the other TED videos are non-derivative, I think it may actually be in my favor that I used the whole video.

Effect of the Use upon the Potential Market: As the video was already being shared through TED-Ed who encourages their videos to be distributed, the creator would not have been making a profit from the video. Unless he was making money through YouTube, in which case I’m just providing more hits for him. I’m not making a profit by having the video embedded in my blog.

Error correction (video) – Khan Academy has a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license for all of their online material. They also have a thorough FAQs section about how/when/where you can use their material. I specifically looked at “I would like to embed your videos on my site. Is that allowed?” Along with adhering to their CC license, they also asked that embedded videos use the Khan Academy player and to include their “NOTE” about all Khan Academy material being free on their website.

Four Factors of Fair Use

Purpose & Character: My use of the video was non-commercial. There was value added to the video by placing it in conversation with the other parity bit information contained in the post, and made it accessible for new commentary.

Nature of the Copyrighted Work: While the information wasn’t creative (non-fiction) the video animation certainly was creative, but the video is covered under Khan Academy’s CC license.

Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken: I used the whole video that was posted on the Khan Academy site, but again, the material is covered under CC.

Effect of the Use upon the Potential Market: Khan Academy makes it very, very clear that their material/curriculum is free and want it to remain free (hence posting the NOTE before the content). So neither of us make any money off of posting the video.

Work Together – Minecraft Social Contract

For the “Work Together” assignment, Philip Peterson and I developed discussion questions that could be used in the classroom to create social contracts for virtual Minecraft communities. We started with the questions that I use in my own classroom to develop social contracts (as directed through the “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” program) and adapted/rewrote/expanded them for guiding a virtual community.

IP: Friend or Foe

The thing about writing limericks is that if you write a great, great limerick people will remember it but they will forget the name of the person who wrote it, and that’s okay. The permanence of anonymity, the immortality of the anonymous. Long live the jokes and who cares who thought them up. They are permanent. And if years from now you should see “The young fellow from Pocatello…” in a collection of verse, or written on a toilet stall, it’ll be anonymous even though I wrote it in a hotel room once in Pocatello, Idaho, and that’s okay. (Keillor, 15:48)


This past Saturday was Garrison Keillor’s last performance as the host of the beloved radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.” And I won’t lie, I’m taking it pretty hard. At the end of his final “News from Lake Wobegon” segment, Keillor talked about his love of limericks and how if his only legacy is a limerick written on a bathroom stall making young boys laugh, that would be enough for him, because “what more could you hope for?” (16:52).

Headshot of Garrison Keillor.

By Prairie Home Productions, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6753486

To wrap Keillor’s closing sentiment into our discussion of intellectual property, I think our current laws would show that we often do hope for more when we publicize our ideas. We may want to reap the benefits. We may want recognition. We may want to hang on to some semblance of control. This is not to say that it is wrong to hope for these things, but as someone who has been conditioned to believe ownership over ideas is the norm, I was struck by Keillor’s emphasis on anonymity. Keillor’s statement comes across as generous, as selfless; he is providing joy to future generations and is seemingly content with his name being lost to the wind. He doesn’t need credit. He doesn’t want profits from the royalties. Maybe it will inspire more young boys to write semi-inappropriate limericks and cause more people to laugh on a podcast one day.

This makes me wonder, “Would this be enough for me?” What if instead of a limerick, it was a technological innovation. Would I have it in me to willingly share my ideas to the benefit of others and not just myself, especially if there were a monetary profit up for grabs.

What interests me about intellectual property isn’t the nitty-gritty legal details, but the human motivations behind it. My example above of relinquishing rights over a limerick may be silly (a low-value piece of intellectual property), but I think it demonstrates how quickly an idea (once shared) can disseminate and lose attribution, and Keillor shows us one way a person can respond in that situation. He hopes that his work inspires others, becoming a vehicle for future innovation. We anticipate a joke being something we share freely and lose nothing in the telling. So, why do we feel this way about some ideas and not others? Money? Acknowledgment? And at what point do you weigh personal gain against the benefit of a wider population?

The peril of intellectual property is that it isn’t tangible: it isn’t land you can sign papers on, or an object to lock away in a safe. According to Steven Kinella in his 2008 article “Against Intellectual Property”, property laws only make sense when we’re dealing with conflicts over resources and scarcity, “The very possibility of conflict over a resource renders it scarce, giving rise to the need for ethical rules to govern its use. Thus, the fundamental social and ethical function of property rights is to prevent interpersonal conflict over scarce resources.” But can an idea be “taken” or “stolen” if it has been made accessible by the originator? Do you have less of your intellectual product once others get their hands on it as well?

Front cover of the book "Blown to Bits". Two hands holding a globe.

Image Source: www.bitsbook.com

I just started reading a book entitled “Blown to Bits” (2008) that tackles issues surrounding the digital explosion, and intellectual property happened to show up in the introductory chapter. In their example, the problem is not that we’re able to make copies of online material, but that we’re able to make perfect copies. A perfect copy means there is no need for the original and in fact, “even the notion of “original” is meaningless” (p. 7). Once something is digitized it becomes “bits,” or binary digits: text, photos, audio, movies, and software. They can be perfectly recreated, but this doesn’t mean the originator is suddenly lacking bits: the property doesn’t go “away.” They sum this concept up nicely saying, “But bits are an odd kind of property. Once I release them, everybody has them. And if I give you my bits, I don’t have any fewer” (p. 7). An “odd” kind of property, or maybe not property at all.

So, our laws may be slow on the uptake that intellectual property is not the same as tangible property, but I would guess that this is going to be a gradual, snail’s pace, change. But there seem to be some companies who are finding ways to bridge the gap between the two. For instance, Tesla. In a recent Forbes article, Elon Musk discussed the decision to have an open-source policy with their software saying, ““Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers” (p. 3, 2016). Tesla retains the patents for their battery, but allows their software to be open-source. By doing this, Musk attention is not on hiding a secret formula from his rivals, but on the top-notch developers who are drawn to the software and can make the product better. Can you imagine? A business philosophy that focuses on collaborators instead of competitors.

Wing It! – Infomagical Challenge

**Similar to my last Wing It, I’ll be completing this challenge this coming week (7/4-7/8) and would love to have some Wingmen onboard! 

Note to Self logo. Dark colored head with multi-colored patterns exploding from the top.

Image Credit: www.wnyc.org

Thanks to Manoush Zomorodi and the podcast “Note to Self,” here is another week-long challenge. Like Bored and Brilliant, the Infomagical challenge encourages listeners to be better consumers of online information. Some of us may have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), so we breeze over articles, stories, and headlines without ever really retaining any useful information. How could we make our online information browsing more productive, and more importantly, use it to support our personal goals?

Objective: At least for a week, let’s try to fight information overload by paying attention to what we’re doing online, and the gadgets that get us there.

Assignment: Nousion-ites! You can do this! The challenges and corresponding short podcasts can be found here. Listen to the podcast or read through the new challenge every morning this week. If you don’t think you’ll remember, sign up for text or email reminders here. Take notes on your experience and create a mini-reflection (text, audio, video, etc) for each day, then wrap it all up and you can post at the end of the week for a Wingman assignment.

Points:  15 /15

My infomagical journey:

Infomagical Day 5: My note to self – 

george

Wing It! – Bored and Brilliant Challenge

**This Wing It! is for Collection III and I’ll be participating in this challenge starting tomorrow (6/27) if anyone wants to join me 🙂

Note to Self logo. Dark colored head with multi-colored patterns exploding out of the top.

Image Credit: www.wnyc.org

On her podcast “New Tech City” (now “Note to Self”) in 2015, Manoush Zomorodi posed a week-long challenge to her listeners. She called it “Bored and Brilliant.” The premise of the challenge is that humans actually do our original thinking, problem solving, and creative thought when we’re bored. The term Zomorodi found to describe it is “autobiographical planning.” But with the advent of personal devices we have a tendency to fill moments of potential boredom with our face glued to a screen. This challenge isn’t intended as an anti-tech message, more of a chance to reflect on how we’re using digital tech in our daily lives. If you want to hear her presentation on the subject you can watch it here.

Objective: Give your brain more opportunities for boredom this week. It’s good for you!

So, my dear Nousionauts, are you ready to take on this challenge?

Assignment: Listen to the short podcast each day (for 6 days) and complete the daily challenge. Keep track of your experience with a mini-reflection for each challenge (an off-the-cuff audio or video recording would be really cool) – Was it easy/hard? What did you do when you weren’t on your phone? What did you find that you couldn’t live without? 

To start from the beginning here’s the link to Challenge 1. If you want to see all of the challenges and learn more about the project you can check out the main site: Bored and Brilliant,

If you don’t think you’ll remember to check the next challenge every morning, you can sign up for email reminders here.

**As they are no longer collecting data for the study, for this assignment just complete the daily challenge and don’t worry about tracking your phone time through an app.

Points:  15/15

Collection II: DigCit/Lit/Etc

Required Assignments

Where Are You Now?

Exploring “Digital Cit”

Digital Literacies I & II: Reflections for Chapters 1-9

Bling Your “Blog”

Metathink – Wiki

Metathink – Exploring Digital Citizenship

Who to Follow – Manoush Zomorodi

Who to Follow – Josie Fraser

Working Out Loud – Committing to the Portfolio

Making Connections

Wingman: Did You Know?

Rich Reflections

“As We May Think”

“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure”

“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure Revisited”

“No Digital Facelifts”