(NOTE: This posting is primarily for my personal reference.)
When trying to print a Blackboard test canvas (to PDF or a physical device), one normally gets only the visible page.  This is because BB uses frames.  However, if you open the specific frame, you can then print the entire page.
Using Firefox, I right-clicked on the frame, selected This Frame | Show Only This Frame, and then was able to print.

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Once upon a time, a long long time ago in a place far, far away, I took a Physics class. The professor used one of them thar new-fangled personal computer thingies (pre-Apple, pre-IBM PC) to manage his grading tasks.  He also introduced a solution to the “one genius makes the rest of us look bad” problem.

For the uninitiated, the “one genius” scenario is the case where a test or assignment is graded on a curve and just one person aces the test while everyone else bombs it.

His solution was simple: normalize to the second-highest score.

I have adopted this approach for any of my classes with ten or more students.

The rationale is simple: If two or more people do well, then my teaching methods seem to be working, but if only one person does well, we assume that person is a “genius” and treat the grade as an outlier and ignore it.

Here’s how it works.  Let’s say a test is worth 200 points. A genius scores 190, but the second highest score is 150.  What I will do is add 50 points (200 -  150) to everyone’s grade.  Everyone, that is, except for the genius-she will get 10 points to bring her grade to a perfect score of 200.

The bottom line: it’s my job to help you succeed, so it’s my responsibility to grade fairly.

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Here’s how to solve that problem.

Exit Notes.

Locate Notes.INI. (It used to be under c:\lotus\notes\ — not under data — but newer versions install under a different location.)

Find a line with AddInMenus

If the only item listed is for Adobe Acrobat, then comment out the whole line with a semi-colon

If there are other add-ins in the line, duplicate the line, then comment it out, then modify the one still active by removing the Adobe reference

Restart Notes to confirm it’s gone.

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Each time you turn around, there’s another news story about compromised passwords and computer security. Just recently we’ve learned of massive breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, Adobe, and Cupid Media (the OK Cupid dating site people.)

An important thing to remember is to use unique pass phrases on every web site so if one site gets compromised, the others aren’t.

For example, if the Adobe data dump revealed your password of “I-Like-CLU-in-2014″ to the bad guys, they will try to use that same password on your banking site and could rob you.

Some people resist using multiple passwords because they’re a pain to remember.

Here’s a suggestion — not perfect, but will do for the majority of sites — that will help keep things reasonably safe, while still making every password unique, yet memorable.

Given some baseline pass phrase (more than just a password) that only you know, such as the aforementioned “I-Like-CLU-in-2014″, append a site-specific suffix mnemonic to it. For example, your pass phrase for the Wells Fargo web site might be: “I-Like-CLU-in-2014.WellsFargo” while you might use “I-Like-CLU-in-2014.Target” for the Target web site.

If a “black hat” puts eyeballs on your pass phrase they may recognize the pattern, but in my opinion that is highly unlikely. When they harvest 40 to 70 million IDs and passwords at a time, they’re gonna write programs that test your credentials against other sites, not humanly scan each one individually.

As a side note,  I recommend using a different e-address for each site you access. Unless you have some technical savvy and your own domain, this might be problematic. However, you can use a service such as offered by SpamGourmet.com to generate anonymous e-addresses that are site specific.  I’ve had about 95% success with Spamgourmet.com addresses.  In only a few cases (Redbox and the City of Phoenix are two that come to mind), the vendor blocks, drops, or ignores those addresses even though they are valid.

Lastly, it’s old news but I’ll repeat it anyway: make your pass phrase long enough that it’ll be hard to guess, with a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and punctuation.

Yeah, it’s all rather a pain in the okole, but replacing your credit cards, recovering stolen funds, or trying to repair your credit history is a much bigger pain.


P.S. I was directly affected by the adobe.com breach. After the breach I began receiving phishing e-mail from Russia. Fortunately the messages went to my SpamGourmet address, so I just disabled that one address without affecting my other logins or addresses.

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A Novel User Interface

Here’s an interesting idea about using The Human Body as Touchscreen Replacement from the Nielsen Norman Group, experts in the usability field.

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CSC-300 Text Book

I have selected Murach’s Visual Basic 2010 by Anne Boehm as the textbook for CSC-300 for both the fall semester and the BDP winter term.

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Here’s a quote from an excellent article by Andrew Pollack about the importance of going beyond the simple capturing of requirements:

When I'm brought in to work on a significant development project as the lead, the first step is to sit down with the client and understand not just the requirements, but the goals behind the requirements and how the work they're asking for will impact the people using system. My job, at this stage is to use my experience to anticipate the unseen requirements, the potential problems, and the unintended consequences of the changes they're requesting. I do this through asking questions and getting them to walk me through both the current process and the updated process. If we have the right people in the room -- not just the project managers but also representatives of people who use the systems daily -- then during this phase they realize how the real world use differs from the project plan paperwork. We're able to adapt the plan and build what they need. Spending the right money up front on this kind of analysis prevents the kinds of disasters Cringley is pointing out.

The full article is not about requirements capture per se, but the quote above is relevant to my classes in Systems Analysis and Design and Visual Programming.

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A friend of mine from the University of New Mexico offers a writing tour of Italy each year. Here are the details. Visit tlcwritingtours.com for more information.

TLC Writing Tours of Italy are a unique combination of writing classes, workshops, and cultural experiences over a nine-day, non-stop adventure. From our headquarters in Bolsena, just north of Rome, we immerse you in Italy and Italian culture by alternating writing with visits to local towns, photography workshops, cooking classes, a sail on Lago Bolsena, visits to Etruscan ruins and local authors’ homes, wine tastings, home-cooked Italian meals, and much more; essentially we offer a full-immersion Writing and Italy experience designed to make any writer, of any level, feel at home.

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For my upcoming CSC-300 students in the Fall 2013 term:

I haven’t yet completed the new syllabus, but I thought I’d share the one I used last year so you can get a sense of what we’ll cover in class, nor have I selected a text book yet.

There will certainly be some changes to the syllabus because my previous classes were one night a week for four hours instead of two days a week, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea of the rough schedule.




Software Tools I Recommend

I use and recommend the following tools for web development.

  • CSE HTML Validator Professional provides an easy way to validate web for compliance with web standards, thus making your pages more likely to render cleanly across many different browsers and devices. I use it as my code editor as well because it’s easy to use while still giving me the low-level control I demand.
  • Easy Thumbnails is a free tool for creating thumbnails from Fookes Software. I like it because I was able to make custom batch files to process huge collections of images in one shot AND have the tool create a web page from those resulting thumbnails at the same time. The downside is that it doesn’t work with PNG files.
  • Goodsync is a valuable tool for synchronizing data, including web data, across multiple devices and hosts. I use it for managing several web sites via FTP, as well as a file synchronization and backup tool so that I can duplicate selected files on multiple computers. This way I can develop information, including my CLU presentations, on a laptop, desktop, or external drive, and keep the others synced up.
  •  Iconico provides provides clean, simple, elegant tools used like ColorPic and ScreenCalipers to help match colors, measure layouts and so on, and some of their tools are free.
  • I use Advanced Renamer for giving my pictures and videos more meaningful filenames, as well as performing date/time stamp operations and case conversions, but this only scratches the surface of what the tool can do.
  • For a free, basic text editor that nonetheless offers a lot of great, advanced features, I use conTEXT. It supports templates for many types of files, but if you don’t see or like the ones that are available, you can add or customize them to your taste. For example, I tweaked one for use with IBM Notes (formerly known as Lotus Notes).  I use this a lot for examining SQL files too.
  • Batch Purifier is an easy way to strip unwanted data from your image files, such as camera information, location, and date/time.  The “LITE” version is free but works only with JPGs.
  • Background images can be generated by tools found on grsites.com.
  • freecsstemplates.org is one of may web sites that offers free CSS templates you can adapt for your pages.

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