About the iPad as a Blogging Tool

The iPad is a great blog-reading tool.
So far, for me, using MovableType (see the qualifiers), it is not much use for blogging. Cut and paste is trickier than it looks between multiple browser windows. Highlighting text to apply a button (formatting or making a link) is HARD. The scrolling category list – yikes. In fact, on Mobile Safari any scrolling box filled with radio buttons is tricky; I can make those lists scroll about a third of the time (so far).
Maybe I’ll get better or maybe MovableType will come out as an app – but I just did the previous entry on Mother’s desktop after failing miserably three or four times to paste the quotation from Jules Crittenden.
Since I’m complaining about the iPad – one problem is Mobile Safari’s unchangeable (so far as I can tell) preference for new windows – you open a new window and the cursor appears in the search field, not the url field. When I open a new window I more frequently want to go to a new site, not look something up. Ugh!

About those Illegal (Russian) Immigrants

About the Russian spies – go to Jules Crittenden for a great media and blog roundup – and be sure to read this footnote on the nomenclature of illegals in context:

* “Illegals,” holdover Cold War spy talk for undercover agents operating on false pretenses, is in fact a hurtful use of the term in these more enlightened times. NYT more sensitively refers to them as “so-called illegals.” The claims made in affidavits would suggest these people were illegal immigrants who happened to be using fraudulent documents and may have engaged in some illegal activity. Advocates for illegal aliens lately have informed us those can be legitimate lifestyle choices that, rather than being prosecuted, should be supported by allowing people to obtain government papers such as driver’s licenses without having to produce supporting documents, and that people who lack legal authority to be here should be allowed to move freely, work, attend schools and receive government benefits. So in keeping with current fashion, these accused Russian agents should more correctly be refered to as “falsely documented espionage workers.”

Leaving on a jet plane…

At least I hope it’s not a prop plane but out of Rochester you never know.
So all I’m taking with me for a week of travel (Chattanooga; Atoka, TN; back to Chattanooga for a few days and then back to Geneva) is the iPad! I’ll let you know how it does as a travel platform.
I’m already getting used to the keyboard, which is about as tight but much more sensitive than the net book I used last summer in Germany. It’s certainly fine for e-mail . . . . Finding good wifi signal in the Rochester airport is a little hit and miss this visit.

Carnivalesque 63

Carnivalesque 63 – an Ancient and Medieval Version!
Do cities that are just NOT THERE any more matter? You bet they do! But how do we show people what was there if there’s no there there any more? Go look at what can be done with Antioch on the Orontes.
How do you get extant but really fragile manuscripts out of the library where more than one scholar at a time can use them? Here are some really interesting digitalization examples.
And how do you get the DNA out of a manuscript folio to figure out things about – well, about everything, starting with the sheep herd the page was made from. Well, first you have to convince a librarian that a set of 40-micron diameter holes in the edge of a manuscript is acceptable. Then you have to use Michael Drout’s new machine – prototype now available!
Bit players in the grand play of the Fall of the Roman Empire and the eventual emergence of the modern western European nations? Not so fast, buddy! Go read about the Burgundian Civil War and think harder about what makes people(s) central to the story.
Not a bit player at all – the power behind the throne – a new life of the Empress Theodora.
Periodization is always a question. In question? Questionable? But much like bit players and great powers, definition is important, if impossible. Magistra et Mater asks “How late should the late antique go?”
So you didn’t make it to Kalamazoo this year? Jonathan Jarrett covered a BUNCH of sessions incredibly thoroughly – here, here, here, and here He’s not quite Prof. Dr. Boethius P. von Korncrake, but hey – most of us aren’t.
The most important Kalamazoo news? The Chaucer Blogger steps forward!
And finally, what I think must be the most-forwarded ancient or medieval story of the year — the lurid cemetary of the Gladiators at York. Men bitten by Tigers! Differential development of right arms! At least three of my students in Greek Art & Architecture this semester forwarded this to me – and it was on every list serve I’m on, too. And then ADM sent it as a suggestion, too – so clearly Gladiators are In the News!
Happy reading!


Is this thing on??
My internet hosting provider moved all my stuff to a new server. I’m sure they had a great reason, but it confused the hell out of my Movabletype configuration.
O.K. – I may not get the Carnivalesque post up until tomorrow – give me a bit! Last minute submissions gratefully received.
I apologize that my own technical confusion (really it wasn’t so hard), exacerbated by a garden party yesterday afternoon when I could have been straightening this out got in the way.

Community Colleges

The estimable Joanne Jacobs is blogging at the Hechinger Report’s Community College Spotlight:

Nearly half of college students in the U.S. attend community college, but they get little public discussion. We at The Hechinger Report are here to change that.

The further we get into the financial crisis the more important it is to pay attention to community colleges. For instance, I am afraid to find out what May’s drop in the stock market will do to admissions melt (you know, the difference between the number of students who pay a deposit in May, indicating they will attend in the Fall, and the number who show up). Or the continuing housing market recession. Given that more students seem to be starting at CCs, places like this need to think about articulation. I’m glad to say we’re doing some of that with our local CC, but we had all better get serious about it.

The upside of being department chair?

One keeps discovering that things can be thrown away! I was rereading the Chairs Handbook and discovered that we are supposed to keep course evaluations until faculty members are promoted to full professor – but that then we only have to save them for the most recent five years. Our paragon of a departmental secretary has has only covered one professor and has emptied a whole file drawer!

Department Chairing getting in the way of blogging

Sorry about the gap – I’m a busy catherd lately.
I did something fun last weekend for Reunion, though, and it went well enough that I’m considering how it will work in Rome in the Spring.
I volunteered to teach an Alum College class (I do it about every other year). This time I took them on a walking tour of a different set of Gothic Revival buildings on campus – Blackwell House and McCormick House, two of the William Smith Dorms. Blackwell was designed by Richard Upjohn for William Douglas, who then hired him for St John’s Chapel a few years later. McCormick is an interesting, kind of wacky bit of carpenter gothic – a post-1851 building on 1806 foundations (despite the plaque that says 1830 – I worry sometimes about those giving people wrong impressions).
The fun part was that I was able to show the participants drawings (plans and style elements) and comparative views from other buildings on an iPad! I got a loaner from the Information Technology folks at the Library. I uploaded some pictures (and gosh, everyone’s right, the “just like an iPhone” file handling is clunky! Apple had better straighten THAT out) and showed them round.
You see, one of the problems about teaching on the hoof is that we art historians can’t reach for a comparison – we’re stuck with what students can see with their own two eyes. Sometimes you’re lucky and there’s a poster near the door with a building plan. However, most of the time the best we can do is xeroxes and the worst we can do is gesture – because many of our students can’t deduce a plan from what they see (that’s a mix of some spatial ability and a experience – most art historians have at least some of the former and a lot of the latter, but can count on neither in a random class).
The iPad let me show plans pretty effectively to a small group (6?). I’m not sure how it will be with a group of 20. Also, color photographs, though they are lovely on the screen, were not contrasty enough for the folks to see as clearly. Black and white photos (I had an aerial view of the Hill from the 1940s) and drawings worked fine, though.
Here’s to Rome 2011 – I’ll be experimenting! Um – I’ll be experimenting with MY iPad, after mid-June.