Thursday, February 01, 2018

What's in a trending topic? After the Era That Made It a Verb

For those who follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me acknowledge trending topics, at least on occasion. I find them fascinating, and often the mysterious ones (mysterious at least at first) are the most enlightening in the end. 

February starts with some interesting Trending on Twitter topics - some need an explanation
Today's "After the Era That Made It a Verb" had me at bit puzzled. it became all too obvious with a single click, relating to a quite large industry story I had become aware of yesterday morning. The trending topic matches a New York Times headline, which of course refers to "Xerox" and its being absorbed by its joint venture with Fujifilm. (See "So Long Xerox...")  While the two companies have been aligned for as long as I have seriously following the printing and imaging industry, this is in many ways the end.

The Times piece has a very short but still enlightening quote, which I will share here.
“'Xerox is the poster child for monopoly technology businesses that cannot make the transition to a new generation of technology,'” said David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School." 
-via "After the Era That Made It a Verb, Xerox, in a Sale, is Past Tense", NYTimes Dealbook, by Steve Lohr and Carlos Tejada, January 31, 2018.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Post - Just hit "Print"!

I just saw the Oscar-nominated "The Post", using MoviePass of course! (See "MoviePass - Fulfilling those 2018 resolutions".)

The movie does a great job of bringing back the look and feel of the Vietnam-War era, but I did notice one concession to modern times. Early on, where scenes show the illicitly gathered "Pentagon Papers" being photo-copied. While the nearly room-sized, single-page input machine seemed to correspond to what I remember of photocopiers in those days, the "button" shown being pushed to initiate the copy process was labeled "Print" - something I find implausible in those days. It was "copying" not "printing" after all!

Only a few decades later, when the Multi-Function Peripheral era was beginning, that the idea of reproducing a printed page was just another way of printing!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My 12th Anniversary on Blogspot

Being someone who is tuned in to timelines and history, I like LinkedIn for its emphasis on anniversaries. While they seem to come along more frequently these days (!), it's nice to hear from friends and contacts who are prompted to "like" or send a note when one of my anniversaries comes up. (It's also a good way to get a reminder that perhaps the old LinkedIn profile is, yes, a little old - anniversaries don't count when they're for jobs or other endeavors that are no longer active, in my opinion anyway.)

This month (January 2018) it happens to be my 12th anniversary of beginning to blog on "Blogspot", i.e. right here! While I have experimented with Medium and other platforms I keep coming back to "old reliable", so the anniversary is valid and any and all likes and comments are appreciated!

Friday, January 12, 2018

MoviePass - Fulfilling those 2018 resolutions!

A deal between MoviePass and Costco was quite popular, and extended beyond the holidays.

Unlike many, I am a pretty big believer in New Year's resolutions. I give them thought in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the year, and don't feel the need to finalize them until sometime after the year has started. I like to spread them around between categories including the more typical health and fitness, professional, hobbies, and to me, the most important, fun!

Like many other to-do-list advocates know, there is great value in making sure at least a couple of my New Year's resolutions are very achievable, if not already in the bag. For 2018, one of those has been obtaining and using MoviePass, which I had become aware of during 2017 but had not acted on. In what seemed like a deal too good to be true, MoviePass requires a modest monthly fee (around the price of seeing one first-run movie), but then lets the holder attend theatrical-release movies (2D only) at the clip of up to one per day for no extra charge. This seemed like something I had to get going on for 2018!

So with the resolution of "get a MoviePass and use it a lot in 2018" I took advantage of an even somewhat better deal (available in December and early January but expired as of the 10th) and ordered a pre-paid annual MoviePass for $89.99 to Costco members. (See graphic and link above.)

So I now have hands-on experience with MoviePass, and can relate a mostly positive outcome but can also offer some advice. First, the good news - as you wait several weeks for the fulfillment cycle to get your MoviePass card (essentially an "ATM" MasterCard debit card) you will no doubt have questions and one will be, "What theaters accept the pass?" From my experience, and in my community, the simple answer is "all". That includes a favorite "indy" (aka "art house") venue and the multiple second-run theaters around town.

The bad news, though readers may not foolishly make this mistake, is the MoviePass is for one person, only. Maybe as the result of being part of a "couple" all these years, somehow I managed to figure the MoviePass I was buying through Costco was going to be good for two people, i.e. two simultaneous admissions. It's not!

When the one-card/one-person rule dawned on me, it was time to order another one for my partner. Not ready to make a commitment to a second annual pass, I ordered a three-month pass directly from the company, for $30. That was several weeks ago, and I expect the card in the mail any day now. However, that's where a final piece of advice comes in - be patient (or more accurately, forgiving.) I found their web site to be pretty glitchy and incomplete, and was faced with an inexplicable error message the first time I tried registering card number two - thankfully, it went through the following day, triggering a confirmation email and initiating the two-week (hopefully) wait for the physical card to arrive in the mail.

(BTW the patience/forgiveness thing was not applied universally. A recent Marketwatch story chronicled frustrations on the part of other would-be users. See "Thousands of MoviePass customers have been charged for cards they never received.")

Four movies in the first 11 days of the year - as captured in this iPhone screenshot. "Check" on this one for 2018!
I promised that "forgiving" advice was my last, but let me add another tidbit or two. Since using your MoviePass is a two-step process, first comes confirming the movie on your smartphone (I forgot, smartphone-less individuals need not apply). Then, interacting with a person in the box office who will swipe your card comes next. Don't worry, all the theater personnel know what a MoviePass is, so don't be afraid to ask for their help!

As they used to say closing my favorite movie-reviews show, "We'll see you at the movies!".

Friday, December 22, 2017

Looking ahead to 2018

Three months later, and I am still working away with my Rocketbook Wave, and making new discoveries

Wow - it's hard to believe it's been nearly three months since my last post! That's definitely a record for my now well-over ten-year-old blog, and not a record I am proud of. On the other hand, I guess it shows I had better or at least more diverse things to do, which is true.

I am still set on following up more on my Rocketbook experiences, as promised in my September post (see The Rocketbook Wave Notebook). My discoveries have been mounting, like the smaller version of the notebook (Rocketbook One) which is not microwave-erasable. And that Frixion pen eraser? It's all about friction-generated heat. (Maybe the name Frixion should have given me a clue.)

But the big experiment set to yield results in early 2018 is my seeding the market, so to speak, with gifts of the Rocketbook Wave to four "trusted advisors". They don't know they're getting them yet, so shhh...

And Happy Holidays to all, and see you back here next year! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Rocketbook Wave Notebook

The notebooks from the future 
I commented in a post a couple weeks back about my personal e-reading and writing habits. In a play on Back-to-school and inspired by an NPR story, "Two of the Three R's..." I reviewed my latest note-taking preferences, including the Rocketbook Wave notebook, which I had received as a gift over the summer.

I had a great theme for a full blog post recounting some of my experiences with Rocketbook Wave. But after continued and varied experiences I have decided to save that theme for a later post, with some notes here to start the ball rolling on a multi-post series.

Pilot's webpage displays FriXion brand pens in all shapes and sizes

The erasable notebook's secrets to success seem to start with the (included) Pilot FriXion pen. I find I am reminded (maybe too much) of the old "magic behind the LaserJet" spiel, where the story begins with the toner cartridge (and the same could be said of story behind HP's inkjet cartridges). As far as Pilot writing instruments, I remember my awareness of the company going back to pre-HP and pre-LaserJet days, in my first "real" job in 1976. Some fellow employees in the office were pen/pencil freaks (there are a lot of them out there), who were going nuts over Pilot mechanical pencils. Reading the company's fascinating history on their website, their founding in Japan in 1918 was followed much later by a US-based entity established in 1972, meaning I was getting the word not too long after this.

With my first FriXion giving up the ghost, a trip to Target offered a few FriXion choices - I settled on this variety pack.
More research (coming) is needed to determine the history of the FriXion pen, but its overall claim to fame, outside its association with the Rocketbook, and as seen in the screenshot above, is its erasability. Remembering back to the "erasable pens" of my youth, which included a grit-filled eraser that obliterated not only the ink but a layer of the paper (substrate in the jargon), the FriXion has a friction/heat relationship that interacts with the ink. Which leads to a reminder of the "invisible ink" of my childhood, but now we are heading for a real rathole!

I can't wait to learn and experiment a bit more, in preparation for another blog post, which will be coming soon!
The back of the package led to some interesting insights as well as questions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two of the Three R's - commentary on my own E-reading and -writing

 "In the Age of Screen Time, is Paper Dead?" - This NPR story got me thinking about my own habits

A fascinating story on NPR got me thinking about my own experiences and habits when it comes to my own reading via in paper and electronic formats. Written/recorded by Steve Drummond, "In the Age of Screen Time, is Paper Dead?" fits very well with a regular theme in Jim Lyons Observations since its beginnings well over ten years ago. In his story, Drummond explores the role of print and paper in education, which I might add is appropriate for the back-to-school season.

I will leave it to my readers to get to Drummond's story. I think they will find it to be an interesting summary, including a bit the commercial push for paper. It triggered in me thoughts about my own experiences with both reading in electronic format, and in writing (note-taking specifically), that I wanted to share here.

I have been teaching for University of Phoenix (UOP) for about the same length of time this blog has existed, and we have seemingly ALWAYS used e-books, predating my arrival on the scene. UOP is known for being a pioneer in online higher education, and even when teaching in "ground" environments (what we call their in-person, classroom modality), e-reading, via licensed and DRM-enabled PDF versions of popular textbooks and articles, has been the norm.

However, as a professor ("facilitator" in Phoenix parlance), I am often given access to the hard-copy version of the texts, which I find especially useful for reference during the online discussions which make up much of the learning model at UOP. While nothing beats the electronic version of the text for searching, in contrast, there is nothing to compare to the ability to flip through the traditional hard-bound book, even in a sometimes semi-random fashion, for gaining overall familiarity with the material. So me? I like (and even can say, I need) both formats to do my best work. And I have learned over the years that some students go the same route, buying their own hardcopies even when access to the e-books is provided as part of their student tuition and fees.

As far as my reading - for pleasure, in addition to my avocational and professional reading - I use a combination of the "big screen" (desktop and laptop web browsing), mostly for articles and the like, and my portfolio of Kindles (yes, I own and use several). I have been a Kindle owner since the beginning (even finding myself using the "big screen" version of Amazon's cloud reader from time to time, though rarely if ever using the iPad/iPhone app), I notice that my habits have changed relatively recently.

Have had it since Xmas - thrilled to borrow an ecopy so I can start reading it!
Self-observation (just read a book about that) indicates that I have a growing preference for Kindle when it comes to reading books. Especially in the avocational and professional categories of my must-read list, I enjoy the "highlighting" (and future recall) capability of the Kindle. Combined with a growing comfort with Kindle's user interface (a product, no doubt, of Amazon's ongoing - if not always obvious - software and hardware tweaks, as well as my own Kindle reading experience, which must be going on 10,000 hours), I find myself seeking out the electronic version of traditional books I already own or have borrowed from the local library. It also helps that my library (in conjunction with Overdrive) has enhanced both the size as well as usability of their e-book collection in recent years.

Good old hand-writing in a notebook is great for
note-taking, if I can read my writing later!
Going back to the NPR piece, space is given to the argument, based on studies, about old-fashioned physical writing, as opposed to typing in some form, and it's link to higher rates of learning and retention, at least as confined to note-taking. I can't imagine doing something like this draft in long-hand, having relied on word processing - remember that term? - for decades now. But for short, more spontaneous things, I find myself back to doing more physical writing with words on paper. This is despite the challenge of reading my handwritten notes, following years of underuse of my "scribing" skills! I believe that for me the value in the hand/eye/brain relationship, in synthesizing key themes in something like a lecture, or also, for example, in laying out a plan with its lists and diagrams. Having just acquired a Rocketbook Wave notebook (soon to be the subject of a dedicated blog post), I expect to bring back the physical writing even more.

To recap, for me, my preferred mode is e-reading, up and continuing to go farther up. And as far as note-taking, I feel I am having a bit of a renaissance with the good old-fashioned kind, as long as I remember how to do it!