M.A. Hochberg’s Technology for Teaching

Making technology easier for people


11:31 am

Super Summer 2015

After missing last year, I taught Super Summer for the UO again this year. The classes were the same as the previous years (Stop Motion Animation and Programming in Scratch). You can see some of what we did on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/uoyetag

The changes in Scratch were interesting. Not only were we using Scratch 2.0 instead of 1.4, over half of the students were already using the web based version and had accounts

One interesting thing happened. The Scratch server at https://scratch.mit.edu/ was down during some class times. Students who were using the site were very frustrated. Since there was a local version of Scratch 2.0 on their computers, I suggested that they use that, save their work locally, and then upload it when the server became available again.


10:58 am

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

One thing that frustrates me is watching people try something that is beyond their technical skill level, get frustrated and quit. What makes it worse is when they never try it again.

This article gave me a lot of insight into the problem. There is nothing like having the right words to explain a problem to give you the right tools to solve it.



Read the rest of this entry »


5:40 pm

PDF, gif, jpg, bmp….to text program

One nice thing about summer is that I get to catch up on all those sites I bookmarked during the school year. Here is an easy to use utility to extract text from PDFs and most picture formats. This is particularly handy for getting rid of all those newspaper and magazine clippings you have stashed away. If you are using Canon’s Scanner Toolbox, you can link pdf scans to open directly in the OCR* program too,

The program name tells what it does: PDF OCR X
Published by Web Lite Solutions, here’s what they say about it:

Simple drag-and-drop utility for Mac OS X
Supports over 20 languages.. Learn More…
Also works with images such as GIF, JPEG, TIF, BMP, PSD, PNG, and more… (New in version 1.6)
Runs on OS X 10.5 or higher, with Intel Processors

Not only was it simple to use, but it was free too. You can find it at

* Optical Character Recognition


4:20 pm

Laptop Battery Life

With three laptop battery failures in two days, I think it’s a good time to review some battery basics.

The most important thing is to use the battery. Some people never use it without the power cord. Whether they use the battery or not, once a month everyone should unplug the power cord and use it until it goes to sleep. If possible, let it rest for a bit. Otherwise, just plug it back in and begin using it.

Here’s something that might help.

I do calibrate the batteries or laptops when I first get them. If at all possible, I do it again at the beginning of the school year. Here is a check off list that helps me to keep track of calibrating. It certainly isn’t necessary most of the time but when I have a lot going at once, it is helpful. Download Calibrate_battery

For summer storage, the batteries should be half-charged. Here’s what Apple says:

At the bottom of that page are some good tips about optimizing the battery.

For student laptops, discourage them from setting the desktop background to change. Getting the battery to last for an entire school day is hard enough without using on changing the desktop picture.


7:47 pm

For Ada Lovelace Day: Three Women in Computing

There are photos of three women in the computer lab at Meadowlark/Buena Vista: Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and Barbara Liskov.

Who are they? Why do I have their photos up?

Ada Lovelace
, who lived in the early 1800s, is often billed as the first computer programmer. She designed a program to calculate Bernoulli numbers for Charles Babbage’s “analytical machine.” The program, like the machine, was never built.

What really intrigues me about Ada, however, is that she looked beyond what the machine was designed to do. She thought that it could do much more than crunch numbers. She thought it “might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” That curiosity, that inquisitiveness, envisioning what else can be done is a trait I admire. These traits are shared by the two other women whose pictures sit by hers.

Grace Hopper, also known as Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper and “Amazing Grace,” was a computer scientist and US Naval Officer. Her long career includes credits for developing the first compiler for a programming language, making the term “debugging” (based a moth found in a computer relay) popular, and introducing the idea of machine-independent computer languages.

Barbara Liskov, winner of the 2009 Turing Award, first women to get a PhD in Computer Science, developer of the concept of data abstraction, her list of achievements goes on. Her current work is on distributed computing and the security of data. Her work on fault-tolerant systems has made technology easier for us all.

For all their frustrations, I love working with computers. I love to see what they can do and how we can use them in more ways than their designers intended. These three woman all saw beyond what was usual, found what could be possible, and envisioned beyond that too.

On Ada Lovelace Day, I salute them and all the women who see beyond the usual with computers.


3:38 pm

Removing your name from a mailing list.

This time of year there are lots of staff changes. One request that I get is remove someone from a mailing list. This can only be done by the list owner or the person requesting the change. Here’s the tip sheet on how to remove your name from a mailing list.

How to Remove Your Name from a Mailing List


11:10 am

Why tech support people need a sense of humor or the attack of Murphy’s Law

  • The security keypad you are trying to use does NOT disarm the alarms.
  • The custodian finds you trying to break in and scolds you for opening the doors incorrectly.
  • The keypad you need to use is at the other end of building. You are not supposed to use the front door.
  • The COWs are a room off the computer lab but the calf is lost.
  • The custodian finds the calf in the paint closet.
  • The combination locks to the Cows have been changed recently and the custodian doesn’t have the new combo.
  • The phone call for help drops the call.
  • The first Ethernet cable doesn’t work.
  • The second Ethernet cable is too short.
  • The 4-plug power outlet under the table doesn’t work.
  • The 2-plug one does.
  • The first desktop computer doesn’t power on.
  • The computer next to it powers on but will not boot up.
  • The computers that are on a table, with keyboard, mouse, power cord and Ethernet cables ready to use, don’t work.
  • The computers that are on another table with no power cords, Ethernet cables, keyboard or mice do work.
  • The first mouse doesn’t work.
  • The second one does.
  • Things are now working—until the laptops run out of power. Stop and find two power cords, one for each type of laptop.
  • Time it took to actually do the work you came to do: 15 minutes.
  • Time it took to get in, set up, and clean up: 2 hours and 40 minutes.
  • Total time at the site: 2 hours 55 minutes

9:15 pm

The only perfect computer: Chocolate!

End of the year gifts are rare for non-teachers but sometimes we are remembered with the perfect gift.

Chocolate Computer

This computer is made from two ounces of Euphoria Chocolate. Thank you!


9:42 am

Another serial number oddity to watch for

Prepping our laptops for year-end and Puppet installation has turned up another serial number oddity. On some MacBooks, the serial number under the battery does not match the internal serial number.

As part of the clean up and prep, per our school secretary, I have been writing the Eugene School District tag number under the battery. Many of the silver tags have lost the printed tag number and it has been a challenge to find the correct tag number.

Since I already have the battery out, I have been confirming that I have the correct laptop by comparing the serial number in the battery compartment to the one on my worksheets. Until today, they have matched. Then I found one that didn’t match. Booting the laptop and checking the internal serial number showed the number on my worksheet.

So far, I’ve only found the problem on Core Duo MacBooks, MID MacBook1,1.

This is the third serial number quirk I have found so far. I hope there aren’t any more!


3:23 pm

Apple Remote Desktop quirk

I’ve been relying on ARD to gather data for our imaging project. I learned pretty quickly to be sure to click on”Rebuild data for report” when generating the reports. If I didn’t, it would include odd or duplicate information.

Once I got the complete report, I used the information to determine Machine ID, memory needs, etc. One key field is the serial number field. That will be the computer name for Puppet and on the exterior computer label.

As I put on the new labels, I’ve been checking the serial number in the computer with the computer number on the label. Imagine my panic when I came across one that didn’t match either the label or the spreadsheet that generated the label.

After a bit of research, I discovered that my spreadsheet didn’t have the serial number anywhere. It wasn’t a case of scrambled spreadsheet or incorrectly merged labels. I wondered that if a computer could forget its serial number (see http://blogs.4j.lane.edu/hochberg_m/2009/05/26/serial-number-imac-emac/ ), could it scramble the serial number?

I reran the ARD report and this time it reported the correct serial number. I checked my original report and discovered a quirk. Even though I ran the report for a group of computers, it showed the wrong report date for the computer with the wrong serial number.

BV ARD quirk

Why or how it showed the wrong collection date for just one computer when all them were collected in the same report, I don’t know. I do know that I will be a lot less trusting and more cautious when working with ARD report data.

I did a quick check on my master spreadsheet and discovered a total of seven computers with odd collection dates.


Time to add another thing to the to-do list!