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HOWTO: Intro to Twitter
neodux : by Tommy - February 16th 2012, 11:40AM
neodux
For anyone online you've no doubt heard that social media is defined by sites like Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. A lot of people talk about Twitter, but a vast majority of people don't know how to use Twitter. I must admit that I've had an account for years but wrote it off because it seemed so limited. The power of Twitter is not found in the brevity of the "tweets" (posts that users make on Twitter), but in the ability to monitor tweets of others.

Flow of news
In the traditional model of news aggregation, you would turn on the TV or radio, open a newspaper or seek a sole source of information. That organization would have already done the leg work of finding news, picking out what they thought the majority of their viewers/listeners/readers would find appealing and put that news out there. With the introduction of "social media", suddenly people can discern for themselves what is important. The early days of Digg brought this idea to reality and reddit took over where Digg left off. The users were now in control of the information, not the producer, publisher or editor. I'm not saying that Twitter affords this ability, but it allows you to search for items that have been flagged with certain key terms. In Twitter parlance, this flag is known as a hashtag. Until I understood hashtags, I didn't "get" Twitter - now I do.

#Hashtags - The key to Twitter
Hashtags allow you to share information that you tweet with others within a community of individuals that are, themselves, looking for information relevant to a subject. The same way that you search for things with a search engine through key words, you can also hunt for tweets with a hashtag.
I deal a lot with Education Technology, so when I'm looking for news, links and information related to Education Technology, I'll look at the Twitter hashtag #edtech.

Continue reading...

tags: twitter howto

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
HOWTO: Getting Started with CW
radio : by Tommy - October 18th 2011, 05:50PM
radio
It's been a year since my post about Morse Code: Brief History, and I figure I might as well shed some light on how to get started operating with Morse Code. Since the Morse code requirement for ham radio was lifted in 2007, the number of amateurs getting their HF privileges has grown substantially, but with the "repeal" of code, entry level Technicians are granted privileges in certain portions of the bands. Most commonly, Technicians can operate SSB in the 10m band, but can also operate CW, or Morse Code, in 80m, 40m, 15m, and 10m. So, if you're a ham, you already have privileges to operate CW - you just need to learn where to start.

Learning the Code
For starters, you will need to learn Morse Code, one way or another. (duh.) While it may not be the universally agreed upon best way, I learned Morse Code through the Code Quick program. It really is an easy way to learn and quickly remember the code. There are countless gimmicks and "5 Minute Ab"-type programs that try to rush you through the learning process as fast as humanly possible, but few are ever successful. You just can't hurry the learning process. The downside of the CodeQuick method is not immediately known until you're trying to copy signals that are faster and faster. Once you hit about 10wpm, the CodeQuick lessons that you've used as a crutch finally become a hindrance and make copying code faster more difficult. The big plus is how quickly you'll learn the code in relatively enjoyable lessons compared to other methods.
Another alternative to learning the code is one of dozens of Koch method trainers. The Koch method, and most others, ram the code into your head seemingly through brute force.

Continue reading...

tags: ham radio cw morse code howto

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
User Friendly URLs
neodux : by Tommy - October 9th 2011, 11:01PM
neodux
Thanks to mod_rewrite and a little "why didn't I think of this before?", Neodux now has user-friendly URLs. Now instead of "cryptic" URLs with "?" and "&" signs in them, you can now just type in /read/ and the name of the blog entry you're interested in.

To see this feature in action, you can click on this story's title, or the "Full article" link. This should not affect old links and I'd also ask that you please inform me if you see some functionality is all messed up. I think I caught all possible errors, but you can easily overlook some parts of a project like this.

So, bottom line, links to Neodux should be much more friendly and bookmarks should be easier to understand. Enjoy!

update: Yes, old links should still work. Too many blogs and sites around the web link back to articles here and I didn't want to screw them up. So everything should work seemlessly.

tags: neodux mod_rewrite

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

 
HOWTO: ISS Viewing
outdoors : by Tommy - October 5th 2011, 09:08PM
outdoors
The fact that there's a space station orbiting above the globe right now has become somewhat passe in pop culture. Not many people are truly wowed at the news of it. Within seconds, a few clicks of a mouse will take you to hundreds of pictures and videos of the International Space Station; but did you know you can see the space station yourself? No binoculars or telescopes needed! I figured I would write up a HOWTO for the uninitiated. It isn't hard, it just takes a little know how.

For starters, you need to know a few terms used when talking about satellites (the ISS is a satellite of the planet Earth).

Azimuth
The first term when dealing with satellites is azimuth. Azimuth is a technical term that means the same thing as heading, bearing or direction. Most people are comfortable with the cardinal directions North, South, East and West. The cardinal directions are fine for general directions, but to know exactly where something is we need to be more specific. When dealing with an azimuth, a number of degrees is stated. 0 is North, 90 is East, 180 is South, 270 is West, and on around to North again. Kinda get the picture? It's a full circle divided into 360 degrees. (Also note, there's technically no such thing as 360 when dealing with Azimuth, because 360 would be the same as North, but that's already 0.)

Altitude
It's not entirely what you think. Sure altitude means height, but we're not talking in feet or meters here. Remember, we're dealing with observational angles here, so knowing how high something is is of little consequence to us. Altitude in astronomy means "angle above the horizon". Altitude is expressed in degrees, just like azimuth. 0 is at the horizon, 90 is straight up. 45, you guessed it, is right in the middle.

Continue reading...

tags: iss space astronomy satellite howto

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

 
Texas Historical Markers
programming : by Tommy - September 1st 2011, 10:51AM
programming
While arguably probably not my best work, it only took me all of a couple hours, I present a listing of all the Texas Historical Markers. I don't know why I never linked to it before. Maybe I'm not too proud of it, but I wanted to give you access to it. What features do I need to add?

I discovered one evening that Texas has a database of all historical markers in the state freely available online in a comma separated value file (among other formats). What's a geek to do but grab the file and throw it in a MySQL database!
I whipped up a quick drop-down list of all the marker names and used AJAX to show the marker's text. A couple of simple URLs allow you to see, generally, where the marker is located. I have the location information in the database, but it's not Lat/Long which would make for easy map-making. Perhaps that will be my next step. Found a supporting .txt file that has most of the Lat/Long. A simple JOIN from the database fixed that problem. (though, to be honest, some of the coordinates are way off. Unless Texas has markers in Mexico.)

At any rate, take it or leave it, there it is: http://n5dux.com/histmark/

tags: texas history php database

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

 
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