Saturday, September 30, 2006

Feeding from the Same Trough

I thought it funny yesterday when PC world posted its list of forecasts, and included in it the same video link that I had posted earlier to Jeff Han's demo at the TED conference.

The list is interesting, though nothing that what drive up too much controversy, as most people in the know already knew these technologies were around a couple of months ago.

Here's a prediction few others are making - people alive in there thirties today will live hundreds of years, like Aubrey de Grey says.

The convergence of nanotechnologies, biotechnologies like cloning, and other tech junk already in the experimental phase will keep pushing old age back, possibly indefinitely.

Someone call Alcor; sign me up (And yes, I was a Star Trek geek as a kid).

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Campus Movie Fest Shoot

My group just finished filming for Campus Movie Fest last night at about 8:00 pm. Lots of fun. I'll post our movie from team "JMC 163"as soon as we're done with the editing; I'm pretty sure it'll get some play on YouTube.

It's called Roger, and it's a mockumentary on a small town that's sent a special forces officer from the Department of Homeland Security to "clean up the terrorist scum" that's waiting to attack. Thanks to Jess and her boyfriend for letting us use their place yesterday, and sorry to any passerbys that thought we were killing people.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Inside Higher Ed on Skype

Here's the article from Inside Higher Ed magazine by Elizabeth Redden. Also, related to VOIP's, check out Google's mad rush to keep up with AIM and Skype. Run boys, run.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Interview with Victoria Rue

I had an interview tonight with Victoria Rue, the SJSU teacher who had posters of the services she ministers at the Spartan Chapel vandalized this week. Rue says that she is an ordained Roman Catholic priest, and that the vandalism against her was an act of intolerance against her ministry.

Listen the the interview, the first in my RSS podcast, "The Soapbox Prophet", here ->View RSS XML

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More Publicity on Skype Story May Consequences

SJSU may have reversed its proposed ban on Skype, but the story is still being kicked around on online publications, newspapers, and blogs.

Inside Higher Ed reporter Elizabeth Redden just interviewed Steve Sloan and me for an article to appear tomorrow on the D.C. based site, the Spartan Daily just ran a story on Phil Wolff's visit on Tuesday, and I've gotten emails today from several people saying, "you're welcome" for the thank you post I ran yesterday.

Anyways, this has reminded me of what Phil Wolff talked about during the lecture. He said that while a policy decision may have gotten changed now, future employers would surely be watching and reading with the question, "do I want to hire that sort of person," in mind.

I must admit, it has caused me to give some pause when writing my posts, unlike some bloggers' that have been rather sharp with their language referring to the University.

While I hope that employers would want inquisitive employees that are concerned about what's going on, I am certain many others don't want employees that challenge them in their decision-making. Cluetrain be damned.

It's some food for thought.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thank you!

In case I hadn't already talked to you in person (so for all the news-junkies that helped us in cyberspace), thank you for emailing/calling/generally chatting up a storm to get SJSU's proposed Skype ban reversed.

It shows what dedicated people can do working together. Kudos^ (n~>X, where X=all the summation of all positive integers).

In other words, go geeks!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Phil Wolff at SJSU - talks on Skype Ban

Here's the podcast from Phil Wolff's guest lecture in JMC 163 tonight. There were technical difficulties with Steve Sloan's computer, so the Skypecast fell through. Video clips from the lecture will be available soon.

Wolff talked about everything from how Skype actually works to how blogging is affecting society. Good chat.

Oh, and here's my first post on the Spartan Daily Blog. It would have been up sooner, but class didn't get out till nine. That's smarts!

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Spartan Blog Author

Well, they've finally done it - at the risk of losing all credibility and alienating countless readers, as well as endangering their new presence on the web - the Spartan Daily just gave me authorship previlages to post on Spartan Daily Blogs.

Don't worry all you Soapbox readers out there, I'll still be blogging here. In fact, the new traffic will probably ensure I blog here even more.

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Big Win for SJSU Students in Skype Battle

Today is a reminder that student activism and concern from teachers can yield amazing results.

It looks like Skype is going to be allowed on the SJSU campus. Steve Sloan just broke the story an hour ago (it hasn't gotten on technorati yet) in a post on his website.

While Steve doesn't give any details about the deal apparently made between the University and Ebay (they were having a meeting today to discuss the future of Skype at SJSU), he writes:

The very short version, they are NOT going to be pulling the plug on Skype at San Jose State University. Stay tuned for more!

It's a good day for students and educators alike. Go Steve.

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Skype Meeting Today

Phil Wolff of Skype journal will be here at SJSU today in DBH 226 at 5:00 pm. If you can't make it, tune into the Skypecast and make some noise. All are welcomed to attend.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Spartan Blogs

Looks like after a little time, the Spartan Blog is up and going now. Ironically, they took a different take on the Associated Students. Good stuff though.

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A Little Micro Genius

Steve Rubel said it best in his post today on Newspapers and Web 2.0:

Blogging has been wonderful for newspapers. It unshackles reporters from just delivering facts. They can now show who they are as people through the expression of opinions. However, blogging is the first in a series of dominoes that have to fall for the newspaper to thrive in a world where the reader rules - and tells everyone so.

For newspapers to survive, they need to turn themselves into an online and offline platform for local readers. I don't mean a platform for contributing to the reporting process. They're doing that already (and nicely). What I am saying is that local newspapers need to use their brands and their big web sites to help local readers profit emotionally and monetarily by: selling goods peer-to-peer, expressing themselves, developing new kinds of technologies, connecting through online and offline local social networking and more. Think Google or Yahoo, not USA Today.

In short, they need to become destinations where almost all value is created by the "readers," not by the publisher or journalists. This means tearing pages right out of the Wikipedia/Second Life playbook. In both of these communities, the greatest value is created by the crowd, not the online destination itself. The community is merely the operating system that enables value creation. Newspapers need to do the same - both online and off.


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Posting on Skype from "Down Under"

SJSU photojournalism and international student, Jason Fithian, posted this article on the proposed ban of Skype today from Brisbane, Australia.

In the letter he sent to Bob Neal, Jason wrote:

As an exchange student abroad, I rely heavily on Skype daily. Skype is my main source of contact with my friends and family back home, along with colleagues at San José State University.

As I have taken the plunge and made myself vulnerable to gain another perspective of the world, I do have a greater global awareness. I understand the importance of communicating with others outside the United States; Skype makes that possible.

It just goes to show you how connecting Web 2.0 technologies can be, and how foolish it would be to deny such valuable services to students.

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Where's Campus Leadership?

The proposed ban on Skype has brought to my attention the lack of Associated Student involvement on this issue.

As stated before, the banning of Skype without student input is as much a student's rights issue as any other. So why hasn't the Associated Students Board of Directors come out in protest?

Here's another concern. How are Government officals supposed to know what the fears and concerns of students are when they, themselves, do not even have updated information on the student government.

Whole segments of the AS government website haven't been updated since the 2003-2004 school year.

And this is Silicon Valley?!

This seems especially critical considering a large portion of the student base doesn't live on campus. A means of communication with AS, outside of attending board meetings, must be established so the Government can act on student needs and concerns.

Why not create a Digg style "Question Box" site for the Associated Students? That way officers can't use the excuse that they don't know about issues like the banning of Skype (although this story is hard to miss).

The AS Government writes in its mission statement:

Our mission is to represent the students of San José State University and continually improve the quality of their educational opportunities and experiences.
The use of Skype and such emerging technologies would clearly further this end, yet I haven't seen and heard anything from AS in support of the students and teachers protesting the University's move.

Where is AS?

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

This Is a First for Me...

As a habit, I normally never watch FOX News (high blood pressure leads to a host of diseases), but the interview this morning with William Jefferson Clinton highlights to me how we the media shade history. Well worth the watch.

Video - (Windows Media Player)
Video - (Quicktime)

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

And the Hits just Keep on Coming

When a story has legs, it runs.

Looks like more than just the Silicon Valley crowd, the newspaper crowd, the Malaysian crowd, and God know who else is following the Skype ban story - Robert Scoble just blogged it.

Go Robert; here's to fighting the man. ;)

Guess who's watching...

Interesting night last night.; talk about convergence technologies.

Right before getting into bed, my phone rang. Nothing out of the ordinary (late night calls from friends in college are about as rare as HP improprieties).

What was so interesting about the caller, Jan Geirnaert, aside from his very unique perspective and credentials, is that he is lives in Malaysia and has ties to the Mercury News reporter, Elise Ackerman (the very same reporter that wrote Thursday's article).

Check out the piece he did on one of his websites here. He's got a whole bunch of good insights, and he raises some interesting questions too.

Frankly, this is the exact type of experience that the University should be encouraging, not discouraging through restrictive policies such as the Skype ban.

Thomas Friedman, eat your heart out.

(Image taken from Wikipedia article: "The World is Flat".)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Where'd the Spartan Blogs Go?

First off, let me say that I'm impressed that the Spartan Daily has started blogging, but where did its writers go?

The last entry on The Spartan Blog is timestamped as being from September 10th, 2006. It just seems to me that with close to 30,000 students with close to 30,000 lives and ideas and problems, there'd be more to say.

If nothing else, the Daily could aggregate a list of blogs from students in the SJSU community it respects and blogroll them on the Daily's website.

I am anxious to see how the blog evolves as the semester progresses.

When the Story is a Story

It was brought to my attention today by Steve Sloan that the Skype ban story is a story in and of itself.

The mere fact that it has been driven largely by students and teachers blogging online is a first for Silicon Valley.

I am unaware of another policy in San Jose's history that has been challenged and received such link-love on technorati as the proposed Skype ban.


Mercury News Writes on Skype Ban

Aside from getting this blog URL wrong (meh), Mercury News reporter Elise Ackerman did a great job writing an article for yesterday's Merc.

A big thank you to Elise from this corner of the blogosphere.

In other news, Skype has decided to have an online forum/conference call on this issue, to be hosted by Phil Wolff Tuesday at 5:00 pm in Dwight Bental Hall, Room 226. Anyone is invited to join, in person or online through Skype.

I would like to personally invite as many students as possible; since this is a student's rights issue just as much as a security/legal one. Make your voice heard and represent.

Finally, if you are "ify" about going because you really don't know much abpit how Skype works or what is going on, Steve Sloan has lots of info linked in one easy to navigate place.

Check it out and I hope to see you on Tuesday!

Shield Laws

There's been several journalists jailed as of late for not revealing their sources to grand juries.

I found this post from John Eggerton at Broadcasting and Cable interesting. It's worth a look, even if you're not a journalist. Vlogger's and freelance journalists are at risk too; just ask Josh Wolf.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stickers Cover Mass Schedule

Chris Caldwell stands outside Spartan Memorial Chapel today, next to where the
stickers covered the schedule of masses presided over by Victoria Rue.

Stickers that said Victoria Rue is not a Catholic priest were placed over a mass schedule outside the Spartan Memorial Chapel on Wednesday, according to Chris Caldwell, a junior majoring in Linguistics.

The poster had been removed by this afternoon, with no poster in its place.

Victoria Rue was featured last semester in The Spartan Daily; some controversy has surrounded her since she said she is a Roman Catholic priest - a title the Catholic Church has rejected.

Skype oh Skype, Where for Art Thou?

The story keeps getting better and better. Phil Wolff of Skype Journal blogged about me today (how's that for circular story-telling), which is getting this site more traffic than it has ever seen.

Kudos to Skype Journal. The more people that pick up on this story, the more pressure we can put on the administration to at least have a conversation with the students before taking away such a valuable resource as Skype.

Blogger Beta Blues

Well, I've finally gone and done it. There's no turning back now - I've gone to Blogger Beta.

For all of you out there that have known the deep pang of havings your post destroyed by the "publishing dial monster" (see picture above), you'll appreciate the beauty of instant publishing.
It is by far the best feature to be added to the site.

Here's another kicker; you can customize your RSS feeds in beta, so that you receive feeds on individual sections, posts, anything!

Also, beta put out a plethera of new templates, including new functionality and html code. This isn't as impressive as instant publishing or custom RSS, hence the reason I'm sticking to my old code.

If it ain't broke...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

San Jose Mercury takes Interest in Proposed Skype Ban at SJSU

Elise Ackerman, an online reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, called me today for a piece she is doing on the proposed Skype ban at SJSU by the University.

Ackerman asked me if I knew any international students that use Skype that would be willing to speak with her, and since I don't personally know any, I thought I'd post here and see if any of you are or know of any.

If you do, her email address is

Ask around too. The more publicity this story has, the harder it will be for the school to shut Skype down without addressing the students.

SJSU "Responds" to my Skype Ban Concerns

Yesterday, I sent an email to Bob Neal asking for information about any possible discussion that the University may be having about the proposed Skype ban.

I also asked when and where the discussion would be, assuming students were welcomed to attend.

This seemed logical considering the Spartan Daily reported on September 18th that Don Baker said, "people for and against Skype will share their arguments, and the decision will be reviewed this week."

Today I received an email from Bob Neal (the Sr. Director in charge of the networks at SJSU) that put that idea to rest. The email was written as follows:

Andrew, we will be having discussions with EBAY(Skype) next week. Network security is not a debatable issue. If EBAY can not resolve our issues, Skype will be banned. Several other universities, including UCSB have already banned Skype. There are several alternative VOIP systems that comply with the Universities security policies........bob neal

Here is where I am stumped... if network security is not a debateable issue, why are any P2P applications allowed on the networks at all? It would be rather easy to transfer viruses from computer to computer across such open networks. So why ban Skype without debate on the topic?

Secondly, why would the University not want student input? After all, aren't they technically student networks?

The University seems to be attempting to brush off dissenting opinions on this unpopular move.

If you think that there should be student input on the ban, email Bob Neal here. You can also Skype him at (+1 408 924 7862) for free, of course (the beauty of Skype). His direct line is 47862.

Skype SJSU to Keep Skype on Campus

If you're upset that such an effective teaching tool as Skype is going to be taken away from students without student input, here's the man I urge you to call (+1 408 924 7862) /email to make your voice heard.

Skype users can copy and paste everything within the brackets into the Dial section - it's free!)
His name is Bob Neal, and he's the senior director of networking services.

Tell him you want to keep the opportunities that Skype provides. As some faculty have already stated, this could be the test case for the CSU system, so what you do and say counts tremendously!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Speaking Geekese

For those of you in JMC 163 that didn't get what Steve was talking about in class tonight, don't worry; audiocasting is easy once you get the hang of it.

And truth be told, if you use one of the programs like hipcast, you'll really never have to do much coding (unless you want to tweak it out). I also overheard a few people that didn't know what FTP was; here's a really good FTP program that I recommend.

Be sure to check out my previous post for more info on using Audacity. Like I said, it's the Photoshop of the audio world, and very powerful once you get used to using it. If anyone needs any help, be sure to shoot me an email.

One Day Podcasting Class at SJSU

For those of you (and probably most of you) that do not regularly check the SJSU events page, there's a podcasting class being held Friday from 10am-noon in IRC 210. It's free to attend; it's being hosted by Menko Johnson, an instructional consultant for the Center for Faculty Development. The price is right - it's free!

Oh, and if you wanted to get started on your own, there's a great resource page (again put up by Menko Johnson, showing how to create podcasts with Audacity and get them posted. Good stuff.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Spartan Daily Writes About Skype Ban

First off, kudos to the Spartan Daily for reporting on the Skype ban.

Secondly, the article ends after writing that Don Baker, the interim associate vice president, said that there would be discussion for and against the ban, and that the issue would be reviewed this week.

That's great and all, but where and when will these discussions be? Will students be allowed to attend? If not, why not? And lastly, where does the buck stop on deciding whether or not the decision to ban Skype is upheld?

These are questions that I'm interested in having answered, and I would like the Daily or the school (or anyone, for that matter) to address them.

After all, the school servers are owned by the state, and the state is the people. So really, if we are a democracy, this is an issue about what stewards are doing with student servers and bandwidth.

I'm listening.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Robert Scoble Starts His New Show!

According to the podcast Robert Scoble did with Steve Sloan, Robert's new vodcast (The Scoble Show) will be premiering this week. (Robert talks about it at 7min, 10 sec. in the podcast.)

Finally, here's the links for the video of Robert's speech to JMC 163, along with the audio podcast. For those of you that hadn't heard, JMC 163 is San Jose State's podcast/blogging/tech class for journalists. Enjoy!

Videos on
Part 1
Part 2

Videos on Google Video
Part 1
Part 2

Podcast on Putfile
Whole recording

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fool's Gold: Banning Skype at SJSU

Kyle Hansen and Steve Sloan have already blogged about SJSU banning Skype as of tomorrow (pdf here), so I'd like to $imply and intellectually express why this development is an amazingly short-sighted move on the part of the University.

Web 2.0 and the technologies it employs are clearly the wave of the future, as aggregators grow and manufacturers consolidate while laying off employees to hold profit margins high.

This can be seen in the dwindling number of newspaper chains in the country, while companies like Digg, Google News, Skype and Myspace are flourishing.

It can also be seen in the number of actual reporters per news agency decreasing. (I am a print journalism major, hence the print spin)

Why is Web 2.0 the wave of the future?

Because the programs that make it up allow business and individuals to collaborate on a level unprecedented in human history - for free!

Content and value are created from places previously unimagineable, and education speeds up. Imagine a world where India never spoke to Silicon Valley, where San Francisco never created Craigslist, where China... hmm, I guess that one's still a work in progress.

"Wait a minute," says the University, "it's a different situation with programs like Skype, because of the cost to lay more fiberoptic cable needed to handle the increased traffic."

True. But here's what I like to call a long-term investment, kind of like, oh say, EDUCATION.

By creating opportunities for students to talk to countries they otherwise could not - by creating conversation between Universities and exposing everyone to the marketplace of ideas which schools are supposed to prize above all else - you create a more knowledgeable and profitable citizenry (and alumni base).So, yes, the University can save money now by prohibiting the use of programs like Skype, but it is a fool's gold they seek.

Technology innovation is the lifeblood of all modern economies, and communication the vein in which it flows.

Phew, that was a long one.

Someone call Milton, I think I may need some help here.

$20 Processing Fee

I just interviewed Marlene Trifilo, the cashiering services manager at the Bursar's Office, about the $20 processing fee for students who did not sign up for e-refund on their MySJSU Accounts.

Trifilo said the $20 fee was put into place because of the cost in labor to process and print checks sent to students not signed up for e-refund.
She added that the Bursar, Marlene Anderson, was, "instrumental in doing the study" to see how much paper checks cost the University. After the study was conducted, the decision was made to add the fee.

While Trifilo said that students are given internet access through the University to make it possible for them to sign up for e-refund, she acknowledged that students may have been unaware until actually going to Student Services that the processing fee even existed.

How Could This Be?

According to Trifilo, the fees are listed in the online schedule of classes put out by the University, which is no longer available in print for students to purchase.

Therefore, students without reliable internet access had to first go to the library or Student Services building and read the online schedule of classes to view the charges. This also means that students without internet access in their homes had to enter checking account information on a public terminal to sign up for e-refund.

Trifilo added that there are many advantages to having e-refund in place, including faster returns for students and not needing current addresses to deposit money - only students' account numbers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Robert Scoble (Thinks Microsoft is Dead)

First off, I know the headline's a little exaggerated... sorry. But don't write the AP just yet.
Explanations in a moment.

First and foremost, SCOBLEIZE!!!!!

That's right, Robert Scoble of the Scobleizer fame just finished speaking to JMC 163. Robert talked about the Long Tail Effect in media, and how blogs are reaching out to markets to make businesses (and people) more profitable.

He also talked about why advertising is changing to CPM/CPC models - and how it is changing the sounded geeky even to me.

Okay, now the corrections.

No, wait, more inflammatory statements! Yes!

1.)Let's see, Scoble said he doesn't even use Microsoft Word anymore, by his own admission. There's a good one.

2.)Scoble said that he left Microsoft (in part) because he saw that the profitability of Microsoft (this is where the exageration came from) and other software companies are going the way of the dodo bird with so much Open Source software being generated and user content.

(Let's see if that gets me some page hits... anyone wanna Digg Me?)

FYI, the video and podcast of his interview will be up in a little bit on Google, You Tube and (thanks to Robert). I'll link them on my next post.

Robert Scoble is here!

FYI for all those interested that didn't get the info in the memo on the hardline, Robert Scoble will be speaking at San Jose State tonight at 6:00 pm. in Dwight Bentel Hall, Room 226.
If you're not a student, you're still invited to come; just RSVP to Steve Sloan. The room's pretty big, so I don't see there being a space issue.

For those of you living in a hole for the last ten years, Scoble is the man many people (including myself) pin responsible for changing Microsoft's image from "Evil Empire" to just "Empire".

He's author of the book, Naked Conversations, a book about how blogging and the internet are changing the way business does business, and he's also a tech geek with a lot of industry insights.

Check him out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Security Deposit Fee Unfair to SJSU Students?

I was recently informed that the refund students will receive from last year's security deposit for living in Campus village will include a "processing fee" from the University.

It seems quite unfair that students should be charged to receive their own refunds from a deposit that was made with the understanding that they would get the money back at the end of their stay at Campus Village.

Besides, this is not only unfair for the students, it breeds distrust of the University in the long run and sends the message to students to live off-campus. If the University is hurting that badly for funds, it needs to start selling lemonade; that's no way to run a business.

Who's Watching This Stuff Anyways?

Every time I look at Google Video's Upload Report page, I'm blown away.

In the last 5 months, over 2200 people have watched videos of lectures that I've recorded at San Jose State. And of those viewers, 103 people thought they were good enough on some level to download to their computers.

It's not that they're boring speakers, but I'm sometimes left shaking my head wondering... WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!?

Seriously though, this is the genius of Web 2.0 - create your own content and let the world market decide if it's worth anything.
Any broadcast student today not creating content should really be thinking about their futures, and if they are, then they're already on Google Video or YouTube and Myspace - and blogging.

There was a good video on Rocketboom the other day with an interview of Micro Persuasion's own Steve Rubel. Rubel talks about the changing media and how advertisers (and journalists) need to view their audience and how they should behave to survive in the Web 2.0 world.

Smart guy, that Rubel...

Clark Library is a Hazard to Your Health.

I am happy to see that the fire hazard Steve Sloan blogged about yesterday has been cleared up, but I was concerned to see that there are still uncovered wires hanging inside the building, and ongoing construction while people are working.

Drilling into concrete, for example, can be hazardous to the health of people not wearing breathing protection. I wonder if the school is speeding up construction at a risk to students.
(First image courtesy of Steve Sloan)