Yes, Blackboard is broken, but with some mental reframing, spit, and bubblegum, anyone can smash it into a different direction. Also, who’s sick of calling this making-do business a “hack”? Let’s go back to jury-rigging or MacGuyvering. Also, your mileage on these so-called hacks may vary depending on your institution’s implementation of Blackboard. The easiest way to get Blackboard working is to give up on it. Stop trying to make it do what you want (like display a leaderboard), and instead embrace the simple principle that Blackboard is JUST A GRADEBOOK. Then, pretend Blackboard is just like an old spiral gradebook, take some sparkle glueRead More →

The Blackboard app sucks more than Blackboard itself. The mobile app is teacher unfriendly. In fact, it’s downright teacher-hostile. Remember, the medium is the message. Since Blackboard has yet to master mobile-responsive design, the mismatch between the website and mobile app causes users to get mixed messages. This is a huge headache for teachers and students alike. Additionally, instructors cannot access the grade center, or grade anything, which renders Blackboard Mobile pointless for teachers.  The app is just an added burden for instructors to address in course design, without much payoff. What the app is useful for 1. Uploading docs at the last minute. 2.Read More →

D&D Next is more newbie friendly than previous editions of D&D. This means more players will be joining the ranks! Yippie! For new players, adventuring and dungeon crawling can be daunting. No amount of tips or warnings can help. The only thing that truly guides you is the Nike way: Just do it. Nonetheless, principles can advise. This list of “25 Principles of Successful Adventuring” has been around for ages. Unfortunately, the original link seems to have fallen off the face of the interwebz. But first, the list has two shameless missing rules: 1. Gary Gygax’s “Rule of Right”: Always turn right at a T-intersection.Read More →

Many new players are joining the ranks of D&D with the release of D&D Next. The latest iteration of D&D emphasizes roleplaying and character development more heavily than previous editions. The questionnaire below is helpful for writing character backgrounds. It’s been around for maybe twenty years. The original link seems to have disappeared, but here are the questions: ———————————————————————————————————- Character Background Questionnaire The following questionnaire is being provided to help players develop and organize background information for their characters. You do not need to answer all of these questions, but the more of them that you can, the more clear the character will be inRead More →

Why do you add flour to the oven bag when you bag baste a turkey? According to Reynolds Kitchens: to blend the fat and juices and to protect against bursting. That did not explain enough. Crowd-sourced answers say that it keeps the bag from sticking to the bird. Still not enough. Also, doesn’t make a lick of sense. Dr. Greg Blonder – physicist, inventor, scientist, entrepreneur, author, and all-around fascinating guy – did some experiments on various cooking methods that have to do with various meats and weights of wrap in pressure cookers, convection, oven bags, thermal whatevers, and blahty blahs with or without waterRead More →

Relationship advice on the internet is worse than something in Cosmo or Ladies’ Home Journal, mostly due to sheer volume and banality. The 9 Smartest Marriage Tips Ever from Salon bobbed through the data streams today, its author claiming to provide new, useful information derived from experts who ranged from her grandmother to the latest research. The article disappointed on that front. Two things are worth noting, though: Marriage is like a credit card. Indeed. The economic model is a common trope for relationships. Turning this metaphor into a credit card is both crass and dangerous given today’s economy. Too many people spend beyond theirRead More →

Blackboard continues to suck. I’m at a new institution, and I have learned that admin regulation of features accounts for only a small amount of Blackboard’s suckage. My current school has foregone some convenient features, but adopted other nifty ones. In the end this just illustrates that Blackboard’s suckitude and lack thereof amounts to installing car mats, electric windows, and an awesome stereo inside a poor-performing but market-dominating car. Blackboard is gobbling up the learning tech market, and now that it’s the big gorilla, it’s defining the industry with its suckage. Here is why Blackboard continues to suck: 1. Still cannot mass edit exam questions.Read More →

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Great productivity tip: Coffitivity.com is a great website designed to boost productivity. The web app streams different versions of coffee shop sounds as a white noise screen. In college, I learned that some form of white noise helps me work better, and coffee shops made the best white noise. Different learning styles, ADHD, autism, all kinds of reasons explain why white noise aids focus, but music with lyrics can be distracting. Coffitivity is a great idea.  Read More →