May 2007 Archives



Ghost Campus I stopped by campus this morning to move a monitor from my office to Weez's, and as I left the building I was struck by how empty the atrium was. The balloons were still attached to the ficus trees, the "congratulations" banner was still strung across the wall, but the building was close to deserted. Staff were working quietly inside their offices, but the bustle of students and faculty--which reaches near fever-pitch during the last weeks of the quarter--was absent.

It reminded me of how it used to feel when I was an undergraduate student in Ann Arbor, where I often chose to spend the summers working and playing with friends. There's something almost magical about what happens in the spring when the swarm of students leaves for the summer. The strikingly quiet buildings and walkways invite you to slow down, to look around at how beautiful a campus can be, and to notice that while you were cloistered in classrooms and offices spring had arrived in all its glory.

For professors who are also parents, late May and June are particularly precious--because the kids are still in school, but we aren't. So today I'm soaking up this brief, peaceful interlude between the just-finished chaos of exams and paper grading, and the impending excitement of heading to Seattle on Saturday.

entrepreneurial ideas for teens?


Lane has decided that he wants to spend the summer earning money, but he's unenthusiastic about lawn mowing and babysitting as income generating activities. Instead, he'd like to find a way to leverage his not inconsiderable computing skills into moneymaking.

I'd love suggestions from readers about options he could explore. His skills include 3D modeling, Second Life construction and programming (in the teen grid, but it uses the same language and modeling tools as the main grid), digital music conversion, blogging, podcasting, and video editing. (I'm sure I'm missing things, but perhaps he'll read this and tell me what to add. :)

summer plans

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Because I'm tired of explaining this to people. Now I can just point them here. :)

This summer, our family's travel schedule is pretty complex. Here's what we're going to do.

June 2, I fly to Seattle, and Gerald will come with me for just the weekend. He'll head back home to be with the boys on the 5th, and will stay in Rochester with both of them until school ends on June 22nd.

When school is out, Gerald and Lane will fly to Seattle to join me, and Alex will stay in Rochester, splitting his time between my mom and Erin (who'll stay in the house all summer).

In late July, Gerald will fly home with Lane, pick up Alex, and fly back to Seattle. Alex will stay with us there 'til I finish up at Microsoft Research on August 17th.

Then we're planning to head out on an Alaska cruise for a week before returning home.

That means the boys each get four weeks with me and Gerald in Seattle, and four weeks in Rochester without us (but with Grandma and Erin). They'll each get a chance to be an only child for a while, and everyone gets spared the sibling rivalry for eight weeks.

The down side is that I won't see Alex for nearly two months--so I may have to take a quick trip back to Rochester somewhere in there to get my fix. :)

time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...

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Holy moly, how did it get to be mid-May already??

My older son turned thirteen yesterday, which means I'm now the parent of a teenager. Wow.

Only 2.5 weeks 'til I head back to Seattle for the summer.

The day after I arrive in Seattle, Gerald and I celebrate our fourteenth anniversary. We rock!

But between now and then there's grading, grading, and more grading. And packing. And time with the kids, who'll be in Rochester for most of June to finish school. (Then they'll each split the summer between Rochester and Seattle--first Lane for four weeks in Seattle, then Alex.)

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. But in a mostly good way.

For the past several months, I've had increasing trouble with my 17" MacBook Pro (purchased last summer) not finding my regular wifi networks, getting terrible connections to access points that are very close by, and generally making it much easier for me to use wired rather than wireless access whenever possible. I've been waiting 'til the school year ended to send it in for service, but now I think that was a mistake in judgment.

I'm out of town at the moment, in Canada, where my cell phone incurs expensive roaming charges, and where I really need to be able to be online to do work as well as communicate with friends and family. Except my computer will not connect to the hotel network from either of the two rooms I've tried. It will work (most of the time) in the hallway, or the lobby. But not in the room--the signal drops to one bar, and then disappears completely.

I finally discovered that if I set the computer up on the bathroom counter (that's the hallway-facing wall), I can get only with at least a weak signal. So right now I'm sitting at a chair I've dragged into the bathroom from the guest room, with my hands at a completely uncomfortable angle, just so I could make a Skype call home and start grading online assignments.

I've been through a bunch of forum suggestions for fixing this...from trashing the system preferences to zapping the PRAM. No luck. Even in the bathroom, the signal keeps dipping from 3 bars back down to one, which is making me think that it's a hardward problem rather than a software one. As danah, would say, "le sigh".

I leave Winnipeg tomorrow for Montreal, where hopefully the hotel room will have a hardwired connection rather than only wifi. And next time I travel, I'm bringing my Vaio with me.

o canada


This week I'm off to give keynotes at two different Canadian conferences--the Manitoba Library Association meeting in Winnipeg on Wednesday, and Webcom Montreal on Thursday. I leave Tuesday morning, and come home Friday evening.

I've never been to either Winnipeg or Montreal, so it's a bit of an adventure. I'm a bit sad to leave behind the fabulous weather Rochester is having right now (no, I'm not being sarcastic), but looking forward to the talks and to seeing some new cities.

If you're in either city, and want to get together, drop me a note...I should have some free time available.

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