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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Today in American History: Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster 01/28/1986

Today on 01/28/1986 in American History the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) exploded in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38AM EST, just 73 seconds into its flight.  The crew, including Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik, all perished in the disaster.



The Challenger disaster began when an O-ring seal in the right rocket booster failed.  This allowed pressurized gas from within the solid rocket booster to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent solid rocket booster aft field joint and the external fuel tank.  Because of this, the right hand solid rocket booster's aft field joint separated from its attachment hardware and the adjoining external tank experienced a structural failure.  The Challenger orbiter (which housed the crew) broke apart because of resulting aerodynamic forces.

It is largely unknown what the actual time of death for the crew was, but it is believed that they survived the initial breakup of the craft.  However, even if all seven had survived the initial disaster, the impact of the compartment into the Atlantic Ocean was not a survivable event.

The Challenger disaster resulted in a 32-month long freeze in America's Space Shuttle program.  President Ronald Reagan immediately appoint the Roger's Commission to investigate the tragedy.  Much to the chagrin of many, the Roger's commission found that the disaster could be attributed to NASA's decision making process, as much as anything else.  The commission found that NASA had been aware of flaws in the design of the O-rings since 1977 and had done nothing to remedy the problem.  In addition, they found that engineers had warned of possible issues with launching that morning because of the low temperatures.  These warnings failed to reach the supervisors who ultimately would make the decision.  The Challenger disaster has been used as a case study in many engineering classes as a study in work place ethics and engineering safety.

Another result of the disaster was the Air Force's decision to scrap their plans to use space shuttle's for classified military satellite launches, and instead use the Titan IV rockets instead.

The media coverage of this launch was much larger than other recent launches because of the presence of Christa McAuliffe on the crew.  Christa was suppose to be the first teacher in space.  It has been estimated that up to 20% of Americans were watching the launch live (including many classrooms) and a survey found that over 85% of Americans had heard of the disaster within an hour.



The Challenger was first launched on April 4th, 1983. The Challenger was the shuttle that hosted America's first-ever space walk by Ed White.  Every previous launch had been from launchpad LC-39A, however this ill-fated mission was launched from LC-39B.  This would have been the 10th mission for the Space Shuttle Orbiter Challenger.


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Today in American History: The 24th Amendment 01/23/1964


The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation


Today on 01/23/1964 the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The 24th Amendment made it unconstitutional in federal elections to impose any kind of tax associated with voting.  Remember, this only prevents poll taxes in federal elections, it was still two more years in Harper vs Board of Election that the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was also illegal to assess poll taxes in state run elections, too.

The poll tax was a part of a series of laws intended to marginalize black American from politics as far as possible without violating the Fifteenth Amendment, which required that voting not be limited by "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."  The poll tax had the additional impact of weakening poor white voters who might sympathize with the Populist Party, though this was downplayed by proponents of the poll tax for fear of electoral backlash against them.  Passage of poll taxes began in earnest in the 1890s, as with the end of Reconstruction in 1877, no federal troops remained to enforce black voting rights.  By 1902, all eleven former Confederate states had enacted a poll tax in one variety or another.  Some had a simple poll tax that you paid from year-to-year, while others not only taxed you in the year you were voting, but would make you pay compounded missed poll taxes from previous years before you would be allowed to vote.  In addition, the poll tax worked in conjunction with other voter disenfranchisement measures such as: literacy tests, voter assessments, white primaries and threats of violence.  For example, all potential voters had to undergo an assessment in Arkansas.  Conveniently, blacks were left off the assessment lists and thusly could not vote.

At the time of the ratification of the 24th Amendment, five states still levied a poll tax: Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today in American History: The Battle of Anzio, 01/22/1944

On the morning of January 22, 1944, Allied troops began landing on the beach thirty miles south of Rome in Italy signaling the beginning of the Battle of Anzio.  This battle has been planned for months in 1943, but eventually scrapped because General Eisenhower thought that it was not the best way to accomplish the goals that were set for the offensive, and that the fighting would be fierce with more lives lost than it would be worth.  After Eisenhower relinquished command of the Mediterranean Allied forces, Allied commanders put the Italian offensive back on the table, and we got The Battle of Anzio.  The Battle lasted from January 22, 1944 through May 24, 1944 and is remembered as some of the fiercest fighting of World War II.  All told, the Allies lost 4,400 lives with over 18,000 casualties and 6,800 missing or taken prisoner.  It was a costly battle, that failed to meet the stated objectives: move the Germans out of the way, take Rome and advance north -- all quickly.

The impetus for the offensive existed within the scope of the surrender of Italy to the Allies in 1943.  After Italy surrendered, Germany began a grab and run operation.  The goal being to get out of Italy with as many supplies and goods that they could, while slowing the Allied advance from the south as much as possible.  And through the end of 1943, Germany had been very successful in doing just that.  Seeing that the Allied troops were being pinned down at every turn, the Allies thought a major offensive that landed behind enemy lines would kick the Germans out of the way and open the door for a larger European invasion from the south.




The reasons for the difficulties were clear.  The Germans had a strong presence, and had been quite effective in keeping the Allies at bay in Italy, this was simply a continuation of that effort.  Another reason is that it seems the Allies underestimated the German resistance.  General Lucas was vocal before the offensive was launched that he needed more people, more armament and more resources.  Those requests fell on deaf ears, and they went forward undermanned and undergunned.  Lucas' critics say he was too timid a commander.  That he spent too much time digging in and failed to launch an aggressive enough offensive to catch the Germans.  The Germans had adequate time to prepare and defend their positions.  Instead of a quick and aggressive offensive, the Allies put on a slow, methodical war of attrition.  In retrospect, maybe someone like General Patton would have been the right call for this mission.  He had a knack for making lemonade out of rocks.

But the offensive is seen as important in the scope of World War II for a number of reasons.  First, it put a great deal of pressure on the Germans from the south.  Having a sustained number of Allied troops sitting behind their lines of resistance made Germany put more resources into Italy than they would have done otherwise.  These resources (as many as 144,000 troops) came from other places in Europe they were perhaps needed more.  Ultimately, the offensive drained the German resources enough that the 15th Army broke through and marched onward.


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Foodie Review: Red Sombrero, Kennett Square, PA

Red Sombrero
879 E. Baltimore Pike
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Red Sombrero... what can I say about this place?  Nothing... that isn't awesome!

Red Sombrero is a little burrito joint hidden next to Starbucks in Kennett Square just off Baltimore Pike.  You won't just notice it -- it is on the backside corner facing the strip mall.  But trust me -- if you think Baja Fresh is the bomb, you are in for a wonderful surprise at Red Sombrero!

The menu is certainly more than just burritos.  It is quite large for a walk up burrito joint.  But the money is in the burrito.  I've eaten here three times and the burritos are always fresh, hot and full of wonderful flavors.  There are half a dozen or so different burritos on the menu, or you can build your own.  You get free chips and salsa with every order -- and 6 different types of salsa in the salsa bar ranging from pedestrian to burn your mouth off hot.  I am partial to the Red Wine Salsa myself.

At the end of the day, I wish this place was closer to home.  I only get to visit when I work down that way and I have a light day at work.  But the service is fast and friendly and the burritos are second-to-none!  I highly recommend!

Overall:
Atmosphere: 5/5 - You order at the counter, but they bring your food out to you -- and they are super friendly!
Service: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Price: 5/5 - $6-10 per meal
Overall: 5/5

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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Recruiting Technical Talent at User Group Meetings

Guest BLOG Post

User groups are groups that like to focus on technology, and are one of the best traditions in modern computing. Both the illustrious Apple and Osborne were founded by members who worked with the Homebrew Computer Club that is located in Silicon Valley.

Every time that people come together to share information and collaborate, it seems as though there is a rather large leap forward in technological abilities. That is why taking time to act in one of these user groups is both a great tradition and a way for you to recruit top talent at a lower cost.

Finding A Group
If you are looking for a good user group, the best idea is to focus on Meetup.com. They have a user base of about twenty million different people with over two hundred thousand groups in nations all over the world. They have incredible search features that make it very easy for you to find people of a like mind and that also work in the same area as you.

If you have a mobile application, for example, and you want to find a developer that can help launch the product, then you could search on the site for a “mobile app development”, and then set a location for yourself and see who is available to work with you.

If you happen to be near a major city and have an interest in technology, there is an increased chance that you will have people available to work with you. Make sure that you read all of the descriptions very carefully so that there are no chances for miscommunication between all of you. Always try to find the people that you think meet your expectations the best.

Planning Your Visit
Make sure that you take some time to read the biographies of the individuals with whom you are going to work. There will be all manner of people to choose from, but make sure that they fall within your ability to work with both on a personal and financial level. Most people will also have a photograph on their profile that you can use in order to match to their face so that you can have an easier time confirming who they are.

At The Meeting
Many of the user groups start with the organizer of the meeting asking if anyone would like to make an announcement. Use this as a chance to introduce yourself and let it be known that you are looking for someone to work with you on a project. Some of the attendees may come to see you out as a result and will bring their expertise and want of a job to you, saving you time and effort in locating an individual to work with you.
That is the ideal situation, where you have someone coming to you rather than you having to go out and constantly seek workers for yourself. You will get to look at all of the potential workers and see how they interact with their peers around them. It is a very valuable perspective to obtain before you ever sit down and interview with someone.

This is also a great way to find out who is the expert in the room, or someone who is held in high esteem by everyone else. Watch the body language of individuals in the room as different people get up to speak. If everyone is suddenly paying attention during a person’s speech, there is a good chance that everyone wants to hear them speak because they know what they are doing and because they are viewed as important.

After The Meeting
When the meeting ends, there is usually a brief period of time that has a social gathering available. This is your chance to mingle with the crowd and find out what you are looking for in a collaborator. Do you want a freelance worker to come back month after month? Let them know, and take the names of everyone who might be interested in the position.

Always make sure that you have a business card that you can hand out to people who might meet your needs but have other engagements, you never know when they may pull your card out to help you. After all, that is what these meetings are all about: networking and setting yourself up to be a meaningful source of information and employment.


About the Author: Mark Anderson is a software developer and small business owner that has had great success recruiting talent at user group meetings. Read more about how he does it at http://www.markandersononline.com.



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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Reaching Teachers for great lesson ideas!

Reaching Teachers is a great resource for teachers all over the world.  This handy little infographic is just  a sample of the great things they have going on at their website and the great ideas available there.  They have tons of downloadable lessons for every subject and every age level!  Take a moment and check them out to find out more here: ReachingTeachers!



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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Retro Game Emulation on your OS X Machine

How many hours did you spend playing Legend of Zelda? 

Come on... be honest...

OK, how about the original Mario Brothers?  Donkey Kong?

Do you miss it?  Of course you do!
If you are running Windows you have quite a few good options for old game console emulators.  If you are running Mac OS X, not-so-much.  But now, you do.  Enter OpenEmu as the answer to all your retro-gaming prayers!  OpenEmu is a game console emulator that runs on your Mac OS X based computer.  It features a wide variety of retro game console support, a ROM library organizer, support for multiple gaming core projects, plus (wait for it) support for actual, real, gaming controllers via USB or BlueTooth connections!  Not only that, but they have a ROM Starter Pack to get you up and running in no time without having to scour the Internet for games to play.  


What more could you ask for from a gaming console emulator?  Maybe support for more consoles.  The list of currently supported consoles is below, but the big glaring omission are the classic Atari consoles such as 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx and Jaguar -- as well as the Panasonic 3D0, Sega Saturn, Sega DreamCast, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft's X-Box.  But, hey, this is a good start!

Currently supported consoles on OpenEmu :
  • Nintendo Game Boy
  • Nintendo Game  Boy Advance
  • Nintendo NES
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Super Nintendo
  • Neo-Geo
  • Sega Genesis
  • Sega Game Gear
  • Sega Master System
  • Turbo-Grafx 16
  • Virtual Boy


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!