Jacob's Journal

For Archival Purposes Only

Transitioning to New Blog Host

leave a comment »

I am transitioning to using JacobJWalker.EffectiveEducation.org/blog as my blog site.  I did this primarily to have all the educational content I’m creating be in a more cohesive package that is identified with the Effective Education Projects, and also to have COinS work, which doesn’t here.  COinS allows for easy citation of blog entries, and I believe that is important.

I was hoping that I could just mirror the content from this site there, but the plugins and methods I have tried so far, haven’t seem to make that easy.  But I have imported all the content from this blog to the new site.  This should be the last transition necessary, since I’ve already moved blogs a few times, and lost readers in the process.

Written by Jacob J. Walker

September 3, 2011 at 7:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

New Game: Number Line Tag

leave a comment »

While helping A with her homework tonight, and showing her a little bit of algebra (which kind of worked.)   I explained how a negative minus a negative number is even more negative.  She got really excited when she understood the concept, and came up with wanting to have a game where 2 sides would play tag with each other, one side being the positives and the other being the negatives.  I was really impressed with the connections and creativity she has, and I hope to work with her more to develop this game, which will fit perfectly in the “Body of Thought” curricula.  (In fact, I think having PE having more math in it is a great idea, which could help save PE in many schools, and because the brain uses 20% of the calories, doing thinking and exercise together is likely to burn more calories than exercise alone.)

Written by Jacob J. Walker

August 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Separating Issues and Problem Solving

leave a comment »

I have noticed from experience, that it seems many people (and probably myself sometimes as well) has troubles separating different issues concerning something. For instance, 2 coincidental problems that are independent with a computer, often are attempted to be correlated in people’s heads. Or 2 issues with a person’s behavior, or situation are often brought together when they need to be dealt with in individual ways.

Written by Jacob J. Walker

August 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

1st day at CS4HS @ Stanford

leave a comment »

Yesterday I attended the first of 2 days of the CS4HS course sponsored by Google being run by the computer science department at Stanford. The program is primarily for high school teachers who teach computer science, so I’m a little on the fringe of the group, qualifying because I teach some high school completion adult students. But I’m also on the team to revise the standards for IT/ICT/CS for California so for that reason alone I think it is good to be here.

Nick Parlante has been one of the main speakers, and has developed a very good very basic intro to programming at http://introcomputing.org/ that I think with a little adaptation, will work to include as part of the intro to health informatics course that I’m teaching/developing.

I also had a good talk with Mehran Sahami, who is the main professor putting together the training, and he is doing work with data mining. He seemed at least semi-interested in the research I want to conduct to help shape our standards.

He also shares the same concerns I have about bias and also some of the problems with BLS data. Specifically, he was talking about how BLS has a grouping for Computer Scientists separate from Programmers, which I also know is separate from Software Engineers. Apparently these 3 groupings each show different job projections, despite being practically the same, in which most Stanford CS students (and professors) don’t really know the difference. And apparently, the media tends to cherry pick the stat they want when they talk about whether the job market is good (like in a dot com story) or bad (like in an offshoring story)

I will hopefully write more after today’s session.

Written by Jacob J. Walker

July 29, 2011 at 6:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Wrong Proposed Solutions to National Debt, but we Better Raise the Debt Ceiling for now…

leave a comment »

Are we a nation of simpletons?  We were founded by intellectuals, but I fear the debate now has not progressed to anything that is thought worthy, primarily because those doing the debate don’t really know how the systems of government work.Bbut nor do I, as it is far too complex to have anyone really understand all of it, and one who goes “inside” then starts to take on the paradigms of the system itself, if they are not careful.

But is it impossible to learn? The “answers” of raising taxes, or making cuts are both short-sighted and doesn’t take into account any systemic issues of the government.    But doing nothing is worse, as we may soon see our nation is not as great as we thought, because we have too long thought it too great, and neglected to continue to make it so.

Task forces often find some good solutions as they dig deeper than the standard politicians, but their solutions seem never to be implemented.  There is a lot of waste in government, but blind cutting doesn’t solve waste, it just injures us.

For instance, lets look at a California budget problem, that people don’t want to think about: our prisons.  We pass laws as a direct democracy to put people away longer and to do so more quickly, but we don’t think of how much it will cost, nor do most citizens really understand.  And when pragmatic, cost saving solutions are proposed, such as educating parolees, which reduces recidivism often from 70% to 40% or less, and thus saves the tax payers tons of  money, no one in power generally wants to support it or fund it, because of the “not in my backyard mentality.”  But they already are in our backyards, and we just don’t want to think about it.

So back to the federal government…  The debt is a real problem, and it is an issue that won’t go away on its own.  But simplistic solutions like the Tea Party is spouting will hurt us greatly because there are no systemic ideas or understanding in how the cuts will be made in any sort of strategic way.  And the Tea Party’s inability to compromise will likely throw our nation in a tail-spin which will likely get the Democrats voted into office, because it is clear the Tea Party caused the problem, but the Democrats will then likely take actions that will ultimately make things worse.

So lets work to raise the debt limit, but not bury our heads in the sand about a solution.  Why don’t kids get the federal budget as a school assignment?  All U.S. Citizens and residents who love democracy should take the responsibility of digging deeper and actually seeing what our country is doing.  But we barely do.

Written by Jacob J. Walker

July 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Excel VBA Macro Code for Dealing with Cross-Tab Data

leave a comment »

From doing a lot of data analysis, I have found that often spreadsheets come already in a cross-tab format, with categories across the top and side, with the intersection being the value that matches both criteria.  While this format is very intuitive for most people to understand and quickly get information, it is not normalized by the standards of databases, and thus it is much harder to work with using data-analysis tools, like pivot tables, etc.   I could not find any good code on the Internet to solve this problem, so I wrote the following functions for Excel VBA.  This code is being released under the GNU Lesser General Public License, as it is basically a library, and I don’t want to stop proprietary spreadsheets (software) from using it.  But, I would appreciate a comment to this posting here, if you use these functions, so I can see that my work is actually being used by others

I currently have not written a macro that combines together all of these functions, although it should be pretty easy to do.  Instead, at this point, I usually just manually build a table that has 4 columns, one for the row headings, one for the column headings of the cross-tab, one for the intersecting data, and one that just contains an incremental index, from 1 to however many items are in the cross-tab.  I then use the appropriate custom formulas below for each cell:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jacob J. Walker

July 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Religious Philosophy, Epistemology, and Proof of the Lack of an All Knowing God

leave a comment »

Having a conversation recently with a fellow instructor about “life, the universe, and everything” , and this helped to spring to my mind what has been forming for a while.  I suspect someone else has probably come up with the following basic concept as well, but I haven’t searched yet.

Proof of the Lack of an All Knowing God

First, if there was an entity that could know everything, including what will happen in the future, then it would be impossible for humans to have free will, because their choices would already be known, and thus would be knowable, and thus predetermined.  Further, if this entity could know this, then it too would have no choice, because it would have to know what its own choices would be, thus eliminating its own free will.

Discussion

This argument, seems fairly tight, although it doesn’t discount the possibility of the existence of a god or gods, or greater things than human. It also doesn’t discount the possibility of some entity knowing more than humans or possibly even knowing what is knowable, but that could not be an exact knowledge of all that will ever occur.

Written by Jacob J. Walker

July 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized