Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Random Thoughts

While considering why astronomers can't think of anything better to do than to revise text books . . .

You know it's not going to be a good parent-teacher night when by the third class visit, you are the only parent at the school. Out of seven periods visited, four had less than four parents attending.

And about Pluto, is there nothing else to discover in near space? Is that the best your field has got, revising the definitions? So you can feel superior to those stodgy old fogies that got it all so wrong. Here's a thought -- do something. Achieve something. Find something. Instead, let's get rid of the only planet discovered by an American. Hey, that's it. Along with high gas prices, flooding New Orleans, screwing up Iraq and generally ruining the Earth, the government is responsible for a false planet.

Last time I checked, the old farts with slide rules and crew cuts:
Went to the moon.
Send a probe beyond the solar system.
Created many of the current concepts of space.

This generation:
Space telescope that needed contacts.
Meters? The distance to the surface of Mars wasn't in feet?
Uh, . . . . OK, we've got XBox360; all they had was Pong.

Just when you thought the hard sciences would not be prone to revisionism, we have the anti-Plutoians who want to fix the errors of the past. Personally, makes more sense to add Xena and the other new "minor" planets. But, that goes against the gated community mentality of the world -- we must exclude those we don't want to be around.

More I think about it . . . here goes the next Ozarks at Large rant.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Last Weekend (sort of)

A nice weekend of house cleaning and grilling before the real big stuff begins to roll with next week. This will be an awkward year -- a home vb tournament and fb game before Labor Day weekend. It seems like things start earlier and earlier.

At least I can try to finish some side projects before throwing the 12-16 hour days at press guide season, which starts really next week. The Corona box project is me -- even with SP2 and patches it still locks when it gets on line. And I'd like to have that finished before the next road trip set -- soccer swings to Tulsa soon -- for the car computer stuff -- GPS tracking, mp3's, etc.

Next week also, finishing the first draft of a paper for CoSIDA Digest on the survey results from my SNW work this summer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Messages from the Ungrateful

Most of the feedback from surveys on my SNW talk was positive, but as one would expect a few were less than enthused about the adults looking in. Coincided with some of the interesting profiles and photos -- surprise. The one that stuck with me, howevever, was I treated them like "ignorant little miscreants". I'll give props for the creative use of language, but as a colleague says, no good dead goes unpunished.

At the same time, they really are not getting the true message. You are giving up too much of your personal privacy.

I had to laugh at similar indignant comments from some media who are shocked, shocked and apalled to discover that big athletic departments are infringing on the First Amendment rights of students. And it's just because we're worried about our reputations.

Stunning ignorance -- are media members so unaware of the current culture to miss that if anything, athletic departments may be behind the curve on this? Go ask the frats and sororities if they have "house rules" about SNW postings. Check out the lock-step compliance required on political blogs. For that matter, do the same really believe they can rant to their heart's content against their employers and think they will not have an impact.

Look, NPR today added further confirmation with its Morning Edition story. HR departments across America are looking into candidate SNWs. You can whine all you want about this being an invasion of privacy, but is it an invasion of privacy if you stand in the public square drunk and half naked? And if that makes a police report, that's not fair game to ask about?

Consider the flip side. How many lawsuits to come when a predator gets hired, causes some injury and then the liable party is the employer because they did not look, or knew and did not act?

Think about this one -- 10, 15 years ago, who really verified every degree claimed on a resume? High security positions maybe, but rarely was that done across the board. There isn't a person hired in our department without a DegreeCheck run.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sex and the SNW

OK, now that I have your attention . . .

I wish I had thought of this before my presentation with our athletes on Friday, but consider this analogy for the students.

Social networking websites are like sex. The only sure thing is abstinance, but since that's not really acceptable to a lot of people, you better have a lot of protection and education. If you post without security and without regard to what the content is, it's no different than unprotected sex -- it can lead to unintended consequences, and if you get involved in some really rough stuff, better believe you might get hurt.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Descending to a new level of hell


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer

Is it Good News or Bad News

So in advance of Friday afternoon's orientation session with all the Lady'Back athletes on social networking, I created an on-line questionnaire to get a gauge of what they thought about SNWs, security, etc.

Of 170 athletes, about 70 had responded by midnight Thursday. Less than half.

A) Great, nice survey sample. Less than half cared.

B) No, really great. More than half had something better to do than read their email.

Hmm. Nah, it's bad news -- they didn't pay attention.

By the way, I'm offering up that questionnaire to anyone else who wants to administer it to their athletes. It is a private, stand-alone 25-question survey. I'll give to anyone who wants in an excel file of the answers. I just want the data for some research.

There's also a follow up survey in the works for the Lady'Backs who filled out the initial survey to gauge changes in opinions after my presentation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And It Keeps Getting Better

So, your campus has the anti-virus patches, the Windows system updates and the anti-spyware/spamware software.

Guess what -- the SNW as vehicle of virus delivery. According to industry chatter, one in 600 MySpace pages are trying to place spyware or adware on the users computer through the browser. That might sound like good odds, but there are millions of MySpace pages.

This isn't to single out or pick on MySpace, several others were also cited.

New Warning for SNW

As your incoming freshmen join your university network on Facebook, their previous SNW data often comes with them. Make it a special point of emphasis that these individuals need to do some extra editing to conform with your department.

For example -- it would be swell if you got all the pictures from the recruiting visits made to other schools.

The other big freshman transition -- what's acceptable. Inside jokes with friends back in high school were funny. The internet is pretty tone deaf, and those things don't read the same if you weren't there to be a part of the event.

Another what's acceptable: many campus codes of conduct include appropriate speech limits. Slang, ethnic references, gender references that were allowed to slide before college could come back to haunt a student.

Finally, on your incoming students, make sure to check and clean the MySpace accounts as well as the Facebooks.

Sharing SNW Notes

Thank you to everyone who has shared events that transpired at your campus related to the SNWs. I want to give a few sanitized notes to add to the summer presentation at CoSIDA, and to let you know that our finished department written policy is available for request (email me at the office). The policy is much more detailed than any of the previous documents.

But, you wanted the titilating stories, so . . .

Student-athlete disciplined by athletic department and eventually expelled from public university for unauthorized taking and posting of photos of another student-athlete on Facebook.

Several students taken before campus discipline boards after campus enemies narc'd on photos posted on line. Various levels of punishment, including expulsion.

Individuals outside university gaining more and more access to the "closed" world of Facebook.

Surprise -- you closed your Facebook profile but one of your friends "tagged" out a photo of you into an open area of the network.

Twisted Euphemism of the Week

This might be hall of honor stuff as the NCAA is suggesting that we stop using the terms I-A and I-AA to refer to the differing level of scholarships, etc., that define college football in the top ranks.

I-A will be the Bowl Subdivision. I-AA is the Championship Subdivision. The FBS and the FCS, not I-A and I-AA.

That's some quality work, but the best one is reserved for the renaming, excuse me, branding, of the championship formerly known as I-AA: The NCAA Division I Football Championship.

Ta-da -- just like that I was a staff member of the 1987 NCAA Division I Football Champions.

Schedule Soon

To answer the repeated requests of fans, the full women's basketball schedule should be out within the week. The SEC has been having, well, some challenges getting it finished.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Guide Season Approaches

Today we ship out the first of our press guides to the printers -- always hectic on the first ones. Orientation looms on Friday, and final prep on the SNW presentation is underway.
In travel news, I see now that TSA has made taking off shoes manditory. Odd, you'd swear it had been since 9/11 at certain airports. Staff member reports that gel is being very broadly interpreted -- one of their kids had to throw away some gel-ink pens as they flew home from vacation this weekend.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Back on the Blog

Long week of catch up from vacation work has kept the Dr. from his appointed rounds here. Now, it's prep for the incoming athletes' orientation next weekend.

One of the big items -- finishing of our departmental policy on SNWs. This is something several others have asked for a copy, and I will provide it on request. Just hit the office email. While we are allowing SNW to continue, it will be monitored and the consequences are very bluntly laid out for the athletes.

On the travel front, I must say I'm happy to be done with flying for the next few weeks. In this field, if you cannot travel with the electronics required for work, there's no point in traveling.

If the airlines change their conditions of carriage to cover electronics in checked luggage, OK. If the airports will add the surveilance in the baggage areas to prevent unauthorized appropriation of my electronic gear, OK. Until then, I'll stick to the highways and byways of America rather than the airports.