Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class

My math education predated the widespread use of graphing calculators. I remember writing my own BASIC programs to graph simple functions, but that was in a summer school programming class during middle school, not part of my high school curriculum. I’m amazed these old calculators cost this much. Bulky and black, with large, colorful push buttons and a low-resolution screen, TI graphing calculators resemble top-of-the-line design from the 1990s and…

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In November 1999, I was blogging about books, camomile tea and Skylon 4, the death of Star Trek, and the “active user paradox”

In November 1999, I was blogging about John’s Book Pages (by a CS grad student who had recently read Gene Wolfe and Anthony Bourdain, among many others) What camomile tea has in common with the attack squadron over Skylon 4 (rec.humor newsgroup reference to a disastrous “tandem story” assignment) “Nimoy is, to say the least, amused by the notion that ‘Star Trek’ is on its death bed.” The paradox of…

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In October, 1999 I was blogging about college application essays, Willie Crowther, and Elizabethan English for RenFest workers

Jessica found herself wishing that somebody — anybody — in her family had died: ”Because then I could write about it.” — College application essays. >As a young man I needed someone to look up to, someone to emulate. I was something of a nerd: I needed someone who’d integrated highly technical talents with the basic social graces. —Tribute to Willie Crowther, by Martin Heller Proper Elizabethan is more akin…

4 Lessons From Moving a Face-to-Face Course Online

This fall, I’ve been asked to teach a Shakespeare class online. Here’s what Kevin Gannon wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education about moving an established course to cyberspace. As I looked at the class — an upper-level U.S. history seminar — and began to think about how I would teach it online, my heart sank. How was I going to preserve what I thought was most essential — the…

PAC-MAN: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game

A fascinating study of the thinginess of a video game. Put in your quarter, hit the one-player button and grab the joystick. All you have to do is move Pac-Man through a series of tight cornered mazes, trying to eat all the dots and fruit on screen while also trying to out-maneuver a group of ghosts who will kill you as soon as they touch you. If you eat one of…