Category Archives: Casting Out Nines

Casting Out Nines has officially moved

A while back I announced that this blog was being folded into the Chronicle of Higher Education Blog Network. I’m pleased to announce that the move has officially taken place. You can check out Casting Out Nines v. 2.0 (or whatever version I’m up to) at

http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/

I want to give the folks at the Chronicle a lot of kudos for the excellent visual design work they’ve done on the new site. It’s minimalist — which I like — but also has some very nice stylistic touches. I hope the content will match the quality of the look.

This post will be the last one made to this WordPress.com site. All future posts will be made at the new place. All the old content that is here at WordPress.com has been (as far as I know) successfully ported to the new site, with the exception of comments that have been made in the last week. I’ll be keeping this WordPress.com site open for archival purposes because it’s no cost to me. But I will probably close comments on all the posts at some point to make sure nobody’s comments end up getting “lost” on this site.

Just a few notes to close things out here:

  • The Chronicle folks are working on having the URL for the WordPress.com site just redirect to the new site, but it turns out there are some issues with that. It’s probably best if you just change the URL in your bookmarks to the new one.
  • Likewise, if you’re reading this blog via RSS, you probably need to change your subscription link. The new link is http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/feed/ for posts and http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/comments/feed/ for comments.
  • There does not appear to be a way to subscribe to CO9’s by email at the new site. There are 33 of you who subscribe this way, and I appreciate that! If I were you, I’d switch to using an RSS reader — they are free and very easy to use.
  • Finally, I want to give a big shout out to WordPress.com. I switched from a self-hosted WordPress site to WP.com back in 2007 after a maddening series of bandwidth issues that happened while I was on the road. I thought at the time that I was downgrading, but actually WP.com has been a fantastic service that’s only gotten better over time. Anybody considering a blog would do well to check this platform out to see what they have to offer.
See you on the other side!

2 Comments

Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines

Changes coming for Casting Out Nines!

My family and I are all settled (well, mostly) here in Michigan, and pretty soon I’ll be in full swing in my new position at Grand Valley State University. I can’t overstate what a delight it’s been, getting situated at GVSU. It is a dynamic and forward-thinking university full of great people and exciting ideas. I haven’t met a single person who isn’t excellent at what they do and generous with their expertise.

I am officially taking CO9s off hiatus, and I intend to pick up the pace on blogging as the semester kicks off. That seems wrong — shouldn’t I blog more when it’s less busy? — but I’ve always seen blogging as both an overflow mechanism (to think more about what I’m doing) and an incubator (to kick off new things by rehearsing them here).

Along with a return to regular posting, I have an announcement that I’ve been waiting a long time to make. Over the next few weeks, Casting Out Nines will be rolled into the blog network of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the leading publication about higher ed in the world. Most higher ed people are already familiar with the Chronicle’s print and online publications. The Chronicle Blog Network will be a new venue of voices on the web, writing about higher education, with a worldwide scope and featuring bloggers from all corners of academia.Currently there are two excellent blogs in the network — Tenured Radical and The Ubiquitous Librarian. Casting Out Nines will be joining them.

Posts from blogs in the network will be promoted to Chronicle readers through the Chronicle’s home page, their e-newsletter, and their social media channels. When you take into account that the Chronicle’s website reaches 1.7 million unique visitors and has 14.3 million page views per month, this means that the posts here will be reaching a much, much larger audience than in the past.

Obviously I am tremendously excited about this. This has been in the works for a long time (almost a year?), and things are ready to take shape now. Over the next few weeks, content from the site will be archived and ported over to a new location hosted by the Chronicle on their servers. It will be a hosted WordPress site, which will allow me to add a considerable number of elements to the site that WordPress.com doesn’t currently allow, like different video formats and MathJax typesetting. And I won’t have to deal with technical difficulties. (Although I am not getting any money for this, I consider having a team of experts handling the technical end of things to be more than enough compensation.)

Eventually, when you type in the usual URL for this site, you will be redirected to the new site on the Chronicle’s servers. This means you won’t need to change any web bookmarks you use to get here. As far as RSS feeds go, you might need to change the address. I’m not certain how this will go. Keep your current RSS feed and if it “goes dark” all of a sudden, check back in on the main site; if it’s been officially moved, there will be an RSS subscription link at the new place you can use to replace the old one.

I should stress that although CO9’s will be officially a Chronicle blog, the Chronicle will NOT be editing my work or telling me what to write about or not write about. Also, none of the blogs in the network will be behind the Chronicle’s paywall. The posts you get and the way in which you get them will be the same as always (hopefully the posts will improve in quality…). But you’ll be among potentially a whole lot more readers and commenters, the whole look/feel of the experience should be improved, and you’ll be able to put my posts into context with others in the network and with the Chronicle itself.

It would be wrong not to say a huge thank-you to all of you. (Bonus points if you can remember the blog when it was called something else… and what that “something else” was.) I hope you stick around for the next iteration.

5 Comments

Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines

Taking a break

The Cook Carillon Tower, Grand Valley State Un...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been pretty quiet around here at Casting Out Nines lately. This is mainly due to two things. First, I’m spending five days a week home with my oldest two kids — the youngest joins us on Wednesdays — and keeping the kids active and engaged doesn’t leave much time for blogging. Second, as you all know, I’m starting a new position at Grand Valley State University in the fall and our big move to Michigan takes place in two weeks. We’re totally uprooting in this move, and preparing for it consumes a lot of time and emotional energy.

I’ve decided that, in light of all this, that I might as well declare the blog to be on hiatus for a month or so until we’re settled. There are a couple of posts that might go up soon — one of them being the last entry in the How I make screencasts series — but otherwise let’s just call it summer vacation here at CO9’s, and things will resume in “back to school” mode later. (“Back to school” time always seems to happen too soon, but that’s another story.)

I do want to mention, because it’s hard to keep it in, that there are some major changes coming up for Casting Out Nines that I am very excited about. These have been brewing for almost a year now and are just about ready to go into place. I can’t really go into detail — nor do I have an exact timetable — but suffice to say that the experience you get here at CO9’s will be better than ever, and it’s more than just another change in the visual theme.

Anyway, that’s it from me for now — follow me on Twitter if you just can’t live without my content (ahem) but otherwise, get out there and enjoy your summer!

1 Comment

Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines

News of the day: I’m moving

I wanted to announce to all you readers of this blog that some big changes are coming up soon for my and my family. This doesn’t really affect the blog, but you might like to know. I’ll be leaving Franklin College, my place of employment for nearly ten years, after this semester to accept a new position as Associate Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. My first official day at GVSU will be August 8, and we’ll be moving up to the Grand Rapids area probably in mid-July.

This has been a truly gut-wrenching decision to make, since Franklin has been extremely good to me for the last 9+ years, and I hope that I’ve done some good for the college and its students as well. It’s also a decision that’s been cooking for months, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t blog about it. In the end, though, I made the choice to go to GVSU for three reasons.

  1. I was really impressed by the university, which is just 50 years old and has an enrollment of 25,000 students — that’s double what it was 10 years ago. It’s an active, dynamic, forward-thinking institution that has all the accoutrements and resources of a large public university but hasn’t forsaken excellent undergraduate education as its primary focus. The math department, in particular, is loaded with talent and intellectual energy, both in mathematics and in teaching, which is rare to see in a big university.
  2. My family really liked the area, particularly those lovely beaches along Lake Michigan just a few minutes away and the small-but-big feel of Grand Rapids. My wife and I honeymooned in the Upper Peninsula and we’ve always felt like Michigan would be a cool place to relocate if it came to that. West Michigan has a low cost of living and a high quality of life, and it’s a great place for us to try to accomplish some personal and family goals we’ve set for ourselves.
  3. Above all, the people I encountered at GVSU — faculty, administrators, students, support staff — have been so kind, generous, and thoughtful throughout this whole process. Being an academic is about having ideas, but being a successful and happy academic is about surrounding yourself with people who support you, believe in you, and make you better at what you do. This is what makes good ideas take root and become great ideas. That’s what GVSU has to offer, and that’s the main thing that made my mind up in the end.
We will really miss Indianapolis, which is a great city and a terrific place to live and start a family. And we don’t look forward to trying to get our house sold in this terrible real estate market. (Referrals, anyone?) But it seems like the right place and the right time to do this, and my family and I are tremendously excited about what lies ahead.
Enhanced by Zemanta

11 Comments

Filed under Blog announcements

Why I am giving up Twitter and Facebook for Lent

I don’t often write on CO9’s about my faith, so I hope you’ll indulge me for a bit. Since this is also a post about technology, I figured it fits. This has to do with Lent.

In the Christian church year, Lent is a season in which believers participate in acts of personal sacrifice to help us prepare for Holy Week. Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, which is on April 24 this year. I haven’t always given something up for Lent, but this year I’ve decided that I am giving up Twitter and Facebook.

It may seem silly to use abstinence from social media to commemorate the sufferings of Christ, but there’s a serious twofold purpose to my choice.

First, in giving up Twitter and Facebook, I am seeking to recover time that I am spending in 15–30 second increments and re-invest it elsewhere. If you took all the little bursts of time I spend checking Facebook and Twitter in a given day, I think it would add up to about an hour. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a lot more than an hour. I can do a lot in an hour: pray, read, spend time with the kids, or just be still. Right now I complain that I don’t have enough time for these things, but in fact I do.

Second, I’ve used Facebook and Twitter status updates to vent out all kinds of behavior that are best left off the public record, and I’d like that to change. In particular, I think back to the tweets that followed this one a few weeks ago. It was an outburst of anger toward a student comment on the MATLAB course blog that shouldn’t have been posted. While I deleted the worst of the tweets in that series, I looked back on that rapid-fire set of tweets the next day and I recoiled at the ugliness of it. That is not the kind of man I would like to be.

Although the idea of giving up Twitter for Lent popped into my head after that incident, it’s certainly not the only time I’ve engaged in character assassination or whining or self-indulgence or attention-seeking on Twitter or Facebook. It can be frustrating. There is so much good to which these social media outlets can be put, like sharing interesting links, making connections to old friends and new friends who share my passions, and discovering new ideas from interesting people. But it’s also a fact that I’ve used the quick-hit nature of Twitter and Facebook to share things that I ought to be sorry for even thinking.

I’m hoping that by stepping away from social media for a while, I will starve some of those tendencies to act immediately upon the impulses to bash, whine, hurt, indulge, or emote and give myself instead a chance to fill the space with better things. I’m thinking of how Luther explains the Ten Commandments in the Small Catechism. For Luther, each commandment is phrased explicitly in the negative (e.g. “You shall not murder”) but implicitly carries with it an equal and opposite command given in the positive (e.g. instead, we should help and support our neighbors in every physical need). In fact the Catechism’s entry for the Eighth Commandment really gets at the heart of it:

The Eighth Commandment.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

That’s what I’m shooting for here.

So between now and April 24, I’ll still check for and respond to direct messages on Twitter and Facebook (because those are really more like emails than anything). Also, my Facebook group I set up for my academic advisees will still see action because that’s more job-related. Some things that I do which auto-post to Twitter and Facebook, like when I post a YouTube video or publish a blog post, I’ll leave up and running. But otherwise no posting and no @-replies until April 24. If you normally get in touch with me through Facebook or Twitter, please use my email instead: robert [dot] talbert [at] gmail [dot] com.

Enhanced by Zemanta

7 Comments

Filed under Casting Out Nines, Social software, Technology

Bound for New Orleans

Happy New Year, everyone. The blogging was light due to a nice holiday break with the family. Now we’re all back home… and I’m taking off again. This time, I’m headed to the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans from January 5 through January 8. I tend to do more with my Twitter account during conferences than I do with the blog, but hopefully I can give you some reporting along with some of the processing I usually do following good conference talks (and even some of the bad ones).

I’m giving two talks while in New Orleans:

  • On Thursday at 3:55, I’m speaking on “A Brief Fly-Through of Cryptology for First-Semester Students using Active Learning and Common Technology” in the MAA Session on Cryptology for Undergraduates. That’s in the Great Ballroom E, 5th Floor Sheraton in case you’re there and want to come. This talk is about a 5-day minicourse I do as a guest lecturer in our Introduction to the Mathematical Sciences activity course for freshmen.
  • On Friday at 11:20, I’m giving a talk called “Inverting the Linear Algebra Classroom” in the MAA Session on Innovative and Effective Ways to Teach Linear Algebra. Thats in Rhythms I, 2nd floor Sheraton. This talk is an outgrowth of this blog post I did back in the spring following the first non-MATLAB attempt at the inverted classroom approach I did and will touch on the inverted classroom model in general and how it can play out in Linear Algebra in particular.

Both sessions I’m speaking in are loaded with what look to be excellent talks, so I’m excited about participating. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Gil Strang and David Lay are two of the organizers of the linear algebra setting, which is like a council of the linear algebra gods.

I’ll give Casting Out Nines readers a sneak peek at my two talks by telling you I’ve set up a web site that has the Prezis for both talks along with links to the materials I mention in the talks. And if you’re there in New Orleans, come by my talks if you have the slots free or just give me a ring on my Twitter and I’d love to meet up with you.

Comments Off on Bound for New Orleans

Filed under Blog announcements, Crypto, Inverted classroom, Linear algebra, Math, Peer instruction, Teaching

Just so you’d know

…I’m all done with the ASEE and headed off on vacation in nearby Holiday World. Whatever it is I’ve left out about ASEE, I hope to fill in once I’m back home. If there’s something specific you’d like to know about what I’ve seen here, let me know in the comments.

2 Comments

Filed under Blog announcements, Engineering

Content theft

This blog used to have two different URL’s — castingoutnines.wordpress.com as well as castingoutnines.net. The latter was a holdover from the days I self-hosted this blog, and when the domain name registration period drew to a close in December of last year, I opted not to renew, since I think most people come here from an RSS feed or otherwise use the WordPress.com domain.

Well, that might have turned out to be a mistake, because as JackieB on Twitter informed me earlier this evening, someone has purchased the castingoutnines.net domain name and is using it to plagiarize content from here. I’ve spent about 90 minutes just now going through the “fake” CO9’s site, and all totalled, there were 53 blog posts copied in their entirety from here, and the “About” and “What is Casting Out Nines?” pages. Of course I was not given attribution for any of this.

WordPress.com has this helpful page on what steps to take if your content gets stolen. I’m in the process of putting together a DMCA infringement notice to send to Hostmonster, the service hosting the fake blog. In the meanwhile, I’ve also changed the RSS settings so that only post summaries are put into the feed; I hate these partial RSS feeds, but unfortunately this seems like a necessary anti-scraping measure. I’ve also posted a Creative Commons license over in the sidebar to make the terms of using my posts unambiguous.

Unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to wrest the castingoutnines.net domain name from the registrant (who, according to a whois search, is somebody in Israel), so if you are still using that URL to get here, switch to castingoutnines.wordpress.com. Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience.

2 Comments

Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines

Unexpected kudos

Last night I received this email from my colleague Dan Callon, who is at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco:

Robert,
I went to a session at the national joint meetings tonight on Wolfram|Alpha, sponsored by the MAA Special Interest Group on Mathematics Instruction Using the Web, with speaker Bruce Yoshiwara of Los Angeles’ Pierce College.  He cited the blog of the best-known expert (outside of Wolfram itself) in the country on using Wolfram|Alpha in education: Robert Talbert.  Congratulations!
Dan

I would have to rank Maria Andersen way above myself both in terms of her expertise with W|A and in terms of how well-known she is, but still, I’m honored by Prof. Yoshiwara’s mention. And I’ll keep trying to crank out relevant posts about Wolfram|Alpha in the future.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments Off on Unexpected kudos

Filed under Casting Out Nines, Technology, Wolfram|Alpha

Some updates

Greetings, everybody. Is anybody still out there? It’s been a while. What started as a simple drop-off in the number of posts I was making here at Casting Out Nines turned into a five-month sabbatical from blogging at all. The peace and quiet was nice. But now I think I’m ready to get back into things. I just wanted to take this post to announce this, and to point out a few changes here at the blog and give a rundown of some of the things you can expect to see here.

If you’re reading this on the actual web site as opposed to an RSS reader, you will see a new layout and theme for the blog that should make it easier to find things and browse content. You will get a different set of stuff in the right sidebars if you are focusing in on a single article rather than looking at the main blog page. Among the new features I’ve activated is the ability to rate individual blog posts; to do this, just click on the link to a post and you’ll get it in a new page with a five-star rating option at the top. It’s much easier to get email subscriptions to this blog than it used to be; look at the “Email subscription” section in the middle sidebar. I’ve also revised the About page.

Also, please be advised that the old web address http://castingoutnines.net no longer works. If you have that bookmarked, change it to https://castingoutnines.wordpress.com.

I’ve just finished a semester at my work where some interesting things took place in terms of education, math, and technology. I will try to catch up on those in due time. But right now I am looking ahead to next semester, where a lot of new things are going to happen and a lot of things I’ve been working/playing with will come to fruition. These include:

  • The launch and management of our new MATLAB course for freshmen.
  • My attendance at the ICTCM in Chicago in March, and what I learn there.
  • My continued use of Wolfram|Alpha and Excel in calculus.
  • Introduction and use of MATLAB and Wolfram|Alpha in my linear algebra class.
  • I’d like to focus more on mathematical topics and the kinds of things I am into these days, meaning finite fields, coding theory, cryptography, and general algebra and number theory.
  • I’m working my way through four iTunesU courses — biology, statistics, computing, and linear algebra. I’m learning a lot, not just about the subjects but about how effectively to teach them.
  • I’m playing around with Sage and loving it.
  • And I’ll probably write something about Linux just to keep my pageviews up. The last time I did was in July, and six months later I am still getting comments on it. (It’s by a wide margin my most commented-on post ever, currently at 51 comments, many of which are coherent.)

My family and I are heading out of town for the holidays, so I expect to get things really ramped up around or after New Year’s. Thanks for your patience if you’re a longtime reader; welcome if you’re not.

3 Comments

Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines