Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for June, 2013

Petition on Whitehouse.Gov to Let Tesla Motors Sell directly to the Public

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States are trying to block Tesla Motors from selling their cars in their state by making “dealership protection laws” that forbid them from selling direct to the public.  There’s a whitehouse.gov petition to block these laws.  This is something that clearly the federal government should be able to do something about, as it would be a clear matter of interstate commerce, although there may be a need for an act to be voted on, as I don’t know the laws well enough.  Although the Federal Trad Commission probably has the leeway to do something, especially under an anti-monopoly type of regulation, as that is what it seems is occurring in the states (even if the original intent of the law may have been to stop monopolies, in the case of Tesla, it has the opposite effect.)

I should disclose I own a small amount of stock in Tesla Motors, but I do so because I believe in the company, and think it’s strategy has one of the best chances of making electric cards become a greater reality (in fact the Chevy Volt probably wouldn’t be in existence now if GM didn’t see what Tesla was doing.)

Written by Jacob Walker

June 28th, 2013 at 11:23 pm

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Helping out with Psyberware

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Recently my friend David Deppner asked if I could help out with Psyberware.  For those unfamiliar with Psyberware, it was the first internet service provider (ISP) located in Placer County, and thus is also the longest running ISP located in Placer County.   In fact, I was one of the first employees with the company when it first started almost 20 years ago, and for a while I was on the board of directors.  But, other than being a customer, I had not been greatly involved with the organization for a while.

Psyberware has never been the least expensive option, but it always had good customer service, and was local and friendly.  It still is local and friendly, but the main person who had been doing support for Psyberware had different issues in his personal life that resulted in him not getting back with customers, so the customer service went downhill.  But, with me being out of a job for the time being, and Psyberware needing help, I told Dave that I could lend a hand a little.  So I’m calling back customers, and trying to get things working for folks.  I’m also starting to write articles like this one, that will both be for customers and the world in general, that can help people with their Internet experience.

Written by Jacob Walker

June 28th, 2013 at 1:47 pm

FCMAT’s and CSIS’s email Doesn’t Seem to be Working

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Last week I sent CSIS an email about how they can improve their website, by improving their metadata.  I had received a message back to them saying that “We strive to respond to requests quickly – generally within 2 business days or less.”  so given that it had been nearly a week, I attempted to reply to their email with the following:

I just wanted to check on the status of this ticket.  I sent the message almost a week ago.  I know it isn’t a “usual” request, but I think it is a valid point I bring up (even if it is a small one).  California’s Educational IT should be leading the pack in best practices, and even these small things make a difference about how it is perceived.

But, after I tried sending the email, I got back the following from postmaster@fcmat2.onmicrosoft.com:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:

The email address you entered couldn’t be found. Please check the recipient’s email address and try to resend the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

It is not unusual for technology to sometimes have problems, and thus I’m not necessarily saying that FCMAT or CSIS is bad.  But there is a little bit of irony in this.  I will try this again next week, and see if the problem is still going on.


Written by Jacob Walker

June 27th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

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Moving Forward on my Doctorate with UNISA

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Today I received a welcomed email from UNISA, that two professors, Dr. Paul Prinsloo and Dr. Liz Archer, have expressed interest in my research proposal, and will likely be the ones working with me on my thesis.  After getting the news, I quickly started to look at both of their work and background, and I think that they will be the right professors to work with on this process.  I also put connect requests for the two on LinkedIn, and Dr. Prinsloo has already accepted, and sent some positive communication back to me.

I have to say, that this has been a welcome change.  In the past, my communications with UNISA, while not exactly “negative”, have generally been slow,  bureaucratic in nature, and have often had miscommunication along the way (such as them getting my major “wrong”), and misunderstandings over my desire for open licensing of the thesis.  But, I have stuck with UNISA through these, partly due to price, but also because I believe in South Africa, and I believe in what UNISA is trying to do.

Written by Jacob Walker

June 27th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

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Overview of the A to Z Mapping of Formal Education Systems

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This PowerPoint file about the A to Z Mapping of Formal Education Systems shows a visual representation of how the A to Z model works overall, and includes some animations that are designed to help demonstrate components of the model.

Written by Jacob Walker

June 22nd, 2013 at 7:42 am

Improvements for the California School Information Services homepage

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I just visited the California School Information Services homepage,which says the following about themselves:

In 1997, CSIS, California School Information Services, was established as a division of the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) to help address problems of education data management and electronic exchange. We serve California’s local educational agencies by helping them build good data management practices, use data to inform decisions and exchange data with other K-12 and postsecondary institutions.

But, I immediately noticed that when I added their website to my  Zotero archive, that they had no metadata in their page to help properly cite it (although this is not unusual, even if it is a best practice), but they also had a very poor “Title” tag, of just saying “Pages – Home” and not including the organization name, which is generally considered a bad practice (although I must admit, that when I have been a webmaster, I’ve had my own challenges, but these have usually been due to my lack of time and focus on the web-mastering.)  So I just sent CSIS the following:

Hello, I believe that CSIS is always working on improving its practices and incorporating best practices.  I noticed today that when I attempted to add the main CSIS webpage to my Zotero (a popular scholarly citation tool), that first your webpage title was very vague, which is just “Pages – Home”.  A best known practice is generally to include the name of the organization and then the topic the web page is about.  CSIS – Home would be far better than “Pages – Home”

Further, an improved practice that websites are starting to do, is to include additional metadata that can be read by search engines and citation tools alike, either in the RDF format or COinS.

If you have any questions about these, or are looking for resources on how to implement them, send me an email, and I’ll see if I can point you in the right direction.

Written by Jacob Walker

June 19th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

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My Month of Daily Medical Appointments for Chronic Conditions: A Good Start, but More Work to Be Done

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I wrote the following informal report to send to my supervisor and payroll department at Twin Rivers:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jacob Walker

June 13th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Thoughts about my Month of Medical Focus

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Often in research, there is a need for further research, and many medical treatments do not immediately work for various reasons.  I feel this is the case with my first month.   There were some major successes:

  1. I was diligent about getting a daily blood pressure check from Kaiser, as a medical appointment.  This fulfilled my contract requirements, and has given me a good set of data points that I should be able to soon analyze.
  2. I did an excellent job of logging all the food I ate for the month with MyFitnessPal which I can now download to a spreadsheet using my scraper.
  3. I worked out at least 3 times per week.
  4. I attended several classes to help learn more about my health.
  5. I measured my weight fairly accurately and fairly regularly.

But, my medical progress was not as good as hoped:

  • I was making progress on losing weight, and then backslid, so my weight is only slightly lower than when I started.
  • While I tracked my food intake well (see below about some minor GIGO problems), I also tracked that there were many days that my calorie intake exceeded the limit that I aiming for, and also a few days that really exceeded that limit, and thus was probably responsible for having weight gain after losing weight.

I also have had several GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) / problems with imprecision & accuracy:

  • I have had problems knowing how large my portions are when entering data into MyFitnessPal, and while I have usually tried to overestimate, I really need to at least for a week, use measuring spoons, and a cooking scale to determine how much I’m using when eating, so that my subsequent estimates are more likely to be correct.
  • My pedometer has had issues sometimes starting in the morning, and I have not always put it on the charger in the car, or done something else that would pause it, so I am not sure how accurate its data is.
  • I do not trust my heart rate monitor’s accuracy. I need to find out how to place it on my body in such a way that it is most likely accurate, and to test it with another heart rate monitor, like one at the gym, to ensure that I’m getting accurate results.

I also still need to complete two more medical diagnosis process that will more precisely measure my fitness and metabolism:

  • A Resting Metabolic Rate check from Kaiser
  • A Hydrostatic Body Composition check from my Gym

If I wish to truly get valuable data, write a paper of worth about this, and actually get results in my personal life, I need to keep moving forward, and I can’t stop.  I must recognize the first month’s successes, but to not stop, and instead to systematically solve the issues that I have discovered, so that I can do an accurate analysis of my health and draw accurate conclusions about correlations and possible causation of different variables with my health.


Written by Jacob Walker

June 11th, 2013 at 9:32 am

Email to my Doctor about Proactive Medical Plan in May

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I just sent the following to my doctor about the proactive medical appointments I had in May:

Per our conversations, I have been working proactively on my chronic medical conditions, specifically obesity, my cholesterol, and my pre-hypertension (since previously I briefly had blood pressure in the hypertension range).  As you should be able to see, I have attended the Move to Thrive and other health education programs several times in May, and I will also let you know that I attended the gym regularly.  I also got a daily blood pressure screening from Kaiser, as you should be able to note.  For my personal records, and for my employer, I’d like to get a printed copy of all the days I went in for my blood pressure screening in May, along with the other appointments, such as health classes, I have had with Kaiser Permanente in May.  Could I pick these up on Monday afternoon?  Thanks!

Written by Jacob Walker

June 1st, 2013 at 7:06 am