Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for February, 2015

Rest in Peace Boris Nemtsov and Leonard Nimoy… May we be able to reach your visions for the future.

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Of the two recent deaths, that of Boris Nemtsov is more ominous than that of our beloved Spock.  But both Boris Nemtsov and Leonard Nimoy are leaving behind a legacy, and they may be more connected than one may think at first…

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Written by Jacob Walker

February 28th, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Political Science

Essential Boot Media for PC Technicians

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Every computer technician should have a software toolkit in addition to a hardware toolkit.  And some of the most important software tools is that of boot CDs / boot USBs. This is because there are many tasks that cannot be done while the original operating system is running on the hard disk.   To make the boot media, I recommend CDBurnerXP to make CDs and DVDs, and YUMI for bootable USB flash drives.

Since most of these boot CDs are freely available, it is best for a technician to get all the major ones:

The Ultimate Boot CD

The screen shot above is from The Ultimate Boot CD.  This Boot CD has many freeware and open source utilities on it that can be ran without the main operating system running.

Hiren’s BootCD

The Hiren’s BootCD has been called a computer technician’s best friend. It’s a bootable CD that contains a huge set of tools to help you troubleshoot and repair even the most corrupt machines.

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows

If the above Boot CDs can’t do the job then the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows is another great option. It also contains a huge set of tools for troubleshooting various issues.

#1-TuffTEST-Lite

#1-TuffTEST-Lite is the freeware version of the #1-TuffTEST™ Automatic PC Diagnostics product. .#1-TuffTEST-Lite is a “Stand-Alone” diagnostic program that has its own proprietary self-booting operating system, written in assembly language to allow the testing of a computer’s basic hardware, without the operating system potentially limiting what can be tested.  It has a few useful hardware diagnostic tools, such as being able to easily check a keyboard, that the other Boot CDs don’t necessarily have built-in.

Linux Based Boot CDs

As discussed in this article, there are a variety of Linux boot CDs that are very useful.  Among these are Knoppix, Puppy Linux (for older hardware), Clonezilla (Live CD for hard disk imaging), SystemRescueCD (for Linux systems), and the Network Security Toolkit.  One not mentioned in the article, but is also very useful is Inquisitor.

Written by Jacob Walker

February 25th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Some Short VBA Examples to Help Teach the Fundamentals of Programming

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I am starting to teach Visual Basic for Applications in Excel tonight,
and wanted to have some code for the students to try, and here it is:


Function AvgDaysInMonth()
  AvgDaysInMonth = 365.25 / 12
End Function

Function DaysInMonth(Month As Integer, Year As Integer)
  DaysInMonth = DateSerial(Year, Month + 1, 1) - DateSerial(Year, Month, 1)
End Function

Function IsLeapYear(Year As Integer)
  If DaysInMonth(2, Year) = 29 Then
    IsLeapYear = True
  Else
    IsLeapYear = False
  End If
End Function

Function FindNextLeapYear(Year As Integer)
  For Counter = 0 To 3
    If IsLeapYear(Year + Counter) = True Then
      FindNextLeapYear = Year + Counter
    End If
  Next Counter
End Function

Written by Jacob Walker

February 6th, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Some Practical Thoughts on Developing Multiple Choice Questions

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This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on 5 January 2014 by the administrator or reviewer Chenzw, who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the stated license on that date.Multiple Choice questions are common because they are easy to grade.  And while assessment theory has a lot to say about making tests that are reliable and valid, for most teachers in a classroom who wants to make their own tests, they won’t do all of that work.  So here are some practical thoughts for teachers on how to improve the creation of their multiple choice tests:

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Written by Jacob Walker

February 1st, 2015 at 11:59 am