Thursday, January 29, 2009

Integrated testing.

This week at work we have been going through a process called integrated testing. Another, more popular, term for this is shakedown cruise. Various subject matter experts are testing the content they developed trying to see what works and what doesn't.

Testing is always a part of any instructional design process, but this is being done before the instruction has been developed. This is a great idea because with 600 or so individual scripts, which will eventually be turned into training materials by a team of instructional designers that includes me, testing the training and the scripts at the same time would be a nightmare.

My part in all of this is getting the scripts together by business process. As with other parts of the shakedown cruise this also got better as we went along. The initial script pull did not go smoothly. One major reason for that is people do not follow naming conventions.

Even though all the scripts are stored in one place, manually searching through hundreds of them is pretty tedious if the search function does not return any results. It gets even worse if people tell you that the script is there and it turns out that a single misplaced digit kept you from finding it.

Tomorrow we will conclude the first week of integrated testing. The first cycle of testing won't be done for another week or so, but I am very curious to see the results. I especially can't wait to see how the training materials turn out, but that's another post entirely.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My very social networking.

I have been a very slow adapter of social networking. While everybody else was jumping on the MySpace band wagon, I was quite content to remain ignorant of the whole thing. Eventually, when it seemed that I was the one person in the universe who didn't have a MySpace, I joined the fray. At first I was very excited to be able to reconnect with the people I haven't seen for years, but eventually the novelty wore off and I started to long for newer and greener pastures.

This is when I discovered Lined-In. I thought that it was good idea to join Linked-In since I aspired to be a professional. But a professional what? I haven't quite settled on wanted to be, but I figured that it would look better if I had something more to show for cyber life than this blog and MySpace. I threw myself into Linked-In with all the zeal I could muster, but since my accomplishments were few and far between I let it lapse feeling embarrassed.

Then I, while avoiding doing any work around the house, read about Twitter on Wil Wheaton's blog. At first I was afraid, I was patriefied. I thought that I would not have enough exciting things to post. I was struggling with finding interesting and inteligent content for my blog so I was quite sure that Twitter was wasted on me. Eventually, I stuck my toe in the water which was followed by my foot and then the entire body. I even went as far as to live blog the VP debate on Twitter.

But this whole time I resisted charging the remaining fortress of social networking, Facebook. My life was busy enough just keeping up with the three social networking sites I had going. And, like Bill Henderson on the HBO show Big Love, I didn't think I needed a fourth. But then suddenly something changed last night. And I found myself signing up for Facebook and discovering that almost everybody on my email contacts list was on Facebook. Now I am writing on people's walls and looking through their friend lists attempting to find old classmates whom I haven't seen in ten years.

So I wrote all that to say: Help! Please, stop me before I join another social network!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I love my Yahoo email.

I recently opened my Yahoo email account to find the following email in my inbox.

My name is Veronica I saw your profile and get interested in you. I will like to have a good relationship with you. I am down to earth, and I like natural things. My way of life is simple and ideal.

I am an outgoing person, and a very romantic woman who loves Romantic Challenges. True love never dies for it is lust that fades away. Love bonds for a lifetime but lust just pushes away. If true love, kindly reply me through my personal email address.

I Cherish You.
This brought two questions to mind: 1)where did she find my profile and 2)did she ever read my blog which is riddled with stories about my wife and daughter. After reading this I have to say I prefer to get the Nigerian scam letters. At least then I know it's complete crap.

Dodgy story from Joe Torre.

Joe Torre, former Yankees' manager, wrote a book about his years with the Bronx Bombers. In this book he bashes both third baseman Alex "Most Overpaid Player Ever" Rodriguez and general manager Brian "Show Me The Money" Cashman. Since this is a memoir, it is extremely difficult to determine whether this is the truth or the consequence of Torre being fired two years ago. I haven't read the book yet, but I might have to get a copy next time I visit my favorite bookstore.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the chief.

We have a new President. This is significant because a new President brings with him a new beginning and a new hope for the future. It is even more significant now when the economy is perched perilously on the edge of a cliff.

And this President brings with him a new chapter in American history. He is not only the first African-American President, he is also the first first generation American to become President.

As an immigrant father of an American born child this fills me with pride in my country and knowledge that I live in an America where my daughter can be anything she wants. Even if, at two years old, she just wants to sit on my lap playing with a spoon as I write this.

There is no guarantee that Barack Obama will solve all the problems that the country faces and it is impossible to say that any one person can. But history has been made and there is no turning back now. We live in a new America.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Make a wish.

I have always wondered if there is a Make-A-Wish Foundation for adults. After all, the terminally ill adults are just as deserving of special treatment as their younger counter parts. I am happy to say that my question has been answered. There is an organization called Dream Foundation that, with the help of corporate donors, helps dying adults fulfill their dreams.

Snow and lights.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Mets or Domino's?

I always thought of the Mets as the younger, quite often clueless member of the New York baseball family. I know that it is very hard to compete with the Yankees, especially with their 26 World Series titles and the legendary players who have worn pinstripes over the years, but the Mets seem to keep trying to go in the opposite direction.

They seem to be building a history of sheer stupidity. I guess you can say it started in the beginning, ever since the Mets were founded they have been using the NY logo that used to belong to the NY Giants. I am in favor of recycling, but a team, especially a team that plays in NYC, needs its own identity.

Now comes the latest chapter in the long line of Mets' blunders. Since this season is the inaugural season for the new Mets stadium, they, of course, designed a sleeve patch for the players' uniforms. The problem is that this patch looks like a horrible facsimile of the Domino's logo. See for yourself.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Joe the complete idiot.

The guy who became famous as Joe The Plumber during the 2008 presidential campaign, despite not being named Joe or a licensed plumber, and was eventually offered a job as a war correspondent, despite not being a trained journalist, just shot himself in the foot with his mouth.

Blogging Kazakh style.

Karim Masimov, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, ordered his ministers to start blogging on the government site. He decided that this would be the best way for the people of Kazakhstan to get in touch with the government. His own blog received 152 comments after posting a welcome message. A large number of these were, of course, complaints.

I thought this was worse mentioning because this is a story about a fomer Soviet republic embracing Web 2.0. Considering how few governments have embraced Web 2.0 in the so-called developed world, this is a huge technological leap forward into the 21st Century. And this is a place that was a bit of a backwater in the not-so-good, old Soviet days. Before this, its major technological claim to fame was Baykonur, the Russian space launch facility.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


It is snowing outside and the world is once again filled with magic. This is the kind of magic that you don't get during any other season.

Even though Spring brings rebirth, Summer brings moments of perfect stillness when you can watch hot air rising from the road, and Fall brings amazing multicolored beauty, none of them can compare to a snowy day.

On a snowy day the world seems to slow down to a crawl, not just because the cars move slower, but because the infinite sky becomes smaller and you are no longer insignificant by comparison.

So, as the song says, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Let the world stand still and the time stand still with it. A perfect Winter stillness, covered in snow.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Timely quote.

In a Time magazine essay titled "Eight Years Later," Michael Kinsley wrote what I think sums up the Bush presidency pretty accurately:
Sept. 11 is the excuse for many of the Bush Administration's failures and disappointments. It is also the basis for the one great claim made on George W. Bush's behalf: At least he has protected us from terrorism. In the seven years since that day, there has not been another foreign-terrorist attack on the American homeland. The trouble is that there were no foreign-terrorist attacks on the American homeland in the seven years before 9/11 either.
If you wish to read the rest of this essay, it was published in the current issue dated January 12th, 2009. I suggest that you check it out before Bush leaves office and joins the ranks of thousands of Americans who no longer have jobs.

Spreading happiness.

I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or applaud. An 18-year old hacker broke into Twitter by chipping away at a popular poster's password. The person whose account he hacked turned out to be a member of the Twitter support staff thus giving this hacker access to the entire Twitterdom. Note to self: come up with harder passwords.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Burris blocked by Senate.

Roland Burris was turned away at the door of the Senate today. This took place in the wake of his predecessor being elected the first Black President of the United States. The problem with Burris isn't Burris himself, the problem is Blagojevich or rather his being investigated for corruption.

A corrupt state governor isn't a new idea in American politics. Seats have been bought and sold since before this country broke away from England. Some times corruption remained hidden from the prying eyes of History, but it has been running, like the Gulf-stream, through the ocean of politics. John F. Kennedy, arguably the greatest 20th Century President, would not have been elected if it were not for the help of his father's friends from the Mafia.

But, like his assassination, this fact is now a part of American history which has many interesting chapters. The Burris situation, however, it is not one of the brighter chapters. He was turned away from the seat that was previously occupied by Barack Obama. He wasn't elected to replace Obama, he was simply appointed to hold the seat until the next election.

The question that lingers in the air is: was he appointed based on merit or based on money. This is something only he and Blagojevich can answer and neither of them is talking. But, despite Blagojevich's corruption investigation, Burris did not deserve to be turned away at the door like an unwanted guest. The Senate should have notified him that they have no intention of letting him into the building to take Obama's old seat.

After all, the only Black member of the Senate being blocked from entering the Senate looks really bad in the wake of Obama's election. It looks like we are taking two steps back after taking a step forward.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New year, new direction.

This post should have been posted before Eric's guest post, but as the saying goes the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. So here is an update on the future plans for the Ignorant Immigrant.

I have been thinking about opening up this blog to other people to post on topics they have had an experience with. This is not because I do not have the desire or the time to write something myself, but because I want to offer my readers, in the word of Monty Python, something completely different.

Currently I am negotiating with a couple of people to write guest posts. I hope that these will prove as interesting and insightful as I think they will. So stay tuned for future developments.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Internet and the printed word.

Eric's guest post got me thinking if there are any publications that are safe in the Internet age. The answer to that question is books and magazines.

Books, despite being available in a digital format, are still an experience. In order to really appreciate a book you have to go to a bookstore, pick it up, and hold it in your hands. There is a feeling you get from holding a new book in your hands.

I am not quite sure how to describe this feeling, but I think it might be akin to first love and borders on the sublime. To me it is one of the reasons I keep going to my local Barnes and Noble, or any other bookstore, over and over.

Centuries ago books belonged to the nobility since they were expensive to reproduce and only the nobility and the clergy knew how to read. Then Gutenberg invented the printing press and the literacy revolution began.

Now there are more books on more topics than you have time to read, but the value of books has not diminished along with their cost. Books are as important today as they were in medieval times when monks painstakingly reproduced them by hand.

Magazines have more in common with newspaper than with books. Their message, however, is less time sensitive. A newspaper that was printed yesterday is old news, but a magazine that came out last week still makes for a good read.

Another reason magazines are superior to newspapers lies in their publication frequency. Since magazines are published less often, the magazine writers have more time to work on their stories. This results in better researched and better written articles.

Unlike newspapers, magazines have built-in content for their websites. Magazines can put their past issues online, providing their readers with a centralized archive which might not be available otherwise.

Books and magazines can exist in both printed and digital format. This, however, does not diminish them in any way. The experience of opening a book or of getting the new issue of a magazine in the mail can not be duplicated in the digital world.

So, books and magazines are safe in the Internet age because they offer something that can not be easily replaced by online publications.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Internet: Newspaper's nemesis and hero.

This is a guest post on the topic of newspapers and the Internet. This is a topic that the author, Eric Pehowic, and I have discussed in the past. Since Eric is a professional journalist, I thought that his take on this will be interesting. Enjoy.

When Stan Yann asked me to write about the Internet and the newspaper business, I jumped at the chance. But to explore the topic fully would take far more words than anyone wants to read in one sitting, so I'll try to paint with a broad stroke.

The Internet is the ultimate enigma for newspapers: At the same time its enemy and its savior.

Daily newspapers struggle to keep readers who are logged on all day and get a constant news feed, if they want it. A recent study found that the only demographic that still relies on newspapers for most of their news are 50-years old or older. A Pew report, released on Dec. 23, 2008, says that for the first time, "Internet has surpassed all other media except television for national and international news."

And while newsmen and newswomen should hate the Internet for taking away the readers, the online realm is our only future. The most frustrating aspect, and the one that shook me to the core when I realized it a few months ago, is how untimely the printed medium is.

Even more startling, reporters and editors seem completely comfortable continuing to work in this way.

Let's talk untimely:

  • Half of the stories run in newspapers are not news anymore: A big story at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday is played out by the time readers get it Wednesday morning.
  • Newspapers are not for breaking news. TV, Internet and radio are much better at getting the latest news out first. Even if there was a publication hourly, the paper is still potentially 58 minutes behind any breaking story. Despite using recycled newsprint and ink, the gas, ink and paper wasted daily already makes newspapers very ungreen, let alone what it would take for multiple publications per day.

Now, this is not to say newspapers, news sources, have no place in this world. Newspapers will always be here in some way. Hopefully there is an evolution into a newsmachine that uses the Internet for up-to-the-second news, and the paper for more in-depth and investigative local stories.

There are many questions that need to be answered and tough decisions that need to be made before any of this takes place. But it can work, and newspapers cannot be afraid to try.

Eric Pehowic is the assistant managing editor of The Danville News. A news and sports journalist since 1997, he writes about fantasy football online at and about video games and other wastes of time at

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Day.

This is a great song by one of my favorite bands. The title just begged to be posted.