Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2009-02-22
  Lets get caught up to the 21st century.
I get calls from my alumni association every once in a while for a donation, and once in a while I'll give a few dollars to be counted as a supporter. But I'm not an active alumni. Its not that I don't think the college is a good one, it is. There's just issues that have cut me off. One of which is long over, but the other, while completely solvable, sits between me and active participation.

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My time at college was excellent. I was surrounded by a bunch of really smart people, had access to millions of dollars in equipment (what it took back in the stone age to have great computers--now you can get a really great computer at Sams club), and even had access to staff and faculty where I could just sit down and launch into a tirade, only to have my lack of understanding explained to me.

But the end of the eighties was also the ascendancy of Reagan and extreme conservatism, and it hit at college as well, with the Master of Student Houses running all over the student body, including banning the once a year all-house party (Interhouse). Students were no longer trusted young adults and future leaders, they were troublesome kids that needed to be policed. Luckily I got out of there just as it was getting bad.

Fast forward nearly twenty years later, and things have returned more towards the middle. Interhouse is back, and things seem a bit normal. The problem is, I've moved on, and need somehow to reconnect with things. To see what's happening on campus, with the students, with the faculty, with the institute. Something like the university's streaming theater, wich interesting lectures from people like Harry Gray ( a professor I actually liked when I was there ).

But I can't watch it, cause its in Real Video format.

Yes, I could go get the Real Video player and install it and all its associated spyware on my computer. But I'm not, and nobody else is going to anymore because Realvideo is so 90s. We moved past that to Flash video about ten years ago. And in fact, the future is to just let the user watch the file however he wants with a avi/mp4/ipod download. Its doesn't have to be HD. I'd watch Caltech events at 320x240, just like my John Stewart.

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I even sent off a email to the director of the PR/Media department (who made this unfortunate video format choice in the first place), but I'm not holding my breath. The last media update on mr.caltech.edu was a entry about a radio broadcast in 1998; and a note about a lecture in the Biology department on October 2003.

I hope those memories from twenty years ago are not the last positive memories I have from college.

 
Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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Feb '04
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The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
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The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
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The Real Way to get a job

May '04
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A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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