Tag Archives: LIFE Center

NARST and AERA

I went to the annual conference for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) for the first time last month and then to the annual conference for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) right afterwards. In fact, I flew directly from one conference (Orlando) to the other (New Orleans). The short story is that AERA is much bigger than NARST, that Orlando surprisingly kind of sucks for a conference due to horrible food choices and no public transportation or sidewalks, and that New Orleans during the French Quarter music festival is amazingly awesome.

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Bay Area

Last week and this week I’m in the SF Bay Area, visiting family and working with some Stanford folks.

The LIFE (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments) Center is a collaboraiton between some profs at UW and Stanford and some researchers at SRI. As a student of the Center, I applied for a one week exchange thing they have for students at one uni to visit a student at the other uni.

Anyway, I’ve been working with Sarah Walter who is looking at collaboration in Lord of the Rings Online while raiding, which is basically the same thing I’m doing except that I frame mine more as activity system description and I look at World of Warcraft.

We’re pretty much dealing with the same data, though, from two different games, so it made sense to collaborate on a paper and some conference presentations. Yay!

It’s slow going, and technically, LIFE is paying for like 5 days of working but we’ve been at it off and on for a week and half now. Got a todo list now, and looking forward to get back to Seattle with new direction.

Today, my bro and I are meeting another Stanford student, Sarah Lewis, to go visit the California Academy of Science. Fun!

Later tonight, we’re going to Chris’s to play Battlestar Galactica the boardgame that Grey got. Last weekend, we met and played some boardgames, too. Ghost Stories and Cuba.

Yesterday, I met up with TL Taylor and Casey O’Donnel for lunch. That was cool. This week, GDC is happening in SF. Tomorrow, I’ll probably be meeting some guildies for dinner.

Robin was here with me last week, and our first two meals were at In-n-Out and Pizza Chicago. 🙂

New laptop! er… I mean, I resigned from TEP.

On Friday I told Phil Bell, my adviser, that yes I would accept an RA position with the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center. This meant that on Saturday, I emailed the Teacher Education Program (TEP) folks that I wouldn’t be returning to the tech instructor position I’ve had for the last 3 years.

TEP is going through a pretty exciting renewal process right now with the newly designed program debuting this quarter. It has an added online web community component that is being worked on over the summer, so it was relatively difficult for me to leave at a time when I could probably give some really handy advise.

Doing research with the LIFE Center, however, is too good to pass up. In a meeting with Phil last Tuesday, he basically informed me that I could continue doing my own research but just figure out a way to integrate it with the bigger LIFE stuff. He also said that we’ve talked about it before. The thing with Phil, though, is that I think we’re not always on the same page, so I’ve never really felt comfortable with joining LIFE for fear of having to put my WoW stuff aside. I figure, it’s still not super clear exactly what’s expected of me, but whatever. I can deal with change and set boundaries.

Anyway, it makes sense to collaborate with other LIFE people however it unfolds. Obviously, my data speaks of an informal setting where learning occurs. With the Center’s focus on innovation, leadership, collaboration, expertise, etc. it makes complete sense for me to join since those are essentially what I’m interested in, too.

All this typing is leading to the big news, though: I figure I need to return the laptop that I’m using right now to TEP, so I shopped around for a replacement! 🙂

I was going to wait until the end of the summer since I can probably hold onto the TEP MacBook Pro until they get a replacement for me, but since I’ll be traveling for a month this summer, I decided I needed a gaming laptop for Mass Effect, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft, and the Warhammer beta. I also decided, however, that I don’t need a top of the line gaming laptop since it’ll only be a month, so those crazy $6000 laptops from Falcon Northwest were off-limits.

Instead, I bought a $1350 Asus G1Sn-A1. The important bit is that it has a nVidia 9500M GS video card, which is basically the same as the 8600M GT that looks like it was popular last year. I know later this year, there are supposed to be mobile versions of the video card I have in my desktop system right now, which tells me that the one I just bought will be a little less powerful than my desktop’s, so this laptop certainly won’t be a desktop replacement for me. It should be totally fine for at least a year, though; probably at least two years. I mean this (older) MacBook Pro has an X1600 in it and it still runs TF2 fine.

There was another laptop that I could’ve gotten: a Sager NP2092. It was cheaper by about $150 but didn’t have as nice a warranty (Asus has a 1 year accident coverage on top of the standard hardware failure warranty!). The Sager also didn’t have as many ports and such. Only VGA out, for example.

What’s weird is that there’s also no DVI port on the Asus, but it has HDMI and maybe that’s the newer standard… I dunno; haven’t really kept up with hardware changes in a couple of years, but I thought HDMI was for TVs and stuff.

it’s amazing how much one can learn about laptops/notebooks in two days through sites like notebookreview.com