Carnegie Mellon Tackles the Digital Divide, Connects High-Need Students to Wi-Fi

Image of people on a roof with an antenna

When Kristopher Hupp started teaching high school social studies in the Cornell School District in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, his classroom had a chalkboard and a PC with a floppy disc drive.

Twenty years later, he’s the district’s director of technology and instructional innovation, responsible for leading the transition to remote learning in response to the spread of COVID-19. While all of Cornell’s classrooms have fast and reliable internet, not every student has a device like a Chromebook, and many lack reliable internet access at home.

“My stress level was through the roof,” Hupp said. “Lots of waking up in the middle of the night, trying to stay on top of all of the email and phone communication with families and trying to find devices, and making sure they got wirelessly connected.”

And the Cornell School District isn’t alone. According to Pittsburgh Public Schools, 46% of homes in its district don’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi. A 2018 survey found that as many as 60% of some Pittsburgh neighborhoods have no internet access, and many other urban, suburban and rural homes lack connectivity.

“Many of the most underresourced learners can’t get online,” said Ashley Williams Patton, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Pathways program.

To support the transition to remote learning, CMU CS Pathways is partnering with Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Meta Mesh Wireless Communities to provide free access to Wi-Fi in high-need communities across the Greater Pittsburgh Area, starting with a pilot program in Coraopolis.

Source: Carnegie Mellon Tackles the Digital Divide, Connects High-Need Students to Wi-Fi

A Dramatic Shift

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama‘s transition to remote learning is opening up new opportunities to connect students with industry professionals and providing fresh approaches to courses that typically rely on face-to-face interaction.

Alumni from the school — including actors on Broadway, film and television; costume, sound and lighting designers; and stage managers — and industry veterans — including playwrights and casting directors — have guest lectured courses to discuss the crafts of singing, acting and design, life experiences, and the entertainment business. They also have led workshops — providing professional feedback on skills that could serve students through their careers.

Catherine Moore, teaching professor of movement and option coordinator of acting and musical theater, said the transition has been challenging. These crafts typically rely on actors and singers working together in the same room, feeding off each other’s physical energy and hearing one another in real time. But the new format has provided unexpected bright spots.

Moore teaches physical approaches to actor training, which focuses on how actors use their bodies to express behavior and communicate. For lessons in stage combat, Moore brought in CMU alumni Aleyse Shannon and Patrick Wilson. Shannon, a 2018 School of Drama graduate who acted in the movie “Black Christmas” and the television show “Charmed,” spoke about the differences between doing her own fight work on film versus television and described the experience of going from being a new graduate to working on set. Wilson, a 1995 School of Drama graduate, told students about filming fight scenes with Liam Neeson in “The A-Team,” wire work with Jason Momoa for “Aquaman,” and how his training in swordplay at CMU helped prepare him for the film adaptation of “Phantom of the Opera.”

Source: A Dramatic Shift

Art Meets Tech in Born-Digital Artist’s Book

A project created by a recent Carnegie Mellon University graduate dares to challenge the traditional definition of an artist’s book, and you can find it in the University Libraries’ catalog.

Unlike a print book or monograph that showcases creative work, an artist’s book is itself considered a piece of art. Although it maintains the form and function of a book, the item is considered an artistic object. Artists’ books may differ in size and shape from traditional books, and play with content and technique. Using this physical format allows an artist to experiment with the medium to reach a larger audience than the conventional art gallery setting.

The born-digital artist’s book “Asterisk” is the first of its kind to be digitally preserved by the Libraries, with the final work entering the collection in April after a year-long process.

 

Source: Art Meets Tech in Born-Digital Artist’s Book

CMU Names Seven University Professors

Image of the Cut

Seven Carnegie Mellon University faculty members have been elevated to the rank of University Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member can achieve at CMU.

The newly appointed University Professors are Jessica Hodgins, Allen Robinson, Kathryn Roeder, Tuomas Sandholm, Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Susanne Slavick and Joe William Trotter, Jr.

“University Professors are distinguished by international recognition and for their contributions to education, artistic creativity and/or research,” said Provost Jim Garrett. “Each University Professor exemplifies a high level of professional achievement and an exceptional commitment to academic excellence at our university.”

Garrett said the professors were nominated and recommended by academic leaders and faculty who have achieved the designation of University Professor.

The new University Professors will be recognized at a future event.

Source: CMU Names Seven University Professors

Gibbons Will Receive ACM’s Kanellakis Award

Phillip Gibbons

The Association for Computing Machinery has announced that Carnegie Mellon University’s Phillip Gibbons, professor in the Computer Science department and the Electrical and Computer Engineering department, will receive the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award.

Gibbons will share the award with Noga Alon of Princeton University and Tel Aviv University, Yossi Matias of Google and Tel Aviv University and Mario Szegedy of Rutgers University. The award recognizes them for their seminal work on the foundations of streaming algorithms and their application to large-scale analytics.

In a series of papers published in the late 1990s, Gibbons and his colleagues pioneered a framework for algorithmic treatment of streaming massive datasets, the ACM said. Their algorithms remain the core approach for streaming big data and constitute an entire subarea of the field of algorithms. The concepts they introduced are routinely used in a variety of data analysis tasks in databases, network monitoring, usage analytics in internet products, natural language processing and machine learning.

Gibbons joined the CMU faculty in 2015. He previously had been principal research scientist at Intel Labs Pittsburgh and was the principal investigator for the Intel Science and Technology Center for Cloud Computing. He was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1990 to 2001.

The Kanellakis Award honors specific theoretical accomplishments that have had a significant and demonstrable effect on the practice of computing. Previous CMU recipients include faculty members Edmund M. Clarke, Randy Bryant, Daniel Sleator and Gary L. Miller and SCS alumnus Kenneth McMillan.

Source: Gibbons Will Receive ACM’s Kanellakis Award

Nothing in Particular…

I run an Auto Post Blog…

It is ‘Nothing in Particular’ as everything is ‘A Go’ in general.

I do exercise some restraint in Language and the suitability of content as I want this to be a place of adult conversation and knowledge but nothing that would offend anyone, young or old, as to the coarseness of talk. I’d like it to be a place where my grandchildren can visit and be entertained and enlightened. I sure wouldn’t want their grandma to chide me for the color of speech within.

Many of the sites I follow here are considered ‘Old School’ or well-established blogs. None of this Auto Blog is created for anyone but me. If someone else finds it interesting then that’s fine but this one blog is my creation for myself first. I use it to direct my own attention and help chart my own course through the rest of the web.

There’s podcasts, music, homesteading, animals, railroads, lighthouses, Space, Oil and Gas, Books, Outdoors, cooking, Science, paranormal, and other works mentioned here. Those are things I find interesting. Those may be of interest to me because a friend finds them interesting.

This is the one place where I feel ‘me first’ is best forward. My other efforts are for others. This one ‘me first’ locus may actually be my best contribution to the whole.

Do Enjoy. It helps if you’re into Fuller with a bit of Joe Bageant for balance.

Autopost Blogging

I’m not going to give out all my secrets here. It’s taken me several years to figure all this out and I build these sites for myself and others… I’m not about to write an article to compete against myself. But I’ve received requests over time asking how I do what I do.

The sites are powered by WordPress…

I host most of the sites on a GoDaddy Shared Hosting Account from my own ParadigmDomains.com where I’m a reseller. GoDaddy provides everything you need to get started but their database is somewhat small for a site that might grow huge after running for a time. I run my databases from a VPS to have the larger databases and unload some of the ‘stress’ from the shared host.

I also build at least two more sub-sites on a multisite server placed on a second GoDaddy shared host. The three accounts and/or servers together run about $40.00 per month. You can combine all of this into one if you need to save some cash but be warned… if this takes off you’ll need the bigger database and the two subdomains are ‘where things really happen’. They will require more horsepower if things become lively.

The two sub-sites import my RSS Feeds I use Feed WordPress which should be fine for all import tasks. The first subsite is considered an offline accumulator while the second is considered a holder.

The main site also runs Feed WordPress and XMLRPC.php. The main site uses it’s Feed WordPress to pull feeds from the ‘accumulator’ via RSS while the ‘holder’ account pushes new posts via Syndicate Out. The ‘holder account’ and/or the main site run the Press Forward system via their plugin.

Finding Feeds:

First, do several searches in your target niche markets. You’ll be looking to pull RSS Feeds into your blog via the accumulator sub-site. Once you find a suitable feed you’ll want to add that feed to the accumulator’s RSS Feed importer. You’ll need to tweak the setting of the accumulator to only import around 50 words of the syndicated site.

TIP: When nominating an article via Press Forward’s ‘Nominate This Bookmarklet’ you can also have Press Forward add their RSS feed to Press Forward’s feed import abilities. You can relegate Press Forward to your ‘holder tasks’ and let the holder account act as a secondary feed accumulator also.

TIP: You can use the API at YouTube to create YouTube RSS Feeds also. Your mileage on this may vary widely. I don’t use these much but I’m not really crazy about videos. Your site and market may dictate other results.

Note: The site called ‘holder’ is for feeds that need manual intervention and or editing. You’ll add those feeds to the RSS Feed Importer there. One thing you’ll want to do is set your importer to ‘manual posting’ by importing to ‘pending’ status.

The Syndicate Out Plugin used with the holder sub-site triggers on published posts. Edit the posts as you see fit and publish. If Syndicate Out is configured properly it will fire and upload the new post to the main website.

With accumulator, the main site will pull an RSS feed from the accumulator to itself and import the posts automatically. You can opt to import those feeds as pending and then use the Autopost plugin to post these on a wider schedule. I’ll leave that as an exercise to you, the reader.

There are other plugins I use with this setup. But these are the ones that make autoblogging happen. Here’s a list of the rest from my Guided WP website GuidedWP – Essential WordPress Plugins and Tools list.

You may at times find sites that get upset about you pulling their content for syndication… I’ve been doing this for five years and only had two requests or comments in that time.

One was early on from someone who said I was going to get sued immediately and the second was a complaint from someone who couldn’t understand why I pulled other feeds from sites like his but ignored him. It was a simple manner to add his feed and then reassure him all was working and well. He was delighted.

If you’re at all worried you might want to consider forming an LLC and also consulting with an attorney.

Respond promptly to any complaints explaining how this is a service aimed to benefit the niche market, the businesses and the vendors within the market you’ve chosen. Include instructions on how to OPT out (which should be your first action and already done anyway) and how to block the site from pulling further Feeds via IP.

Don’t pull feeds more than every two hours (even less is good). And only use the Title and about 30 to 50 words max. I always set my titles to the permalink of the contributing site.

Tip: Be very careful with images and videos. Some images are from sites that charge fees to use their images. You need to know they can come back on you with a sizable bill. Most proprietary images are watermarked but not all.

Same with videos. Don’t embed videos but instead provide a link to the video only. This is one of the reasons to have the holder account.

The holder isn’t auto published to the internet. Holder shouldn’t ever be linked to from the front end of your website. Neither should the accumulator sub-site be linked to.

A Note on Monetization: I use the Ebay Partner Network and LinkShare. You’ll want advertisers who provide RSS Feeds if you can find them.

Feel free to ask me for any other info. I may choose to expand on this and answer that way. I may choose to not answer due to a conflict of interests.

There’s much more to this than what I’ve covered but for the most part, a WordPress user should be able to read the docs and figure this out.

I’m considering covering other options to this such as using forums, ad servers and advertising, Press Foward, Buddy Press, eCommerce Store Fronts and possibly even CBOX with all the above.

Your positive comments and requests may drive further info.

The Satellite Shelter – Integrated Innovation Institute – Carnegie Mellon University

The Satellite Shelter

How can we help protect the homeless population against severe winter weather conditions?

In 2014, the city of Pittsburgh’s homeless population was estimated at 1,500, while its shelters only contained 375 beds.

Carnegie Mellon students addressed this concern during the College of Engineering’s Impact-a-Thon, part of the Innovation Palooza event that took place in early October 2014. Student teams that participated in the competition were given less than a week to research the problem and come up with temporary and economically viable shelters that could be erected during cold weather.

The Solution

Satellite Shelter is an affordable, easy to use temporary shelter that provides protection from life threatening hypothermia to people sleeping out in urban environment.

Source: The Satellite Shelter – Integrated Innovation Institute – Carnegie Mellon University

WordPress Website Assistance

For several years now I’ve offered to help people with the technical side of their WordPress based websites.

I’ve done that professionally and I also do some voluntary work. Most of my voluntary efforts are concentrated by answering questions on Quora.com and further by participating in the support forums at WordPress dot org.

Links below…

https://www.quora.com/

https://wordpress.org/support/

I’ve noticed a lot of new blogs and startup businesses with questions. If you need help… find me or someone like me on those outlets.

I’m also available for a fee… I’ll do the technical side of your system for a rate starting at $600.00 for three continuous days.

That pretty much covers anything except design elements within WordPress and its environments.

If you just need to talk then I’m here for that, too. No charge as my time allows and I’ll be glad to help you through planning, domain name selection, possibly some design elements, and web hosting choices.

I usually say a perfectly fine business website or personal blog can be had for about $35.00 initial outlay.

I’m here if you need me.