Archive for October, 2007

natural architecture / earthen oven

October 29, 2007

Studio exterior 2/12/06I was just sitting down to write notes about the earthen oven I made this weekend when I found this from a friend. natural architecture – an emerging art movement that is exploring mankind’s desire to reconnect to the earth, through the built environment. Very interesting stuff, fits with my continuing thinking about making my architecture more organic.

I built the oven following Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer which was good guide. I followed one of his tips for people in a hurry and built it on saw horses (knowing it will eventually burn thru). This is a temporary location anyway, while I decide where it goes. Earthen Oven

The tip to roll the mix on a tarp is also a good one. I put clay and sand on the tarp in layers, tossed it a bit with a shovel, then began the tarp technique. As Kiko warns, adding more mix to dry out a wet batch is hard work (next time I’d premix the stuff to be added).

Since one location for my permanent oven could be in an enclosed sun space (might it provide heating too?) I wanted to try a design with a rear chimney to keep the smoke out of the room. First small firing today was very smoke free. By 9PM the fire was out and the top was steaming in the moonlight (its going to be frosty tonight).

The platform is 45 deep and 37 wide. Next time, I need to make the base a bit wider and quite a bit deeper. I got most of the chimney onto the base, but didn’t have enough depth behind it to encase the chimney in cob. It would be nice to have a bigger hearth too. I can see I’m going to want a work surface near the stove and a hearth could have been part of that.

The void of the oven is 27″ diameter and 21″ tall. Kiko says the door should be taller, but I think that is for ovens without chimneys, mine draws very well. I started our buying 1/3 yard of finishing sand, but that was not enough to fashion the void and make the first layer. Another 1/3 yard provided some leftover before emptying the void. My clay came from a construction site near the Pullman airport, and it dried into a nice hard brick. I mixed it 1-3 with sand for the inner layer and 1-2 for the cob layer. All told, I probably used 8 5-gallon buckets of clay. I was a little worried that the inner layer was too sandy, but a patty dried overnight by the wood stove passed Kiko’s ‘crushing between thumbs’ test. I did not put a slip clay layer on, that seemed like extra weight and work for a temporary oven and I’m starting to like the hairy straw look.

As it is late October, I decided not to wait for the oven to air dry and built a small fire for several hours. Flames roared up the 6″ diameter chimney and I think I’ll put a brick inside to cover part of the opening. The chimney will get a metal damper next. The oven is a great consumer of fuel, I tossed in all manner of scrap lying around — too small to be candidate for kindling in our heat stove, too big to be mulch.

Other than the tired back from all the stooping, very satisfying so far.

[How To] Solutions for Wireless Problems

October 23, 2007

I have a Mac Cube running OS 10.4.x and its internal airport card died (or the motherboard’s connector died). The symptom was that it would not boot, it got stuck in the boot process. My Apple repair (great folks at University of Idaho bookstore) found that the machine ran just fine if you pulled the wireless card. So I limped along for awhile with the machine offline.

But, I really wanted to connect, and had the idea of getting a USB wireless card. I found the Belkin F5D7050 Wireless G USB Network Adapter Version 4000 supported my USB 1.1. But Belkin didn’t list Macintosh support on the box.

Some poking around found other Macintosh users with the same problem and taught me about chipsets in these devices. Torley Lives gives some directions, and points to the ralink drivers, but they support earlier versions of the Belkin device. Ralink supports many other USB adapters, its a good place to start.

Then I learned that my V4000 has the Zydas chip set.

[How To] Solutions for Wireless Problems – InsanelyMac Forum said:

Zydas USB chipset

Zydas was acquired by Atheros and the links for these drivers were taken down. However, the company ZyXel sells a device with the Zydas chipset and has posted OSX drivers.

ZD1211 and ZD1211 rev B – are installed by the same installer. It installs ZD1211.kext for ZD1211 and ZD1215.kext for ZD1211 rev B. Here are the links for the installer and for the user guide.

Atheros’ web site points to OrangeWare, which makes a driver that they will sell for $15US. So I went back to the link in InsanelyMac and got the free driver they point to. Its working. It adds a new application which launches at system startup. First time it didn’t find my network, but I think that is because I didn’t have the Belkin device plugged in during the boot process. It just finished downloading Firefox 2.0.0.8 so I think we are cooking now.

Ah, the power of the net. Thanks to all who posted pointers and to those who make free drivers.

How are we changing teaching in light of digital tools?

October 19, 2007

Digital Ethnography wiki asks:

What are we DOING to change how we are teaching? If you have any great examples of how you have changed up your classroom (or “classroom”) in ways that are more in tune with the information environment in which we all now exist, please comment. I am looking for examples that span all the possibilities

This is the group lead by Micheal Wesch that has created a series of provocative videos including:

So Wesch and company asks us “what we are DOING to change how we are teaching” and I want to rephrase the question to talk about learning — because the “Vision of students today” video really suggests that the learners and the learning are contextualized differently.

By way of answer, I’d point to these pieces of CTLT work (in no particular order):

What do you think? Am I on the right track to shift Wesch’s focus from Teaching to Learning? Am I missing examples, or are these unclear?

Beyond LMS white paper – posted for discussion

October 16, 2007

This is the collaboration site for the Beyond LMS white paper. We now have posted a 3rd draft (in PDF) of the document in the pre-press process nearly ready for publication.

Also of note are comments posted by the son of one of the authors, who is a student and provides some perspective on these ideas.

Three of Isaac’s comments caught my attention:

  • another thing, and i’m not sure if this was already addressed, is that you should make sure that students are able to post non-schoolwork content on the service
  • privacy concerns, ip control probably
  • would this site try to incorporate the aspects of facebook, or would it restrict itself to academic stuff?

There seems to be a theme here where Isaac is not sure that we really mean to expand beyond school to the whole learner, or that it is not the business of the institution to tell the owner of the space what should be used to best present themselves. I think this goes hand in hand with the IP and control/privacy concerns. That IP idea is a big one and one that really needs to get into both student and faculty heads — how can faculty think to submit student work to turnitin.com and transfer the IP? Both of these themes connect to “playing school”

In a conference call this AM, I recognized that the next step of this work is not technical, but winning more hearts and minds. WSU has some interesting examples to illustrate these points, we need to get them out into public forums.