News Archive: 2007

Grade Book 0.1

I created Grade Book to help me keep track of grades for the classes I teach next semester. The software has a simple layout for recording grades yet produces detailed printouts for the students.

The software is written in javascript and runs inside the browser. I've tested the program using Firefox 2.0 and Safari 3.0. Currently Internet Explorer is not supported. Although the program is still in the beginning stages you may experiment with it online: Grade Book 0.1. [31 December 2007]


My friend Amanda has started a website to share her knitting designs. If you enjoy knitting check out her site: Amanda Edsall's Knitting. [22 December 2007]

Canorus usability

Canorus is a free software scorewriter for Windows, GNU/Linux, and Mac. It is currently in development stages, but I am excited about its future. A free, open-source project such as Canorus can draw on the knowledge and effort of people world-wide in a way that proprietary alternatives cannot.

Blender and Inkscape offer increased access to graphics software since their proprietary alternatives are pricey. Software such as Mozilla Firefox shows that a successful free software project can produce better results than even the largest of software companies. I hope that Canorus can achieve both these goals: free access to music notation software and exemplary design.

I have not contributed code to the project, but report bugs and offer suggestions. After committing much thought to usability over the last couple weeks, my latest suggestion turned into a full article: Interface design in Canorus: Reducing Modes. [17 June 2007]

Firefox Calculator extension

This week I found a bug in Calculator, a handy extension for Firefox. The bug involved the factorial function and with a bit of research I was able to submit new code to fix the problem. An updated version was released last night to include the new code. This is my first code contribution to an open-soure project. [11 June 2007]

Class site for kindergartners

My mother has staked out her own plot on the world wide web at Mrs. Bolton's Bunch. As a kindergarten teacher, she has created a wonderful resource for her students and parents. She has links to stories, math games, and other educational content from across the web. She also has a page about the school song she wrote. [10 June 2007]

Judgment on Thunderbird 2.0

Old junk mail iconNew junk mail iconMozilla released the latest version of their email client, Thunderbird 2.0, April 18. New features include: improved new mail alert notification, advanced folder views, updated spam filters, and visual enhancements. One visual change, particularly stood out for me: the new junk mail icon is a flame instead of a tin can (see picture left).

Mail letter with haloA rational explanation for this change: the new icon helps distinguish it from the trash folder icon, which was fairly similar. However, I have my own theory for the significance behind this change: the flame is a reference to the fires of hell. Continuing this metaphor, the Almighty Spam Filter dooms "sinful" junk mail to the everlasting fire—only righteous mail passes through the gates of Inbox. In this context, the Inbox icon could be improved by having a more "angelic" icon (see picture right). There are definite possibilities for a new Thunderbird theme along these lines.

As a historical note, this would not be Mozilla's first reference to apocalyptic literature. If you are using the Firefox browser, try typing about:mozilla in the location bar (see The Book of Mozilla). [19 April 2007]

Graphing Calculator Toolbar

Jay Nick has created a Firefox extension for simple 2D graphing. Unfortunately, it doesn't support the use of carets to indicate powers (e.g. x^2), so some of his example equations are somewhat awkward: x*x*x*x-8*x*x+16.

I have created code to fix this problem by converting standard math notation, such as x^4 - 8x^2 + 16, into the Javascript notation required for the inner workings of Nick's extension (see Equation Converter). I have not been able to contact Nick directly, but I shared this information in the discussion section of the extension page. Jay Nick if you are out there, contact me, or reply to the discussion post.

I find the Graphing Calculator Toolbar a convenient tool, but I think the standard math notation would make it more convenient for complex equations and increase usability for newbies. [18 April 2007]

Recycled CD spindle

Ever thought of a way to recycle empty CD spindles? Rodrigo Piwonka discovered a creative use: Bagel to go. [6 April 2007]

Pi Day

March 14, or 3-14, is appropriately celebrated as Pi day. In tribute, I link to the full text of the poem, Poe, E. Near a Raven constrained by the number of letters per word (3-1-4-1-5 starting with the title). It closely resembles Edgar Allen's famous poem, and begins, "Midnights so dreary, tired and weary..." [14 March 2007]

Newspaper Articles

The past year I joined the newspaper staff for the Graceland University Tower. I added to this website a selection of my articles. [13 March 2007]

Arban's Trumpet Method

The Jean-Baptiste Arban's method for trumpet was first published in 1864 and has never been out of print since. Gwen Nathan has put together a convenient, public-domain edition: Arban's Method, 1879 Edition [PDF] (39 MB). The scanned pages are originally located (in a less convenient manner) at the United States' Library of Congress website.

"O. J.'s Trumpet Page" has detailed information about Arban. Tony Rapacciuolo has created free recordings of the entire method book. [18 February 2007]


A friend of mine, Alex Smith, drew some animations using Microsoft Paint and then put them together using Windows Movie Maker. Here's a selection:

[9 February 2007]