Author: William

Update your software! A problem involving WordPress..

One thing I’ve learned about lately is the amazing variety of problems that can be caused by not having updated software. Most recently, after setting up this blog, I started getting weird error messages and problems in my WordPress administration. After a little work, I realized that the problem is my webhost defaults to PHP4, but many things in WordPress require PHP5. They DO have PHP5 installed, so it’s a simple fix: just add the line “AddType x-mapp-php5 .php” to the .htaccess file and all is well. If only all strange errors could be dealt with so easily.. In other news, I’m wrapping up my series on Search Engine Optimization over on the One Ear Productions blog; this morning I posted part 5, Pagerank Doesn’t Matter. I’m in the process of reading through the latest O’Reilly book on SEO, so a number of my posts right now are on that topic; a full review should show up on my book review site within the next few weeks. Other books in the queue include one on designing iPod/iPad/iPhone applications and one on PHP, MySQL, and Javascript; I expect I’ll be ranting on those topics later this month. Share on...

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Going Back To School

With the economy the way it is, many people are considering going back to school to brush up on their skills and improve their prospects in the job market. If this describes you, here’s what you’ll need to know. If you’re returning to school, we’ll assume you’ve been in the workforce for a while; if you’re going for an undergraduate degree, you may be able to receive credit for previous experience. Talk to an advisor at your school and find out if you can apply previous college credits or test out of lower-level classes. On the other hand, you might need remedial work in some areas, most likely in mathematics; your advisor can tell you how to set up a placement test to determine whether you’re ready for classes. A college education isn’t for everyone, but someone who’s been in the workforce and is making an informed decision to go back for more education is well-positioned to succeed. Going back to school after an absence isn’t easy; one of the largest challenges can be the financial issues. Remember that financial aid is available even for adult learners, in the form of Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. The trick is to cut down on expenses; it’s really difficult to go from earning a decent wage to living on a student budget! If you’re planning on going back for a graduate...

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College Education: Not For Everyone

These days, it seems the conventional wisdom is that everyone should go to college. What nonsense! True, a bachelor’s degree is pretty much required for many entry-level jobs these days, but for other positions that pay just as well, you’re better off going to a trade school and learning a skill. I’m all for getting a well-rounded college education even if it has no practical relevance to what you’re doing, but if I’m hiring a plumber, I’d rather have someone who spent two years learning all about pipes. Face it, not everyone is suited for college. It requires the ability to follow simple directions, get your work done on time, and occasionally show up for class; many people seem to have a great deal of trouble with those requirements and end up dropping out after the first year, with nothing to show for the time spent. That said, I do believe that a college education is a valuable experience regardless of whether you actually need it for your job, and in fact I’ve written quite a bit recently with the goal of helping high school students who are thinking about going to college. The first question, of course, is are you ready for college? Almost everyone is capable of succeeding in college; the real question is whether you’re ready and able to put in the effort required. How much...

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No Child Left Behind..Unless They Want To Be

My second year teaching middle school, our slogan was “Failure is not an option”. The official policy was that every student has the ability to succeed and it was our job to help them do so. Well, yes, that’s true. Every child can learn. The problem is, not every child WANTS to learn. For some students, school is something they do a couple times a month when disrupting class sounds more interesting than whatever else they had planned that day. For some, school is something they do because the court orders them to show up. No, I’m not exaggerating – both were true of multiple students. On to the rant. According to the right, only three things are required to make all students succeed: replace all public schools with private and charter schools, test constantly, and outlaw unions. Charter Schools First off , let me say that I have nothing against charter schools; I used to work for one. They have a lot of advantages over regular schools, most of which boil down to one thing: control. Public schools take whoever shows up and teach however the state and district tell them to teach, but charters can do something that public schools often can’t: demand parent accountability and kick out the kids who don’t behave! When I taught public school, my actual authority was approximately zero; if a kid...

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Hello World

Just what the world needs, another new blog! Even though I’m fairly busy writing for other sites, I felt the need to have a good place to rant about things. Plus, I like to explain things and I don’t always write up my good ideas because I don’t have an appropriate place to put them. Thus, this blog. Readers can expect to see posts on computer science, current events, education, programming, politics, and whatever else happens to catch my interest. Hold on; it’s going to be an interesting ride.. Share on...

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