It Ain't Broke #1 - Whiteboards

First in a series of helpful tips to make the tings you own last longer.

I do all my math and physics homework on a whiteboard I've installed in my dorm room. It's hung by 3M command strips, so no holes in the wall! It's been my faithful companion for three years now.

Unfortunately, it was starting to wear out. Ink wasn't erasing like it used to, I found myself having to use the cleaning spray more and more often just to get the marker stains off the board. A friend of mine stopped by yesterday to work on some general relativity homework, and gave me this great tip:


That's right. If your board has lost that "slick" surface, spray some WD-40 on a rag and wipe down the board. Instantly, the board was performing like new. Markers that couldn't mark the "dry" board were now working like new, and the ink erased effortlessly.

I have a sneaking suspicion that WD-40 will be appearing in many of these posts.

Another tip - when your eraser gets nasty with dried ink, just wash it off in the sink. Run it under some water and scrub it with your bare hand. Press it into a towel to dry. This works with the hard plastic erasers and the styrofoam kind. You'll lose it long before it wears out.



Why We Invented the Internet

So, being in a long-distance relationship is not easy, but it isn't exactly the life crushing experience that evening news specials make it out to be. Yes, you miss not being around each other, but you don't spend your days moping around in grayscale.

You do, however, run up massive phone bills.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the point: Skype rocks! At the end of last semester, some friends and I were sitting in the Forum when Jenny started a video chat with someone on Skype. I know that this technology has been around for a while, but I was jumping around like we'd just been hailed by the Vulcans. I didn't think computers could surprise me any more, but I was sorely mistaken.

Skip forward a month. It's Christmas, and what does my wonderful girlfriend give me but an awesome little webcam from ThinkGeek. Not only is it a webcam / mic combo, but it's all housed in a little poseable robot with light-up eyes! The eyes are hooked up to a photoresistor, so when it's too dark, the eyes actually illuminate you.

Now, instead of racking up tremendous phone bills every month, we call each other on Skype for free. It's amazing what being able to see the other person adds to a conversation - and I think it's going to make living 160 miles apart a helluva lot easier this semester.

The best thing? It runs perfectly well in Linux!



Back from Outer Space

Classes have begun at UCA, and I have a head cold - or, what my uncle would call sphilchys in the ghanectacajoink. Of course, that's what he called a broken finger, cholera, rashes, and mange. We're not exactly a family of physicians - more like Gypsies, really

So, rather than feeling fresh and new, I feel like a Heffalump. But no matter - the show, as they say, must go on. My classes this semester are a bit of a novelty. I only have one math class (Abstract Algebra II) and one physics class (General Relativity). The remainder is World Lit II, Honors seminar (on science in the media) and my PA class for Core II with Donna. It's shaping up to be lots of reading, with a splash of integers and a half-stick of Einstein.

I'm really excited about helping to teach Core II. If teaching is what I want to do for the rest of my life (and it is) then this should be good practice. That being said, I have done exactly nothing to prepare myself for it. However, since I haven't received any frantic e-mails from Donna, I assume that we're on the same page - wing it, and see what happens. This semester is shaping up to be one of two things - a rewarding, educational experience or a Mongolian cluster****. Time will tell.