Liberal Studies This Week

Sharing your experience as an online student

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Monsters and Myths and my Obsession with Zombies

After a grueling semester of reading a dozen or so memoirs, three Beatle books, and countless web-based links, I'm beginning to understand that online LIS majors better deserve Pinkerton's motto of "We Never Sleep." Indeed, the ever present reddened eyes of LIS majors are strained, dried, and yearning for a much needed rest.

But I couldn't help opening the book for this summer's MPH478 course entitled, The Body of Frankenstein's Monster by Cecil Helman. I'm sure most of you already know, but it seems I always have to remind myself that Frankenstein is not the monster, but rather the Swiss doctor who egotistically offered us mankind's first abomination as well as the "mad scientist" myth. I've only read the introduction and the first few chapters, but so far Helman's book magnificently explains my obsession with the supernatural and how it plays into our psyche.

For those like me who are fascinated by monsters and zombies (I know you're hiding somewhere out there) this book addresses the physical connection to these fascinations, and most important, why all this has stood the test of time. It's a very good read thus far.

Although I get a little frightened when a four credit course requires only one book, I'm really looking forward to it nevertheless.

Gotta love liberal studies!


I'm still fine tuning this project but I wanted to throw it out there to get some feed-back.

I think I've mentioned Prezi in the past. I've always hated PowerPoint but Prezi is slick enough that I'm willing to ignore my dislike of presentation software. It allows the user to not only present information, but to present it visually in a way that reinforces the content. In this example, I've been able to plot out a structure that, to some extent, illustrates a seemingly complicated curriculum AND I'm able to fly around the illustration to present the details.

General thoughts on the iPad.

Okay, I may be a fanboy but I like the iPad. Is it just a big iTouch? Yes, but the first thing I thought when I used an iTouch nearly three years ago was “this would be great if it were bigger.”

The combination of an A4 data processor and solid state memory adds up to the fastest computer I’ve ever used. You can expect responses measured in fractions of a second.

The display is beautiful and the sound is surprising full given the tiny speaker port. I used the ABC app to watch the Jamie Oliver program that I missed when it was first broadcast and it was such a satisfying experience that I can imagine watching programs on the iPad rather than recording them on my DVR and watching them on my large screen television.

The touch screen is VERY sensitive. I didn’t have a problem with this but family members, who are not iPhone users, noted that they were having trouble controlling the touch-based operating system.

I didn’t spend a lot of time outside using the iPad so I don’t know that I can give you a definitive answer on whether you could read a book in full sunlight. Bright sunlight is clearly not the optimal viewing environment. The screen image does lose some of its crispness in sunlight but it is still remarkably easy to see details on the screen. If I were to guess, the problem will not be the image on the screen but the reflection on the screen.

As much as I like the hardware, it will be the software that makes or breaks this new class of touch-tablets – there will be many released this year including the Joo Joo which is now available. At this point, there are not a lot of apps so I feel a bit like a new sports car owner who’s only allowed to drive in a parking lot.

ABC, Netflix, USA Today, BBC, New York Time and all have great apps. They have taken advantage of the iPad’s operating system and created custom browsers that present their content brilliantly. Apple has added a lot of finish to simple things like contacts, calendars, iTunes and the app store, and the Safari browser. Without a doubt, the iPad email client is the best I’ve ever used. I’ll admit, I’m not sure that I’ll like typing long emails on the virtual keyboard but I’m not sure there’s a better way to read emails and keep in touch with friends and family.

I’m really looking forward to new software as it is developed but there are a few things that I think Apple should add to the operating system.

Okay, the iPad is primarily designed to consume information and not to create it but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need the ability to print. Most of the apps allow me to email information, which is a way to get data of of the iPad, but why not give me a wireless printing option? Yes, there are wireless printing apps but this ability should be native to the OS.

In the same vein, I bought Pages and Numbers (think Word and Excel if you’re a Windows person.) These apps allow me to save to, which is fine I suppose, but there are other clouds – why not MobileMe or Google Docs? The more Apple allows me to move data off and on the iPad wirelessly, the more likely it will fit into my lifestyle.

As I was considering this, I began to think of the iPad as a portable device and the iPhone as a mobile device. The iPad is easy to carry around the house or pack up and take to work or to Starbucks but the iPhone fits in my pocket and is with me at all times. They should work in tandem.

For example, as I was playing with the app, I noticed that with one touch, I could create a shopping list for each recipe. What good is that shopping list if it stays on the iPad and I have to lug its fragile glass screen to the grocery store? Why not a “send to iPhone” option? This way, iPad allows me to consume information, in this case a recipe, and iPhone would allow me to carry necessary information that I need into the world.