Surviving and Thriving in Crypto Today

Going to make this claim based on the fact that (1) I have a decent amount of money in and (2) I 100% absolutely expected the present bloodbath and have little problem with it going even worse.  Also note, you’ll see no slides or ads or sponsorships here, so hey.

I’m looking at a few fundamental ideas here. In no particular order:

Big overarching idea: It is in fact crazy and speculative. I don’t think it’s where you put the life savings. If you can’t do it in a way that knows severe ups and downs are not just likely, but certain — you probably have no business being here. You can’t merely weather this drama, you must expect it and take advantage of it.

Next; you have to pay attention to the fundamentals of the *tech.* This is like paying attention to the fundamentals of a stock, but in a way even better because you’re less subject to humans and personalities. You can simply examine how the machinery works.

Look — Bitcoin itself, as compared to the other cryptos is the gray 30 pound brick cell phone. On one hand, a brilliant proof-of-concept that shows you what is possible with new technology and tells you that things are going to never going to be the same, post the invention. And on the other — even as it’s own, you can tell it’s already a relic dead in the water because it’s just too clunky and you know a better version will come along. When it was on it’s way up, I suggested that it would never fall below $5000. I still mostly believe that, and also I believe anything between 10 and 100K is entirely possible.  This is further augmented by the fact that crypto is not *stocks* — and one of the main, if not THE MAIN, selling point of crypto is liquidity and fungibility. If you can’t easily convert it to other money, it’s *literally* not doing its job. Therefore anything bad at this won’t do well.

But what about NFT’s?  Sigh, no. I am fascinated since the NFT space is a huge reversal in how tech usually happens — which is to say, in most tech the enthusiasts understand it better than the crowd. But the crowd gets it here; NFT’s are still mostly dumb.  To be a bit more precise, NFT’s are inherently contradictory in that they bring “decentralization” to things that NEED centralization. Collectibles are fine, digital ones even. But they all need a central clearinghouse sort of thing to work. There’s basically no tech that requires NFT’s. The BEST you can hope for, and a thing I think is likely to happen, is that NFT’s find a home for something that’s not strongly centrally controlled and the sizzle is enough to get the thing off the ground, even if it didn’t much need it. That is, the shininess of NFT’s might “explain” the concept to the world and popularize it (A parallel idea I’ve had — Twitter is essentially just RSS explained to the world in a sexy way.)

Let me broaden this centralization idea a bit and explain why I also don’t take much stock in the so called “Ethereum-killers” — Solana, Cardano et al. These are the ones trying to play nice with institutions. But again –blockchain’s literally not bringing anything new to institutions. They already have their “blockchain” but better-for-them, in the form of the electronic banking system we already have now. If anything, blockchains make their systems harder, because they are more public.

So the, back to the real stuff. I do think crypto lives on. Let’s think about what it must be good at: It has to move around well. This means you need to look at technologies that move it around better and cheaper. It has to be decentralized, and it has to store value in a valuable way (i.e. at least matching inflation, if not better. Perhaps something that appreciates when you lock it up like a CD).

Yup, again talking about Richard Heart’s Hex. Fits all of these. Now, I can see the objection with how Hex does inflation — it does Proof of Stake instead of Proof of Work, meaning the big money goes to the people who lock up their money like a CD, with penalties for early withdrawal. But I imagine most might be like “but where’s the value coming from — it’s not like a stock where you’re looking at future expected earnings.”

Sorry folks, this is when you have to get used to the actually correct refrain of the leftist-hippie. Money’s all imaginary, all of this is made up. I think it goes here. I think Hex, and proof-of-work does not require any other putatively objective “value-add” than “hey, saving your money in a CD type thing is a good thing, so the people believe.”

Now, if one doesn’t mind getting one’s feet a little dirtier, we can look at the other thing, Pulsechain/PulseX.  This takes care of one of the above fundamentals, it’s a duplicate Ethereum chain which is supposed to have lower fees — but even if it didn’t, it would still likely be valuable, for the same reason that more lanes on a highway are at least likely to relieve some congestion.  The dirty part is; well — if you invest in the Pulse stuff, this is very similar to selling shovels during the gold rush. If you believe that people are going to want to keep going with this stuff, inventing and trading and trying things, and yes, scamming — then it would make sense to invest in the thing that makes you money regardless of who loses or wins as they do it. And that’s Pulse and PulseX, I believe.

On Hex, Pulsechain, and PulseX, the crypto things I’m into

So a bit more on the crypto stuff I’m looking at. As always, definitely do your own research. If it doesn’t all sound absolutely crazy to you, it should. It’s just that sometimes crazy things still happen. (If you go look up Richard Heart, the guy doing all of this — I sincerely literally hope your first thought is something like “are you serious?”) But hey.

The three coins I’m most interested in are all closely related and I think I have a short way to explain the “why” for those who don’t know about them; all are positioned against scammy trading.

They’re Hex, Pulsechain and PulseX.

In short: Hex: Basically it rewards you for investing and holding, and not for trading.  You “stake” coins for a fixed period and you get an APY back. Additionally, if you “violate” your stake, i.e. end too early or late, you’re penalized — and the penalties go to people who don’t. Pretty good.

Pulse. Okay, these are crazy. First you have to get Ethereum(literally and figuratively). Ethereum is something like Bitcoin 2.0 — not only does it do “transactions,” but it also carries other coins, and can do automatic price setting and also stupid crap like NFTs. It works very well…but all the trades have fees that go miners, called “gas” and right now they are sky high. (Again, ethereum kind of means two things here — the “network” that everything is on, also called ERC20 — and also the “coin” you use to do the stuff, which is just called ethereum)

There’s about to be a copy of Ethereum/ERC20 called Pulsechain/PRC20, with lower fees and less waste. Now what is frankly pretty bat**** is that they’re not only copying the code, they’re copying the data. I.e., if you have any coins or nfts or whatever on Ethereum (the chain), there will be an exact duplicate of all of those things on Pulse.  There was already a “way” to get Pulse for “cheap” a while ago, called a ‘sacrifice.’ (This is wild word/tax jugglery, as in you don’t per se “buy” the coin bc taxes, you “sacrifice” coins and will be granted coins based on that, but since you get them before the launch they’re technically worth zero)

There’s another sacrifice going on right now though, for PulseX. PulseX is like Uniswap, if you know that — but basically what that is –it’s a coin used in Decentralized Exchanges, or DEXes. What that means is basically for certain crypto coins, you can buy or sell them without order books — it’s just a big computer in the middle that sets prices purely based on a supply in a pool; i.e. someone buys some out of the pool price goes up, and vice versa. Just lots of math.  Now, for this to work, you have to have a big pool of coins to work from. You incentivize these “liquidity pools” by having people put money in and guaranteed a tiny percentage for every trade that occurs. That’s what Uniswap and PulseX do.

Now, PulseX is having a sacrifice phase right now, best rates are locked in until jan 10. I will be doing some here, but you should do your homework if you decide to.

How this works is tough and it’s very very easy to get this wrong. Lots of opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot. Read lots of stuff on it:

One way to do it: You join a real exchange like Coinbase or Binance. But most of this stuff doesn’t work if you only have on an account in their thing — you need your own “wallet.” These are hard, but the standard is Metamask.  You’d have to convert to Ethereum, send that to your Metamask wallet — then possibly either swap to hex or “sacrifice” to pulsex.

Why Cryptocurrency is here to stay

Why Cryptocurrency is Here to Stay
Yes, it’s insane — but compared to what?

We can call it now; cryptocurrency is absolutely a part of our collective weird future, best to try to learn at least something about it now. Me, I’m trying to get over whatever you’d call post-FOMO, like I absolutely did miss out despite knowing about it well in advance. I remember reading papers about “bitcoin” and bitcoin-like tech IN COLLEGE. Woops.

Anyway, for context. For some time, and this still may be true, in certain countries it was profitable enough to play online-games for in-game “gold” to be traded to others over the Internet, even if there was no official market for doing so. That’s COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS and also quite sufficient to tell you that this stuff has a big future.

Couple this with the whole, undeniable, “The rich are getting richer” thing, which has well reached utterly *stupid* proportions. Absurd statistics on this abound – what, all Americans could get $3000 from the billionaires and still be richer than pre-pandemic? Perhaps one of the most telling things is watching our only human billionaire, Mackenzie Bezos, frantically try to give it away and can’t seem to fast enough.

So then. What happens in history is the stuff of government nightmares — when the main “money” is unable to do its job (which is to more or less be the lube of society, enabling actions and transactions and such) people begin to figure out ways to get things done amongst themselves with their own ways of trading.  (I have it on good authority that this is what Jesus flipped the tables over. I’m not kidding, but also I haven’t looked it up because I’m busy.)

To be fair: sometimes the society can’t figure out how to make this happen and you get inflation, but I’m relatively confident America isn’t this type at this stage. We are far too hustly to simply accept the idea that we can’t spend money, even if we don’t have it. We’ll make it, or use something else.

Like the weird Bitcoin thing. We mostly know about it, right? It’s a big bittorrented list of slot machine pulls and what people did after they “won” the pulls.  Yay me, I pulled 0000, now I will write down on the list that I gave half to you, and you can go give it to other people as well, and it will all be written down on the list.

Weird, but no weirder than soft useless yellow metal or dirty green pieces of paper. Some of the same characteristics, again, the biggest draw being that — no one can centrally know how much yellow metal is out there, but there’s not too much. Also, no one can watch all the dirty green pieces of paper.  With the Bitcoin (but actually perhaps not with some of the others) we can all see the list, but it’s not names, just numbers, and they can get lost in the wash, especially if you’re careful.

There is a question as to which of the cryptos will be the big one(s) we actually use as currency. Bitcoin has a big advantage as being the first, but it’s a bit clunky. Ethereum is basically second, and it better *works* as something like this, and also people are hacking it to do other things, like “contracts” and whatnot. And there are a ton of others as well, a whole lot of well meaning ones, a whole lot of stupid ones, a whole lot of utter scams, and everything in between.

True, we are still firmly in “lots of scams” mode (and I confess, I’m having some fun poking around in this space just to see what the hell is going on) but yeah, this stuff is in it for the long haul, it’s just too useful. More to come…

If you hate ‘cancel culture,’ you should LOVE Critical Race Theory

First off, cancel culture is just culture. True, many people are getting postponed, but very few are actually cancelled.

THAT BEING SAID, I too have a problem with how we do the conversation about “past racist behavior,” because it can be reactionary and unhelpful, and might I provide a solution.

Critical Race Theory.

As with many hot academic topics, CRT has likely hit that point at which developing a clear and concise definition is impossible, as it simply fits the intended mold of whoever’s talking about it. But the following idea I think sticks regardless.

For a good bit of this nation’s history, racism isn’t best viewed as an aberration from the norm; but as the norm itself; a cursory look at both laws and practices make this abundantly clear, and so now it is incumbent upon educators to oppose whitewashing and to tell this story honestly.

The problem. Often this: White person is found to have done or said racist things in the past, and as a result “cancellation,” whatever that entails. Frequently, if not always, this happens *despite* the other good deeds the person has been involved with since then. The subtext here is the implication that said white person was somehow “very willing” and “uniquely racist.” But, as Criticial Race Theory (or any black person who’s been through a sufficient number of metaphorical rodeos) will tell you — most of the time, nah, that’s just how things, and how people, were.

Not to excuse it entirely, of course — just the opposite. One most hold the “entire past” accountable in a productive way. And I’m not exactly sure what that way is — but I can tell you that what it isn’t is easily getting worked up over “sinning” individuals. It was healthy to have the conversation and good to bring up; but I think the pattern can be seen now.

Most of the time attacking that sort of person (especially when their “sins” are more incidental and cosmetic) isn’t serving justice; it’s providing momentary distraction and fodder for the right — something hot and unimportant to misdirect from much more pressing present issues — or worse, we get tricked into harming people who help us.

So yes, bring on the CRT, please.

Why is Videoconferencing such a mess?

You know the story; it’s the last day of class and the kids are excited to say their goodbyes and such. Some quirk happens and now all is chaos because control of the room has switched to one of the students, who has very little interest in anything besides CHAOS.

What we’re not going to do is blame the teachers here. What we absolutely are going to do is blame the creators — or more accurately, the pushers of the software; because they’re the ones pushing half-baked products out of the door onto us with little consideration or consent.

(As I write this, this is the first time I’ve used the phrase “pushers” here, but the more I think about it it’s absolutely perfect. As the old joke goes, there are only two industries that refer to the customers as users.)

The Big Z (yes, I’m starting to think I need to oddly censor here since I’ve started to push some of this stuff to social media) is probably our biggest offender. Like most widespread big time software projects, they start off with a good product for a particular use (here, small deeply hierarchal work meetings ) and then end up forcing it to goop out into other services and purposes that it is not well suited for (here, most everything else).

The thing with software and software-like services: Often, you can observe a phenomenon where a business can sign big contracts and get comfy– and service suffers as a result.  What’s remarkable in this realm; it happens in “internet-time,” nearly instantly.

The OTHER thing:  Software, having such low marginal and structural costs is *theoretically* always competitive — more specifically, for every bit of software like this, there are always quite a few competitors out there, and the others are better.

This is where it is actually fruitful to pay attention to your classic economics ideas about laziness and competition;  if you want to find quality software products; look to the situations which naturally weed out companies that are given the opportunity to slack through their guaranteed clients (pun somewhat intended?)  My go-to example is Discord; it got big through videogaming, which a moment’s thought will reveal is an *excellent* filter. While people might be forced to use other services through work or school and such — most everyone on Discord is there because they want to be, on their free time.

What to do? It’s tough, but a first start is to just look around, ask questions, push back if you can. There are lots of great alternatives ready to go.  An example, my go-to for quick setup is Jitsi, though that too is just one of many.

Cloud Based Password Managers are Stupid

This is pretty simple. Without one, your password is in one location. When you use one, it is now in (at least)  two. And the second one is probably a significantly more attractive target for intruders, since there is likely to be a whole bunch of other goodies there as well.  As we in the biz say, you have significantly increased your “threat attack surface.”  “MyPassCloud” or whoever is *definitely* going to have way more people going after it than your little cats with googly eyes instagram account.

True, they might be safer for individuals who are bad at keeping their own passwords safe. But they do not have any special encryption that you can’t get yourself, for free — and they are almost certainly worse than your grandma’s yellow legal pad with cleartext passwords sitting next to her computer.

If the convenience is worth it for you, that’s fine — it’s just that they need to be more honest about it; you’re getting convenience at the price of significantly greater risk.

As always, I could be proved wrong with a little “skin in the game.” Ask how many of these services are willing to indemnify you in case of a breach i.e. you get hacked, they pay you for the damage. That would absolutely be worth paying for, but I’m pretty certain that none of them are willing to do it. Any takers out there?

Black Supremacy

The title is inspired by a goofy tweet from Terry Crews, something along the lines of “we need white participation (true) else Black Supremacy will take over (what?)”

Not going to praise or bury Mr. Crews here, though I do think his presence in Hollywood and how it plays out is worth paying attention to. Note that he is the most famous (non-football playing) person with his sort of appearance, and it’s unfortunately 100% clear that the American Fame Machine has demanded him to “be non-threatening” to a ridiculous extreme for him to retain the place he has in showbiz. If he wants to do it, it’s fine, that’s his personality. But it’s now the job of the USA to realize what an absurd standard it is, and, of course, not hold all black men to it. But, actually, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.

“Black Supremacy.” There’s a bit of truth to it, at least in one regard that I can easily identify. It, of course, doesn’t exist in force of power — but it does in “collective political wisdom,” and now it is time for all good people to defer to it. Put simply, we discuss and vote correctly about politics far more than any other easily identifiable demographic, check the numbers.

The irony, or perhaps the cause, even — is how the Black vote gets questioned time and time again as if it could be fooled. I’m thinking way back in ancient history when there was a discussion over whether Pete Buttigieg would have to deal with black homophobia in the ballot box. The answer (if it had come to it, i.e. if he had been the nominee) was always “hell, no” — but it’s funny and perhaps bizarre that the question would always come up.

Which, again, may be the cause. We discuss, we rant, we rhetorically fight, and generally, that gets us where we need to be (on which direction to vote, if nothing else.)

I feel the need to point out that this is also true in regard to some of our more colorful politicians, e.g. Marion Berry. I will simply say as I’ve said before; whatever he was doing the night before, he got up in the morning and fought like hell for black folks. Which is the only truly intelligent way to vote (i.e. Oh, you’re paying attention to what they do in their private life? Good chance you just got played.)

Perhaps that’s what this moment is; everyone waking up to the fact that we were right all along in so many ways. Let’s keep that up, for sure.

Quick thing I’ll discuss in detail later on. Sorry but definitely not sorry for making you come to my domain,, to read this — we should all be doing it this way because this is a self (in my case, Black) ownership type of thing as much as any other. Zuck loves Trump.

An iPad is not a computer.

Have an honest-to-gosh iPad in the home for the first time (we’ve reached the stage where dad just had one lying around and another Zoom box is useful)

My snarky-but-honest social media ready thought:

“Stop being impressed that your child can use one. Be troubled that the thing is exactly calibrated for minds working at a child’s level.”

But will focus less on that — was recently regaled with an ad for the iPad Pro, and pleased to see a point that Apple and I agree on: An iPad is not a computer.

Let’s go ahead and lean into this distinction because, hardware notwithstanding, I think it’s a good one to use. An iPad is not a computer, nor is an iPhone. Also not computers: Android devices neither. Mac and Windows laptops and desktops generally are, at least for now. Linux (lets be pedantic for a sec, GNU/Linux) computers absolutely are and will likely will be forever.

The main distinction in a general form: You own and control computers – which are *general purpose machines* — and have at least the option of great deal of control in their operation and underlying systems. The other things are limited use appliances – in which (despite being made of computer parts) the owning company has deliberately disabled “general use,” partly to make them easy to use and partly to retain a great deal of control over them.

Going further – every household needs at least one computer, on which you save the stuff you care about, OUTSIDE of “the cloud.”

No excuse for most of you. You can perhaps use a Windows or Mac machine (less safe) or get a Raspberry Pi. (very safe and cheap).

Further, then. Every household should have at least one computer — on which you save the things you care about, outside of “the cloud.”

The Mac and Windows machines are okay for this — but even better is a Linux machine. The very-cheap Raspberry Pi is a great candidate for this; get on it.

Your kids should be able to have a tablet that doesn’t spy on them…here’s how.

This is how I’ve done the tablets for my kids; there’s no reason at all that a kids toy should be able to spy on your child, and as a tech guy and skeptic, this is how I do it.

Go Android, go cheap.

Sorry Apple users, but it’s impossible to use ever use their devices without giving up LOTS of personal info. I will admit, this makes them slightly better stewards than the Android world in terms of keeping it safe (for now) — but for this with Android we have the ability to essentially never give them anything; they can’t mishandle what they never had in the first place.

So it’s fine, even better, to go cheap! Even if we mess around and get malware or whatever, it’s not going to majorly affect us -worse comes to worse, do a hard reset or just return it. (Make sure you don’t mess up and get a cheap Windows tablet, this will become crushingly slow upon doing nearly anything)

Fake email? Pssssh. NO EMAIL.

You turn it on and it will beg you to enter your Google/Gmail information. RESIST. Eventually you should hit a home screen, despite the desparate begging and pleading. A less great alternative is to do a fake one, but it doesn’t need to be done.

How to get apps without Google?

We’re going to get old school and do the thing that your IT mama always warned you about — we’re going to download things from the internet and just put them on there. Again, since you’re not putting personal info on it, the worst danger from malware et al is you possibly having to do a hard reset if things mess up.

A bit on this; app stores like Google Play can be bypassed by directly downloading files, (known as apks). Google doesn’t like you doing this, partly for safety from malware etc. (admittedly true) but also for being able to lockdown the app market and extract rents from app creators.

You’ll have to “Enable Unknown Sources” and Google is going to try to scare you out of doing this. It’s basically a setting (that gets moved around a bunch in Android), here’s a guide.

Our first stop should be the same first stop as it should have been on your Android phone – the alternative app “store” (they’re all free) F-droid, at It’s (IMHO) SAFER than Google Play.

This is a repository for free and open source Android apps, and you should always check here first. It’s admittedly pretty limited (especially if you’re used to Facebook, etc. apps, but there are a ton of great utilities here.) It has it’s own installer app that you can use.

BONUS and honestly this may be all you need: PBS KIDS. Watch for “Wrong links” — the tiny “if the download doesn’t start click here” link should be do it. You may need adblockers and such.

Movies and videos and music?

First, definitely get VLC, available on all of the above or directly here: (this is their official site) for playback.

You’ll have to get them on your device, get familiar with how your particular tablet works here — some can be mounted as if they were flash drives, some can actually mount flash or Micro SD drives, some can do both. As for the copying, I will leave it up to you whether or not you choose to do it; the legality is unclear but “enforcement” of this is rare. Here are the options:

I like Handbrake a lot for physical media.

Also, there is the possibility of grabbing media from Youtube with

Okay, but they can’t live without Netflix / Hulu / etc.

A little dicier, but I’ve done it succesfully every time – basically, you’ll have to find “non-official” apks from non-official sources. Right now, I generally trust for these, but as you google (or better yet, duckduckgo) definitely use your adblockers and such (next, I’ll write up a thing on browsers).


Online Teaching Guide

My thoughts, tips, and guides on teaching and administering instruction online, please see notices below*

I am posting this for the benefit of colleagues everywhere, largely in response to many schools switching to online teaching due to the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic. The first best time for me to do this would have been years ago, the next best time is now. My goal is to edit this as needed.




On content/learning management systems, e.g. Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, etc. These have their strengths and drawbacks, but after a decade plus of experience using these systems, I generally never trust them to work as intended. Because they are closed, centralized systems, features and services can’t always be relied on to work or work well*.

ADDENDUM: In line with what I’ve said here — to the extent possible, use any internet tools and/or “the cloud” for communication (and perhaps backup) — but not as your primary storage. My current real-life example: I’ve been putting grades and comments into a local Excel-type (really LibreOffice Calc) spreadsheet first, and then transferring them. Right now, as I’ve been trying to get them in, my LMS (Canvas) is throwing errors, unable to save my grades and comments, but I’m not losing much work or time because I did it this way first. A lot of very fine people and sources will not tell you to do this, and may actually warn you against it, but it serves me well and I think it will you, too.

Even if, backups are always good. A good way to start is to consider precisely what you need to do, and then figure the most consistent and cross-compatible way to do so. 80% of this is the following: When you need to communicate privately, use email. When you can communicate and relay material publicly, use HTML.



Hopefully, this is mostly self explanatory. Gather your students’ emails if you have them, now. This will ensure you can communicate even if (when?) your LMS goes down. Email certainly has its warts, but there’s a reason it’s the only “social media slash communication platform” that’s remained relatively unchanged for about 20 years or so, and why it’s still the one most of your services defaults to as a back up. It. Just. Works.



The simple beauty of HTML is that it tends to work everywhere — if you know a bit about web hosting, you can do it yourself that way — but even if you don’t there are a number of services, public, private, free and not, that will let you host your stuff. Finally, all (at least that I’ve seen) LMS’ do support HTML very well. Thus a very good strategy that works consistently is:

1) Develop your material in a format that at least exports to HTML.
2) Publish your material, optionally by multiple means.

Note: I certainly DO NOT mean that you should be writing raw HTML. There are a plethora of methods that allow you to edit conveniently. The following is a mix of technologies, standards, and services. I use all of them to various degrees.

  • WordPress – More websites in the world use WordPress than anything else, with good reason. It’s probably the only good content management system, precisely because it didn’t set out to be one — it evolved naturally instead of trying to be a top-down thing.
  • Other Web enabled HTML editors. WordPress and LMS’ frequently have in-built editors that will let you do a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) approach, but can also drop you in to a raw HTML editing mode. Mixing these can work very well.
  • Markdown. Markdown is *wonderful* — it’s a very simple markup language that allows for decorated and formatted text with simple text methods, eg _underline_ *bold* etc. You still have to find a way to convert. (In a sane world, we’d all be using something like this instead of e.g. Microsoft Word.)

And the main thing I use:

  • Zim. I rant about this program frequently, I think it’s the greatest program ever created – it’s both easy for a beginner to pick up and still infinitely extensible because it relies on simple text. It can do a lot of things, but one thing that it can do especially well is to create digital “notebooks” in a Markdown-esque format that can be exported to HTML to create full websites. It’s what this website primarily uses (though if you see my face on the side and a comment box below, you’re on the WordPress version of this page, which I’m doing to accommodate comments. Go here for zim in action, and for how it’s done, here:




It’s really curious (and not necessarily bad) that the world has not been able to settle on one “live videoconferencing” platform. Before I get into the individual services, there’s one major tip I have, cross-platform agnostic.

If you are using anything visual – slides, pdfs, videos, boards, live-coding, etc. All of the systems are going to have their own quirky ways of handling them — but the saving grace is that just about all of them will let you share a window from you computer– thus you can avoid all of this pain by making and using a virtual machine. As it sounds, its like a separate baby computer inside your real computer That “computer” is its own window and it’s walled off from everything else, so you just “share” the entire “computer.”

Complete guide here: Tech Guides:Linux:Virtual Install Complete Instructions

Video Platforms

As for platforms, you obviously may be limited by your institution, but here’s what I am familiar with in an official capacity: Blackboard Collaborate (Classic), Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and Zoom. In order of preference.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra – In my view, provides the best balance. Screensharing works well, breakout rooms are usable, recordings are generally done well, and most importantly, it does work on non-computer devices like phones and tablets.
Blackboard Collaborate Classic – Battle tested, everything tends to work pretty well, but the biggest drawback is that it requires Java, which makes it unsuitable for anything other than computers. Lack of phone and tablet compatibility is the dealkiller here — but if everyone has a computer, it’s good.
Zoom – Zoom is excellent for “meetings,” that’s what it was designed for. If you have no need for breakout rooms or group work, it should work fine. But its breakout room features for teaching are (as far as I can tell) quite confusing and difficult and generally a mess.

I’m not familiar with the other official ones, but I’ve also seen consideration of other “unofficial” methods that are battle tested for other realms, e.g. Slack, Discord, Twitch, etc. I use Slack and Discord in real life for other things, I may post more here.


That’s it for now, this is a work in progress — if you’re on the WordPress version, please feel free to comment below and if there’s interest I’ll keep updating this.


Copyright 2020, John R. Marks IV. All rights reserved. I likely won’t strongly enforce copyright, especially if your sharing is in good faith. This does not represent any official school or school policy, but as I am an instructor in information technology, I do claim this is covered by academic freedom provisions of Florida’s UFF bargaining agreement and elsewhere.