Outdoor Smell

I had a pretty weird email from the Fredericksburg Alert system yesterday, and timed bizarrely while en route to Fredericksburg. The subject was “Outdoor Smell,” and the email read as follows:

This is a notification from the City of Fredericksburg:

Please be aware that with current weather conditions, the noxious outdoor smell that is similar to a gas leak is actually the King George landfill odor wafting into the City. If there is a gas smell inside AND you have natural gas service, then please contact 9-1-1.

Tell a friend/coworker about Fredericksburg Alert! Forward this message to them and have them register for this free service at www.fredericksburgalert.com.

Disquieting to think a regional landfill is perfuming the city given weather conditions (not sure if it was wind, but assuming as much), but I worked at the College of Staten Island, so I’m no stranger to such realities. But about six hours later they sent a second email that was even more bizarre:

Follow up to this morning’s alert.
The source of the odor could not be confirmed.
No gas leaks were found in the city.

It almost reads like a decontextualized stanza to a poem, the idea that the smell is no longer linked to the landfill (I never knew a landfill to smell like gas), and there seems to be no evidence of where it came from now. It’s like I am walking into the beginning of an eerie movie plot, I kinda love it. 

If we don’t, remember me….

Posted in fun | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Postscript on Server Migrations (redirecting network traffic to a new IP)

During the break between Christmas and New Year’s I migrated a server from Linode to Digital Ocean. We have just a handful left, and most of those should be gone this year. This migration was pretty straightforward, no WordPress portal or WHMCS instance, just a straight-up cPanel server. The plan was to run our handy dandy server deploy script which gets about 95% of a new cPanel server setup in about 30 minutes, which is amazing given this use to be a day-long process. Once that server is setup we need to copy all data between the two servers using IP addresses given we want to keep the same hostname, i.e., universityx.reclaimhosting.com. This is easily done with the the Transfer tool in cPanel, and migrating over 500 cPanel accounts took about an hour and a half. 

Once all the accounts are migrated over cleanly, we need to point the DNS records in AWS’s Route 53 to the new IP address of the new server on Digital Ocean. If all went well that should be all set, the one mistake I made on this recent migration was not copying over the existing SSL certificate from the old server—it’s always something. So, after that’s done another trick Tim showed me that has come in useful was redirecting all traffic to the old IP to the new IP server-wide. This post spells it out very well, and it ensures that any lingering traffic that may be going to old server for all kinds of DNS reasons would be pushed to the new server right away. 


Anyway, just putting this here in the event I need this again so I don’t have to dig through Slack again to find the link, not to mention to remind myself of the mistakes I made the last time so I can avoid them next time 🙂

Posted in sysadmin | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing

I appreciate NYU Libraries’ straightforward approach to their Domain of One’s Own project, they basically say, we’re hosting …. that’s it. In fact, it’s right in their domain: http://hosting.nyu.edu

So when someone recently asked me for various examples of how schools are approaching Domains, I headed over to NYU’s instance, and I was struck again by their ability to quickly distill what this service is and is not.

The Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing table breaks down the difference between something like a WordPress Multisite instance versus a Domain of One’s Own quite nicely. You could argue the last point about portability given WordPress sites on WPMS are pretty easy to migrate, but regardless it is spot on.

Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing

hosting.nyu.edu wp.nyu.edu
Requires intermediate web publishing skills Great for those new to website development
Backend Server Access via cPanel, SSH, and FTP Simple User Interface
Allows for one-click installs and endless customization of self-hosted WordPress, Scalar, and Omeka Limited to WordPress and NYU-approved themes and plugins
No charge to NYU users and easy to migrate upon graduation No charge to NYU user

I sometimes get defensive when folks I respect bemoan how hard self-hosting remains. I do think the point is a fair one and a Domains roll-out will never (nor was it ever meant to) replace various other university-provided tools that create less friction for publishing—even if some need replacing. But I do think web hosting as a basic utility should have a more prominent place at universities like it does at the NYU Libraries. The way they frame it around research, scholarship, and publishing for the digital era should not seem alien anymore. It should be yet another service universities offer alongside the others because there will increasingly be more and more faculty and students who want and need control over their publishing environments for the academic work they are doing.

Posted in reclaim | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Back to the Future: The Mothership or The DeLorean?

Cropping from book cover of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond

We are thrilled to finally announce the first keynote presentation at Domains19, which will be co-presented by Chris Gilliard and sava saheli singh, who will be asking the question: “Back to the Future: The Mothership or The DeLorean?” Chris jokingly wrote when describing the talk: “Think George Clinton, Octavia Butler, and The Mothership meets Domains.” I can’t think of anything cooler, and the abstract will give you a sense of what’s to come:

A common (yet searingly accurate) lament is that so much of our current tech and visions of the future are based on the limited imaginations of the small segment of the population that fits within Silicon Valley’s ideal of “innovation.” Thus we are often burdened with tech (and ed-tech) that suits the vision and needs of people who are overwhelmingly white and male. As we live the consequences of this vision, it’s worthwhile to think about Black and Brown visions of “the future” to inform how we might move forward in a way that looks decidedly different from our current path. This keynote aims to complicate current ways of thinking about privacy, security, accessibility, and ownership, drawing on Afrofuturism and 80’s funk to imagine ways of operating outside of our current paradigm of surveillance capitalism.

You can read more about both Chris and Sava’s work here, and if you are considering coming to Domains19 on June 10th and 11th, it might be high time to submit a proposal or register for the conference. The proposal deadline has been extended out to February 15th, so there is world enough and time to submit and/or register!

Posted in Domains 2019, reclaim | Tagged , | 1 Comment


Last week was intense, I came off a week’s vacation and the spring semester was in full effect at Reclaim already. It was head’s down most of the week, but one small highlight for me was getting a ticket from a client that certain students were having problems getting email confirmations after registering, which in WordPress Multisite (WPMS) means the their user’s account sits in limbo. They can’t be seen by the site administrator, but when they try to sing-up again the email is noted as already part of the system. Frustrating. The only real way to find them is to dig into the database, which can be a non-starter for some.


Well, I remembered there was a plugin that helped with this, but I had forgotten it was written by the great Boone Gorges. It is a really useful plugin: it lists all unconfirmed users; allows you to re-send the email; and/or you can override the system and add an unconfirmed user so they can get going with a quick password reset. It’s a must have for a WPMS administrator managing a fair amount of users, and it seems odd this is not part of the core code for WPMS by now. What’s more, unlike the WPMU Dev creeps, it’s open and free! Thank you, Boone!

Posted in plugins, WordPress, wordpress multi-user, wpmu | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Few Parting Shots for 2018

Before I close down for a week off I thought I would get in a few parting shots at 2018 on a more personal note. I already did my best to sum up my thoughts around Reclaim for 2018, and admittedly it is hard for me to separate myself from my work on the bava, particularly when my work is what I love to do, but I’ll try nonetheless. 

View this post on Instagram

Blog Body -this one is for you @adamc

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

One of the big changes I made two years ago was embracing exercise. It took a while, but spending as much time as I do in and around the mountains made it next to impossible not to give in. I’ve taken to hiking the last couple of years and it has had a significant impact on my physical and mental health, and that has made all the difference, I am 25 pounds lighter, I can knock-out a 10-mile hike pretty easily (unless it’s Mini Mt. Marcy in the snow), and I no longer get winded when climbing steps. In fact, on average this year I hiked 4 miles and climbed the equivalent of 33 flights of stairs each and every day. That’s a bit more than last year, and extending that streak to two years feels really good. I found hiking provides the time and space I didn’t give myself before. I spend almost two hours every day working through various scenarios in my head, thinking through issues, and generally mulling. If you are a manic depressive like me, mulling and working through scenarios can be a nightmare, but when it is tied to mildly vigorous exercise it’s more like catharsis. I feel so much healthier as a result, and I believe the end result is that I am far less rash and reactive when issues arise at either work or home. 

View this post on Instagram

Kensington Palace’s Sunken Gardrn

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

Family life continues to rule. I am really thankful for the time I have with Anto and the kids. I’m present in ways I don’t think I was previously. I joke a lot about EDUPUNK and ds106, but for a good 4 or 5 years while I was working I felt like I had at least partially checked out. The kids were smaller, we were pretty broke, and I was hustling on the road for rent money. It was a relatively generative time professionally, but by 2013 shit had caught up to me, and I was not healthy in many respects. Quitting the sauce in 2013 was a crucial first step, but it took at least two or three years for me to get back on track. I remember visiting Dave and Bonnie on Prince Edward Island in August of 2015 and I was on the inhaler and Dave straight-out said, “You’re not really healthy, are you?” LOL, I was like “Yeah, not really.” But that was also an eye-opener for me, and I think the last 3 years has put some distance between myself and the inhaler boy I was, at the same time it has also been a way to be more present with the family. No question, the freedom Reclaim has allowed me is a huge part of all this, and for that I’m ever grateful, but I also know my kids are growing up fast and I want to avoid the trap of missing it for work. We all went to London for Miles’ 14th birthday, and that was an awesome time. We made all kinds of memories, like when I told Miles to lie about his age at a movie theater so we could see Halloween together, but he couldn’t close the deal and the usher called us out and made us see Bohemian Rhapsody*—which we loved BTW.  We also got to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum Video Game Exhibit which made a powerful impression for me, and even inspired some maker activity back at the Reclaim HQ

Anto and I also got to visit Helsinki, which was awesome. I am a big fan of that city, one of my favorites in Europe thus far, but I think my company may have colored my experience.

View this post on Instagram

Outclassed again!

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

But arguably the biggest change in 2018 was the adoption of an Italian Spinone who uses the moniker Duke, but is also known as the bavaduke, Duke Nukem, and Freakin’ Duke. I’ve become obsessed with this dog, and if I have my way I will have a puppy Spinone by early Summer. It’s been quite nice to have consistent company on my daily walks for the last few months of 2018, and the old adage is true, we became fast friends and companions. The precarity of our financial and living conditions up and until the last 5 years or so has precluded my having a dog for the previous 30 or so years, but it’s high time to make up for that absence now. 

View this post on Instagram

Your daily Duke

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

It’s no secret that our first family dog, Daphne, is basically Anto’s dog.

View this post on Instagram

Feels good to be back in a routine with these two

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

She has one love, and one love only. Duke is a bit more polyamorous, to my chagrin:

View this post on Instagram

I begrudgingly admit that Duca is a family dog

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

2018 has been a pretty amazing year on a personal level, and I’m all too aware anything can change at anytime, so I want to be sure to capture and enjoy the good times while I can. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2019 to the one or two people who made it this far, I’m talking to you Pat Lockley—you just may get your server name in 2019  🙂

*NB – I didn’t say I was a good parent, just more present. But really, WTF with the Brits not letting parents decide if a kid under 18 can see an R-rated film or not? Nanny state!

Posted in family | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My Instagram Problem

Hi, my name is bava, and I have an Instagram problem. 

I never planned to get on Instagram, and I was even less inclined to enjoy it. But 616 posts and 18 months later I’m realizing I am deeper in then I ever intended. I tell myself I can quit anytime, but now that Twitter holds little joy for me and Mastodon feels like a temporary rebound relationship, Instagram has quietly become my go to. My network is mainly friends and family, and I love that alongside an announcement from my nephew on Long Island that he got a Lacrosse scholarship to Stonybrook (go Kevin!) will be an art piece by my dear friends’ daughter in Portland, Oregon. I like those random visual juxtapositions, and I also like that it’s pretty much photos from folks I know. But how did it happen?

View this post on Instagram

None shall pass #Trento

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

It wasn’t too long ago I was talking smack on Antonella for abandoning Twitter for Instagram while she was working through a knit-along. But then the kids were on Instagram, my nephews and nieces were on Instagram, and when Tim came to Italy in August of 2017 he was posting his photos from the trip almost exclusively on Instagram. That’s when I finally broke down, I remember it well, I was approaching the Vatican, some would say it was an inspired conversion:)

View this post on Instagram

St Peter's Cathedral this afternoon.

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

I have next to no presence on Facebook, and I prefer it that way. I figured it would be the same for Instagram, but given my current hobbies of hiking and taking photos I’m not so sure I will be leaving Instagram anytime soon. I’ve been a Flickr member since 2005, and I have over 17,000 photos on that site. When they recently changed their terms after being acquired by Smugmug I immediately paid the ransom for my photos. I’m by no means surprised at this development, and frankly I would be surprised if anyone was surprised at this in 2018. How long can we feign outrage when these companies repeatedly confirm what we already know, they provide a “free” service in exchange for our data? In fact, I’m not so sure paying  Smugmug will mean my data is protected, but handing over that $30 was simply a stop-gap measure to buy some time.

I want to experiment with hosting my photos differently in 2019, and one of the highlights of 2018 I forgot to mention in my last post was seeing the Google Archive team present on their work with the Data Transfer Project at MyData in Helsinki this August. This open source software enables you to move photos between services like Google Photos, Flickr, Instagram, etc. seamlessly, and I would love to see what it would look like to push those photos into a WordPress (or whatever your publishing poison may be) site template with custom post types that could map all the metadata via APIs. It’s Kin Lane stuff for sure, but I was pretty blown away at the demo wherein they pushed all their photos from Flickr to Google Photos, and vice versa. But I am not so interested in moving stuff off of one service to another, because that simply means you have a new landlord to be beholden to, but for me the thrill was the underlying idea of seamless data portability between services that means moving your stuff when things go bad is trivial.

But I digress, this post was supposed to be about my Instagram problem. But really I don’t have an Instagram problem as much as I have a photo problem. I’ve used Flickr as an archive for my photos, as well a sporadic repository for the images in my blog posts, for a while now. I don’t keep up with it regularly, but a few times a year I will make an effort to make the photos I automatically send there through my phone public with a title and occasional description. I also have Dropbox backing up all photos and video on my phone. I am definitely backing up my photos, but Instagram is the only place I am really doing anything with them, i.e. sharing them. I used to do that on Twitter a bit, but they increasingly seem out of place there. As you can see from my top nine above, my photos are mainly of me and my family hiking, snowboarding, traveling, or getting eaten by the fashion shark. There’s a lot of play there, and the story is quotidian and personal—which has by and large been my attraction to the web. [Politics on social media continue to bore me, despite how much I should care.] But the  above top 9 is not the true top 9, the true top 9 is the Duke top 9!

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

Did I mention I got a dog in 2018? But not just any dog, but an Italian Spinone to go with my wardrobe. He’s everything. He was a rescue, and I have already convinced the family that we will be getting a spinone puppy in the spring, I am hooked. 

View this post on Instagram

There’s this looming presence in my life now….

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

I did not realize that what I needed to complete my domestic bliss was a gigantic, shaggy, slobbering beast to accompany me on my daily hikes. 

View this post on Instagram

Spotted a Yeti in the wild

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

He’s more like a Yeti than a dog when he finds himself in the Dolemites.

View this post on Instagram

Blending in with his environment

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

View this post on Instagram

Afternoon break with bavaduke

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

View this post on Instagram

Best dog eva

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

View this post on Instagram

My buddy Duke

A post shared by Jim Groom (@jim.groom) on

Duke has made posting that much more fun. I just like sharing the goings on of casa bava’s latest addition. I’m absolutely open to photo sharing alternatives, but until I figure out something better I’ll be continuing to cultivate my Instagram problem with my shaggy beast bestie.

Posted in Flickr, Instagram, pictures | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Reclaim 2018

This year has been another solid one at Reclaim Hosting, and while I have some breathing room between semesters I figured I’d try to recap of some the highlights. For a small team we tend to bite off a lot, and I’m over the moon with how much we got done this year, but there’s no question it has been an intense one.

Reclaim Video Signage

The first major project of the year was getting our video store, Reclaim Video, up and running. There was a fair bit of manual labor involved in this process, including a groovy carpet that was almost the death of me. We did most of the work in February and March, and by April we had the official launch of Reclaim Video at OER18 in Bristol which included an unveiling of the website as well as  the screening of our first “marketing” video:

The OER18 conference was another highlight for Reclaim given the entire team attended, and we enjoyed the vibe so much it looks like we’ll be heading to Ireland for OER19 this Spring to re-live the glory of our video world premiere. 

We also used the announcement of Reclaim Video as an excuse to update our website art from vinyl records to VHS tapes, which has been a fun motif for the site. I also think it’s high time we get shirts made of the new logo design, all hail Bryan Mathers.

To top off the Reclaim Video art and video-infused frenzy of the first 5 or 6 months of 2018, we invited Michael Branson Smith to Fredericksburg in June to brainstorm ways to build on top of the Reclaim Video website he designed for us. This led to some playing with Raspberry Pis, animated GIF movie posters, and beefing up the Reclaim Video stereo system. Hanging out with Michael was a definite highlight because he’s always a creative inspiration, and the playful work we did with him that weekend would carry through for us into the second half of 2018 (but more on that anon). 

But the first half of 2018 was not all VHS stores and world premieres, we also ran our second (and possibly last) Workshop of One’s Own in Fredericksburg. This workshop had 14 people and was a two-day tour de force, Tim even threw in an escape room. We also brought in Alan Levine to kick off a year-long fellowship to offer SPLOTs as one-click installs through Reclaim’s Installatron (we currently have 5 up and running).

Also of note during the Spring was the talk I gave at Re:publica in May. The conference seemed like a throwback tech conference from the aughts, and I realized then and there that my heart’s not really in the presenting game these days. Part of that is I feel like I’ve said all I need to say on Domains using that format, and the other is I’ve not been all that good at coming up with novel presentations—which means I’m re-hashing. I hope I find my mojo again because I really do enjoy presenting, but between the crunch of my day job and the realization I’ve had more than my fair share of opportunities to present—it might be a good time to lay low and plan my late career comeback in Vegas 🙂 That said, making another guest appearance on Virtually Connecting with Christian Friedrich was a highlight:

I also got to meet an international band of #Edupunx thanks to Twitter and a coffee mug, which I am now in proud possession of 🙂

The last 6 months of 2018 had the same level of intensity, but in different directions. Starting in June we were strongly considering re-developingDomain of One’s Own from the ground up. This meant trying to imagine the experience outside of cPanel and WHMCS entirely in order to build the Domains infrastructure on top of a container-based application framework like Cloudron. It remains a dream, but after spending a few months exploring the requirements and seeing just exactly what this would entail we decided to shelve it for a variety of reasons. Foremost amongst which was the uncertainty of what a container-based, app-driven hosting environment would mean in terms of server resources and costs. 

June was also the time when Digital Ocean featured Reclaim in one of their case studies, which was not only awesome but also timely given we would spend much of the Summer of 2018 moving the last of our shared and Domain of One’s Own server fleet to DO. It was a 2-3 year long migration of our infrastructure, but this Summer saw the last of all significant migrations—which was both a huge accomplishment and relief at once. As an added bonus DO cut their pricing significantly to start 2018 which meant we could return the favor to our managed hosting clients—which felt good.

June was also the time Lauren officially moved into the role of Account Manager with the idea that we would be more intentional and pro-active about reaching out to schools. It’s been a learning process trying to manage over 70 schools, but building regularity of communication into our practice has been huge and Lauren has been amazing at this. Moreover, she has also been on-boarding clients, fielding interests from potential schools, setting up servers, and all while answering support tickets. The untold joys of working for a small company 🙂

One of the nice things about 2018 is that we showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, quite the opposite. Part of what made this such an amazing year was seeing a major uptick of interest in our managed hosting for WordPress Multisite, as well as our Professional Services offering.  Reclaim has been diversifying a bit beyond Domains and shared hosting, which means we are rounding out well while at the same time remaining focused on what we do well: academic-driven hosting. We’ve also gotten more interest from schools that want us to manage user support for their campus Domains project, which is one reason why our growth has been focused on shoring up the support experience.

We knew if we didn’t hire someone to help out in time for fall it was going to be a heavy workload for all of us, and that proved to be true. We answered upwards of 3200 tickets amongst the 4 of us since August, and I’ll be so bold to say we did an awesome job taking care of the community that takes care of us. That said, I think we’re all ready for a more systematic approach when it comes to support. So the last few months quickly became about devising and hiring a position to run our customer support. We wanted to start with someone who could take what we have and implement a support structure that moves beyond our all hands on deck approach currently so that we can begin to compartmentalize roles a bit more.

But before we hired an employee we did something even better, we hired a consultant. But not just any consultant, a Justin Webb consultant 🙂 For those out there not keeping score,  Justin was the CIO at UMW under whom Domain of One’s Own go the green light from IT. His understanding of what DTLT was doing in 2013 was exactly what we needed at the time, and Tim and I have been in touch with Justin ever since we departed UMW. This fall provided an opportunity for us to work together once again, and the immediate needs in September and October was helping us solidify various IT requirements around security, accessibility, and the like. It’s a lot of work to manage those requests, and having a university-trained CIO to consult on these issues has been invaluable. But that was just the beginning, Justin also took over the job search for the Customer Support Manager position, and right before Christmas we officially hired that position—which is a huge win of 2018. 

As Reclaim turned five this year the strange realization that we’re not going anywhere has started to settle in. We have a solid customer base; we provide an excellent service at an affordable service; and people continue to come to us at a frequency that’s increasing by the day. Three years ago when I jumped ship at UMW and struck out for the territories, I wondered if we would make it this far. There were some highs and lows, as well as months of feast or famine as we figured out getting paid and managing accounts, but what amazes me as 2018 draws to a close is that we have all that in hand, and everything over the past 6 months points to the fact that we may be on the cusp of a growth spurt—and that is both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. We continue to lead with support, which is what has distinguished us thus far, and while we’re not actively pursuing new clients, they’re coming regardless. I like that we have grown steadily since 2013 at a pace that has allowed us to move cautiously into broader vistas—and I’d like to see that carry over in 2019. It remains a point of pride that we have not taken any investment money, remaining free to call the shots about what we will and won’t do. That makes Reclaim special for me, I think about the work we do and I can honestly say it’s genuine; we do not price gouge, we’ve never up-sold anyone (rather the opposite), and we do next to no marketing outside resurrecting a 1980s-era video store. 

I think there are just a few last points I need to make before this never-ending post comes to a close…. 

Sponsoring the Learning on/with the Open Web Conference (OWLTEH) at Coventry in October was another highlight, working with the folks at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab is always a pleasure, and the OWLTEH event at Coventry’s Transportation Museum was a total blast. The highlight for me was organizing a panel with Anne-Marie Scott and TOny Hirst to talk about the future of edtech infrastructure and Jupyter Notebooks. 

Anne-Marie and Tony were on a serious role, and it was a eye-opening both listening to them for that hour, but then talking with them both before and after OWLTEH. The folks in the UK edtech scene are so awesome, and getting to spend time with so many of them over that two days was a real treat. The Jupyter Notebook phenomemon is not going anywhere, and Tony’s newsletter “Tracking Jupyter” is something I want to spend my coming week off catching up on. Also, I still want to blog my experience at OWLTEH with Anne-Marie and Tony, but it’s been hard cause I feel like I actually have to play with this stuff and I have not had the time just yet…soon. What’s more, it’s hard to write about something that Anne-Marie already has well in hand on her blog

In November we were all set to our second Workshop of One’s Own in Fredericksburg, but in September we took Justin’s advice and scrapped that model and moved towards regional workshops. One of the struggles of being so locked into support is we don’t do as much of the outreach as we could/should. That changed this fall with our first Reclaim Roadshow at Skidmore College in early November. You can read more about it here, but the long and the short of it is we are running regional events that pair a workshop  for admins Domain of One’s Own with a user group/unconference event around a theme. The next one will be at Michigan State University on February 21st and 22nd focused around the idea of Digital Presence, you can read more about it here and here. The Skidmore Roadshow was a total blast, and I am very much looking forward to Michigan, and after a chat with Bryan Mathers we have an organizing aesthetic/metaphor for the Roadshow which I love!

I hope in 2019 we can actually create a short animated piece around a topic, and re-watching Scooby-Doo the last few days at the “Mine Your Own Business” episode from season 1 is ripe for a re-write, especially the Miner 49er character:

DataMiner 49er anyone? I mean this episode can almost re-write itself, they even discover the “new gold” in the haunted mine, oil! Let me count the ways.

View this post on Instagram

3D printing goodness

A post shared by Andrew Curtis (@andrewheyercurtis) on

Finally, we continue to have some fun with the office space. beyond Reclaim Video. After the Roadshow in Skidmore, Tim and I started doubling down on turning part of the office into a makerspace. Tim’s history with UMW’s early venture into makerspaces is well documented, and we finally bit the bullet and got a pretty bitchin’ 3D printer. And we put it to immediate use given I came back from the Victoria & Albert Video Games exhibition in London with an idea for building a DIY video game based on Line Wobbler, and it just so happens one of the requirements was to 3D print the joystick case.

We also re-connected with George Meadows from UMW (a lot of good re-connecting this year!) who was as jazzed as us about rekindling our shared makerspace history. Although, to be fair, George has not stopped pushing on this technology for teaching and learning since 2012, and the story of how he got 3D printing, Arduino, and a whole variety of cool technologies in the Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania K12 school systems is still to be told—some amazing work he did in that regard. 

We also did some more work on the office space. We had some dead space behind Reclaim Video that was essentially transitional storage space that now have two quiet booths for phone calls which was desperately needed by the folks at CoWork, as well as some cleaned up walls and a fresh coat of paint for the new makerspace:

I am just realizing I forgot our Reclaim Today streaming video sessions (we did 13 or so), but I am running out of ink and energy on this one. Reclaim Today is something we need to jumpstart in the Spring, but world enough and time, right? For now that’s going to have to do, although I am sure there is much I left out. Let me end by simply recognizing how lucky I am to have been part of Reclaim for the last 5 and a half years and to work with so many amazing folks. I am really looking forward to 2019, the year when Reclaim Video brings back the glory days of the Saturday Morning Cartoon to edtech :).

Posted in reclaim | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Wildcats Rise from the Ashes of Camp Fire

Heavy smoke creates an orange glow in the sky over Trinity Hall as the Camp Fire, which started near the community of Pulga in the Feather River canyon carries smoke over campus to create a red haze on Friday, November 9, 2018 in Chico, Calif.
(Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU Chico)

News of the massive devastation caused by the Camp Fire in Northern California may have taken back seat to the federal government shutdown and imaginary walls built upon the ideological quicksand of fear-driven politics, but the devastation Northern California has experienced since August is alarming for all sorts of reasons: environmental, political, professional and personal.  All those levels matter, but I freely acknowledge I’m in no position to talk about the environmental or political levels, but on a professional level the California State University system has been early adopters of Domain of One’s Own under Michael Berman’s leadership at Channel Islands. What’s more, the experimental pedagogy of Kim Jaxon at Chico State has been a big reason why Chico adopted Domains over a year ago. They’re one of several schools that have been piloting the possibility of hosting for students and faculty, and it’s always encouraging to see large state universities invest in exploring possibilities when it comes to edtech. So in many ways that if the professional context for us wanting to help the staff, students, and faculty effected by Camp Fire.

CSU Chico Camp Fire Info Page

But on a more personal level, I have family living not only in Chico, but 40 miles northwest in Red Bluff. I have fond affection for that part of Northern California, and I was already deeply alarmed when the Carr Fire ravaged the Redding area in August. For context Redding is 30 miles north of Red Bluff and just 70 miles north of Chico, and that fire tornado during the Carr Fire was just prelude to the utter devastation of the Camp Fire three months later. I found myself calling my brother and his family again in November making sure everyone was safe (luckily they were). So, while I am many thousands of miles away, both the Carr and Camp fires were too close to home. So, when we reached out to the good folks at Chico about how we could help they pointed us to the Chico State’s fundraiser for those impacted by the Camp Fire called Wildcats Rise. Donating was the least we could do, and I was glad to see they’re closing in on their goal.  So I figured before retiring for a bit to enjoy the holidays with friends and family it might be worth sharing the link to the Wildcats Rise Fire Recovery Fund for any and all who are willing and able to help.

Posted in reclaim | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reclaim Roadshow at MSU: the Ghost of Digital Presence

We are happy to announce our second Reclaim Roadshow at Michigan State University on February 21st and 22nd of next year. As I already noted in my last post, I’m pretty thrilled with the Scooby-Doo inspired aesthetic we dreamed up for our Roadshows, and this is the first time we are putting into action. In fact, you can head over to the site and see how it’s “rolled out.” 

I would also recommend reading Lauren’s post on her creation process of the website for the Roadshow, which simply pops! But lest this devolve into a backslapping post about how awesome the art is (there will be plenty more posts about that 🙂 ) it might be helpful to talk a bit about this event. When we were considering the Roadshow originally we actually reached out to Michigan State first given the great work Chris Long, Kristen Mapes and Scott Schopieray have done to promote the idea of Digital Presence for their faculty and graduate students. They really nailed the concept with a short video they produce a couple of years ago that sums up their vision quite well:

Originally MSU was going to be our first Roadshow, but when the opportunity to try it out at Skidmore College availed itself we grabbed it, and I am glad we did because I think the experience will make the MSU Roadshow that much better. The plan for February is that we will run a focused workshop on February 21st that will be an opportunity for folks managing Domains at their campus (or who will soon be) to get an in-depth look at the backend of the system. If you are interested in this workshop you can register here.

On February 22nd (day 2) the good folks at MSU will be organizing a day-long  event loosely organized around the topic of Digital Presence. I am excited about the unconference approach, and it is something quite different from what we did at Skidmore College. MSU recently hired Kathleen Fitzpatrick as the Director of Digital Humanities and her pushing on academia reclaiming their web presence for publishing and beyond with her work at the MLA with Commons in a Box offers a unique and exciting opportunity to bring together folks exploring the intersections of Digital Humanities, the Indie Web, and broader ideas of digital identity. I’m getting excited just writing about it. So, if you have no interest in the workshop, but want to come for a day-long conference dealing with a wide range of concerns around the specter of digital presence (you like what I did there?) then sign-up for day 2 and come join us at MSU.

Well, that’s it for now, I need to get this officially announced before the holidays, but I’ll be sure to say more later next week after the Christmas dust settles to start drumming up interest in what promises to be a pretty awesome Roadshow.

Posted in digital identity, reclaim, Reclaim Roadshow | Tagged , , | 1 Comment