OpenFiction [Blog]

Update on Daniel

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 19, 2009

Just wanted to follow yesterday’s post with an update on Daniel.  His scans today were all clear, and there is no evidence of the return of the cancer. We are obviously relieved and thankful.   I appreciate all the kind messages and thanks to those of you who have made donations to our Jimmy Fund team.

We are deeply touched by the many notes from friends whose loved ones have suffered–and too many who have passed away–from cancer.  The SuperDans will keep all of them in our thoughts as we walk on September 13th.  Also, thanks to your generosity, I am approaching my goal of raising $500 individually.

As a team, though, we are still far short of our $10,000 overall goal, so if you are considering a donation, we still need your help.  Donations may be made on the team site ( and my individual site (

Again, thanks for all the notes of support, and thanks for helping us to support this cause.

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Help us end cancer

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 18, 2009

Tomorrow, Lori and I are taking Daniel to his next appointment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic to ensure he remains cancer free. Thankfully, the appointments are now every six months instead of every three, and now we go with a little less fear but still knowing that relapse for him is not entirely out of the question.  We are thankful he has remained free of cancer, but every visit to the Jimmy Fund Clinic is a reminder to us of the many children still battling this disease, the many families struggling to find their way back to a normal life with healthy, happy children.  As much as we would like to put the experience of Daniel’s illness behind us, we cannot forget their pain.

These children need better cures, and their caregivers need better funding.  For the third year, we will be walking in the Dana Farber/Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk to ensure the care and cures will be available.  In each of the past two years, our team–the SuperDans–has raised over $10,000, and we’re aiming to do this again.  I have personally committed to raising $500, and I am asking you to help me reach that goal.  Please visit my page at ( and make a donation.  I appreciate any support you can provide.

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OCW and Currnet Events

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 12, 2009

I’ve been kicking around for ways to illustrate the usefulness of OCW and OER content, and one simple approach I’ve come up with is to show how it can be used to better understand the context of current events. OCW is obviously not the place to get the news, but in today’s go-go media environment, it’s often not clear where to go for thoughtful analysis and context to background the events of the day. On the OCWC blog, I’ve started a series called Current Events in Context, with posts so far on the Iranian election dispute, H1N1, and Typhoon Morekot. Would love feedback on this approach.

A great piece of documentation

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 10, 2009

I’m really looking forward to reading this one.  This pulls together many of the early discussions around OER on the UNESCO forum, and is going to be a key reference for those wanting to understand how the field has developed.

As a side note, I ordered the print version, demonstrating how the economics of open publication can work (and also that I am still running Brain 1.0).

Can I quote you on that?

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 4, 2009

I’m always concerned about being misquoted in articles about OCW, something that happens with some regularity.  I spoke at length with the reporter that filed this article and said at least two or three things that taken out of context might have been misleading, and I was relieved that the article did not contain them.

I was also amused to notice that some people have a problem with being quoted correctly. In discussing the possible advantages of open course publication at the community college level, an OU econ professor was quoted as saying:

A field whose methods haven’t changed much since Socrates taught could benefit from this strategy, Mr. Vedder says. “With the exception of—possible exception of—prostitution, I don’t know any other profession that’s had no productivity advance in 2,500 years,” he says. Online, he adds, “is a way to kind of offer a new approach. It’s applying technology to lower costs, rather than to add to costs.”

Ya see, the problem with prostitution—and most people just don’t recognize this—is the lack of productivity gains in the field… Nice.

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Productivity tools

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 3, 2009

I’m a sucker for productivity tools.  On a good day, I’d say it’s because I deal with a pretty high volume of unstrutured tasks and information at work, on a bad day (and probably Lori would concur) I’d say it’s because I am time and task-management challanged.   Either way,  I am always on the lookout for a silver bullet, or as it ususally turns out, a few of them.

I’ve settled on a new set of tools that has been stable for the last six months or so (somewhat of a record, so I thought it worth noting).  Right now I’m using the following:

FreeMind:  Open source mind mapping software I use at the highest level to track all of the activities in my domain at work.  I probably refer to it about once a week, just to make sure I am not letting any ideas or initiatives fall by the wayside, and to recalibrate my focus in the coming week.

GanttProject:  Project management tool I use for anything that requires some level of planning.  I’m sure I don’t use half of its capabilities, but it’s perfect for the kind of lightweight use I make of it.

Evernote:  After bitching about the license and using another digital notes program, I’ve decided the benefits offered by Evernote outweight any concerns I have (and I think they may have either clarified or modified the license somewhat).  Either way, Evernote is incredible and had helped me to really keep my e-mail inbox uncluttered (since I used to park e-mails with important information in my inbox).

Toodledo:  My work to-do list.  It’s the least favorite of my current tools, mostly becasue it doesn’t have a local client for my laptop.  I am still offline or in situations with spotty connectivity (such as on the MBTA’s service commuting home) that having to maniputlate the list online is a problem.  If I can find a list that has a nice local client and syncs with the iPhone (oh yeah, and is free) I’ll likely switch.

So I try not to lose track of things in FreeMind, plan what needs planned in GanttProject, take notes in Evernote, and draw together to-dos from Gantt and Evernote in Toodledo.  And for my home to-do’s with Lori, we use Zenbe lists.

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