Sunday, September 21, 2008

Edward Swanson Bio

My name is Edward Swanson, I live in Bloomington, MN. I was born in Fargo, MN on February 28, 1965. I am married to Danielle Swanson and we have a daughter named Isabel. She is 17 years old now in her senior year at Thomas Jefferson Senior High School. I have been working at General Dynamics as a programmer since 1995, when General Dynamics was turning into a more defense based company. Before that I worked for Microsoft for 15 years. As a parent, I am also a member of Jefferson's PTSA.

I believe that administrators should be able to use online content for situations involving students. I don't believe that administrators should use only online information as a basis for student affairs. I think that since those students, at Eden Prairie high school, had pictures of them drinking alcohol or at least acting like they were drinking it, they should be punished but only if there is some other proof as well, like a label on a beer bottle/can in the pictures. Possibly finding some alcohol containers in the trash or some other kind of physical evidence, that kind of evidence would be the job of police officers called by the school to look for evidence that there was substances that students aren't supposed to have. There are other cases like if graphic content of students are sent around then no other evidence except that content is needed, of course more evidence is always good. Yes, administrators can view online content but to be punished for some of that content, physical proof should also be needed.

I suggest a slightly different idea than most people, for internet policies. Have the internet blocked to most sites for everyone but give students a device like a flash drive. Each flash drive would be specifically preprogrammed for each student. When the flash drive is plugged in, it will use face recognition technology to make that the flash drive's owner is the person using the computer. If it is the correct owner then it would unlock the internet until the flash drive is removed. Whenever the student goes to the new website, it takes a picture of the person at the computer sending it to the server, along with a tag indicating what address that person was at. The flash drive would be unable to hold extra content and the information on the drive would be encrypted so no student could hack into the drive. While online with the flash drive in the computer, the websites that the student is on will be searched for key words and will send a red flag for the website if too many key words show up. An administrator would look at the flagged websites and if it does show inappropriate content or some non school related content then that student will lose his/her flash drive. If a student is caught playing games on the internet, that student will get a warning and if caught a second time, his/her flash drive would be taken away. If the student goes to a search engine or a video site, then a screenshot will be taken of every new first page until he/she leaves the site. Of course known inappropriate sites will be blocked no matter what. I believe my daughter to be a honest student and I'm sure there are many other students like her, that won't abuse the privilege of unlimited access. The students who do abuse it won't be given access to to unblocked internet.

I believe that the definitions of school is clear to me. I think that they help provide a good learning environment inside and outside of school, not only for my daughter but for everyone's son/daughter. I don't think I'd change these school policies from what they are right now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little Brother Question #15

If I was in Marcus's group I probably would have broken off from his group too. I know he was kidnapped by the government but taking down a government is too much work. There is no reward for taking it down either except for satisfaction. I would probably never trust the government again after that incident but I don't think it would be worth fighting for. That is why I would leave like Jolu and Van did and that is probably some of the reasons why they left.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Write of any topic of importance to you. If you have written a personal essay for any other purpose-even an essay for another college-that you believe represents you, your writing, and your thinking particularly well, feel free to submit it.

When I leave college I want to become a Computer Programmer. I haven't always wanted to be that, but I have wanted to go into a field of robotics since third grade. In third grade I was given a life changing assignment; to make a robot. They weren't high tech robots but simple robots that were mostly boxes on remote control cars. I was so excited by that assignment that I worked for days on it. I made a robot made out of three boxes on a remote control bulldozer. I didn't want the fun to end there though, so I made 6 more robots for the assignment. The other robots were made out of legos. There was a big one that looked like a submarine that held the smaller robots. All the robots were able to transform and be deployed from the "submarine" robot. They couldn't actually move on their own, but I was inspired.

Between that assignment and middle school I had taken an interest in science and technology. During middle school I found a museum in Minneapolis, MN. It is called The Bakken Museum. I found a program there that allowed any kid make any invention he/she desired. I joined the program and soon started inventing. I made a robot that could follow a line, a robot that you could remote control using a regular flashlight, and a robot that was completely autonomous to stop itself from running into walls or falling over an edge. With the experience I gained from those robots, I learned how to program for the first time in the Basic Stamp computer language.

Later on in middle school I joined a club called Destination Imagination. We made a go-cart from scratch. We had to tear apart two bicycles, buy an electric motor, buy 2 batteries and a lot of wood to make the go-cart. In my opinion, the go-cart looked like one of those ice cream bikes that you see in movies. I had fun with that club and we were able to learn how to work together.

During my junior year of high school there was a new club that started up. That club was the Robotics Club at Jefferson. The club is actually in the FIRST Robotics Competition. They change the challenge each year so that the teams are more equal. There are alliances consisting of 3 different teams to work together for points. Each team is from a different school. That year the goal of the game was to race around a track to get points for crossing each line. Another part of the goal was to get down yoga balls from a rack about six feet in the air, and carry them around the field across the lines, getting them over the racks gave more points than simply crossing the line. At the end of the match the teams got bonus point for how many balls they had left on their rack.

For the competition our school split everyone into the group that wanted to do, pneumatics, mechanical, electronics, and programming. I chose to be a programmer. For programming I had to learn a whole computer language just for the competition. I had to learn C++ in a matter of weeks and I was able to do it. There were other programmer but I was the most experienced with programming and I learned the fastest. I was able to come up with an autonomous program to be controlled by an Infrared control system. It took a while since the speed of both the Infrared system and the Processor for the robot were at different speeds.

For most of my life I have been influenced by Robotics. I can't tell exactly why it is so fun for me to program, but I can try to explain. Programming is more than using a computer and a language to tell something what to do, it's like taking some useless and brainless pile of junk and making it think and be able to move. I guess you could say for me it's like giving Frankenstein life and being able to say "I gave it life, if it weren't for me that thing wouldn't be anything more than a big paper weight." I think the main point is, help me become Victor Frankenstein so I can make life out of a heap of metal.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Privacy or Safety?

Weapons charge

To put it simply, this article is about law enforcement using the internet to catch crimes. I think it is an invasion of privacy but it does help cut down some crimes before they happen. The problem with that though is that everything on the internet is exaggerated out of proportion. Some people could say that that they are going to blow up a building, but they could just be joking the entire time. As long as my information isn't published on the new or something then I don't mind the fact that my privacy is being thrown out the window, I'd rather have a false sense of security than be in danger of some high school shooting or something.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Internet Answers

Some different ways to "cheat" in school writing could be using a dictionary without saying you did. Maybe even just taking what someone said to you the other day and say you were the first to say it. Another way to "cheat" could be to take someone else's idea and use it as your own. For example, a classmate says he's going to write about his grandma's experience in the Holocaust. You over hear that conversation and use the information you hear to make a paper on "your grandma's" holocaust. If I had to define cheating, I would have to say that cheating is when you use someone else's idea without addressing that you got that idea from someone else, but the problem with that definition is the fact that most of the information we get is from other people, but it's nearly impossible to reference the thousands of resources you have been given in your life. I don't really think there can be a solid line for the definition of "cheating" just some areas that for sure are cheating and some that might or might not be.

I don't think the key to teaching is being an entertainer, I think it's more of starting a relationship between student and teacher. My favorite teacher didn't always entertain us, he usually talked with us about our lives while he taught us our subject. He didn't have to perform some circus act or play songs about the subject, he just talked with us. It was like we were on a trip at a museum just having a fun time and still learning. The problems with expecting teachers to entertain is that some teachers will live up to that and some won't. It's like getting hyped up for a game but the game could be bad, amazing or just normal. I think the only good to come from expecting an entertaining value is that teachers and students can form some sort of relationship together to learn better.

I don't think the kid did the right thing by using the internet instead of actually reading the book but it could be a skill he needs in the future. If you are running late for a business meeting and you need to learn about the meeting, that skill he is developing on getting information is going to be useful in a situation like that. He should feel guilty about it because he could have just read the book instead of using the internet, but it may help him more in the future of gathering information.

Students use digital media all the time for school, for example a video on youtube or google. They could get some images from online in a presentation or maybe use a powerpoint presentation for an assignment. Students are most likely to start using digital media when their school starts using computers in school, which is most likely starting at middle school and possibly earlier. I think the most common digital media used by student would be videos and pictures, maybe an article or something else but that isn't as likely.