Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coast District Young Buddhist League Salinas YBA Workshop 2009

After something like 6 months of filming, planning, and editing a movie about Buddhism's Eightfold Path, the workshop is over. The movie was created with the idea of relating Buddhism to the youth of today with scenarios that are more familiar to the young people than those ancient movies of education. I was the main editor of the project and was helped by the entire group and especially Kevin Yokota and Casey Kawahira of the Salinas YBA who were part of an initial story boarding committee and later filmed/acted in most of the video. As far as giving credit goes, all of the Salinas YBA was a part of the video in some way. Everyone helped in giving some ideas to polish the editing. As I mentioned I was the editor and I filmed the third video on Right Speech and the seventh video on Right Mindfullness. Casey and Kevin filmed all the other videos together. Kyle Gilbert provided all of the voice-overs except for Scott Kuramura's on the second video segment on Right Thought and Casey Kawahira's on the last video segment on Right Concentration/Meditation. Overall I would like to thank all of you who will probably Google your names someday and find this page, as well as some of those out there who watched the video and gave feedback. The video will be posted on youtube soon, and I will make sure to provide both a link and a embedded video for those who wish to enjoy as soon as possible.

(Update: Casey finally is uploading it. The video will be up today hopefully)

Teaching: The Future?

Today I am going to teach teachers how to teach. A few months ago I helped create a video for a Buddhist Conference and then presented it to my fellow Buddhist youth at a conference. So today, a mere week or so before the AP testing, I must go journey to the land of Mountainly Views and educate Dharma School teachers on connecting with the youth and create interesting presentations that appeal to the younger generations.

I find this to be quite interesting because our generation has been force fed information. We are biproducts of a system based on teaching for tests and judging teachers by their student’s test scores. On a system more obsessed with the little numbers by one's name on an application than by their skills. How do we teach a generation that is labeled immediately by their standardized tests, by the SATs, by the GPA they got in high school?

I figure the only way to engage our generation of spoiled, video game playing, technophile, Ipod wielding, text messaging, adrenaline junkies is by adopting new forms of interaction. Those old 1980s education movies are great entertainment, but fail as sources of education. We should question the use of text books and writing exams because as shown by the great standardized testing of our generation they don't always work. How can we judge a person by their SAT score, or by their GPA? Some of the most talented people can't test well, or simply hate school.
What seems to be need to be done is the implementation of different types of schools. Not everyone is meant to go and become a CEO of a major company. Though we need our doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. We also need hardworking people who want to make things. Of course America doesn't really make anything anymore, but we need to try to start again unless we want to be China's glutonous #1 customer forever. Because many of our social problems stem from the social classes that we have generated. All the major issues about drugs and violence emerge from the forgotten. Those poor souls that America has abandoned to live in their ghettos and fight for scraps.

So instead of pushing our standardized schools on everyone, why don't we create more schools or programs that aim at providing job training. Why would a lower class citizen want to learn about Calculus or Biology if they knew that they would just end up fighting for a low paying job later in life? We need to establish solid programs that offer alternatives to these people who know that school is giving them nothing. Because this despair often turns people to bringing entering the drug trade, or becoming a criminal. Hell I'm sure they might make better money that minimum wage like that and though I don't endorse their actions, it is hard not to understand why that path might be taken.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Open Source Programs is Happy

Why should we pay for what we can get for free? I always ask myself this whenever I log onto a friend's computer and they have tons of bloatware and inefficient programs pop up on login. Of course not that many people seem to know about the various Open Source programs that exist on the internet as effective alternatives to the big corporate programs that find themselves in the limelight. When I bring these up, most just bring out derogatory terms like computer geek or nerd, while refusing to realize that I am basically an average user, just an incredibly cheap average user. If only many were to realize that these programs existed millions could be saved just getting the most basic computer running.

Of course reading this you may be wondering what exactly open source is. The name implies that the source code of the program is viewable/editable but that is not exactly all it is. Open source programs are programs designed and released under licenses (the most popular seeming to be GPU-General Public Use) often developed in a very public manner with the developers interacting with their target audience. These programs do not cost anything for the average user and must be released in a way so that it is modifiable by the users and legally redistributed/repackageable. This method of distribution usually relies on internet downloads, rather than actual physical copies. Because of this, these programs are ideal for students, schools, corporations (who may have to pay for a business license), and also any average users.

Because of this I am always surprised by how many people tend to see these options as "dangerous" or too much of a hassle to learn about. While there are large communities that seem to embrace the freedom from the mainstream companies, a large majority of the populace seems to reject the ideas of free software, often feeling way about the legitimacy of the programs. What this seems to indicate is a relative shift in the social structure of the world. The world is becoming more web literate obviously and its shift into the new internet age has spawned a internet culture that no longer listens to the Big Business figures. Of course the average user is still lost in a world of big business brainwashing that has existed for the past two decades. This open source alternative may never fully replace proprietary software, but it certainly will increase competition and may eventually offer a viable alternative to the those less technologically knowledgeable and light computer users.

Check for alternatives to mainstream programs with this site (Not all are open source):

I would recommend these good Open Source Programs:
Open Office- Microsoft Word/Powerpoint/Excel replacement
7zip- Winzip/WinRar replacements
Firefox- Internet Explorer replacement
Pidgin- Facebook, Aim, Yahoo, etc messenger replacements
Mozilla Thunderbird- Outlook Express replacement
VLC- Windows Media Player replacement
Handbrake- DVD Ripper
Audacity- Recording Software
Gimp- Photo editing
Inkscape- Vector Image creation

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Privacy and the Internetz

Twitter. The new rage of the internet world. A place where one can tell us about the important things in life. Like how much they hate something that happened to them, what a bad day they are having, where they are, or describing their surroundings all in a mere 140 characters. Oh and did I mention that people can become your followers and track every single thing you submit to Twitter?

Besides being incredibly creepy, and slightly stalkerish, Twitter has a nice service going. It allows people to follow people who want to know stuff about these people, including their mundane tasks/thoughts that they just feel like posting. However, it does bring up many questions about the ethics of privacy and also whether what these twitters really are.

I bring this up because I just recently saw an article about how some coach is getting sued by referees about his comments on their calls. Twitter does not have the privacy of Facebook and allows anyone who has a link to a user's page to view their twitters. So this basically makes any comments on the site public and easily accessible. However, does it make it right to sue someone based on their one off opinion? The site is meant to express random thoughts and that is exactly what the coach did. Of course the comments may have broken some kind of contract about sportsmanship, but this brings up a whole new idea on what can and cannot be used against oneself. Much like the Facebook and Myspace scandals involving comments, where people have been prosecuted for mere cheeky comments against someone else, these new lawsuits are bringing forth a big question for our generation of web junkies: What is private anymore?

In the pre-internet world, privacy was a much more black and white thing. We could do what we wanted and say things to others that were often not correct, but didn't hurt anyone and were often just stupid comments. In our new age, we leave a trail on the internet. Anything we say to others through our new online social lives are recorded in some way. We all leave some sort of path, whether it is through the pictures we post online, the blogs we write on ever so diligently, or even instant message conversations.

What this seems to suggest is that our society needs to shift. Though we already often insanely overly politically safe in our words we still seem to see some places as private, or at least not serious. However, recent cases, such as the ones mentioned earlier, seem to destroy this idea. Should the internet be a place where every statement becomes like a public statement? Or is it still just opinions that have no meaning? Because in most cases, the prosecution attacks opinions that were based on messages that seemed quite serious to the receiving audience. They were not posted news articles or serious blogs, but mere posts on a social networking site.

Just thought I would put that out there. Wondering what you think.