Hacking Rhetoric

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From today: CC-licensing, Search Tips and Readings

First things first …


I’ve now posted the readings for Wednesday on the schedule page — in light of y’all’s current workloads and to let you focus on finishing up your assignments, I have cut the requirements down a bit. You’re welcome!

Note that the Ahmed link now goes to the copyrighted readings page … it was a direct link to the newspaper that published it, but they’ve locked it behind a paywall since I originally assigned it, so I’ve provided the PDF I saved some weeks ago and am robbing them of the chance to monetise your eyeballs by showing you ads.  The original source had a pretty picture, from memory, but we don’t lose a lot with this text-only version.

Added musing … Now that I think about it, this paywalling thing is another one of those happy accidents — if this piece were (still) freely available, the Australian would be getting 19 extra pageviews to boast about to their advertisers. Since it’s not, they’re not — neatly illustrating Doctorow’s point in his introduction (quick discussion in the next section below) about how releasing his work freely puts him at a net economic advantage.

Creative Commons

Since we treated this super briefly today, let me just drop off a few links for you:

Creative Commons — overall site.


Search for CC-licensed material (images, music, text, video).

Some Creative-Commons licensed material you have already encountered in this class — just off the top of my head …

  • Hacking the Academy
  • Makers (you might be interested in reading Doctorow’s introduction, in which he talks about why he chose CC-licensing for his work and how it has paid off)
  • The fancy image up top of this blog!

As I said in class, Creative Commons-licensed material lets you Do Stuff With Other Stuff — which is cool in and of itself. But as we move forward in the class, we’ll be composing works which do transform and build upon existing content — some your own, some other people’s. You might also like to incorporate elements from other people’s work, so beginning your search with CC-licensed material is the way to go!

Refining and Extending Your Searches

Several of you have asked me about refining or, having stalled out, expanding your searches. My best advice to you is that trawling through page after page of Google results returned by a single search is not going to get you very far — but amending your search terms WILL.

Consider incorporating new keywords based on material that’s come up in the sources you’ve chosen so far — search for names or companies that are mentioned, or synonyms that are used. You might also review other works by the same authors.

One of the most useful tools in your searching skillset are Boolean Operators — you can tell search engines to look not just for key words or “exact phrases”, but to look for combinations of words, or to exclude particular terms, examine only particular sites, exclude particular sites, etc.

Here’s Google’s guide to using Search Operators on their site.

And Google’s Advanced Search (which gives you the same kind of control but takes it out of the search bar, which may make you feel more comfortable).

This link walks you through some of the possibilities of the Library Catalogue (well, the ScoUT interface), including how to use Boolean operators to improve your search results.

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Life Hack Result

As my life hack experiment this week, I tried out the spring that can protect my smartphone charger. I wrapped the spring obtainned from a thrown away pen on the conneting part of the charger line and tried out whether the spring could actually protect my charger from breaking. From previous experiences, I knew that my charger stopped working after I pulled the line too strongly and also when I bent the conneting piece for a too long period. I think the life hack was a success regarding these vulnerabilities of the charger itself. Because of the spring, I was not able to disconnect the line just by pulling out the line part. Additionally, the spring prevented the charger connecting piece from bending too far not allowing any chance for the charger to malfunction.



Life hack update


Well, I did make a to-do list every day. Not always in advance; not always three items; and I didn’t always get through it. There’s an unchecked item for Tuesday that’s on my radar for today that kept getting pushed over because I didn’t want to bring the book to campus.

My biggest issue was that prioritising three things didn’t work for the way I work and the kind of tasks I have — it would lend itself to someone with discrete tasks, but much of my workload is ongoing items that are hard to break up into smaller benchmarks … and certainly into one-day benchmarks. As a result, this list is mostly low-hanging fruit — albeit low-hanging fruit that I would very possibly have let slip for way too long if I hadn’t written it down. I’m trying it again this week to see if I can fine-tune it for me and my life.


Life Hack Update

Basically, I’m an abysmal failure, but not because I didn’t try. It’s more because I tried too hard and it made it impossible to do. I’ll remind you my hack was to treat school like a 9-5 job, whereby I do school and only school from 9-5 and treat it seriously. So, first couple of days went well. Then, I had a CS project to do. I usually go to bed around 9 pm. I got so into this project that I didn’t work on it from 9-5. No, I worked on it from 9 am til 3 am. I stayed up all night working on it. I completely screwed up my sleep schedule. I’ve been going to be around 2 pm and waking up at 10 pm now. Therefore, it’s impossible for me to treat school like a 9-5 work day when I am asleep for a portion of it.
So basically, I’m a failure. The life hack might work, but not on me. It didn’t change my mentality much at all.

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Life Hack Results

My life hack this week was to try to improve my memory. The article I found offered three different techniques. The first was to construct a memory palace, also known as “mental mapping.” It involved choosing a familiar place (house, workplace, etc.) and organizing information into the different rooms inside your mind. I decided to associate the items in these rooms to organic chemistry mechanisms in order to prepare for my exam this past week. The article suggested to arrange the information into logical sequences. For example, in the first room (my bedroom back home) I assigned reaction mechanisms to items and went clockwise. Here’s how it went:

Bed – Grignard reagent
Desk – Organolithium
Tv – Gilman
Dresser – Carbenes
Window – Simmons Smith

It was a convienent way to arrange this information into a sequence that correlated to how it was presented in notes. It helped me be able to map out these concepts and understand why each one followed after the other. Visualizing these “rooms” in my head helped me make more sense of the material. I guess you could consider that a memory improvement because it helped me during my studies.

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Lifehack – Food Diary

I have been using Myfitnesspal for about a week to track the calories. It was a little harder than I thought it would be to keep up with it because when I became busy, I completely forgot to enter the food I ate into the app. I was not suppose to go over the maximum calories for the day, but I did for 3 out of the 7 days. I learned the trick is to immediately type in what you want to eat before and not after. If the calories are too high, I would stop myself and chose something more healthy. I believe that calorie counting is a lot easier now, and is getting to be more popular. There are menus at certain restaurants now to tell you how much calories you intake from their food which helps the food diary a lot. I will keep up with this lifehack to improve my overall health.

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life hack result

I’ve been playing with my iPhone Siri for the last week and it turned out to be an interesting experience. with the IOS7 upgrade, Siri has been improved a lot, a lot of new features are added, however, I think its design is still immature. Starting with the new tone system, now iPhone users can switch Siri’s voice into a male’s voice; also they can set language into specific dialect, for example for Chinese users can choose between mandarin and cantonese. When it comes to names, Siri will ask users how they prefer to pronounce each name, and have them choose their favourite between three differnt tones.  Personally, I think this feature isn’t as useful as it seems to be becuase it takes too much time to teach Siri how to pronounce each name. Also Siri cannot recognize any word from languages that aren’t the one selected. As an international student who has half of his contact info written in Chinese, I feel the tone mechanism completetly useless.

Anyway, it is still fun to play with Siri. Following is an epic chat between me and Siri.

“Tell me a joke Siri”

“Two iPhones walk into a bar… I forget the rest.”

“Your are racist”

“You’re certainly entitled to that opinion.”

“And you’re useless”

“After all I’ve done for you?”

“Yes you’re still useless”


“What do you have to say”

“I can’t answer that”

“Why you can’t answer that?”

” We were talking about you, not me.”

It was a hell lot of fun.


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Sammy R. End of week update for LifeHack

My Life hack was how to get quality sleep. The steps I had to take to achieve this was pretty simple in some ways. I had to workout but not too late in the day, which was totally okay for me and I did it. I unfortunately couldn’t Wednesday and Thursday because i had tests and was busy studying for them. Another step I had to take was waking up at a consistent time everyday, which I did not achieve because my classes start at different times MWF and T/TH. A big one was to not take a nap. I was doing so good, then Tuesday I caved in and took a nap. IT was just too hard to resist. It also entailed smaller meals in the evening for dinner. For the most part, I had smaller dinners, but some nights I was just so hungry that I ended up eating a big meal. Even though I didn’t successfully practice each step, I did notice a change in my quality of sleep. I think if I would have gone with this 100% it would have been an even bigger improvement on my sleep. I think this life hack is a good reminder to take care of our bodies and work with our routines to ensure good quality sleep at night, which is something we all need now a days.

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Lifehack: Napping (And why it’s hard)

Hey all,

So, the lifehack I attempted this week was to work naps into my schedule (I targeted 60-minute naps each day). Unfortunately I have found that this is pretty hard to do — I only successfully took a nap on 2/5 days (and even those I wasn’t really able to control the length). Frankly, it’s hard to get used to a nap in the middle of the day — no matter how tired you are, it can be surprisingly hard to go to sleep. Additionally, a lot of the places on campus I thought would be good for napping just aren’t — there’s always some kind of distraction (or homework to do). In the future, I may try this again when my schedule is a bit more flexible, but for now it seems like a pipe dream to catch a quick midday nap and wake up feeling rested and alert.

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Annotated Bibliography Review

As promised, I’ve put together a few different documents you might like to use in reviewing each other’s annotated bibliographies tomorrow (or, indeed, as you continue to work on your drafts today and later this week).

The first document is a series of questions which reviewers can use as a basis for putting together feedback for authors, and which authors can use as a guide in reflecting on their own work.

The second document is a simple checklist of key attributes — it’s not a rubric and the attributes aren’t in any kind of priority order, but lots of people like scales as a visual reference to get an overall impression.

Right-click and save-as to download whatever file will work for how you’re reviewing today:

Printable version of documents (direct link to PDF)

Editable version of documents (direct link to .doc)

Printable version with space for you to write on a hard copy (direct link to PDF)

I’d recommend starting with those guiding questions and creating written feedback for your reviewing partner so that you each have something to refer to as you revise your current draft and/or add to it before Wednesday’s deadline. I definitely recommend spending some time reflecting on your own work before and as you revise — it will make your work stronger and you can roll this into your Learning Record observations. You can also submit these documents to me with your final version of the bibliography; it helps me by giving me an idea of your priorities and focus, but it’s not required (for this assignment, anyway).