Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Using Apple's Time Machine to restore a backed-up hard drive to a new one


Written for the MacBook Pro, Time Machine software user interested in replacing a hard drive.

My hard drive was emitting a slow, nasty, scraping noise which had steadily increased in volume over the past few weeks. I (thought I) knew from painful experience of un-backed-up-hard-drive-death that these near-rasping sounds were the last gasps before a drive's death. The sudden freezes, unusual for a Mac, had also been increasing, like my good-to-deadly blood pressure at these times, so it was time to bite the bullet and pay for a new hard-drive and bin the old (or so I thought).

I took my hard drive to repairs.com (no website exists, sorry) in Paarden Eiland, where I knew I could get it serviced in one morning for the best price in Cape Town. Denis restored my OS and files to a new hard drive via Time Machine, as I had wisely brought my freshly backed-up external drive with me. This was used in plan B, which had to be followed as installation off the old hard drive had stalled after an hour. It was long morning: 230GB of information and OSX Snow Leopard took about 5 hours to restore.

On leaving, Denis advised me to run a security update and install the latest software. King Solomon himself could not have said wiser words: I started running Software Update, and it told me that there were two hours remaining until the latest Security Update would be downloaded.

Excited as I was that my OSX was starting and running like Usain Bolt, I decided to check that all the most important applications worked post-restoration: I could open and download email from Mail, which was a good start. However, whenever I clicked to view an email's content, Mail crashed :(! After checking all other applications, I learnt that there were problems with software reliant on web-access; Safari, Dashboard Client, et al. were crashing repeatedly. 

Back in the day, I dealt with online support queries for Virgin Life Care's LifeZone; knowing that too-much-information is infinitely better than too-little when requesting technical support, I copied each error message and saved it using Notes.
Given Apple's dismal record of support for South African clients, I hoped using these notes would not be necessary... Less vexing were two other problems: all shortcuts to my user directory's folders did not work from the Finder sidebar; so, I recreated these. Also, I received questioning emails from two people asking about emails they had just received from me. I had struggled to send these months ago… clearly, a very odd database issue in Mail!

Good new was that once Apple's latest security update had installed, I could run all internet-dependent applications. As a bonus, Denis had advised that although reading my old hard drive had slowed, it could still be used as an external drive once placed in a USB SATA HDD housing shell. I bought one from Universe Direct downstairs and used Apple's Disk Utility to erase the old drive. After two hours, I was very pleased to have an easily portable drive with  loads of memory.

It had taken a day, but I was happy that I now had a speedy hard drive and a portable one at great value-for-money. Thanks to repairs.com, Universe Direct and Apple's Time Machine!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

My revised research proposal, in one post.

Written for Visual Arts educators and curricular advisers interested in the adoption of social media for e-portfolio creation:

Topic
The introduction of software affordances into Visual Arts curricula: educators’ curricular adoption and learners’ use of Online Portfolio Social Network Software for e-portfolio creation.

Background
Online Portfolio-focussed Social Network Sites (OPSNS) are being adopted as e-portfolios into the curricula of 11 Western Cape High Schools in 2010. However, how their software affordances are used, the consequences, educator engagement and factors influencing sustained adoption are not well understood. Without an understanding of this new medium’s use, impact and sustained adoption, Visual Arts educators may be unprepared for some aspects of this curricular innovation and less capable of sustaining it. By describing the outcomes of OPSNS use in class and relating this to outcomes, educator understanding and adoption factors, the researcher hopes to improve our understanding, thereby supporting appropriate diffusion and sustained adoption. As a Digital Arts graduate and creative professional, the researcher is interested in exploring aspects of online software’s diffusion and sustained adoption in Visual Arts education.

Research problem
This project aims to describe the aspects of a new medium’s adoption in the Visual Arts curricula at High School. There is a gap in the literature on OPSNS’ inclusion, as these Web2.0-based technologies are a recent phenomenon. By investigating this gap, we can better understand aspects of social media’s use, outcomes, educator-interest and sustainability. Educators and other key decision makers can use this knowledge to support appropriate diffusion and sustained curricular adoption; through maximising positive outcomes and minimising hazards.

Research question (and sub-questions)
What must be considered when introducing a new medium's software affordances into Visual Arts curricula in South African schools?
1.  What are the operational affordances that learners use when creating and maintaining e-portfolios? (Software Affordances, Activity Theory {Tools})
2.  Does the learners' tactical and strategic use of online affordances meet the outcomes set by the educator in his or her curricula? (Software Affordances, Activity Theory {Outcomes})
3.  What impact does mentoring educators in OPSNS use have on their views on the potential of web 2.0 software affordances' role in Visual Arts education? (Activity Theory {Outcomes}, Diffusion of Innovation Theory {Consequences})
4.  What are the key factors that must be considered for sustained use of e-portfolios in the Visual Arts in South African schools? (Diffusion of Innovation Theory)
 

Aim of study
To explore aspects of OPSNS use as Visual Arts e-portfolios, outcomes, educator engagement and the key factors affecting sustained adoption.

Objectives
The research project seeks to understand the use of a new medium (OPSNS)’s software affordances for Visual Arts e-portfolio creation and the experience of High School learners and educators using OPSNS-related curricula.

Rationale

This research explores OPSNS’ novel curricular adoption for High School Visual Arts e-portfolio creation and maintenance. This study may resonate with others involved in similar adoptions, thereby aiding diffusion and sustained adoption.

Significance

A Visual Arts syllabus that introduces learners to OPSNS should help them to improve digital literacy; supporting better use of ICT and preparing learners to participate in the knowledge society as aspirant visual artists. Educators and relevant decision-makers may benefit through having novel curricular examples to refer to that resonate with their practice; helping them to be better prepared. Government’s curricular advisers could benefit from understanding aspects of this curricular innovation’s adoption. This may help them with diffusing it more appropriately. Researchers may learn from this project’s contribution to a gap in the literature.

Methodology
To partially reflect South Africa’s three-tiered educational system, fieldwork will be done at one private and one public High School in Cape Town. Audio-video recordings of Online Portfolio-related classes, research notes, learner questionnaire feedback and an OPSNS progress-tracking spreadsheet will be used to better understand student use of OPSNS’ affordances in class. Interviews with educators, their curricula and progress spreadsheets will be used to understand the consequences of learners’ strategic and tactical use of affordances. Feedback from educators to questionnaires and interviews will be used to understand the impact that use of OPSNS has had on their views about web 2.0 software affordances' role in Visual Arts education. Educators and curricular advisors will be interviewed to understand key factors that do, and could, influence sustained use of e-portfolios in the Visual Arts in South African schools.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

My research proposal in a one post nutshell!


Topic
Understanding aspects of a new medium’s, Social Network Sites, use and sustained adoption as e-portfolios in High School Visual Arts' curricula.

Background
Online Portfolio-focussed Social Network Sites (OPSNS) are being adopted as e-portfolios into the curricula of 11 Western Cape High Schools in 2010. However, how they are used, the consequences of use and the supporting factors for sustainable adoption are not well understood. Without an holistic perspective on this new medium’s use, impact and sustainability factors, educators and key decision makers may be unprepared for some aspects of this curricular innovation and less likely to sustain it. By richly describing the aspects, the researcher hopes to improve our understanding, thereby supporting appropriate adoption and use. As a Digital Arts graduate and creative professional, the researcher is interested in exploring aspects of social media and e-portfolio use in Visual Arts education.

Research problem
This project aims to describe the aspects of a new medium’s use at High School. There is a gap in the literature on aspects of Web2.0 OPSNS’ inclusion in Visual Arts curricula, as this is a recent phenomenon. By investigating this gap, we can better understand aspects of social media’s use, impact and sustainability. Educators and other key decision makers can use this knowledge to support sustained curricular adoption through maximising benefits and minimising hazards.

Research question
What are the aspects to consider when a new medium (OPSNS) is adopted into the Visual Arts and Design Curricula at High School?
  1. How do learners use OPSNS in class? (Software Affordances, Activity Theory {Tools})
  2. What are the consequences for educators of OPSNS’ use as e-portfolios by learners? (Activity Theory {Outcomes}, Diffusion of Innovation Theory {Consequences})
  3. Do the outcomes of OPSNS-use as e-portfolios meet the expectations of educators and learners? (Use-In-Practice Methodology; Activity Theory {Outcomes})
  4. What must be considered for sustainable adoption of OPSNS as e-portfolios in South African High Schools? (Diffusion of Innovation Theory)
Aim of study
To explore aspects of OPSNS use as Visual Arts e-portfolios and factors affecting sustained adoption.

Objectives
The research project seeks to understand the experience of High School
Visual Arts' learners and educators, once a new medium (OPSNS) is adopted for e-portfolio creation.

Rationale
This research explores aspects of OPSNS’ novel adoption as High School e-portfolios. This study may resonate with others involved in similar adoptions, thereby aiding sustained adoption.

Significance
A Visual Arts syllabus that introduces learners to OPSNS should help them to improve digital literacy.
In particular,  ICT proficiency could help learners participate in the knowledge society as aspirant creative professionals. Educators and relevant decision-makers may benefit through having novel curricular examples to refer to that resonate with their practice; helping them to be better prepared. Government’s curricular advisers could benefit from understanding this curricular innovation's aspects. This will help them to be better informed and give more appropriate advice to educators interested in launching similar initiatives. Other researchers may learn from this project’s contribution to a gap in the literature.

Methodology
To partially reflect South Africa’s two-tiered educational system, fieldwork will be done at a private and public High School in Cape Town. Audio-video recordings of Online Portfolio-related classes, research notes, learner questionnaires and OPSNS progress trackers will be used to better understand student use of OPSNS affordances in class. Educators will be interviewed to understand the consequences of learners’ OPSNS use. Educators and learners will answer questionnaires to understand whether the outcomes of OPSNS use as e-portfolios met expectations. Educators, curricular advisors and other key decision makers will be interviewed to understand what must be considered for sustainable adoption of OPSNS as e-portfolios in local schools.
 

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