Be Kind, Reclaim

Meredith, Lauren, and I are gearing up for the OER19 conference in Galway in a couple of weeks, a trip we are all looking very much forward to. In fact, I have a post due quite soon for the OER19 blog, which will hopefully explain why Reclaim feels such a strong sense of kinship with the folks that run the OER conference.*  Anyway, part of what we will be doing this year, unlike last, is actually sponsoring the conference as Reclaim Hosting as opposed to one of out satellite outfits like Reclaim Video or Reclaim Arcade. This is something I did not think we would ever do, but again that is fodder for the other posts I still need to write … dammit!

Anyway, the point of this post is to quickly highlight one of the several bits we will have on display at OER19 that highlights, at least for me, that so much of the work we have done over the years is cumulative. Both Lauren and Meredith are ds106 alumni (not to mention Internet Course survivors—remember TIC104?), so when we started planning the one-page we get for the OER19 program, we approached it as a group project. The idea was to transition from last year’s full blown Reclaim Video performance to a VHS-inspired theme for Reclaim Hosting. So we came up with the idea of using the VHS shelf theme to highlight ideas/themes somehow related to Reclaim Hosting, however loosely.

And while Meredith went through all this in her awesome post and project (more on that at the end of this post), I can’t resist repeating it all here cause I love it so much. It was a fairly simply decision given the organizing image for the conference was a play on E.T. So we used that as our  central VHS tape:

And then riffed on a whole bunch of ideas, such as Tim being inspired by the horror stories from schools supporting WordPress’s transition to Gutenberg :

And by quite basic Rorschachean take on SPLOTs:

At this point there always has to be a ds106 reference, so I just stole Martha Burtis‘s Time cover surrounding the Cult of #4life and turned it into a documentary 🙂

Lauren’s Domains19 VHS cover was on point highlight Ryan Seslow’s awesome artwork for the conference:

And then we simply took the cover of a VHS tape we own DEVO: the Men Who Make the Music to subtly point to our server naming conventions. 

And then we included Michael Branson Smith‘s original VHS cover for the Domains: Your Digital Identity video we premiered at OER18 last year:

And playing on our blank tape splash page for new accounts, we have a blank VHS tape cover with your very own domain name:

All of which is tied together by Reclaim’s newest slogan: Be Kind, Reclaim —can ya dig it? I knew that ya could!

Now, while we had the poster printed and ready to go for the OER19 program:

Meredith, pulling on her impressive ds106 chops, went the extra mile and as you can see in all the individual VHS tapes above systematically animated each and every one. So the final project that we will be looping on a monitor at the conference in Galway will look a bit like this:

Amazing, no? That is Reclaim Hosting at its very best: playful, creative, and going above and beyond. I could not be more thrilled with our marketing campaign for OER19 because like our Reclaim Hosting in general, we know who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. #4life


*But as things go, I need to first write another post to make that post make any sense in my mind. I wish blogging were simpler for me these day .

Getting Ready for OER19

Hiya! It’s been a minute since I’ve written a post on my blog, but I’m back! And ooohhh boy do I have an exciting post! Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working to animate our OER19 ad to display at our Reclaim Hosting table.

Lauren wrote about our process creating the Ad in her Be Kind Reclaim post. Sticking with our Reclaim Video aesthetic we decided to craft our own VHS covers to show some aspects of Reclaim Hosting and add them to our very own Reclaim Video shelf.

We put together the full ad within an afternoon and I’m very impressed at how quickly we worked! We all voted on the topics for each VHS (Lauren wrote a great description of each tape) and divided them up amongst the group. Tim was the choreographer and put all tapes on our shelf as we finished them.


I started working on the OER19 themed tape. We were playing with the idea to pull in the ET theme from the lovely conference banner.

Once I saw the bicycle in the moon, I immediately started searching for the iconic view of Elliot and ET flying on the bicycle. I knew I could create a cool poster using that VHS cover.

I grabbed this image and opened up photoshop to get to work. I removed the bicycle and ET from the VHS cover using the clone stamp to give a clean slate. Then I ended up using the selection tools to grab a the bicycle from the OER19 banner and found a transparent OER19 image to use as the movie title. I thought it turned out really well!


Here are the other tapes we created for the ad:


Pretty sick right? It gets better. After some brainstorming, we decided we were going to display this ad on our table at OER19. And what better way to do this? Animate all VHS tapes to make the shelf come alive.

Thanks to ds106 (#4life), creating the Gifs were super easy– I just needed to find the pieces I wanted to animate. There were 8 tapes in total and each became their own unique side story to the full story of Reclaim.

Domains19– This one is a announcing our upcoming conference in June. Ryan Seslow created this sick glitch gif of a man in a hoodie that Lauren used in the tape. I added that Gif over her original to animate the hoodie.

SPLOTs— This one I created new layers of the rorschach test and decreased the opacity for each frame. Then I reversed the frames to bring the opacity back to 100%.

Cursed Gutenberg– Oh the horror of the WordPress update. I made the hand move up and down as if it were getting chopped up (grossly awesome, right?)

ds106– This one was a little tough to come up with. I wanted to animate the lava flow in the background but, this was proving difficult in Photoshop. Then I found Plotaverse and let me tell you, this was a game changer! I was able to animate the background on my iPad in like 20 minutes.

OER19– This speaks for itself. I made it look like Elliot and ET were flying

yourdomain.com– This one is based on our Splash page. Here I animated each letter to appear as if you were typing in your domain name.

Reclaim Video– This is one of the longest GIFs to do frame by frame but my personal favorite! Taken from the intro of our awesome Reclaim Video video I was able to make it look like the video was playing in the tape cover.

Devo– This is an ode to our Shared Hosting servers– we name each shared hosting server after 80s pop punk bands. I animated each letter to make them ‘dance’ to the music.

So after all of these were finished it was time to put them all together on the shelf! This probably was the most time consuming piece of the whole project, it was a lot of coordination to make sure the frames were running correctly and on time. But here’s the final look!

Putting this together made me so pumped for OER19! I’m so excited to hear all the awesome presentations and catch up with some Reclaimers to see what they’ve been up to in the past year. So stop by our Reclaim table and see the shelf in real life (or just come by and say hello!) See you there!

Make Trax

We are adding a seventh early 80s video game cabinet to the ever-growing Reclaim Arcade. The games is a bit niche, I first knew it as Crush Roller (which is odd given that was its name in Japan), but it is most popularly known in the US as Make Trax (1981). The game is pretty trippy, you are basically a paint brush that tries to paint the entire maze without being killed by two fish (I had no idea they were fish, I always thought they were paint drips in the shape of a tear drop) who patrol the area. What’s more, if one of several animals/objects are released and leave prints or tracks you have to repaint the effected area. It’s obviously inspired by Pac-man, with the fish like ghosts and the various animals/objects akin to fruit. The power-ups are basically paint rollers that give you enough speed and power to catch and crush the fish. The non-sensical nature of the whole enterprise is part of its appeal, and you can see the game play in the video above.

It’s our third Williams cabinet (the other two being Joust and Defender), so that makes a Williams trifecta for Reclaim Arcade, and we have our eye out for a fourth, namely Robotron—which may be Tim’s Total Reclaim restore project 🙂 Interestingly enough, I saw a Make Trax machine last year in New Hampshire on Ebay right around the same time we started this insanity with the purchase of  Centipede, but that one was sold given we thought we would have to go all the way to New Hampshire to pick it up—this was before Tim discovered the magic of Fastenal Express.* In fact, I’m kinda glad cause as of now this one does not have sound and a is a bit beat up in terms of cigarette burns and a few cracks on the control panel overlay, but the cabinet is original and the art was fairly simply so it’s solid. The sound issue should be fairly simple to fix thanks to Tim’s new interest, and if we need another original control panel overlay we can grab one pretty easy it seems.

I guess an obvious question is still to arise for me, how many stand-up 1980s video game cabinets make an actual arcade? 


*As a side note here, it is crazy how expensive U-haul has become for traveling to retrieve a video game like this. We spent close to $500 renting a truck for one day and traveling roughly 250-300 miles to Maryland to pick-up four machine. Luckily it was a wash given we got several machines, but that price point makes picking up one machine a n0n-starter, where as Fastenal will deliver it within 30 miles for around $100. 

Reclaim Hosting Merch

It’s been almost 3 years since Reclaim Hosting’s first t-shirt featuring Bryan Mathers original vinyl logo.

And given we have moved into the VHS era of Reclaim last year, we figured it was high time to push out a new t-shirts featuring our new logo, which if you look closely still has the old logo in tact (pretty sneaky, sis). 

So Friday, thanks to the lightning fast microsite development that Lauren Brumfield is quickly becoming famous for at Reclaim, we introduced out latest shirt designs:

and

We had a third color we were hoping to push out, but that is currently on hold given what we saw was not exactly what we got—so we’re re-thinking that design. You can find either of these shirts over at the Reclaim Hosting store, and if you are attending OER19 in Galway we would be happy to hand deliver any merch given the cost for international shipping can get steep.

We also added some of our OG merch such as the Reclaim Video shirts, the original  logo Reclaim Hosting shirts, and Domains17 shirts. What’s more,  we also have added some stickers into the mix. So as our newest tagline “Be Kind, Reclaim”

Or the Reclaim Hosting VHS tape:

Or the Reclaim Video TV:

It’s pretty fun to see a storefront that provides a peek into the archaeology of how we have imagined the aesthetic around Reclaim. I say it again and again on this blog, but exploring creative ways to frame Reclaim has been some of the funnest and most rewarding work I’ve been a part of, and unfortunately it is shamefully undervalued by most groups and organizations in edtech. I believe the role of framing your mission and the principles you represent should be as much visual as rhetorical, and more and more I find the former even more compelling than the latter. Anyway, Reclaim is #4life, and if you find anything that catches your fancy head on over to the store and and reclaim some merch 🙂

Berg Builds Community

It’s been a week of travel and on-the-ground work at Reclaim’s Headquarters in Fred Vegas, but I would be remiss if I did not share the awesome community portal the folks at Muhlenberg College have built with their Domains instance.

Community site for Berg Builds

It’s a beautiful thing, scores of featured sites  around the community that can be filtered by a few key categories such as research, travel, portfolio, student, staff, faculty, etc. The screenshot above does not capture the long scroll of sites that provides an instant sense of just how much work is happening in the Muhlenberg community, and for me that is everything. I continually return to the idea that these educational publishing platforms are at their core a way to reveal the life of the mind of a community, and Berg Builds has nailed it. From what I understand the great Tim Clarke is behind this project, and he has really done a brilliant job, simple, elegant, and sensitive to the issues that surround be out there in this day and age. 

The opt-in/opt-out form does a nice job of inviting submissions as well as providing a place for users to remove their work if need be. And the blurb introducing the form lays it all out:

We try to keep up with all the great work happening on Berg Builds domains. But sites come and go, people wander, the world forever marches onward. If we’ve missed your site and you would like to be included in this community, please use the opt-in form below and let us know!

Working on the open web adds our voices, knowledge, and experience to the greatest collection of human creativity ever known. But we understand that folks seek visibility of their work on the web in different ways. While we encourage everyone to share their creations within our Berg Builds Community site, we also understand that you may have reasons why this doesn’t feel right. If you would like to have your site removed, please use the opt-out form below and we will honor your request.

I remain a true believer that working on the web can provide a unique space to share our work, and I also believe there is a special place on the web for higher ed given its foundational role in help shaping the internet. That said, we know the other side of that coin all too well these days, which makes the work Muhlenberg is doing to highlight the good work folks are doing all the more special. Opening up the inscrutable black box that is web hosting for discovery and connections is an act filled with hope and promise—it’s hard not to feel inspired.

I am looking forward to a play-by-play of this project, and imagine it’s either already published or on the way. And hey, there may even be a presentation in the works for Domains19—ya never, never know!

A Postscript on Server Migrations (redirecting network traffic to a new IP)

During the break between Christmas and New Year’s I migrated a server from Linode to Digital Ocean. We have just a handful left, and most of those should be gone this year. This migration was pretty straightforward, no WordPress portal or WHMCS instance, just a straight-up cPanel server. The plan was to run our handy dandy server deploy script which gets about 95% of a new cPanel server setup in about 30 minutes, which is amazing given this use to be a day-long process. Once that server is setup we need to copy all data between the two servers using IP addresses given we want to keep the same hostname, i.e., universityx.reclaimhosting.com. This is easily done with the the Transfer tool in cPanel, and migrating over 500 cPanel accounts took about an hour and a half. 

Once all the accounts are migrated over cleanly, we need to point the DNS records in AWS’s Route 53 to the new IP address of the new server on Digital Ocean. If all went well that should be all set, the one mistake I made on this recent migration was not copying over the existing SSL certificate from the old server—it’s always something. So, after that’s done another trick Tim showed me that has come in useful was redirecting all traffic to the old IP to the new IP server-wide. This post spells it out very well, and it ensures that any lingering traffic that may be going to old server for all kinds of DNS reasons would be pushed to the new server right away. 

https://www.debuntu.org/how-to-redirecting-network-traffic-to-a-new-ip-using-iptables/

Anyway, just putting this here in the event I need this again so I don’t have to dig through Slack again to find the link, not to mention to remind myself of the mistakes I made the last time so I can avoid them next time 🙂

Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing


I appreciate NYU Libraries’ straightforward approach to their Domain of One’s Own project, they basically say, we’re hosting …. that’s it. In fact, it’s right in their domain: http://hosting.nyu.edu

So when someone recently asked me for various examples of how schools are approaching Domains, I headed over to NYU’s instance, and I was struck again by their ability to quickly distill what this service is and is not.

The Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing table breaks down the difference between something like a WordPress Multisite instance versus a Domain of One’s Own quite nicely. You could argue the last point about portability given WordPress sites on WPMS are pretty easy to migrate, but regardless it is spot on.

Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing

hosting.nyu.edu wp.nyu.edu
Requires intermediate web publishing skills Great for those new to website development
Backend Server Access via cPanel, SSH, and FTP Simple User Interface
Allows for one-click installs and endless customization of self-hosted WordPress, Scalar, and Omeka Limited to WordPress and NYU-approved themes and plugins
No charge to NYU users and easy to migrate upon graduation No charge to NYU user

I sometimes get defensive when folks I respect bemoan how hard self-hosting remains. I do think the point is a fair one and a Domains roll-out will never (nor was it ever meant to) replace various other university-provided tools that create less friction for publishing—even if some need replacing. But I do think web hosting as a basic utility should have a more prominent place at universities like it does at the NYU Libraries. The way they frame it around research, scholarship, and publishing for the digital era should not seem alien anymore. It should be yet another service universities offer alongside the others because there will increasingly be more and more faculty and students who want and need control over their publishing environments for the academic work they are doing.

Back to the Future: The Mothership or The DeLorean?

Cropping from book cover of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond

We are thrilled to finally announce the first keynote presentation at Domains19, which will be co-presented by Chris Gilliard and sava saheli singh, who will be asking the question: “Back to the Future: The Mothership or The DeLorean?” Chris jokingly wrote when describing the talk: “Think George Clinton, Octavia Butler, and The Mothership meets Domains.” I can’t think of anything cooler, and the abstract will give you a sense of what’s to come:

A common (yet searingly accurate) lament is that so much of our current tech and visions of the future are based on the limited imaginations of the small segment of the population that fits within Silicon Valley’s ideal of “innovation.” Thus we are often burdened with tech (and ed-tech) that suits the vision and needs of people who are overwhelmingly white and male. As we live the consequences of this vision, it’s worthwhile to think about Black and Brown visions of “the future” to inform how we might move forward in a way that looks decidedly different from our current path. This keynote aims to complicate current ways of thinking about privacy, security, accessibility, and ownership, drawing on Afrofuturism and 80’s funk to imagine ways of operating outside of our current paradigm of surveillance capitalism.

You can read more about both Chris and Sava’s work here, and if you are considering coming to Domains19 on June 10th and 11th, it might be high time to submit a proposal or register for the conference. The proposal deadline has been extended out to February 15th, so there is world enough and time to submit and/or register!

Reclaim 2018

This year has been another solid one at Reclaim Hosting, and while I have some breathing room between semesters I figured I’d try to recap of some the highlights. For a small team we tend to bite off a lot, and I’m over the moon with how much we got done this year, but there’s no question it has been an intense one.

Reclaim Video Signage

The first major project of the year was getting our video store, Reclaim Video, up and running. There was a fair bit of manual labor involved in this process, including a groovy carpet that was almost the death of me. We did most of the work in February and March, and by April we had the official launch of Reclaim Video at OER18 in Bristol which included an unveiling of the website as well as  the screening of our first “marketing” video:

The OER18 conference was another highlight for Reclaim given the entire team attended, and we enjoyed the vibe so much it looks like we’ll be heading to Ireland for OER19 this Spring to re-live the glory of our video world premiere. 

We also used the announcement of Reclaim Video as an excuse to update our website art from vinyl records to VHS tapes, which has been a fun motif for the site. I also think it’s high time we get shirts made of the new logo design, all hail Bryan Mathers.

To top off the Reclaim Video art and video-infused frenzy of the first 5 or 6 months of 2018, we invited Michael Branson Smith to Fredericksburg in June to brainstorm ways to build on top of the Reclaim Video website he designed for us. This led to some playing with Raspberry Pis, animated GIF movie posters, and beefing up the Reclaim Video stereo system. Hanging out with Michael was a definite highlight because he’s always a creative inspiration, and the playful work we did with him that weekend would carry through for us into the second half of 2018 (but more on that anon). 

Instagram Photo

But the first half of 2018 was not all VHS stores and world premieres, we also ran our second (and possibly last) Workshop of One’s Own in Fredericksburg. This workshop had 14 people and was a two-day tour de force, Tim even threw in an escape room. We also brought in Alan Levine to kick off a year-long fellowship to offer SPLOTs as one-click installs through Reclaim’s Installatron (we currently have 5 up and running).

Also of note during the Spring was the talk I gave at Re:publica in May. The conference seemed like a throwback tech conference from the aughts, and I realized then and there that my heart’s not really in the presenting game these days. Part of that is I feel like I’ve said all I need to say on Domains using that format, and the other is I’ve not been all that good at coming up with novel presentations—which means I’m re-hashing. I hope I find my mojo again because I really do enjoy presenting, but between the crunch of my day job and the realization I’ve had more than my fair share of opportunities to present—it might be a good time to lay low and plan my late career comeback in Vegas 🙂 That said, making another guest appearance on Virtually Connecting with Christian Friedrich was a highlight:

I also got to meet an international band of #Edupunx thanks to Twitter and a coffee mug, which I am now in proud possession of 🙂

The last 6 months of 2018 had the same level of intensity, but in different directions. Starting in June we were strongly considering re-developingDomain of One’s Own from the ground up. This meant trying to imagine the experience outside of cPanel and WHMCS entirely in order to build the Domains infrastructure on top of a container-based application framework like Cloudron. It remains a dream, but after spending a few months exploring the requirements and seeing just exactly what this would entail we decided to shelve it for a variety of reasons. Foremost amongst which was the uncertainty of what a container-based, app-driven hosting environment would mean in terms of server resources and costs. 

June was also the time when Digital Ocean featured Reclaim in one of their case studies, which was not only awesome but also timely given we would spend much of the Summer of 2018 moving the last of our shared and Domain of One’s Own server fleet to DO. It was a 2-3 year long migration of our infrastructure, but this Summer saw the last of all significant migrations—which was both a huge accomplishment and relief at once. As an added bonus DO cut their pricing significantly to start 2018 which meant we could return the favor to our managed hosting clients—which felt good.

June was also the time Lauren officially moved into the role of Account Manager with the idea that we would be more intentional and pro-active about reaching out to schools. It’s been a learning process trying to manage over 70 schools, but building regularity of communication into our practice has been huge and Lauren has been amazing at this. Moreover, she has also been on-boarding clients, fielding interests from potential schools, setting up servers, and all while answering support tickets. The untold joys of working for a small company 🙂

One of the nice things about 2018 is that we showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, quite the opposite. Part of what made this such an amazing year was seeing a major uptick of interest in our managed hosting for WordPress Multisite, as well as our Professional Services offering.  Reclaim has been diversifying a bit beyond Domains and shared hosting, which means we are rounding out well while at the same time remaining focused on what we do well: academic-driven hosting. We’ve also gotten more interest from schools that want us to manage user support for their campus Domains project, which is one reason why our growth has been focused on shoring up the support experience.

We knew if we didn’t hire someone to help out in time for fall it was going to be a heavy workload for all of us, and that proved to be true. We answered upwards of 3200 tickets amongst the 4 of us since August, and I’ll be so bold to say we did an awesome job taking care of the community that takes care of us. That said, I think we’re all ready for a more systematic approach when it comes to support. So the last few months quickly became about devising and hiring a position to run our customer support. We wanted to start with someone who could take what we have and implement a support structure that moves beyond our all hands on deck approach currently so that we can begin to compartmentalize roles a bit more.

But before we hired an employee we did something even better, we hired a consultant. But not just any consultant, a Justin Webb consultant 🙂 For those out there not keeping score,  Justin was the CIO at UMW under whom Domain of One’s Own go the green light from IT. His understanding of what DTLT was doing in 2013 was exactly what we needed at the time, and Tim and I have been in touch with Justin ever since we departed UMW. This fall provided an opportunity for us to work together once again, and the immediate needs in September and October was helping us solidify various IT requirements around security, accessibility, and the like. It’s a lot of work to manage those requests, and having a university-trained CIO to consult on these issues has been invaluable. But that was just the beginning, Justin also took over the job search for the Customer Support Manager position, and right before Christmas we officially hired that position—which is a huge win of 2018. 

As Reclaim turned five this year the strange realization that we’re not going anywhere has started to settle in. We have a solid customer base; we provide an excellent service at an affordable service; and people continue to come to us at a frequency that’s increasing by the day. Three years ago when I jumped ship at UMW and struck out for the territories, I wondered if we would make it this far. There were some highs and lows, as well as months of feast or famine as we figured out getting paid and managing accounts, but what amazes me as 2018 draws to a close is that we have all that in hand, and everything over the past 6 months points to the fact that we may be on the cusp of a growth spurt—and that is both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. We continue to lead with support, which is what has distinguished us thus far, and while we’re not actively pursuing new clients, they’re coming regardless. I like that we have grown steadily since 2013 at a pace that has allowed us to move cautiously into broader vistas—and I’d like to see that carry over in 2019. It remains a point of pride that we have not taken any investment money, remaining free to call the shots about what we will and won’t do. That makes Reclaim special for me, I think about the work we do and I can honestly say it’s genuine; we do not price gouge, we’ve never up-sold anyone (rather the opposite), and we do next to no marketing outside resurrecting a 1980s-era video store. 

I think there are just a few last points I need to make before this never-ending post comes to a close…. 

Sponsoring the Learning on/with the Open Web Conference (OWLTEH) at Coventry in October was another highlight, working with the folks at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab is always a pleasure, and the OWLTEH event at Coventry’s Transportation Museum was a total blast. The highlight for me was organizing a panel with Anne-Marie Scott and TOny Hirst to talk about the future of edtech infrastructure and Jupyter Notebooks. 

Anne-Marie and Tony were on a serious role, and it was a eye-opening both listening to them for that hour, but then talking with them both before and after OWLTEH. The folks in the UK edtech scene are so awesome, and getting to spend time with so many of them over that two days was a real treat. The Jupyter Notebook phenomemon is not going anywhere, and Tony’s newsletter “Tracking Jupyter” is something I want to spend my coming week off catching up on. Also, I still want to blog my experience at OWLTEH with Anne-Marie and Tony, but it’s been hard cause I feel like I actually have to play with this stuff and I have not had the time just yet…soon. What’s more, it’s hard to write about something that Anne-Marie already has well in hand on her blog

In November we were all set to our second Workshop of One’s Own in Fredericksburg, but in September we took Justin’s advice and scrapped that model and moved towards regional workshops. One of the struggles of being so locked into support is we don’t do as much of the outreach as we could/should. That changed this fall with our first Reclaim Roadshow at Skidmore College in early November. You can read more about it here, but the long and the short of it is we are running regional events that pair a workshop  for admins Domain of One’s Own with a user group/unconference event around a theme. The next one will be at Michigan State University on February 21st and 22nd focused around the idea of Digital Presence, you can read more about it here and here. The Skidmore Roadshow was a total blast, and I am very much looking forward to Michigan, and after a chat with Bryan Mathers we have an organizing aesthetic/metaphor for the Roadshow which I love!

I hope in 2019 we can actually create a short animated piece around a topic, and re-watching Scooby-Doo the last few days at the “Mine Your Own Business” episode from season 1 is ripe for a re-write, especially the Miner 49er character:

DataMiner 49er anyone? I mean this episode can almost re-write itself, they even discover the “new gold” in the haunted mine, oil! Let me count the ways.

Instagram Photo

Finally, we continue to have some fun with the office space. beyond Reclaim Video. After the Roadshow in Skidmore, Tim and I started doubling down on turning part of the office into a makerspace. Tim’s history with UMW’s early venture into makerspaces is well documented, and we finally bit the bullet and got a pretty bitchin’ 3D printer. And we put it to immediate use given I came back from the Victoria & Albert Video Games exhibition in London with an idea for building a DIY video game based on Line Wobbler, and it just so happens one of the requirements was to 3D print the joystick case.

We also re-connected with George Meadows from UMW (a lot of good re-connecting this year!) who was as jazzed as us about rekindling our shared makerspace history. Although, to be fair, George has not stopped pushing on this technology for teaching and learning since 2012, and the story of how he got 3D printing, Arduino, and a whole variety of cool technologies in the Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania K12 school systems is still to be told—some amazing work he did in that regard. 

Instagram Photo

We also did some more work on the office space. We had some dead space behind Reclaim Video that was essentially transitional storage space that now have two quiet booths for phone calls which was desperately needed by the folks at CoWork, as well as some cleaned up walls and a fresh coat of paint for the new makerspace:

I am just realizing I forgot our Reclaim Today streaming video sessions (we did 13 or so), but I am running out of ink and energy on this one. Reclaim Today is something we need to jumpstart in the Spring, but world enough and time, right? For now that’s going to have to do, although I am sure there is much I left out. Let me end by simply recognizing how lucky I am to have been part of Reclaim for the last 5 and a half years and to work with so many amazing folks. I am really looking forward to 2019, the year when Reclaim Video brings back the glory days of the Saturday Morning Cartoon to edtech :).

Wildcats Rise from the Ashes of Camp Fire

Heavy smoke creates an orange glow in the sky over Trinity Hall as the Camp Fire, which started near the community of Pulga in the Feather River canyon carries smoke over campus to create a red haze on Friday, November 9, 2018 in Chico, Calif.
(Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU Chico)

News of the massive devastation caused by the Camp Fire in Northern California may have taken back seat to the federal government shutdown and imaginary walls built upon the ideological quicksand of fear-driven politics, but the devastation Northern California has experienced since August is alarming for all sorts of reasons: environmental, political, professional and personal.  All those levels matter, but I freely acknowledge I’m in no position to talk about the environmental or political levels, but on a professional level the California State University system has been early adopters of Domain of One’s Own under Michael Berman’s leadership at Channel Islands. What’s more, the experimental pedagogy of Kim Jaxon at Chico State has been a big reason why Chico adopted Domains over a year ago. They’re one of several schools that have been piloting the possibility of hosting for students and faculty, and it’s always encouraging to see large state universities invest in exploring possibilities when it comes to edtech. So in many ways that if the professional context for us wanting to help the staff, students, and faculty effected by Camp Fire.

CSU Chico Camp Fire Info Page

But on a more personal level, I have family living not only in Chico, but 40 miles northwest in Red Bluff. I have fond affection for that part of Northern California, and I was already deeply alarmed when the Carr Fire ravaged the Redding area in August. For context Redding is 30 miles north of Red Bluff and just 70 miles north of Chico, and that fire tornado during the Carr Fire was just prelude to the utter devastation of the Camp Fire three months later. I found myself calling my brother and his family again in November making sure everyone was safe (luckily they were). So, while I am many thousands of miles away, both the Carr and Camp fires were too close to home. So, when we reached out to the good folks at Chico about how we could help they pointed us to the Chico State’s fundraiser for those impacted by the Camp Fire called Wildcats Rise. Donating was the least we could do, and I was glad to see they’re closing in on their goal.  So I figured before retiring for a bit to enjoy the holidays with friends and family it might be worth sharing the link to the Wildcats Rise Fire Recovery Fund for any and all who are willing and able to help.