Apple Key, Splat & Swedish Campground

Sometimes, the interesting things are already spoken about, read and filtered.  Sometimes, you run into interesting things that are worthy of an individual post and are lazy.  Every now and then, you might find yourself energized with an idea but then get lost in the writing.  So, I decided to start here.

For those with an Apple computer, i.e., Macintosh, you may have now noticed the Apple Key down on your keyboard to the right or left of the spacebar.  Look for it.  If you don't have it, then you probably bought into the Apple side of things post 2007 when the keyboard was redesigned without it.  In place, "command" was written.  But that little symbol accompanying either the former or the latter, what the heck do we call it?  Enter a story found on, "Swedish Campground"

Finally she came across a floral symbol that was used in Sweden to indicate an interesting feature or attraction in a campground. She rendered a 16 x 16 bitmap of the little symbol and showed it to the rest of the team, and everybody liked it. Twenty years later, even in OS X, the Macintosh still has a little bit of a Swedish campground in it.  -Andy Hertzfeld

In another story, a famous blogger named Dan Frommer launched his adeptly named blog "Splat Eff" back in July 2011 further enlightening readers about the symbol.  Check out what he says here on, What does SplatF mean?

Did you learn something?

TED Talks: Abraham Verghese: A doctor's touch

Once in a while (alright, on many many occasions), TED Talks posts an inspirational video from past events and this week, and I've finally caught up with their video podcast that was posted on September 26, 2011. Filmed in July at TEDGlobal 2011, Dr. Verghese speaks of today's exchange between doctor and patient while comparing it to times of past where a physical interaction was more prevalent. During the last year or so, not a day has gone by where this field has been more and more intriguing to me and videos like these truly provide great inspiration. I hope it finds you well.

An Amazing Commencement Speech by an Amazing Comedian

An amazing commencement address by Conan O'Brien to Dartmouth's 2011 graduating class. Truly inspiring and chock full of wisdom. This is definitely up there next to Steve Job's 2005 Stanford Commencement Address also know as the “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish," speech. A favorite excerpt of mine is:

Niche famously said, whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you! (16:59)

and the one that rings true to my heart:

It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique... your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention. (20:53)

via the ryry via teamcoco.

Listen to Three Amazing Stories from Steve Jobs

Made public a little while back, I thought that I should share it with you all here on this blog, adellelijah. I have to admit that it is very inspiring and let's face it, I'm a big fan. Steve Jobs speaks really well, holds my attention and is just a force that we should all listen to. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from various parts of the speech I that I want to share:

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." "Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith." "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

There's also this which I take to heart:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."

Watch and be truly inspired! Do something that you believe in to be truly amazing today. In its entirety, Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address also know as the "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Speech"

You can check out the full text of Steve Jobs' Commencement address here.

TED Talks: Patricia Kuhl - The linguistic genius of babies

Babies' brains are "...nothing short of rocket science." Check out what goes on during critical periods of development and the variations of language presented in both English and Japanese. As always, very, very fascinating. Over the next few days, I'll be posting some goodness from the various TED Talks that I've been watching. Back in January, I posted one about getting more sleep and how it equates to success by Arianna Huffington. If you haven't already seen it, check it out as well.

TEDWomen: How to Succeed? Get More Sleep

Browsing through some of the latest video offerings from TED Talks, I came across this presentation by Arianna Huffington talking about unlocking success.  Providing a simple solution, Ms. Huffington encourages us to "get enough sleep." Not only do we feel better, but our thoughts are clearly leading us "to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life."  Watch the video below and be inspired.  Now only if I can follow this mantra.

Coo Coo for Coconut Water

While on GTalk with Elijah last week we were joking about a long night out combined with his fatigue from a Sprint Triathlon which lead to a painful in-flight headache and water wasn't helping with his dehydration. I mentioned that he should of taken some Coconut Water because it was better than a bottle of Gatorade since it had more electrolytes. Then I made a joke about what plants crave from the Mike Judge movie Idiocracy, which he didn't get.. I've been wondering about the health benefits of Coconut Water for a while. I was first introduced to it by a friend who swears by it for those long nights drinking; one before and one after. I'm pretty much a Gatorade or Water person to relive the day after pains of my self induced liver poisoning. I tried a sip once, and haven't given it much thought since then.

Without getting into a lot of details about what's in Coconut water, the main benefits are the high mineral contents; specifically potassium. These mineral levels equate to higher amounts of electrolytes than most sports drinks. The potassium levels are twice the amount you would get from eating a single banana.

Why is high potassium important? Well Sodium and Potassium are both alkaline metals and are very close in the Periodic table. By taking in Sodium or Potassium this allows our bodies to move water through our systems faster also it helps with muscle contractions. So science tells me that Coconut Water has the advantage over a Gatorade or Water. Great!

I began to wonder what other applications Coconut Water could have other than the cure for a common hangover. I thought I was onto an untapped resource. Since Coconut Water could be used to help rehydrate, then drinking it on a plane would be perfect. I don't know about most people, but being in the conditioned environment makes me dehydrated. So I proposed that we should work on getting Coconut Water into airports and airplanes.

I was already too late to collect my genius money. Vita Coco and JetBlue started serving Coconut Water to passengers back in 2009. A day late and a dollar short on that idea. This hasn't stopped me, I'm on a mission to buy some to give Coconut Water an honest try and see what else it should be marketed for. I don't know if they're pushing it enough as a sports drink substitute. I think I'm going to pack a few away for my long flight to New Zealand in November.

Update: After writing this article. I spend and afternoon golfing and an evening drinking at one of my favorite dive bars which lead me to become dehydrated. I tried to find some Coconut Water at my local Vons. They did not have any available. I'm beginning to wonder how well companies are doing with their ad campaigns against traditional sports drinks. Do I have to go to an Asian Market to get some?

Additional Links:

Vita Coco -

JetBlue -

Coconut Water -

Potassium  -

Complimentary Vita Coco Available on JetBlue Airways This Fall, AOL Daily Finance -

Idiocracy -

Society Ignoring our Kids, The Failure of the American Education System

Let me preface this article by saying that I am by no means an expert in the area of education.  I simply have a degree in a social science and have my own life experience to draw from.  Whether or not you choose to give any weight to this at all is entirely up to you. It's no shocker to see the  words "failing" or "inadequate" when you're looking at something in reference to the American education system.  A country that would seem to have it all can't figure out how to educate it's children.  The system is entirely out of control.  I believe one of the biggest obstacles keeping it from being overhauled is the lack of urgency from the public.  It really doesn't seem like the general population understands the consequences of a poor education system.  Every politician makes a point to mention in their campaign slurs that they will fix it.  Everyone knows it's broken and hearing empty promises by someone potentially highly influential makes the public feel like they're helping to fix it simply with a vote.  Still, no urgency and nothing gets done.  The fact is the system is still broken after every attempt to fix it.  I believe that is because the politicians either don't understand why it doesn't work or they're too afraid to address it.  So why doesn't it work?  Let me try my hand at this.  Let's talk about the public school system at the elementary level.

I couldn't give all the reasons it's broken in one short article.  Nor do I know all of the reasons.  But there are a few glaring ones I'd like to point out.  The first one is the control the government has over the curriculum.  There is obviously a plus side to this.  The uniformity of the curriculum across all schools prevents a less capable school from teaching their students with bad information or irrelevant subjects (we won't yet mention the lack of control over bad teachers).  But the down side to this is paralyzing.  It also prevents better curriculums from being used.  There are no "cutting edge" teachers out there because "cutting edge" would be illegal to teach (assuming it hasn't yet gone through the motions to be approved teaching material).  Remember, this doesn't apply to private schools or colleges, we're just talking about public elementary schools.  They can't make the curriculum any harder or too many children will fail.  What's worse, failing children that don't grasp the subject or preventing those that do from reaching a higher level?  I would argue the latter.  I know it sounds barbaric to leave kids behind and I think there should be things in place for those kids to bring them up to speed.  In fact the bulk of the attention should be on those kids.  The over-achievers won't require as much attention.  The higher learning programs just need to be available!  On a societal level, it is far more beneficial to embrace the over-achievers and encourage them to reach new heights than to allow them to over-achieve in under-performing classes.  A child should never be able to reach the peak potential of a class before their own has been met.  Programs should always be in place to push them to higher learning.  It's those children, after all, that will be running the country for their generation.  Slowing them now has grave consequences for the future.

By now you're probably thinking I'm way off base.  How could anyone expect children to perform at higher levels when the failure rate is already so high in the curriculum we have now?  We have a new problem that's harder to solve than the first ones.  Imagine you live in a castle and you see the enemy just 100 yards away bombarding your walls as they crumble around you.  The enemy is clear.  But unfortunately you don't have the ability to stop them so all you can do is watch as your fortress is destroyed.  This is the threat teacher's unions pose to any politician willing to take them on.  It is a very powerful union because of its vast resources.  Those resources are votes.  If the governor of your state decides to challenge the union it is likely they will be a one term governor.  Especially in a state that's more liberal than conservative.  Now you're thinking I just have issues with unions.  Not so.  There is a place for unions.  But when it comes to educating kids, it is wrong.  It is the union's role to protect the teacher's best interest.  Who's role is it to protect the student's interest?  The student's union?  That is an area a union would be beneficial.  Of course the idea of children forming a union is ridiculous.  So the only option left is to dump the teacher's union.  It should be in no ones best interest to protect the job of an individual who is negatively influencing children with their work.  That is what bad teachers do.  A good teacher can push kids harder because they're better equipped to ensure the children keep up.  A bad teacher will have high failure rates, or worse, will change their testing standards to "fudge the numbers" and allow more children to pass with lower scores.  Granted, teachers are underpaid which causes some justification for the union.  That is an issue that needs to be addressed.  But not at the expense of the students.

To fix the system it needs to be changed from the ground up.  There should be incentive for teachers to do well and they should be compensated for their skills.  Teaching in low income, underachieving areas shouldn't be the low paying jobs with brand new unproven teachers.  Those less desirable working conditions should warrant higher pay and thereby draw in better teachers.  There is no question that pay and performance go hand on hand more often than it doesn't.  With the union in place, you could never build a system like this.  It just doesn't work.  There are casualties when you make drastic changes and the union would fight to the end to prevent them, as they should.  It is after all their role.  There should be more benefits for teachers, better compensation, and recognition for fields they may specialize in.  A NASA engineer should be given special consideration to teach a class on engineering over a college graduate with a teaching credential and a few classes in engineering.  To accommodate that they need to be compensated for that specialty.  The only way to do these things is to drastically increase funding to public schools at the government level.  But only after the system is rebuilt.

I've really only scratched the surface on what's wrong with our school system.  Lack of public urgency, government curriculum control and poor teacher performance (tied to union protection) are three issues I feel should receive urgent attention.  It would take a bold move from a bold person to fix this.  They wouldn't be popular today, tomorrow or maybe even in their lifetime.  But they would leave a legacy of smarter more capable Americans.  And that should be good enough.

Learning CompTIA A+ by Yourself, on the Cheap! Part 2

On day 2 of my quest to earn a CompTIA A+ certification in 7 days, I learned many things.  Among those, my 7-day timeline was entirely unrealistic.  Sure it was optimistic and rather bold, but I truly believed it could be done.  That was before I spent 4 hours this afternoon on 1/3rd of today’s study material.  I did manage to get through 2 of the 3 chapters I planned so not all hope is lost!  But it turns out, pushing through 200 pages of what is essentially a complex textbook, note taking and all, is not something you really want to do in one day.  I will spare you an updated prediction on the timetable to get through this beast of a book [CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Seventh Edition (Exams 220-701 & 220-702)]but it should not be far off from my original 7-day goal.  I’m being extra vigilant in avoiding rushing through a chapter only to have to re-read it before taking the certification tests. I made it through chapters 4 and 5 today.  Chapter 4 was on the operating system Windows.  And just as I catch myself thinking, “Geez, I always thought Windows was more complex than this,” I realize that this was only an introduction to the basic elements of Windows.  In depth analysis and breakdown of the specific functions and applications in relation to troubleshooting and repairing a PC with Windows have their own dedicated chapters further down the line.  I should have known it couldn’t be that easy…

Chapter 5 was on microprocessors (e.g., AMD Phenom II, Intel Core i7)  There really isn’t much to be said on this one.  I was surprised to find the concepts behind the theory and functionality of a microprocessor to be less foreign to me than the Windows OS (2000, XP, Vista).

My excitement has yet to lose any of its momentum.  I’m encouraged as I continue to read about the difference between DIMM and RIMM, megabytes and megabits.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to catch up to my original timetable over the next few days as I encounter shorter chapters.  In any case, the study must go on!

Until next time…

Learning CompTIA A+ by Yourself, on the Cheap!

First, let me say hello to and our first readers!  Along with the rest of the team, I will have my formal introduction in the coming week or two.  So keep updating and refreshing this website until then!  I hope to inform you, enlighten you and inspire you.  I will begin my forray into the world of adellelijah with what I hope to be some informative information. What is CompTIA A+ you might ask?  No, it's not a DVD series on improving your grades at school (although that sounds good too).  It's fancy words for "computer tech nerd".  If you've ever wondered how that expensive box under your desk works, the solo monitor that an iMac incorporates, or had any interest in building/troubleshooting/fixing a computer or even making a few dimes while doing it, CompTIA A+ is your ticket!  It's an introduction to the IT world.  In short, CompTIA is a non-profit organization that provides certifications that are internationally recognized.  In this case, we'll journey together and learn about the certification called "A+".  Keep in mind, this book assumes you have at least a basic working knowledge in computers (how to use them, what they're for, etc.).  This certification invloves all things PC (personal computer).  Don't get that confused with the popular Apple commercial dividing the two kinds of computers as a PC also refers to the Apple Computers too.  One might say, A+ refers to PCs and ACs.

By the time you get certified, you should have a moderate to advanced knowledge of all of the hardware (and most software) in your computer you keep at home, at work, or anywhere else.  I've decided to embark on a 7 day mission (despite the advice in the book suggesting 150 hours) to learn CompTIA A+ on my own without shelling out a house payment in the process.  Seven days may be a bit bold for someone to master this skill on their own, but I'm optimistic.  I've decided to go with the CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Seventh Edition (Exams 220-701 & 220-702)book as it seems to be the favorite among IT circles.  It's just over 1300 pages of everything I need to know to keep my PC running at it's best and, if I'm lucky, someone else's too!  With the Memorial Day sale at Borders, I saved and bought this book for $38.  It retails for $59.99 USD.  If you use our Amazon link above, you'll be directed to our associate seller site and be able to purchase the book for just about the same!  Book vs classes?  You could take classes that cost you over $1000, not including travel fees, but what's the fun in that?  It's hardly worth writing about.  I was interested in learning this new skill for the cost of one book and the test fees (around $160 per test, two of them).  At worst, it will be a total failure.  At best, I will be qualified to get paid repairing computers at an entry level.

I've decided to document each day of study.  How easy it is to learn the topics, how realistic my 7 day plan is, and just what the heck I'm thinking as I go through this process.   Each day, I will cover a multitude of topics.  This marks day 1.  I've broken the book into 3 chapter segments for each day, in order.  In 7 days, that would have me completing all 27 chapters.  Having already finished the first 3 chapters, I'm left excited and hungry for more!  Though I must remain disciplined and keep to my schedule.  It doesn't hurt that the first 3 chapters were probably the easiest in the book, barely worth mentioning.  The next 3 will be another story.  It's by far the largest segment, pagewise, in my 7 day adventure.  And it only covers, in depth, simple things like Windows, microprocessors, and RAM!  Right...

Tomorrow's update will no doubt be more informative (and probably more pessimistic) than today's introduction.  I do promise that I will be an optimistic contributor to adellelijah and With luck, I will keep to the schedule and be a pro by the time I'm one week older.  You must know that I've started this with a basic working knowledge of most of the hardware that makes up a PC.  I have a general idea of what each component does and I've custom built several PC's myself.  Some working, some not so much.  I encourage you to follow along with me through the struggles and the triumphs with the hope that I will inspire you to go out and learn a new job skill in ultra-speed fashion.  We all know, especially in today's environment, that you can never have too many job skills.  Now I must rest and prepare for tomorrow's mind job.

To be continued...