<![CDATA[techsoc.com - Blog]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2023 18:58:50 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[A Major Milestone]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2023 23:45:14 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/a-major-milestoneWhen you do something for long enough you start to pass milestones that seemed unreachable at the start of your career, if you even suspected it would be a career at the time!

In this case my milestone accomplishment is that, with the release of MATLAB Essential Training on November 7, 2023, I have had 100 courses published through LinkedIn Learning (formerly lynda.com). I’m not counting the 20 or so translations and foreign language adaptations created from my work: the number of courses that I personally recorded has now reached triple digits.

When you go to my author page on LinkedIn Learning you’ll see there are around 35 courses listed. The other courses I created are still on the site but have been retired and don’t show up in search, mostly because they cover older versions of software such as Excel 2016 or because viewership wasn’t where we needed it to be. Yeah, I’ve had a few courses that didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, but overall my track record has been pretty good.

There are so many people to thank for helping me with my success, but I always start with a grateful nod to Tim O’Reilly, who gave me my first professional writing job in 1996. O’Reilly published The State of Web Commerce in January 1997 and that credential opened up writing opportunities I parlayed into more than 40 books, most notably the Excel Step by Step series for Microsoft Press, and more than 100 online courses when you include the four I created for DigitalThink in the early 2000s.

I’ve been ably represented by Studio B Productions for more than 25 years, starting with company co-founder David Rogelberg, then by Neil Salkind (who I miss terribly), and now by the other company co-founder Sherry Rogelberg. Their early guidance provided the support I needed to establish myself as a working professional, helped me avoid the unfavorable (and occasionally unsavory) contracts offered to newer writers, and more than earned their commissions by finding me work early in my career and helping me manage my jobs as our relationship continued.

You can blame Bonnie Bills for recruiting me as a lynda author in late 2008 or early 2009 (my memory is hazy on timing and my email archives are squirreled away…somewhere…). My first course, Excel 2007: Financial Analysis, went live on August 25, 2009. With MATLAB Essential Training releasing on November 7, 2023, it took me 5,178 days to go from zero courses to 100. That’s one course every 52 days, averaging almost exactly seven courses per year for 14 years. Quite a few of the projects are updates from previous work, but by my count I’ve created courses on 55 distinct topics in the business software field.


My release pace with LinkedIn Learning has slowed, mainly because the company has successfully recruited a wide-ranging group of authors who can provide valuable insights on topics I cover. Sharing diverse perspectives and distinct voices benefits everyone. I served my purpose as an author who was willing to work more or less full-time on course creation at a point when other qualified instructors weren’t ready to make the jump to video. Now that they have, they deserve their turn. And the good news? There’s plenty for everyone.

I look forward to working with my LinkedIn Learning colleagues Marjorie Page and Steve Weiss as well as Sherry and David at Studio B as I continue my career. Who knows what we’ll dream up next?
<![CDATA[OpenAI lawsuit -- Post Deleted]]>Wed, 27 Sep 2023 00:57:47 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/openai-lawsuitThis post originally contained an amateur analysis of the proposed class action lawsuit against OpenAI for unauthorized use of texts from George R. R. Martin and other authors. On reflection, I'm glad I thought through the issues but the piece was not suitable for publication because I ignored recent precedents that would have affected my analysis. I've deleted the post but wanted to leave this note indicating what had happened.]]><![CDATA[August 30th, 2023]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2023 18:02:48 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/august-30th-2023I just returned from two weeks in England, scheduled around the first two matches played by London Seaward. My company, Technology and Society, returned as Seaward’s sponsor for the 2023/24 season. I arrived on August 16 and, because I was staying in central London, checked into my hotel and made my traditional trip to the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone. Happy to report it’s still there.

Over the next few days I visited museums, played snooker (poorly) for a few hours at Cousins on Seven Sisters Road, and had dinner with Gareth, my contact with Seaward. On Sunday, I took the Central Line to Seaward’s new home at the Oakside Stadium in Redbridge, Ilford. The first match day of the season is always a whirlwind, but this one was particularly busy.

First, there were new volunteers to train on getting spectators in through the gate and serving as matchday secretary. Second, there were the new home and away kits to distribute to the players. The away shirts were printed six months ago but circumstances delayed their introduction until now. The new home shirts arrived much more recently and were provided by Puma, Seaward’s new technical partner. The official numbers and badges arrived (in two shipments) from the Women’s National League just in time to get everything pressed and down to London without a moment to spare. And did I mention the new warmup outfits? A team representative drove to Nottingham and back on Friday to grab them.

Both shirts are gorgeous. The away shirt is a custom design by Foudy’s and the home shirt, while a stock item from Puma’s team collection, is something any side would be proud to wear.
Away shirt worn by my across-the-street neighbor and soccer player Evangeline, the first away shirt sported by anyone outside of the club!
Although England didn’t win the World Cup final, the Seaward game didn’t disappoint. The Anchors went ahead 2-0 and for the most part controlled play. A converted penalty brought Actonians to within 2-1, but a third goal closed out the scoring and sealed a 3-1 win over a team we hadn’t beaten before. Overall it was a solid performance that highlighted the quality of the retained core of the team and the new players added over the summer.

After five days in Bath and Northeast Somerset where I met up with my wife and got way too much sun (cloudy days and open-top convertibles will do that), we returned to London for the second match. This game was a League Cup tie against London Bees, a club associated with Barnet on the men’s side and that plays a tier up from Seaward in the Southern Premier Division of the Women’s National League. It was always going to be a tough game, but Seaward played well and threatened throughout, especially in the second half. The scoreline of 3-1 for Bees was a fair result, but Seaward had chances to pull within one late in the game and apply even more pressure.

Every club sponsor wants to see that the resources they provide are being used effectively and progress is being made on and off the pitch. London Seaward worked relentlessly during the previous season and this summer to secure a long-term ground share agreement with Redbridge, begin the technical partnership with Puma, and recruit new players and support staff. I’m delighted with the performances I saw, in spite of one 3-1 scoreline being a win and the other a loss. I want Seaward to win every time almost as much as the players do, but it’s a long season. These two matches bode very well for our performance in the league and our other cup competitions.

We are London Seaward.
<![CDATA[August 18th, 2023]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2023 09:11:23 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/august-18th-2023I'm happy to announce that Technology and Society returns as primary sponsor for London Seaward's 2023/24 season in the English Women's National League Division 1 South East. Last season saw the Anchors build a strong foundation for the future, finishing in the top half of the league and taking a cup trophy to their new home at Oakside Stadium. The long-term groundshare agreement offers the stability needed for further growth.

As a developer of online training courses and technical documentation, Technology and Society provides learners the opportunity to develop new skills and enhance their existing abilities. Much as football players perfect individual techniques and learn to work as part of a team, technical learning benefits from a mix of personal and group work.

I've listed some of my most popular LinkedIn Learning courses below. You will need a LinkedIn Learning subscription or trial to access them. As the season progresses, I'll announce course updates and plan to release additional resources independently. 

Supporting an independent women's football club means a great deal to me personally. Providing resources for Seaward to pursue their love of football and build a strong and secure foundation for future players resonates deeply with what I hope to achieve through my work. I hope you'll join us at Oakside Stadium and at the occasional away match to show your support in person.

​We are London Seaward.
<![CDATA[Supporting NarraScope 2023]]>Fri, 26 May 2023 02:49:40 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/supporting-narrascope-2023[This post announces Technology and Society's support for NarraScope 2023, an interactive fiction conference. The conference will be held online and in person June 9-11 at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. For more information or to register, visit https://narrascope.org/.]

Interactive fiction offers game designers and developers access to the most powerful game engine there is: the human mind. Whether you’re designing for fun, education, or to explore an aspect of society, you can use the power of text adventures to bring your words to life.

I formed Technology and Society, Inc. to provide a home for my technical writing, speaking, and online course development efforts. My LinkedIn Learning courses focus on business analysis as part of a broader push for effective business storytelling. Unlike the many authors who view storytelling as the domain of executives, I want to bring business analysis and narrative skills deeper into the organization so change can be launched from within. I see interactive fiction as an allied art—one that I value highly.

Thank you for supporting and attending NarraScope 2023. If you think that you or a colleague with access to LinkedIn Learning through your company, educational institution, library, or personal subscription would benefit from one or more of my courses, please let them know. I’ve attached a list below…you do need a LinkedIn Learning subscription to click through to them, but I hope you or someone you know could benefit from the skills I teach.
<![CDATA[supporting white bird dance]]>Thu, 11 May 2023 03:48:30 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/supporting-white-bird-danceI’m proud to announce that Technology and Society has joined the ranks of sponsors for the 2023-24 White Bird dance season in Portland, Oregon.

We’re sponsoring Kid Lightning by LED, which runs January 25-27, 2024. Imagine a 1970s-style kids game show where contestants vie to become “Kid Lightning”—as the stakes get raised, the action intensifies!

LED is based in Boise, Idaho, but has close ties to Portland. My wife and partner Virginia Belt keeps an eye out for likely projects to support. Her background as a professional ballerina and actor is invaluable.

This is White Bird’s 26th season, a remarkable run for a group that brings in outstanding dance companies from around the world. The 2023-24 season includes performances by world-renowned groups Pilobolus and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Kid Lightning is part of the White Bird Uncaged series along with Odeon from Ephrat Asherie Dance and Radioactive Practice by Abby Z and the New Utility. The series is generously underwritten by Ronni Lacroute, a long-time patron of the arts in the Portland area.

For more information, to subscribe to a series, or to buy individual performance tickets as they come available, visit https://www.whitebird.org/.

Sponsoring Kid Lightning by LED is part of Technology and Society’s broader program of support for worthwhile endeavors, including works by Many Hats Collaborative and as shirt sponsor for women’s football (soccer) club London Seaward FC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlNArPc7kLg

I hope you’re able to join us at Kid Lightning and other White Bird performances this season. Visit the White Bird site to learn more about the diverse range of world-class dance coming to Portland over the next twelve months.

For more information about Technology and Society, visit www.techsoc.com.]]>
<![CDATA[End of Year Recap]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2023 02:19:48 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/end-of-year-recapLondon Seaward’s regular season ended earlier this month with the club solidifying its hold on fifth in a division of twelve teams. With the season done and just one (or two!) cup matches to follow, it’s time to take stock of my year as sponsor.

Short version: I couldn’t be happier.

There’s more to the story, of course. Seaward rose as high as third in the standings but came down to earth a bit at the end. The depth of talent throughout the English football pyramid means that most games will be competitive and all three results possible, so some variability is expected.

That said, the Anchors did well with the resources at hand. Bigger clubs come with bigger budgets, as I alluded to in this somewhat cheeky graphic:
When deciding whether to sponsor the club, I looked at the committee, managers, and players who had seen London Seaward through the traumatic separation from their “name” men’s club and a year of training in parks with portable lights in the fight to avoid relegation. They won my confidence and it turned out to be a terrific decision. It bears noting that two teams from Seaward’s division had to withdraw part way through the campaign, which attests to the difficulty of competing at this level.

What Seaward have done, beyond finishing in the top half of the table, is establish the club as a great place to play. Players share notes about the teams they’ve played for, whether they’d go back, and whether they’d recommend a club to their friends. Seaward benefitted from players arriving on loan or on a short-term contract—with luck, that reputation as a welcoming and competitive club will continue.

And now we head into the offseason, which is always times of transition. Open trials will happen in a couple of months and decisions made as to players, managers, and (yes) sponsors. I’ve indicated my interest in continuing on but one of the realities of sport is that everyone is replaceable. I’ll let everyone know what’s up as soon as I can.

We are London Seaward. 
<![CDATA[A Solid Win]]>Fri, 03 Feb 2023 05:00:10 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/a-solid-winI appreciate coverage of the Women’s National League on TheFA.com and elsewhere. While full match reports are best, the weekly FA Women's National League Round-Up offers a quick summary that fleshes out the results tables available on the site.

London Seaward played an outstanding match against Norwich City on January 29, earning a well-deserved 3-0 victory. The first half was balanced on a knife’s edge, but a solid goal gave the Anchors the momentum going into the second half that they were able to convert into controlling pressure and two more scores. Alicia Garwood absolutely stood on her head in goal to keep a clean sheet and help secure the points.

And what did FA.com have to say about it? “Norwich City stumbled at London Seaward, losing 3-0, to mean only three points separate second and sixth.”

That’s it? Yes, the Canaries were second in the South East division at the start of the calendar year, but summarizing the match as a misstep fails to capture the effort and heart Seaward showed after a disappointing loss the weekend before. I appreciate the author was on deadline and had limited space for their summary, but it still seems a bit of a slight.

Seaward have shown they’re a club to be reckoned with, both on the pitch and in terms of their organization and the support network they’ve developed. Investing in anything from overseas is always a difficult decision, but sponsoring Seaward became much easier when I saw the quality of the individuals they had surrounding them. The players are the heart and soul of the club, but they need help from others so they can concentrate on their training and what happens between the lines on game day.

Together with their supporters, the Anchors have a bright future in store.

I sent a draft of this message to my accountant and, the savvy professional she is, she reminded me that for this endeavour to be a deductible marketing expense I actually have to market something. So, as always, if you have a LinkedIn Learning account please visit the site and see what courses I have to offer. I focus on Microsoft Excel and Tableau, so please look me up if you’re running a business or club and need some information on how to manage and analyze your data. ]]>
<![CDATA[Quality Books for Free]]>Wed, 18 Jan 2023 05:57:42 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/quality-books-for-freeLearning on your own can be confusing and expensive. If you want to learn about a topic but don’t have the experience to judge the value of the resources available to you, you waste time and probably money discovering and evaluating what’s out there.

Peer-reviewed texts written by trained academics remove a lot of that doubt, but textbooks are notoriously expensive. In recent years, the academic community has pushed to develop books that can be downloaded for free and used without restriction. Two of my favorite sources for these textbooks are Rice University’s OpenStax project and the University of British Columbia’s Textbook Project, which is funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education.

OpenStax offers more than 80 textbooks at the high school and college level on topics including business, social sciences, humanities, chemistry, physics, and math in English and 11 texts in Spanish. The business segment includes books on ethics, law, entrepreneurship, finance, statistics, and intellectual property among other topics. Basically, you have the supporting texts for the core of a solid undergraduate business program available for free. The page for Introductory Business Statistics indicates the book is used in 307 classrooms and has saved students more than $7 million USD. That’s a substantial contribution to learning.

OpenStax is administered by a U.S. university, so it’s no surprise the texts are written from that perspective. Texts in the University of British Columbia’s Textbook Project are influenced by UBC’s position as a leading Canadian institution as well as the program’s slightly different mission. Where OpenStax focuses on college and, to a lesser extent, high school instruction, UBC’s Textbook Project extends its offerings to cover adult mathematical and English literacy as well as vocational topics such as barbering techniques for hairstylists, food safety, and math for the trades. Other books include coverage of Indigenous perspectives on business ethics and business law in British Columbia as well as Canadian history pre- and post-confederation.

The adult learning texts and programs would be of particular benefit to recent arrivals to the UK as well as Canada and other nations of the British Commonwealth that use British spelling conventions.

OpenStax and the Textbook Project provide significant benefit to academic and individual learners, but numerous other institutions and authors make resources available to the community. I’ll describe some of them in my next post.
<![CDATA[Half-Time...Almost]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2022 08:19:17 GMThttp://techsoc.com/blog/half-timealmostThe halfway point of any project gives you the chance to think back on what you’ve done, revel in your successes, and shake your head at the miscues that seem obvious in hindsight. As such, the winter holidays are always an interesting time to be part of a fall-to-spring sports league.

There’s no doubt that London Seaward FC, the East London-based women’s football club my company sponsors in Division 1 South East of the Women’s National League (Tier 4), has performed well in the first part of the season. They currently sit fifth in their eleven-team division after earning 13 points from four wins, one draw, and two losses.

If you throw in solid performances in cup competitions where they were eliminated by clubs a league higher (Tier 3), it's been quite a good year. The wild card has been the weather. At least five matches have been moved or postponed due to waterlogged or snowy pitches that were unplayable.

I got bitten by one of those cancellations when my wife and I flew to the UK in November. Seaward had an away fixture scheduled for the afternoon of the day we landed at Heathrow; I figured there was no way I could get to the venue and planned to continue on to Manchester with Ginny until I noticed that the match would be played at a stadium literally half a mile south of the airport. It was a sunny day so I changed my plans, only to receive a message just as I walked past security saying the pitch was still a bog from several days of rain and the match was off.

Bad news: no game. Good news: a day in London, albeit one where I was worn out from flying. Fast forward to Wednesday when Ginny and I took the train back from Manchester and I got to attend a training session and hand out the Oregon chocolate Ginny and I had brought for the players. (Note to self: bring some for the manager and coaches when we return.) After a meet-and-greet with the players where they gifted Ginny and I signed jerseys, we spent the rest of the week seeing shows, speaking with the club’s management, and getting to know the East London borough of Waltham Forest where the club plays.

On Sunday, two committee members drove us to Folkestone, a small English seaside town near Ipswich, for Seaward’s cup tie against Ipswich Town. It was a two-hour drive each way and, even though we lost 3-0, the players gave a good account of themselves against a side that is in third place in their league and has a realistic shot at promotion to the Barclay’s Women’s Championship (Tier 2). 
London Seaward FC (left, in seafoam green away shirts) vs. Ipswich Town. Photo by the author.
At this point Seaward are about one-third of the way through their league matches, with seven played and thirteen to go. Earning promotion would be a stretch, but the club is well ahead of the pace to exceed their point total from last season even though they will play fewer matches. That’s good progress.

As a sponsor, I’ve continued to stay back and let the club work through the season and plan for the future. The social media team promoted my LinkedIn Learning courses that were published in November and will do the same for the independent releases coming early next year, but I didn’t want to generate artificial traffic when I had nothing new to offer. I’ll develop my plans for promotion in 2023 and begin creating material in earnest in the new year.

Seaward have taken several steps forward and are improving by the week. It’s time for me to match their work rate.