alan's wacky weird work
you do WHAT for a living? how did that happen?

alan's web

Note... This web site is pretty dated, in both content ("that is so, like so, 20th century") and technology (awful <font> tags and such) and not even that maintained much any more. See what is more current over at the new CDB weblog...
Since 1992, I have been happily employed as Instructional Technologist for the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction, my office (photo) working with faculty and staff for the Maricopa Community Colleges (Hey! There on the right is a bird's eye view of my office building, courtesy of the cool air photo features off of MapQuest). My role is to provide leadership in the area of instructional technology, working on special projects, consulting with our colleges, and aiming to be aware of what is lurking around the corner in terms of new "stuff". While I undestand much about technology, I tend to deal with things on"this side of the wall" as opposed to all the network stuff "behind the walls." If you want to see traditional view, take a click over to my resume.

One of my favorite new activites has been teaching a night class in Computer Animation at Scottsdale Community College. Until I started, I had grossly under-estimated how much work it takes to teach! Fortunately, the rewards were high in terms of seeing how my students learned.

I first used the Internet as a Geology grad student at Arizona State University in 1987. We were using a supercomputer model to simulate volcano eruptions. The program ran at Los Alamos Lab and the output was sent to us by e-mail. As a priviliged user, I could use one of the two available color Mac IIs to download the data and analyze it visually using software developed at NCSA. We were doing some simple but effective animations of two dimensional data over time.

It's come a looooooooong way since then...

I write HTML on a Mac with BBEdit. I cannot say enough about this program and HTML extensions! (And you gotta like a company who's motto is "Software That Does Not Suck"!) Graphics are generally done in Photoshop (there is no other, none close). I Fetch (ftp) the files across the net (actually just upstairs) to our web server and then test using browsers on the Mac and on Windows. (Whew!)

A few years ago I thought I knew PhotoShop as I was cropping and adjusting contrast on scanned images. THEN I read some of Kai's Power Tips and found out I knew about 3% of PhotoShop! Even now, I may only be up to the 60% level (but decide yourself from a look at my grafix gallery). It is the infinite software... tool.

My main tool for interactive multimedia was Macromedia Director-- the trip has been well worth climbing the vertical learning curve and I am still seeing false summits... I have been branchning more into Flash as well as digital video edited in Final Cut Pro (which makes learning PhotoShop look like shoe tying).

Ninety gizzillion MhZ and the newest CPUs won't get you far if you don't have good visual sense and intuition. I did quite fine with my old set up that was top of the line 1991 (Mac Quadra 900, later enhanced with Daystar Power Pro card and a generous helping of RAM, externals, etc). I moved up to a zippy PowerMac 8500/150 which has been beefed with plenty of RAM and a G3 upgrade brain implant from Newer Technology. That beast has since been retired to do some small side work as a server. My main work machine now is a G3 (Pismo) Powerbook.

My hometown is Baltimore (locally pronouced "Bawltamarr"), Orioles, Fells Point, Chesapeake Bay steamed crabs... Only here will you find this Beta version (v0.3b) of alan.

My "EdUkashion" started at Bedford Elementary School-- do they have a URL yet? "We are the Bedford Bees...". There are some forgettable years in middle school and Milford Mill High School. From 1981-1986 I was at the University of Delaware where I earned a BS in Geology, minor in Computer Science. I actually started as a Computer Science major (another result of non-existence guidance from high school counselors) and HATED it, switching after a year to something with more excitement and less job prospects-- Geology. I spent the summer of 1985 as an intern at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, but the real learning was living that summer in New York City, going to the Park, riding the subways at all hours, hanging out at the Ear bar, watching baseball at Yankee Stadium... I even picked up a Phi Beta Kappa key before I left Delaware.

The next pit-stop (after a year of mall fun selling cameras) was from 1987-1992 at Arizona State University where I managed to get a Masters in Geology and 1/2 a PhD. One of my buddies was fond of saying, "Geology is great! It's like getting paid to go camping. Not much, but still getting paid. I did my MS work with Landsat satellite images and field work to map volcanic rocks (the famous Bishop Tuff) near Bishop, California. What a spot! The Owens Valley nestled between the 14,000 foot peaks of the Sierra Nevada tothe west and the 14,000 White Mountains to the east. My 1989 thesis was "Ash-Flow Zones of the Bishop Tuff- Detailed Mapping with Landsat Thematic Mapper." At one time I had the ambition to convert my thesis to HTML format (hah!), but here at least is a HyperCard version of my thesis map or you can look at the pretty satellite image. Because of my vast background in computers (?), in 1987 I was assigned a Teaching Assitantship to run our new fancy labs of Macintosh Plus computers, as well as writing some programs for the geology faculty- one was a gravity anomaly simulation written in MacFORTRAN that will still run on my newest G3 computer today (althought he interface makes me whince in pain).

I continued on into the PhD program, studying the fluid dynamics of explosive volcanic flows. Some computer modeling, some field work in Washington and New Mexico. Even published a paper (1991) in Geology... "Hydraulics of the August 7, 1980 pyroclastic flow at Mount St. Helens, Washington"

Then I got bored with the concept of being a specialist in volcanic rocks. Teaching is what I wanted to do.. which is what brought me to now ...