On Passwords

I find I’m repeating myself, but it is important.

Use a Password Manager – I recommend 1Password.

It will make your online life simpler and easier, and you get better security, too.

It makes your life easier, because you will have your passwords with you whether you are on your computer, or your phone, or a tablet. It will make your life simpler by remembering your passwords automatically and filling them in for you whenever and wherever you need.

The improved security is largely a function of this simplicity and ease-of-use. Because it’s easy and simple, you will use 1Password to create good strong passwords automatically for you — passwords that are far more complex than anything you would ever make up, let alone try to type. They also have great features like Family Plans and sharing passwords in your family or team.

The only downside is getting started. It’s not that hard, but there are some ways of thinking about things that seem at first a bit odd and maybe even confusing.

That’s why I’m happy to hear that the folks at The Sweet Setup have created a course on 1Password. These are people who do really great courses on how to use some of my favorite apps, and they are one of my trusted sites for reviews. (They are not paying me for this endorsement, and I don’t think they even know me)

Their course will also be on sale for a special low price of $23 for the first few days.

So pick up a copy of 1Password, if you haven’t already. And [See Below!] for a link to the new course over at The Sweet Setup, or go there now and sign up for their newsletter so that you get notified directly of this and other course releases and articles. They also have posted an article describing the course.

Here’s the Link to the new course on 1Password:

https://thesweetsetup.com/1password/

Oh, and there’s this! From The Sweet Setup:

BONUS: We have partnered with the folks at 1Password to offer you an extended, 90-day free trial of 1Password for Families (a $9.98 value). After you purchase the course, you’ll get a special link from us to use in order to sign up for 1Password with your extended trial.

Yet another reason to try the course, and 1Password!

Hosting Conversations

For almost a year now, Joell and I have been hosting a series of events at our home to explore important ideas in a group conversation setting. We call it Salon. It’s been a great experience and we intend to do more of these events in the coming months.

But we’re also experimenting with something new: hosting arts events as a spark to the conversation.

Our friends Llysa Holland and Andrew Litzky run a theater program in Seattle called theater simple. For 27 years they’ve been producing wonderful theatrical experiences — over 1100 performances on three continents. (Including work with Make A Wish foundation producing fantasy experiences for the Make A Wish kids.)

One of their recent productions caught our eye. The Fever is solo play by Wallace Shawn. (My Dinner with Andre’ as co-writer and actor; and a long list of credits as playwright and actor, from All That Jazz and Taxi to Toy Story and The Princess Bride)

In the theater simple production, Llysa Holland plays the lead, an American sick with fever in a hotel in an unnamed small country in the middle of a revolution.

My hope is that this is the beginning of a series of events in our home where we use theater, music, and other arts as a catalyst for meaningful conversation. Please join us.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/joell-and-darius-dunlap-present-the-fever-by-wallace-shawn-tickets-40153324675

Know-How

From Hobbies to Trade Skills to Artistic Expression, developed knowledge and improved craft is the mark of accomplishment — Coding is no different.

– Darius Dunlap

I wish schools still had Shop, and Band, and Art. I believe there is a kind of mental development that’s missing without them. And I believe that these kinds of classes — focused on doing and making — support and expand the skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, problem solving, and other key skills we all want kids to develop.

These days there is a lot of talk about “Learning to Code.” And that would be great, except for this aura of magic around it. Because learning to code is really a lot like learning carpentry, or photography, or learning to cook. The basics are pretty simple, though that is not evident to the uninitiated. And full expertise is a lifetime pursuit. And most of us are content with a modest competence.

Learning to code is easier than it has ever been. Not because it’s become simpler, but because the tools have become better, specifically in that they allow you to do something useful more easily and with less knowledge and skill.

Photography is undergoing and transformation in a similar way. It’s not that the pictures we take with our phones and fancy digital cameras are better than film for the expert photographer, but that these new tools provide immediacy. You can take a picture and instantly see it. You can learn from every photograph taken, right there, right then, and take another and another until you get the photo you want. You take more photos, too. Your photography improves at a pace and in ways that would have required much more patience, organization, focus, and effort a couple decades ago when the turn-around was so much slower.

Deep expertise still takes years, but the basics are more accessible than ever.

It’s the same for coding.

Mastering coding, or more properly Software Engineering and Computer Science, is not something every needs to do. it’s probably not something every could do, even if they tried. It’s a deep field and the complexity of the most advanced techniques are beyond those without an aptitude. At the very highest level, it requires not just superior mathematics and problem solving, but also philosophy and compassion — designing systems requires thinking beyond the immediate technical problem to understand how the system fits into the world and how people are going to use it. The people who can do all of this well are rare.

But for the rest of us, our needs are simpler. We can create something that solves a straightforward problem, using the excellent tools developed over the last several decades, and never have to think about the mathematics of drawing the curve at the corner of our icon or the physics of making our animation look natural, or the details of setting up a server and keeping it reliable and secure.

So “Learning to Code” is a lot like learning to cook. It doesn’t mean we will all become master chefs with Michelin-rated restaurants. But it does mean we can learn to make a good loaf of hand-made bread from natural starter that’s better than what you can get off the shelf at the grocers.

Most importantly, learning to code, like taking shop or joining the band in high school, helps you get better at other things. It helps you solve problems in other domains, and it develops your mind.

Education and Learning with Joi and Mimi Ito

This is a great listen for parents, educators, and anyone interested in how kids (and adults) learn. It’s a conversation between Joi Ito and his remarkable sister Mimi about learning, education, digital media and more. You can find it on YouTube and Soundcloud and Joi’s website:

Youtube —  https://youtu.be/P0CxCR9Uj60

SoundCloud — https://soundcloud.com/joi-ito/33-conversation-with-mimi-ito

Joi’s website — http://podcast.ito.com/33-conversation-with-mimi-ito

If you’re not familiar with Joi and Mimi, here’s a good start:

Mimi Ito — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizuko_Ito
Joi Ito — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joi_Ito

Hour of Code

Computers are not magical or mysterious. Their amazing abilities are built up from simple ideas. That’s what’s surprising. How did we arrive at today, with these devices in our pocket and a (nearly) global network connecting them, and with software running that allows it all to do so many useful and entertaining things?

Lady Ada, Countess of Lovelace wikipedia, was the first to get it. She understood, before any computers existed, that a machine with a few simple arithmetic abilities could do much more. (Notably, the men who were designing these calculating machines didn’t get it.) It would be about 100 years before the programmable computers she envisioned would be “invented”.

Continue reading “Hour of Code”

Feed That Wolf

The One You Feed is a show I often listen to on my hikes or while doing chores around the house.  It starts with the parable of the two wolves. You know the one. They have great guests and it’s always an interesting conversation.

The guest this week is our friend Kristin Neff, who my wife and I met because of our work at Square Peg Foundation — especially with Autism.

Continue reading “Feed That Wolf”

Square Peg Ranch On TV

For the next few months, our work at Square Peg Ranch is featured on America’s Best Racing and Fox Sports. The first short video in the series was shown today during the horse racing coverage of the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park, NJ. Joell and I watched at a local pizza place with some of our families. 

You can watch an extended version of this first video on the America’s Best Racing Website. 

In the video you’ll see several of our kids featured, plus Davis Finch, our Grantwriter who also keeps our horse and lesson records — tracking everything that goes on with the horses, including all training, exercise, injuries, medications and preventive care. (For more information about Square Peg Foundation and our work at Square Peg Ranch, check out our website, SquarePegFoundation.org or reach out directly to me.)

The team at Fox Sports and America’s Best Racing have done a really beautiful job on this video. They were a joy to work with and we’re eagerly looking forward to seeing the rest of the series!

Beware Adults…

Many have heard me say “grownups can suck the fun out of anything”. There’s a lot of history to that insight, for me. And it’s a cornerstone of our teaching philosophy at Square Peg Foundation. So when I saw the latest print from Hugh McLeod at Gaping Void Art, Of course I loved it!

 

That one teacher

I was lucky – I had several. Not all of them were perfect, but each was perfect for me. They made a difference for lots of kids, and for me, they made all the difference.

I was never an easy kid to teach. I was called precocious, which I think was a nice way of saying “pain in the ass.” School was boring and sitting still was impossible. I never got impressive grades, but would test well. If a subject captivated me, I would devour everything I could find about it, but this happened far too infrequently for most teachers.

Except for the few. Each of them found a way to keep me engaged, to expose the fascinating detail of a subject, or bring meaning and relevance to it. Science became a study of the way things work, rather than just facts and formulae. History showed stories of struggle and redemption, rather than just dates and names. Math became shape and motion, rather than anonymous patterns to manipulate with set procedures.

Teachers are not interchangeable parts of a machine. But then again, neither are kids.