Roberto Greco April 2011

A Teacher's Desk Photo :: April 2011

I’m taking Stephen up on his challenge to share my OS desktop for this month’s desk. As I sit here in the public library, I realize that the current state of my desktop says so much about how I work, what I have been up to, and who I am. Besides, I had fun the last time I did something similar. Let’s take a look, shall we?

First of all, you see that I run OS X. I’ve had Apple computers since my father brought home an Apple IIe for my sisters and brother and me back in the eighties. I’ve never purchased anything other than Apple computers, although I’ve only purchased three: a Performa 5200, an iMac G4 (swivel arm), and aMacBook Pro (Intel). Over the years, I’ve used Windows computers at work, but for the past three years, I’ve had a school-issued MacBook. Despite this history, I have never been closer to jumping off the Apple ship. I’ve been very frustrated lately with the performance of each and every browser I’ve tried in OS X. That’s a big deal because I spend more than half of my computer time in a browser. I’ve also become frustrated with the quality of the casing and cables of the Apple hardware I use — lots of cracking and fraying. Don’t even get me started on the closing systems of Apple software and the contortions that I’ve found myself going through to manage authorizations in iTunes. We’ll see what happens.

Moving on, you’ve certainly noticed the image on the desktop. There are many levels of meaning in that seemingly simple image. I found this elegant seal (with text that I have long admired, though always sans the “ou la mort”) while researching the term Jacobin after listening to an Ivan Illich lecture thatThomas Steele-Maley pointed out. Right there, we’ve covered several topics I’m passionate about: social networking, Wikipedia, learning, education, deschooling, unschooling, anarchism, freedom, equality, history, graphic design, etc. (Don’t believe me? Check out my bookmarks tagged with any of those words. Your choice: Pinboard or Delicious.)

The way that I created the image might also be of interest. Since the original file was square and had a white background, it didn’t work for my desktop needs. Here’s the process I used to make it better: Open the original in Preview. Select all. Copy. Open a completely white image in Preview. Resize it to the same dimensions as the laptop. Paste the copied logo on top. Take out my iPod. Use the camera to photograph the screen with the new image on it (to get some more interesting lighting and give it some slight perspective. Open that image in PS Express on the iPod. Change the tint to give the image a soothing-blue color similar to my preciously solid-color desktop. Save. Email the image to my self. Download the image onto my laptop. Open the image in Preview. Crop to the same dimensions as my desktop. Save. Set the new image to be the desktop. How’s that for a kludgy process using only the tools at hand?

And what about those documents and folders? Well, it’s sparse. I try to limit the clutter in order to help me focus. I’ve been accused of being a minimalist, but I’m not sure that’s true. I use my desktop primarily as the deposit for downloaded files and for reminding me of a few important items that I want to get back to or share. (There’s another folder that I have with working documents, especially writing — that folder is what appears when I open (⌘N) a new window in the finder.) So, the three folders you see are where I dump new files from my favorite music blog before opening them in iTunes, articles that I want to read, and images that I have altered or might alter and/or post somewhere. That leaves a few stray items: (a) an Elluminate session that my seventh and eighth graders and me shared with Thomas and his university students this morning; (b) two documents (the ones with my name) that were applications for jobs and or programs and that contain some writing of mine that I wanted to share with students; (c) two articles about the Situationists and Unitary Urbanism* (You can find them under “Optional Texts” here.); and (d) the screen shot that is posted above.

Finally, and of minimal interest, you’ll see two non-standard icons along the top: Dropbox (cloud-based computing, baby!) and Flash Frozen (trying to address those browser performance issues).

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*Interested in how those might apply to schools? Start with Streetwork: Exploding School and The Child in the City, both by British anarchist Colin Ward (more).

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