Tools – Hand Tools – Vices

Why I Don’t Ban Laptops (Yet) – Business Law Prof Blog

There is a growing drumbeat for banning laptops in the classroom, as a recent New Yorker article explained1. The current case for banning laptops appeared on a Washington Post blog2 (among other places), in a piece written by Clay Shirky, who is a professor of media studies at New York University, and holds a joint appointment as an arts professor at NYU s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program3 in the Tisch School of the Arts, and as a Distinguished Writer in Residence in the journalism institute.

The piece makes a compelling case for banning laptops, and I agree there are a number of good reasons to do so. I ll not recount the whole piece here (I recommend reading it), but here s a key passage:

Anyone distracted in class doesn t just lose out on the content of the discussion but creates a sense of permission that opting out is OK, and, worse, a haze of second-hand distraction for their peers.

In an environment like this, students need support for the better angels of their nature (or at least the more intellectual angels), and they need defenses against the powerful short-term incentives to put off complex, frustrating tasks. That support and those defenses don t just happen, and they are not limited to the individual s choices. They are provided by social structure, and that structure is disproportionately provided by the professor, especially during the first weeks of class.

I am sympathetic to this line of thinking, and I am even more sympathetic to another point made in the article: that the laptop distractions can leak from one student engaging in social media or other non-classroom activities to those around them.

That is a serious concern.

Still, I don t ban laptops in my classes, though I have thought about it. I let students use them in my larger-enrollment classes: Business Organizations, which usually is near the cap of 70, and Energy Law, which is usually in the 34-55 range. There is no doubt the risk of distraction in those courses is higher than in others.

Interestingly, in my last two seminar-style classes, I did not have a ban, either, but students rarely used laptops. They opted-in for the discussions (self-selection for certain topics can certainly help on that front).

I continue to think about how I want to proceed, but for now, I see value in allowing my students the option to choose how they wish to engage. There have been some other defenses of the idea of keeping laptops in the classroom (see, e.g., here4), but my views are an amalgam of different styles and rationales.

First, part of learning, especially in becoming a life-long learner (which is what lawyers need to be), one must choose to engage.

Law students are grown ups, and they must learn how they learn. They must decide. I won t be there when they get to their job and they have to use the computer to actually do the work of a lawyer.

They will, at some point, have to decide when to focus and when to play.

Second, I value diversity of styles in the classroom. That is, if most other professors are using open-book exams or take home exams, mine will probably be closed book, and closed note. I have taught using quizzes, blog posts, midterms, short papers, etc., to add some variety to the experience.

Now that more classes, at least at my school, are without laptops, it actually gives me a reason to consider keeping them.

Finally, at least so far, allowing laptops is part of my deal with students. It s part of how I connect and model for them my view and expectation that they are grown ups. I give them power, and I expect them to act appropriately.

As my friend, former colleague, and teaching mentor Patti Alleva5 (recognized as one of the nation’s best law teachers6) explained in a recent National Law Journal piece7, teaching is ultimately about respect and what she calls intentionality. She explains:

The simple fact is that teaching does not always produce learning, even if thoughtfully done. Creating that causal link between the two can be a mystifying challenge, especially given the infinite number of unknowable factors and forces that may reduce a teacher’s effectiveness or a student’s willingness or ability to learn.

. . . .

Teachers, as fiduciaries of their students’ educational experience, owe them compassionate deference, based on a benefit of the doubt, coupled with high but reasonable expectations for a meaningful learning collaboration.

. . . .

Ultimately, the best professors are themselves students who learn as much as they teach.

And they seek, not to impose ideas on students, but to help equip them with the metacognitive tools to test those ideas and use them in service of problem-solving. Hopefully, students will develop their own senses of respect for the legal profession, for themselves as aspiring lawyers and for the learning partnership we share. So, if years ago, in that tense seminar room, each of us left with respect for our disagreements and for the pedagogic processes that allowed us to critically and creatively examine, and grow from, those differences, then invaluable learning did take place that day with respect providing a bridge between teaching and learning when other things may have temporarily obscured the connection.

I hope that as teachers we can all appreciate that we, like our students, have different views on the best way to teach and to learn.

Just because we choose different paths, it doesn’t make any path wrong. As long as the path is thoughtfully chosen, with a purpose and a goal, there s a good chance it s right for that teacher, in that moment, for that class. And if it s not, the key is not about dwelling on the mistake.

It s about learning, adjusting, and doing a better job next time, because the best teachers really are the ones who are trying to learn as much as they teach.


  1. ^ explained (
  2. ^ Washington Post blog (
  3. ^ Interactive Telecommunications Program (
  4. ^ here (
  5. ^ Patti Alleva (
  6. ^ nation’s best law teachers (
  7. ^ National Law Journal piece (

How to Use Widgets on an iPhone or iPad With iOS 8


iPhones and iPads can now use widgets thanks to iOS 8. In fact, you probably already have some widgets installed they re all just disabled by default. Here s how to enable and use those widgets you already have.

Unlike on Android, widgets can t appear on our home screen that s still reserved just for apps and app folders.

Instead, widgets appear in your notification center. This means you can access them from any app with a quick swipe.

Get Widgets

Widgets on iOS are all included with an associated app. For example, the Evernote app includes an Evernote widget.

You don t have to install anything separately.

To get widgets, just install an app that includes a widget. For example, Evernote includes a widget that allows you to quickly add notes and Yahoo! Weather offers a weather widget with photos.

News apps could offer widgets with recent stories. Productivity apps could offer quick access to your tasks. Airline apps could display information about your next flight and even a boarding pass on this screen.

We ll see more apps include new types of widgets in the future.

Enable Widgets

To enable widgets, open the notification center by pulling down from the top of the screen1. Tap the Edit button at the bottom of the Today view.

If you used iOS 7, you ll notice that the confusing Missed tab is now gone. There are now just two tabs here the Today view, and a Notifications view that lists all recent notifications.


You ll see a list of your installed widgets.

The standard parts of the Today view Today Summary, Traffic Conditions, Calendar, Reminders, and Tomorrow Summary are all now preinstalled widgets. Below them, you ll see a list of widgets from apps you have installed.


Tap the + button next to a widget to enable it. You can then touch the handles at the right side of the screen and drag them up or down to rearrange your list of widgets.

Tap the button to remove a widget from the list.

You can t re-order some of Apple s included widgets, but you can remove them from the list if you don t want to see them. For example, the Today Summary widget will always appear on top of the Today view unless you remove it, in which case it won t appear at all. You can t make it appear further down in the list.


Access and Use Widgets

You can access widgets from anywhere whether you re on the home screen, in an app, or on the lock screen by swiping down from the top of your screen and accessing the notification center.

They ll all appear on the Today view in the order you arranged them.

These aren t Android s widgets: There s no way to place widgets on your home screen, and there s also no way to create multiple different screens of widgets you can swipe between.

Depending on the widget, you can use buttons to quickly access parts of an app like Evernote s quick-note-taking buttons or tap the widget to open the associated app.


Do Widgets Drain the Battery?

Widgets only run and refresh their data when you open the notification center. They don t have the ability to use background refresh so, for example, the Yahoo! Weather widget here isn t automatically checking for new weather throughout the day.

This makes them more battery-friendly. If you re not looking at them, they re not using your battery.

You shouldn t see a noticeable battery drain from using widgets. Of course, you could take this to extremes if you added twenty widgets that all needed to refresh data from the network and frequently accessed your notification center, you d probably see greater battery drain on your device2.

That s it for widgets they re all confined to the Today view in the notification center.

There are no home screen widgets, nor are there lock screen widgets like there are on Android. Widgets also can t be resized or positioned horizontally something the seems a bit silly on an iPad s much-larger screen.

Chris Hoffman3 is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He’s as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry.

Connect with him on Google+4.


  1. ^ pulling down from the top of the screen (
  2. ^ see greater battery drain on your device (
  3. ^ Chris Hoffman (
  4. ^ Google+ (

Trade in Your Used Bike

BBB Used Slide

We began our dealings with used bikes with a simple Bike Swap1. Not long after that we began taking in trades to enable our customers to trade in their old bike towards a shiny new one. Now we ve streamlined the process through a unique partnership with Bicycle Blue Book.

Our system uses real data to accurately determine your bike s trade-in value. No quesses or hunches, just fair and accurate data.

BBBx1.5 = Spark Customers Get Even More Value

We love making purchasing your new bike from Spark an even smarter decision. That s why we came up with BBBx1.5.

All customers trading in their bike that was originally purchased from Spark receives 1.5 times the value set by BBB in store credit. For those of you who struggle with math, here s an example:

Joe wants to trade in his hybrid for a shiny new road bike because road bikes are fast and awesome. Hybrids are cool but you can t ride one with us on Saturdays.

Anyways, Bicycle Blue Book values his bike at $300. Joe bought this bike at Spark so he gets $450 in store credit towards his shiny new Specialized Allez (for example). $300 x 1.5 = $450

Now Is A Good Time

Right now buyers are mainly looking for cyclocross, mountain, and fat bikes. We d like to build up our inventory some so we re being a bit generous for the month of October.

Currently we re offering the next level up in store credit from whatever BBB values a bike at. Yeah, that s kind of confusing so here s another example:

Mary is trading in her 1990 Huffy Alpine. We don t take in department store bikes so she goes home and brings in her 2005 Specialized Dolce which is in Excellent condition.

Mary is super nice and brings us treats on Saturday mornings. None of that matters but it s good to note. Anyways, her bike is in Excellent condition so we re leveling it up to Like New which is roughly 10% more in trade-in value.

Mary is super happy and brings us all beer when she comes to pick up her new bike.

Get it?


  1. ^ Bike Swap (



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