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Josh Leffler

It's Not As Easy Anymore

Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting in my Head of School’s office talking to him about this blog. He had proposed the meeting because he wanted to know some of the strategies I use when writing. During our conversation he asked me a question along the lines of, “Do you have a schedule for writing your blogs, and, if so, how do you keep up with it?” I thought about it for a second, then I answered with something like, “I try to post every week to two weeks. My strategy for that is, when I have some spare time, to write a few blogs that don’t have any time sensitivity to them. Then, when it’s time to post and I haven’t had time to write a new one, I just post one of those. When I have time, or there’s an issue that’s fresh, I write for that week. That seems to work for me.” He seemed to like this answer, and we kept talking. That was just a few weeks ago and I didn’t even question my ability to stick to that plan. I didn’t question it so much that I even gave advice to the person in charge of my whole school. He wrote about it here. Well, now here I am. It’s almost Winter Break, and I’ve been through about half of my...

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Brrrrrrrrr…

“High of 56 degrees.” I’m looking at my weather app, deciding what to wear that day. My mind wanders back a few weeks…   “High of 93 degrees.” I’m looking at my weather app, deciding what to wear that day. I then give my mom the forecast as I’m thinking: “Ugh, too hot.”   Well,  I’m not thinking that now, and I certainly won’t be in, say, a month. But honestly, I’m really glad.   You see, I prefer colder weather to hotter weather. Yes- part of it is the “you can always have more layers, but you can’t always have less” idea. But there’s more:   Another part might be school. If you remember my Back to School column, you’ll know that I love school. So how is that related to weather? Well, we’re almost always in school during the winter (except for winter and Thanksgiving breaks), but during the summer, we’re out of school for a couple of months.   But there’s more. With winter comes, of course, the holidays. We all have a favorite part of the holiday season. For some, it’s the decorations. For others, it might be the gifts or parties. For me, it’s a combination.   With the holidays comes the spirit. As you’re driving through Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, or wherever, people are celebrating with the bright decorations of a wreath, a...

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The Presidential Election and a School Field Trip

The presidential election and a school field trip. What does one have to do with another? Nothing, is what you would probably think. But for me, the answer is a whole lot. In what way?   My grade just got back from an overnight field trip to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. Meaning, of course, that we were learning about colonial life. Meaning, of course, the American Revolution. Meaning, of course, we were immersed in the time of birth of our country. Do you get it now? We were traveling back in time to the founding of the country during the very same week our nation just elected a president. The election last week originated from the time and the place and the people we were studying. Just as we stepped forward as a nation, we learned about how it all started.   Coincidence? Yes – this field trip happens around the same time every year for the school’s fifth-graders. But still really cool? Completely.   I was very interested in the election before the field trip, but to be given a good representation of what life was like before people had the right to elect a leader really drew me in more. As we were walking around the mockup of the Virginia colony, we were told the story of some different reasons people didn’t like the governor at the...

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Big Shake-Ups!

I’m sure you’ve heard the news – two executives have been shown the door at Apple. But for what reasons? And, from a kid’s point of view, was that a good idea? Were Tim Cook and the Board of Directors right to ask these fellows to leave? Or will this become a tragic mistake for Apple?   First things first – who are these departing executives? One is John Browett, who joined the company from Dixons Retail in April of this year to become Apple’s Head of Retail. Yes, you read that right – he’s departing after only a few months at Apple. Apple has reportedly asked him to leave because of an “accident” where many Apple Store employees’ hours were cut leading to fears of layoffs. The search for a new Retail chief is in progress, but the Retail team is currently reporting straight to Tim Cook.   The other – and, I would argue, more major departure is Scott Forstall. Forstall has led iOS (the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad‘s operating system) for many years. He is one of the few executives at Apple who apparently shared Steve Jobs‘ visions. He was reportedly asked to leave for two reasons: 1) he wouldn’t sign the iOS Maps apology, and 2) tensions between him and other executives have reportedly been building for quite some time now.   Details on the...

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Volunteering

Volunteering. We all have done it at some point, whether volunteering to, say, read a paper out loud, or to help teach children how to read. Some volunteer positions are enjoyable, others, not so much. But they mostly feel good, and the knowledge that they are helping a good cause is what drives most people to volunteer.   One of our recent projects at school was called “Reaching Out”. We were put into groups of 4 to 10, and were assigned a non-profit organization in the area to represent. My group created a great presentation to represent KidZNotes in Durham, an organization that allows underprivileged children who can’t afford instruments or lessons to play music. We worked really hard on it, and while the work on the representation was hard, it 1) was enjoyable and 2) felt really good to direct attention to KidZNotes.   Another example: my school recently held its Fall Festival. There were a bunch of moms and dads volunteering at different posts from the name tags table to pumpkin painting, My mom, who was helping out the kids on the inflatable slide said, “I feel that the school gives a whole lot to my child, so it’s important to me to give back.”   From my position as a child who was there but actually noticed the volunteers, it was great to see so many...

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Everyone Makes Mistakes!

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. These are two common facts of life. Everyone knows them, except for…   Most major companies don’t care if they make a mistake. They are oblivious to it. They think there is no possible way that they could do something wrong. But notice I said “most”. Not “all”.   Because some companies know that they can make mistakes. If you read my columns regularly, I bet you can guess which company I’m going to use as an example!  That’s right: Apple. Steve Jobs once commented at a technology conference, “If the market tells us we’re making the wrong choices, we listen to the market. We’re just… We’re just people running this company.”   The newest Apple CEO, Tim Cook knows it too – he wrote a letter to the public about the problem with the new Apple Maps app. Even better, he suggested that consumers use competitors’ maps while Apple fixed their own. That, to me, shows that 1) Apple knows it can make mistakes, and 2) Tim Cook cares about Apple’s customers enough to a) spend his time writing a letter to the public, and b) recommend competition (which is unheard of for any company)!   The problem is, most companies won’t do that. For instance, consumers were in an uproar about functionality problems with Outlook 2011 for Mac.  I believe Apple, in...

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iOS 6 Compatibility Rant

iOS 6. Mixed feelings from most people. But from me, praise. To me, the maps app  is just as good as the old maps, in that the new features offset or even outweigh the loss of labeling. Siri is so much better. New stores. So much more is calling my name, begging for me to install it on my first generation iPad.   But wait – I can’t! iOS 6 is not compatible with the first generation iPad! And that, I’ll say, is a stupid move. People who own first generation iPads were the people who were their early adopters, who not only loved their product enough to buy it so early, but who made it so popular!   These people are the success of the iPad! And by not allowing iOS 6 to the first generation iPad, Apple is saying, “You people who made our product so successful are not important. We don’t care about you.” Seriously, Apple?   Not only is it odd morally, but it’s also odd technically. You see, iOS 6 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS. Now get this: the first generation iPad is more powerful than the iPhone 3GS! So why is the 3GS compatible when the first generation is not?   I do respect that Apple tried really hard to get it to work as far back as the 3GS on the...

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The iPhone 5

iPhone 5 has just been announced (because you didn’t know!) and it’s pretty amazing from the point of view of a ten-year-old. Why? Well, all of the new features for adults can also benefit kids.   How? Well, the first thing is that the larger screen and better processor mean games look better and react more quickly. The new processor also means that games can go where no game has gone before in terms of graphics.   The new screen also does something else for kids (and for you too) in that movies can now play in full widescreen, utilizing every pixel (pixels are what displays use to, well, display) of the gorgeous Retina display.   Speaking of Retina displays, what does that mean? Apple’s definition is a screen where if you’re holding it 10-15 inches away from your eyes, you can’t tell the pixels apart. But really, it’s hard to see the pixels right up against your eyes!   The iPhone is only seven millimeters taller, but the screen got a whole lot taller than that. It now uses more of the iPhone body. But the ingenious thing is that Apple didn’t make it wider, just taller. That way, you can still use one hand to operate it.   And yes, the iPhone now does incorporate blazingly fast 4G LTE data*, meaning that wherever you have 4G coverage,...

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A Marvelous Feeling

You know that feeling where you are just so proud of yourself? Where you feel like you are floating above the world? Well, I’ve recently experienced that, and it’s wonderful.   I have been working on something very, very hard, and lately I’ve been running into some problems. But just a few days ago, when I completed the first part of my project, well, I can’t even describe how I felt!   So what is this “something” I keep mentioning?  Well, I’m proud to say that I’ve built an app. Yes, a real app for iPhone and iPod Touch!   Unfortunately, because of Apple’s rules, I can’t disclose any information about it until it’s available publicly, but I’m pretty excited.   But, anyway, that’s not what I’m writing this column about. I’m writing about that… feeling you could call it. Though it’s so much more than a feeling. It’s almost like a, well, I guess you could say a temporary new you.   A new you that can accomplish anything, whether it’s flying around the world or, well, building an app.   It’s a feeling that you don’t get very often, and when you do, it’s a VERY special occasion. It’s more than what you accomplished, though that is terrific. It’s the feeling that you get from putting so much effort into something and seeing it through. It feels...

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The Return of UNC Football

I’m sure most of you saw UNC beat Elon 62-0. What a thrill that was to start not only the 2012 football season, but Larry Fedora‘s era at UNC. If Saturday was anything to go by, we’re going to have a great season!   What’s sad is that, with these great players and coaches, we won’t be able to head to a bowl game because of the whole NCAA fiasco. But even if we miss postseason play, I hope that won’t take too much away from the regular season.   But, of course, the rest of the teams we play this year will not be as easy to beat as Elon. So will we still be able to win? Probably a lot of games. But will we have victories that stunning? Probably not.   To be honest with you, I am a fan of Fedora’s no-huddle offense. Because you could definitely see it wearing on Elon, I think it’s a sign it will work on many opponents this season. Speaking of Fedora, he obviously did very well at his first game at Carolina. So in a couple of years, when he’s fully integrated with his players and staff, we can hope that he will transform Carolina football into something great.   We do have some great sports teams. For instance, in basketball and baseball, we are very talented. But...

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