Spreadsheets: Excel: the pi() function

Tutoring math, your curiosity naturally extends to spreadsheets. The tutor points out a neat feature of Excel.

If you type


in a cell, the value of π will appear. I find that 14 decimal places are available.




Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle, nutrition: SunButter: a school-safe substitute for peanut butter?

Lifestyle can mean constant self-tutoring. The tutor introduces SunButter as a possible solution to the “No Peanuts” rule in so many schools.

I’ve talked to parents who point out that peanut butter and jam sandwiches are their kids’ favourite. Others say that, at the very least, their kids will reliably eat them. As a parent with two kids in school, I understand the challenge of filling the lunchboxes with appealing foods.

With peanuts forbidden at so many schools, the PB&J, for many, is out. Yet, the SunButter and Jam, or SB&J, might be a viable alternative.

SunButter is made from sunflower seeds. On the jar it claims to be “school safe,” being free of peanuts, tree nuts, and numerous other allergens.

Yesterday I did a taste test of SunButter vs Planter’s Peanut Butter. I’d describe the SunButter as being more oily, with a lighter, sweeter taste.

I tried giving SunButter to my younger child at home, pretending to serve a PB&J. He didn’t seem to notice until afterwards, when I told him I’d used SunButter instead of peanut butter. Kids can be surprisingly conservative about food. I believe he would eat a SunButter and jam sandwich if I put one in his lunch box, although I haven’t tried yet.

In my experience, SunButter is more dear than peanut butter.

SunButter is made by SunButter LLC, based from Fargo, North Dakota:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Computer science, technology: what is a virtual machine (VM)?

More technology self-tutoring: the tutor explains the idea of a virtual machine.

virtual machine (abbreviation: VM):

An entity that is accessible via keyboard and screen, like a desktop, and may function, to the user, like a standalone computer. However, the virtual machine resides in a server or computer that may host many others as well.

In a simple case, each employee might use her/his own separate VM at work, but in fact all of the VMs might reside on a single server. (In reality there would likely be at least two servers for back-up purposes.) Yet, each employee experiences their own PC.

On the client side, the actual deployment of the virtual machines might be accomplished via network connectivity and login credentials.




Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Computer science, technology: what is firmware?

Technology has its own terms which may require self-tutoring to understand. The tutor defines firmware.

firmware (n):

instructions that reside in a device for the purpose of performing its pre-set functions. Typically, firmware is device-specific and meant to operate without the user’s awareness. It can be updated in order to resolve performance issues or increase the device’s capability.

Firmware is programming that runs hardware. Routers and mobile phones, for instance, have firmware. A PC does as well: its firmware enables it to cooperate with the monitor, keyboard, disk drives, etc.




Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Economics, business: the US trade deficit: good or bad? (Part 0)

Reading about economics means self-tutoring. The tutor discusses the disadvantage – or advantage, of the US trade deficit.

The US has run a trade deficit since the late 70s. Simply put, a trade deficit means that the country’s imports are worth more than its exports. The US trade deficit is famous; for 2016 it was 502.3 billion.

Old-time wisdom suggests that a trade deficit, long-term, is bad, since it means wealth is leaving the country. The departing wealth is either savings being spent, or else household debt increasing.

Yet Senator Lankford, of Oklahoma, argues the US trade deficit is likely helpful to America. He makes the following arguments:

  1. Americans import goods to save money (because the same goods, if made in America, would cost more). The money Americans save by buying imports, they can re-invest in their businesses. Therefore, importing goods indeed can lead to increased investment in America with the savings from those cheaper goods.
  2. Take Mexico, for example. If the US runs a trade deficit with Mexico, the Mexicans become more prosperous. The US will enjoy at least two benefits of Mexican prosperity:
    • Fewer Mexicans will want to illegally migrate to the US.
    • Mexicans will have more money to spend on goods, some of which they will import from America.
  3. The US trade deficit includes foreign investment in US companies. Since investment in US businesses increases American productivity, the part of the US trade deficit due to it should be welcomed, not criticized.

Lankford seems to believe that as long as trade is open and fair, where its balance sits is not for the government to influence. The reason Americans run a trade deficit now is because they perceive it benefits them. They are following the laws of economics and should be allowed to do so.





Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Internet: what is the difference between the deep web and the dark web?

More computer science self-tutoring: the tutor defines deep web vs dark web in order to clarify the difference.

My understanding is that the web browsers people commonly use, find the sites they suggest by following links associated with words the client types in a query. The websites with more links leading to them appear higher in search, and likely more frequently as well.

Theoretically, a web page with no links to it can be virtually undiscoverable unless someone keys its specific address in the search bar. Such a site can be said to be in the deep web:

Deep web:

The collection of web resources not linked to by other sites. These resources can be virtually undiscoverable unless you know their specific web addresses.

A related topic is the dark web, which is different:

Dark web:

The collection of web resources not accessible by ordinary browsers because they are hosted on networks only available via particular software. These resources are purposely secret.

Deep web resources include such items as academic tables meant to be found by those who need them but of no interest to the general public.

Dark web resources include top-secret databases, bulletin boards used by citizens in countries where internet communication is stifled, and sites that enable illegal trade.




Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Home computer use: appeasing Windows 10

More self-tutoring: the tutor talks about a bump on his digital road.

Traveling, time is typically a concern for me. Though I’ve been doing it more and more, I’m still not accomplished at traveling. I can make it – but that’s about it.

When a computer crashes on the road, it’s even worse for me than at home, since time is tight anyway. This computer crashed this weekend while I’m over here in Abbotsford.

Twice, while using Chrome, I couldn’t post to my blog. After the second reboot, I’m using IE, with apparently no problems. Sometimes, when in doubt, I return to the on-board option – in this case it’s working (fingers crossed).

I’m a fan of Chrome. However, this moment, it seems not to be getting along with Windows 10, for whatever (likely temporary) reason. Actually, I’m a fan of IE as well.

Abbotsford has been great – more about that in a coming post.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Psychology: memory, part 0: why memory might be inaccurate

More self-tutoring: the tutor does initial probing about memory accuracy.

I’m sure I recall having confident memories that turned out wrong when I compared them to other evidence.

Today I read an article from the The New Yorker, by Maria Konnikova, in which she confronts the idea of inaccurate memory.

My understanding of Konnikova’s message is that when you have an emotionally charged memory, your awareness that it happened is strong, but you recall its surrounding details less particularly. However, you think you know virtually everything you experienced, since your memory that it happened, being emotionally fueled, is so strong.

So, with an emotionally important memory, while confidence that it happened might make sense, recall of its surrounding details is perhaps less trustworthy.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: poetry: Closing Time by Semisonic

Tutoring English, you cover poetry. The tutor brings up Semisonic’s Closing Time.

Closing Time, by Semisonic, came out in 1998. I wouldn’t take notice of it until ten years later, as I drove my kids to their activities and it would play on the radio.

While I wasn’t a fan of Closing Time, it seemed a friendly song. Its premise is relatable enough, and it’s got some clever lyrics. I just think the chorus falls short, and I like a good chorus in a song.

Over the past couple years, Closing Time speaks to me more and more. I’m like that, though: often, something has to age 20 years before I look at it seriously.

Closing Time has some clever lyrics, to be sure. The line

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here

is legendary. Personally, I like the imperfect rhyme in

So gather up your jackets, and move it to the exits

In addition, I appreciate the tender empathy in the line “I hope you have found a friend.”

The line “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” – I didn’t accept it at first. Believe it or not, I would often think about it, driving in the car, coming up with scenarios of new beginnings that happen from nowhere, with no simultaneous ending.

I’m not sure, even now, that when something begins, something else has to end. However, I understand that point of view.

To wrap up: while I don’t find Closing Time a catchy song, it is a feel-good song, in a melancholy way, with some smart lyrics.

BTW: Dan Wilson wrote the song.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Psychology: Hallucinations: do they happen in ordinary situations?

With so much coverage these days about paranormal topics, I get immersed in self-tutoring. The tutor comments about the phenomenon of hallucinations.

Often, when someone mentions seeing something they can’t explain, you hear others say, “They probably just imagined it.”

I’ve never been a believer that people typically “just imagine” seeing things. Rather, if they are a truthful witness, I usually believe they saw something – probably something very similar to what they describe, if not exactly it.

I read a few articles about hallucinations today. One points out that, in fact, a hallucination may well be the brain’s filling of details in a picture it deems incomplete or unreal.

The idea of the article seems to be that people are much more likely to hallucinate something they expect to perceive, rather than something surprising.

Therefore, when someone (who is, once again, a truthful witness) does report seeing something surprising, but the situation seems, else-wise, to be normal, they (it seems to me) likely did see something surprising. It may not be exactly as they report, but surprising nonetheless. The brain’s tendency seems to be to hallucinate normal over top of abnormal, rather than the other way.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.