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Gut Bacteria Cocktail May End Need for Fecal Transplants

Acheron Re: Warning: paranoia may cloud sensibilities (183 comments)

Eating yogurt is not a homeopathic remedy. Look up what homeopathic means.

Eating yogurt is a simple treatment, and as the grandparent's quote indicates it is significantly effective at reducing the incidence of diarrhea in cases of gut flora loss (due to antibiotics usually). However, it is significantly less effective when the problem is specifically c.difficile overgrowth.

So if you're taking antibiotics, get a probiotic yogurt, it is likely to help. If you do end up with c. diff, you may need another type of treatment.

about 2 years ago

Australians Urged To Spoof IP Addresses For Better Prices

Acheron Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (206 comments)

Actually, Canadian dead-tree books are now almost the same price for US/Canada finally. For instance, the new hardcover from JK Rowling is I believe $1 difference. This only happened after there was a significant amount of press uproar about years of unjustifiable differences, which I believe is good evidence for the argument that the pricing gap is pure greed the distributors think they can get away with it.

more than 2 years ago

Space Junk May Require ISS Maneuver In Advance of SpaceX's Dragon

Acheron Re:This is normal. (47 comments)

Because orbital junk must be orbiting, thus it travels horizontally at much greater speeds than vertically.

more than 2 years ago

Blackboard Buys Moodlerooms and Netspot

Acheron Re:"Learning management systems" (95 comments)

"Yet schools seem to constantly get rid of these home-grown solutions in favor of Blackboard 'n pals...why?"

Because of CYA support contracts. Executive university ITS staff hate the thought of having the buck stop with their department. By paying outrageous fees to these big players, they always have an out when things don't work - they can yell at someone at Blackboard.

The linked article only mentions Moodle, but Blackboard also announced yesterday that they have hired Charles Severence, one of the founding architects of the Sakai project, in the role of "Chief Sakai Strategist", and also announced that they will provide hosted Moodle and Sakai installations. This is a major foray into the Open Source LMS world, and it's still to be seen whether it is an opportunity to keep relationships with non-Bb schools, or a razed-earth invasion of the OS support arena.

As a side note, technically Banner isn't an LMS, it is a Student Information System (SIS): it goes rather deeper into the registration process than an LMS, and also acts as the HR system at most institutions that use it.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Open Source vs Proprietary GIS Solution?

Acheron Re:If you go with ESRI products... (316 comments)

(accidentally posted as AC above... thought I was logged in...)

I've run ESRI products on Linux and Windows platforms, and even though I'm a linux admin first, I would have to recommend Windows/MSSQL if you do choose to go with their products. Although they technically support Linux platforms, I found that their support was abysmal, and when we moved to ArcGIS on Windows, suddenly things worked much better, and their support actually had answers when we needed it.

about 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: GNU/Linux Laptops?

Acheron Virtual Machine on a Macbook Pro (708 comments)

I would recommend buying yourself a Macbook Pro, getting VMWare Fusion or if you're low on funds after buying the MB, then VirtualBox, and running a Linux VM. You get the solid quality of the MBPro hardware and the standardised hardware environment that a VM offers and the resulting good linux driver behaviour.

I use VirtualBox on my 2010 MBPro and it works like a charm.

more than 3 years ago

Look Ma, I'm Getting Arrested!

Acheron Siri: Set a reminder (238 comments)

Send a text to my mom when I get to the police station.

more than 3 years ago

Turnitin's Different Messages To Students, Teachers

Acheron Re:Turnitin as a teaching tool (306 comments)

Oh, I would rather chew off my own foot than grade first year history papers, but that's what they are: endless digging up and quoting of primary sources with a massive bibliography.

more than 3 years ago

Turnitin's Different Messages To Students, Teachers

Acheron Re:configuration options exist (306 comments)

For my institution in Canada, a big concern was that we might be jeopardizing our students' future options if they wrote something that was politically sensitive in the U.S. and it was snatched up under PATRIOT Act legislation and used against them for blacklisting or other discrimination in the future.

more than 3 years ago

Turnitin's Different Messages To Students, Teachers

Acheron Turnitin as a teaching tool (306 comments)

I was a technical advisor to a committee creating policy for Turnitin style service use on the university campus I work on. Turnitin isn't a plagiarism detection service: they're being disingenuous when they say that. It is a text matching service. The difference is significant: a first-year history paper might be 75% matched, but not plagiarized because the student correctly attributed all their quoted passages.

The committee recommended against using it for detecting plagiarism, and for encouraging its use as a teaching tool to make students aware of proper citation techniques and the importance of avoiding plagiarism.

Some service like this also happen to be quite good at the most common kind of plagiarism: someone on campus submitting someone elses paper from the previous year to a different prof... but that's a special clear-cut case of cheating, not what people commonly think of as plagiarism.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Does SSL Validation Matter?

Acheron Re:Can it altogether. (243 comments)

Just to clarify, multiple certs to the same party is not a problem: as certmaster for a university, hundreds of certs for different CNs have been issued to me.

And yes, I agree it is a broken system: it's a protection racket variant as it currently stands.

more than 3 years ago

Military Drone Attacks Are Not 'Hostile'

Acheron Won't someone please RTFA? (892 comments)

Did ANYONE who had commented in this thread actually read the linked article? Nowhere does it say that drone strikes are not hostile, it says that they don't meet the legal definition of "hostilities", which is a very different statement.

If the POTUS calls American Slashdot readers who don't RTFA morons every day for 91 days, he's being hostile, but it doesn't require congressional approval to continue because it's not hostilities as defined by the your War Powers Resolution.

more than 3 years ago

Laser Incidents With Aircraft On the Rise

Acheron Defensive possibilities? (546 comments)

Is there a passive defense against this? I'm very curious: this would seem to be a fairly serious threat for a military plane in combat, how do they deal with it? Is there a film that could be retrofitted to canopy windows on commercial craft?

about 4 years ago

Fair Use Affirmed In Turnitin Case

Acheron Teaching tool, not an investigative tool. (315 comments)

The institution where I work has been considering the Turnitin products lately. It has been an interesting process analyzing what it can and cannot do, and how to avoid a confrontational situation like that described in the article. First of all, Turnitin can't detect plagiarism. It is a text matching software suite, and can detect commonality between works. Plagiarism is a social phenomenon, and can't be dealt with by an automated tool.

Where the product really shines in my opinion is when it is used as a teaching tool. Students are permitted to submit their assignments to Turnitin before they submit to their instructor, and they get back their originality report from Turnitin. Then they have the ability to *learn* proper attribution and citation with the help of this tool. When a paragraph gets a low originality rating, they can look and verify whether they have correctly cited their source material, and if they have, then they're good to go. When used like this, Turnitin becomes a valuable teaching tool that is appreciated by the students rather than something they try to fight against. And what is the goal in the end? It's not to throw students out of college, it's to make sure they understand how to attribute things correctly, and make them better writers.

To answer the question about what happens if there is a match to a paper from another institution: In that case, an instructor account can request a copy from the other paper's instructor via Turnitin. If the request is granted, the appropriate sections are forwarded to the requesting instructor.

more than 5 years ago

Why the LHC Won't Destroy the World

Acheron next... (508 comments)

He then goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed at the next zebra crossing.

more than 6 years ago


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