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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

ArgumentBoy Not cheap, won't happen (81 comments)

If the prof has to interact in real time with actual humans this won't save the universities any money. Their only interest in all this is figuring out how to automate millions of student credit hours while using cheap labor. This approach isn't going to be the future of anything except servicing home bound students in remote areas, which some responsible universities have been quietly doing for a century.

about 3 months ago
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States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

ArgumentBoy Borders (778 comments)

When you look at list of states that raised the minimum wage, you see that they mainly border other states that didn't. I'd like to see an analysis of whether they just pulled people from the neighboring states. If that happened even to a small degree it would increase one state's stats and lower the other's.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: E-ink Reader For Academic Papers?

ArgumentBoy Re: Short Evaluation (134 comments)

I use iAnnotate on an iPad. I download the PDF or Word document from my Dropbox, highlight and so forth on the iPad, and then can sync the marked up copy back to Dropbox. It's not the Kindle solution you wanted but otherwise it seems to be just what you want.

about 9 months ago
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Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity

ArgumentBoy Re:Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (308 comments)

In a word, yes. Re-opening the case would at least make it possible to identify incompetent defense, confessions by frightened intimidated or learning-challenged people, and so forth. Lots of polygraph-cheating involves taking various drugs like beta blockers, and that's why I mentioned blood tests. Psychopaths who are emotionally flat are identifiable by a competent polygraph test, so you just re-open, investigate, and re-instate. And I'm perfectly willing to include various "truth drugs" to the protocol, given the stakes here and the apparent forfeiture of lots of privacy rights by the death row inmates. I'd rather leave a couple of these people in jail for the rest of their lives than execute innocent, frightened, confused people.

about a year and a half ago
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Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity

ArgumentBoy Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (308 comments)

This is a little off topic but I've had a somewhat relevant thought over the years: I think every death row inmate should be required to take a polygraph (with or without any drugs and blood tests you like) before they can be executed. If the inmate passes the exam, there should be an automatic indefinite delay in execution, and the case should be re-opened. There are dozens of documented cases of wrongful executions, the people on death row usually (yes, I read "usually" somewhere) get public defenders who have been or will be disbarred, many are unable to help themselves intelligently, and some are intimidated into confessions. I'm not keen on execution to begin with, but if we're going to have it, a redundant test of guilt would be a very good thing.

about a year and a half ago
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Lamar Smith, Future Chairman For the House Committee On Science, Space, and Technology

ArgumentBoy Smith is easy to underestimate (292 comments)

I met this guy once in a real meeting with genuine conversation. He's actually very bright. He went to Yale for instance. I know that's no guarantee you haven't been infected with some ideology virus, but ask yourself: if you had been to Yale and wanted a lot of red meat eating, capital punishment cheering, cousin marrying Texans to send you to Congress, what sort of stuff would you have to say in public? I really think that thought is at the bottom of a lot of his stuff. I think that he'll be okay as long as the spotlight isn't too bright. We just won't see a lot of progressive science leadership from him.

about 2 years ago
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Smartphone Mugging More Popular Than Ever

ArgumentBoy Stealing your bank account (285 comments)

This is one reason I won't put a bank app on my phone.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple's Secret Plan To Join iPhones With Airport Security

ArgumentBoy Outrageous patent (232 comments)

A truly outrageous patent. How in the world can a company patent a way to communicate with the U.S. government? The government has to design the socket and that controls what the plug has to be. Not just for this reason alone, the patent system has to be blowtorched and started up again from scratch.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Advice On Child-Friendly Microscopes?

ArgumentBoy Re:USB Microscope (118 comments)

Years ago when my girls were little, we had one of these from Logitech. It worked fine (came with some software). It was essentially just a camera with some close-up capability. I can also recommend little $10 portable microscopes from, among others, Edmund Scientific. They're about the size of a cigar case. They're a small hassle to get focused but you can take them anywhere. They even have a little light.

more than 2 years ago
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Psychic Ability Claim Doesn't Hold Up In New Scientific Experiments

ArgumentBoy Re:Power Analysis (315 comments)

No, I didn't read the paper. But I've done power analyses plenty of times and I know that with tiny expected effects 40 or 50 isn't enough. It's enough if you're expecting moderate or large effects, but you can't seriously propose that if you're trying to prove that the effect size is zero. You can't take Bem's effects as proper estimates of what to expect in your power analysis if you've got theoretical reason to suppose that Bem's results were overstated in his data set. If you're actually setting out to prove a null you can't skimp on sample size. Their idea was to refute the original paper, not just jab at it, and they needed a killer case to do that. N of 50 won't do, and even N of 150 won't do. If you're going to prove nothing is going on, you have to stomp on the finding, and N = 500 and upwards is going to be what's required. This sort of minimalist study design is just going to keep things going.

more than 2 years ago
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Psychic Ability Claim Doesn't Hold Up In New Scientific Experiments

ArgumentBoy Power Analysis (315 comments)

I don't think ESP is real either, but the journal editors had first class reasons to reject the replication-failure paper. The sample size of each replication was 50. They tried 3 times, for a total of 150. It is very hard to prove a null hypothesis--this is not the same as failing to support a research hypothesis. Roughly, the quality of support for a research hypothesis is measured in terms of Type I error, which is assessed by p levels (e.g., p LT .05). The quality of support for a null hypothesis (and not everyone agrees that this is possible in principle) is measured in terms of Type II error, or the power of a statistical test. The power of a test depends on the sample size, the expected effect size, and which statistic (e.g., r, t) is in use. A replication test of the original ESP paper must have substantial power because the expected effect size is, well, zero. To find a tiny effect size, which would be the fair design, requires more than N=50. Doing the same underpowered study three times doesn't help very much, but even N=150 wouldn't be decisive. The journal in question is one of the most prominent in psychology. Whether they publish replications or not (and they do--replications aren't done for their own sake, they are implicit in follow-up studies), they certainly shouldn't publish bad ones.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Give IT Presentations That Aren't Boring?

ArgumentBoy People are interested in themselves (291 comments)

Organize the talk by their jobs. Show them how it all works when they do what they do, and where it's most likely to fail or slow down when they do various things. You'll probably go back to a couple of key slides frequently as you move from one major job type to another, but you'll adapt to your listeners. Everybody is interested in themselves. For a big finish show them how all their jobs move together in the common system. Avoid the natural mistake of organizing it by your own job.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Most Efficient, Worthwhile Charity?

ArgumentBoy UMCOR (570 comments)

The United Methodist Committee on Relief does disaster assistance - water, blankets, some meds. They're usually one of the first on the scene. The church donates all the administration, so every dollar you give buys a dollar of relief. Just drop a check off at the closest Methodist Church.

more than 2 years ago
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Windows 8 To Reduce Memory Footprint

ArgumentBoy CPM (306 comments)

My first self-owned computer was a Kaypro 4-84. The OS was CPM and the machine came with 64K (yes, K) of RAM. When it booted up the screen said it had 63K of RAM. I thought I had been ripped off so I called the company. The tech explained that the other 1K was being used by the OS. So I don't think Windows 8 is going to impress me.

more than 3 years ago
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Visualizing Behavior-Tracking Cookies With Firefox

ArgumentBoy How is this legal? (85 comments)

Seriously - how is this legal? People can't wiretap me without a warrant, they can't look into the windows of my house, and they can't read my (paper) mail. I don't accept a EULA for web sites and no one owns the internet. Why isn't this hacking?

more than 3 years ago
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Stars Remain In Their Usual Places; People Panic

ArgumentBoy a new personality! (468 comments)

Cool. I get a new personality. Just what my wife wanted for Christmas.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Seeks 1-Click(er) Patent

ArgumentBoy Re:old tech (86 comments)

yes. some kids use laptops, some use smartphones, and some use (several models of) dedicated clickers.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Seeks 1-Click(er) Patent

ArgumentBoy old tech (86 comments)

goodness. i'm teaching a large lecture class and we already do this. i think it's been going on, on a large scale, for 5-10 years. this doesn't matter? seriously?

more than 3 years ago
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Forget University — Use the Web For Education, Says Gates

ArgumentBoy Re:The Net is no Substitution for University (393 comments)

I've thought for years that in a generation the distinction between haves and have-nots won't be private v. public universities, but online v. human instruction. Online coursework didn't used to be very cheap for universities - they said it was, but conveniently forgot to include overhead or support in their calculations - but now with so many people able to work the web and post stuff, it probably is. I notice that some universities charge a surcharge for online courses, to support the capital investment, etc. For the essentially exclusive online schools, the real cost saving is in the faculty - lots of that online stuff is taught by people who would never get university appointments (disclaimer: I'm an in-person actual human university prof). The very worst, I think, are the online companies that prey on our troops in the Middle East. One allows a soldier to get an AA degree by taking one course and getting lots of life experience and military training credit. The online operations have their own accrediting agency and not all US universities respect that accreditation when assessing applicants (e.g., for grad school). The www is far more useful for some disciplines than others. Computer stuff is an example of where keeping up to the minute is pretty important, and there's lots of good instruction available. But other disciplines aren't so amenable - history, philosophy, social sciences. Slashdot readers might in the group where online work is most appropriate, and I'm seeing a lot of divided opinions even here.

more than 4 years ago
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A New Explanation For the Plight of Winter Babies

ArgumentBoy teachers have babies in the summer (276 comments)

I've spent my whole life in academia and until recent liberalizations of child care policies, I noticed that inevitably women faculty had their babies in the summer. Male teachers have that preference too (my own kids are June and April). I imagine that this was true of K-12 teachers, too. A few percent of women who carefully planned for summer births would be enough to move the numbers. And notice that employed/well educated women having summer babies would cause an apparent disadvantage to winter babies (i.e., rarely born of those women). I like the prom/graduation pregnancy explanation, too. Together these might well handle the whole observed phenomena.

more than 5 years ago

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