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Comments

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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

Jason Levine Re:Humanity and Humanities (446 comments)

The push for standardized tests has one goal: Prove students are failing.

If you can show students are failing, then you can blame teachers for the failure. If you can do this, then corporations can rush in to "save" them with new course materials (bought with millions in taxpayer money, of course). Even better, the corporations (e.g. Pearson) run the standardized tests, grade them, and aren't held accountable for the test quality or grading accuracy. So Pearson can make the tests show that kids are failing which leads to more Pearson sales to "help our kids succeed."

It gets even worse when my state's governor (Cuomo) talks about enacting the "death penalty" on public schools that don't hit marks he sets for the standardized tests. Meaning, he'll close these schools down and replace them with charter schools - business run schools that are exempt from most testing and can choose which kids to accept and which they will reject.

With two kids in public schools struggling under EngageNY, my wife and I are right in the thick of this. We're part of a growing group of parents who refuse to allow their kids to take these high-stakes tests, despite FUD and push-back from people who want more testing.

yesterday
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

Jason Levine Re:Common Core (446 comments)

Really? Because it doesn't seem to be part of New York's EngageNY enacting of Common Core. EngageNY is a set of scripts for the teachers to read to the students. The students are expected to answer the questions in EXACTLY the way that EngageNY says they will answer them. If they get the right answer by taking a different path, they are marked as wrong.

This doesn't even get into the high stakes testing that is being pushed as needed to prove that our students are learning (really being used to "prove" that the students are failing and that the teachers need more corporate/government oversight). This winds up shifting class focus from learning your lessons to preparing for the tests.

yesterday
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Leaked Documents Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Ebola Vaccine Issues

Jason Levine Re:The Cult Leader will solve the problem! (116 comments)

By that reasoning, I should listen to everything Dr. Oz says because he's a fully licensed and trained medical doctor (cardiologist), right?

Or maybe being in one medical field doesn't make you an expert in all medical fields?

(Even more so if you have a political agenda to advance and thus reason to ignore evidence that doesn't agree with your views.)

yesterday
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NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Jason Levine Re:my thoughts (336 comments)

Think of it this way then: Duncan was in the hospital for ten days. How many nurses and doctors looked after him during this time? How many family and friends and random strangers was he around before he went into the hospital? Out of all of these people, only two people contracted Ebola and that's because they were healthcare workers exposed to more of his secretions (and thus had a higher risk).

yesterday
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NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Jason Levine Re:my thoughts (336 comments)

Except that's what doctors and other healthcare workers do every day. They put their lives in danger by treating people with diseases that, if they aren't careful, they could catch. Firefighters also knowingly risk their lives to save people. They will go running into a burning building just to try to pull someone out.

Risking your life to try to save someone else - when you are a trained professional - isn't idiot-territory. These aren't random people jumping into a raging river to save a drowning victim who wind up also drowning. These are people who take all available precautions, realize there is still a danger, and still try to save lives. These people are heroes.

Now if some news reports are right and the doctor interacted with people after showing symptoms, I'd agree that THAT was an idiot move.

yesterday
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Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

Jason Levine Re:Fentanyl (139 comments)

There's no rational reason to restrict it to just terrorism offences

And that right there is another argument against holding relatives accountable for the actions their family members take. Let's say today it is only applied to terrorism. A couple years down the road, someone shoots up a bunch of people and kills himself. There's a big push for his family to be held accountable (perhaps they are part of an unfavorably viewed minority) and they are. The next crime is less heinous but now there's a precedent of using this for less and less severe crimes. Eventually, any crime committed by one person can get their entire family in trouble if the prosecutor decides to apply it. (In other words, if the person isn't part of the "popular majority.")

If anything thinks a "make the families accountable law" would only ever be applied to acts of terrorism, they obviously haven't been paying attention for the last thirty or so years.

yesterday
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U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

Jason Levine Re:And in other marketing opportunities (160 comments)

So the Terminators won't actually look like Arnold, but will appear as good looking women. "Run, everyone! Run! Hey, stop gawking at them! They aren't women! RUN!!!!" *entire group gunned down while they stare at the Terminators*

2 days ago
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U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

Jason Levine Re:Actually, yes. (160 comments)

Dress shirts come with collar size measurement. If you're buying t-shirts or non-dress long sleeve shirts, though, you need to content with Small-Medium-Large-XL. I can be a medium from some places (where mediums run large), a large in other places, and XL from some places that run their sizes on the smaller side. Clothes are one of the few items I mostly refuse to buy online (with the occasional TeeFury shirt as the exception) because of this sizing issue.

2 days ago
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The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

Jason Levine Re:Not just women (541 comments)

There are two types of trolls. One type (let's call this the Classic Troll) gets their jollies by upsetting people. So if you respond to the troll's inflammatory remarks, they like it and will keep it up. If you ignore the Classic Troll, they will slink away to try to rile someone else up.

The second type (Targeted Troll) doesn't care about upsetting people as much as they care about targeting a specific person or group. If you're part of the group they are targeting and they latch on to you, they may or may not let go if you ignore them. If you're the specific person they are targeting, then they WON'T stop merely because they are ignored. They will keep ramping up the remarks until a response is obtained.

The big problem with Targeted Trolls is that they don't tend to be solitary creatures like the Classic Troll. While they will act alone, they can also get together with other Targeted Trolls to harass the person/people who have entered their cross-hairs. This amplifies the harassment and can make it impossible for them to be ignored. (For example, if one of them tracks down the victim's home address and posts it with a threatening message.)

2 days ago
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6,000 Year Old Temple Unearthed In Ukraine

Jason Levine Re:6,000 only (109 comments)

If it's to hide from us that divine influence, then how can it be obvious to them?

Partly for the same reason that Moon landing conspiracy theorists claim the existence of a vast conspiracy that is both competent enough to hide the truth from the general public/media/competing nations/etc but yet incompetent enough to make easily spotted basic mistakes. They want to feel special and how they do this is by a) setting up a very powerful, secretive individual/organization and then b) being one of only a few people able to see past said individual's/organization's smoke screen. This elevates them (in their mind) over the rabble that fall for the ruse and makes them special.

This is also a reason why all evidence against the existence of their conspiracy or organization or individual is immediately discounted. If they were to accept the truth, they would have to also accept that they aren't more special than anyone else and, in fact, might be less special than most people for having believed something so ridiculous. Therefore, they keep on believing and claim that the mountain of evidence to the contrary was placed there by "the conspiracy/individual" to deceive those less special than they arel.

2 days ago
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6,000 Year Old Temple Unearthed In Ukraine

Jason Levine Re:6,000 only (109 comments)

I have met young Earth creationists. At one time, I belonged to an Orthodox temple (I was living with my parents back then and membership was free because my parents were members). The rabbi would give speeches often decrying how scientists kept changing their minds about how the world worked but the bible was constant in its message. (I won't get into all the ways this sentence is wrong. That's a whole other post.) He was of the mindset that the world was formed around 6,000 - 10,000 years ago (I don't think he ever gave an exact figure but definitely believed it was around that long) and that any evidence to the contrary was just foolish scientists getting it wrong.

I didn't argue with him at the time. It would have been a losing proposition anyway. There's no way I could have changed his viewpoint. My eyes did plenty of rolling during my time there, though.

2 days ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Jason Levine Asimov and Social Media (148 comments)

I wonder how Isaac Asimov would have regarded social media. His essay had the statement "For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display." In social media, people will post hundreds of statements of varying quality. Most will be ignored (or read and instantly forgotten in the flood of content). A few will rise to the top (being retweeted, reposted, shared, etc). I know using social media (and the Internet in general) has made me less reluctant to share my ideas. The ridicule of expressing something stupid is lessened if the person mocking you for said stupid idea is just a screen name versus a flesh and blood person in front of you. On the flip side, losing the "quality filter" and making sharing ideas easier might mean that you quickly express a mediocre idea instead of spending more time on it and honing it into a great idea.

2 days ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Jason Levine Re:News? (148 comments)

Yes, but this essay was just found and published now - 22 years after his death.

2 days ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Jason Levine Re:Efficient Guy, That Asimov! (148 comments)

I've heard that Asimov used to sit at a desk surrounded by three typewriters. He would begin typing one story on one, Swivel to the second and work on a second item, and then shift to the third and work on a third item. (This was obviously pre-computers and definitely before computers could easily multitask three documents.) By quickly going between the three typewriters, he could work on three projects at once.

It's no wonder he was so prolific.

2 days ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Jason Levine Re:Disapproval of creativity as expressed in copyr (148 comments)

To be fair, copyright originally was for 14 years (plus a one time 14 year extension). So if you took 28 year old A and added 29 year old B plus 14 year old (and not renewed) C, you could come up with something new. It might have been a delay, but it wasn't a horrendous one. Now, though, you'd need to wait for A, B, and C to be 120 years old before you could use them. (When Asimov wrote this article, copyright terms were 28 years with a one-time 67 year extension. Arguably, still too long.)

2 days ago
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Your Online TV Watching Can Now Be Tracked Across Devices

Jason Levine Re:Sounding another death knell for cable companie (126 comments)

Never underestimate the powers of a manager who comes in and decides that the numbers should show X and that any numbers that don't need to be skewed until they do.

Some of their past tactics (such as the one taken against Futurama of moving the timeslot and then preempting the program until viewership numbers dropped) won't work in the new order of on-demand video, but they could take other actions. They could just not promote the show/new episodes. They could also delay releasing the new episodes until people lose interest.

I don't mind analytics in general, but don't assume that they will help rescue your favorite show by proving that there is a big following. Managers will just slice and dice the analytics until it "proves" that the show doesn't have a big enough viewership to continue.

3 days ago
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Delivering Malicious Android Apps Hidden In Image Files

Jason Levine Re:Still have to install (113 comments)

One problem might be that enabling third party apps seems to be an all or nothing affair. Your average Android device comes enabled to load apps from the Google Play store, but suppose you want to take advantage of the Amazon App Store also. (They have free apps of the day some of which might be interesting to use.) So you enable third party apps to load the Amazon App Store. However, now you are opened up to ANY third party app. It would be better if you could white-list the Amazon App Store but not RANDOM_WEBSITE_APP_STORE.

3 days ago
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Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Jason Levine Re:OT: ":Fine money should be burned (397 comments)

I'd argue that we should find something that helps people, but isn't "sexy" enough for politicians to use it for political gain. Something like libraries. Make all crime-punishment-fines go directly to library coffers. However, said money shouldn't be budgeted at all to prevent politicians from saying "We're expecting $X in fines so we can reduce the library's budget by $X and move that money to CAUSE Y."

3 days ago
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Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Jason Levine Re:This is good (397 comments)

Third explanation: People are speeding just as much as before but are now slamming on their brakes when the light turns yellow potentially causing more rear-end collisions. There are a lot of explanation that don't involve "red light cameras worked as intended" so we shouldn't jump to that as the first and only explanation.

3 days ago
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Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

Jason Levine Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (397 comments)

Where I live they are considering installing red light cameras. They specifically have said that the company will control how long the yellow light gets shown.

Of course, this could just be elected officials spreading misinformation so that they can get the red light cameras installed but deflect any criticism away from themselves.

3 days ago

Submissions

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What To Do With Old Domains

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  about a year ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "While looking to buy a new domain for a website idea I had, I realized that over the years I've purchased quite a few domain names. I'm not a domain hoarder by any stretch of the imagination, but 14 domains isn't a small number either. Of those domains, only 6 are actively being used. Many of the others were used for web projects that died out or that never launched. I could let the domains expire or possibly sell them (some might actually take in some cash), but I'm afraid of the domains being grabbed by spammers or other nefarious individuals. Holding onto them is an option, but increasingly I'm wondering why I'm paying annual fees for domain names that I'm not using and likely will never use again.

How do you handle old domain names in your possession that you no longer need?"
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Best Science Fiction/Fantasy for 8 Year Olds

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in Science Fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults.

Thinking that the length of some novels might be off-putting to him, I read him some of the short stories in Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot". He liked these but I could tell he was having a hard time keeping up. I think the wording of the stories was too advanced and there was too much talking and not enough action. Personally, I love Asimov, but I think much of it just went over his head.

Which science fiction and/or fantasy books would you recommend for an 8 year old? (Either stories he could read himself or that we could read together over the course of a few weeks.)"
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Teaching Your Children Computer Skills At Home

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "My son's school district, like many across the country, is facing budget issues. Already, art and music are being cut and two elementary schools are likely to be shut down. (One of which my son currently attends.) My wife recently found out that our school doesn't even have a computer teacher. Nobody's teaching the kids how to use word processing programs, how to browse the Internet, etc. They have "computer time" in which someone watches over them while the kids are allowed to visit PBSKids.org and similar websites.

My son is very bright and computer savvy for a first grader, but obviously I want him to know how to do more than simply load up a website. We've discussed home schooling with varying degrees of seriousness. Even if we don't home school, we might want to supplement what he's learning in school with computer lessons at home. My wife is a teacher and has access to various resources, but I was wondering what resources the Slashdot community might recommend.

How do you teach your children about computers and how to use them? Do you know of any websites or programs that would be appropriate for my first grade son to use? (I've already introduced him to TuxPaint, TuxMath and TuxTyping.)"
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Theft of Services Claim with Honor System Paywall

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "Towards the end of the day yesterday, I received an e-mail from someone claiming that my company's employees had been stealing his services. I always take claims like this seriously, so I read on. Apparently, his website is called the North Country Gazette. It appears to be a "news" site, but structured like a blog. Each article contains the text: "Free access to The North Country Gazette is limited to one visit, one article, no exceptions. After your free trial, a subscription is needed and without same, your access will be denied. To sign up, see subscription ad on this page. If you have questions, contact us at news@northcountrygazette.org"

The e-mail claimed theft of services because an employee visited two articles without paying. I thought it might be a scam (the threatening tone of the e-mail didn't help) so I visited the site to make sure it was legit. Soon after my one article view, I received a second e-mail calling me "obstinate", telling me to "do your job instead of surfing the internet" and threatening legal action if we visited his site again.

The thing is, though, he doesn't seem to have any kind of paywall in place. No mechanism to detect if a user has viewed an article and stop them from viewing more like other paywalls I've encountered. Just a system to detect when his honor system isn't honored. How seriously should I take his threats? Can someone really sue over theft of services due to three page views (four if you count me accessing his home page)? Can some small text on a website (which doesn't even contain a "pay here" link) really bind you into paying for a subscription? I will definitely be informing my company's legal counsel, but I was wondering if anyone on Slashdot has heard of anything like this?"
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Killer Sue Wikipedia To Remove Their Names

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed a German actor in 1990. Now that they are out of prison, German law states that they can't be referred to by name in relation to the killings. Therefore, they have sued to get Wikipedia to remove their names from the Wikipedia article about the killings. The German edition of Wikipedia has already complied, but the English edition is citing US freedom of speech and a lack of presence in Germany as reasons why they don't need to remove the name. In a bit of irony, their lawyer e-mailed the NY Times: “In the spirit of this discussion, I trust that you will not mention my clients’ names in your article.""
Link to Original Source
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Ask Slashdot: Inexpensively Streaming Media?

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  about 5 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "I recently won a Roku box and my family and I have been enjoying watching Netflix movies/TV shows via it. So much so, in fact, that we are considering canceling our cable service. Canceling cable would save us $65 a month. Of course, this would mean the loss of a big entertainment source for my children (age 6 and 2), my wife and me. We have a decent DVD collection, but it tends to be hard to find the right DVD and play it for the boys. (The DVDs are in stacks and tend to get disorganized.) I'd rather rip them to my upstairs computer and stream the video, but I need some help.

First of all, we don't have a large budget to work with. Yes, we'd be saving per month without the cable bill, but my wife won't let me spend thousands on equipment so that we can save $800 a year. That said, our requirements are low. We don't have any HD televisions in the house and don't have plans to upgrade our existing sets anytime soon. So while it might be nice if the solutions can handle HD, there's no need to spend more money on an HD-compatible product.

Secondly, running ethernet cable is out of the question. My wife refuses to let me drill holes in the walls/floor and to be honest, I don't blame her. My wireless network (current router a Netgear WGR614 v5) tends to cut out at times. Powerline networking intrigues me, but the wiring in the house is old and I'm afraid that it won't be a stable connection. Another option I found was ethernet-over-coax. Would I be better off upgrading my wireless network (replacing the router and/or adding an access point somewhere) or going with a powerline or coax solution?

Third, ditching cable would mean we would lose our cable-provided DVR. While most shows we watch would be viewable via Hulu, we would like to still be able to record shows (especially kids shows on PBS) and play them later. What kind of DVR system would you recommend?

Lastly, my desktop computer isn't exactly the newest system in the world. It is 6 years old and, while not underpowered, might not be up to handling some tasks. Would I be better off building or buying a DVR/Media Center box? If so, how much would I wind up paying for this?

Thanks for any advice you can give."
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Wii outsells 360, PS3, PS2, PSP combined in April

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Jason Levine writes "Ars Technica is reporting that, during the month of April, the Nintendo Wii outsold not only the XBox 360 and the Sony PS3, but the 360, PS3, PS2, and PSP combined. The Nintendo Wii sold 714,200 units. Microsoft's XBox 360 sold 188,000 units and Sony's PS3 sold 187,100 units. The PSP moved 192,700 units and the PS2 moved 124,400 units. In addition, six of the top 10 games sold in April were Nintendo Wii games."
Link to Original Source

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