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Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

MacTO Re:What do I think? (223 comments)

Writing by hand remains an essential skill, and will continue to be an essential skill for the foreseeable future. It is true that it is no longer the domain of people who author reports or books, corresponding with friends and businesses, and many other areas. Yet it is still used extensively for note taking, completing forms, and in many situations where it is easier to use the pen than the keyboard (diagrams, equations, etc.).

In time, that may change. In time, it will probably change. Yet I am getting quite tired of reading the handwriting of adults that wouldn't pass the muster of a grade 3 teacher.

4 days ago
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Mac OS X Yosemite Beta Opens

MacTO Re:Flat UI Design (165 comments)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

5 days ago
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Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

MacTO What's old is new again ... (176 comments)

MPW did something similar, only they used their own command set. This had a unique benefit: the output from MPW utilities often included commands that could be executed by clicking on the line with your mouse and pressing enter. It worked very well since the utilities themselves generated those executable commands, and users could extend upon the system with their own utilities. (MPW was a development environment after all.)

Here's the thing though, Xiki cannot do that because its trying to use existing Unix utilities and development tools. While the output from that software is usually intended to be used by other software (e.g. via pipes), it is rarely intended to be used by the shell itself. That means Xiki needs to understand how to interact with each piece of software. As a result, it will end up being an unwieldy mess of plugins and unsupported commands.

Don't get me wrong. The Xiki demos were doing some pretty neat and fairly useful stuff. In that sense, it is a success. The problem is that you'll never be able to use the full power of the metaphor because the software that it interacts with was never designed to interact in the way Xiki needs it to.

about a month ago
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Norway Scraps Online Voting

MacTO Re:What logic! (139 comments)

Calculators didn't present the risk of undermining mathematics. (Some people suggested that calculators would reduce people's proficiency at arithmetic, but it calculators didn't create invalid results.) Electronic voting does run the risk of undermining democracy. Even if the systems were secure with respect to voter privacy and vote tampering, the mere suspicion could influence people not to vote to change their vote or the question the results of an election.

about a month ago
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NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

MacTO Tax, don't ban ... (532 comments)

I'm not sure if it's appropriate in this case, but I'm far more in favour of sin taxes than outright bans.

Like I said, I don't know if I'm in favour of that in this case.

On the one hand, it is clearly a harm that a person is doing to themselves if it is even a harm at all. (On the latter: there are days when someone may drink excessive amounts of sugar water, even though their nutrition is good over all. Do we really want to place restrictions on that?)

On the other hand, poor nutrition is a huge social problem that industry contributes to. Even if you ignore their attempts to persuade people to make unhealthy choices through advertising (and yes, the bulk of advertising seems to be geared towards unhealthy choices), you also have to consider product availability. Consider the bulk of grocery stores. While they do offer plenty of healthy choices, the bulk of the floor is dedicated to prepared foods (including drinks) that are chock full of sugars. Consider eating out. Many places offer nothing beyond sugar water and coffee. Even the things that pretend to be juice aren't terribly different from soda, outside of the lack of carbonation. When they do offer proper juice, it typically has sugar added -- though certainly not to the degree that non-juices have. So if you don't have a healthy choice, people are usually going to make an unhealthy choice.

about a month ago
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College Offers Athletic Scholarships To Gamers

MacTO Re:Title IX (102 comments)

Some universities have a disproportionate number of women, so it is quite likely that the only gender related issue with a this scholarship is that it will probably attract applicants to programs that are male dominated.

about a month ago
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First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

MacTO They're a business ... (193 comments)

and their goal is to make money. Given the lack of popularity of Microsoft's mobile platform, it makes far more sense to ship Android devices with their products layered on top than it does to ship a fully Microsoft phone that will likely have limited uptake.

about a month ago
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World's First Large-Scale Waste-to-Biofuels Facility Opens In Canada

MacTO Re:Jerk off material for the Greenies (96 comments)

Oddly enough, you are talking about a part of Canada that known for its petrochemical industries and right wing ideologues ...

about a month ago
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China Leads In Graphene Patent Applications

MacTO Re:So now we can steal their IP? (86 comments)

I highly doubt that the solution is to abolish patents, though a great deal of patent reform is certainly necessary.

What we should de doing is looking at when patents are and are not useful, and modifying patent law accordingly. A lot of the analysis should be fairly straight forward to do. Patents themselves have to be registered, so we have records. When patent disputes are taken to the courts, we have records. Many, if not most, of the businesses that license patents have to publish financial reports. (Again, there are records.)

Questions can be asked and answered through all of that data. We can look at the optimal duration for patents for different sectors. We can look at what types of patents stimulate innovation, and what types of patents stifle innovation. We can even look at licensing practices in an effort to reduce the burden that patents place upon the courts.

It isn't all or nothing. Patents are neither entirely good, nor entirely bad. We simply need a way to separate the good from the bad so that we can keep the former and discard the latter.

about a month ago
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Workplace Surveillance Becoming More Common

MacTO Re:People assume they're watched. (195 comments)

While your phablet with an unlimited data plan may be invisible to to your employer's monitoring, your work ethic is not.ce,

about a month ago
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Computational Thinking: AP Computer Science Vs AP Statistics?

MacTO Re:AP Statistics isn't really computational thinki (155 comments)

The AP curriculum has probably changed over the years, but my AP computer science courses were computer science course. Yes, we learned a language. Yet we went beyond that to learn how languages (in general work), how particular algorithms work, as well as how to design and implement various algorithms. While the projects may have been boring by modern standards (i.e. we didn't frame the course in the context of games), the actual content and instruction was exciting.

about a month ago
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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

MacTO Re:22 (370 comments)

That depends. There are various reasons why someone can be out of work. Lack of skill or a poor fit for the job are definitely in the mix. Yet companies definitely go out of business, companies definitely downsize (where getting axed may have more to do with the businesses priorities than your skills), and a change in management at any level may mean job loss for professional or unprofessional reasons. Then there are people who simply want to change careers, because of job satisfaction or advancement rather than because of their ability to perform the job. The latter is definitely the hardest to contend with since you probably don't have the contacts that recognize your abilities or because the people in one part of the industry may not see your skills as transferrable to their part of the industry.

about a month ago
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Canadian Supreme Court Delivers Huge Win For Internet Privacy

MacTO Re:But (112 comments)

Certain financial institutions, educational institutions, and governmental institutions keep data on domestic soil simply to ensure that it is covered by Canadian privacy laws. That is true even if it is a foreign company.

That said, I have to wonder how much protection that data would have if the data was stored in Canada but accessed from a foreign nation. Say if the U.S. subsidiary receives a warrant for data stored by the Canadian subsidiary, and the U.S. subsidiary accesses the data in Canada from the U.S..

about a month and a half ago
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NVIDIA Is Better For Closed-Source Linux GPU Drivers, AMD Wins For Open-Source

MacTO Re:Hello there, Captain Obvious (185 comments)

If we are going to be honest about things, we should also look at why: neither vendor is enthusiastic about providing complete documentation on the products.

We should also be clear about some of the consequences. Better open source drivers provide a better long term solution under Linux. Yes, this is because Linux developers are somewhat hostile to closed source drivers. On the other hand, it is something that you should consider if you are using Linux.

At the end of the day, the choice depends upon what you're doing. What doesn't matter is a rule that considers a handful of measures. Some will prefer AMD under Linux based upon their priorities, others will prefer nVidia. It is also completely fair to prefer AMD for work computer and nVidia for your games computer; or AMD for your Linux boxes and nVidia for your Windows boxes.

about a month and a half ago
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EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

MacTO Who let the playground bullies loose ... (625 comments)

Seriously folks, what's with all of the hate? If a person can perform their duties, there is no reason to dismiss them regardless of whether obesity is a disability or not. That is a discriminatory practice. A person's condition is also no reason to speculate upon its cause without evidence. We have a name for that too, it's called prejudice. (There is the "bad habits" comment, but that actually provides very little information. Is it due to a lack of exercise? Is it due to overeating? Is it even a medical diagnosis?)

That said, I am a bit concerned about the "sit on the floor and play with them" comment made by Kaltoft. Childcare does involve a degree a physical endurance, since you have to be on your feet and moving all day. Heck, even playing with children involves some running around.

about a month and a half ago
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Greenland Is Getting Darker

MacTO Re:More climate lies (174 comments)

Try looking up albedo, then performing some calculations to figure out how changes in the albedo changes changes the local temperature. Finally use that change in temperature to figure out how much ice will melt. While your results won't be as good as those produced by experienced research scientists, the basics are well within the grasp of someone with a high school education. Indeed, it is a common exercise for first year students in the physical sciences.

Once you've done that, you'll be better equipped to assess whether or not this is a climate lie.

about 1 month ago
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Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales

MacTO Re:Not just that (127 comments)

I suspect that the gamepad has two issues. The first is that it is a more traditional gaming setup. Yes, it has the gimmick of the screen and it does have motion sensors. On the other hand, it is very much a sit-down and play type controller. So while it does offer new forms of interaction for a home game console, it doesn't offer anything beyond a handheld game console. For the casual gamer who doesn't care about analog sticks, d-pads, and buttons, it doesn't offer anything beyond a smartphone or tablet either. (Indeed, it offers a great deal less. It is less portable, more cumbersome, and harder to buy games for.)

So you have something that may appeal to more traditional players, but it is in a low-end console (compared to the current generation). On top of that, the controller is driving up the price of that console quite significantly. Instead of having a low end console at half the price of its competitors, you have a low end console at 3/4ths the price of its competitors. Is it any wonder why it is a hard sell?

about 1 month ago
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'Pop-Up' Bus Service Learns Boston Riders' Rhythms, Creates Routes Accordingly

MacTO Re:meet the new Bus, same as the old bus (51 comments)

Clearly you've never dealt with cities that used the design philosophy of suburban collector routes in their downtown core. In these cities, it is quite possible to get from A to B yet have no route going from B to A at certain times of day. A far more common scenario is that you walk for 2 minutes to catch the bus to work, yet for 15 minutes after disembarking the bus on the trip back home. On short trips (i.e. less than 1 hour by bus) it is frequently faster to bike because the planners have no idea where people are coming from or going to, so they map meandering routes.

As I mentioned earlier, this assumes that you stick to the core of the city -- ideally with an origin and destination in downtown proper. The population density in the core is also quite reasonable for mass transit, so there really is little excuse for this sort of design.

about 2 months ago
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Lego To Produce Three Box Sets Featuring Female Scientists

MacTO When I was a kid ... (208 comments)

When I was a kid, you simply replaced the hair to make a male figure female. It worked fine for figures with fairly generic clothes (as a scientist would have).

I don't recall sets being a big thing either. Then again, that may be because my family always treated LEGO as a creative building toy rather than models.

about 2 months ago

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