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VC Likens Google Bus Backlash To Nazi Rampage

Morbid Curiosity Re:Oy (683 comments)

Strangely enough, New Zealand has just rolled out a new "digital technologies" curriculum for high schools that was developed by educators and academics in consultation with local industry bodies and the government, working to find a set of standards that everyone was happy with. The five "strands" of standards are written in a way that's vendor-agnostic: for the "digital media" strand, they don't care if you use Photoshop, GIMP, or any other program or suite of programs as long as students can demonstrate their abilities in that area.

Over in the "programming and computer science" strand... well, the name is a good start. Alongside the design and implementation of programs, there's a three year set of standards on computer science concepts. Rather than just code-monkeys, students end up with a "T-shaped" body of conceptual knowledge about the discipline: broadly touching on a lot of areas, and deeply drilling down into a few, based on the combination of personal motivations and teacher capability. They should come out the end with a good appreciation of what computer science is and does, outside of just simply programs.

In order to get this working well, educating teachers and developing their capabilities is the key. This is especially important considering that in New Zealand, "computing" evolved as a subject from typing and "office technology", and so there are a lot of teachers out there with no recent background in maths and CS. They're highly motivated to teach the subject for the opportunities it'll give their students, but they have some (sometimes huge) gaps to bridge in skill and confidence. And in a country economically recovering from massive earthquake damage, professional development funds are hard to find in the government budget.

Luckily, we've got private industry coming to the rescue for once: sponsoring professional development workshops and funding the creating of resources to allow teachers to teach the standards. Doing it in a hands-off way that encourages communities of practice - people who are actually doing the work - to lead the charge and decide for themselves the most effective way to teach subjects.

One of the most significant contributors in terms of cash money is Google, through their CS4HS programme. There's certainly something in it for them: for an investment of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in airfares and research funding, they get a larger pool of better-educated graduates that they can attempt to skim the cream from in another 5-10 years. Of course, all the rest of our local tech companies and our national economy benefit from that, too.

about 9 months ago

Employers Switching From Payroll Checks To Prepaid Cards With Fees

Morbid Curiosity Re:Weekly/Monthly Salary (1103 comments)

Corporate scrip? That dystopian Cyberpunk future is sounding that much closer...

about a year ago

Iran Unveils Its Own Stealth Fighter Jet, the Qaher F-313

Morbid Curiosity Re:very very stealthy (260 comments)

There are good military reasons for using a mock-up for the cameras instead of a production model, especially when you're talking about something that ostensibly has stealth technologies. I very much doubt that Iran has never heard of OPSEC.

about a year and a half ago

Does All of Science Really Move In 'Paradigm Shifts'?

Morbid Curiosity Re:I see the problem (265 comments)

Even inside of clinical psychology, there are whole countries where the treatment of Freud is "...this is what people who've watched too much American TV think of when they think of clinical psychology, so you may encounter people expecting this kind of stuff in the field, and now on to actual clinical psych..."

about 2 years ago

Does Grammar Matter Anymore?

Morbid Curiosity Re:It's like this. (878 comments)

You're completely missing the point. We should be talking about the quality of Google's tools here. If Microsoft's Word can help Google's CEO with grammar, then why the hell Google's tools cannot. It just means that Google (and cloud) is lacking behind and desktop apps still rule.

So you're saying that Google doesn't have enough butt to compete with Microsoft Word?

(Try "lagging behind". Idioms are fun!)

more than 2 years ago

Kentucky Announces Creationism Theme Park

Morbid Curiosity Ahh, Kentucky. (648 comments)

The state that once had "Golgotha Fun Park", a mini-golf course themed around the life of Christ. It's just down the road from the "Hillbilly Hound Fun Park", "T.W.'s Redneck Golf" and "Dinosaur World". No, really.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Says Kinect Left Open By Design

Morbid Curiosity "Hack" means different things to different people. (215 comments)

The initial response was for the punters who might not want to buy a Kinect because "O NOES ITS BEEN HACKD!!11!". Because for people like that, it means that evil hax0rs can do things like watching you make an arse out of yourself waving your arms around in front of your TV (naked or otherwise).

The subsequent response is for the tech-savvy (dare I say it) hackers who might want to add value to their product by coming up with cool new uses for it, and who in turn misinterpreted their initial response as "O NOES M$ WANTS TO STOP U MAKIN COOL OPEN SAUCE KINECT HAX!!11!".

There's a disconnect between tech-driven communication and sale-driven communication from Microsoft, certainly, but in this case they're not saying incompatible things at all.

more than 3 years ago

Ubisoft Says No More Game Manuals

Morbid Curiosity Oh please. (400 comments)

There have been relatively few manuals I've needed in any form for the last 20 years. Of those, probably 80% would be fine as PDFs. The remainder are useful, informative and/or entertaining artefacts that contribute well to playing a game. And of those, they still don't compare to most of the things I got with Infocom games back in the 1980s.

So for all the dead tree purists out there: if you really cared about good paper manuals, you shouldn't have stood for so many of them sucking their way into irrelevance over the last couple of decades.

more than 4 years ago

Finding New and Unintended Ways of Playing Games

Morbid Curiosity Hooray for body-piling! (346 comments)

I'm guessing you've played a bit of Thief: The Dark Project in your time, am I right?

more than 5 years ago

Games Fail To Portray Gender and Ethnic Diversity

Morbid Curiosity Re:New Game idea (590 comments)

Being in New Zealand, I know which I'd hear the most about. Honestly though? It'd be more about how you applied the stereotypes. If you've got Custer in there, don't expect the Maori to be making do exclusively with taiaha and patu when there are perfectly good Snider-Enfields to be used.

more than 5 years ago

Games Fail To Portray Gender and Ethnic Diversity

Morbid Curiosity Re:Not diverse? (590 comments)

Oddly enough, I played that game with a black female protagonist (and not so I could look at her butt all the time), despite being a white male myself. Playing through some of the romantic dialogues was interesting - exploring my character's developing relationship with a guy was actually kind of a refreshing experience compared to some of the "romantic" storylines in various other games I've played. There was a good degree of emotional connection and character establishment in the story. I'm not attracted to guys myself, but with the compelling story I could see why my character would be.

more than 5 years ago

How To Help With a University ICT Strategy?

Morbid Curiosity Re:Use Moodle instead of Blackboard or Desire2Lear (149 comments)

I'm at a university that had WebCT, which then morphed into Blackboard and has just recently been replaced with Moodle. Having using those systems, both as a student and in teaching roles, I have to say that Moodle is just plain better. It's cheaper (TCO), more versatile and more usable. And much less prone to inducing rage :-)

Of course, that doesn't mean that it's invulnerable to screw-ups. If you lock it down from on high with One True Way of Using The System, then you're probably not going to suit the needs of different academic departments and their different kinds of students (CompSci versus English majors, for example). On the other hand, too little structure can lead to ongoing support problems in security, maintenance and training/helpdesk services. The trick is to find a balance that works across your institution.

more than 5 years ago

Software Converts 2D Images To 3D

Morbid Curiosity Re:Why bother (152 comments)

Actually, they're toroidal, just like us.

Damnit! I always thought cows were tauroidal...

more than 5 years ago

Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop

Morbid Curiosity "unknown author"? (1365 comments)

And here's me thinking the "©2009 Artem S. Tashkinov" at the end of the article was a bit of a giveaway.

more than 5 years ago

First Graphics Game Written On/For a 16-Bit Home PC

Morbid Curiosity Re:good memories (159 comments)

Scott Adams published his first adventure in 1978. Infocom published Zork for microcomputers in 1980. While they may have been relatively contemporary, Adams did most of his games alone or with at most one collaborator, compared to the group working on Infocom's technologies. They're both important pioneers, even if Infocom's efforts have dated better.

Bear in mind also that the original version of Zork and Infocom's interpreter was improved over the years, too. I can distinctly remember it being easier to play later in life - not just because I was older, but because it was a little more forgiving with its vocabulary compared to the original version (I booted up the TRS-80 to check).

more than 5 years ago

Auto Safety Tech May Encourage Dangerous Driving

Morbid Curiosity Re:Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis as applies to usability. (601 comments)

So wait, a plane switched to "landing" mode was being used for something other than landing, and then suddenly behaved in an unpredictable fashion by trying to land? I'm shocked!

It's not as simple as blaming "software fault" or "human error": it's in the interaction between the systems and the human, and the assumptions that each maintains about the other's actions in a marginally-stable, high risk environment.

more than 5 years ago

Auto Safety Tech May Encourage Dangerous Driving

Morbid Curiosity Re:Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis as applies to usability. (601 comments)

No, not at all. The lesson that if you hide the risks from people, they tend to make more risky decisions.

Rather than simply cushioning people from the risks in their environment, they need to be made aware of them and their consequences.

Anyway, geeks? Football? Going outside to play? That's crazy talk! :-)

more than 5 years ago


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