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Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

Ohio Calvinist Emergencies and No-Code Tech (358 comments)

I'd attribute growth to a renewed interest by people who were put off by the Morse code requirement to do HF. I've been licensed (beginning as a Technician) since 1997 and just do not have an ear for code. It's hard to say because I've learned a lot more and was pretty young when I got my license, but most people tell me that the tests for all classes have become substantially easier in in the past several years.

That limited my interest in the hobby and kept a lot of capable people from pursuing it. The cost has dropped somewhat too, and the internet has made it easier for the marginally interested and low-income enthusiast get a hold of used equipment... since a lot of HAMs buy new gear like most people change their underwear.

I work for a California county school agency and we pay for our employees training materials for their HAM license and keep a radio on every site that has an operator. We it because we have so many sites, many of which remote, that would be hard to reach should the telecom systems fail or reach overload. Each radio is programmed with the local repeater and 4-5 simplex channels. We've added 10 members who will probably do very little with it.

Katrina and other large scale disasters have shown people the fragility of the telecom infrastructure in a disaster. Cell phones hardly work in a crowded football stadium. I also think that a certain amount of survivalist folks are concerned about government lock-down of other communication resources during a man-made disaster or disturbance.

That said, I got a pacemaker in 2010, and have gotten mixed advice on how safe HAM is (most say well maintained base stations are OK, but avoid HTs given their proximity to the device and risk of unintentional grounding on the body.) Even if I don't use it again, I'll probably re-register "just in case" an emergency occurs or I get stranded on the roadside. So, the rolls might be more inflated.

more than 2 years ago

How Much Tech Can Kids Take?

Ohio Calvinist Technology is the first choice (240 comments)

I don't know what the appropriate amount, or kind of technology is appropriate. As an anecdote, I can say that using a calculator helped me focus on learning the concepts of calculus by reducing the risk of arithmetic error that might have reduced the amount of time spent "doing" the distinctly calculus parts. That said, my arithmetic skills have degraded. I am much slower and quickly reach for the tool. I think there is always a cost and benefit.

My objection is that too many schools see technological resources as "essential" to engage children, citing some developmental bent towards children wanting to consume learning from multimedia resources over traditional ones (text, lecture, etc.) I think this is a false assumption, and even if it were true, teaching Johnny to pay attention, to learn audibly, to use text-based resources (e.g. an index in a book, or guide-words in a dictionary) is as important as whatever skill the electronic resource is supposed to teach. Kids don't need iPads to learn to read, and don't need animated characters to follow directions. This assertion takes a lot of cheaper, valuable tools off the table through technology bias.

Further, my objection is that electronic resources may shift learning into easily tested means versus open-ended critical thinking. For example, many teachers like "clickers" which are glorified keypads or keyboards that students respond to questions on. The major benefit is simplified grading. These kinds of tools entice teachers, increase district costs, and divert students from having open discussion, debate, experimentation, and other critical thinking activities that aren't easy to implement in software.

more than 2 years ago

iOS 5 Update Available

Ohio Calvinist Re:As usual, not the first for the basics (473 comments)

I would agree that it isn't very useful for discussing the popularity of the product, because Android is in more (separate) consumer sectors, as you suggested.

For developers, the discussion might be more meaningful, as total number of installations represents a finite (hopefully expanding) consumer base. Granted, certain applications will probably never on all Android devices because of hardware limitations. However, general purpose low requirement software might see the growing low-end market as attractive.

There would need to be more information though, such as the purchasing habits of device owners at each product class and ecosystem. An android phone loaded with FOSS doesn't represent a potential customer to a marketplace/app-store vendor very well, regardless of capacity or installed base.

more than 2 years ago

EU Extends Music Copyright to 70 Years

Ohio Calvinist Beatles (536 comments)

Like Disney in America, the copyright length in Europe will slide to be b + 20, where b is the current age of the oldest Beatles song.

more than 2 years ago

Ex-Board Member Says HP Is Committing 'Corporate Suicide'

Ohio Calvinist Re:The difference... (394 comments)

Very good points.

My only objection is that 5% isn't very significant when considered with it's risk. HP could liquidate the entire unit and use the case to buy essentially risk-less treasuries at 3-4% (though the downgrade may cause some analysts to re-consider treasuries as a baseline alternative). That is only a 1-2% margin in a market that could turn sour quickly if their costs increase (labor or materials) or they continue to fail to provide a consumer product that rises above it's competitors.

If 30% of HP is only providing mediocre returns, it should find a unit that would be more productive with that ton of capital.

more than 2 years ago

Ex-Board Member Says HP Is Committing 'Corporate Suicide'

Ohio Calvinist Re:Gave up too quickly (394 comments)

There are two basic options--

Sell off the less profitable unit and divert that money into the more successful one. This is ideal if the company can obtain more market share with more capital (newer manufacturing, more manufacturing, more programmers to meet feature demands from the market.) If this is the case, they will be more profitable under the single activity.

It would be like having two part time jobs. If the opportunity arose, it might be more lucrative to quit one of them to go full-time on the other, if the other offers better wages.

Alternatively, the company can keep multiple divisions and accept lower profits. This is ideal if the market is unpredictable and the company is adverse to "put all it's eggs in one basket." It is also ideal if the divisions sell complementary goods.

Under both scenarios, the company should pursue continuous improvement in any operation is chooses to keep.

more than 2 years ago

California DNA Collection Law Struck Down

Ohio Calvinist Re:Suspicion comes before arrest? (192 comments)

No. Your vehicles' external properties are publicly visible. Physical attributes of your person are also being checked as you walk down the street by law enforcement. However, if a witness said a "red car" ran a red light, it would be unreasonable to detain all red cars, just as it would be unreasonable to detain all men or all men of a particular race because a witness claimed to be assaulted by a man, or a man of a particular race. If the witness said license ABC-123 ran the light, then it is more reasonable for the officer to question you, because there is a specific trait.

There is a significant difference when it comes to an officer ordering you to empty your pockets, open your briefcase, open your glove box or draw your blood if he or she has no more suspicion that you are guilty of a crime than he would be suspicious of any other random person.

You could make a case that it is unjust to have to place personally identifying information on the outside of the car where it can be readily searched without the officer having observed you break the law or otherwise have suspicion.

more than 2 years ago

California DNA Collection Law Struck Down

Ohio Calvinist Re:Suspicion comes before arrest? (192 comments)

If the person is arrested and there is compelling evidence, the court might allow for a DNA sample to be taken and compared against cases where there is a reasonable suspicion. Arresting someone (which can be done at-will, for almost any reason), so that the police can expand their DNA database and hope that the DNA search will turn up a match for some crime in which they previously had no suspicion is a pretty far reach and is sloppy police work. The issue is the burden in which the police need to draw the sample (ought to be more than the burden for arrest), the retention and maintenance of the data, and to what extent the police can use the DNA to try to develop further charges in which there is no reasonable suspicion.

more than 2 years ago

San Francisco Considers Ban On All Pet Sales

Ohio Calvinist For a change (733 comments)

I wish that environmentalist and animal rights activist would spend time actually educating and engaging the public and convince people on the merit of their argument, rather than use the government as a hammer against people who disagree with them. They are going to ruin some livelihoods and do next to nothing to eliminate animal suffering.

about 3 years ago

Amir Taaki Answers Your Questions About Bitcoin

Ohio Calvinist Re:Basically nothing new (262 comments)

The Euro is becoming worthless because it is poorly backed by the EU. The USD is becoming worthless because it is poorly backed by the US Government. Those currencies and the Bitcoin are backed by essentially "nothing." The difference is that the Bitcoin system will reach a maximum number in circulation. They cannot be (easily) devalued by monetary expansion. If you have one bitcoin, it does not become "worth less than it was" because new coins are flooding the market. Each coin is one-nth of the Bitcoin economy. The community of buyers and sellers, like all economies, will determine the relationship between bitcoins and real goods (price) and that price will remain rather stable, unless governments try to criminalize transactions, making them undesirable in and of themselves.

more than 3 years ago

Officials Agree On Global Nuclear Stress Tests

Ohio Calvinist Re:Eep (122 comments)

No, I do not trust the FAA. I trust the cost of a destroyed plane and civil liabilities (tort law), and reputation risk to cause airlines operate in ways that do not endanger passengers or their own assets. Planes will still crash from time to time because there are unavoidable risks and catastrophic failures in operating an incredibly complex machine at high velocity. There is no evidence that the FAA is inherently more safety-conscious or competent than their airlines own maintenance staff operating under their own directives. I do not believe the FAA is significantly reducing crashes.

more than 3 years ago

Can For-Profit Tech Colleges Be Trusted?

Ohio Calvinist Re:Charter schools. (557 comments)

Disclaimer: FT programmer for a K-12 school system, PT community college instructor.

For profit schools (including chartered public schools) certainly do have a different model when it comes to operation. Charter schools in the public system are competing for student apportionment from the state that would normally go to the traditional public system. They seek to operate with lower costs than the traditional public system (to maximize profit) while still providing an attractive offering to the community, usually though a specialized curriculum, alternative teaching/delivery method, or simply by avoiding bureaucracy. I would argue that charter schools who do not provide the educational service that the consumer desires are at greater risk for profit-loss than inadequate public schools are at risk for defunding.

In post K-12 education, for-profit schools balance the profit motive to widely accept any student with a pulse and reputation for rigor; where public institutions rely only on reputation (and subsidized tuition, attracting students on price). For profit schools, to attract students, tend to reach out to non-traditional students poorly served by the traditional system through convenience or liberal acceptance. Some do so unethically by misleading students. Others, simply see the economic value in giving students a chance who could not be accepted by not-for-profit institutions due to low GPA or entrance scores. These institutions gain credibility by increasing rigor, which the public system attacks though criticizing their low graduation rates, but neglect to cite their far more liberal acceptance policies. It begs the question "Is it better to admit a student more likely to fail, or hedge failure risk by placing a high wall on admission?" The public systems tends toward the later as subsidy planning (districting), geography and create a system with more demand than seats. (e.g. the Cal State system has a legal mandate to service x% of the college-bound population of California, with campuses generally operating in geographic districts.)

My only point of consideration would be to ask why non-profit public schools are any more worthy of trust? They have nearly no competition, and many are funded regardless of actual performance or community support by legislative fiat. The argument can be made that any competitive force in the private sector, so long as public schools are still taxpayer funded, should only improve them as their inadequacies (whatever they may be) become more apparent to the public.

more than 3 years ago

Can For-Profit Tech Colleges Be Trusted?

Ohio Calvinist Yes and No: As an Instructor (557 comments)

Disclaimer/Cred: I've been an instructor at a for-profit "tech" school, and at a NFP community college from 2008 to present.

While teaching at a nationwide chain of tech schools, I personally found the certificate programs to be of dubious value based on their high-cost, almost $14,000, and the mandated grading structure in which students that completed software guided "labs" and had daily attendance were mathematically incapable of receiving a failing grade. I also felt like admissions/recruitment staff overstated the value of the program, but that most students had more sober expectations than our marketing hype suggested.

(Note: I've found the actual degree track AS/AA or BA/BS or Masters programs to be of significantly higher quality. Granted, having gone to a large Midwestern university, I find the for-profit "college" experience to lack some of the extra-curricular qualities that I think heavily contribute to quality college education. Particularly at the AS/AA level, I find the career-ed (tech) coursework to be similar to accelerated CC offerings.)

While I felt the program was not in the interest of the student (and eventually resigned), I will admit that it did serve a population that would have been likely to fail in the community college environment. Additionally, it did give them minimal exposure to the industry that they would have otherwise had a difficult time getting. The most valuable service was career placement, in which most of them got jobs at very rudimentary scripted help desks, which could get them enough "experience" to get past the HR goons and maybe get some attention with vendor certs or good interviewing toward more hands-on tech gigs.

Granted, as I've sat on hiring boards, I would find the certificate alone to be of minimal value, and would identify more strongly with an untrained applicant who showed similar skills through self-education (e.g. repairing family computers, experimented with Linux, authored simple web pages) on the basis that self-education can be extremely valuable with a good on-the-job training program.

I try to make it a point to discourage college certifications (and to set realistic vendor certification expectations) and push the AS as being far more valuable to employers that also opens the door to 4 year schools should they decide to go. Most of the counselors at the for-profit or non-profit community colleges generally tend to encourage students to simply do whatever they've already chosen to do, which is usually certification as a low-hanging fruit, as most simply want to avoid the general education courses.

Unfortunately, the for-profit schools are doing a far better job of providing instruction of any quality that is often more ideal for working individuals. Working two jobs (FT programmer, PT instructor) and living fairly far from any university, has made me use University of Phoenix for my MBA program. As a student, compared to other peers taking programs in low-middle quality state-schools, I find UOP's offering to be comparable on content. That said, I do think that the accelerated nature does cause some topics to be handled superficially, and without proper self-motivation, promptly forgotten.

more than 3 years ago

Apple To Discontinue Xserve

Ohio Calvinist Re:No big loss (304 comments)

I do agree that redundant PSUs are an extremely valuable option, but aren't entirely necessary if you are running clustered application servers. Particularly in the Windows world, downtimes due to patch management and reconfiguration far outpace the agregate downtime of hardware failures.

That said, and acknowledging that it is not mutually exclusive, I'd wager that Apple has more to gain (and probably) wants to sell more servers to achieve redundancy and availability over providing fault-tolerant servers at higher per-server cost where price is an issue for smaller businesses.

more than 3 years ago

Apple To Discontinue Xserve

Ohio Calvinist Re:No big loss (304 comments)

If it is anything like IBM, it may void (or at least impact) any vendor support agreement, which can be critical for high-availability environments.

more than 3 years ago

Flash Can Rob 2 Hours From MacBook Air's Battery Life

Ohio Calvinist Re:I think this should be read more like... (509 comments)

The issue is that the majority of users care more about their transaction committing or their game not stoping in the middle of running more than they care about their CPU utilization. People use poorly written, crappy web applications to do (subjectively) important things. Browsers that interfere with those applications cause unpredictable application behaviors which cause user frustration. It also causes developer and support frustration if the client is making radical choices (particularly if those choices are obscured to the user.)

more than 3 years ago

Geocities To Be Made Available As a 900GB Torrent

Ohio Calvinist Re:I see TFA thinks to ask the same question I did (215 comments)

I would presume that the final ownership of the content is Geocities, or whomever purchased their properties, given the extremely provider-sided nature of most EULA/TOS/AUPs.

In this case, Yahoo, as the owner of Geocities, would likely have the right to distribute it.

more than 3 years ago

What If We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

Ohio Calvinist Re:Phoenix is the model? (380 comments)

The University of Phoenix has an interesting delima. They have a goal of offering as much opportunity as possible (lax admission standards), because it is profitable. I am an MBA student with the University of Phoenix, because I live in the middle of BFE, and drank way too much beer during my undergraduate program several years ago and graduated with a 2.5, which took a lot of schools off-the-table without a stellar GMAT score. Because of their lax standards of admission, they sign on a lot of students who simply cannot handle the program. I was enrolled on Academic Probation in which I had to maintain a 3.0 through the first four classes. During those classes, the quality of my classmates quickly improved as those who were not committed or incapable of the work dropped.

Phoenix gets penalized for giving students like me an opportunity to try to be successful in the program, but having a high failure rate when those students don't cut it in a program that is comparable to a lot of state-school MBA programs.

more than 3 years ago

Flawed iTunes Stands Out Among Apple's Products

Ohio Calvinist Re:iTunes is just a web browser and sqllite (390 comments)

I moved my entire iTunes library from a dying Windows PC to a new Mac Book Pro a few years ago. Given that the storage is XML, all I had to do was copy the old iTunes Library directory and change the path in the XML file using a big find & replace, it was incredibly easy (IMHO). I also did a similar thing by restoring a playlist I accidentally deleted from a backup by editing the XML file.

I am definitely not a fan of the scope creep that has worked it's way into it, the massive updates for reasons I don't care about, but generally speaking, on my Mac I've found it to work quite well, and at least decently on the PC. Though, I'm generally comparing it to Windows Media Player, which I find very unpleasant to manage playlists.

more than 3 years ago

I last bought 3.5" floppy disks ...

Ohio Calvinist Re:Last time was 99 (505 comments)

I know exactly what you are talking about. We had the exact same thing when I was in school. I used a floppy disk in 2008 to create a driver boot disk to perform a Windows Server install (because it wouldn't accept the driver over anything but a floppy) and I needed to get the server back online. At the university we had students 2001-2006 using them all the time for things. I've recovered a handful of thesis and a few dissertations from failed media working in the IT department. I don't know what it was, but we had a Mac OS 9.x machine with one of those "Superdisk" drives which was like a 120MB Zip disk that the drive also accepted floppies. No matter how corrupt, if it was recoverable, that computer would read it. It would practically read a slice of bread.

more than 4 years ago


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