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Comments

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Phil Shapiro says 20,000 Teachers Should Unite to Spread Chromebooks (Video)

Pollux Wow, do you have it wrong (101 comments)

I work in a K-12 school setting. And let me be up front about it...Google is Evil Empire 2.0. I'm not a fan of signing over 1,000 students to Google so that they can harvest personal data and target ad services to them.

But nobody, absolutely nobody does a better job at KISS than Google. With Google Apps, school districts can now setup dumb-terminal-2.0s (i.e. Chromebooks) at $250 a pop, teach almost anybody how to administer the @school.k12.xx.us user domain, and no longer depend on specialized staff for server administration. Kids have access to their files at home, at school, on vacation, on their Chromebook, on their school computer, on their iPhone... nothing else comes even close to this level of simplicity and usability. And while Google Apps doesn't cut it for power users, it does exactly what it needs to do for the average student and teacher. And schools are signing up in droves.

You're smoking the FOSS pipe thinking that schools can and will be willing to pay for techs who know how to work with Apache, MySQL, et al. And the iPads haven't failed in LA. There's been a setback, but they're still being deployed. (Though I'm sure not a fan of Apple by any means, either. Root canals are more pleasant than administering iPads.)

And as far as getting people in schools who have a clue about technology, stop your ranting and talk to your local school board member. They represent public interests in your neighborhood school. And besides, in my community, our board members are expecting me to add more tablet technology into our K-12 schools. Why? Because they're convinced that's how kids learn these days. The only way they'll see otherwise is if they get educated by people such as yourselves.

about a week ago
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Online Skim Reading Is Taking Over the Human Brain

Pollux Re:I have this "problem" (224 comments)

It is not entirely clear to me how this "problem" is hurting me.

George Burns was believed to have smoked 10-15 cigars every day of his life for about 70 years. He died at the age of 100. I'm sure it's not entirely clear to him how this "problem" of smoking was hurting him. (And he commonly joked about doctors advising him to stop smoking, often with a punchline like, "And the last doctor died 20 years ago.")

George Burns is just one anecdote, and one not representative of the common whole. The question we need to ask is not, "how is this problem hurting me." We should be asking, "how is this problem hurting us." And I would agree with the author; we stand to lose a lot.

If you are able, though it sounds like you may not be, I suggest you read Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury imagines a world incapable of deep thought resulting from the absence of books. I found it very enlightening.

about two weeks ago
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Minnesota Teen Wins Settlement After School Takes Facebook Password

Pollux Google is your friend (367 comments)

Rather than take five minutes to post your question, why not take five minutes doing a simple Google search to get your answer?

Better yet, post the answer to your own question and get some nice karma points.

Thanks for giving them to me instead.

And for the record, the comments were, "I hate a Kathy person at school because she was mean to me," and later, after being disciplined for that post, "I want to know who the f*** told on me."

about three weeks ago
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The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

Pollux This is not conventional wisdom (392 comments)

This is political wisecrackery with no legitimate basis to back it up. Congress has been informed for over seven years that this is an untruth. (Here's an article in Businessweekfrom all the way back in 2007 citing a study done by the Urban Institute debunking this myth.

This information has been reported to Congress on both the floor and in committee hearings. (Sorry, at one point, I had an old printout of one report supporting this statement. I can't seem to locate it, either in paper form nor on Google.) Congressional leaders willingly refuse to accept this truth, simply because there is more to gain politically by not accepting it. (Huge amounts of money are circulated by lobbyists in support of political agendas influenced by this...opening up more H1B visas, for example.)

about a month ago
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Wozniak Gets Personal On Innovation

Pollux All the other crap... (161 comments)

If someone loves history, geography, social sciences and is really strong in it, why do they need to do all the other crap?

I'll give you the same answer I give my students when they say, "Why do we have to learn this?"

It's very simple. Our nation depends on civil-minded productive citizens, and public education is an exercise in developing, strengthening, and disciplining the mind, very much like regular weight training does for muscles or general exercise does for the cardiovascular system.

Are you going to have to use all, or even a majority of, the information you learn in school? Heavens, no. But you'll be a more civil individual who behaves in a civil manner, which is a very necessary and productive requirement for the welfare and maintenance of our society.

It is certainly up for debate what information is necessary, or how it is presented and "exercised", in order to be successful at this endeavor. But there is no question that public education's primary purpose is not for an individuals rote memorization of facts as much as developing civil minds for the preservation of our nation.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Pollux Thoughts on the Koran (796 comments)

I've tried reading the Koran. So far, I've parsed the first eight Sura.

Even being a Christian and having significant historical knowledge of the Bible and its history, the Koran is still very, very difficult to understand for a westerner not familiar with the history of the Koran. There are significant direct references to Biblical, Arab, and Islamist events that are frequently made and referenced throughout its passages. Even more difficult are the indirect references. Many messages and commands require background knowledge in order to construct what is being said. If you want to study the Koran, you are best off taking a university course on it, or at least going to some community and/or Islamist center where the instructor knows and understands the material.

I found the Old Testament far more entertaining. Granted, all the lineages were a bit dry, and detailed blueprints of the Arc of the Covenant just don't help me day-to-day, ya know, but heck, collecting foreskins for a king to wed his daughter, that stuff's just good as gold!

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Pollux Personally read in 2013 (796 comments)

Tears of My Soul, by Kim Hyun Hee

If anyone would like to receive the best insight currently possible on the North Korean regime and how perverted their hold is on their citizens, then this is the book to read. But that's the icing on the cake. Anyone who seeks wisdom on suffering, listen to the words of a woman who blew up an airplane carrying 115 passengers and has to live with that fact for the rest of her life. She knows better than anyone what suffering truly is.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Convince Management To Hire More IT Staff?

Pollux Gonna pull a Four Yorkshire Men on ya, mate (383 comments)

Try one man, 1200+ users, 500+ machines, and 8 servers. Public school. Less salary than you can shake a stick at. But I'm passionate about K-12 public education, and I love helping kids. Don't like it? Tell your superintendent why, then walk away.

I think both you and I know that a school environment is not a business environment. A business generally has income dependent on productivity. A school has generally a fixed income dependent on student enrollment. If the submitter can increase productivity by hiring another employee, it's worth money to the company. If a school can increase productivity by hiring another employee, it doesn't mean jack squat.

In terms of your ratios, I have little sympathy. And take your rants out someplace else. It's not productive to the conversation.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Convince Management To Hire More IT Staff?

Pollux I was waiting for someone to say ROI (383 comments)

ROI: Return on Investment

I had the displeasure of working inside Walmart stores for four years. (Thankfully, not for them, just in them.) They printed on every one of their distribution packaging boxes at the time, "Collapsing this box and sending it back saves the company $0.11.) Now there's ROI as simple and as plain-as-day.

How much time is lost due to computer or program downtime? How much time is lost due to broken code? How inefficient is having programmers share in tech support duties? How much money is this costing the company? Tell the company what they save by hiring another employee, and they'll make it happen.

about 4 months ago
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Scientist Seeks Investment For "Alcohol Substitute"

Pollux Get Proctor & Gamble on the Phone (328 comments)

After their success with Olestra, I'm sure they have eager investors on speed-dial with money to burn on the next artificial-vice-substitute.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Isn't There More Public Outrage About NSA Revelations?

Pollux To answer your question... (610 comments)

Two words: Government shutdown.

And while that -is- the answer, there's a deeper meaning here. NSA spying is yesterday's news. People only care about today's news, and they only care about it for as long as it remains news. As soon as the shutdown is yesterday's news, we'll get angry about something else. Our nation's vane hubris keeps our minds tied to the present, leading our general populace to share little concern for the past.

What the NSA is doing is terrible, but the raping of our nation's economy by private financial interests is still far worse. Even more atrocious was starting a war with a foreign nation on false pretenses. But that's all behind us now. Let's get out there and raise our Don't Tread on Me flags against ObamaCare; we live in a democracy, and dammit, if we don't raise up our voice for what's wrong, we're not doing our patriotic duty.

(And if you don't understand the irony of that last sentence, then please don't leave a comment.)

about 6 months ago
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U.S. Spy Panel Is Loaded With Insiders

Pollux Wait a second... (330 comments)

Now that the government is shut down, does that mean the domestic spying program is also?

And while I'm at it, would it be unpatriotic of me to suggest that the government shutdown may be a tactful diversion from the domestic spying program? Snowden's Sunday leak was largely ignored Sunday by the major news networks in favor of the impeding shutdown.

about 7 months ago
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U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed

Pollux And there's the rub (1532 comments)

It's worth mentioning that House and Senate representatives and President ... will get paid through the shut down.

Let's introduce a constitutional amendment that clearly specifies in the event of the failure of the House to pass a budget to fund the federal government that salaries for all of its members, as well as members of the Senate, go unpaid.

They got themselves into this mess, because they personally have no skin in the game. If they each had something to lose, then they wouldn't gamble away what many others can't afford to lose.

Besides, one of my most hated acts in politics are these last-minute dealings. Say that, after months of negotiations, leaders of both parties reach a compromise in a meeting at 8:00 PM, then the House & Senate pass the bill prior to midnight. Does anyone ever wonder how the actual budget legislation gets published so quickly? Or who actually writes the bill? Or whether anyone has time to read what's in it before voting on it? One of the many crimes in government today is how so much legislation is passed by legislators who've never read it but only base their vote by what they think is in it.

about 7 months ago
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The Legal Purgatory at the US Border: Detained, Searched, and Interrogated

Pollux My two experiences that hit too close to home (555 comments)

My wife came back recently from a vacation to her home country. Green-card permanent resident alien. Detained at customs in the airport for three hours. She sat by herself in a room with no knowledge of why she was being detained. After three hours, an officer came into her room and said, "You're clear to go." She asked multiple times to multiple personnel why she was being detained, and everyone said, "We're not at liberty to say."

Six years ago, my sister-in-law was immigrating to the United States for the very first time. She came over on a fiance visa. Prior to her arrival, they had decided to wed in her host country before coming over to the United States. My brother called USCIS on three separate occasions to see if this would be acceptable.* Three times, the helpline said yes. When my sister-in-law arrived at her port-of-entry, the customs official casually asked where they were going to get married. My brother said that they had already wed overseas and had plans to visit the immigration office the following day to file the change-of-status paperwork. The officer immediately detained my sister-in-law, made a few calls, then provided her and my brother one last opportunity to exchange luggage, say goodbye, and then placed her on the same plane on the return flight back to her home country. There was no opportunity to argue, make phone calls to lawyers, senators...nothing. Another ten months, 32 pages of government paperwork, and $800 dollars in immigration fees later, and she finally stepped foot on American soil.

You show me a customs officer, and I'll show you a sadist. Nothing gets these people more excited than the opportunity to concurrently fight terrorism and inflict misery in the process.

* For those ignorant to the immigration process, the line between a spouse and a fiance is not as defined as you may think. In fact, most spouses immigrate to the United States on a fiance visa, because it's faster to file and process. (Google "Immigrating a spouse using a fiance visa" and find out for yourself.) But legal-story-short, the way my brother did it was not the way the customs agent accepted it, despite three different representatives at the USCIS saying otherwise.

about 8 months ago
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US Electrical Grid On the Edge of Failure

Pollux So how long until... (293 comments)

How long until the US Government censors this paper in the interests of national security?

Or how long until a commentator on Fox News calls the authors terrorists?

about 8 months ago
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Teens Actually Care About Online Privacy

Pollux But... (93 comments)

Did they weigh that variable at all against what percentage of their peers used the app? To what extent do kids care about privacy in the face of peer pressure?

Facebook demands substantial personal information about you, but last I checked, it's still the most popular social networking app kids use.

about 8 months ago
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Photocopying Michelle Obama's Diary, Just In Case

Pollux A better analogy (218 comments)

This is like when the NSA illegally spies on US citizens.

My point: some things don't need an analogy. This is one of them.

If I were to give it an analogy, I believe this would be the most fitting...

The NSA's surveillance program is like Soylent Green. Both are just so, so wrong.

about 8 months ago
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Snowden Gave 15,000 Documents to Glenn Greenwald; Obama Cancels Russia Summit

Pollux No, it won't be huge (531 comments)

If this is true, it would be huge. Citizens don't count for much in terms of US policy decisions, but an unfair boost to chosen businesses would tick off every other business in the US and abroad - the economic ramifications would be nothing short of tectonic.

I hate to be the cynic, but no, it wouldn't be huge. Politics has become the greatest spectator sport of the 21st century. Everyone has an opinion about what's wrong, but no one's willing to act on it enough to create substantial change.

We nearly hanged Nixon (and Ford for pardoning him) for Watergate. We have bigger scandals than Watergate happening today, scandals involving the usurption of our civil liberties by our own government, but no one's doing anything about it except complain. Like the boiling frog, we've become so acclimiated to these changes that I doubt we'll be able to leap out of the situation before it kills us.

about 8 months ago
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Geeks.com Online Shop Has Closed

Pollux WHAT?!? (187 comments)

I'm angry and sad at the same time.

First purchase was made back in 2001...pair of Benwin speakers....still with me this moment on my desk. Been a customer ever since. Even did many a purchase on behalf of the school district.

Too, too bad.

Does anyone else know of a good online fire-sale type vendor like CompGeeks?

about 8 months ago

Submissions

Journals

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Pollux Pollux writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I still have troubles spelling the word 'wit.' Of course, if I had comments enabled, I'm sure by now a mob of people less intelligent than I would try to drag me down to their level by flooding me with a deluge of posts regarding my incompetence.

But here's the great part about writing in a journal: I know journals get read, and I would bet the farm that they get read quite frequently. Everybody has an inner desire to develop a better familiarity with the "social realm", and /.'s only conduit for a social medium is through every wit posted to the forum. Since there's not much of a chance that anyone here will ever meet another /.er face-to-face (whatever happened to the /. meet-ups?), this is the only place where I can extend my arm, show you where to hang your hat, and sit you down on the back porch for a nice cup of coffee and my wife's sweet-and-sour chicken. But until that and delivering of beer over CAT-5 cable is made possible, let me be, I think, the first Slashdotter to say hello to you personally.

But what it all comes down to is this: we as people would (generally) prefer to isolate ourselves and live in peace and quiet rather than risk conflict by interacting with other members of our own human race. I see it on /. I see it in Egypt. I see it in the USA. And typically speaking, I find myself acting out in the same sort of way whenever someone gives me a chance in person to get to know them better.

And yet the irony of it all is that while we enjoy being left alone, we crave the attention of others.

Disagree with me? Then send me an email. Until then, I'll just keep writing entries about how people don't ever socialize with me.

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Pollux Pollux writes  |  more than 12 years ago

I can't believe it! Slashdot lets its users create journals! Wow...what do I write?

This is amazing. Imagine my surprise to find my own little personal haven here on the internet where I have it my way...completely my own way. The power of my own manifesto at my fingertips is mine for the taking! I can feel my heart pounding! My fingers shaking! My ego swelling!!!

BOW DOWN TO ME, PUNY MORTALS OF THE WORLD! I AM YOUR SUPERIOR INTELECTUAL BEING!

You will listen to my every whit, and marvel at my intelectual prowess. Your feeble, inferior, phantasmagorical intelects will adhere to my cosmolocial understanding of the mechanics of all existance! Every thought coursing through the infinite neurons crammed within my cranial chamber shall be revered and venerated with all honors and rewards found in every corner of the Earth.

BEHOLD ME!

-----

"I'm picking up on your sarcasm there."
"I'd hope so, 'cause I'm laying it on pretty thick."

And people wonder why Ted Kazynski was such a nutcase.

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