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Valencia Linux School Distro Saves 36 Million Euro

Rutulian Re:TCO (153 comments)

(though Linux does have non-stock application deployment packages available, like Puppet, that partially fill that last point).

You're kidding right? In addition to Puppet, which is a relative newcomer, there has been Satellite (http://www.redhat.com/products/enterprise-linux/satellite/) and Landscape (http://www.ubuntu.com/management/landscape-features) among others (Suse has one too). Where do you think the distros make their money? Now you may have meant there is no free application deployment and management software, but last time I checked Windows Server was definitely not free. If you need free, though, you can roll some scripts fairly easily, wrapping things like Kickstart with custom repositories (yum or apt) and services like Cobbler or Spacewalk (which Satellite is based off of), rsync, cron jobs, and ssh (for remote execution).

Linux AD-via-Samba quite simply doesn't even come close for the convenience of centralized GP maintenance,

I don't know what you are trying to say here. Why would you manage linux machines with a Samba domain? If you want the same functionality as AD on linux, FreeIPA is the most mature project, and it can integrate with AD via cross-realm trusts in the latest version. So you can manage a mixed Windows/Linux environment with the same core infrastructure. If instead you meant Samba as an AD domain controller for Windows, Samba4 is (mostly, 95%) a drop-in replacement for Windows Server. There are a few features missing, but you can provision and manage an AD domain via Samba with ease.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Login and Resource Management In a Computer Lab?

Rutulian Re:FreeIPA (98 comments)

Well, if it's linux, FreeIPA is better because then you can take advantage of group policies that are designed to work with linux. If you use AD, you will get authentication and that's about it. Now if you have windows+linux it's a bigger problem. In our lab we went with AD forsaking the advantages of FreeIPA for our linux users, but you could also set up both servers with a shared trust. It's a bit more complicated, but this is something RedHat are trying to develop into a turnkey solution.

about a week ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Rutulian Re:Silly argument (529 comments)

I agree it is difficult and challenging. It is not happening to me, but it recently happened to some friends of mine. What did they do? They tightened the belt, looked for temporary opportunities where they could, went back to school, and it is starting to turn around. I think they will be fine. They won't live a lucrative suburban life, but they didn't really want that anyway. They will survive at above the median wage, living in a modest apartment, driving old cars, and raising two children.

It would be ideal if it didn't happen at all, but really ask yourself, what's the alternative? Change, chance, and shifting jobs is a reality of life. We can't stop it. We can blame companies, but unless we are prepared to stop economic growth and development, we are fooling ourselves. Protectionism will not make the reality any easier to bear. They could have had government put a stop to the development of computers and robots that were taking jobs away from Americans in the 1970s. And then where would we be now? Still working shitty factory jobs for some other first world country that moved ahead and developed their technological sector.

I would argue that if the government is to do anything, it is to establish a solid safety net that will catch people as they fall and help them get back on their feet. Such a safety net used to exist, but it has been become far less effective than it used to be. Part of this is due to changing times, and part due to underfunding. So let's get it working again. The second, I would say, is helping to ensure that employees benefit from the growth of the companies they work for. I don't know exactly how to do this. It is not as simple as "wealth redistribution," but I think it needs to happen so that workers do not feel increasingly disconnected from their employers. Cultivate better relationships, and better ideas and a more productive work force will emerge.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Re:Summary is terrible (52 comments)

Uh, this is not just scientific curiosity. There are some deep practical applications to such technology. Newsflash, malaria is still a big problem in the world and many other efforts to combat it are failing. If we can target the mosquito population I. Ways that don't involve copious amounts of DDT, or inhibit the ability of Mosquitos to act as a vector for the disease, we may make some significant inroads finally.

While the 12 Monkeys doomsday scenario is popular amongst techies, I don't think we should discount a useful tool just because of a possibility for misuse. The authors themselves recognize the need to use it responsibly and develop an appropriate regulatory framework. From the article,

Ecological changes caused by gene drives will be overwhelmingly due to the particular alteration and species, not by the CRISPR drive components. That means it doesn’t really make sense to ask whether we should use gene drives. Rather, we’ll need to ask whether it’s a good idea to consider driving this particular change through this particular population. While gene drives could tremendously benefit humans and the environment if used responsibly, the potentially accessible nature of the technology raises concerns about the risks of accidental effects or even intentional mismanagement. In a new paper published in Science, we specifically address the regulation and risk governance of gene drive applications to promote responsible use.

about two weeks ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Rutulian Re:Silly argument (529 comments)

Three things:

Even in universities, where wages compared to the private sector are usually lower, IT workers get paid more than double other typical staff. Wage depression is not a big problem right now as far as I can tell. IT workers may not make as much as they think they should make, but that is a different issue. When average IT income starts to approach median household income (instead of being in the top quintile), then we might have something to talk about.

Few industries don't require you to establish yourself and work your way up fresh out of college. Even medical students have to go through residency hell before they can get their first permanent position somewhere. In some places moving up is quick, but starting at a low wage fresh out of college is more normal than abnormal. IT has not had this, for the most part, until recently, so count yourselves lucky, but it can't last forever.

When computing and automation started playing a significant role in the workforce, this exact same conversation happened with respect to the then factory workers and office workers. Did all office or factory work disappear forcing everybody to work slave wages? No, the job landscape changed requiring fewer, but more highly skilled people. Some people will be out of a job. They will have to retrain or change fields. This is what happens. It may take some time, but ultimately those workers end up employed in new areas and growth in other industries occurs as a result.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Re:"Entire Ecosystem" (52 comments)

Yes, but the CRISPR system can be designed to work precisely with a single species, because the targeting sequence can use non-homologous regions of genes that are similar between species. So in your horizontal gene transfer case it would die out after the transfer event into a new species. Another potential safeguard is to put the CRISPR system in a different locus from the mutation, so that horizontal gene transfer events would be very unlikely to transfer both functions into another species.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Re:"Entire Ecosystem" (52 comments)

the mechanisms used to disseminate the genes to the target organisms are going to have to look rather virus like as it's unlikely you're going to try to catch every Cane Toad in the swamp to give them a shot.

The entire point behind the method is to not have to do this. You make one genetically engineered organism that then breeds passing on the desired trait, only in such a way that inheritance is biased toward the desired trait so that it isn't lost by "dilution" into the gene pool.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Re:"Entire Ecosystem" (52 comments)

Yes, but the elegance (and limitation) of this system is that it requires sexual reproduction to work. So if the two organisms don't inter-breed, the traits cannot be passed.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Re:"Entire Ecosystem" (52 comments)

Except they didn't say "entire ecosystem". They said "throughout the ecosystem," meaning engineered organism deliberately and purposefully breed with non-modified organisms thus creating a large-scale change in the ecosystem.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Re:Silly orthography (52 comments)

This is a it more elegant and controlled, in that it basically just suppresses reversion back to wild type after a mutation has occurred. Nothing else, no need to crest a bazillion untargeted copies all over the place. The process of gene editing (not new) becomes cleaner, which is something greatly needed.

about two weeks ago
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Genetically Modifying an Entire Ecosystem

Rutulian Summary is terrible (52 comments)

Summary is an excerpt of an article highlighting some potential use of technology developed by George Church's lab at Harvard (and others). It is actually some pretty incredible stuff. Church's first published the adaption of the CRISPR system to gene editing in eukaryotes a few years ago. Basically, it works like this. CRISPR is a bacterial defense system where an enzyme (endonuclease) is directed to cut a specific DNA sequence by it's directly adjacent targeting sequence. Bacteria use this to protect themselves from viruses. When a virus tries to insert itself into the genome of a bacterium, CRISPR will cleave that sequence (if the bacterium has the appropriate targeting system) and subsequent DNA repair processes will occur that will excise the viral sequence. You can think of it as a pseudo-immunity system for bacteria against viruses. Like other DNA sequences, CRISPR sequences can be transferred between bacteria in a population allowing for broad-ranging resistance to viral infection to occur within a bacterial community.

The innovation by Church's group is to put the CRISPR system in eukaryotes. Introducing modified genes by homologous recombination has been around for a long time, but the problem with most eukaryotes is they have multiple copies of each chromosome. So a modification in one copy will get diluted out over several rounds of replication. By including the CRISPR system in the mutation that targets the original gene, a mechanism is supplied to allow a modified gene to quickly spread throughout the population. This makes genetic modification of eukaryotes much more efficient and easier to control.

Now, while safely applies in a laboratory system, the ecological consequences of using such a system in a natural setting are unclear. This is the purpose of the article: to raise some of the issues and possibilities to begin a discussion about how such a system might be used safely and what sort of regulations may need to be put into place. The article does quite a good job of illustrating some scenarios. Here is what I consider the meat of it, but of course other scenarios exist as well.

Why and how might we use gene drives to intervene in a particular ecosystem? Our earlier example is perhaps the most compelling: we might use gene drives to control malaria by altering Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit the disease. Anti-malarial medicines and insecticides are losing effectiveness due to evolving resistance, while a vaccine remains out of reach despite intense research and investment. Gene drives, in contrast, might spread genes conferring malaria resistance through the mosquito populations with few if any effects on other species. Alternatively, they might be able to reduce or even eliminate the mosquitoes for long enough to permanently eradicate the malaria parasite. Similar strategies could work for other organisms that spread disease.

Just want to put that out there so that a somewhat productive conversation can hopefully happen here.

about two weeks ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Rutulian Re:Silly argument (529 comments)

It's really amazing how much revisionist rubbish gets spouted on Slashdot and treated as gospel. Companies have always since forever viewed their employees from the perspective of a cost-benefit analysis. That is no different now than it was in the 50s or earlier. Why do you think we have things like unions, labor laws, OSHA regulations, minimum wage, etc? When a company seeks to cut costs they will, plain and simple.

The reason companies were willing to train workers in the past was because they had to, not because they were somehow more benevolent toward their employees. Factory and office jobs were on the upswing. People coming out of school, not necessarily high school, didn't have the skills they needed, so they trained them. This, by the way, was a minimum wage job, and factories were installed in small rural towns for a reason.

Now it is different. We are no longer talking about minimum wage factory jobs. We are talking about highly skilled $100k+/yr + benefits tech jobs. It really shouldn't be surprising to anyone why a company wouldn't want to invest in a year of downtime in training, especially when people hop jobs in 2-3 yrs. Yes, a PHP developer can probably become a Perl developer rather quickly, but a DBA cannot become a Perl developer as easily. And why should a company be forced to pay for that anyway? If they can't hire who they need locally, they should be able to look elsewhere. When a company wants to hire fresh grads, how many of those are Americans? Some, but not many.

Tech is experiencing right now what every other field has experienced in the past. They have been shielded from it until fairly recently, but it can't be avoided anymore. The tech workers that can adapt, of their own volition, will probably not have trouble finding decent jobs. The ones that whine and complain because great high paying jobs aren't just handed to them fresh out of college will struggle a bit. Welcome to the rest of the world gentleman. It is not going to go away.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

Rutulian Re:Debian-3 (176 comments)

No, Red Hat 6 series used kernel 2.2 and libc6, and Corel definitely ran on it, I remember doing it. Don't know what the problem with Debian was, but it may have been a Wine issue.

about a month ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Rutulian Re:mixed bag (519 comments)

Are you telling me that no tenured teachers are actually bad, and should be fired? Because I can tell you the number is somewhere between 0% and 15%.

No, where did I ever say that? I'm only disputing the claim that you have to get rid of tenure because it doesn't do anything but protect bad teachers. And the subclaim (not yours) that the only way to deal with bad teachers is to fire them.

I agree with everything else you said. I still despise standardized tests, though. Mostly because they fail to distinguish between students who have actually learned something and students who just studied for the test. I do also insist, especially at the high school level, that the home environment and support from the parents is critical for effective learning. In AP classes, you don't see this because students, for the most part, don't take AP classes unless they are motivated to learn. In other classes, not so much. If a teacher doesn't know how to or can't succesfully engage these students, do they still deserve to be fired?

But I'm more talking about the state teachers' union, the CTA, which is the #1 donor to political campaigns in California.

I would suggest avoiding legal remedies, as it is a blunt instrument that people understandably resist when they perceive it as against their interests. Instead, work with the local districts and teachers unions. Come up with effective solutions that both support. When this happens at a sufficient scale, more will follow.

about a month and a half ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Rutulian Re:mixed bag (519 comments)

Tenure means you can sit in the back of the classroom and read travel magazines all day, like my AP Physics teacher did, while the class does nothing but take problem sets. That the class then passes around and then grade.

And yet, a tenured teacher can also be like my AP Calculus teacher who put together the best curriculum I have ever been through. So maybe tenure isn't really the problem. I don't know anything about your AP Physics teacher. Was he a passionate physics teacher ever? Was he an english teacher that got promoted to physics? How much of this can be avoided by looking at hiring/evaluation practices and creating an environment where teachers are encouraged and supported to put effort into their classes? My AP Calculus teacher retired early. She loved to teach, but after some 30 yrs, the district bullshit was just too much, and at the time the administration was putting a lot of pressure on senior teachers to retire (because they wanted to save money).

Teachers themselves are - and with good reason - paranoid about whatever evaluation system is implemented, but the CTA opposes everything in practice.

I agree the teacher unions could be a lot more cooperative. But then teacher unions and administrators have had a long history of animosity towards each other. They don't trust each other. Has anybody asked teacher unions to develop an evaluation method that they would support? That would be a good place to start. If the feeling is that somebody is coming in from the outside with a lot of demands, no actual teaching experience, and no consideration for complexities arising from learning disabilities, language barriers, or socioeconomic status, I think they are right to be skeptical.

Which is, again, why we need a comprehensive and fair evaluation system. If teachers could lose tenure by scoring abysmally on a standardized content knowledge test, but keep it otherwise, then only the incompetent teachers could be fired. And only then if their principals thought they weren't salvageable. Teacher training programs can be effective at fixing these issues.

I agree. This is a good example. Teachers can't teach something they don't know.

But I will tell you that if Johnny comes in to your English class knowing 5000 words in the English language, and walks out of your class knowing only 3000, then you're failing at your job as an English teacher. Fair assessments can track this sort of thing.

I agree. But honestly, my first reaction to seeing a result like that is that there must be something wrong with the test, not the teacher. I don't know how someone just forgets half of their knowledge or how a teacher can induce someone to forget half of their knowledge. More likely, they intensively studied in an ineffective way for the first test. They knew enough to pass the test and then immediately forgot everything. They could have done the same thing for the second test, but then is that a useful evaluation? How much does that student actually know? Another thing to consider, is regurgitating vocabulary an effective way of measuring a student's mastery of the English language? How about prose, composition, grammar? Can they actually use all those words that they know, or just recite definitions?

You might also be interested in the firing rate comparison between public and private schools here: http://teachersunionexposed.co... [teachersunionexposed.com]

I note the difference in firing rate. And yet there is little to no evidence that private schools offer a better education or have better outcomes than public schools.

about a month and a half ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Rutulian Re:mixed bag (519 comments)

And yet the way the system actually works in practice? Young teachers with interesting new ideas get forced out of the system. The system is very hostile to people trying to do something different or interesting. It grinds you down and makes you quit.

Uh, sure, but is that because of tenure? I doubt it. Are experienced teachers blocking good ideas and protecting themselves from younger teachers with tenure? No, not likely. Experienced teachers are protecting themselves from administrators. The younger teachers don't have this protection, unfortunately.

Well, this is true. But it protects good and bad teachers equally.

That is what I said above, but what would make this discussion more interesting would be some numbers. Exactly how many bad teachers are there? As a percentage of total teachers? And how many of those bad teachers have been identified as needing to be removed, but are being blocked by tenure? In my experience, "bad teacher" is often "teacher I don't like" which is another reason tenure exists.

Protects teachers that push against the administration. Not teaching to the test, enriching the curriculum, doing what might be considered risky things by some ( lab experiments, field trips, etc). Administration often doesn't want this, because it creates headaches for them, but teachers want it because it enhances the education of their students.

Hah.

Hahahaahahaha.

Why is that funny? NCLB didn't come from teachers. This has been a battle between teachers and administrators for a long time as well, since before NCLB. I'll grant that there are plenty of teachers that just do what they are told, but the exceptional ones are the ones that want to do more.

Again, doesn't happen in practice.

Source: I've been an evaluator for school districts for over a decade.

Political influence happens in a lot of different ways. Curriculum decisions, text books, required coursework, etc. I agree that it is rare for specific teachers to be targeted, but any teacher that wants to work against political influence will be vulnerable.

There's a lot of fairly easy ways to test the performance of teachers, such as taking the delta of students' standardized test scores from the previous year and from the current year. Classroom observations and the like (which I'm sure you were referring to) are universally subjective and pointless.

All evaluations are subjective. Just because you can put a number on something doesn't mean it is helpful or meaningful. I don't give a rats ass about standardized test scores. It is fairly trivial to teach people how to take tests. And sure enough, all of the 1600 SAT score people took test prep courses. It says absolutely nothing about actual knowledge or critical thinking skills.

The reason we don't have a systematic method of evaluating teacher performance boils down entirely to the issue of teachers unions blocking them. Without data, it's hard to say who the bad teachers are, and the process of firing them is so convoluted and lengthy that most districts don't even bother.

Teachers unions have supported and called for effective evaluations for a long time. Test scores are easy to get and process, but are not very effective. Tell me about efforts to do something beyond the bare minimum for evaluations and we will have something to talk about. It doesn't have to be classroom evaluations. It could be periodic interviews and continuing ed courses, for example. I don't know. Test scores can even be a part of it, but they can't be the only metric.

about a month and a half ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Rutulian Re:mixed bag (519 comments)

That is a pretty dire picture of the classroom that you painted. It makes me wonder where you went to school, because that was not my experience at all. Tenure abuses at the primary/secondary school level (Uni tenure is a different beast entirely) might have been there, but I didn't see them. Bad teachers were there for sure, but that is why I propose looking at the evaluation system for teachers, rather than tenure, which is a bit of a red herring.

about a month and a half ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Rutulian Re:mixed bag (519 comments)

Just my personal pet theory, but I think it is because school administration is often a stepping stone to higher political careers on the school board, city council, etc. Education is really the least of their concerns. They are more interested in putting on a good face for the political elite, newspapers, activist groups, etc. And they often have only token teaching experience. Their training and their aspirations are to be administrators, not teachers, so they don't easily empathize with the task and problems of teachers.

about a month and a half ago
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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Rutulian mixed bag (519 comments)

Tenure is a mixed bag. Yes, it can protect bad teachers, but it also...
      1) Protects experienced senior teachers. You might not think this is important, but guess what? Older, experienced teachers are generally more expensive and have more political influence. Hip new administrator comes in, wants to to change things up, slim down the budget. Get rid of the older teachers first beacuse the younger are cheaper and easier to control.
      2) Protects good teachers. You know the ones that actually teach and care about education, and don't just give A's to everyone for showing up and sitting at their desk. Actual teaching and enforcing academic standards tends to upset certain kinds of parents. Administrators don't like vocal and upset parents.
      3) Protects teachers that push against the administration. Not teaching to the test, enriching the curriculum, doing what might be considered risky things by some ( lab experiments, field trips, etc). Administration often doesn't want this, because it creates headaches for them, but teachers want it because it enhances the education of their students.
      4) In areas with strong influence by outside political groups, protects teachers that teach controversial subjects. Science vs. creationism is one example, but certainly not the only one. History, economics, literature, art...all of these can have controversial topics. Of course, we don't really teach these anymore, but that is a different topic.

Whether or not tenure exists and how it is granted is really missing the point. If you want to improve the quality of teachers, we need to be looking at the evaluation systems that are in place, whether they exist, and why they may or may not be working. Most teachers simply are never evaluated ever, or they are evaluated in completely useless ways. Address that, and then maybe we can deal more easily with underperforming teachers, adjusting the tenure rules as necessary but keeping its major benefits.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality?

Rutulian Re:"we provide network access as part of rent" (185 comments)

Water is not billed to you by consumption because in many places that is illegal. It is billed to your apartment complex ( ie property owner) by consumption, though. The Internet connection is almost certainly not. It is a flat rate to them and should be a flat rate to you as well.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Can you trust Wikipedia?

Rutulian Rutulian writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Rutulian (171771) writes "The somewhat provocative title is a quote from an article in the Boston Review that discusses some of the history and current happenings in Wikipedia world. The fundamental questions are "What makes Wikipedia work?" and "What is needed for Wikipedia to continue to thrive in the future?" Some excerpts from the article,

Most inclusionists were not extremists: they did not favor articles on that morning’s breakfast. But in a vast range of cases, they thought that limited and imperfect information was better than nothing. Deletionists disagreed, and to resolve the many borderline cases, the community had to find an objective and quantifiable metric for discrimination. Neither cash nor file-size could do the job, so they settled on the principle of notability: “a topic is presumed to be notable if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.”

In many cases, however, notability cannot be determined even by following thoughtfully developed guidelines. It is, for example, much harder to verify the notability of a figure from the 1920s than from the 1990s. Most of the important characters of that earlier era are gone from public memory, and newspaper archives from those days cannot be accessed easily online (where Wikipedians spend most of their research time). Given that the flow of articles on Wikipedia far outweighs the attention span of its editors, the latter often have to make the same tough choices that print editors do: why waste a day improving one hard-to-nail-down article when one can improve a hundred?

Any thoughts from the Slashdot crowd?"

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