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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Software To Organise a Heterogeneous Mix of Files?

ThousandStars How to use Devonthink Pro (254 comments)

I don't have a perfect answer for you, but I can tell you that I use Devonthink Pro as described here by Steven Berlin Johnson. In addition, I have a large "random" folder that consists mostly of snippets of text found in articles on the Internet.

This isn't your ideal solution—as you've noted, DTP is currently OS X only—but it does work pretty well for me, especially when I'm thinking about a general topic and need to find information on it. I even wrote a post about the similarities between Joyce's method of composition / finding material and how Johnson uses DTP.

more than 3 years ago
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Clearwire Sued Over WiMAX Throttling

ThousandStars One word: Good (166 comments)

When Clearwire did this to me, all I did was write a lousy blog post about it and tell my friends not to use their service. Seeing something more substantive is impressive.

more than 3 years ago
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Clear Has Nationwide Outage

ThousandStars ... and I was one of them! (89 comments)

The troubled WiMax provider (also known as Clearwire) has had many user complaints of throttling, over billing, overloaded towers and system congestion, and of misrepresentation of the service offerings in ads and by resellers,

I was one of them and wrote about the experience here. The short version: they don't advertise their bandwidth throttling and don't warn when they do throttle your bandwidth. My roommate and I thought they'd be a useful alternative to conventional ISPs, but they turn out not to be.

more than 3 years ago
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Cheaters Exposed Analyzing Statistical Anomalies

ThousandStars Re:This doesn't prove anything (437 comments)

... if you, or the mods who gave you +3, had read the article, you'd know that statistical anomalies are brought to human attention for further investigation. These systems merely flag unusual patterns and say, "Hey, you might want to take a look at this."

more than 3 years ago
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Just One Out of 16 Hybrids Pays Back In Gas Savings

ThousandStars Re:I didn't buy one for the payback (762 comments)

The thing is, if you are TRULY concerned about the environment (and must drive a car), then you would buy a used car.

Ceteris paribus, you can't get an equivalent used car with the overall lifespan of the new car; in addition, if you buy a used car that someone else would've bought for the same or a slightly lower price, the person selling the car can buy whatever they want -- which might not be the green car you would've bought.

In addition, some people want the lower hassle factor of a new car, with the low probability of breakdowns and the high reliability that such a car entails.

more than 4 years ago
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The Real Science Gap

ThousandStars Philip Greenspun and Women in Science (618 comments)

Anyone interested in this subject should read Philip Greenspun's essay Women in Science. Ignore the borderline sexist stuff about women and pay attention to his comments about the structure of science in the United States and the opportunity costs of pursuing a career in science.

As he observes: "Adjusted for IQ, quantitative skills, and working hours, jobs in science are the lowest paid in the United States." And he's right. And then people wonder why more Americans don't go into science.

Unfortunately, I'm posting this a bit late in the game--there are 400 comments already--so it's not likely to get modded very far up, but those who actually care about science in the United States should read this.

more than 4 years ago
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Best Solutions For Massive Home Hard Drive Storage?

ThousandStars This should be modded up (609 comments)

The parent post should be modded up -- I came to this comment thread specifically to mention a Drobo. I don't actually have one because I haven't needed the storage, but they've gotten stellar reviews online. They also appear to scale up relatively easily from the cheap 4-drive Drobos to the bigger 8-drive ones.

One other thing you should consider, especially with a lot of people recommending dedicated servers, is power consumption: the bigger and heavier the box, the more you're going to pay in monthly power bills. This is one reason why using an old computer that's sitting around and stuffing 6 HDs into it might not be an optimal solution: if it costs you another $10 - $15 a month in power, you can relatively quickly spend your way out of whatever savings you've nominally achieved.

more than 4 years ago
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Pointing Stick Keyboard Roundup

ThousandStars The EndoraPro is a Model M (195 comments)

I believe the Unicomp EnduraPro is the same basic design as the Customizer/Space Saver keyboards, which are reviewed at the link, and those in turn are modern Model Ms.

For those of you seeking the One True Keyboard, take note.

more than 4 years ago
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Lower Merion School District Update

ThousandStars Re:They are dealing with the dialectic of parents (367 comments)

The parent poster is basically correct but should include one other point: teachers and administrators are in the impossible position of trying to please (or at least placate) all parents, or at least all parents who want to fight whatever it is that the school district wants to do. You can see these kinds of problems with issues like evolution or sex ed; parent 1, Christian lunatic, doesn't want evolution taught, while parent 2, scientist, wants their child educated. Either way, the school will take heat.

It goes deeper than those obvious examples, of course, and the major fact/issue is that trying to please one constituent or set of constituents will anger another. Try to regulate the clothing girls wear to school? It might infringe on freedom of speech or expression. Don't regulate it? A parent will complain to the newspaper that girls are dressing in that dreaded way: "inappropriately." And the list goes on...

more than 4 years ago
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Mexico Will Shut Down 25.9 Million Cell Phones

ThousandStars I'm likewise torn (370 comments)

I'm with you. The Fall of Mexico from The Atlantic should be required reading for anyone interested in what's going in the country. One thing the article points out that makes me wary is the apparently growing integration of the military with the drug cartels--as a result, forcing Mexicans to register their phones might make Mexicans safer by making it easier to track phones that are being used for crime--or less safe as the military and police abuse the knowledge that such a plan brings with it.

One thing is clear: the country has some profound problems at the moment. And I'm not convinced this plan will solve them.

more than 4 years ago
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US Sits On Supply of Rare, Tech-Crucial Minerals

ThousandStars Re:More than a short term supply problem (324 comments)

One thing that does not seem to be talked about much is that all rare earth metals will be completely depleted, in any practically extractable reserves, within the next 50-100 years.

The problem with these kinds of projections is that they almost invariably forget to take technological change into account; Malthus predicted that humanity would starve to death because of food shortages in the late 18th Century, whale oil was unsustainable until the discovery of underground oil, and horse shit threatened the viability of cities until the development of the automobile (which then threatened cities through emissions), and various people have predicted peak oil at various times going back to the early 20th Century.

Now, we will eventually face peak oil, but that date keeps getting pushed further back due to advances in extraction technology. But by then hybrid/electric cars or other, unforeseen technology may have rendered the point moot. Rare earth metals might be completely depleted in 50 - 100 years, assuming that the ability to find and recover such metals doesn't improve and that recycling technology doesn't make original harvesting moot (imagine if someday all the technological garbage we've shipped to China and Africa makes those countries rich through the trace metals that become recoverable).

This isn't to argue that we should wantonly strip mine every metal deposit conceivable, or that just because false alarms sounded in the past doesn't mean true alarms won't sound in the future. But the fairly long history of worries about resource depletion, followed by the obviation of that resource or by the discovery of new deposits, means that I don't think most of us should be wildly worried about the possibility that rare earth metals will disappear in 50 years.

more than 4 years ago
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In Israel, Potential Organ Donors Could Jump the Queue

ThousandStars Re: Far right Jews and jobs (582 comments)

far right Jews is that most of the guys are in some form of learning program, so the women are often the primary breadwinners. This leads to the average Jewish woman on the far right having more education and job training than her husband.

This is somewhat true; the term for ultra Orthodox Jewish men is "sit and learn," and chiefly the Talmud. Rebecca Goldstein's novel The Mind-Body Problem discusses this phenomenon extensively.

It's not quite true to say that the average woman has more education, since most of their businesses are of the small, shop-keeper / mender / teacher types (and teacher doesn't mean "M.A. and in public schools." It means "high school education then teaching at the Yeshiva"); it would be more accurate to say that many women in that culture have a larger direct financial impact on the world.

more than 4 years ago
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Professors Banning Laptops In the Lecture Hall

ThousandStars Re: And one I make (664 comments)

I'm a "GAT" (meaning I teach an independent class) at the University of Arizona and ban laptops in my class for this reason and others, as explained here.

more than 4 years ago
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Professors Banning Laptops In the Lecture Hall

ThousandStars For a (slightly) more developed take: (664 comments)

See my post, Students, Laptops, and Distraction: Hardly a Surprise, in which I link to a bunch of articles dealing with some of the research and ideas behind technological distraction (and how it differs from doodling in the margins). I'm a grad student in English at the University of Arizona consequently have to face the laptop/no laptop issue in writing classes and decided on the "no laptop" side, as explained at the link.

(A quick rebuttal of the predictable hit-n-run commenters: this doesn't mean I think every professor/teacher should ban laptops or that laptops are bad in other circumstances. I know that you don't misuse your laptop, and that such a policy is unfair to have the majority behavior dictate rules affecting the minority like you, but I talk about that stuff at the link.)

more than 4 years ago
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Correcting Poor Typing Technique?

ThousandStars For what purpose? (425 comments)

If you're worried about medical issues or carpal tunnel, try the Kinesis Advantage Ergonomic Keyboard, which might help you a) improve your posture and b) type faster. I've been using one for about nine months and think I probably type faster than I once did, although this might be the placebo effect. The company also includes a short guide with typing exercises that should help you adjust.

From switching, I learned that I didn't hit the "c" key correctly and that a wider hand stance is vastly more comfortable than conventional keyboards. But in the end I've found that my biggest problem isn't with typing speed, but with thinking speed, and that hasn't improved with a nicer keyboard.

more than 4 years ago
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Pen Still Mightier Than the Laptop For Notetaking?

ThousandStars Re:Let them be distracted, it's their choice (569 comments)

I guarantee that there are students who would learn better with them.

Maybe: but I'm skeptical, and I'd love to see evidence of this, and think the burden of proof on the person asserting it. I also don't mean to use ad hom attacks but nonetheless strongly suspect that you're not a teacher. The experience of many teachers seems to indicate that computers are often a greater burden than benefit. I don't see any real evidence from your reply that indicates otherwise. Although all I have is experience on my side, along with the experiences of those cited in my post, along with some data from The Atlantic, all you have are bald assertions. I'd love to see more.

They have a net negative effect on your classroom because you allow them to!

Computers can have a negative effect on the classroom because of the availability of distraction--therefore I don't allow them to by banning them. So far it seems to work, or at least better than the alternative: if I could think of an effective way to integrate computers, I'd do so.

more than 4 years ago
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Pen Still Mightier Than the Laptop For Notetaking?

ThousandStars Re:Let them be distracted, it's their choice (569 comments)

I saw your similar comment on my blog and responded thus:

Teachers who have had problems with children passing notes would never have suggested banning pen and paper.

It's also possible that paper and computers have distinct properties (they're local, not networked) that make them unlike laptops and thus inappropriate for direct comparison. I don't think your analogy fits.

So let them be distracted. That is their choice. Unless they are disrupting others, you should stop babying your students and let them use or misuse the tools as they see fit.

Students don't exist in a vacuum: they can also distract others and lower the overall quality of discussion and the classroom experience. In addition, it can sometimes be helpful for mild forms of paternalism to be used to nudge someone in the right direction. If students don't like the very minor restrictions in my class, they're welcome to take someone else's. Few do.

I don't think it morally wrong, or something like that, for students to have laptops in class, but apparently I'm not alone in noticing the drawbacks they can have.

If you can't get their attention in the first place there are only a handful of possibilities: 1) The subject stinks. 2) The material stinks. 3) The students stink. 4) The teacher stinks.

It's also possible that humans have a tendency toward distraction that Internet access in particular enables, per the Google article, or that people often aren't very good at regulating themselves, per Paul Graham's essay; I'm often not good at regulating myself. Hence it can be desirable to remove the means of distraction as a way of removing the distraction itself.

Banning an item that might help a student who is there and wants to learn so that a lazy student that doesn't care is not distracted is completely irresponsible.

I beg to differ: banning an item that might has a net negative effect on the classroom is responsible because it appears to improve learning and the classroom experience, per the above.

more than 4 years ago
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Pen Still Mightier Than the Laptop For Notetaking?

ThousandStars The dangers of distraction... (569 comments)

I wrote a post on Laptops, students, and distraction that explains why I forbid laptops in my classes (and the post grew out of a Slashdot comment like this one). From what I've seen, students are better off doing what can be done outside of class outside of class (like reading--which includes PowerPoint) and doing inside class what can't be done outside of class: spontaneous discussion, group questioning/answering/review, and the like.

This seems like the optimal division of time and one that keeps classroom discussions relevant. It also means that not having laptops and cell phones can actually make for a better overall experience.

more than 4 years ago
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Murdoch Says E-Book Prices Will Kill Paper Books

ThousandStars Re:Books vs. E-books (538 comments)

I can't afford the dead-tree versions of alot of the books I want.

Have you thought about buying them used, either from outfits like Abebooks or Amazon's second-hand market? I ask because those sources are where a lot of my older books come from -- and I read a lot of them.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Rising Rising gas prices may be to blame for econo

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ThousandStars writes "[R]ising gas prices have pretty much wiped out the whole cash value of the stimulus to families. Read the linked paper by James Hamilton too: it may turn out that we simply can't do anything about macro economic performance without working on energy problems. This kind of information has been circling among economics bloggers for quite a while but hasn't made much way into the mainstream."
Link to Original Source
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How Universities Work, or How To Hack Them

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 4 years ago

ThousandStars (556222) writes "I've written a pair of essays that together will help you hack universities: " How Universities Work, or: What I Wish I’d Known Freshman Year: A Guide to American University Life for the Uninitiated" and "How to get your Professors’ Attention, or: How to Get Coaching and Mentorship." These aren't computer hacks, but institutional ones that describe how to get the most out of your experience in universities and beyond."
Link to Original Source
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How bloggers should request review copies

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 4 years ago

ThousandStars (556222) writes "Lots of people write blogs and many bloggers either seek out or receive offers to review items. Although newspapers have established procedures for reviewing swag, most bloggers are one-person operations and don't. Consequently, I wrote a post on How to request review copies or products if you’re a blogger based on my experience reviewing keyboards like the Unicomp Customizer and books. Think of it as a way to avoid the bribing problems some sites have had while still acquiring useful stuff."
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The mistakes commenters make (and how to fix them)

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 4 years ago

ThousandStars (556222) writes "Two days ago, /. picked up my post about the cognitively dissonant anti-technology bias in Avatar . The result was a ton of hits and a ton of comments, with most of the comments not being very good. I analyzed some of the comments and came up with some theories about why the comments section of many websites are so bad and what might be done help fix them through consciously cultivating better ideas."
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James Cameron's Avatar and Neal Stephenson

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 4 years ago

ThousandStars (556222) writes ""The anti-technological aspect [in James Cameron's Avatar] is strange because the movie is among most technically sophisticated ever: it uses a crazy 2D and 3D camera, harnesses the most advanced computer animation techniques imaginable, and has apparently improved the state-of-the-art when it comes to cinema. But Avatar’s story argues that technology is bad. Humans destroyed their home world through environmental disaster and use military might to annihilate the locals and steal their resources." The question is two-fold: why have a technically sophisticated, anti-technical movie, and why are we drawn to it? Part of the answer lies in Neal Stephen's Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out."
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Review of the Das Keyboard

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  about 5 years ago

ThousandStars (556222) writes "Metadot recently released the "Das Keyboard Model S," which promises a number of improvements over its predecessor (which was previously reviewed on Slashdot. I reviewed the Model S and found that, although it's a nice keyboard, doesn't beat the Model M-inspired Customizer. The Das Keyboard has better tactile feel than most keyboards, but at $129, it's too expensive relative to a superior competitor."
Link to Original Source
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The New Nukes

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that momentum for nuclear energy is waxing: "For the first time in decades, popular opinion is on the industry's side. A majority of Americans thinks nuclear power, which emits virtually no carbon dioxide, is a safe and effective way to battle climate change, according to recent polls. At the same time, legislators are showing renewed interest in nuclear as they hunt for ways to slash greenhouse-gas emissions.""
Link to Original Source
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Why I'm Not a Writer

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "Philip Greenspun's 1996 essay Why I'm not a Writer explains that he "isn't because I couldn't tolerate the garret lifestyle of an obscure writer. It is because I couldn't tolerate the garret lifestyle of a successful writer." In response to recent discussions, this essay deals with what's happened since 1996 and why the Internet seems to favor tool producers over tool users."
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Sex laws: Unjust and ineffective

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "What happens when you combine Internet sex registries, moral panic, and a political race to the bottom when it comes to adjudicating sex offenders? According to the Economist, Unjust and ineffective sex laws that are curtailing the ability of police to deal with truly dangerous sex offenders. Politicians, however, jockey to be viewed as the toughest on sex crimes, exacerbating the problems by supporting steadily more draconian laws, leading to the problems described by The Economist. Sounds a lot like the fear and punishment of sexting recently covered in Slate."
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Product Review: Kinesis Advantage Keyboard

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "Two kinds of people are likely to want the Kinesis Advantage Keyboard: efficiency freaks and repetitive stress injury (RSI) suffers. Slashdot might have a large population of both, making them interested in my review of the Kinesis Advantage. At $300, it's an expensive keyboard, but it's also Mac-friendly and offers the chance for typing faster."
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Inside the World's Greatest Keyboard

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "PCWorld has a story detailing the creation and longevity of what it calls the "World's Greatest Keyboard," the IBM Model M. After a weak early effort, IBM convened a design team and "Their resulting 101-key design, 1984's Model M, became the undisputed bellwether for the computer industry, with a layout that dominates desktops to this day. As we peek under the hood of this legend, you'll soon see why many consider the Model M to be the greatest keyboard of all time." Today, Unicomp makes a modern Model M, which Slashdot covered earlier."
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Avoiding the lure of the mindlessly new

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "In The Fierce Idiocy of "New!", Philalawyer argues that "There's no reason on Earth a website creating general entertainment bits or comedy should feel any obligation to flood its pages with constant new material." He's right, and I argue in Blogging and seeking out what should be remembered that "Rescuing--and what a perfect word that is in the context!--books [and other media] that have been unjustly forgotten seems a worth task.""
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Common sense dies when teens "sext" each o

ThousandStars ThousandStars writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ThousandStars writes "According to Reason Magazine, What happens when adults catch teenagers "sexting" photos of each other? The death of common sense. According to the article, "[George] Eastman likely never imagined that young people, empowered not only with cameras but mobile wireless network nodes, would instead shoot naked pictures of themselves and send them to friends, who often return the favor. We're not talking about a few exhibitionistic teens, but millions of kids." The result? Moral panic. Salon.com has also discussed this."
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