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Mars (One) Needs Payloads

ecotax Re:just... (77 comments)

Plus some microbes of course, maybe throw in some tardigrades. It just might be enough to start life 2.0, which would be a nice backup and a great achievement.

Now that we're reasonably sure Mars is barren, I really don't get NASA's "let's not pollute it" attitude anymore.

about 3 months ago
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Ecuadorian Navy Rescues Bezos After Kidney Stone Attack

ecotax Rescued? (190 comments)

It's bullshit the navy rescued anyone here. Transported, helped - many verbs would have fitted better.
Kidney stones supposedly hurt like hell (no personal experience here), but it's not something people generally die from.

about 9 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

ecotax Re:iDesk (234 comments)

Are iPads required in that school?

Yes, at least in practice, they are.

about 10 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

ecotax Re:iDesk (234 comments)

You are overgeneralising. My youngest son goes to a school that uses iPads. The kids all take their iPad to school every day, and after one and a half year, his one is still in perfect condition, and I think the whole class had one 'accident' over that period. The school found a pretty simple solution to prevent this: the parents pay for the iPads themselves...

This is just stupid. An ipad is a specific device by a specific brand. They can tell you to bring a pencil or paper, and as long as it meets specifications, it doesn't matter what you bring. But to specify a certain brand of tablet is not right.

In an ideal world, all courseware would run on all tablets. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While in principle I agree it would be better if you could pick your own tablet, this is nearly as unrealistic as saying you could pick your own books - it's just not going to work in a school situation. I'm not happy about that. But the school we picked was clear about what tablet they'd picked, and that was the point where we could make a choice.

First of all tablets are expensive.

Yes, they are. Especially Apple ones. But so are books, and teachers. Money well spent, in my opinion.

Only rich people or people who are bad with money can afford to have them for their children. I'm sure that Obama will buy them for the poor folks. But the middle class people are then left out. They can't afford to buy one because they are subsidizing them for the poor people.

Maybe things are a bit different here in Europe, but AFAIK we have a higher tax rate here, I'm what you'd call middle-class, and I don't have any problem with buying an iPad for my children - nor with subsidizing the ones for poor people. Again, money well spent.

This is just corporate graft an d corruption to use our tax dollars to shore up an industry that is drowning in its own profits.

Let's agree he 5% educational discount Apple provides is a bit meagre :-)

about 10 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

ecotax Re:Need a stylus for math class (234 comments)

You just need decent software.

None exists to my knowledge. I honestly cannot conceive of any way you could reasonably take notes requiring fine details using your fingertips. There is a reason we use fine tip pencils instead of big bulky markers to take notes.

The MyScript Calculator app (just google it) does a decent job, for example.

Utterly useless for note taking. That is an app for processing a single equation, and not even especially bulky ones at that. Furthermore it actually is a calculator which misses the point entirely. When you are taking notes or working through a calculation you are not trying to have the computer solve the problem for you. You need to essentially make a very detailed drawing, nothing more. (an equation is simply a drawing) The best tool for this is a pen or stylus due to the standard math notation in use.

Point taken - taking math notes and using a calculator are different activities. The app I mentioned definitely won't help higher classes in taking math notes.

Still, a note-taking app with an input method like in this calculator app (which, AFAIK, indeed does not exist yet) might work just fine. The input resolution of the iPad screen as a whole is quite OK, and the lack of detail in a finger drawing can largely be overcome by accepting oversized input and scaling this down, and some good gesture recognition, as the calculator app demonstrates - just like your big bulky markers are fine for flipover boards.

about 10 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

ecotax Re:iDesk (234 comments)

Kids are just going to destroy, abuse, and lose the expensive tech.

You are overgeneralising. My youngest son goes to a school that uses iPads. The kids all take their iPad to school every day, and after one and a half year, his one is still in perfect condition, and I think the whole class had one 'accident' over that period. The school found a pretty simple solution to prevent this: the parents pay for the iPads themselves...

about 10 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

ecotax Re:The future of education (234 comments)

The best thinkers in history were educated by people.

And the best teachers in the world have always used whatever tools could help hem in that. Crayons, cave walls, scrolls, blackboards, pens, notebooks, televisions, you name it. And now they have iPads.
Not to replace them, but to assist them.

about 10 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

ecotax Re:Need a stylus for math class (234 comments)

Tablets for school make a lot less sense if you cannot write equations or draw detailed diagrams with them. A fingertip is simply too blunt an instrument to be used for writing equations or drawing - for that you need a stylus.

No you don't. You just need decent software. The MyScript Calculator app (just google it) does a decent job, for example.

about 10 months ago
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Billion Year Storage Media

ecotax Re:what about the data format? (204 comments)

That's nice and all but can we trust our data formats to stay static for that long?

Just use Word 95 format. Everybody seems to be able to read that somehow, and there seems to be no way to get rid of it.

1 year,6 days
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Unmanned 'Terminator' Robots Kill Jellyfish

ecotax Re:Bad idea (149 comments)

There's a difference between 'not fishing' and 'not overfishing'.

1 year,16 days
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Unmanned 'Terminator' Robots Kill Jellyfish

ecotax Re:Really? (149 comments)

Well, them eating fish eggs is not spectacular, but it can be problematic - it means that once they are abundant, it's harder for fish to make a comeback.

1 year,16 days
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Unmanned 'Terminator' Robots Kill Jellyfish

ecotax Bad idea (149 comments)

While the nerd im me can't help to appreciate the tech in those things that make them auto-detect and kill stuff, I'm not convinced this is a good idea at all.
Wouldn't it make more sense to fix the root cause of this problem, that is, overfishing?
Did they even consider the consequences of generating 400 kilos of dead stuff an hour? Something will probably find this a nice food source. Are we going to kill that too, and where does this end?
Are we sure it only kill jellyfish?

1 year,16 days
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We All May Have a Little Martian In Us

ecotax Re:Dubious Evidence (168 comments)

My assumption was that a very long journey would seriously decrease the chance of the life within the rock surviving the journey.
In that case, the Anthropic Principle does favour the shorter trip. Otherwise, yes, a longer one would be more likely of course.

about a year ago
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Inside OS X Mavericks

ecotax Re:If by "looking good", you mean "looking like iO (362 comments)

I think this is actually one of the few Apple mouse incarnations that doesn't suck for some reason. The original Mac mouse, while innovative at the time, was a non-ergonomic brick which had to be cleaned about once a day, the original iMac mouse was a barely usable hockey-puck sending of the mouse in unexpected directions, there was a period where they stubbornly refused to give us a second button, etcetera. Their previous mouse was almost OK, except that the tiny scroll thingy on top would always become blocked after a few weeks/months of usage, leaving that part useless.
Personally, I'm quite pleased with their latest mouse - it admittedly took them long enough to come up with a decent one, though.

about a year ago
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Inside OS X Mavericks

ecotax Re:If by "looking good", you mean "looking like iO (362 comments)

Most Mac users are using touchpads (laptops), where it is more natural.

And for the Mac users with a desktop, most of those will use Apple's Magic Mouse, the top of which is basically a trackpad.
You can still scroll the old-fashioned way by doing mouse stuff in the scrollbar, but it's not what most people typically seem to using anymore.

about a year ago
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Inside OS X Mavericks

ecotax Re:If by "looking good", you mean "looking like iO (362 comments)

Same here.

After being thoroughly conditioned to be used to think of scrolling as something you do by dragging the thumb of a scrollbar for many years, I decided to give this a chance nevertheless, knowing the brain can be pretty quick in 'rewiring' itself to changes like this. It's even possible to get used to seeing the world upside down within a few days: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/nov/12/improbable-research-seeing-upside-down - or maybe right side up, as the image on the retina is normally inverted.

I now think of scrolling like: finger drags content up or down. Simple. No inbetween stuff like screens, mouses, trackpads, scrollbars - just my finger moving around content.

about a year ago
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We All May Have a Little Martian In Us

ecotax Re:Dubious Evidence (168 comments)

I agree it's an awesome but highly speculative idea.

There's no need for the piece of rock having to fly around for thousands, millions, maybe even billions of years before landing on Earth, though. Since we're talking about probabilities in the order of once in the lifetime of the universe, we may just as well assume that this particular rock happened to be flying in a 'lucky' trajectory.
In this case, a few years or decades should be enough.

about a year ago
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Would You Let a Robot Stick You With a Needle?

ecotax Re:Why yes, I would. (209 comments)

This is exactly backwards....a human will be aware enough to never jab the needle all the way through your arm. If there's a bug, the computer will do that happily and quickly.

True. However, humans make mistakes too, and their error rate won't decrease below a certain level. You could keep improving robots until they're near perfect.
I've been a blood donor for many years, and have donated blood over 100 times. I have pretty 'easy' veins, and yet one time the needle was not inserted correctly, and went through the vein. From what I've seen happening to other donors during those donations, I can assure you that even under these near ideal conditions (experienced medical personal doing this all day, no emergencies, relaxed volunteer donors, etcetera) the success rate is 99% at best.

about a year ago
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Apple: Developer Site Targeted In Security Attack, Still Down

ecotax Re:The summary is wrong again... (112 comments)

I received this email on both accounts (work and private) that I have access to, so I guess they did indeed send it to developers with a paid membership.
At the time, I was wondering if I wasn't being too paranoid to pay using a virtual prepaid credit card for my own account, but now I'm glad I did...

about a year ago

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