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AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

fermion Re:No surprises here (118 comments)

The college board is desperate for relevancy. Since 1994 the SAT has changed several times after 50 years of stability to make it more attractive to increasingly critical urban population and schools. It was no longer good enough to see which students matched the standards of east coast prep schools, students had to be characterized based on a more diverse standard. It may have been wrong, but there was simply not enough money to be made catering to the east coast universities looking to rank the east coast preparatory graduates. They are now trying to get funding through the AP exams. The thing you have to know is there are many federal grants that will fund low income students who want to take the AP Exam, money that goes directly to the that the College Board. So, unlike the 20th century when only the best of the best took the AP Exam. There is not enough money in it. There are not people profiting at all levels on students taking the AP exam. Universities, often private, often the best in the area, are training teachers to teach AP classes, mostly paid by federal grants or local tax dollars, a single class generating $10-20 thousand dollars for the university and college board, and there are often dozens of classes offered over the summer. There is the cost of AP books published by the CB as well as past tests which are not free. The College Board is also free to punish or reward districts with awards and direct monetary compensation to various leaders, and these punishments come down to the school level. There are cases where district leaders have reprimanded people at the school level when the leaders did not get their expected rewards. I am not judging what is going on right now. All I am saying is that AP classes are no longer used to filter the best students from the best classes. AP classes are now a way to introduce college level material to interested students. Students who do not want to be in these classes are generally not. Instead of filtering by ability, the filter is a desire to learn. This, of course, means that many students are not able to do the work and get frustrated. Most are not going to do well on the test. But if the class is well taught, these kids will be more ready for college, I would say even more so than a dual credit class. The added benefit is that there is little grade inflation on the test. Students are allowed to fail, then given some information to reflect on that failure. As anyone who has been to college knows this is a critical skill. With the need for every student to graduate, even if they have never attended a class, the AP exam is one of the only way to provide that feedback to college bound students. It is unfortunate, but too many 18 year old adults still think that running home crying to mammy and daddy is a reasonable way to pass a class. The AP test does not finely rank students like so many other test do, and rewards students for their ability to find the questions they know best, and completely those to get enough points to meet their desired goal.

2 days ago

Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

fermion Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (77 comments)

Right now you best deal on a contract phone is buy a new phone when the contract runs out. Otherwise you are paying the fees for a phone that is already paid for. If you sign a new contract, and get a new phone, the amount of money you pay is constant. There is no wasted money. If she was paying for a plan that was out of contract that was a waste of money. Paying $100 is wasted if she was out of contract. Paying $100 in contract would not necessarily be a waste, but it is likely a wash. The value of an iPhone 5S is about $650. If you buy the phone and use something like Cricket it will be $2000 over two years, but there is no lockin. If you get the subsidized phone, and use something like verizon, you are paying a few hundred dollars more over the two year period, with lockin. Most people aren't set up to lay down a few hundred dollars for a phone at time of purchase. Getting a phone for free and paying for a couple years makes more sense. The lockin comes from this extended payment. My fear is that this current climate is leading to higher prices. On verizon, if you use their early upgrade plan you pay about $150 extra over the two years, in addition to the $300 premium.

3 days ago

Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

fermion Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (289 comments)

I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics. No, he was at church, the story goes, say the chandeliers swinging, and ended up being persecuted by the politicians of the time.

Most scientists don't take political positions. They make observations, and when a consensus is reached, they sometimes take actions. For instance, when it became pretty clear that lead was dangerous, there was a movement to remove it from gasoline. This became political because some interests were only interested in quarterly profits, not long term costs to taxpayers. Fortunately the taxpayers won. For instance, there is really good science linking the buildup in the environment of lead to the increase in crime, and the decrease in crime of the past decade or so to the decrease in lead. It is not just correlation, cut actual causation.

Now, as far as NPR is concerned, compared to Fox News of course it looks biased. NPR is not going to invite John McCain on the air to talk about when he was a kid you could kill black people, and know he has to deal with a black man, as he has been saying this past week. But the thing about NPR is it probably does a better job of using the public air waves than other.

Here is the rub. Fox News can say and do whatever it wants because it does not use free public resources. This is the key. Free public resources, not funding by the government. The government funds lots of things, and that does not necessarily absolutely limit speech. For instance, many churches take money for schools, which frees up money that they then use to do stuff like encourage people to attack people going about their day to day business. For instance, one church in my area bought cameras so they could photograph people going into a gay club. But radio stations were given public bandwidth and were supposed to use it responsible ways. I think NPR is responsible and balanced compared to some of what I hear on the AM stations. AM stations are using free resources. We could take it back and make a great deal of money leasing it to other agents. We don't. They agree to use it, and should be more responsible.

4 days ago

The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

fermion In other words (192 comments)

The person who is submitting this has cornered the market on Amiga machines, step two is to shill the products to increase the price. I don't think people are going to buy computers just for nostalgia. If so, I have a stash of Apple /// computers.

about a week ago

The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

fermion Re:SCSI madness (192 comments)

I never had a problem with SCSI. As a matter of fact, it was as plug and play as you could get a the time. For instance, the IOmega tape drives came in SCSI and parallel. Installing the parallel PC option was very difficult, even following instructions. On a Macintosh with SCSI, it was plug and play. The biggest issue I saw was just getting it plugged in and either using a setting a terminator. In other words, following instructions.

about a week ago

High School Students Not Waiting For Schools To Go Online

fermion DUH (82 comments)

Any student that is disciplined, self motivated, and has learned how to learn, will be more able to learn in a an independent fashion that students who do not have these skills. In a traditional education one went to school where one listened to a professor lecture or read books on the subject. The actual pedagogy, after the teen age years, was minimal, and often involved simple discipline, not teaching of the skills one needed to learn more independently in later life. As long as we could live with the vast majority population engaged in semi-skilled labor, this was fine. However, now we really have more a need for skilled labor. This requires more people to have than a high school education. So we need an advanced pedagogy to help people reach the potential where they can learn more.

All these computer classes are great for the natural learner, the 20% or so of students who have that ability. But these are the same students who have been graduating high school for year, who can go to the public library and learn everything that they would if they got an MBA(one of good friends did this), who, like reported in the NYT today, did not complete school but invented Scotch Tape.

While we need to make sure not to apply negative pressure to these kids, which means to let them take the online courses, give them independent study, allow to explore, we also cannot use this an excuse to stop the more expensive education of the kids who really need to be taught. The correlation between online courses and independent skills(Or as it says, habits of the mind) in no way indicates that online courses teach independent skills. Sure, you could put a kid a computer and give him an F if she does not complete statistics, but is that teaching? Some would say yes. I would say we are accepting that most of kids will be semi-skilled laborers without the jobs to insure a high rate of employment, which means more welfare checks.

about a week ago

Nearly 25 Years Ago, IBM Helped Save Macintosh

fermion Re:Really miss the 68k (236 comments)

When Mac came out things like graphics coprocessors were pretty rare. One problem with the MS Windows product was that there was no cheap way to incorporate the kind of graphics heavy capabilities of the Mac. The 68K was the way to go. It was a more elegant solution and there was really no comparable product for the price. Look at the price of an x-window system circa 1990. But the x86 did become better at graphics, and by the mid 1990s there were tolerable products that could be purchased for about the price. It was still a kludge, and would remain a kludge until NT was integrated with mainline MS Windows. And this was what lead to the PowerPC. It was a partnership with IBM, which was struggling to rebuild itself as services company, but wanted to remain relevant in the hardware business. It provided a platform that was superior to anything that Intel or related companies had to offer. No one saved anyone else. What I find annoying is that the current partnership is seen as groundbreaking or innovative. The people who are saying this are conflating user facing propaganda with internal realities. Apple and IBM are both system building. They are competators, but traditionally in different market segment. Apple is consumer/creative, IBM is corporate. Both compete with MS which only provides components, not solutions, but controls the market by controlling the key component, the OS. IBM has worked with Apple before, the present example being the PowerPC. But IBM is not in hardware anymore, at least not at the PC level. It provides integrated solutions. Apple can provide the hardware that is easy to integrate into a vertical solution, which is what IBM does. IBM wins because it can charge a lot for these services. Apple wins because it can sell a lot of iPads.

about two weeks ago

Amazon Is Testing a $10-Per-Month Ebook Service

fermion Re:Subscription Everything (87 comments)

or convenience fee. Here is the problem with e-books and libraries. They are just like physical books. There is only one or two 'copies' to check out. For a physical library this was a real constraint, as the library could only house so many books. For e-books it is a fake constraint. Libraries should have access to as many copies of a book once they pay a basic fee to access the book, then simply pay a per use fee when the book is checked out. Maybe $5 for acess and a 50 cents for use. It costs the library more than 50 cents to process a book when checked out and returned. i think the reason this is not done is it would kill the book market. Even people like myself who spend my youth collecting a massive library are not buying new physical books as much. I don't even buy e-books that much because the authors are not getting as big a cut. But this, if it is structured correctly, could be the solution to e-books. We know ebooks are not as valuable to us because they can be recalled, they can be gone if the machine is discontinued, a whole bunch of issues that don't exist with physical books. The DRM makes e-books much less valuable. So if one bought an e-book reader, or just downloaded the software, then paid a fee to read books, that makes more sense than buying a book that for all intents and purposes is just being leased. It would especially be good if the authors get a better cut.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

fermion Re:Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (509 comments)

In particular the law profession is no longer the guaranteed jump to the upper middle class it used to be. Large firms are cutting costs, outsourcing, and computer are taking over.

I learned to use a computer in middle school based on a teletype. My first real job was using MS Excel on a Mac. If I had been taught how to use a program, I would have been screwed. But I was taught a how to think how computers work, the skill of programming and use a computer, not just an application. I had to transfer my skills of using a t-square and triangle to using a 2d based schematic program to a 3D based rendering program. I can thank my teachers in high school for focusing on best practices instead of rote mechanics.

I firmly believe that if a kid goes to college, they should go to college for something they love. If they learn how to think and how problem solve, they be more likely to complete a degree with something they love, and if they are smart enough to work as they move through college, they will gain skills that will get them employment. If they go don't go to college, then get work that will teach you something. The entry level job should not only be about pay, it should be about learning.

There is no way to know what the world is going to look like in 30 years when today's teens are stuggling to complete that last 15 years of work before retirement, when all the kids who are born in 10 years are going to sniping at her back to take her job away because they are more up to date. Look how few parents were buying their kids computer in 1984. I wonder how many wish they had.

about two weeks ago

People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

fermion not a valid study (710 comments)

Electricity use is largely driven by the stuff you have. The more stuff, the more electricity that is used. In the US one might use a lot of electricity, but maybe you buy your electricity from a company that has lower CO2 emmissions. Sure, the electricity one uses might come from coal, but you are creating demand for cleaner sources, and in the long term helping to control the situation. Conservation is part of the issue, but if you buying energy star equipment, for instance, and buy clean electricity, and still using more, then one can't say that you are not really concerned about global warming.

In any case there are probably more significant way that a person contributes to the carbon problem. Cars are a good example. Petrol is mostly carbon, and no matter how clean we make the exaust, and it is clean, there is still carbon that has to be expelled as CO and CO2. Asking someone how much petrol they consume a year is therefore a much better indicator, although in the UK the car ownership and use is probably not as great as in the US.

Then there is food. A kilowatt hour of electricity is like a kg of CO2, burning a gallon of gas is like 8kg, and eating a pound of beef is like 50 kg. Eating chicken, according to the OECD, cuts that in a quarter. So someone who uses too much electricity but each chicken instead of beef, or even tofu with cuts in a quarter again, is probably doing more good that some who has beef every day but is very frugal on the electricity.

about two weeks ago

Home Depot Begins Retail Store Pilot Program To Sell MakerBot 3-D Printers

fermion Re:SciFri / Staples (127 comments)

I don't see home depot as servicing the target market for these products. On a story I heard this morning, it seems like people think they can go home and print gaskets or a screw. Maybe, if you can find the file online or have a caliper a a disign progam you can, but why would you spend the money? I suppose you could print a custom handle for a door or a faucet, if you wanted a plastic handle, but people pay good money for metal parts. I suppose you could coat it in metal, and it would be as good as the low end products.

I think that 3D printers have a market and will get to the point where they will be Sold in Stores My concern with Home Depot is their ability to market them positively. Sure, $4K is low enough that many people will but it and take it home and try to use it. But if Home Depot is trying to push 3D printers to just anyone, many of them are going to get returned because they can't print washers. And the reviews are going to be bad, and 3D printing technology is going to be pushed back 5 years.

about two weeks ago

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

fermion Re: Idiots (147 comments)

The US taxpayer gave away airwaves to broadcasters in exchange from free service. The broadcaster can recoup costs and make a profit through advertising. Cable companies pay because they collect all signals and transmit to everyone. Aero rents an antenna and a DVD and records specific shows. I think the SCOTUS only looked at present revenue, no the long term impact of limiting broadcaster viability in the age of the internet. I have the right to place an antenna anywhere and receive a personal signal or recording of the signal. If the broadcasters are not going to honor the original mandate, they should give our airwaves back.

On a related note, broadcaster have been increasingly ignoring the public service mandate, and our government has been complicit in this. Aero is just another example of the giveaway of public resources to the privileged few.

about two weeks ago

15-Year-Old Developing a 3D Printer 10x Faster Than Anything On the Market

fermion Re:speed is not really what they're lacking (203 comments)

but to a kid speed is all that matters. It is fast, are the explosions cool. The thing with a 3D printer is that the layers have to be laid accurately. I suspect any 3d printer can go fast if you leave accuracy. The same is true with inkjet, where my old $500 epson is not as fast as a $50 cannon, but it renders images better.

about three weeks ago

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

fermion Re:Profit before subsidy? (247 comments)

Many vehicles are subsidized. For instance, one reason there were so many Hummers on the road were because of the tax rules that applied to the purchase for business use. While passenger vehicles are depreciated at a normal rate, something like a Hummer can be depreciated much more quickly. And while something like and F350 is clearly a utilitarian vehicle, a Hummer is simply a loophole to have the taxpayer fund your luxury vehicle.

about three weeks ago

Judge Frees "Cannibal Cop" Who Shared His Fantasies Online

fermion Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (185 comments)

It is because he was a cop. Recall that people have sent to jail for creating 'terrorist fantasies' because the FBI gave them the means and opportunity to carry out the fantasy. The courts do and have sent people to jail for fantasies. It is called conspiracy. In this case the fantasy targeted specific females, while the cop had means and opportunities to make those fantasies a reality. Remember that he went as far as using the police database to compile a list of real women he fantasized of eating, and was convicted for misuse of that database, so the fact this was moving out of fantasy has been proven. This is not a flight of reason. I am sure if a common person used a database to collect information on the judge or the judge's family and then wrote a detailed plan of how the family was to be murdered, we would not be getting of with a simple misuse of private information. This is clearly another case of no consequences for cops who break the law.

about three weeks ago

Philips Ethernet-Powered Lighting Transmits Data To Mobile Devices Via Light

fermion Re:Well, this sounds brilliant... (104 comments)

The advantage to the customer, I don't know. But it seems like a massive data leak waiting to happen. It would not seem difficult to transmit corporate information, in a way that the APP would just ignore, but so that someone standing outside of window could capture. Definitely, at this point, movie plot threat, but something to consider.

about a month ago

30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

fermion Re:And this surprises... who? (191 comments)

Yes, most anyone over the age of 40. I know people in their mid 40s who can't figure out how to get a USB printer to work. OTOH, my mother who was born more than 20 years before the invention of the transistor had to learn to use to use a CRT terminal to look up information to help patrons, then a microcomputer, then had a computer in retirement for investments, email, and general web surfing. I think the difference is the expectation of education. If you just learn basic skills in high school, if you go to college just looking to get trained for a better job, then when new stuff comes around you aren't prepared to deal with it. There are people, however, who realize that during your high school years you can really learn general skills and processes, and in college you can use your core classes to learn to think deeply about things, and I think these people are the ones who can deal when something totally new comes along, with hardly blinking an eye. Of course some people have such skills more innately than others.

about a month ago

Bye Bye Aereo, For Now

fermion Re:They where acting like the cable co / CATV (93 comments)

So when you drive your car, you should have to pay for every toll road in the country, not just the toll roads you use?

Here is the difference between Aero and Cable, and the reason the so called loop hole is valid. Cable collects all the broadcasts signals and retransmitts all those signals along to all subscribers. The fee is the right to collect and retransmit en masse.

There is also and issue of the broadcasters use of the public airwaves. In exchange for this use, it is assumed that the tax payers of this country have access to free programing. Aero is a service that allows us to access that free content. Cable is a service where you buy access to content. Aero is a service where you specify a program to watch, or to record, and that one program is transmitted to you and only you. Cable is a service where all the programs are transmitted to you to be selected in immediate real time, even switch between channels, or channel in channel.

Here is an example, and everyone can decide if this is illegal. Tivo allows a broad range of remote capabilities. Suppose I opened a service in which I filled a warehouse with Tivos and antennas. End users would enter a contract where they would rent a Tivo and antenna. They would use the TIvo interface to control the content. I would have no control over what was being transmitted. Would that be illegal? What if I built a custom DVR and a custom interface? Would that be illegal? What if I used a Tivo and 'shared' each one so that six different users?

This is why the ruling is so bad. It reduces our rights to do as we wish with the content that we have given up bandwidth to receive. In excange for use of the the public airwaves, we have the right to free over the air content. That means content that we collect using an antenna and then consumer for personal use. We can record it to VCR, take that tape with us on a trip, and watch it elsewhere.

The only appropriate thing for the broadcasters to do in response to Aero, it they did not want aero to add a convince for users, is to stop using the public airwaves. Go 100% cable or stream over the internet. This is second major problem with the SCOTUS decision. If broadcasters cannot deal with Aero retransmitted a single show to a single user, and if they have become so dependent on cable, then clearly they are wasting bandwidth that could be used for other purposes. The best thing that could have happened to US, if the broadcasters are as inefficient as it seems, is that Aero put them out of business and then we would have all this bandwidth that can be sold to firms that can use it efficiently. All the SCOTUS has done is save the buggy whip industry.

about 1 month ago

Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

fermion Re:This means nothing without context (265 comments)

The skills argument is the traditional method used to segregate the workplace, college, whatever. When the pentagon said that women had to be allowed in combat, one thing that was stressed is they had to pass the tests. There was no admission that the tests were somewhat arbitrary, developed not on some absolute basis, but on a subjective set of requirements. It is like the old SAT. If the inner city kids were getting a question correct more than the northern prep school kids, then it probably was not a valid question, because who has the better education?

Really, what this boils down to is if diversity is, in itself, a benefit. Because of the way I was raised and educated, in a very diverse schools where actual skills, talent, and discipline were the primary method of selection, I think that diversity is a benefit. I understand that others do not. I understand that a private firm should be able to select the best workforce for it's situation, diverse or not.

But I also understand that for a long time, and sometimes even today, the white male is considered the bast choice if available. It is assumed that he will command respect, be at work everyday, and not get emotional or get in a fit because of 'oppression'. It could that this is best way to proceed. Or it could be that firms, if they had a employees with wider points of view, different experiences, they might be more successful.

One thing we have seen specifically with major firms like Google and MS is they tend to recruit from very specific schools. This is more a problem for me because this will invariable create an echo chamber and lead to problems we have seen at these firms in which consumer perception is often not considered because a distinct lack of diversity.

about a month ago

Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are a Few Home-Tech Startups To Watch

fermion Re:apple homekit (88 comments)

Apple promotes Dropcam on it's website, the exact company that Google is going to buy. I don't know what homekit is going to be. Dropcam pretty much requires you to send your personal life to what soon will be Google. The lights require an hardware interface. Presumable Homekit will presumably intergrate the products, if the companies rewrite the software to Apple interfaces. Not to be cynical, but recall the number of Apple ideas that really have not panned out. For instance, I have almost no Apple ebooks.

The problem with google is that it makes most of it's money from advertising. It really has no hardware that is priced to sell, i.e. $1500 google glasses. Therefore one has to assume that at some point your personal home videos will be up for sale in some way. I am looking at y-cam and figuring out what their business model is. The only way to keep your private stuff private is to pay for it. Which is why dropcam was a good choice prior to the google purchase.

about a month ago



Back when patents had to be innovative

fermion fermion writes  |  about 10 months ago

fermion (181285) writes "This weeks "Who Made That" column in The New York Times concerns the built in pencil eraser. In 1858 Hymen Lipman put a rubber plug into the wood shaft of a pencil. An investor then paid about 2 million in today's dollars for the patent. This investor might have become very rich had the supreme court not ruled that all Lipmen had dome was put together two known technologies, so the patent was not valid. The question is where has this need for patents to be innovative gone? After all there is the Amazon one-click patent which, after revision, has been upheld. Microsoft Activesync technology patent seems to simply patent copying information from one place to another. In this modern day do patents promote innovation, or simply protect firms from competition?"

Anti-Drone Clothing

fermion fermion writes  |  about a year and a half ago

fermion writes "Given that the Obama Administration now has the power to Terminate Americans on Demand, it might be time to think about defending ourselves from such a near term scenario. One might think that a Stinger would be the ideal defense, but radical gun control promoted by the liberal government makes that a difficult option at best. Therefore we are forced to execute a more passive defense in the form of anti-dron apparel from Adam Harvey. I am sure this will become the new little black dress."

Linux forcibly installed on Congressman's computer

fermion fermion writes  |  about 2 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "I am sure most have heard about Michael Grimm, a US House of Representatives member from New York, who's campaign headquarters was vandalized. What has not been reported everywhere is that Linux was installed on one of his computer, erasing data in the process. Is this a new attack on democracy by the open source radicals, or it is just a random occurrence?"
Link to Original Source

When Patents Attack

fermion fermion writes  |  about 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "This American Life runs a story this week on Intelectual Ventures, a firm some consider the leader of the patent trolls . The story dwells into the origins of the term patent troll and the rise of the patent troll industry. Much time is spent presenting Intelectual Ventrues both as a patent troll firm and a legitimate business that allows helpless inventors to monetize patents. It is stipulated that Intellectual Ventures does not in fact sue anyone. It is also alleged that the Intellectual Ventures create many shell companies presumable to hid such activity. Intellectual Ventures is compared to a Mafia protection racket that may never actually burn down a business that does not pay the dues, does encourage such burning to occur."
Link to Original Source

Flight 447 "Black Box" Decoded

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "An initial report has been released by the BEA concerning the details of the last minutes of Flight 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. According the report the autopilot disengaged and stall warning engaged at 2 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds into flight. Less than 2 minutes later the recorded speeds became invalid. At 2 hours 14 minutes and 28 seconds, the recording stopped. The final vertical speed was recorded around 10,912 ft/min."
Link to Original Source

Gaming and Real Assassinations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Wall Street Journal has an article detailing the gaming life of Jared Lee Loughner. While it seems to avoid explicitly blaming gaming for the murders, it does appear to allude to a link. For instance "In the 7th grade, he and a friend, Alex Montanaro, began playing the multiplayer online games Starcraft and Diablo, which featured complex virtual worlds where players assume roles and play against other people around the globe, Mr. Montanaro said in emails over the weekend and Monday." Is the fact that he played a certain game in grade 7 in any relevant to his alleged shooting of a nine year old girl in 2011? The article further details his increasingly erratic online posting, which apparently inevitably leads to assassination. What is really depressing is that Education Week seems to make a directly link between utilizing online communication and expression of violent behavior.


Link to Original Source

Safara 5 the ultimate Ad Blocker

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Regster is reporting on the Safari 5 Reader. This feature, in the form of button marked "Reader" strips all ads, all branding, as well as consolidating content spread over several web pages into a single frame. Some say this is an attack on Google and others that will compete with the new iAds. Some say this is just a way to remove distractions that keep users from enjoying web content. What is clear is that this a bold move, one that makes the attack on flash seem tame. The race no longer seems about speed. It is nowabout using the HTML tags to render content in the most user centric manner."
Link to Original Source

America Speaking Out

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Republican House Leadership has jumped on the social media bandwagon by creating American Speaking Out. On this site anyone in the world(all one has to do is enter the universally known 90210 postal code) can posit ideas, vote them up and down, and comment. Right now the top ideas are to stop the pork, roll back, reduce the military and tax churches. While the later two are rather excellent ideas, I am not sure what 'roll back' means. Perhaps repealing all amendments to constitution after #12. As far as stopping the pork, I doubt any representative would have a job if money was not sent back home on a regular basis."
Link to Original Source

Android Store to Stop Selling Android Phones

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In classic Monty Python style, Google has responded to the news of the imminent domination of the smartphone market by retreating. In a Google Blog post Andy Rubin writes that '[o]nce we have increased the availability of Nexus One devices in stores, we'll stop selling handsets via the web store..' He further states that the store has not met expectations and 'that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from'. As such Google wil 'offer Nexus One to consumers through existing retail channels'."
Link to Original Source

Apple bought Intensi

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The New York Times claims that Apple has bought Intrinsity, the company allegedly behind the A4. The story is heavy on speculation, light on citations. Intrinsity may be the company that provides the technology for the A4. Intrinsity employees are changing thier Linkedin profile to list Apple as their employer. The Intrinsity website "appears to have pulled down." The only verification of the sale are the infamous "people familiar with the deal". How does this purchase, if it happened, relate to the rumored purchase of ARM?"
Link to Original Source

Programmer cannot get a date, shoots up gym.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The man who killed three women at a gym, and then himself, was evidently a frustrated analyst who could not get a date. The legend of the lonely geek living in the parents basement, alone, without success, without sex, is rampant on /.. Here is perhaps the more realistic example. An apparently successful person, with his own home, job, and a minimum of social skills,but not able to find another to be with. Was the lack of a sex life an excuse? As always, it is the quiet ones. A neighbor is quoted as saying ""I never saw any women over there, and he wasn't bad looking,I don't understand it. I just assumed he was gay.""

Pre does not get US tethering either

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Register is reporting that the Pre Dev Wiki has been sent a note asking it to stop discussing tethering. Evidently Sprint is none to eager to have users tether the game changing tetherable smart phone. The development forum is evidently eager to avoid lawsuits, so has rapidly agreed. Perhaps, like the iPhone, the Pre is going have a vigorous underground. What is interesting is that the Pre, like the iPhone(allegedly), can be tethered in the non-US domain, but even those customers are being denied apparently lawful information to satisfy the US exclusive agents."
Link to Original Source

Wolfram|Alpha and the ToS

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Growlaw has an article on how Alpha is different from Google. It seems that Wolfram reckons Alpha as an authoritative source of information and has created a special terms of service to insure that users do not violate the rights of the apparent legal entity known as Alpha. Wolfram claims that "in most cases the assemblages of data you get from Wolfram|Alpha do not come directly from any one external source. In many cases the data you are shown never existed before in exactly that way until you asked for it, so its provenance traces back both to underlying data sources and to the algorithms and knowledge built into the Wolfram|Alpha computational system" which is capable or generating unique copyrighted information. Wolfram states that lack or attribution is a violation of copyright and an act of academic plagiarism. Parents and teachers are warned that if the kiddies use the service and violate these terms the parents or teachers will be held responsible. This is not completely unreasonable, as Alpha is likely a unique creation, and deserves full legal protection. What might be a bit controversial is the attack on deep linking:"It is not permitted to use Wolfram|Alpha indirectly through another website that has created a large number of deep links to Wolfram|Alpha, or that automatically constructs links based on input that you give on that site, rather than on Wolfram|Alpha"."

Apple Back on top.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Forrester Research published the Customer Experience Index 2008 Snapshot: PC Manufacturers. From the summary "Apple leads and Dell lags.". The NYT blogs the finding with specific data. Apple has a rating of 80%, MS Windows PC manufacturers are in the 60's, and Dell drags in at 58%. The blog suggests that MS outsourcing OS support to the manufactures might be a mistake, and they may want to explore direct support through retailers like WalMart. If MS were to be truly agressive, they might again follow Apple by implementing plans to open company stores. In this time of rising unemployment, I am sure there are many available MCSE that would be happy to help."

G1 not so open

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The register reported that the open-to-anyone-and-any-application Android Store has terminated the availability of a popular tethering app. The Android Store, which was supposed to be devoid of a not-so-benevolent dictator preventing such useful apps from reaching the market, evidently caved to T-Mobile's displeasure at the bandwidth sucking app. The control of the store by T-Mobile appears to be real and material, as indicated by a quote from Google: "Google enters into distribution agreements with device manufacturers and Authorized Carriers to place the Market software client application for the Market on Devices. These distribution agreements may require the involuntary removal of Products in violation of the Device manufacturer's or Authorized Carrier's terms of service". It appears, as many suspected, the the G1, and by extension the Android stack, as the Authorized Carriers deem profitable."

Jailing Kids for Fun and Profit

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In the past students have felt especially abused when suspended from school for posting inappropriate material on facebook or sending threats through email and the like. Well imagine what Hillary Transue thought when she was put in jail for posting satirical content. In this case it turns out that the judge was paid by PA Child Care to incarcerate juveniles. PA Child Care, coincidently, ran the jails. The judges involved and have plead guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, but have not admitted to any quid pro quo. Other judges have been appointed to deal with the cases of 5000 juveniles whose sentences are now in question. One presumes that the costs of such proceedings are not going to be fully covered by the Judges or PA Child Care. This might be a reminder to teens that the law is not as cut and dry as they think, and that what they think is tolerable behavior might in fact be criminal when viewed by a judge. It can be argued that a few days suspension is an appropriate slap on the wrist to discourage such behavior. If a further reminder is needed, the system that allowed these judges to trade children's lives for profit is still intact."

Is this the end for Jobs at Apple?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The NYT is reporting that Steve Jobs is on medical leave until the end of June The reason cited is that the health issues are more complex than originally thought and these issues are a distraction for the company and employees. This seems to be standard press released language for things are worse than we thought, but hopefully by gettting him out of the spotlight the constant publicity that negatively effects stock price will go away. By my count, this means that Jobs will be away from Apple for 5 months. My question is will he be back, or is the Apple strategy for a peaceful and smooth transition of power. In other, is his replacement in fact an interim chief executive put in place while they perform a quiet search for a permanant CEO."

Watchman is Fox property

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "According to the NYT a judge has decided that Fox owns the copyright to Watchman, not Warner. Is this an example of copyright law becoming so complex that companies can abuse the court system to prevent competition, or just extreme incompetence by Warner. In the current business environment, either explanation is believable. Yet it is unbelievable that seasoned producers would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create a movie that they can't even release. It seems the judge didn't want to bring this to a jury, and maybe daring Warner to appeal, or Fox to settle."

Android and the roaming scam

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "If seems that Google Android and T-Mobile has not learned from the bad experience and wrath Apple incurred with roaming charges on the iPhone. It seems that application can switch to roaming and data operation without the user knowledge. Also, according to The Register, there is no way to switch off roaming. Given the backlash that Apple experienced over international roaming charges, one would think that T-Mobile would have built a phone to prevent such unexpected charges. On the other hand, while iPhone lives under the protective graces of Apple, the G1 is a much more laissez-faire business model, and perhaps has no reasonable expectations of such intervention to protect the user."



representing numbers

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 7 years ago I notice a tag popping up around slashdot, namely hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0. The context of the tag is irrelevant to any civilized person, but I was intrigued with the prefix hex, presumably to indicate the number was base 16. I wonder if the use of the prefix, instead of the more traditional 0x, was due to the increasing distance between the technical elite and the hardware

As I am sure we all know, a digital computer represents all information by either an on or off state, which is typically represented numerically as 0 or 1, respectively. As the digital state is often implements as an analog current, there is often some firm threshhold value, above which the state is said to be on.

Therefore to represent a peice of information, such information must first be encoded in as a number, then the number encoded into a series of off or on states to represent that number. This is where binary notation comes from. Using only 0 an 1, in principle we can represent any number as easily as using the 0-9. For instance, using base 2, the number representing in decimal form as 4 would be 100. Perhaps a bit verbose, but quite adequate when one can complete thousands of operations every second.

The verbosity, however is a problem for humans. For instance, to represent the decimal number 9 requires us to write 1001. While a digital device has no problem with this, and humans working to hardwire code have no problems, as the amount of information to encode becomes greater, humans wish to have more information density.

Which is where Octal, or base 8 representation emerges. Octal notation groups three states, or bits, in one. In octal instead of only using the digits 0 and 1, we use 0-7. This means that to write the decimal number 7 instead of writing 0b111, we write 0o7, i which the 0o prefix means octal.

Octal was nice when bits were base of the computers, but soon information grew so much that we began to group bits together. The smallest traditional grouping of bits is the nibble, which contains 4 bits. This means the biggest number that can be held is 0b1111 or the decimal number 15. This lead to the idea that we might want a numbering system that can represent numbers up to decimal 15, and the hexadecimal system was used. In this system, digits go from 0-F. Therefore the decimal number 7 is written 0x7. The decimal number 15 is written 0xF, 0o17 or 0b1111. One can see that even though the computer does not care, it is easier for people.

Hexadecimal was quite used prior to the mid 80's. While programming tasks were easily handled through the alphanumeric keyboard, with minimal special keys, formatted text processing required copious use of the entry of special codes. Even in programming, it was useful to direct many function directly through the hardware using hex.

So, obviously, with the huge bit capacity, it is quite easy to see why we use hexadecimal to represent numerical values. What is not so obvious is why we represent using the longer form hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0 rather than 0x09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.


Beware of gifts with stange Apples?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 10 years ago I love my Apple computers. I have a G4 tower in the back room. I have powerbook that I injured a while back but still serves me faithfully. I have a newton 2100 in my pack, a broken newton 2100 and another old newton in storage. I have a Mac Classic, a perfoma, and all manner of half assembled portables and desktops. I reluctantly gave up my Apple /// because of space considerations, and I regret it to this day.

It has been a strange ride over these 20 years. Shape tables on the Apple ][. A EPROM burner in another Apple ][ to program an EEPROM for use in a Z80 controller for flight. Printing WYSIWYG documents for the first time from a Mac to an imagewriter. Horrible fonts and resolution. Embarrassing. But such excitement to not have to embed the Epson codes directly into the AppleWriter document.

And then Macs that actually ran fast enough to do work. And then Macs with harddrives, separate monitors, expandable innards. Appletalk replaced with ethernet. And then SCSI gone and all my stuff had to be replaced with Firewire stuff.

But through all this time I have never felt betrayed. Until today. Yesterday I happily installed the MacOS update. I have complained a bit in the past week about the fact that they combined security and feature updates, and I hope they have learned from this experience, even though the probably have not, but i am over it. Sort of.

But today I noticed something strange. Moving advertisements on my web pages. Could it be that my preferences for images got messed up? No, checked my pref files everything as I left it. Could it be that more sites are manually changing images? Unlikely but i looked at the page source just to be sure. No, nothing there. The source for the web pages is essentially what it has been for these sites. Check for flash, try some scripts, then give up with a static images. So could it be Flash? I don't have flash on my computer. It eats up too much time. Do a search for the file, not there. Forgot where the file was stored, so i just go back to double checking preferences and the source of the web pages. Maybe I missed something. It sure looks like flash, though.

Finally get a brainstorm and go to the macromedia site. Yep, it starts playing a flash movie. I definitely have been infected by the annoyware virus. But how, and where it is? I finally find a web page with the directory location. It is in the library directory. Not the user one, but the main one. The one that needs administrator access. Find the file, check the date. It was the date and time I installed the MacOS update.

Now, i have no proof that the update came with a flash payload. I could have accidently installed it some other way. All I have is circumstantial evidence and i do not want to make false accusations. But the install time was during the time i was installing the update. I go through great pains not to install flash and avoid sites that require it.

On the other hand flash is becoming tricky, and someone may have set up a trojan that got it onto my computer. Could have been Apple could have been someone else.

And the only thing that the knowledge base lists is Safari enhancements. Which of course brings a whole separate set of problems, like what if I don't want to use Safari.

I am telling you. I am so close to getting a Intel piece of crap, installing Linux on it, and just running the command line with the occasional X for the rest of my life. It was not so bad when all we had was the command line.


on moderation

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago "A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, whether public or private and under whatsoever laws these interests arise (to wit: of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or Virginia, or of Congress, but in common with all other natural rights, it is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1797.

The following is some thoughts on altering the /. moderation system. I do not believe any of these ideas are novel or unique, but the application of these ideas may help with issues such as scalability and the promotion of long term discussions within an article posting. The main concepts in this modified moderation proposal are moving to labels instead of numbers for moderation, continuously variable starting moderation points based on karma, and non linear moderation scoring.

First, I believe /. should move to labels for moderation in leu of the current numbers. These labels could be 'horrible', 'unrated', 'default', 'fine', 'great', 'terrific', and 'super' , respectively corresponding to moderation of -1 to 5. The labels will need to be tweaked with the idea that labels will reflect the status of a comment. For instance, a current '1' comment would be unrated because this is the default posting for a logged in user. I do not use the karma labels to avoid confusion.

Underlying these labels would be an expanded, and scalable counter. To determine the range of the counter, one would set the increment for a category. If we select the increment to be 20, for instance, the counter would go from 0 to 101. A comment at 0 is 'bad', a comment at 101 is 'terrific', and everything else is evenly divided into groups of 20. For instance, the structure might look like
horrible 0
unrated 1-20
default 21-40
fine 41-60
great 61-80
terrif 81-100
super 101

In the discussion below I will assume that moderation counter starts at zero. I will also refer to the increment as defined above. As an aside, is feasible to make the increments nonlinear, and there are reasons to do this, but I believe the such functionally can be incorporated into the moderation procedure.

The next issue is the starting moderation based on Karma. Currently logged in users start at 1 and eventually get a point. If the user is subsequently very bad, they will lose the point. This system is effective, but imprecise. I feel it gives a new user excessive benefits, delays additional benefits until the user reaches top status, and does not quickly punish bad behavior. My suggestion is that anonymous users start at the low end of unrated, which in general is 1. All registered users would have their starting moderation calculated based on karma, as described below.

If we assume that the underlying karma count sets a neutral karma to zero and goes positive and negative with increasing and decreasing karma, we might calculate default moderation as

default_moderation=offset + karma*scale.

This equation has two variable. The first is offset, which is where we give logged in users a boost over anonymous users. For instance, if the offset is equal to the increment, a new logged in user will still start with 'unrated' comments, but a single moderation would guarantee the comment would become 'default'. The other variable is scale. To be consistent with the current system, this should cause a user with maximum karma to in the 'great' rating. This could be done by having each label change in karma add half the increment. Therefore, a karma of 'positive' and 'good' would make the moderation increasingly 'fine', while a karma of 'excellent' would have moderation in the middle of great. The application of this is that the default moderation is a continuous function based on karma, which we assume also changes continuously with user behavior.

Moderation itself should not change from the point of view of the moderator. The moderator will still choose a label and moderate. However, /. will now have fine control over the points awarded. For instance, each moderation might only award 3/4 of an increment. Or perhaps we want to encourage users to look for new good comments rather than just continue to moderated existing highly moderating comments, so we might only award 1/3 of an increment to any comment that is already 'terrific' Maybe we see that most comments posted in the first 5 minutes of an article are useless, so the moderators on those articles on get to award 1/3 of an increment until the comment reaches 'fine' status. Maybe we want to encourage moderators to look at new comments, so a moderator will only be able to award 1/4 increments to any comments that is past a certain time threshold. It may be decided that a funny comment is less valuable than an insightful comment, or an overrated tag is less valuable than a insightful tag. In summary, because moderators will still only have a certain number of moderations, regardless of the actual points awarded, the moderator can be discouraged from certain actions by making those actions less forceful.

There are several possible pitfalls in this proposal. First, the moderation of a comment will not necessarily lead to the change in moderation status for an article. This may confuse moderators. Second, communicating the variable moderation points may be prohibitively difficult. If such information is not communicated to user at the time of moderation, this proposal may not be an improvement over the current system. Third, an increased amount of computation may be necessary to display as moderation page. This increased load on the web-server may prove excessive.

A final comment on the '3 day limit' for moderation. I believe this limit is excessive and does not encourage the important activity of moderation. My suggestion is based on when the user logs into /. First, if a user does not log into /. within 24 hours of being awarded moderation points, the moderation points go back into the pool. If the user logs in within the 24 period, the user will then have 24 hours to use the points. If the points are not used in that period, they go back into the pool.


out come the freaks

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago Dear is my friend--yet from my foe, as from my friend, comes good:
My friend shows what I can do, and my foe what I should.

--Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

I received an email recently about my sig. The email asked what was a freak. I wanted to answer that question in my journal. In addition, I also wanted to discuss why I chose to put Freaks in my sig instead of Fans.

First, what is a freak. If we look at the FAQ, we see that a freak is a person who has chosen you as a foe. This, in my opinion, is a much more significant event that another choosing you as a friend.

To get excessively philosophical, the act of choosing a foe is also an act of preparing for conflict. For some people this choice may be a petty expression of violence. However, for others it may a genuine declaration of the willingness to grow, learn and become a more complete person. As the quote above indicates, a foe can be the ideal way to discover what one should do. I hope to have the time to look at comments carefully enough to chose quality foes.


negative moderations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago I have been meta-moderating a lot lately. It is interesting to see how people use their moderation points, especially in modding down a post. If we look at the section of the FAQ on how moderation works, we see that we are to concentrate on modding good posting up, while reserving our negative points for for spam, true trolls, and the like.

Yet once again I saw a perfectly reasonable post marked off-topic, and I had to mark it as unfair. It was not exactly on-topic, but it was a valid and useful reply to the comment. Why a moderator would waste points marking it off-topic is beyond me. Were there not enough good comments that day? Are there some whose only mission in life is to to promote personal agendas? I do not know.

I try very hard to limit my negative moderation to truly harmful posts(goatse, etc). It seems if a post relates incorrect information, that post will invariable attract comments that correct the error, and those replies will usually get modded higher than the original comments.

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