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Home Depot Confirms Breach of Its Payment Systems

hendrips Re:Just bite the bullet (111 comments)

After the Target breach, the bank that issues my credit card cancelled that card and sent me a new one. They didn't give me a choice, and they didn't give any warning.

Every account that relied on my card information had to be updated. One of my bills - car insurance - bounced because they cancelled my old card before I had time to update that account with the new card info. It's quite galling to pay a late payment fee and have my credit rating potentially dinged for not paying a bill that I had enough cash on hand to pay a hundred times over.

The worst part of it was that I hadn't even been to Target in years - my bank just panicked and sent everyone new credit cards. So while I theoretically didn't have any liability, there was still a fairly major annoyance, not to mention a late payment fee.

5 days ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

hendrips Re:Meanwhile in the real world... (421 comments)

The math pedant in me would like to point out that, technically, a null hypothesis can never be established. Statistical tests can only "reject" or "fail to reject" a null hypothesis.

And that's the point - the null hypothesis is that there has been no change temperatures, and there is absolutely enough statistical evidence to reject that hypothesis.

5 days ago

Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny In Gamer Culture

hendrips Re:One bad apple spoils the barrel (1132 comments)

Interesting - the more people pick on a victim, the more it becomes the victim's fault? Quite the logic there.

about two weeks ago

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

hendrips Re:No calculator should be required for (math) tes (359 comments)

I sympathize with the sentiment that calculators are overused in high school math courses, but I don't think it's necessary to ban them entirely. There are certain classes of problems that really make sense with sense with a calculator - compound interest is an obvious one.

Example: I invest 1$ in a bank account paying 3.5% interest compounded continuously for 30 years. How much money do I have at the end of that time? Well, you could leave your answer as e^1.05, but that's not a particularly intuitive answer and won't help a student much in their real world financial decision making. You could use those old fashioned log & exponential tables, but that would be pretty stupid and the students would rightly resent you for giving them busywork. Or you could just use a calculator to figure out it's $2.86 and move on.

Besides, calculators can remove a lot of drudgery for students, especially the more talented ones, even when problems can be done by hand. Multiplying matrices and calculating determinants by hand are extremely easy tasks - an intelligent high school student can pick up the algorithms in 15 minutes. Actually doing the calculations, however, takes a mind-numbingly long amount of time relative to how difficult the algorithms are. As an algebra II teacher, I could:
1) not teach linear algebra, which would be an annoying restriction, especially considering how useful it will be in physics next year,
2) make students do all calculations by hand, which will be a colossal waste of time for my more intelligent students, not to mention making them hate me,
3) ask mostly theoretical questions on tests and homework, which isn't really appropriate for a general purpose high school class,
4) teach my students to use R, which would be great if any, much less all, of the other math teachers knew R, and if I magically got 30 new computers in my classroom, and if teaching 30 students of varying technical ability how to use R weren't a bit of a time sink,
5) give in, let students do the grunt work by calculator, and spend more time teaching them applications and how to set up problems.
I'm pretty sure that option 5 is the least bad option for the average high school teacher, even if it is also the least ideologically agreeable choice.

about two weeks ago

How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

hendrips Re:Better idea (202 comments)

Well yeah, but that was long after the pyramids had already been built.

It's really hard to get a proper sense of how long-lasting and unchanging ancient Egyptian civilization was. Ctesibius probably invented the aeolipile steam engine sometime around 250 BC in Alexandria. The first Egyptian pyramid was built ca. 2700 BC, and the last pyramids were completed ca. 1750 BC.

about three weeks ago

How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

hendrips Re:Slave labor is still the best explanation (202 comments)

Careful though - what you say is pretty much correct as far as I know for Old Kingdom Egypt, but it's not universally true of ancient cultures.

In Rome, for instance, the distinction between slave and citizen-peasant was a Really Big Deal, with a whole host of legally enforced distinctions.

Sometimes it even varied within a single civilization - in the Byzantine Empire, the Anatolian lower classes did indeed form a single amorphous serf-like peasantry of the type you describe, while the European portion of the Empire maintained much stricter protections for the free lower classes, maintaining the tradition of their Roman predecessors.

about three weeks ago

Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

hendrips Re:Sad (61 comments)

2500 years ago, the Ancient Greeks gathered by the thousands to watch naked men grapple each other and throw sticks in the air.
1500 years ago, the Byzantines gathered by the hundred thousands to watch men ride in circles in carts.
500 years ago, Europeans all over the continent dressed up in hundreds of pounds of metal and ran into each other waving sticks.
50 years ago, Americans began watching young men throw pieces of pig hide at each other by the millions.

Curiously, the Apocalypse has failed to manifest itself for any of these events. Rather, Classical Athens, Justinian's Constantinople, Renaissance Europe, and Cold War America all tend to be considered civilizations at the height of their political and/or cultural dominance.

Somehow, I suspect that I'm not going to be meeting the Four Horsemen anytime soon because of Twitch (unless I'm watching someone play Diablo, maybe).

about three weeks ago

New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

hendrips Re:Why bother? (215 comments)

Um what? I count 328 laptops under $250, just including laptops running Windows 8 and Windows 7. There's a $229.00 ASUS laptop literally right there on the front page of Newegg right now.

about a month ago

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Launches Nov. 13th

hendrips Re:Nothing new in this expansion (146 comments)

I challenge you to try to play a few games of Dota while limiting yourself to four buttons in combat. I recommend playing Tinker or Holy Knight. Please, I want to watch.

about a month ago

Microsoft Surface Drowning?

hendrips Re:Pick your poison (337 comments)

Here I was trying to decide whether it was PC with half the weight and twice the power of the laptop I got from work, or a great way to take notes electronically without the hassle of LaTeX. Mindset is everything, I guess.

For what it's worth, I've been using a Surface Pro for almost 6 months, and I haven't used the keyboard cover. Usually, the on-screen keyboard or the stylus have been fine for input, just like on other tablets. On the very one or two occasions that I have needed to do a lengthy amount of typing, I just plugged in a standard keyboard. Dissing a tablet because of an optional add-on seems a bit unfair.

about a month ago

With Chinese Investment, Nicaraguan Passage Could Dwarf Panama Canal

hendrips Re:A bit of context on the "anti-american" preside (322 comments)

You have a good point, but I still think it's more that the U.S. isn't interested in stopping or slowing this project, and Nicaragua is pandering to a nominally communist superpower.

And why should the U.S. want to stop it? They haven't had any ownership interest in the Panama Canal in almost 20 years, and U.S. ships pay Panama's monopoly transit fees (not to mention sometimes having to face long waiting times, apparently).

about a month ago

Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

hendrips Re:Prime Reason Not to Buy eBooks (172 comments)

Hang on - I'm implicitly encouraging people to crack Sony's copy protection on a product that they don't even sell anymore, and that makes me a plant from Sony? I don't think they're getting much value for what they're paying me!

In case you actually were wondering (I'm sure you weren't), I read my ebooks using the Kindle for PC software on my Surface Pro. My rough count is that I have about 200 books at the moment, of which about half are free public domain books, and another quarter are DRM-free books, most from sources other than Amazon. My fanboyism must be slipping, I guess.

about a month ago

Tesla's Already Shopping For More Office Space

hendrips Re:A page from Henry Ford's book... (100 comments)

If we're talking about capitalism, GM and Chrysler "should" have exactly 0% market share, as without an $85 billion bailout and very favorable Chapter 11 bankrupty treatment, those companies would not exist at all. It's pretty easy to gain market share when you borrow lots of money without having to pay back a big chunk of it.

It's a bit hard to say that GM's cars are as good as Ford's or anyone else's based on sales, because of the explicit government manipulation of the auto market. Certainly in my anecdotal experience GM cars have been slightly but perceptibly lower quality, and I think a lot of people who are currently getting new ignition switches would agree with me. Note, by the way, I'm not necessarily saying the government was wrong to help GM.

You are correct though, that Ford managed to avoid bankruptcy mostly because of its better (ok, slightly less terrible) fiscal management rather than anything else.

about a month ago

Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

hendrips Re:It's simply that hw manufacturer cannot compete (172 comments)

How is Amazon's hardware restrictive? The majority of the books on my Kindle are not from Amazon's store, and aren't .azw files (mostly .mobi, and a few pdfs). I mean, I understand that the Kindle won't support .epub, but I feel like there's a major difference between "doesn't support one particular popular format but does support most others" and "only supports one proprietary format." Besides, if you have an .epub without DRM it only takes a few seconds to convert it to a format that a Kindle can read.

about a month ago

Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

hendrips Re:Prime Reason Not to Buy eBooks (172 comments)

Sometimes it seems like the people on this site have a reflex hatred of anything digital that simply bypasses rational thought or reading comprehension. Even a small amount of investigation would have shown you that:

-Sony e-readers already in existence won't stop working or lose access to the books that the owners have already downloaded.
-It's trivially easy to put books from sources other than Sony on their e-reader. PDF's, epubs, etc. aren't going anywhere.
-Even if someone did buy books from Sony, their account is being transferred to Kobo, and they will continue to be able to download any book they have purchased.
-And even if all of the above fails, the DRM on Sony's ebooks can (at least, according to other posters - I haven't tried) be broken pretty easily by an average person.

So no, exactly no one has said bye-bye to their book collection. Please don't spread misinformation.

about a month ago

Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

hendrips Re:Bullshit (168 comments)

Probably not, actually - this loss is from their global operations, not just their U.S. business. Usually, multinational companies seek to minimize taxes by realizing profit in jurisdictions with low tax rates and costs in jurisdictions with high tax rates, but they usually do not actually under-report profits. CEOs and CFOs don't like jail very much, and tax fraud is one area of the law in the U.S. that's enforced nearly as zealously against the rich and famous as against normal people.

about 1 month ago

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

hendrips Re:Why? (87 comments)

I can't speak for you, but in my case it's because the selection in my local library system sucks. They continually overspend building fancy new buildings with statues and whatnot, but can't seem to find any money for a wide variety of books to put in them. And let's not even mention the selection of audiobooks.

about 2 months ago


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