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The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

mcshicks Re: Good intentions vs free time (182 comments)

As a counter example I've signed up for 6 and completed 4 (Machine Learning, Mobile Robotics, Cryptography I, and Introductory Python Programming). Granted a couple of those I only partially completed the first time and went back and took again due to time constraints. I think the whole article is based on a false metric (percent sign up vs complete). Here's the real metric, which is cost/student to successfully enable a student solve problems as required by an employer. I think the book is out on this one, but having interviewed 100's of engineers and made about 100 hiring decisions over a 25 year career, I certainly would not care how someone learned to do the work, and if you can answer all the technical questions I have on a subject that's good enough for me. If you have to rely on a accreditation to know if someone can do a job for you I think your career working as an engineering manager will be brief. I've used remote learning based on other methods (itunes U, MIT open courseware, and even back in the day grad courses on remote sites via closed circuit tv). With the exception of closed circuit TV, a good MOOC course is much better than the other forms because you get early feedback on where you are missing material. I looked at the paper in the article noting that the "non matriculated" classes are less effective than the "matriculated" classes. No duh. But the point is the non matriculated classes are free, or very close to it. You just need to be motivated. I looked at the guys website (thinkful), I have to applaud the fact that they are trying a startup to teach people, but the fact that they want $300 a month for the service and the way mentor's are hired makes it look a little like a multi level marketing scheme. The advantage of Moocs is they scale up and it doesn't matter if the class has 10 students or 100,000. Maybe I'm just old, but it seems nobody ever "mentored" me in engineering school. I went to lecture, read the books, did the homework and took the exams. The only difference I see with Mooc's is a computer is doing most of the work that was done by the Professor and TA's and no partial credit on exams.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

mcshicks OrgMode for emacs (133 comments)

I've used outlook, onenote, evernote, played around with google keep and a bunch of other programs over the years for GTD capture/process systems. OrgMode works much better in my opinion than any of these. There is a mobile client for Android and IOS, but I simply use ssh and a 256 color terminal and a small bluetooth keyboard.

about 9 months ago
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Best Way To Land Entry-Level Job?

mcshicks Re:It is not a great time (441 comments)

I agree with the comment on the general state of the job market and the internship recommendation is a good suggestion. Working in SW Test/QA (at any level) is another suggestion as these positions have less competition. Even better, try and get an internship testing any SW product. If you can get your foot in the door and demonstrate you know what you are doing, and are flexible in the work you will do you should not have a problem getting a permanent position. If you work as an intern in test and you have the ability find and to point out source level errors in other peoples code quickly it will probably get noticed.

more than 4 years ago
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How Do You Accurately Estimate Programming Time?

mcshicks Use Historical Data (483 comments)

If you just keep track of how long features take and who's working on them (like a bug/feature tracking system), a seat of the pants estimate based on complexity (i.e. this feature is 1/2 as complex, twice as complex) times the previous baseline data is surprisingly accurate and in general much better than if people actually try and figure out based on first principles. Basically people just ignore the base rate historical data for how long sw development tasks take, or don't know it. The other thing to avoid is telling someone a deadline because you will immediately induce an error based on the anchoring effect. Once you have a historical performance based estimate, then use that baseline (or anchor) to figure out what is practical for the project in question. Note: You have to keep track of things for 2-3 years to start before this works, which is why I suspect most people don't do it.

more than 4 years ago
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Ten Things Mobile Phones Will Make Obsolete

mcshicks PND (778 comments)

The Article misses the most obvious thing that phones have already started replacing which is portable network devices, i.e. GPS in the car.

more than 4 years ago
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The Uncertain Future of OpenOffice.org

mcshicks Re:Damned if you do... (259 comments)

No duh. It's free instead of $400 or whatever MS wants for office these days and it works for the vast majority of what people want to do (write a document, create a basic spreadsheet).

How many people are going to continue to shell out $400 for a word processor and spreadsheet program for there new $1000 laptop they bought there kids? Not many when the realize a reliable free alternative is available and it lets them open the word files people send them in e-mail.

I would say the only advantage MS has is there are so many spreadsheets people have made that make extensive use of macros and VB, which open office doesn't support.

about 7 years ago

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